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    Dartplayer Dot Net :: View topic - The Thorn Report
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    The Thorn Report
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    Post new topic   Reply to topic    Dartplayer Dot Net Forum Index -> PORTLAND AREA Dart Association (PADA)
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    Thorn
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    PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN", Part 11

    St. Lucia's Diamond Botanical Gardens is a lush collection of the world's tropical plants. But, it's uniqueness comes from the silver creek of toxic volcanic runoff that trickles through this jungle ravine. So, while hummingbirds and butterflies flitted about the flowers, waterborne pests like mosquitoes were non-existent....





    I found some serious thorns. And wonder if this species might have provided blow darts for long gone natives, dipped in the backs of poison frogs...



    A buffet's worth of cocoa beans, mango, starfruit and more was on display...



    The mercury colored steaming soup of a stream spilled from the glittering Diamond Waterfall at the garden's end, where superman found his magic love orchid...





    But, keeping pace with Mr. Peters, we quickly ended leg two, and headed for leg three: snorkeling in a secluded islet bay...

    After a quick stop at a distillery for some free rum samples and another bottle for the boat. One brand, named Strong, actually was 180 proof--and one sip, no, a whiff almost, it was like "poof", big buzz...



    Unfortunately, time flies when you're having fun, and apparently, we just missed the last boat for the snorkel adventure. A letdown, but not a great loss. Instead, we found some wonderful shots of locals, bought some beer for the ride back to port, and chatted the day's memories away...













    Mmmm. Nothing like an ice cold Piton or two with the lovely views of St. Lucia. Thanks Mr. Peters...



    The ship was setting off early that day, and there was no time to flirt about town for a dart bar. Back on board, it was just another boring night of having an awesome time a dozen different ways. However, even though the voyage has been fantastic, I do lament the lack of dart discoveries and begin to prepare myself for a rather thin Thorn Report for this trip...

    Little did I know, I'd be wrong...
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    Thorn
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    PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    You know, life is a lot like a reality show. Wink

    And for that reason, I'm going to press pause on "DB IN" and jam in a mini-series of adventures from the past few months. You know, your basic five episode Rip City mix of hot shots, trick shots, league shots, and new dart spots...

    (In other words, I've got a ton of local coverage to share from the last few months and not enough time to write, let alone remember it. You waited a long time for the cruise stories; you can wait some more)

    "THE ADVENTURES OF THORN AND BONESY"

    Episode 1: "This Is What It's All About"

    This is what it's all about. Improving upon the hardware in A Division...



    Well, not exactly. Real life is about a bunch of other stuff too...

    Like having fun, family and friends, and always keeping an eye out for the little things that make you happy. For me, at home in Portland, that's usually darts, basketball, and rivers in no particular order...

    A student of mine scored some teacher brownie points by getting a Tony Parker autograph on the back of his homework spiral after a game in January. The Spurs and Blazers are currently neck and neck in the NBA playoff race...



    Another "student" was checking out my buddy Bones and the oches at the always popular SE Lucky Lab...



    Bones threw a Ton80 in warm-ups for the kid. Or maybe he hit it for himself--he looks pretty happy...



    If only he could do that in league this season...(blatant foreshadowing)


    For the Portland Thorns--me, Bones, BigShot, and MugsAway--this was the first road game in the 2010 Spring Season A Division campaign. As always, the Beer Barrels were tough competitors and class acts...





    A week later, the Ambushers clinked into our home saloon, ready to throw some spears down at Cheers...



    Our home bar is so hospitable: great service, wireless, space to sleep. This patron was passed out for most the match...



    But it's not all fun and games...



    Two weeks in, the Portland Thorns were 1-1 with mixed performances...

    In week three, we were at the Sellwood Public House. With eight boards and several teams at this pub, other PADA-ers were mixing it up outside before their match...



    Upstairs, they were already mixing it up in pregame warm-ups! At It Again was at it again against the Portland Thorns...



    Then, we were back at Cheers, under attack by the Slack Ass Bastards...





    BigShot managed one of those...uh..."nice outs". Doesn't everybody go D19-T9-D7 with 79 left?...



    And after the first four weeks of Spring League the Portland Thorns were 2-2. At this point, my teammates are playing fine and finer, and the mixed performances seem to be more and more mine. And less minor...

    Stay tuned for Episode 2, "171 Lucky Cosmic Roses"...
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    Last edited by Thorn on Sun Mar 28, 2010 11:32 pm; edited 2 times in total
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    PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "THE ADVENTURES OF THORN AND BONESY"

    Episode 2: "171 Lucky Cosmic Roses"

    Whoa. Went to the nephew's birthday--two hardcore hours of kids and cosmic bowling. Wild.



    Root beer, popcorn and pizza flying--your basic madness. Some boys preferred the "chest-shove-floor-buster" shot or the sixty-second long "two handed slow push roll" approach...



    Occasionally, a player would try to shoot like normal and end up laid out, face down at the toe line, watching their ball bang back and forth off the gutter guards. Great stuff. With camera ready, I had hopes of finding a dartboard in the bowling alley bar--no luck, though there was some cool autographed Blazer memorabilia--but I did find something in the arcade prize department. Can you?...



    Taking this pic I got a quizzical look from the teenager Barbie girl working the counter. But, how do you explain that??? "Um, well, I like darts a lot, and uh, I have a habit of looking for darts in toy stores, uh, because I used to live in Uruguay, uh, which is in South America, you know where that is don't ya, and, uh, so, they don't really have darts there so I'd look anywhere for them, and, uh, then I post the pictures and write stories about it on my internationally read blog, and uh, yeah, world champions read it." You don't. You just smile and walk away looking like a weirdo...

    On the flip side of things, my sister's got some wicked season tickets to the only pro game in town--the Trailblazers. Occasionally, a pair of tickets come my way--so I called in the sidekick, and Bones and I sloped into the Rose Garden to see the Kings get blown out. Anyone who lives here knows--whether you're a fan or not--the Blazers are the blood that pumps the pulse of Portland. Rip city baby...



    Across from the home bench, 14 rows up, right in front of the press area and television cameras...



    Nice seats.

    Check out this shot--Nicolas Batum, one of several exciting young players, is actually standing on the referee's feet before he catches the pass and drains a triple...



    Rudy Fernandez, another fabulous European player, also had a hot night...



    About this time, late February, the Blazers were doing a great job of staying in the playoff hunt despite an unbelievable string of injuries...

    On league night, we backdoored into the Horse Brass to face the Holy Throwers, another talented team of good guys...





    Meanwhile, another match was filling the corners at the other end of the Horse Brass, a legendary local dart pub. Always good to see the league growing...



    Back at our boards, as is often the case between our two teams, the battle was fierce...



    The captain of the Holy Throwers threw a super sly nine-count of nineteens, chalking up a Ton71, getting momentum, and walking all over me in '01 singles...



    When week five ends, the Thorns are 2-3, but fortunately, there's a three way tie for third in the division...

    But, something is really starting to bug me. Bones is throwing better than ever. So are BigShot and Mugs. But I've been dropping legs like crazy, even going winless in singles twice. We'd be in a lot better shape if I was doing my part...

    Oh well, all you can do is practice. Which we do a lot of at the Prescy Pally, the all new top secret practice facility--where something amazing happens almost every day...

    For example, one afternoon, between sets, Mr. Smooth was standing just shy of the line, looking at the board, and decided to chuck one behind the back--you know, like a basketball pass. First try, blam, double bull...



    Wish I got that on video. It's the kind of trick shot that made you rub your eyes. Here's a closer look--after he took two more attempts at it...



    We gotta get Mr. Smooth to rejoin the team! Or at least sub some time...(more blatant foreshadowing)

    Another lucky find was this mini-dart board my housemate was selling in our garage sale. Of course, I've seen these before, but never with the spinning baseball board on the back.



    Speaking of luck, it must have been approaching the Ides of March because something looking like the Tour de Leprechaun went pedaling by. The way I'm shooting, I should have tackled them all...



    Stay tuned for Episode 3, "What's New in NE, N, and NW"
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    Last edited by Thorn on Sun Mar 28, 2010 11:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "THE ADVENTURES OF THORN AND BONESY"

    Episode 3: "What's New in NE, N, and NW"

    Two new dart venues popped up in P-town. Fellow SEWAnaut and PADA board member Isaac and I buddied up to scope out the scoops...

    Migration Brewing, at 2828 NE Glisan, is across the street from Pambiche restaurant, on yet another gentrifying avenue in a daffodil-dotted neighborhood. It's exactly what this home-grown reporter would hope for: nice, new, great space, yummy grub, killer micro brews and two boards in the back. And, they love the Blazers--they even have a "Rip City" happy hour. Go on in...





    Crafted wood, custom stained glass, plasma TV's and plants, and a pleasant couch area for reading or games...



    The bar is tapped out with unique beers...



    I checked out the bar darts--nice and new, big bomber torpedoes, but certainly doable--and a pint of dark...



    Isaac checked out the oches and a pint of amber. Migration's master brewer, and also part owner, was there with a friend and patron, comparing pints and talking about putting a big barbecue out front for summer...



    The dart area is almost perfect. Great new boards, chalk and chalkboards with super lights and toe lines. A helpful rail bar and shelf runs around a corner. And, it's just right for its purpose: a game for folks to play, and one that doesn't take floor space when needed. It would not be surprising to see a team claim this tasty turf and bring Migration Brewing into the PADA.



    Alas, there are drawbacks. First and least, the brewery doors are there and may have occasional traffic passing through; but then again, opening those doors during a match may provide some sorely needed space for team play. Second, is space--there simply isn't much to spare, so doubles would be awkward, with absolutely no room to stand or walk behind a shooter. And, at least one chalkboard must move to provide room for chalkers. Third and perhaps worst, some shooters will simply have to adjust their stance because the back wall is just a few inches too close. I suggested to the owner that they could recess the boards in the wall, which would solve it and look cool. Better yet, swap the couch space and dart area and have ample room for both...

    But, overall, this place rocks--for darts and more...

    Lucky Labrador's Taproom on 1700 N Killingsworth, just west of Interstate, was our second stop. The fourth pub for this growing microbrewer is like the rest--big, spacious, simple and simply good fare, masterful craft brew, and family-dog friendly. With two dart boards front and center as usual...



    Here too, the new bar darts were bronze and burly, but still in pristine condition in glasses on the back shelf, awaiting their first drunken fling...



    At least, the bartender thought I was less weird than the bowling alley gal, for taking pictures of darts...

    We chucked a few and chugged a few and assessed the dart area...



    The twin boards were lovely with a clean burgundy carpet backdrop. The space isn't ample but adequate, surrounded by wood moldings and a wide window for peepers and passersby. An antique cabinet houses two neatly mounted chalkboards and provides a table top for your beer and gear. The oches are spot on, and the lights are just right for darts--oddly enough, they had the same lights at Migration. I didn't know it then, but there was a reason for that. And, about that moment, we saw the Migration brewer's buddy from an hour ago, jot in and disappear downstairs into Lucky Lab's basement brewery. Making beer sure is a friendly business...

    Overall, again, the set-ups are great, but the space is cozy, cramped for team play, and I definitely prefer seeing the score without turning around--they could easily put the chalkboards by the dartboards, even though there would be no space for chalkers. So, another super venue for some relaxing games, and a possible home for another newbie team...

    At a nearby table, a kid starting watching me throw while Isaac was outside on his cell phone. Knowing it would impress, I said "Watch this" and hit a bullseye for him. He smiled big, so I pulled my darts and tried again...DB, DB, chink, SB. So close. But even his dad was impressed now, and we chatted, and I told him darts is great for children, the math, the mental focus, the fun. It's always nice to spread the the love of the game...

    A leg or two later, having traded in pints for pitchers, Isaac and I were having a noticeably good time...



    Try to find time to peruse the new Lucky Lab Taproom and expose some unsuspecting folks to the culture of proper darts...

    Thursday came back in hurry, and we gathered at Cheers for the start of the season's second half. Week six we welcomed the Beer Barrels to our place...



    This is where I learned why the lights were the same at the Lucky Lab and Migration. The captain of the Beer Barrels helped install both! I'm starting to learn that this team has some serious sway with the Lucky Lab pubs in particular. The fruition of their "inside encouragement" is evident in at least five venues, although they admit it's difficult to get owners to think "league" instead of "leisure" quality...

    While the competition continued inside, I stepped out during my singles break, still struggling with my shot on an otherwise lovely evening. A familiar face and friend appeared from the moonlit shadows--coming to Cheers for a quick cocktail. He reminded me that the B League was battling up the block at the Lucky Lab Beer Hall on 1945 NW Quimby, so I scooted up there for some clandestine coverage, cloak and dagger style...







    It's always fun to see their expressions when they realize they got caught on candid camera...

    Then, I disappeared back to my match, hoping to help avoid giving our opponents a satisfying first win...



    We didn't. Six weeks in, the Thorns wound up 2-4. What's worse, my poor play continued the downward spiral...

    It was a good night to go stare at the half moon and wonder why...



    Stay tuned for Episode 4, "Boyz in the Hood"
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    PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "THE ADVENTURES OF THORN AND BONESY"

    Episode 4: "Boyz in the Hood"

    Spring break began with a rare opportunity to join my brother-in-law and the nephews for two days at Mt. Hood and my sister's new vacation home on the Salmon River. She was out of town--so it was "just the guys"--but her pug, Sandy Mae, came along to keep an eye on us...



    Night one was wet and soggy, with downpours and fog--but that doesn't hurt a puzzle by fireside, the sound of a rushing river, Blazers on the radio, steaks and wine, or hot-tubbing in the pouring rain. And what a peaceful night's sleep...

    That morning, I woke refreshed. I grabbed my toothbrush and starting thinking "coffee". Then, I stepped right in it, barefoot. That cold squish; too late to stop. Sandy Mae left a surprise for me. Next thing I know, I'm hopping to the nearest bathtub, toothbrush in hand, with three toes completely full of pug poop...

    Day one was still gray but the weather broke enough to try a trek up to Ramona Falls. The well-known five-mile loop leads up the Sandy River headwaters to a wonderful waterfall in the forest...

    I've been here before, but never in winter...

    Halfway up it began to snow. Awesome...









    Snowball fights between uncles and nephews soon ensued. I warned them not to mess with uncles. They didn't listen...





    Eventually, we got back to basecamp with two tired and slightly roughed up kids and a passed out pug. Of course, we took another hot tub in the rain...

    The nearby town of Welches is halfway up to the ski resorts and passes, tucked in the valley between the Sandy and Salmon rivers. At some point, during a dinner run to the local store, I got dropped off at the only likely dart tavern in town, The Shack, with only a few minutes to search...







    This place has just about everything--your typical all purpose mountain town sports bar that the locals love. Just no steel tip. But if you're hungry to play, there's at least one dartboard in this neck of the woods...



    Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion in Episode 5: "Life is a Lot Like a Reality Show"
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    PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "THE ADVENTURES OF THORN AND BONESY"

    Episode 5: "Life is a Lot Like a Reality Show"

    Night two was a lot like night one, but day two ushered in some heavenly sun.

    Sandy Mae was still keeping an eye on me--probably planning her next attack...



    Long story short, this place is gorgeous--take a walk around...













    By midday, the boys were begging to throw some darts in the fresh air out at the woodshed. How could I resist? Sandy Mae kept her eye on me, and vice versa...





    The set-up is a little rustic, and weather sensitive, but the nephews are getting better--and there's something sweet about playing outdoors along a river, waiting for a deer to stroll by...



    Halfway through our game of doubles cricket--a real critter crawled onto the sisal. Big mistake little dude. Because, without hesitation, in true uncle style, I said, "Stand back boys. Watch this!"...



    Now, I know that many of us have tried hitting a fly, or bee, or moth that's flirted with death, fluttering around a dart board. But I've never hit one before. But this time...

    I don't know what it was--an earwig maybe?--but three darts later, I know what it wasn't: alive. Blam! Look at that--right through the abdomen or thorax or whatever that is. Green bug goo coming out. Back to District 9 for that prawn. Totally Mr. Miyagi-ed it...



    Then, I had to explain to the slightly impressed and horrified nephews, "We NEVER throw darts at something alive...except if there's a bug on the board. And never you, just me. Darts is serious, not some silly game," trying to sound convincing...

    Suffice it to say, it was a fun couple days with the boys and Sandy Mae, who I took on several walks...

    Two days later, back in Rip City, it was league night again, week seven at the Horse Brass. Two AA Division teams were whooping it up in the back nook, preparing for war, while our team was warming up for a frontal assault on the Ambushers...



    And an unexpected Portland Thorn sympathizer came along...

    Bones' baby brother, who goes by G, arrived on short notice for a job. G's a cameraman and filmmaker specializing in extreme sports, especially skating and snowboarding, having worked with the likes of Sean White and Tony Hawk. He's not a dart player--yet--but after a few hours hanging with me and Bones, he was learning fast, and seem to really enjoy witnessing the rituals of competitive darts...



    Big brother Bones even hit a Ton80 in league for G--and himself, his second ever in league. The team needed it too, because, even though Mugsy and BigShot's sub, Mr. Smooth, were throwing highlights, I was still struggling...



    And, no thanks to me, the Thorns dropped another one to go 2-5. Ouch...

    But it was still a great night of old friends and new. Unfortunately, G would leave the next day--he's tumbling into a reality show RV with a bunch of world class snowboarders, partying their way up to Anchorage and back...



    The show's called "The Adventures of Danny and the Dingo" on Fuel TV, three seasons so far and going strong. It stars Danny Kass, two time silver medalist from the Torino and Salt Lake Winter Games. He also co-owns the Grenade label, a clothing line. The Dingo is Danny's mysterious yet trusty sidekick from Australia...



    Bones and I dropped G off at Danny's house, which was full of dudes and gear packing up to film three episodes of snowbound tomfoolery...

    Hence, the inspiration for this mini-series...



    Check out the website, and maybe click back there in a few weeks.

    http://www.hulu.com/the-adventures-of-danny-and-the-dingo

    You just might see G getting caught on his own camera, in some reality show escapade no doubt. Of course, after meeting me, he's also on top secret assignment to send me a picture of any dart boards he may stumble upon...

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2010 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    And now, back to the boat...

    "DB IN", Part 12

    In all my research, Antigua was extra blank on my dart treasure map--no email contacts, no bar websites. In fact, I was more or less out of leads until after the cruise, with nothing more than some slim hopes to search more on my extra day in Puerto Rico...

    So, what I found was pure luck...

    Instead, Friday was supposed to be just another gorgeous day of sun-bathing and snorkeling and swaying palm trees with my Montreal gal pals...



    By now, the fair Canadians and I were quite a team--after another delicious breakfast looming over St. John's Harbor, we zipped passed the gangway photographers, down the wharf to the drivers...



    Minutes later, we were tumbling through town for few dollars each round trip, heading for a few hours at picturesque Dickerson Bay...



    Not bad eh?

    And then, in giddy shock, I stumbled across a priceless Thorn treasure...

    In this case, on this particular journey, the ultimate dream of dreams, as impossible as it seems, would be actually playing darts on the sands of a gorgeous South Caribbean beach...

    And--as soon as our guide dropped us off at the afternoon rendezvous point--the only thing between us and the beach was an open air bar. It was busily bustling with locals and tourists, shooting pool, trading dollars, drinks clinking, and there it was...



    A steel tip board, circled in schooner rope, in the back corner, hidden behind the upper half of the kitchen door...

    Silent, bur all smiles, I spun around and gave little Miss Montreal my camera to click pics for me while simultaneously digging my darts out of the bag. By now, the ladies are well aware of my secret mission on this cruise and were more than willing to watch a few minutes of my madness...

    Slipping in my flights, I sized up the situation with the kitchen door--top half propped open, busily being used by waiters as a counter to drop and go from the cook. But as I'm asking the bartender about it, one of the regulars breaks away from his buddies at the pool table, and asks if I want to play...

    For money.

    I didn't hesitate. But, I really didn't know what I was up against. This guy was nice enough, but his eager attitude made it pretty obvious that he probably bets on anything and everything while spending most his life down at this bar and beach. And who knows how good he might be--not to mention a home court advantage: board was low, thatched roof in my throw, soft wood plank floor and an eyeballed off-center oche, with waiters crisscrossing...

    The board was decent enough though.



    I let him pick the stakes. And, to my surprise, he said "Three darts, high score for a dollar." This told me one of two things: either he's hustling me, or I'm gonna hustle him...

    We diddled. Then threw. He won, up one dollar. Then I lost again, $2 in the red...

    I wanted to lose the first anyway, out of respect as a guest. If he was better than me, fine, I could afford a few dollars for a dart dream come true. Besides, I was already in heaven just being right here right now. But, after seeing his throw and random targets, I knew that some decent accuracy on the 20, 19 or bullseye would be enough to control the game. And impress the growing group of snickering onlookers...



    Game three, me. Game four, me. All even. Game five, him--I wanted to keep him playing!--down a dollar again.

    But then, quickly, he decided it would be better to play outside, and before I knew it, he had a soft board and bar darts, and we had it hooked it up outside...



    And this was it.

    Where "X" marks the spot...

    Darts in paradise...



    I love this picture, the dart frozen in flight...



    I hit a few corks, impressing some spectators, but mostly to please myself--another mini-notch in the belt. There may have been a nice triple or two in there too, but the scores didn't really matter--two or three fat singles would beat his shot more often than not...



    Game six, seven, eight. Up $2. About then, with some subtle sportsmanship, I said, "We'll play until someone wins $5," and, seeing some sense, he quickly agreed. I took game ten, threw game eleven, and won the next three...

    He paid, we shook, and the ladies and I took to the beach...

    We looked left...



    And ahead...



    And then we headed right, with me giggling the whole way...



    Flipping out our towels under the palms at the far end, we snorkeled the rocks along the point...



    Unknown to me, my camera was stuck on full zoom. There weren't many fish but I still found some thorny things...







    Miss Montreal made a beer run, and we emptied the collapsible cooler all afternoon. We had a backgammon board and I beat another local--the jet ski rental guy--at that. How about that? Darts champion and backgammon champion of Antigua, Thorn...



    Ahhhh....nothing like an ice cold Wadadli lager to celebrate...



    Nothing could possibly be better than this. Everything was perfect...

    Until this cop arrested me...


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    PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2010 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    TALK ABOUT BUSTED...

    I'm just kidding! I didn't get arrested! Hehe. I asked that officer to pose in the picture--it's one of my favorites shots...

    Sorry for the long delay, I know many of you have been checking regularly...

    But good news! I'm about to take another cruise along the Pacific Coast, and I still have lots of shots and anecdotes from around Portland: league stories, Oregon Open photos, silly and stellar sights on the practice board including a few legs with one of the top players in North America! Plus, Bones and I have re-designed and improved the "Pressy Pally"--our new nickname for the Portland Thorns' top secret practice facility (aka the garage)--and we've been bombing away...

    So, have faith TR followers, Thorn's endless adventures will continue soon...

    Over and double out.

    Wink
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    PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Finally, it's time for the final chapters of...

    "DB IN", Part 13

    Arrested!?! For drinking in public?! Yeah right. This is the Caribbean baby!

    The Antiguans were kind and hospitable, happy to share their handsome island with visitors. I asked that policeman to pose, and it became one of many great people shots I'd get that afternoon...

    Eventually, it was rendezvous time, and we wandered back to the dart bar on the beach to meet our driver for the return to the port...







    Arriving a little early, there was time for one more glistening Wadadli from the smiling owner...



    Finally, it was bye bye Dickerson Bay, thanks for the memories and the unexpected treasure I uncovered at a thatched roof beach bar....

    Here's the name if you ever make it there--I wouldn't count on the email or phone number being current though. Ahhhh, you have to love that laid-back island lifestyle...





    Bundling into our minivan all salty and sandy, our driver quickly trundled us back down the pot-holed road toward town. It was another nice "mini tour", getting to see the people doing their daily routines at peak activity times...





    I love the picture above--the driver's smile, the action, the reflections...

    The photo below is another favorite because this walking woman saw me coming, and humbly hid under her umbrella, creating a intriguing image...



    Once we returned, I had another hour or two before disembarkation, and I wasn't about to waste it. Settling our bill, I broke off from the gals, and started hunting, hoofing around the bustling streets for another bar with a dartboard...



    This was exciting. The marketeers and vendors, drivers and salespeople, were buzzing around making business, inter-mingled with tourists. Less legitimate locals may have also been lurking in the crowds or corners, looking for the more foolish traveler...

    For this reason--and a dying battery--I didn't break out my camera. Hopefully my description will provide you some sights and sounds...

    I chose my path and pattern cautiously, but also had confidence in my travel experience and attitude. First, I asked a pedestrian who appeared knowledgeable, holding down a corner with some friends, and he pointed me a few blocks "that way", where a bar might have darts. I wove through the people crowding the sidewalks and storefronts. A couple streets later I jogged across the street, between honking mopeds, and asked a corner policewoman for more guidance. Thanking her, she added, "Be careful"...

    Soon, I found it--a purple painted pub on the second floor of wooden building. Creaking up the stairs, the bar windows were wide open, a central pool table was being played, and a rickety balcony was offering a colorful view of the weathered neighborhood. But, no darts. The bartender suggested another place an alley or two away...

    Now I was well outside the "zone" of regular tourist activity that generally just swells several blocks outside the port--I was in the real part of town, where visitors are seldom seen...

    The cracked but sunny streets grew quieter, and the few pedestrians I passed had increasingly quizzical looks, like "what are you doing here". Then, I found the place. I'm not sure if it even had a name. The regulars definitely did not expect a gargantuan gringo to appear, asking about darts...

    I saw the board right away--a plastic soft tip board, mounted too high, unplugged and who knows if it worked; certainly it was more decoration than recreation. No need to ask about bar darts or suggest this pub to other oche-lovers, but, to me, it was another precious gem to add to my booty of memories...

    At first I hesitated to ask these gentlemen to be in a photo--one, they looked lit and possibly unfriendly--besides, everyone in there gave me a firm don't-bother-me glare. But, if travel has taught me anything, it's this: a little respectful kindness is a universal language. And, instead of missing the chance to interact, out of my own fear and ignorance, I got a hidden thumbs-up, followed by some sincere handshakes between strangers...



    Then, after identifying myself and described my unusual purpose to the owner--the man behind the bar--the offer of a little free publicity got me another free beer, an ice cold can of Wadadli Dark, and some awesome pictures of what life is really like in one corner of one Caribbean island...



    Mission accomplished, and time ticking away, I said thanks and slipped out, zigzagging down new roads and alleys, returning to the Victory...

    Along the dock, a snorkel tour captain was prepping his boat for another day, under the Antigua flag...



    Through security and onto the dock, another island, another culture and country, about to be bid farewell...



    ...and just after clicking this parting shot, I heard a damsel in distress, yell-crying about losing her wallet or ID or cruise card or something. I turn and see her husband, completely drunk and down on the pavement in a pretzel. It's a couple I met a few days earlier, and they've been less than prudent, getting completely bombed on cocktails all day. He's nearly blacked-out and she's wailing while going through her disheveled purse, frantically. It was quite the scene...

    Well, my good Samaritan senses kicked in and I quickly assisted them: onto the boat, into their stateroom, and even made sure their steward checked on them. It turns out that my good deed would pay off in unexpected ways later on in the trip...
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    PostPosted: Thu May 27, 2010 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN", Part 14

    So far, it's been six days and a half dozen dart discoveries, sneaking through the South Caribbean between hurricanes. Besides a blip with my lost bag, and missed opportunity or two, things had worked out beautifully...

    Like the view leaving Antigua. The love-boat like passengers gathered to soak in the tropical rainbows and cotton candy sunset...

















    Nice.

    I always enjoy time on the deck, staring at the sea, feeling the waves, a buffeting wind, the whitecap's spray. The stormier the better, in my opinion.

    But a smooth ocean, one that's perfect for spying sea creatures, is equally mesmerizing.This trip, however, I didn't see much marine life from the ship.

    There was one semi-aquatic mammal though. I think it's called a "towelephant." It was trying to steal my rum! Well, we'd just see about that!...



    After an awesome day of sun and sand steel, I returned to my stateroom to freshen up for the next to last night aboard the Victory. Bed turned down, chocolates on a plate, and feeling like a king...

    After a shower and change of clothes--my clothes!--it was, of course, another delectable dinner with the Jersey-Montreal menagerie, followed by live shows, slot-tourneys, and disco lessons...



    (Again, some fun video of these scenes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqRKWehn4uE )



    Still early in the evening, I snuck outside for another few minutes circling the boat, watching the splashing wake and moonlit water, looking for distant ships or island shadows, and inhaling the sea air...

    I passed a window to the back office of the purser's office. By now--thanks to the lost luggage issue--I knew both the pursers well, and they both turned to give a quick hello-smile. And I noticed the poster on the wall...



    It wasn't for me, but it felt like it was. And I was.

    On my way back inside to meet up for the comedy show in the main theater, Lenny, the cruise director came hustling by in his perma-grin style. Seeing me (and my own hopeful grin) he stopped.

    In my best cyber-english accent, speaking in fast forward, he said. "Right! There you are mate! How's it going, have a bit a look round today did ya?! Ok, ok, so, tomorrow then, bout six or seven, we'll go have a look at the crew bar eh? But keep it down, you know, not supposed to be going there right? But we'll have a leg or two. Right good, ok mate, must get back to work! See you then!" And he smiled and sped off into the theater...

    Whoa. I just got invited to the crew bar to play darts tomorrow!...after another day of paradise on our last stop St. Kitts...
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 02, 2010 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN", Part 15

    Day seven was another stunning day in the South Caribbean, this time on the picture perfect island of St. Kitts...





    Once again, the Canadians and I teamed up for one last chance to sunbathe and snorkel, and once again, we found a great driver at a great price. And in moments we were whizzing down the pavement, out of town, across the island's isthmus to Cockleshell Bay...



    As the pavement gave way to sand, we followed the road past windmill ruins of days gone by toward the secretive beach...



    Soon after arriving, we made camp under a shady tree in the cove's corner, between the beach and rocks, a stone's throw from the rustic open air bar and rental shacks...

    We noticed strange creatures hiding in the hillside foliage. Wild goats and monkeys were mingling, making a mutual living off the land, and the occasional tourist...





    But before the first beer, while the gals were still rubbing in tanning oil, I went straight into snorkel mode, creeping down a worn but thorny path to the point...





    Although there were some spectacular dive sites so far--St. Thomas and Dominica for example--they were rushed. This time I had all day to explore the shallow reefs of St. Kitts...

    And I did...























    After an hour, I was back on the beach convincing my friends how sweet it is. They meanwhile, had already made the first beer run, and had a six pack chilling in our cooler...

    It's hard to describe the peaceful satisfaction I felt that moment, as I leaned back, enjoying an icy Carib lager, just people watching, reflecting on the journey...

    So, I won't bother trying...

    I'll let the pictures do the talking...






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    PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN", Part 16





























    Man, what an awesome day.

    I went snorkeling again, this time taking Miss Montreal on her first dive, believe it or not. Mama Montreal is a bit protective of her only daughter. She fell in love with it...

    If you love fish, there's plenty video of this scene at the end of: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqRKWehn4uE

    Listen close, you can hear "Hey Ya" playing as the stiltwalkers wished us well on the final leg of the cruise...

    That pig--the bar owner's pet--is about 700 pounds! Four big men could sit on it like a couch. It likes hanging out under the kayak rental racks...

    The resort in the third pic up is where Tiger Woods had his honeymoon...think about that these days...

    You should come see St. Kitts before it's too late--the entire southern end of the island is about to be overrun with timeshares...

    Now, back to the boat and a special treat: getting to play darts in the crew bar!
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    PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN", Part 17

    Sailing west-by-northwest for San Juan, Puerto Rico, we left our last harbor, hugging the coast of St. Kitts. The mountains squeezed a tropical rainbow from the clouds, vivifying the ghosts of the Brimstone Hill Fortress--a UNESCO historical site and one of the most well preserved fortifications in the Americas...

    My head spun make-believe memories of storms, ships, soldiers, cannonballs, guns, slaves, sailors and pirates...



    Islands faded and strange new ones appeared, like Sint Eustatius, first noted by Columbus, but more notable for its long history of trade in contraband, arms, and ammunition, among other duty free pleasures...

    In fact, without this little gem, the United States may have never been. In 1776, this is where early American revolutionaries bought their weaponry to resist the tightening British grip on the thirteen colonies...



    Interesting, yes.

    Before sunset, a third volcanic shard of paradise jutted from the sea, another member of the Netherlands Antilles, the island of Saba, with a great view of it's precipitous slopes...



    And then, the blue Caribbean sky turned pink, then orange, then purple, and I returned to my stateroom to prepare for my last night aboard the Victory...

    Showered and swirling the cubes in a fresh Cuba Libre, I saw my message light blinking. It was Lenny, telling me to meet him in the foyer, after dinner but before the first show, for a quick trip down to the crew bar and a few legs of darts!

    Sweet!

    Now, I've got to tell you, I've traveled with three cruise companies so far on some amazing itineraries--Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Carnival--and, I must say, overall, this one was the best. Maybe it was the boat packed with beautiful, colorful, younger people. Maybe it was the ports and tours. Maybe it was the super crew staff that really seemed to bend over backwards to make me happy. Maybe it was the fast friendshp with the Canadians. Maybe it was just Lenny...



    Between watching his performances on stage and the previous quick chats, I've got him all figured out. He must be one of Carnival's best veteran cruise directors, top tier for his profession--he's actually retired, but occasionally takes requests to fill in for a few weeks, maybe to train or cover a co-worker that needed time off. And, for an older gent, the guy has the energy of a teenager, and can sing and dance like a rock star, with a comic timing that your giggles can't resist...

    Here he is, leading the chorus at one of two shows he emcees each night...



    But furthermore, he's British, and of course enjoys 501 and a pint or two, which only increased my chance to talk him into this special request...

    Now, invoking his powers, he was taking me where I wasn't allowed, into the labyrinth of crew quarters that hides somewhere inside the bow of the ship. I followed his lead...

    With a quick spin, he opened a nearly unnoticeable "crew only" door in the elevator lobby. Instantly, everything went from the carpeted colors and blinking glitz of the "passenger world" to the all white walls and halls and pipes and bulkheads of the "employee world". This area basically has everything the passengers do--a bar, pool, gym, and all day food service--but crunched into much less space and minus the flair. As, we wound our way through three or four tightly packed floors, we passed an odd crewman or two, who'd give a nod to Lenny and a quizzical glance at me, until we reached the crew bar...

    A lone off-duty break-taker was there, playing video games on the big plasma screen. Technically, pictures weren't allowed, but between Lenny's prowess and my sneakiness, he let me click a few quick shots...



    Having about a half hour until showtime, I quickly flighted my darts and, after sliding the foosball table over, I scoped out the board and oche. A bartender soon appeared and Lenny comped us both a beer. With pen and paper, Lenny and I dove right in to three legs of 501...



    For the second time in my life, I was playing darts at sea, which, if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend. Lenny wasn't bad, but I wasn't badder, and went undefeated. Regardless, for a moment, he was back in a pub in London, and I was in Thorny heaven...



    Somewhere between leg two and three, four officers strode in for their post shift thirst quenchers. Despite my "illegal" presence, they gave no notice, no doubt due to my high-ranking host--I snuck this picture before Lenny could remind me to keep a low profile...



    It was one of those times--like playing a pro in exhibition or shooting in an exotic place--when the excitement of the situation outweighs the play. I was just thrilled to be doing what I was, when, where and with whom I was. And the time flew by...

    With a smile and handshake, we killed our drinks, and Lenny lead me out of the crew area, like a king through the secret passages of his castle--popping out through a new door, above a dark corner of the stage. With a final thanks, we parted, and he darted behind the curtains of the ship's spacious theater...

    Twenty minutes later, I was in the audience with another cabin-made cocktail and my new friends from Jersey and Canada, watching the English guy I just played darts with, singing classic rock covers and dancing around in a Dolly Parton costume for the laughing clapping crowd. Including me, and my secret smile...



    Seven days and seven nights of oceans and islands, history and nature, and my favorite pastime...

    It went fast, but the memories seem like more than a week's worth...

    Late that last night, I took a final stroll around the deck, breathing the whispering wind and lamenting the end all alone on the black-lit deck, but feeling like a pretty lucky guy...



    But, boat or no boat, the trip wouldn't stop instantly. Not only did I plan on being among the last passengers to disembark--another way to get one more breakfast buffet and more bang for your buck--but I had another night to explore Puerto Rico before my Monday flight home...

    Hopefully, I might track down another dart treasure or two...
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    PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN", Part 18

    It's always bittersweet when a vacation winds down, but this adventure had another day to go, exploring more of Puerto Rico.

    I told the Canadians another one of my vacation-value-maximizing strategies: stay on the cruise boat as long as you can--why rush off first thing in the morning? There were still breakfast buffets to enjoy and some activities to try.

    I never did get a chance to ride the water slide, but Miss Canada and I did get in a game of mini golf, seventeen stories over San Juan's historic harbor...



    But, as all good things do, time aboard eventually ran out, and we rolled our bags down the gangplanks back to land. I hugged my new friends goodbye--"email, eh"--and helped them board their shuttle to the airport. As I stood across the street, I clicked a picture of them waving goodbye from their van..."Revoir mes amis!"



    Now, I was alone with my recovered luggage, hiding under the shade of a wispy red flowered tree, a little lost and short of a plan--other than trying to contact the couple I scraped off the dock a few days ago. I'll call them Team Florida-- I was hoping they'd follow through on their promise to share a room for a night, before my flight home the next day...

    After an hour or so, and a few left messages later, I was getting worried, and thinking about how to find a cheap hotel--somewhere near a potential dart bar. And then, they called. A happy taxi ride later, I was on the doorstep of a fabulous timeshare where they were staying...

    Team Florida was actually out and about, exploring a national park, so I had an hour or so to kill before checking into the suite we would share. I left my bag with the front desk, and went out back to check out the incredible pool lagoon, bars, and beach!







    East of San Juan's old city, but a world apart, Isla Verde is one of the resort districts, with a wall of luxury hotels looming over the sand, sun-worshipers, and jet-skiers skimming the refracting waves...



    I met a lovely lady while I waited for my friends to return, and enjoyed making another fast friend for a brief moment...



    By the time Team Florida returned, I had already interrogated the concierge about possible nearby dart bars. A place called the 101 Sports Bar was right down the street...sounds like a dart bar to me...

    Team Florida arrived. Like me, they like to travel hard--not wasting a moment not doing what needed to be done. So, after tossing our bags in our room, we headed out for a margarita lunch to plan an adventure across the island to the phosphorescent bays on Puerto Rico's southwest corner...



    By now they knew my hobby, and three burritos later, we walked down the block to the 101...

    The owner and regulars were there, along with a table of tourists, all laughing about something or other...





    I checked out the menu, and the bar darts, and the two-oche nook where one board hung next to another's shadow...





    The plaques and trophies told me what I've come to expect as a dart explorer--the scene here is more a memory than a discovery. But it looks like they still get games going here occasionally, and I'd recommend you find this place if you're seeing San Juan...





    After a leg or two against Team Florida, we clinked our glasses and took a parting shot of 101's version of the Cheers cast...



    But now it was time for something better than darts. Something that is far more rare, and therefore, part of the Thorn Report. Something that very well may be the crowning jewel in another unforgettable journey abroad. A beautiful drive through the tropical mountains to the other side of paradise, in a rental car, into the sunset, where the algae comes alive in electric blue glows, under the moon between the mangroves...

    As we left the outskirts of the city, I caught a glimpse of another potential target if ever I return...



    And then, we were buzzing through the topography, toward the famous bays of La Parguera...


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    PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN", Part 19

    By the time we crossed the island it was evening. La Parguera is a cozy little town on the edge of one of Earth's more impressive watery wonders: bioluminescent dinoflagellates, or, algae that glows with contact. Tourism around here depends on the stuff...

    Above the wooden docks and warmly lit market square, we strolled by an open air bar that looked like a possibility for some projectiles. Alas, just billiards and dollar drink specials...



    Folks and families were milling about contentedly as some light Latin music was floating amongst the smell of seafood skewers...



    With three tourist-trap tickets in hand and a few minutes to kill, we mingled among the curio stalls with some humidity-defying ice-cold beers...

    The central sculpture looked like a dartboard...



    Then, we flip-flopped down to the humble docks where the well-worn motorboats were moored...





    As we putted backward from the dock I was reminded of a day long ago on Lake Titicaca, where we sputtered across a windy channel in a similar boat--wooden hull, some holes here and there, water sloshing in the bottom, and an outboard engine that made an old lawnmower look like a monster truck...

    A dozen giggling tourists were aboard, including this attractive Latina threesome, as well as our "diver", whose job was to churn up the sea and stimulate the phosphorescent micro-organisms...



    The night was dark, but almost not dark enough. A quarter moon was playing hide and seek with some puffy clouds. We wound through a mangrove maze until we found the algae cloud that changes places each day, migrating with the tidal movements...

    Cutting the engine, the tropical silence almost muffled our excited whispers as our diver dove in...

    Of course, pictures of this are nearly impossible. But I'll attempt to illuminate you...

    At this moment, your eyes dilate to maximum aperture. You strain to see the faint neon azure glow that casts an aura around the swimmers' hands and feet. Reaching down to sweep the water with your own hand, you still feel unsure if you see what you are seeing, although you can almost feel the eerie wonder...

    The two Latina sisters joined the diver for a dip in the psychedelic soup, tripling the pseudo-hallucinations as they swished and splashed around...

    Too soon, everyone was back aboard, and the little two stroke engine coughed into action...



    Our swimmer sure loved his job. Either that, or there's more to that algae than we realize...

    Chugging back, passing soft shack lights on the shoreline between mangrove-root silhouettes, a mild static storm formed and flashed in a far-off cloud...

    This moment I did catch in my lens--you can see it at the end of my video version of this trip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqRKWehn4uE

    Before a slow stroll back to our car, with a long drowsy drive ahead, I decided that some shark and marlin kabobs were the best choice to end this chapter...



    Waking up in the backseat, back in San Juan, Team Florida and I hit the hotel casino before bed. No luck and no pictures allowed, but another nice last hoorah...

    In the morning I had time for a swim before my flight that afternoon. The lovely lady was there, and I took my last South Caribbean swim with her kids...







    And I got one more pic of Team Florida before we, me and my baggage headed for the airport...



    Before I knew it I was sky high, waving goodbye to this amazing place on planet Earth...



    Sometimes, vacations don't leave you completely satisfied. And, as I twisted my air knob and leaned back my window seat, propping my American Airline pillow against the fuselage, thinking about my adventure, I realized that this wasn't one of those times...
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    PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Thanks BobCat! It's really nothing more than sharing stories about stuff I like. But a big thanks to you and anyone that happens to be following along!

    (Normally, I'd politely ask folks to post their comments in the "Thorn Retort", which is a parellel thread in the PADA forum--I'm not sure why I asked Craig to set up two threads for me, I musta had a reason way back when!--but with compliments like yours, I'd be more than happy to have you post a reply here anytime BC!)

    I still have one more entry to wrap up "DB IN", but here's a teaser from the sign-up table for my long overdue updates on the Oregon Open...

    Any SEWAnauts recognize anyone? Some are harder to recognize than others...right BC? Wink



    Thanks again for following along y'all...
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    PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2010 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    THERE'S A DOUBLE-B IN "CARIBBEAN", Part D10

    Sitting here, more than 10 months later, it still seems like yesterday...

    The disappearing islands...





    Flying over the pristine Florida bayous...



    And, if you remember, I told you this was a great trip, bound and wound in super deals and bangs for the buck--tickets, tours, fabulous new friends, darts, and local liquors. But there was a misadventure or two, like my lost luggage, and my $250 "credit", which, with receipts in hand, I promptly presented and processed at the American Airlines counter during my layover in Miami--at the source of the "error"--so I could get back the money I spent on toiletries and tourist swag...



    It turned out, AA tried to screw me--three months later they sent me a check for about $80! Furious, I never cashed it but spent the next weeks and months trying to call, email and snail mail my way to justice. Finally, the day I posted "DB IN", Part 19, I got another check. This time it was for $170, which--despite trying to short me again--was enough to to say okay and give up, mostly satisfied...

    So, all total, it was about $1500 in invaluable memories and stories, plus darts in paradise...

    And, I'm pretty sure I got a glimpse of the guy that snooped through my bag and fiddled with my darts a week before...



    I gave him the old stink eye as we bask-taxied into the tarmac...

    But in another way--thanks to his meddling--my darts may have gone on a grander journey than me...

    Who knows where they flew.

    Which is pretty cool.

    I love my darts.

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    A BELATED APRIL FOOLS...

    Man, I have got to make an effort to get ahead of my backlog of sightings and flightings. According to iPhoto, I got shots going back to April 1st!...

    League stories. Travel stories. Trick shot stories. Oregon Open Stories. Stories that aren't even related to darts!

    But before I play catch up, here's a heads up about what the months ahead...

    Once again, I'm taking some time off from teaching public school. My future isn't clear yet, but I've got my eyes on new paths to new places--maybe back to South America, New Zealand, or perhaps stay put longer in Portland by family and friends. But, instead of spending summer break floating the Lower Clackamas River--like I have for the past decade or so--I've found my dream job on the Upper Clackamas working for Blue Sky Rafting! link

    That means plenty of my favorite things--darts, water, nature, and travel.

    So if any SEWAnauts splashdown in Oregon this summer or next, I've got some whitewater and whitehorse possibilities for you. Just PM me if you'd like to plan a run down some DB rivers or shoot some Class V darts!





    And, to all the PADA members that read along, I want to apologize for not being on the local beat as often of late, covering the great people and players of Rip City. But I do hope to see you at the Outdoor Shoot at Moon and Sixpence July 17th!...

    And there are several of you that are due to make the Thorn Report sooner than that...

    But first, back to basics...

    In early April, the Portland Thorns were fighting to stay alive in the playoff hunt. It was Bones' birthday, Bigshot just returned from vacation, and Mugs Away was throwing better than ever...

    Too bad I didn't know I was in the early stages of (dare I say it?) a serious case of dartitis--which would last months. All the more frustrating to let your team down when they need you most, against the likes of division-leading At It Again...



    Bonesy, Mugsy, and Big Shot had a great night--but not me, and another loss...

    Big Shot had a great week-before too, in Cancun...



    Me, I had a not so great walk, wondering what the hell is wrong with my throw...



    At least the Blazers were doing well.

    Over and double out.

    A BELATED APRIL FOOLS 2...

    Next April 1st, try this: if you're midway into a friendly game of '01, act completely normal as you chalk your score, but write all three digits wrong. See what they do, and try to argue you're right as long as you can... Wink
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    PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    MAY THE FARCE BE WITH YOU...

    The next week, we flipped over to the four boards at Triple Nickel to knuckle-slap against the Slack Ass Bastards. Another league match was doing the same. Meanwhile, the Trailblazers were in full force making a playoff run on the flatscreens, and the town was a twitter. With another clear sky and mid-spring moon, it was a beautiful night for darts...

    Maybe you'd like to see how many Blazers logos and items you can spy...







    A great number of new women players were there that night, and more join the PADA all the time, which, of course, is the coolest thing ever...



    This lovely lady actually gave me a bag full of darts sets!



    The donation was from the owners of Soft Tipper, our one and only loyal Portland dart supply store. I was planning to outfit the Outdoor School program--for those rainy days when archery just isn't any fun. And, along with some used boards contributed by other supporters, I would have enough gear to supply all five campgrounds! More on that later...

    Thanks so much to the owners at Soft Tipper and other contributors for the donations! It's all about spreading the game...

    Meanwhile, the Thorns and SAB's were going at it--I remember some good games and shots all around, including myself, despite the growing awkwardness in my throw. I think we barely lost. Again. A trend that would worsen with me as the second half of the season wore on...

    Speaking of wear and tear...

    This shooter is the epitome of a passionate PADA dart player...



    While these guys epitomized the real heart of the Rose City...



    Late that night, back home in the Pressy Pally, I quickly spread out my loot for a quick look...



    Before bed I checked out a little present from BigShot's latest Mexican getaway...

    And I studied the flier and payouts for the 41st Oregon Open. I was hoping I'd come out of my funk and get a lucky pick in the Friday Blind Draw, like I did at my first OO, four years before...



    Over and double out.

    THE BEST DART BAR URINALS IN RIP CITY...

    I'm starting a mini-series on the most thought-provoking steel-pub porcelain in Portland!

    It'll be more interesting than watching my darts these days...maybe I'll find my game when I'm in there. Wink

    First up, and winner of the "Youth Award", the Triple Nickel, and one of my favorites. This baby was built for...well...it looks like... babies! Despite a long history as a bar where minors aren't allowed, my theory is this place used to serve kids. Or maybe it's some kind of plumbing issue with the pipes. Either way, being pretty tall, I always get a chuckle using this super low urinal...


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    PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    By the way, I see nine pieces of blazers pinwheels and paraphernalia in the previous post...

    PLAYING WITH THE QUEEN OF DARTS...

    Finally, the weekend arrived for the 41st Oregon Open--which I'm told, is the one of the longest running tournaments in the country. No doubt there would be another great turnout and good time for all, with shooters from the Pacific Northwest and beyond...

    I'm not sure when or why it started, but long ago I traded some emails with SEWA's own QueenBee, also known as General Roush, when I was still living abroad. With great pleasure, I finally met her in person at the Pacmania II tourney last summer...

    Then, on Friday, a few hours before the opening Blind Draw event at the Milwaukee Elks Club, I got a surprise phone call from ChristinaO, a local friend and fellow SEWAnaut. She had just picked up QueenBee at the airport, and they wanted to come over to visit--and enjoy some warm-up darts! What a treat for me--not only getting to shoot around with a top-ranked Women's ADO player before the Oregon Open, but also having opportunity to become better friends...

    Bonesy was excited to get to play with her too...

    Next thing I know, the ladies strode into the Pressy Pally. Soon after we exchanged hellos and hugs and how-are-you's, it was on: boys versus girls!

    Bones was shooting better than ever, but I was still in denial about my dartitis. Meanwhile, CO shot well and QB was clutch...

    We quickly went down 5 to 0...



    But we battled back to tie it up at 5 to 5!! A perfect time to call it quits and get ready to roll out...



    But first, it's time to capture the moment!...



    QueenBee always has a jovial glow! Too bad I look like I got hit by a truck...

    Well, that's ok, at least Bonesy always looks cool. And my other housemate looks even worse than--but at least he knew enough about darts, from months of watching and listening to us, that he should get in on a picture with General Roush...



    ChristinaO was so busy coordinating with other out-of-town players, that she left early, and QueenBee opted to ride with me. We had a lovely drive and conversation across the city to the venue for the Oregon Open...

    And then, we were there! The place was abuzz with PADA board members and players, all preparing for three days of dart madness. We signed up, and dove right in...



    There were all kinds of familiar faces from cool places there!...



    Contingents of early contenders were congregating at the long tables between the dartboards and oches...



    Others kept streaming in to sign up, then catch up with old acquaintances, ordering food and drinks, taking fresh air breaks or preparing for play...

    Without question, a very good time was about to begin...



    At some point, QueenBee said, "I have this funny feeling we're going to get paired in the Blind Draw." I had that hunch too...

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    THE 41st OREGON OPEN...

    It turns out QueenBee and I didn't draw each other, but I still got a another friend and strong shooter from Tacoma. I played decently--we made it to the money round--but I continued to battle the yips and probably disappointed my partner a bit. We both knew we were a strong pair in the easiest flight...

    As I recall QueenBee also got a good draw and did well. She continued to do win money all weekend...

    But I don't know how some of you do it. How do you attend all or most of the events?! That is a lot of darts and partying! So, for the second year in a row, especially with some baffling dartitis, I only made it to the Blind Draw...

    So, here it is--all my pics from Friday night. There are way too many SEWAnauts and nicknames to acknowledge or invent so I'll let you identify yourselves any way you want in the Thorn Retort
    link if you like. And I'll just let the pictures do most of the talking...

    I know this report is months late, but a wise elder once said "better late than never". My biggest thanks and best knuckle knock to the PADA, the Elks, and fellow participants for filling my photos with...



    ...great T-shirts...



    ...great partners...



    ...great shooters...



    ...great flights...



    ...great ladies...



    ...great people...









    ...great staff...









    ...more great players and people...











    But, I got my favorite shot long after I had finished...

    Around midnight, as the opening night playoffs raged on into the wee hours--and gathering my things ready to call it a night--this sturdy old man came into view. Undoubtedly, he was a hearty version of a senior Elks member, who ditched the blue-hairs and short-stepped over from the ball room restaurant lounge, to see what all the hubbub was about. As I was sneaking out my camera, I studied him. I smiled, as he continued to stare at the endless walls of dartboards, scanning the seemingly crazy mass of people playing darts...

    You could just tell that he wanted to play. Hopefully, someone handed him a set of darts and encouraged him to give it a shot...



    Better late than never...

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    FIRE AND ICE...

    My May was filled with more than just my dart fetish--maybe because my dartitis was now full blown and beyond denial--but there was some sisal joy. First, a novice friend, who might barely qualify as a newbie, happened to spontaneously combust and toss two T20's...



    Meanwhile, despite my frigid play, I somehow managed another ton80, taking my 2010 total to 16...



    Soon after, Bones made his 12th of the year--this time leaving himself up in Annie's room...



    Why didn't he leave himself 40, 36 or 32? Well, in the "Pressy Pally" we have an endless 180 contest and tend to go for them regardless of the situation--bad leave, bad strategy, or bust. After burning Bones for months, the tables were beginning to turn. As he reached his "next level", getting hotter and hotter, I continued to get cold. At this rate, soon he would tie me in maxims and leave me in his smoke...

    But, there's so much more to life than darts...

    Like whitewater in the the desert, other friends and obsessions, and travel...



    Another weekend of fly-fishing on the Deschutes River with my friend and fellow leaguer, Clay, was just what I needed to lift the stress of my longest year yet of middle school teaching--and a growing frustration with my dart game. With luck, we got the best campsite on the river, and I unfolded the chair I won so many years before at the PADA Christmas shoot.













    Back in Rip City, it was time for game 4 in the first round of the NBA playoffs versus the Phoenix Suns. Picking up my eldest nephew, I met my sister's new googly-eyed pug, Penelope, who was snuggling with the more mellow Sandy Mae..







    After clawing their way to sixth seed in the playoffs, overcoming endless injuries and surprising many, the Blazers were still on fire, tying the series at 2-2...



    Alas, the Suns would cast a shadow on the Blazers, knocking them out in game 6, to go all the way to the Western Conference finals before being eclipsed by LA...

    At some point mid May, I slipped over to the Triple Nickel for one of the PADA's new weekday blind draws. I got a great partner, a younger woman and newer league member, eager to add to her experience. The playing field was fairly level and she shot well, but as feared, I fell short when I was needed most and we got bumped at the end of flight...



    Here's my anonymous partner showing good form...



    Meanwhile, my parents were on secret assignment to find some sign of darts in, of all places, Iceland...



    That unpronounceable volcano, Mt. Eyjafjallajökull, was still belching ash over Europe and shutting down air traffic, but it didn't stop my folks from visiting this uniquely thermodynamic island in the middle of the north Atlantic...

    Mom clicked the peaks and glaciers of Greenland from her window seat...



    Geysers, hot springs, and waterfalls are among the most popular natural wonders...



    But nothing sparked my interest as much as this rift--where the world is literally ripping apart at the seams, where the two continental plates between North America and Europe are slowly but surely separating...



    Which is the complete opposite of my parents, who are quickly approaching a half century of togetherness...



    They didn't find any darts on their Iceland adventure, but at least they found their son's favorite flower...

    Maybe my sister and her husband--also on a secret assignment for Thorn, this time in Portugal--would have better luck...

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    DARTING UP THE PACIFIC COAST, Part I: Catalina or Bust

    In mid May I found time for my own adventure. It was a great deal--five days, five ports, and cruising solo for five hundred dollars--from Portland to Los Angeles, Catalina Island, San Francisco, Victoria, and Vancouver, British Columbia. I'd fly down for two hundred, maybe two hundred more in play money, and a hundred more to bus back to the Rose City from the Canadian border...

    Another high-seas dart-hunting guaranteed Thorn-a-thon for under a thousand dollars! The day came and Bonesy dropped me off at the airport Sunday morning...

    Somehow, I keep getting great weather flying out of PDX. It was Mother's Day so I waved to my mom as I flew out of Rip City...



    Thirty years ago this month, on another crystal clear Sunday, my mother and I watched the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. They say Mt. Rainier, her bigger brother in the background, will be the next family member of the Cascade Mountains to blow their top...



    I landed at Long Beach Airport around noon, this time without lost luggage (and darts!). I still had to find a cheap way to get from airport to seaport, but a friendly family let me chip in on their shuttle reservation...twenty bucks was a bit more than I hoped, but well worth avoiding a ninety minute city bus ride through South Central...and a worry free way to get on board my boat that much sooner! My luxury liner, the Golden Princess, is the sister ship of the Star Princess, the ship I spent a month on rounding South America, a ship that had a dartboard in the cigar bar, and I had high hopes that the Golden would have one too...

    Thanking my new friends and driver at the dock, we parted ways and disappeared into our respective terminals, and I was soon aboard, "bing". As I watched their ship depart first--Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas bound for the Mexican Riviera--I pretended they were out on the decks too, waving bon voyage back to me...



    Then I circled the ship, snapping pictures, awaiting my own departure...

    Even the massive sprawling Port of Los Angeles can be pretty in the sensational California sun...



    A few deep horn blasts later, our massive vessel hoisted it's moorings and slowly hummed past the yacht clubs that lined the harbor's exit...



    And soon, we were entering the Pacific. I whale watched the wonderful blue expanse, happy as could be in the wind, sea-bound again...



    No humpbacks, dolphins or flying fish this time, but far off, the horizon was disturbingly dotted with oil rigs. Believe it or not, the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Spill was already three weeks old, and my thoughts whirled. About me. About you. About us and them. About the world...



    But I snapped out of it. Wink Very Happy

    Filled with fresh air, I headed inside, fingers crossed, following the familiar deck plans--the Golden was an identical twin to the Star Princess!--to see if the the dartboard was where I expected--on the starboard wall in the sports bar by the casino, deck six. Turning the corner into the smoky pub, I saw it...

    An empty space where the board should be. I checked the port side. Nothing. I asked the bartender "If ever...". No dartboard. Completely bummed out but undaunted, I made plans to inquire further with the first cruise director I could find...

    On an positive note, at the purser's desk, I managed to get a complimentary upgrade from my inside cabin to a ocean-view stateroom, sweetening the deal on this cruise...



    Besides the overall bargain, my main mission for this trip was the stop at Santa Catalina Island, a unique Hollywood getaway twenty miles off the mainland--and the only place I haven't been before. Our itinerary indicated that we would dock at 10 pm, and I hoped that I could slip off and search the few bars in town...my best chance to see some bars when they're open...

    Unfortunately, I soon learned that the tenders wouldn't be running until morning. Another disappointment to go with the missing dart board in the cigar bar...

    Oh well, I thought, tomorrow I might be able to squeeze in a morning snorkel in Catalina's famous kelp forests and still search for some dartboards around lunchtime...

    Back on deck, my first cocktail in hand, I watched the island approach as the the skies turned orange...



    As I continued to scan the whitecaps for marine life, the captain came on the horn with a ship wide announcement: rough seas were making the harbor unsafe, our stop at Catalina was canceled, and the ship was setting sail for San Francisco Bay, scheduled to arrive Tuesday morning after a full day at sea...

    Day one wasn't even over, and the sun had already set on my onboard dartboard, my Catalina dreams, and the Pacific Ocean...



    At least I had a window in my room.

    And a fully-loaded all-you-can-eat super ship to enjoy for two days! Hmmm, let's see...food, miniature golf, food, basketball, food, show, food, casino, food, jumbo-tron movie, food, music, food, comedians, food, disco, food, hot tub, etc...things could be worse. Plus, I had reason to be optimistic about San Francisco. Not only does it have a big dart league and tons of dart pubs, but I already knew where one was--right by Fisherman's Wharf...

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    DARTING UP THE PACIFIC COAST, Part II: One-Eyed Jack

    Of course, when I wasn't whale-watching or eating, I filled my day-and-a-half at sea wandering the ship and "partaaay"-king in the activities, entertainment, and social life...

    Like taking the angled conveyor to the upper deck discotheque in the sky for a bird's eye view of the big blue ocean...



    No whales. And I wouldn't see any the whole trip. Quite a bummer. Lots of beautiful wind and water though...Smile

    That morning I left a message with the crew staff by phone, and at the pursers desk, and I tracked them down in person to inquire about a dartboard, if they could bring it out for a passenger shoot or if I could see the crew bar. As expected, they said they'd find out and get back to me. So, I was hopeful to have that chance again, to play at sea. Maybe hit that first floating ton-eighty...

    No darts. They never even got back to me about it. Quite the bummer. Lots of dart findings on land though...Smile

    That afternoon my stateroom toilet stopped working. At first it was no big deal, although it did take a few hours before the apparently busy plumber was free to fix it. Then it happened every day, which is quite the inconvenience if you think about it. Dare I describe why?

    No toilet. Besides the other let downs, this was the biggest. Quite the bummer. Saw a lot of the nice public restrooms though...Smile

    But still, it was another night of fun, food, and bed at sea...

    Then, by morning mist I'm sure, we slipped into San Francisco bay to moor at the infamous Fisherman's Wharf district...

    Again, I'd done this port before on the sister ship sailing back from South America. Plus I had no internet-luck lining up a meeting with local players or venue owners. So, I knew exactly what I was going to do...

    Sleep in, enjoy breakfast, pack my darts and laptop, disembark (bing!), and maybe stroll around the waterfront a bit--after all, it was a gorgeous sunny May day. Then, I'd head for the Red Jack Saloon, just a stone's throw away from the piers...



    They opened at one o'clock, and I sloped in right on time...

    What I found was a wonderful bartender. As first customer of the day I had time to scan around before choosing the best seat at the bar. While she kept prepping, we chatted about my hobby and hopes for a game, among other things. She reminded me that tonight was game 6 of the Celtics-Cavaliers series, and this was a Boston bar....

    Hmmm, Boston fans, darts, luck. I should be able to hangout until halftime before bailing back to the ship. So I was starting to feel lucky...



    Soon, a neighborhood patron appeared in the bar stool next to me and we beered it up together. In no time I found out about his lengthy list of impressive travel stories and he told me of so many places and experiences--Uganda, Borneo, New Zealand, Mongolia, Egypt, Sweden, and on and on, and all 'back in the day'. You know I loved hearing about that. So now I was having a good time, just chilling with a new old friend, checking out the bar darts and dartboard behind me, just waiting for me, and I was feeling luckier all the time...



    A little later, a very vivacious liquor salesman, who happened to share my first name, showed up to pal around with the friendly bartender, the old feller, and, I guess, me. After some how-do-ya-do's and comedic casual conversation I thought he might be the right guy to ask about buying a bottle from--to smuggle back aboard the boat. Nest thing I know, he gives me a forty dollar bottle of Caribbean rum! Now I'm definitely feeling luckier...



    Then, a lovely local couple arrived for an afternoon cocktail or two. Soon, we three were fast friends and talking about all things life-related. Eventually, during some lull in the conversation, I got her to toss a few darts and it didn't take long for her to hit the bullseye. Now we are lucky!...



    I was having so much fun just hanging out with the regular clientele that I hardly threw any darts myself--just enough to claim a DB or two and a few T20's...



    Instead we just took the talk out back, outside, to enjoy the fine day and enjoy the start of happy hour. Surprisingly, there were some reminders of home around the Red Jack patio...



    Six pints later or so, as they had to go, the place started to fill with early arriving basketball fans. As the game got going, I ponied back up to the bar to watch the flat screen and talk hoops with the blue-collar bucks beside me. Excited green and white troops were all around me--half of whom still had their Boston accents...Smile

    There was no time--or space--to play. Although I did get two more couples to toss a few bull shots. But, there was more than enough NBA excitement for everyone. Sadly, amid a third-quarter Boston run, I had to giddy-up back to the Golden Princess...



    Without any line, and wondering why, I glided up the gangplank safely back on the boat (bing!). No problem--and no dirty looks from the security staff--but I must have lost track of time and been a bit late and among the last to board...

    Weird, but oh well, no worries (hint: foreshadowing). Back to the cabin (I hope my toilet works) to quickly mix up my favorite cocktail (gotta love free booze) then elevate to the upper decks (man I love my trusty old Olympus) for what looks like an epic sunset departure in a glorious setting...

    Just more gold to find in San Francisco...

    Over and double out.

    THE BEST DART BAR URINALS IN THE CITY BY THE BAY...

    My second nominee for this prestigious honor, and winner of the "Warm Welcome" award, goes to Red Jack Saloon. Not because of an interesting piece of porcelain, but for having the finest taste in toilet paper...


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    PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    DARTING UP THE PACIFIC COAST, Part III: "I Sea You"

    The sunset departure was truly surreal...

    And, at over 950 feet, the Golden Princess is one of the largest ships at sea, too big for the Panama Canal. At 200 feet tall, it's just two oches shy of clipping the Golden Gate Bridge...

    As we shoved off, anyone with any sense at all headed for the higher decks to take it all in...

    Of course, the omnipresent ship photographers were also making their way there. (Whenever possible, I like to turn the tables on them--they never buy the picture from me--just $5!?--but they always seem to know how to pose...)



    Then, I was there. On the uppermost deck of this monstrous ship to join the throngs of passengers, all clicking our digital cameras like mad. It was photographer heaven...

    The infamous San Francisco cityscape...



    The ominous Alcatraz...



    The marvelous Golden Gate Bridge...



    The floating mountains of Pandora...



    The floating mountains?!? Avatar!?! Whoa. Avatar!!! That's right, the Golden Princess had a recent upgrade that added the outdoor jumbo-tron, and now I'm finding myself in the middle of this amazing moment while also enjoying the biggest blockbuster in movie history!

    Leaving this port was truly a wild, weird and memorable experience...



    Then came the bridge...ohhhh, so close!









    No dolphins or whales to report again.

    But, during all the mingling, I did chum it up with a young lady who was a photography student. We swapped emails and she sent me some pics. Like this parting shot...



    Now, for another night and day and night at sea. Then, Victoria, BC, where I did manage to make contact with a local player who was ready to show me around...

    Over and double out.
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