As the clan gathers

Welcome sign at Louisville airport

Three of my favorite days of the year are the days I leave for a national bridge tournament.  Zooming across the country, landing is some strange place and heading off to a hotel for days of incessant bridge is pretty much my idea of a good time.

It isn’t just the bridge, though.  I’ve been playing this game for so long that it feels like a family reunion to me–people I know from all over the country, even the world, who get together every 4 months to socialize and compete.  Playing the game is great, going over the hands in the bar afterwards is even better.  Even the flying is interesting–Grant and Terry were on my flight today, and there were more fellow addicts joining us in Chicago.  Last year, Mike and I rode with Eddie Wold and Bob Morris from Dallas to Knoxville on the way to Gatlinburg.  I don’t think you’ll see Tiger Woods or A-Rod on American Express, but hanging out with the greats of the game is a big part of the allure of big time bridge.

So here I am in Louisville, Kentucky.  Except for landing at the airport for Cincinnati, I’ve never been in this state before.  That leaves Montana, N. Dakota and the New England states for me to visit.

The airport here is new and beautiful, and only a 10 or 12 minute drive from downtown.  Micky B. arrived at the same time I did, so we shared a cab.  He’s a big Hilton fan, so he’s staying at the Hampton, about 8 long cold, rainy blocks from the tournament site.   It’s 37º outside right now, with rain and maybe even snow predicted.  Good thing bridge is an indoor sport.

Still, I had to go outside to meet Mike for dinner.  We at at Doc Crow’s, for a classic meal of ribs.  He takes his wet, I like mine dry.  He eats cole slaw, I had hush puppies.  You can get cole slaw anywhere, hush puppies don’t exist where we live.  He had the seafood gumbo before the meal, I saved room for the bread pudding with bourbon sauce.  The prices are reasonable, the food is decent and the service is plenty southern friendly.  And the iced tea is sweetened, unless you ask for it plain.

Walking back to the hotel, we passed the KFC Yum Center, an indoor sports arena where the college basketball team plays.  Even the wheelchair ramps on the street corners in front are created in the image of basketballs.  In these parts, basketball is second only the Southern Baptist Church as a religion.

We played in the Charity pairs tonight–didn’t do well, but we played.  I’m putting our performance down to jet lag and culture shock, and planning to be great tomorrow in the IMP pairs.

Stay tuned.


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