Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Long Road

In the earliest hours of the morning, just after what we call the late night, I woke up to get myself ready for the weekend. No pressure, just relax, pack and say a little prayer. It's time again for the 8th Annual Detroit Kendo Open and this year I go into it with an added aura of experience. I pack light and run a final check over my weapon, it's fine, time to go. This morning had to have been the coldest day of the season so far as I drove down an empty street and caught eye of a temperature reading which had negative sixteen degrees. However, it wasn't so much the cold weather but the anticipation that ran chills over my bones. This year, I won't lose out in the first round.

I run to Cub Foods to pickup some food and drink for the long drive ahead and afterwards meet up with the UW Kendo Club. We pack the vans full and in the caravan spirit, headed out east. Though tired, I can't say that I needed to sleep or even attempted the bumpy slumber. I tried to keep my mind clear and joked a bit with my team before catching up on some reading. As far as traditions go, we almost always stop at the Belvedere Oasis to eat a light breakfast before moving on.

The next leg up in this trip would be many hours later so it was best to stretch out those legs now. On this leg of the trip, we drove into some questionable weather before heading up to the Michigan penninsula. Steadily, the landscape changed from a snowy tundra to a chilly snowless barren. In the van, I try to get to know my team a bit better. Though it's only been a year, several of the regular members had moved on and I'm suddenly in a senior position. We keep to a light mood before making our next stop for lunch. We stop in Battle Creek at a truck stop and ate a place called Arlene's Diner, your very typical highway diner.

The next stop from here on out was Detroit and we leave with our appetites satisfied and ambitions high. Now's about a good time we strategize for the team even as well far as pointing out some last adjustments to our fighting form. All of this we do today because there will be no time tomorrow.

We arrive in Detroit and check in at our hotel. Like last year, we're staying at the Westin, a very nice place to rest away from home. Hopefully, I won't repeat last year's drunkenness and pass out in the lobby the night before the tournament. I remember how Henry was sent to search for me as he combed all parts of the hotel until finally finding me slumping in slumber on a comfy lobby sofa. I was sure excited last year after completing my ikkyu test and I let celebration get the best of me.

By early evening, all the schools get together for a banquet dinner where we're suppose to mingle and get to know our peers...but mostly, these people would be our opponents the next day. Dinner wasn't great with only a small piece of chicken on the plate. I believe that Mike had asked "The appetizer's good so when does the meal get here?" Sadly for him, he just had it.

After dinner Mike, Tia and I go for a swim and relax in the jacuzzi. In the pool area, we meet a family who was staying at the hotel and the mother of the kids in the pool had gone to Wisconsin in '96 and had even taken the Kendo Class under Kiyota Sensei. It was good to hear that Kendo and Sensei had been one of those fond memories that she can recall from those college days. It certainly has been true for me. Once out of the pool a lot of us go up to the room to drink some scotch, and for many of us, like myself, we drink to a good tournament, cheers and then I go to bed, ready for tomorrow's fortune.

Activity: 3 | Energy: 1 | Friends: 3


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