Friday, January 26, 2007

Mrs. Knaster Goes to the All-Star Game

(Special guest post by Jess's mom)

Wow, not only did I get to see many of the best hockey players in the world, I get to be a guest writer for the Sharks Hockey Odyssey (SHO). Due to an inadvertent purchase of a Young Stars Game ticket and the purposeful purchase of a pair of tickets for the game itself, an interesting situation presented itself. I was all for selling the extra tickets to recoup some of the ongoing costs of the SHO, but Jess and Scott (my husband, Jess's father) talked me into joining the fun in Dallas. I have been travelling recently to Denver, New York and Denver again for family business, and I was really quite content to stay home and catch up. Obviously, I was convinced that I deserved to travel for fun.

I did invoke some maternal prerogative as I planned my travel. Since we didn't have a ticket for Monday night, I planned to fly into Dallas on Tuesday. Whereas Jess is required to fly economically (complete with layovers and stops), I opted for the direct non-stop flight from San Jose to DFW. I also took a taxi to the hotel, rather than the Super Shuttle, another nod to parental privilege. The Hotel Lawrence is a funky boutique hotel just across the street from Dealey Plaza and they were kind enough to downgrade Jess from his king-bed room to a room with two queens.

We took the hotel shuttle to the American Airlines Center along with other hockey fans (Jess knew them all already, of course) to see the Young Stars Game and the Super Skills competition. Our tickets were not together, so I went upstairs while Jess sat downstairs. I sat directly behind the television broadcast booth. Bill Clement, Doc Emrick, Mark Messier and Eddie Olczyk (I think) as well as the guys from TSN seemed to be having great fun broadcasting the rookie game and the skills competition. The fans seated next to me were friendly and enjoyed watching their hometown Stars competing. After we got back to the hotel, we had a nice dinner in the bar in the hotel lobby. A very nice gentleman actually thought that Jess and I were a couple, rather than mother and son. Very flattering, it made my day.

Wednesday we slept in a bit, then wandered across the street to Union Station to take the DART (light rail) down a few blocks to the West End district to find lunch. We had a nice meal at Landry's Seafood, then walked back towards our hotel to visit the 6th Floor Museum. The 6th floor of the Texas Book Depository has been made into an interesting, very moving museum chronicling the Kennedy presidency, the events of Nov. 22, 1963 and the repercussions of those events. We walked back to the hotel past Dealey Plaza, the grassy knoll, and some monuments, statues and reflecting ponds dedicated to the founders of the city of Dallas.

The All-Star Game was a lot of fun. We had seen the NHL All-Stars when the game was played in San Jose in 1997, and this was just as entertaining. As we approached the arena, we were stopped by Joe Thornton's mom, who gave Jess a hockey card signed by her son (see Jess's post for more details) and I took a picture of Jess with Joe Thornton's parents. We listened a bit to the concert by Robert Randolph and the Family Band and then went in when the doors opened. We did a bit of souvenir shopping for the family back home before the store got too claustrophobic, and then found our seats downstairs behind the goal. We enjoyed talking to other fans, watching the entertaining antics of the mascots (Tommy Hawk sat in front of us for a while) and just basking in the party atmosphere. The game, as usual, was entertaining hockey, since there were no hits, not much defense, and some other-worldly passing, shooting and goalie acrobatics. There was also plenty of scoring (my ears were still ringing from the incredibly loud horn that blew 17+ times the night before).

Thursday morning Jess got back into his regular solo routine, packing up his stuff without me having to nag or remind, checking out of the hotel and taking the Super Shuttle (which he'd arranged the day before) to the airport. He flew to Edmonton, via Denver and a 3-hour layover, while I left a couple of hours later on my decadent direct flight back home and back to being the mom.

When we agreed to let Jess embark on the SHO, both Scott and I talked about how we would love to do something like it. I'm not sure I would enjoy the travelling as much as I would have if I were younger and nimbler, but this was just the right amount of odyssey for me right now. Thanks, family, for encouraging me to go to Dallas; thanks to Scott and Devi for being resilient in my absence, thanks to Robin Dalton (Abigail's mom) for taking over the carpool while I was away and thanks to Jess, for letting me share some of the fun.


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