The California Tour of Duty

A week goes by and I can barely remember what happened…must have been all those Mai Tais!

But let me start from the beginning…

Up before dawn (4:00 a.m.), I took the local bus to Newark Penn Station, and then hopped on the train for the one stop to Newark Airport.  It’s unnatural being up at 4AM, but this is my unnatural tale to the Devils road trip.

Everything went smoothly on the flight over to Los Angeles.  I booked the round trip flight from LAX to San Jose with just an hour to spare.  I forgot how horrible the security screening can be at LAX.

When I got there, I asked one of the guys from Homeland Security how to get to my next flight.  I told him I had just arrived and needed to get to my next flight.

He said, “Wait…did you just say you survived or you just arrived?”

Me, still being sleepy said, “Ummm…both?” 

He and the two homeland security officers broke out into laughter.  Me, being the New Yorker, was trying to rush to catch the next flight.  I forgot that California was the land of Type Bs.  He assured me three times not to worry.  I was going to make my flight.

I rushed down to Terminal Five, took the bus to another terminal…and still had to wait 20 minutes for my flight.  Land of Type Bs…in Newark, I would have been late for the flight!

With the flight having the worst coffee in the world (it was worse than the sludge they served up at O2 Arena)…making it into San Jose was a cinch.  From a bird’s eye view, San Jose is quite beautiful.

I made it to the free shuttle and then to the train, but upon trying to purchase tickets for the train, I see they won’t accept my debit card!  I go to the next machine.  NO DEBIT CARDS.

I’m like…WTF?

I then see at the top of the machine that the use of debit/credit cards is a COMING SOON feature for people buying train tickets.  I look around me thinking…I’m in the middle of Silicon Valley and they don’t accept debit cards to buy train tickets. 

I saw a guy coming towards me.  I stopped him to ask if he knew where the nearest ATM was.  He looked at me like I was nuts.  He said it was going to be tough to find one around here [once again, we’re in Silicon Valley].  He then reached into his backpack and pulled out a transit coin.

He then showed me how to use the coin in the machine to get a ticket.  It was a very sweet gesture.  If anything, he showed that people in San Jose are class act people.  They’re all very nice…despite being years away from having the proper technology when it comes to money [in Silicon Valley].

I booked myself at the closest hotel to HP Pavilion.  On the way to the hotel, in my NY Yankees baseball cap, I ran into a lot of San Francisco Giants fans on their way to the World Series.  The good people of San Jose made no remarks about my Yankees ball cap, even though I felt like I was committing a serious fashion faux pas at the time.

By the time I arrived at the hotel, all I wanted was something to eat…only to find out there were no restaurants in the vicinity except Chioptle a couple of blocks away.  If I wanted real food, I had to go into the Downtown area to get Thai or Chinese food.

I was way too exhausted to venture into the Downtown area, so I did the next best thing…I went to CVS and picked up a bunch of TV dinners.  Thank God they had hot sauce!

I also discovered something wonderful at CVS.  Lay’s Limon potato chips.  I’ve never seen these chips in NY/NJ.  Actually, upon doing some research…the chips are nowhere to be found in a 50-mile radius of NYC.  [I knew I should have stocked up!]

At any rate, if I couldn’t have real food…at least the Limon chips were a heaven sent.

After my pre-game nap, I headed over to HP Pavilion where I was given a mini-tour by one of the security guys, whom I met ironically on the other side of the building when I first asked for directions to the media entrance.  It just amazes me how sweet the people of San Jose are!

It was even further evidenced when I sat down in my seat upstairs in press row.  The San Jose Sharks Welcome Michelle Kenneth…

Marty the Duck Makes His First Devils Road Appearance

Marty the Duck Makes His First Devils Road Appearance

How cute is that?  I’ve never had a welcome placecard when I’ve arrived at an arena.I thought that was very classy and welcoming.

I also like watching what different arenas do with their mascots. 

The Sharks mascot came barreling out onto the ice on an ATV.  I was thinking…hmmm…I wonder what it would be like if NJ came flying out on an ATV in the middle of Prudential Center.  Cool?  Hell yeah.

I will say that there was one thing that baffled me before the game started.  I wanted to know what was under the black circus tent on the ice.  When the game finally started and they revealed a Shark’s head…followed by the players skating out through it’s jaws…yes…it was creepy…as in JAWS creepy.  Players being spit out of the stomach of a shark?  That is kind of scary.

What’s even scarier is that JAWS ended up sitting across from me all night long. 

He’s got some mighty big teeth!

As for the Sharks themselves…wow.  Talk about a really good first line.  Stanley Cup contenders?  Maybe.  My pick is still someone else this year…because I don’t get that calling like I need to move to San Jose.  Maybe in the future I’ll move to San Francisco.

As for the fans…wow!  The place was sold out, despite the fact that the San Francisco Giants were playing in the World Series that night.  Everyone was watching the World Series before the game, during intermission, and cheering when the latest score was shown on the scoreboard.  A little reminiscent of when the Yankees won.  :)

After the game, I headed back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep…only to wake up at 4AM to write about the Sharkbitten Devils.  At 9AM, I headed to the airport to go back to LA where I would meet up with two of my friends for an all-girls weekend.

We arranged to meet up at the airport from our various locales around 12PM before picking up the rental car and heading to our hotel in Anaheim.  Our third party got in a little late…and then it took us an hour to get the car rental…and another hour to get to Anaheim…which meant that it was 3PM by the time we got to Anaheim and I completely missed the Devils skate! 

The only thing on our minds at that time was food and alcohol! 

We booked our hotel next to The Block in Anaheim.  We headed to the Alcatraz Brewing Company for happy hour.  By the time we got our check at 8PM…we had consumed (between the three of us) 11 Mai Tais, 2 shots, 2 appetizers and 3 dinners…for…wait for it…$111. 

I was afraid the damage would have been twice that!  You can say that we are now big fans of happy hours from here on out.You would think we’d be hungover the next day…NOPE!

So what did we do?  After breakfast in the hotel, we headed to the one land where everything makes the world seem like a beautiful place…

Marty the Duck Does Disneyland

There's a Devil on my nose!

Disneyland is the place where a kid can be a kid.  :)  Since we were trying to do Disneyland in four hours, we hit up Captain Eo (I miss the 80s version of Michael Jackson…and George Lucas) before heading over to Find Nemo on a submarine.

While we were in line, we got aromatherapied with blueberry pancakes.  Forget finding Nemo…we wanted to find blueberry pancakes.

I don’t know about everybody else, but I couldn’t find Nemo.  I’m pretty sure he’s still at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut where I left him last year.  They showed me some cartoon of Nemo…not the same as finding the real Nemo.

After that, we went to Wonderland on a caterpillar ride…BORING.  But the vibrating seat was on when I sat down in the backseat.  Let’s just say it was a stimulating ride.  The girls, on the other hand, weren’t so lucky.

We made a few pit stops after that in the Fairy Tale land to look at the cute princess outfits.  Tinkerbell had the cutest outfit by far!  I was even more amazed that they had a beauty salon for little girls to get princessed up.  I can just imagine if I attempted to get princessed up prior to the Ducks game.  There would have been LOTS of glitter!

I also found the best Halloween costume there…Alice!  I never thought of going as Alice, but the ride must have stimulated me a lot to want to go as a Disney cartoon character for Halloween.  Sexy Alice…and her Wonderland ride.

We headed out of Fairy Tale land to the next best thing in Disneyland…Jack Sparrow’s world. ;)

Marty pays the Pirates of the Caribbean a visit.

Dopey seated us in the front…without warning us that we were going to get wet.  Three grown women about to get drenched.  We were ready to climb off the ride and go after Dopey for putting us front and center when the boat smashed into the water full force…in the dark.

After we got over the first two drenchings…and then the hypothermia…the ride itself was quite pleasant…and funny.  Gotta love Jack Sparrow.  He’s the hottest pirate ever…so long as he looks like Johnny Depp.

After we got off the ride, we headed into the shops where Marty found a new friend…and the girls found pirate rings (which I feel left out for not getting one too).

Marty found Donald the, earring and all.

After we headed out of the shop…we tried to find something to eat.  Nothing in New Orleans satisfied our tastes, so we headed back to Pioneer land to have some Mexican fare.

On our way over, we ran into a woman who gave us tickets to go to the front of the line at the Haunted Mansion.  Thank goodness she did.  We had enough time to grab a late lunch and then head over to the Haunted Mansion.

The line…was out of this world!  Thank goodness for the front of the line tickets!  We were in the mansion in ten minutes. 

This ride was by far our most favorite ride.  They had turned the mansion into the Nightmare Before Christmas.  It was awesome!  We were aromatherapied with scents of pumpkin spice and everything nice.  We got off the ride and all I wanted was a pumpkin spice latte…or something cinnamony…

Being as it was Halloween weekend, our next mission was to find this Mickey Mouse bucket with Mickey in a ghost costume holding a trick or treat pumpkin.  It wasn’t until we were leaving that I found the popcorn cart…where $9.50 later, the popcorn bucket was coming apart. 

I wanted that bucket so badly that I was sad to see it coming apart.  The girls ate the popcorn…I took home the bucket in hopes of superglueing it together to put treats inside of it.  It was the only Mickey anything I wanted…and it was a piece of crap.

We headed back to the hotel so that I could grab my laptop and then head out to Honda Center where I received another nice and warm welcome.

Anaheim Ducks Welcome...

During the first intermission, I caught whiff of a familiar scent from Disneyland…the smell of cinnamon.  I got up, looking for the culprit…only to find out they weren’t cookies, but baked cinnamon sticks. There’s no way those babies would go down…so I waited until I found a Starbucks to get my Pumpkin Spiced Latte.

The Devils had a nice, much needed win that night to prove that they were No Mickey Mouse Club in Disneyland.

I’m also happy to report that Marty Brodeur approved of a David Clarkson outfit.  Marty saw me interviewing Clarky about his Livestrong ride over the summer with Lance Armstrong (which will appear in the upcoming “A Tale of Two Brothers”).  He came up behind us and said, “Looking better.” 

At first, I thought he was talking about me…and then I looked at David and broke out into laughter.  He was talking about his outfit! 

After the interview I told Clarky, “I agree with Marty.”  To which he replied, “Don’t listen to him.” 

See…the humor to me really lies in the goalies, not Clarky.  Goalies have a way of embarrassing the hell out of Clarky in front of me.  That’s the part that makes it so funny…it’s the goalies ability to embarrass him and play these jokes on him…and he falls for it every single time (red faced, usually).  Even Kevin Weekes still cracks up over these jokes on Clarky.  [Like I couldn’t tell Weekesy.”]

At any rate, the win was a good note for the Devils…and a great way to end my Disney adventures.

The next day, after writing up the Devils win, we headed to LA to the Wilshire Grand Hotel where we put the girls to use.  Well, the girlfriend from Boise, Idaho used her girls to get our room upgraded to a suite.  :)

When she told us about the upgrade, I couldn’t help but say, “I love your boobs.”  Her boobs got us the hookup!

After we dropped our stuff off, we headed down to LA Live to 1) figure out where Staples Center was from the hotel, and 2) to find something to eat.

We wound up at another brewery, but their false lunch menu (that is not served on Saturdays) ended up making us pay more for our lunches than we wanted to spend on just okay food. 

I felt some undercooked chicken in my mouth and promptly spat it out before I started vomiting uncontrollably at the table.  [I can’t control the vomiting these days…if I have to vomit, it’s immediate…there’s no time to excuse myself and run to the nearest restroom.  There’s no feeling I’m going to vomit…I just vomit.]

The food wasn’t worth writing home about…it was really…EH.

Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel for my pre-game nap.  The girls went downstairs to the Tiki bar for Happy Hour while I slept.  When it was time to go to work, I headed to the Staples Center only to realize that this game was exactly what I was expecting.  Kovalchuk should feel really really really bad for what I went through in his name with those LA Kings fans.

You see…forget that I was the one that got it right about Kovalchuk and where he was signing…the fans were like they always were since July 2nd when I announced that the Devils were building around Kovalchuk.  The Kings fans really bought into that rumor that had ZERO basis from the Kovalchuk camp.

Sitting up in the press box…don’t think that Kings fans that don’t even follow me on Twitter weren’t sending me nasty messages about Kovalchuk all throughout the game.  I made sure after the game to find out what the guys thought about the stuff going on with the Kings fans. 

Jamie Langenbrunner basically said exactly what was going on through my mind (granted, I think my thoughts were more vulgar).  Kovy, on the other hand, basically didn’t care.  It happens to him.  He kind of expected it.  Truth is, I did too…but the constant nasty messages to me about me and Kovalchuk…uncalled for…and it shows that Kings fans lack class.

The Devils’ rivals in the Atlantic Division have said some really nasty stuff in the past about the team as a whole, but nothing directed to me personally.  Kings fans…ZERO class.

The thing is…Kovalchuk was not the LA story on Saturday night.  The LA story for the Devils was Zach Parise.  We lost him in that game…for the next three months.  That was the story…not Kovalchuk.

Watching the closed captioning, I kept remarking all night…Kovalchuk is not the story.  The Kings media really drummed it up as much as they could about it being all about Kovalchuk.  Why?  He was never signing with the Kings to begin with…it’s like trying to make the lie a reality…when it’s still a lie to begin with…and then feeding it to the fans as truth!

I don’t know.  If that’s the way the Kings treat their fans…with lies and more lies as if it’s the truth…blind faith won’t get you too far in life.

It’s too reminiscent of blind faith religion for my liking.  To each, their own.

As for Kovalchuk…there are things I put up with just because he is a New Jersey Devil.  If he only knew the amount of hate I get because of it. 

The only plus side to the whole Kings experience is that their communications department is top notch all the way.  For the interviews I wasn’t in on, they emailed the transcripts to me.  But the biggest plus…they had treats waiting for me at the LA Kings Welcomes Michelle Kenneth sign.

A treat filled LA Kings Welcome

After the Kings game, I headed back to the hotel where me and the girls sat up watching television and talking about our nights…and the craziness factor that is LA. 
I think we really loved Anaheim more than we did LA.  LA was overpriced for blahness.  It also housed one too many crazies for our liking (and we have our own in NYC…but not like this). 
The next morning, I headed off to the LAX airport by myself (the girls were staying in town for Halloween).  As soon as I put my carryon items onto the conveyer belt, a Homeland Security guard shouts, “NOBODY MOVE!”
The next thing I see are two security guys running towards the United gates.  We had to stand there unmoving (including the security in the room) until all was clear…five minutes later.
The whole packaged bombs was on the news the Friday before…so security was pretty tight and at red alert.  There was news that passengers may be carrying the bombs in on their carryons. 
If it had been a real terrorist situation, the only thing I could think of in security was…let me at him.  I will beat the living daylights out of the guy.  Why?  Because terrorists do not instill fear in me.  They annoy the hell out of me because they disrupt everyone’s lives…for what?  I have no idea what they’re killing everybody for.  All I know is that killing…there’s no justification for it.  They want to kill me or anyone else…I’ll make sure I go down fighting first before I’ll let some jerk kill any more people. 
Terrorists are the stupidest souls on the face of this planet. 
That being said…it’s good to be back in NYC…despite the fact that the 40 degree temperature drop has me sick as a dog now.  Oh well, back to work again on Friday…


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