You’ll have to excuse any typos or incoherent sentences in the next few entries. Despite my best efforts, I’ve gone and developed a massive head cold from a bug I must have picked up somewhere around Chicago/St. Louis. I cant even hear myself think, its a stretch to believe you’ll be able to.
Something I have neglected to do for the entire existence of this blog is to publicly acknowledge Steve Williamson, the man who watched 30 games in all 30 NHL arenas in 30 nights during the fall of 2007. I know from reading his blog that he is a Tampa native, so I figured there probably won’t be a better time to mention him than now.
If there is one thing I regret about the planning phases of this trip, it’s that I never reached out to him to chat about his experience. I figured I had read through most of his blog, so what more did I need to know?
Boy was I wrong. If there is anything I’ve learned from the last three months of planning and two weeks of doing, it’s that 99% of people will NEVER fully understand the difficulty of planning and executing a trip like this.
I have explained it to countless friends, family and strangers, but I am absolutely certain that none of them understands the grueling nature, meticulous planning, and overall risk involved in this outing. A different city every 18 hours, often different time zones every other day, plane/train/bus tickets, rental cars, hotels, tickets to the game, etc. It’s endless.
Mr. Williamson pulled off his 30 in 30 without a hitch, and shooting you 100% straight, what I’m doing is no more challenging than what he did. The 30 in 29 immediately calls attention to the double-header day, but there is no doubt in my mind that what is more difficult than two games in one day, are the 28 games in 28 days leading up to that.
I would never have tried to do this trip in 29 days if not for Mr. Williamson, but also never intended for the number to seem confrontational. Just motivation to do something that hasn’t been done yet. And now, I find I have developed an immense respect for a man I have never met or spoken with.
I now know how difficult it is to juggle so many things while living out of a suitcase. I now know what its like to get hate mail from people who think that what I’m doing or how I’m doing it is stupid or unoriginal. I now know how it feels to worry that seemingly small things like a cold front, having to check a suitcase or dead batteries (a little foreshadowing) can completely ruin this trip.
These are all things I’m fairly certain I share with this man I’ve never met. I’m not sure if he’s caught wind of my trip yet or will ever read this blog, but when all is said and done, I hope to contact him to congratulate him on his accomplishment. It’s something I didn’t really think was all that challenging at the start, but I have come to admire anyone with the time, energy, organization and attention to detail to do something of this nature.
As for his home town, it seems like a heck of a place to play hockey. Never have I seen so many sun burnt people at a hockey game. Reminds me of my first year in LA where one of the Kings prospects was forced to miss a few days of preseason after getting too much beach time.
The crowd in Tampa is quite a bit younger than down the road at BankAtlantic Center, and their pre-game tailgate certainly exceeded its southern rival’s too. The game had a better turn out, but because of the score and it still being early on a Friday night, the bowl was half empty by the time the “Bolts” made their comeback attempt.
Odds and ends:
- For all the credit I gave St. Louis on their goal horn, Tampa Bay’s is just absurdly loud. Wow.
- A lot of great food and snack carts around the concourse. Its a shame most were closed by the second intermission.
- From what I could tell sitting in a couple of different areas around the arena, I’m not certain if Lightning fans were there for the hockey. Most conversations I overheard were about golf course design, high school football practice, politics and women. I know sports venues are dominated by men and those are stereotypically manly topics, but come on! At least try to talk some hockey.