1. Another trip to the Lilac City lay ahead of me today, made possible in large part by Carol and Paul agreeing to let Charly have a day at his favorite house in Kellogg -- theirs! I dropped Charly off and was buoyed by what good shape I-90 was in. The freeway was wet, but no snow, slush, or ice.
I arrived at Kathy's apartment in plenty of time and soon we joined Shannon, piled into her car, and made out way to the McCarthey Athletic Center, well, The Kennel, to watch the Gonzaga women's basketball squad play Texas Southern. I'd never been to The Kennel. I was enamored with the place, especially its scale. I admired how the concourse that rings the arena is so close to the seating areas, making access to our seats very easy, and, making it possible, in certain spots to have a good view of the court from close to the food vendors, Zag swag area, and rest rooms. The Kennel is, by major college basketball standards, a small arena. It seats 6,000 people. (North Carolina's Dean Dome, by contrast, seats 21,750; the Matt at the U of Oregon seats 12,364.) The arena was nearly filled to capacity today, but it was not a boisterous crowd and, because the game was such a mismatch, there wasn't much for a crowd to get loud about anyway. I tried to imagine what The Kennel must sound like when a game is close and the fans (especially the student section) gets boisterous. It must be thunderous.
The Zags jumped out to a quick lead right away, having little trouble scoring from the inside and from the perimeter against the far inferior Texas Southern team and just kept pulling farther and farther ahead, winning 80-45. I'd love to share my assessment of Gonzaga's team, but after watching such a mismatch, it's hard to tell just how good they are.
I had a fun afternoon, though, and am especially happy that I got to be in The Kennel!
2. Shannon dropped Kathy and me off at Kathy's apartment and, before long, we headed to the southern branch of Waddell's Brewpub and Grille for a casual dinner.
I left Spokane on a mission. Christy loves Smirnoff's Peppermint Twist Vodka. It's a seasonal product, isn't on the shelves very long, and was sold out in the Kellogg, Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, and State Line liquor stores.
Would it be available in Washington State? My original plan had been to see if it were available at an Albertson's on 57th Ave., but, after I dropped off Kathy, I forgot I was going to go up there, and turned north, not south, on Regal. My next move was to check out the vodka shelves at Total Wine in Spokane Valley.
Christy asked me to buy four bottles. At Total Wine, three were in plain sight, but upon closer examination, I spotted a peppermint stripe near the back of the shelf, mixed in with some other vodkas. I snatched bottle number four.
3. Back in Kellogg, I needed to pick up Charly, but when I checked on the Presidents Cup, the competition was nearing its end and the result was still in a bit of doubt. It had been a stirring day for the USA. Led by Tiger Woods, the red-shirted Yanks charged through the singles matches, winning seven points and needing one half a point to clinch the cup. I was frozen with anticipation. Charly could wait. So could the Zags. I'd find out later how the men's game turned out.
As I settled in, Aussie Cameron Smith sank a bold putt on 17 to defeat Justin Thomas and earn a late point for the Internationals. They still had a pulse. Then, I watched as Matt Kuchar and Louis Oosthuizen both struck crisp irons close to the pin on 17. If Kuchar could win this hole, it would guarantee him a half a point in this match and win the Presidents Cup for the US side. On the green, Oosthuizen played first and coaxed his devilish putt down a wicked little slope to within inches of the cup, but the ball slid by the hole. Kuchar's putt was less slick, a little flatter. He confidently and cheerfully stroked it. The ball disappeared. The USA completed their comeback and soon would joyfully hoist the coveted cup.
Now I could pick up Charly.
Now I could deliver the vodka.
Now I could listen to Christy recap the Zags' game.
And I now I could sit quietly in the Vizio room, click on my Smarty Pants TV's PBS app, and find an episode of Nature that would feed my latest source of intrigue.
I didn't quite make it through the entire episode before retiring for the night, but I now understand even more about this mysterious and ambitious migratory fish.
The eel is unreal.