Friday, February 27, 2009

Kaimana Klassic 22 - the tournament

Boulder had been the most spectacular tournament site that I had ever been to, with the mountains lining one side of the field complex in west Boulder. There is a new sheriff in town. The site of the 22nd Kaimana Klassic (and I assume all the prior editions) was aMAzing.

And, of course, Doug Lilley is holding my feet to the fire. Fortunately, that was the backup camera... After a final morning in Kauai travelling up to the Na Pali coast again, this time hanging out at the beach in Hanauma bay watching paddle boarders, I went to the airport to catch my flight to Oahu. Ran into Steven Rouisse and his wife Tina McDowell who were taking the same flight and we were also going to be sharing a car for the weekend. Simple flight with VERY nice rainbows as we arrived in Oahu. Picked up the car, turned on the GPS and followed its directions to the Waimanolo Bay Polo Club and Beach park. Talk about a cool setup. We drove into the polo club first only to find out that registration wasn't starting for another 1/2 hour. So we decided to go to the beach park and set up the tents. As an aside, I had noticed checking weather while on Kauai that it was supposed to be VERY windy through Sunday due to the trade winds. While the fields weren't terrible, the exposed beach was VERY windy. When I got there, probably 50+ tents were already set up. among the trees. The wind was whipping. I ended up needing help putting up my tent. Someone fortunately had a hammer to help get the stakes deep enough because the sand was pretty loose. And holding the tent down. I set up my airbed (genius!) and sleeping bag and other knickknacks and then headed back to the fields to register and eat dinner. While I was setting up my tent, at one point Rouisse's tent was picked up by the wind and started rolling away into the parking lot. Good times!

The setup was pretty sweet. Registration involved getting the tourney package which included a hat, a tournament disc which was also supposed to double as your plate for the weekend to reduce waste (although I'm not sure the aluminum foil they provided was much better) although they DID say it was to reduce waste, not necessarily to be the most efficient environmentally. The dinners included Thai/Indian food, Mexican night, and some other meal which I don't remember. There was also a beer station and a full bar, although the full bar didn't start until the next day. Most impressively the beer tent was going to open at 10AM the following morning.

We were initially seeded 4th but were eventually moved to 2nd. Ours was a team that apparently had played there before. Composed mostly of Chain and other Atlanta players plus randoms like myself, Jim Parinella and Steven Rouisse from Bravo. On paper we had a stacked squad of 23. In reality, it wasn't quite going to be that way. What was tragic was that we got totally marginalized for the first two days by being sent to these alternate fields which were either a 15 minute walk or a 10 minute drive. Fortunately I had the car on hand, although after getting lost, it probably took us 20 minutes, but at least I was still fresh... Our first two games were at this alternate site. We made things difficult for ourselves, having reasonably close games in both but winning out.

We ended the day back at the main fields against the Banana team. This team had one large man with moobs dressed in a banana suit and another kid dressed in a fluffy pink gorilla suit. He had to be DYING in that thing. It didn't help that he was their main guy and their offense completely ran through him. We kept this game much closer than it should have been naturally. Most importantly, I threw a beautiful long backhand to the guy on our team who was injured and played one point (and won Friday's party). It curled around his defender and clanged right off his mid-section. Ugh. Tonight was Mexican night and we started early and often. At one point I was carrying around the Southern Comfort bottle and distributing shots. Once the bottle was finished, on to Mai Tais. Suffice to say, it was a LONG night, our team won the party for the second consecutive night, and I woke up at dawn and walked back to my tent...

I decided to sleep in and woke up around 11:20, fully confident in my teams ability to handle the first two games of the day. Well, they won the last pool play game in the morning at double-game point, even pulling I believe. This positioned us VERY well for the rest of the day as they ended up losing the first game in the power pool before I showed up. The next and last game of the day was against Voltron, the 3rd or 4th seed. We succeeded in going down big yet again but ran out of time as we mounted a furious comeback. I'm not sure I appreciated every game ending on a hard cap without even a soft cap warning. And we got ourselves in bad positions too often. This night was far more sedate as I was still feeling it a little from the previous night. This setup a quarterfinal against Philthy, a pickup team ostensibly from the Philly area including Trey from Ironsides/Pike and Dusty Rhodes from I'm not sure where he is now. They were down to about 12 dudes and I was pretty sure our team was looking past them. Big mistake. We continued to underperform with basically zero offensive flow and just ok defense. It was actually sort of frustrating because when we tried to mount our comeback early on and clamp down the defense there were a number of points where we got numerous stall 9 counts before letting a dump or short pass off (never a desperation huck). VERY frustrating. We ended up even losing before the cap. Philthy then proceeded to get smoked by Voltron in the semis, who then got smoked by Ono (Condors reunion) in the finals.

Another reasonably mellow night before waking up the next day and touring Oahu with Steven and Tina. They were also leaving Tuesday night so we did the northern route, circumnavigating most of the island including the Banzai pipeline where we watched awesome surfing for about an hour. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and raining for most of the day so the great pictures of the cliffs and mountains didn't really exist. At best I was getting beach shots but anything at elevation was enshrouded in cloud. We ended up driving over to the west coast to sit on the beach and catch the sunset before driving back to the airport.

I dropped them off at the terminal since I had another 1.5 hours. I programmed the GPS to find me a mall so I could buy some coffee for gifts and get some food for the trip. What a nightmare that was. I had to go to four different shopping plazas before finding anything that I could shop at. One was a military only, etc. Boarded the plane, popped an Ambien and got up in San Francisco. 19 hours after I took off from Hawaii, I landed in Boston to a small snowstorm. Ah, good to be back...

OF course, the best part is that almost as serendipitously as attending Kaimana, I just bought my ticket to Bologna Italy in April for Paganello. Woohoo! Yeah bucket list! This whole bucket list thing has taken on a life of its own. Feel free to tell me the can't miss tournaments that I have to attend. Pretty much the big name tournament that I haven't made at this point is Potlatch that I can think of. But feel free to challenge me. I wouuld have liked to have made Mardi Gras back in the day, but I'm not sure it is the same tourney now. Same thing for Terminus, Tempe et al.

As for my own play, I was turnover free in the first game, but it didn't last after that. That is one of the problems playing on a pickup team like this. I think only one of my turnovers was to Jim, unsurprisingly, although I'm sure he'll chime in with the other eight I threw to him. My two (or three?) turnovers in the Philthy game were uncharacteristic, including one throw to Woody that I thought he should have had, but ultimately I shouldn't have thrown. On the first day I completed a number of very long backhands (actually I think all of them) and it felt great to be powering deep backhands again (and having people actually cut for them). I think that all started when I received the disc in a power position on the sideline being forced backhand, looked up field and didn't have a single long cutter, then dumped it to Rouisse who put up a long backhand. I yelled (humorously) on the sideline after the point about nobody cutting for my backhand. After that, everybody cut and all was good... It was also fun being able to cut deep and actually get thrown to for once, cuz this team like to put it up. With DoG, I think that happened once against Furious maybe where I cut up a far sideline and Moses threw me a VERY long pass for a goal. Otherwise, high level play has mostly chosen not to throw to me deep. Watch out for Paganello baby! Although I guess the fields are going to be much smaller there.

As usual, I was stunned to see how few teams went over the top when zone was played against them, and I'm talking about the best teams there, not the cheesy ones. And it was NOT so windy that you couldn't go over. Meh. Unfortunately I only got to play zone offense maybe 2 or 3 times, more for lack of zone being played than anything else.

Sleeping in a tent at the beach was pretty cool, although I'm not sure how much I really slept. It was amazing how windy it was every night, and the constant flapping of the tent cover prevented really deep sleep. And I didn't really drink a whole bunch after the second night so I couldn't really depend on that to help me sleep either. It definitely added to the environment though to be able to walk back and forth from 'housing' to the fields and not worry about what to do with the car, although that was a little bit of a concern because the gates to both park and fields closed after a certain time so you had to make sure you had planned where you wanted your car to stay the night. Good thing there was no nighttime offsite activities planned.

Oh, and if you feel a need to pretend to learn something about ultimate from a blog, um, forget it.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Kaimana Klassic 22 - Kauai day 2

I conducted some web research while I was blogging last night trying to find the best nightspots in Kauai. Rob's something grill and the Nawiliwili Tavern came up 1 and 2 on one website and they were both in Lihue, 10 minutes from my hotel. So I sparked up the GPS around 9:30 and started at Rob's. It was pretty lame when I started, but a sports bar with LOTS of TVs. What is interesting is that NOTHING is live at this hour. It would be tough to follow sports living out here. The only thing I caught live was the Knicks/Clippers overtime (in LA of course).

Had chili and rice with a side of fries (more Kaimana training) and a beer. Then more GPS to get over to Nawiliwili Tavern. This place had more potential but less action. Rob's was sort of crowded when I left, but mostly locals. So asleep by 11.

The next day I set my alarm for 6:30. Dress, put together a backpack for the North Shore. Walk out to the lobby and find out it is POURING rain outside. Ugh. Regardless, get in the car and start my way to the Na Pali coast.

Pretty incredible light for the shot above. I made my way up the coast, hitting some of the tourist things that I had specced out before I got here, including a scenic road, Kilauea pt lighthouse, another one lane scenic road which was in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately I didn't run into any cars. Maniholo Dry Cave, and then I was at the end of the line. Before then I had stopped in Hanalei at a grocery store to buy the breakfast/lunch of champions, a small bag of salt & vinegar chips, a banana, and a bag of peppered beef jerky. Mmmm. I pulled into a secluded beach and stayed there for awhile, waiting for the rain to stop. No luck so I drove to the trailhead, parked, pulled out my book and read for about 25 minutes until the rain stopped and the sun came out. Got my bag ready and onto the trail. It was a two mile hike to the first beach, Hanakapiai. I made it there in about an hour with numerous stops along the way for pictures. Incredible views of the upcoming cliffs including the Kalahau cliffs that I showed the picture of in my previous entry.

I had camped at this beach 25 years ago with my parents. Back then there was an actual sand beach that I had body surfed on, getting slammed into the sand repeatedly. This time it was only rocks, although I was told that the tide was higher in the winter which was why no sand was visible. LOT'S of signs warning people not to even approach the water. Whatever... I took a lot of pictures so that I could try and match it up with a GREAT picture of my with my blond locks at that beach 25 years ago. Also at this point it started raining again. I started on the 1.8 mile trail to Hanakapiai Falls going straight inland. I made great time, although I only passed 2 people coming down from the falls and no one going there. I reached the falls in about 45 minutes, completely empty.

I settled in, put on my bathing suit and started swimming. Pretty cold but the falls were very approachable. I was actually able to reach them and swim under to the other side and look out. I also scouted out the landing area under a large rock to dive in. There ended up being a very narrow spot about 3 feet wide that I could dive into. After measuring it out, I climbed the rock and made the dive.

After swimming for another 10 minutes, another guy showed up. He was wearing a backpack that happened to have a frisbee attached to the back. I got out of the water and approached and mentioned Kaimana. Of course he was here for that. It ended up that it was Elijah Edwards whom I had partied with at Poultry Days last year! Apparently he is my bucket list buddy! We ended up swimming, taking pictures, and then walking back down together (it was very steep so nice to have company in case something happened). We eventually grabbed a couple of beers in Hanalei. He was staying locally so I bailed and went back to my hotel. After I'm done with this, I expect that I will try out Rob's and Nawiliwili again. Thursday night so maybe it will be a little more exciting. This will probably be my last entry until after the tournament as I expect that I will have no internet access.

Oh yeah, and saw a nice double rainbow! I guess there are some minor benefits to rain...

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kaimana Klassic 22 - Kauai

Phew. The last time I had a travel day this long was India. Woke up at 5:45AM Tuesday morning, showered, got the kids up at 6:20, we all drove to the airport and got there in 20 minutes, took off at 8AM, land in Minneapolis, take off to San Francisco, land no problem (the sierras and rockies are spectacular!), wait 1:45, same plane to Oahu, land 7PM local, catch a puddle jumper to Kauai at 8:30, land at 9PM. Including the 5 hour time difference, 18 hours in transit. And coming back is even worse, but I don't have to worry about that for a week.

Jet lag tip #1. Melatonin. I popped 3 melatonin around 11PM local when I crashed and I woke up at 6:30 (11:30AM EST) feeling refreshed. I NEVER sleep in late. I expect that the same thing will happen tonight when I pop 3 more and then I should be acclimated going forward. Checked outside and it was pitch black, so got my things together and headed out to the beach and caught the sunrise.

Got in the rental car and started towards the West coast and Waimea Canyon. At one point I just missed a pullover for Hanapepe Overlook but there was another one a little rockier 40 yards down. Pull over in that one, walk back and take some pictures, go back to the car and pull onto the highway only to realize that my front left tire is now COMPLETELY flat. I check the trunk there is an inflated donut but NO jack to lift the car. I had brought my Avis contract fortunately, call them and they say they will send a tow truck. 5 minutes later a Jeep pulls up right behind me with a guy and a girl. They ask if I need help, he gets out a jack, 4 minutes later the new tire is on, I thank them profusely and I'm on my way, 8 miles from Waimea Canyon Drive. More about them later. I call Avis and tell them that I no longer need help but I'm going to continue on with the donut and stop by the airport later to exchange cars and they have no problem with that. Up to Waimea Canyon with numerous overlooks before reaching the 'official' one.

Take LOTS of pictures. Of course I had forgotten to bring my Hawaii guidebook but fortunately my GPS came to the rescue with its special attractions links. I was able to hit all of the sights that I had planned for the east side of the island. Keep in mind that if you go to the Waimea Canyon lookout when you come back down, you HAVE to turn right into Kokee State Park and follow that road ALL the way to the end to the Kalalau overlook, which gives you an incredible view of the Kalalau valley going out to sea.

On the way back to my hotel (the Aston Aloha Beach Hotel next to Lydgate Park) I hit Puu scenic road, the Menehune swinging bridge which was this very shaky footbridge over a river, the tree road, Wailua Falls, Opaekaa Falls, and finally a dip in the water at Lydgate Park before a little hot tub, shower, and then blogging. Tomorrow is the east/north side, hiking up the Na Pali Coast to the Hanakapia'ai beach and falls, followed by more knickknack side trips and waterfalls on my way back. Good conditioning for the upcoming Kaimana Klassic...

One last bit. On the way to the airport from Ninini point and lighthouse (where I had lunch) I was going through an intersection when the car coming the opposite way turned left in front of the car in front of me. Huge collision and I have to violently swerve to the left and brake to miss the conflagration. Well, the car coming the opposite way was the same jeep that had helped me with my tire! So much for good deeds being rewarded.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Kaimana Klassic 22 - the prologue

So this will be the second major event of the bucket list. Last year I hit Poultry Days for the first time and had a blast. This year's bucket entry is the Kaimana Klassic taking place on Oahu next weekend.

I have to admit I never thought I would have the opportunity to attend this tournament. It was one of those wishful 'gee, that'd be nice' tournaments but it was too far, and life was too complicated. However, through the cluster#(*&$@#(* that is Facebook, the Kid (John Hammond) pinged me on Facebook and mentioned something about Kaimana in February and would I be interested. I casually checked Delta frequent flyer flights to Oahu and when I found one for 40,000 miles, I quickly responded IN! I'm flying out first thing tomorrow morning, spending way too much time in the air, arriving Oahu 7PM, grabbing a flight at 8:30PM to Kauai (fingers crossed with all these flights and luggage pickup), have a hotel room that I got with a Priceline bid for the first time, not saving a tremendous amount of money. 3 days on Kauai then back to Oahu on Friday afternoon, pick up a car and some people at the airport and then go to the campsite.

This should be a very interesting tournament on a personal level. Our team is going to be a mix of current superstars, people along for the ride, and then a group to be determined later (including myself). I hope to lean more towards the former than the latter, at least in terms of my play if not the actual label. I should probably hope for a lot of wind and zone offense in that case... :)

Interestingly enough, it will be the xxxth (number well over 150, close to 200, I have Jim researching it right now) tournament that I play on the same team with Jim Parinella. We came to this in separate ways, but saddling it up together again. Sort of scary actually. Hell, we are even on the same Goaltimate team in this winter's goalty league although Jim is going to miss the season ending tournament because of Hawaii while I will be returning in time.

I'm fortunate in that I've been to Hawaii a few times. I'm very excited to go to Kauai though, since the last time I was there I was 16 and it was with the family, so the memories are a little sketchy although I do remember camping at a beach on the Na Pali Coast which was a lot of fun. No camping this time, I'm saving it for the tournament. I have my airbed, tent (and rental car as a last resort if things fall apart). I guess I should try to see if the airbed fits into the tent before I leave. If anyone that has been wants to comment with suggestions for the tournament, please do so. Otherwise I don't expect that I will be blogging from the tourney since internet access ain't gonna be handy.

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