After a shenanigans-filled trip to Lei-Out and visits to Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz in the first edition, Irish ultimate player Liam Grant brings us the second report in his Through Irish Eyes series…
Santa Cruz is a difficult place to leave, but after a fortnight or so I eventually answered the callings of San Francisco. Before hitting the city I attended tryouts for the San Jose Spiders. My dreams of professional ultimate quickly dwindled as I found myself scuttling about the field like a lost puppy. My usual tryout tactics involve making one big play at the start of the tryout, and then faking an injury in order to leave a positive lasting impression. Unfortunately, I never managed to execute stage one. The talent in attendance was high and available squad spaces were low. Trying out for a team can be daunting at times, but there are always positives to take from doing so. I may not have made the team, but I did make some friends. The Spiders are sweethearts and I will forever be a fan.
Unbeknownst to most, Saint Francisco was apparently the patron saint of walking up steep hills. So for those of you that haven’t been to San Fran before, I suggest hiring a Sherpa. Having a van in the city isn’t ideal, but what the city lacks in parking facilities it makes up for with culture. After some cocktails in the Mission District, I fast-forwarded to find myself in the VIP lounge of a seedy nightclub. It was there I was reacquainted with my good old friend Hennessy, and it didn’t take us long to get the party going. Turns out orchestrating a cake fight in a VIP lounge is frowned upon, so I was unceremoniously advised by the security staff to continue my shenanigans elsewhere. Luckily, I’m technically homeless, so I fit right in with the street sleepers. After parading the town with no pants and a cake-filled face, my weary limbs eventually took shelter in a BART station for the night.
Nursing one of the worst hangovers of my life, I trundled my way to Fort Point beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Fortunately for me, there was some surf to wash away my pains and get me ready for another night of skullduggery. Later that day, I was back on the booze in Berkeley, taking down some fancy ales with hip college kids. Many Americans now consider themselves beer connoisseurs, opting for a beverage with a little more substance. Me? I go for quantity over quality. My best friends so far on this trip have been Pabst Blue Ribbon, Keystone Light and Rolling Rock. After a few overly priced beers, I smooth talked my way into a sorority house filled with seventy buxom young lassies. My excursion didn’t stop there: deep within the redwood forests south of The City, the sounds of R. Kelly and Bobby Brown shook the walls of an old prohibition store-cave; the “Rave in a Cave” would be my final destination for the night.
My next American cultural experience was Superbowl Sunday. In Ireland, It was somewhat of a college tradition to watch the Superbowl with our Yank semester students. However, the match kicks off well past midnight in Europe, leaving many an Irishman too incapacitated to register what is actually happening. In most countries, football refers to a game which predominately involves a foot kicking a ball, while in America, the sport of football compromises of a hand throwing an egg. So to avoid confusion, I will be referring to the US version as handegg. The 48th Handegg Championship final was mildly entertaining at best. Perhaps professional ultimate will take off: if people are willing to fork out millions for that event, pretty much any sport has a shot.
I left my van in California, and with just a bag on my back, I set off for Kauai, the first island on my Hawaiian adventure. Every corner of this tropical paradise is inhabited by wild chickens and roosters. I have nothing but love for these feathery friends, but unfortunately the roosters tend to crow all hours of day and night. If you don’t find yourself daydreaming about smashing roosters with a golf club, you are a better man than I am. The garden island is rife with stunning scenery and should be on most peoples pre/post-Kaimana itinerary. I arrived at Kaimana Klassik early… a day early, in fact. Somehow, I got the impression that people would be camping out on the Thursday night. While I was sleeping out at the campsite alone with no tent or sleeping bag, the actual pre-party was happening in Waikiki.
If you’re a fan of gratuitous drinking games and excessive nudity, Kaimana is the tourney for you. The beer kegs started flowing on the Friday afternoon, and as far as I know they haven’t stopped. I had originally arranged to play with the big island team for the tournament, but due to some injuries, I got the opportunity to pick up with Ski Patrol. I couldn’t resist the party antics and talent of the steezy skiers, so I put on my ski boots and informed the islanders. This decision greatly influenced the next two weeks of my life. The Hawaiian lads aren’t known for their talent on the field, but they can heckle like no other, and I had put myself right in their firing range.
Saturday brought typical Hawaiian weather, but by Monday morning, things were looking very Irish. Like most of the players, the main tent collapsed into a drunken muddy mess Sunday night due to heavy winds. Thankfully no one was hurt and the tournament directors kept the ship sailing. The Aussie teams took home gold in both divisions, proving that kangaroos can still jump in mud.
I took shelter on Oahu’s north shore for a couple of days, where I could surrender on the soft sands and blue waters. I lost a head-butting competition to some coral reef and I also purchased the most expensive groceries known to man. Next on my agenda was Hecklefest 2014, also known as the Hilo Hat Draw. The lads gave me some serious abuse over the weekend but thankfully their aloha spirit shone through and deep down I know they love me. Good food and good vibes for the second weekend in a row had me buzzing. I’m now in LA taking it easy before round three kicks off at Trouble in Vegas. My journey is rather hazy after this weekend, so if you would like to get drunk, play ultimate or fight crime you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or get me on the gram, liamgrant13. I also do weddings, children’s birthdays, funerals and bar mitzvahs .