Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Can't Wait to Play in Jamaica !

About a year ago i got wind that Jamaica was accepted as an IIHF affiliate member which blew my mind . Really had no clue anyone was even considering ice hockey there . Immediately i went on site and found out through some research who is their president of this newly formed federation . Soon enough i found Edmond Philllipps is their president and i found him on Facebook and sent a message to congratulate him . That was about a year ago ... he replied and then things got quiet .

Little did i know that the federation was hard at work putting their plans together for an arena and to assemble a squad . About a month ago i found out they were coming to Toronto to do some scouting and they had a great turnout and unfortunately i could not make it but heard about it first hand when i passed through Denver and made a point to meet up with Edmond which ended up being for more then just a beer . Edmond lives there and we met up at Joyride Brewery .

We talked about pretty much everything but firstly i mentioned that they should spread out their tryouts next time they come here as Toronto has a few key neighborhoods with Jamaican communities like in Scarborough and even around Jane/Finch area which they should reach out to . Edmond was excited to tell me that the Subban brothers showed up to skate with them and we spoke about their possible eligibility , regardless it is great they got and have that support ! I also mentioned their aspirations to compete in next Olympics which is a tough uphill almost impossible battle . They need a rink first and they must meet other IIHF stipulations to compete in world championships ... Edmond told me they already have land and are waiting to begin building a rink in Jamaica :) WOW , now that's a trip i am looking forward to :P 

If they have a rink and have a team and have certified coaching staff and begin working on ground roots stuff to gain membership then i don't see why they shouldn't be playing . Easier said then done though .... Edmond realizes that it is not an easy task . I figure the best way to get things rolling is to help them get sponsors and people willing to contribute and that is why i am writing this now . Hopefully the right person reads this and decides to contact them to help ! If you are on Facebook you can like their page and contact them through there .... OR you can look up their website online and contact them there . 

Also have tried to put our Jamaican friends in touch with some other federations to hopefully kick off some crazy exhibition games . Hopefully i will get to watch a Jamaica vs. Morocco match some day :) how awesome would that be ? Here is a link to Jamaica's info on IIHF page . I know most of you are reading this thinking yeah right !!!! this isn't real ... seriously this is real , keep an open eye because Jamaica is getting ready to compete ! GO JAMAICA :) 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Making Plans

Seems i have a few days off and some ideas floating around for my next trip which obviously has changed from the inception of the idea LOL ! At first i wanted to do 3 tourneys in 3 weeks in 3 countries which is always a great plan but NEVER works out :( I first accepted to go to play in Budapest with the Rainman All-Stars then figured that there were 2 tournaments the weeks before in Novi Sad and in Skopje .... Serbia and Macedonia .

Yeah totally cool shit if i could have pulled that off right ? At first the plan was to start in Greece and make my way north which would have to be a month long trip ... and kinda pricey but as of late i have made it smaller and cheaper . Originally i would have been in 5 countries with all the above mentioned plus Kosovo . Now it looks like i will just go to Macedonia,Greece and Hungary which to be fair is still an awesome hockey trip . As usual i am just waiting on confirmation of tournament dates .... If by some chance that all the stars align and Skopje , Novi Sad and Budapest are 3 weeks in a row then obviously that will change my plans for the better .... i still would go to Greece as i just can't miss out on visiting such an amazing country . I have my doubts that this will happen though and that is why i am just planning (not booking yet) for Macedonia,Greece and Hungary in that order .

Its always better to wait then to jump the gun . I have jumped the gun before as i did last trip and had to cancel my flight to Cape Town which CheapOair owes me money for still *don't book with them* . My best guess is that i leave mid November and i should probably wait until the end of October before i start booking anything . I am hoping to convince my buddy Timo to join me if he is able to :) This will be a good trip with a few cheap flights and a couple bus rides .... Obviously the highlight will be searching for Attila Ambrus aka the Whiskey Robber .

At the moment i am just hoping to book some work for this week as it will hold me back from doing more things if i don't have the money ... who am i kidding , that's what credit cards are for LOL ! 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Road Trip (Las Vegas-Los Angeles)

Last leg of the trip , looks like the UHaul is gonna make it .... and so am i :) Yeah it wasn`t the easiest drive at times quite boring but mostly it was an adventure i would do again in a heartbeat . Would be really amazing to do it with my hockey gear stopping to play everywhere but i am sure with that tight of a schedule it would leave me next to dead playing 5 nights in a row and driving on average 10 hours a day to get to the next rink LOL ! 

Waking up in Vegas and leaving was pretty easy considering how badly i wanted to leave :P Got up at 4;30 AM took a shower and bee lined it straight out of Vegas like a bat out of hell . The desert here is not really the kinda desert that most people would imagine with mountains covered in sand or what i guess is sand ... no i didn`t stop to check . I have to get to Los Angeles by around noon to safely catch my flight home to go work for someone ( that will change ) .We had to make a gas stop at this remote gas station and i encountered this crazy toilet which i was scared would be a splash pad to cover my shorts so i decided to use the stall instead . Got some great beef jerky at the same rest stop too :) I coulda started a blog about all the odd bathrooms i encountered on this trip ... maybe next time LOL ! 
It took us over 6 hours to get to LA and when we got there my GPS which was set by Richard to go to his house took me to the wrong house . I hit this crazy intersection before and i am sure the truck took a beating from it as we were driving 30 MPH which is speed limit we had a green light but it was like the road kinda came to a V .... going down and up so when we got to the intersection we kinda hit the road .... yeah and launched a bit ... i was sure the UHaul was done and pretty sure the chandelier took some damage in the back . Yeah there was this really expensive chandelier we propped up hanging inside a box . Trust me i was nervous . When we finally arrived at the proper destination i let Richard know and i am sure he knew the intersection . 

Unfortunately i had to help unpack and i got super sweaty then took a shower and got ready to catch my flight so i could get home to go work the day after .... well i rushed all the way here like a maniac and booked this flight to go home for no reason as the job i had been holding for went away with no notice ... i found out that day when i arrived in Los Angeles that it went away a few days ago , if i would have had some notice i could have stayed in Los Angeles but at this point its too late . Shit happens .... So we got a ride to LAX caught our flight and got home safely that night . Before i left LA i bought my friend Marco the tourist LA shirt from the airport as he requested ... too bad its a Large for someone i found out later wears Small .... LOL ! 

Hoping to do this trip again in the next few weeks ... Lets see if i can arrange some hockey this time ....

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Road Trip (Denver-Las Vegas)

After meeting up with the Denver Lions to watch Aston Villa beat Hull City 2-1 we jumped into our truck ( Kathleen and I ) and we drove off to Las Vegas . We were looking at a 12 hour drive which was gonna be straight into the mountains . It was crazy when we had our first climb as the speed limit is 70 MPH and we were having a tough time holding 45 MPH going up those steep roads . Remember this truck is filled with furniture and this was a beat up old U-Haul truck . I was pushing the RPM's i thought the engine would jump out of the hood at times it was so crazy ....

The downhill parts were kinda nerve wracking too as it was raining and the roads were a bit slippery  , we tried to keep up the pace but at times it was better just to slow down as this speed limit is crazy :) Don't get me wrong the view was absolutely unreal !!!! This was a long drive ... we left around 8:30 AM and arrived around 9 PM with us travelling into another time zone losing an hour so it was a 13.5 hour drive ...

If you have read my blog before you will know i am not a fan of tourist trap type places and i am not interested in being around other tourists ... i am a man of the people and Las Vegas was the wrong place to experience any of that :( When we finally arrived i surprisingly found the parking lot for RV's / Trucks as we had booked ourselves a room at Planet Hollywood . I have never been to Vegas before so when i was planning my route i thought it would be interesting to check out but really its' not my kinda place . To be fair i just had driven 13.5 hours so i was a bit grumpy ... 

Las Vegas is a plastic city with no soul . I don't think i saw a single person that i could point out and say that has to be someone that lives here . Nope there was nothing but tourists following each other around with big plastic cups totally wasted . One of the first things i saw was a guy with a megaphone yelling at people that they are all going to hell and a guy dressed as Chewbacca was next to him ???? ok .... so yeah i just felt like everyone there is following a dream somehow they all shared and i could smell the desperation in the air or was that the perfume from the cheap hooker i passed . Its a plastic world there with everyone pretending they are someone they really aren't and yeah i could rant for days about this but the plain simple truth is i know some people like this shit but its' not for me . 

So when we checked in as stressful as that was we finally got our room and by this point i already decided i didn't want to leave the room ... fuck this place ! Our room was nice and big with tv in the bathroom and all kinda nice Will Smith memorabilia but i was stressed out hating this place kinda pissed i pushed myself further just to experience this crap but the truth is we had to get to Los Angeles the day after to catch our 3:30 PM flights home . Apparently the drive from Vegas to LA is about 5 hours so the earlier we leave the better ... Best thing i did in Vegas ? i went to bed at 9:30 PM :) 

And no i didn't do any gambling LOL !

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Road Trip (Omaha-Denver)

It wasn't hard waking up early in Omaha ... really didn't do much and got to bed at a very decent time . The rain stopped and we went down to the truck . Nobody asked us to pay for the truck parking so we didn't even though we knew they wanted $12 to park in their parking garage which we didn't fit into with an 11 ft high clearance needed to fit the U-Haul into anywhere . We parked in the employee lot so i guess no one paid notice :) obviously i am not going to complain even though i wouldn't be paying the bill at the end , still i am trying to keep it reasonable .

Same as yesterday the road to Denver is quite dull with some odd stops on the route , always looking for some good beef jerky at all our pit stops . Basically we stopped for breakfast at a Burger King at some rest stop that was a few miles off the highway then kept rolling only stopping for gas and munchies/pee breaks :P . I don't think we even stopped for lunch or maybe we did ... as i said the drive through Nebraska is long flat and really dull so it kinda wiped my memory . Regardless i was excited to go to Denver which was the next American city that i really wanted to visit after going to Texas this past summer . I have made plans to meet up with Edmond Phillipps who is the founder of the Jamaican National Hockey Team !!!! They were recently in Toronto scouting prospects for their national squad but we never met then so what better choice then to find him in his home town :)

We met up at a brewery called Joyride Brewery , their beer was amazing ... i kept drinking their IPA and yes i drank quite a few . By the time Edmond showed up i already swallowed 2 pints and was asking if they had bigger glasses LOL ! seriously i did ask if they had a larger glass :) When Edmond showed up we spoke about the dreams of getting this Jamaican squad together and all the things they have to accomplish before qualifying to compete in World Championships . They are very confident that they will have an arena built soon and are looking for as much help as they can get ! If you are interested in reaching out to them to try out or to help out or just to contact them please like their page . I will write more about Edmond and his aspirations in future , at the moment i am trying to hook them up with as many of my national contacts too ... would be great to see a Morocco vs. Jamaica game wouldn't it :) 

We didn't stay in a classy place in Denver but really it didn't matter as i got pretty drunk , i had 5 pints at Joyride then we all went to some other bar ... honestly i can't remember the name but we went to watch UFC and it was a sports bar with a tv's everywhere and good food . I had wings and a few more beers ... the fights sucked and we were all kinda buzzed and tired . Edmond it was great meeting you and it was one of the best nights i had on this road trip :) trust me when i say i want to come out there to skate with you next time .... i know you play since your equipment was mulching in your backseat LOL ! So we took an Uber cab to our Ramada hotel after eating drinking and having a good chat about Jamaican hockey , as i said it was nothing special ... just a place to stay . 

This was the only stop where we woke up and actually stayed to do something else in the same city ! It was Sunday morning and Aston Villa was playing nice and early . Remember this was Mountain Time Zone so the game started at 630 am .... of course i had to go meet up with the Denver Villans , to be fair it was a long weekend so i understand the lack of Villans but it was still worth going out for breakfast at the 3 Lions Pub where we were treated amazingly by the Baggies fan that served us LOL ! Mark is the chairman there and he was standing the whole game excited beyond belief as we all were with our 2-1 win over Hull . Peever's flag made it to Denver also :) hahaha! Right after the game we had to hit the road again ... today i drive off from Denver to Las Vegas wearing my Villa top with pride ! Thank you Denver ... can't wait to come back :P 

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Road Trip (Chicago-Omaha)

When we took off from Chicago i was low on gas :( had to fight through morning traffic to get out of the city and when i got to the outskirts i was lucky enough to find a gas station ... the attendant was a cross dresser , yes it made for an interesting start to my second day driving ... this wasn't one of those cross dressers that could pass for a woman , the beard wasn't hiding anything LOL ! Anyways we fueled up and got some horrible coffee which i drank anyways . Off to Omaha ! yeah Omaha ...

The road there is how can you say less then adventurous , it is basically farmland with nothing in sight . The scenery is quite dull and the ride is tough with speed limits picking up to 70 miles an hour . Driving a U-haul full of furniture and heavy in weight is less then ideal for these speed limits so we putter along our way . The most exciting thing i saw on this portion of my drive was the bugs hitting my windshield ! Yes its that boring ... good thing i have Kathleen with me as i have no clue how i would survive the 9 hour drive without having someone travelling with me . 

We stopped a couple times for gas and honestly i am not even sure if we fully stopped for lunch this day ... that's how boring it was ! My memory seems to be wiped of this day . What i do know is that when we finally hit Nebraska it started to piss rain . It came down in buckets and i thought we were far away because our GPS doesn't switch time zones automatically so i stopped for McDonald's coffee just outside of Omaha thinking i was further then i actually was LOL . We booked our hotel on the ride through Rocketmiles (gotta love those points!) and we stayed at the Hilton Omaha which is near the convention center and in the heart of the city ??? 

To be fair it was pissing rain but when we pulled into the heart of the city it was like the dead zone , this is one of those cities you don't need street permits to block roads to shoot a zombie flick ...basically a post apocalyptic setting . We kinda figured it would be a quiet city and that is why we booked in at a nice hotel with a bar and restaurant . First things first .... time for a couple beers :) After a couple pints and a bit of decision making between me and my better half we decided to go to The Old Mattress Factory which is just a block away ... hotel staff said its a great restaurant . 

We walked over since the rain had stopped and honestly we didn't walk past a single person ... its really dead . When we got to the restaurant there were people there about half full . It has a sports kinda atmosphere with tv's everywhere playing sports like soccer and high school football :P yeah its big there ?!?!?! The food was great , i had a steak and it was delish .Our server was awesome , she made a minor mistake and came over immediately to tell us we will get discounted on our meals but Kathleen already had her eye on her pint glass so she haggled into taking the glass instead and our waitress gladly brought a clean one for her .... now that's service :) If you are in Omaha and want a good place to have a beer and some good eats , i suggest you go to The Old Mattress Factory :) 

After we ate we basically just headed back to our rooms . On this tough schedule driving and basically stopping for dinner and sleep ... the road here was kinda tough with it being so drab and my comfy bed was calling . Omaha wasn't my favorite city on this trip but it didn't disappoint me . Tomorrow i head to Denver ! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Road Trip (Toronto-Chicago)

Last Thursday i embarked on a road trip to Los Angeles which was broken into 4 nights in 4 cities . Kathleen joined me to keep me awake LOL ! We left our place at 3:45 AM last Thursday and picked up Richard who was driving with us to Buffalo to cross border since it was his furniture and his rental truck .... yes it is the long route to LA i know but it had to be done :( We had no problems at the border and dropped Richard off at Buffalo Airport and we hit the road . The plan is to stop in Chicago for our first night and meet up with Chicago Villan Chariman Simon Leach :) 

When we were driving i would get Kathleen to look up and book hotels for us , we decided it is best to stay near the O'Hare Airport and take the hotel shuttle to the airport then jump on the Blue Line to get down to the city where we went to watch the Chicago Jazz Festival before meeting Simon (actually we were supposed to go with him but plans changed ) we booked a room at the Travellodge which was ok i guess but kinda on the low end of rooms ... size was good but the bathroom was falling apart . Regardless after 13.5 hours of driving i was ready for a drink so i showered and we headed down to Jay Pritzker Pavilion to watch Ernest Dawkins perform his Homage to Nelson Mandela: Ernest Dawkins’ Memory in the Center, an Afro Jazz Opera .

What a coincidence that the concert i end up has to do with South Africa ??? and yeah it was pretty darn good stuff ! First things first get me a beer ... Green Line please and thank you :) great micro brewery over in Chicago that i have enjoyed before and thankfully they were at the festival which was packed and totally cool ... the band space there is ridiculous as you can see above ! it's in the middle of a park , you walk past the Bean from the Magnificent Mile to get there too ... the crowd was very chill and the music was very inspiring , it definitely inspired me to stay longer and have another beer ! 

We stuck around as long as we could then headed over to Giordano's for a good Chicago style pizza ... actually not good , GREAT ! Oh yeah i have eaten here before and super YUM :) We went to a different location this time which was pretty packed so we asked for a table and sat at the bar ... we were also waiting for Simon to show up with his friend . I HIGHLY suggest eating at Giordano's and order a small for 2 people , we couldn't even finish ours but learned that last time we were here when we ordered one each and didn't get anywhere close to finishing these Goliath pizzas :) 

I brought Daniel Peever's AVFC flag with me LOL figured i would take it for the trip since i was meeting with a few Villa Supporters on the way ... kinda fitting that the picture above you can tell the wind is blowing in the windy city . We had to skip out early because Kathleen was actually falling asleep at the table :( yeah we were both tired but i wanted beer hehehe! oh well ... we took an Uber cab to Simon's place dropped him off and continued to our hotel to pass out . Tomorrow we have to make it to Omaha , Nebraska ....