Catch up time.....
Sorry for the bit of a sabbatical -- I'm going to play catch up.
My last post was about my late-February insanity: weather was in the mid-60's to low-70's in Southern California, and very, very much colder in Appleton, WI.
The cold temperatures were offset by the fact that there was no Curling that weekend in SoCal, and I was invited to play in Wisconsin.
I talked about the wonders of dedicated ice in my last post. I was surprised at the differences and the similarites to arena ice, but ignored the event (Applespiel) and didn't do justice to the facility or the people I met.
I'm told that the facility is very nice, and it is certainly the nicest dedicated curling club I've ever visited. Walk up to the side of the building and in the door and it's just a couple of steps to another door and on to four beautiful sheets of ice. There is a carpeted margin around the room, benches to sit on during the game, etc.
From the entrance, stairs go down to an area with a small locker room and a very serviceable bar. Upstairs is four rows of very comfortable stadium-style seating with the lowest roughly 10 feet above the ice. TV monitors show the house at the far end. Behind that is a banquet area with tables and a nice kitchen area.
I walked in the door with Chicky -- the only person I knew at the club, but my reception was pretty much what I expected.
If you walk into any curling club with a broom bag and a jacket or vest with pins on it, you're automatically recognized as part of the family that is Curling.
I do have to say that I was the wierd cousin from California, which lead to some wonderful questions.
After the first couple of ends in my first game, I played reasonably well. I'm sure that was part of the reason people asked "When did you move from here to California?" Most were surprised to hear that I'm third-generation Southern California, and was playing outside my home state for the first time.
Another popular question was "What brings you to Wisconsin?" expecting some other reason for leaving 70 degree weather for 20 degree weather. My answer: Curling.
Appleton, like almost every other club in Wisconsin, is now closed for the summer. They're doing all the things outside that they can't do when there is snow everywhere.
My favorite statement "Wow, California. Your Curling Season must be really short." I said "Yeah, it's only 12 months long."
There are interesting contrasts. We curl all year, but one night a week. They curl for 5 or 6 months, but every single night. Curling three nights a week is not unusual, here it takes dedication.
It's the automatic friendship, the comraderie that makes a great Curling Club and makes Curling a great sport.