Sharkbait and the Hockey Game: Part 2

Posted: October 11, 2011 in Hockey, Sports, Travel

Road Closed: GPS to the Rescue!

It was about 2:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon when we left Outback Steakhouse. It was still raining and we decided to head over to the Toyota Center, even though the game wasn’t going to start until 5 p.m. The doors were scheduled to open at 4 p.m. Considering the rain and potential traffic we would face if we waited to drive downtown later, arriving early seemed like the sane choice.

My trusty GPS unit navigated with voice directions as we travelled down the interstate to downtown Houston, switching lanes and highways as necessary. The rain wasn’t bad, neither was the traffic. I also observed that the roads in Houston appeared to be draining quite nicely. Not sixty seconds after I said that, I saw a feeder road flooded to my right. The rainwater was draining nicely, all right… right onto the feeder roads. I corrected myself and stated that the rain on the interstate was draining well. And, you guessed it, as soon as I said that a truck in front of me hit a large puddle of water that splashed onto my windshield, completely blinding me for about two seconds. It’s a good thing we were traveling straight. Otherwise, I’d be writing about how I repainted the highway concrete barrier with the left side of my car.

It took us about thirty minutes to reach downtown Houston. Other than getting blinded briefly from water that didn’t drain off the highway, so far the trip to downtown Houston was uneventful. My GPS unit announced that my exit was coming up on the left. We were making good time, and then I saw the orange cones and road sign ahead that indicated that our exit ramp was closed! Ugh! So, I took the next exit. After listening to my GPS tell me that it was recalculating my route to the Toyota Center and taking a couple of turns, it eventually directed me to make a U-turn towards downtown (legally, of course).

In Search of the Perfect Parking Spot

This was my first time driving in downtown Houston and solely depended on the outdated maps on my GPS unit to lead me to the Toyota Center, making sure I didn’t end up driving the wrong way on a one-way street (we only have two one-way streets where I live). To make matters worse, I needed to answer a nature call. We found the Toyota Center relatively easily, but we still needed to find a place to park. We arrived about an hour before the doors were going to open, so the paid parking lots were empty. However, none of them were manned. The one directly across from the entrance of the Toyota Center had one of those ticket machines that took bills. I waited patiently for a lady to get her parking pass. Two poles kept people from driving right up to the machine like an ATM, so the lady had to stand out in the rain while she attempted to insert her money into the machine. The machine just wouldn’t take her money. I and my bladder started to get impatient. So, I looked over to my right where I saw three open parking spots on the street. I remembered my friend mentioning that someone had told him that you didn’t have to feed the parking meters on the weekends. I drove around the block and found the perfect parking spot on the street catty-corner from the Toyota Center. The best case scenario was parking on the street so close to the arena would help us from having to deal with traffic after the hockey game.

In Search of a Restroom!

We walked in the rain as I struggled to get my stubborn umbrella open, which didn’t budge until we made it to the building. A lot of good that did me! We joined a small group of people taking refuge under an awning in front of one of the entrances to the building. We chatted with the other people there for a few minutes and then I asked if any of them knew where I could find a restroom. There was no way I was going to be able to wait forty-five minutes for the doors to open. Otherwise the rain getting me wet was going to be the least of my problems. One of the guys directed me to the Four Seasons Hotel a couple of blocks away. I thanked him, opened my umbrella, and started my hike to the hotel. As soon as I crossed the street, I noticed a Porta-Potty, which in normal circumstances I would avoid, but this was an emergency. Crap! It was padlocked! So, I continued my journey, which took longer than expected, because the entrance to the hotel was on the other side of the block it stood on. Nonetheless, I completed my mission and thirty minutes later I was back at the Toyota Center waiting with my friends for the doors to open. Here’s a view from where we stood while we waited:

The Doors Finally Open

Finally, at 4 p.m., the Toyota Center staff unlocked the doors to the entrance and started allowing people inside the arena. As soon as we made it inside, my party and I headed to the box office to claim our reserved tickets… and then my friend’s coworker immediately headed to the restroom. I guess he didn’t want to walk to the Four Seasons Hotel.

In my next post, I’ll conclude the apparent three-part blog post of my experience attending my first American Hockey League game, which is actually only the third time in my life attending a professional sports event. Feel free to share comments about my misadventures or to share similar experiences with attending a sports event for the first time. Cheers!

  1. eden baylee says:

    Wow, post #2 and you’ve still not seen the hockey game yet! At least you’re there and there’s been no casualties so far . Ok (insert music again )



  2. danniehill says:

    Great story, Rob. Can’t wait for the finish. I love hockey- even if I don’t understand all the rules. As a kid I went to see the fights.

    It’s flooding in Thailand now so I don’t have a lot of sympathy for you, lol. My house should be underwater in 2 more days. I’ll probably write a post about that, lol.


    • I’m beginning to like hockey myself. I had to have my friend explain the penalties for me, but every once in a while the explanation would show up on the score board. So, that helped… sort of. It’s funny that you mention that you went to see the fights. There was a kid sitting behind me who kept yelling “Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!” every time someone got roughed up on the ice.

      Regarding the flooding in Thailand, I’m sorry to hear that your home is in danger of getting flooded. I experienced that in 1998. The house was one piers and beams, so the flooding could have been worse. However, the house still got about two feet of water in it.

      Stay safe, my friend!


  3. Erik G says:

    Wow what a day…I guess I should say what a 90 minute adventure of nightmares!! Those always make the best memories though!


    • Haha! Yeah, tell me about it. Actually, it was more like a 3-hour adventure of nightmares if you include all of the heavy rain I had to deal with on the trip to and through Houston. It was all worth it, though. I had a lot of fun at the hockey game, which I’ll write about tomorrow.


  4. Sheilagh Lee says:

    This sounds like quite the trip.


    • It was quite the trip. Months without rain and the one day I have plans to travel we get more rain than probably the past two years combined. Stay tuned for the conclusion. I had fun at the hockey game.


      • Albert Hewett says:

        BEWARE!!! SHARKY, your STALKER is WATCHING you. Heh! Heh! Still I enjoyed your second blog as I did the first. I request a correction about one-way streets in your home town. There are two one-way streets in your town. One is Main St from Rio Grand (business 59) to Water St. and one street to the East of Main. Main going South and the other going North. Bt the way, are you losing your hair line to receding?
        LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Regardless, I am enjoying your story.


        • Stalking me from ALL THE WAY across the street I see. Good to see you visit my humble establishment in cyberspace, neighbor! Oh, by the way, you might want to wipe off those reading glasses regarding the one-way streets, my friend. 🙂 Although, the joke is still on me since I got a ticket one time going south on the northbound street. The cop didn’t give me a break because my license showed that I was living in Austin! D’Oh!

          Oh, and the hair is off limits old man! LOL!


          • Albert Hewett says:

            My mistake. I guess I’ll have to do better than that and get a new prescription. Sometimes these I have fail me.