Home > Eastern Conference, NHL, Playoffs > The Chicks Take On The ‘Burgh

The Chicks Take On The ‘Burgh

Wondering why there was little to no activity on from us this weekend? No recap of the Pens win, or the Wings exit from the playoffs? Well, the Chick’s were on the road again..this time taking in the Pens game in beautiful Pittsburgh, PA

5:00 a.m Saturday (CST)

I woke up earlier than normal, loaded my car and headed downtown Chicago to pick up Courtney from Union Station. She had traveled over night via Greyhound to meet me and begin our road trip. For those of you that are wondering, that is an eight hour bus trip from Minnesota just to get into a car and travel another eight hours to the Burgh.

I’m not too familiar with the city. I live about an hour or so north and unless I am taking in a game at the United Center, I rarely make the trip. Chicago is expensive. Parking, food, alcohol, you name it. For what I could spend on parking my car, and enjoying a night out in the Windy City, plus gas if you want to figure that part in as well, I could purchase an entire year of NHL Center Ice. You do the math.

Courtney misread her arrival time, so I was a bit late picking her up. Once I finally located her after several circles around the block, we were ready to hit the road. The seven-ish hour trip from Chicago to Pittsburgh didn’t feel as long as the length would indicate. We stopped maybe twice, paid a ridiculous amount in tolls (Thank you Ohio for all those golden dollars, and you are welcome for their return at the next booth with a live person) and then finally reached our destination.

2:oo p.m Saturday (EST)

We had waited to book our hotel until we were about an hour outside of Pittsburgh. We were looking for cheap, since we didn’t plan on spending much time inside the room, and outside of the city. The best deal we could find was the America’s Best Value Inn in Coraopolis. Now let me note that Andrew, my GPS, is not a huge fan of Pennsylvania. He tends to completely break down when we are anywhere near the city, causing me to get lost half the time. Well, Andrew told us to turn left on University Boulevard when we should have turned right. Left took us to Sewickley. Any guess on who lives in Sewickley? Well, we will leave that part of the story out….

Once we figured out which way we were really supposed to go, we made it to our hotel. Let me tell you about this “hotel”. Pretty much straight out of a horror film, it should have been labeled a motel. Entrances to the rooms were outside, paint peeling everywhere you could look, no lock on the bathroom door, not exactly the safest looking place we could have stayed. But, we were on a budget and we weren’t spending too much time there anyways. One night wouldn’t kill us, but that doesn’t mean we left anything valuable in the room while we were gone.

After showering and changing into game gear we made one touristy stop, and then headed downtown. It had been raining all day and it didn’t appear to be letting up. It figured the one time I drive 8 hours without tickets to watch the game outside, it would rain. We parked at Station Square and wandered inside the shopping center in search of the one item I was allowed to purchase on this trip. I say allowed, because when I go to Pittsburgh, I never come home empty handed. Living in Chicago, you can’t find Pens gear, so I stock up like it is going out of style.

This trip, on a budget, I allowed myself one item, a Staal shersey. We walked into the store and found just about every player but Staal and were told that not many places carry his name and number. WHAT? He is only like the third best forward on the team, and no one carries his stuff? Ridiculous. Oh well, maybe it was a sign. We left the store and were about to head to the train to go downtown when we looked out the window and saw, you guessed it, pouring down rain.

The Tailgate On The Terrace had already been canceled due to the weather, the screen was supposedly still going to run, but the first sign of thunder or lightning would be the end of that. I was not in a very pretty mood. I drove eight hours, I would stand in the rain, but I did not drive eight hours to have to watch from inside a bar, I could do that at home. So we resorted to plan B: Scalping playoff tickets.

We took the train to the arena and immediately searched for scalpers. No one had any tickets. No one was selling. The closer it got to game time, the more some would show up, but they weren’t worth what they were asking. Rumor was that the gate was selling B level tickets for 198.00, (regular season Igloo seats run for 180) and these guys wanted 150 a pop for E level. Sorry, I will take the rain.

We met a couple of kids selling their own tickets. Scratch that, their parent’s season tickets, three rows off the glass. Why do you ask? Well I guess any 19 year old kid would like to make a quick buck, but trading phenomenal playoff tickets for cash for the strip club, well not my kind of fan. Sorry guys!

6:30 p.m. Saturday (EST)

We decided to give up on the tickets. This wasn’t a deciding game, we couldn’t really afford it, and there was still no rain. In fact, the sun was even peaking out a little. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t still cold though. The wind was a bitch, and Courtney hadn’t really dressed for the weather. Poor girl had my Crosby Eastern Conference All Star jersey on over a tank top, jeans and some flip flops.

Just a little side note on that jersey: I own five Crosby jersey’s total. I always have the black one, but I am always willing to share the white one, the EC All Star one, or the Rimouski one. I didn’t think it would be wise to bring the Rimouski one seeing as the Oceanic are from Quebec so I figured I would bring the White one and the All Star one… Yet I forgot the 2009 NHL All Star game was played in Montreal, it was red, and so were the Habs and apparently the name Crosby and the number 87 weren’t big enough for Pens fans to read, we got a lot of shit for that.

I dressed a bit better. I had on a tank, a Crosby t-shirt, a Pens hoodie and then my jersey in my bag. At home I never actually wear the jersey, it sits in my lap as a security blanket, but it was cold and I wasn’t at home so why couldn’t I wear it? Still no rain, just about game time.

The bad weather didn’t do the Outdoor Screen any justice. I have seen pictures of Mellon Arena packed, and while there was a good chunk of fans, not nearly as many as I had anticipated. Alcohol and Grills were not permitted, if you were caught with alcohol you would get a hefty fine and a overnight stay in jail. Vendors provided by the arena had hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, soda and water for purchase just like you were inside of the game and the local news was parked outside taking it all in.

The screen was huge, the game audio super loud so even those in the far back could hear. It’s an experience any Pens fan has to have at least once. I had a blast. I can’t really speak for Courtney as she was freezing. We had noise makers we would blow into every time there was a Pens goal, and we actually got to experience a couple Pens goals, unlike our last trip to Hotlanta. When the game ended in a 2-1 victory for the Pens, we headed back to the train and back to our Podunk Hotel to crash after a long day of hockey and traveling.

9:30 a.m Sunday (EST)

After a pretty good night’s sleep, considering our accommodations, we were ready for a morning of sight seeing for Courtney. I absolutely love the city of Pittsburgh. The way I was acting, getting all excited for her to see and experience certain things, was as if I had lived there all my life and she was coming to visit me.

I went down to my car to get my laptop so we could decide where to start first and while I was gone, the male housekeeper decided it would be okay to just unlock our door and bark at Courtney about what time we were checking out. No knock, just stuck his own damn key in the door and walked in. We needed to really get out of there.

Court showered, and we went down to the front desk to check out. I asked the man behind the counter if it was their policy to just walk in on their guests. He said no and tried to call the housekeeper in question. Not while we’re still here!! I don’t want my car tagged or anything!

We decided breakfast first would be a good option and there was a Bob Evans down the road. Being Mother’s Day, I figured on a wait, but we were seated almost right away. The food was okay, the service was terrible. I worked in the restaurant industry for a few years, I know what its like to be busy. But I also know when to kick my pride out of the way and tell someone I can’t handle it. This waitress obviously did not.

Breakfast done, gas in the car for the road home our first stop of the day was Robinson Center Mall. I was still in the hunt for that Staal shirt. I did eventually find it at Pro Image, they had just got them in in my size. Well, I had been having trouble locating my Crosby shirt, so what the hell, I bought another one of those as well.

Our next stop was going to be the Iceoplex at South Pointe for the Pens practice. It is a good thing we decided that we didn’t have time because they were apparently given the day off so it would have been a waste of time anyways. I guess not all sources are correct.

Last stop of the morning before we headed home was the Strip District. If you ever go to Pittsburgh, you HAVE to visit the Strip District. There are a lot of vendors and a few shops.There are probably more shops than I ever experience because I tend to make it down there on a Sunday, but if you are looking for Pens or Steelers gear for a reasonable price, this is the place to go.

I always find fun stuff down there. It’s where I bought my Super Sid shirt last October, and my SHHHHH! Talbot shirt when I was down there in March. This trip I picked up a 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs shirt, a white T with the a gold stanley cup made out of players numbers and words and such, and my personal favorite; Welcome to Sid City, What happens in Pittsburgh Stays in Pittsburgh. Can’t wait to wear THAT one!

1:00 p.m Sunday (EST)

Back on the road, back to reality. I really hate leaving and I can’t wait until I make my stay permanent. I’m a bit crazy, I know. But the people in Pittsburgh are just wonderful. Everyone is so welcoming, and its hard when the one thing you love the most is so far away. Hard for my bank account at least.

I let Court drive a bit this time. The sun was out, unlike our trip there, and my eyes were beginning to strain even behind my sunglasses. When we were about 100 or so miles-ish outside of Chicago again, we switched back. I am not great in the city, but I figured I would be a bit better than her since she isn’t really familiar with the area at all and who knows when Andrew would decide he didn’t want to work.

We would be getting back into Chicago right around game time for the Hawks. My brain must have been still on eastern standard time though because the game started an hour before I had anticipated. That would explain the large amount of traffic we faced trying to get off of the Sky Way.

At this point we were hungry and Court’s train didn’t leave for another couple of hours. Like I said before the city is expensive, and I really didn’t want to have to pay to park just to have a quick meal, but Court really wanted Portillo’s so I made the exception. Not without an attitude I guess. I asked a man at a parking lot if there was anywhere to park for Portillo’s to eat where you didn’t have to pay nine dollars on top of your five dollar hot dog and he copped an attitude with me, and then told ME I was the one with the attitude. I want to apologize to Courtney for scarfing down my food, I didn’t trust my car in that lot after that.

After dinner I dropped Court off at ESPN Zone so she could watch the Hawks eventually lose to Vancouver before she got on her bus. I spoke to her this morning and she didn’t get the chance to sleep before she had to be at work this morning. That’s a dedicated fan. Eight hours to Chicago, seven hours to Pittsburgh just for one night to do it all again the next day. Thank you Courtney for participating in my craziness! I can now officially say I am 4-1 when taking in a game in Pittsburgh!

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