When my cousin in Dallas announced last year that she was getting married, I mentioned to Chanuck that we should go, especially since my parents live in Houston and we could visit there first. For a variety of reasons too boring to list, I decided that it should be a road trip. Surely I must be a masochist- who in their right mind willingly does a 3000-mile drive with an active 13-month-old?
We allowed ourselves plenty of time to get to Houston, stopping outside of Knoxville the first night and ending up in New Orleans the second night. As it was Memorial Day weekend, Bourbon Street was quite busy. I had to laugh when I happened upon Boudreaux’s Backyard bar (I was reminded of this item from Japers’ Rink, towards the bottom), though that was only the first nominally hockey-related item we came across during the trip.
When we got to Houston, we had a few days to relax from driving. Chanuck and I were hoping that the Aeros would still be in the playoffs (we’ve been to Aeros games before and really enjoyed it), but no luck- Manitoba finished them off. So our consolation prize was going to The Maple Leaf Pub, the only hockey bar in Houston.
We arrived towards the end of Detroit-Chicago’s Game 5, to a full house; all the bar stools were taken and only one table was available. There were several red jerseys in attendance, as well as a few Chicago fans. The crowd was all hockey, though; the bar erupted in screams (both happy and disappointed) when the final goal was scored to give Detroit the series. (The video below captures the crowd’s reaction.) Several of the Detroit fans were gracious and bought a round of shots for the Chicago fans. We talked to the waitress and asked about the bar’s owners; we figured that the owner must be from Calgary, because of the selection of autographed Flames jerseys on the wall. Yes, she said, he’s from Calgary and she’s from Houston. The bar attracts fans of all backgrounds; Chanuck had a conversation with a guy from Ottawa who had been living in the Houston area for three years. Of course, no evening at a hockey bar would be complete without a few Canadian beers and a couple of games of bubble hockey.
Then it was on to Dallas. It almost wasn’t a surprise to see a guy in a Montreal Expos shirt and Whalers hat at our hotel. During the long drive from Dallas to Memphis, we passed Brashear, TX and I thought of our favorite pummeling pugilist. It was somewhere in Arkansas that we passed a car with New Brunswick plates. And I thought our drive was long!
After passing Canada Road in Tennessee, I was ready to get home. We finally did, ten days and 3000 miles later. I never thought we’d be reminded so much of hockey during an early summer drive through the South. Maybe it’s the hallmark of a fan: you want hockey so much that you see it everywhere. (Sorry, but the current Stanley Cup matchup just doesn’t do it for me; I’m ready for some Caps hockey.)
Now it’s back to the daily grind. At least I have the memories of crawfish, cowboys, and Corky’s. I’m already looking forward to our next road trip; Chanuck suggested a drive across Canada.