Since our younger daughter was in middle school, she’s enjoyed competing in bowling tournaments. (She’s 19 now.) As such, we’ve traveled to about a thousand bowling centers all around the West Coast. This weekend was the 2017 Washington State USBC Queens Tournament in Everett, WA. However, we learned long ago that bowling is only a part of the excitement and that we need to make these trips into mini-vacations.
With that in mind, on Friday morning (24 Mar. 2017), we loaded a bunch of luggage, snacks, and NINE bowling balls into the Escape, stopped by Starbucks, and then hit the freeway. Our first stop was the Centralia Outlet stores where Elise purchased (for the first time in history) some bowling skorts from the Nike store. (The primary reason for this outfit choice was so she could show off her cool Crash Bandicoot tattoo.)
Next, we traveled further north, past Olympia, until we decided we were hungry and then stopped for a bite at a Mayan restaurant. (The food was pretty good.)
Back on the road, we started hitting traffic just south of Tacoma, right around Lakewood. (Happens every time.) And thus we began THE I-5 CREEP. From this point on we crawled north, inch by tedious inch, water splashing the windshield, giant trucks pushing their way in front of us, and the bathroom calling in a high-pitched, unpleasant voice.
After an eternity, we reached Lynnwood, WA, and the thrill packed Alderwood Mall! (It wouldn’t have taken quite so long to get there, but the stupid cell phone gave me some very bad directions…That robo-lady is a bossy jerk.) We hit Build-a-Bear, Vans, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, Hot Topic, Cinnabon, etc…. The women-folk bought some clothes, Ellie got a pair of shoes, and we all chomped some sugary goodness. After the main mall, we ventured to Barnes & Noble (down the street a ways), and I get a couple of books.
By now it was dark, still rainy, cold as SMURF, and we zipped back onto the freeway for the last few seconds of the journey to Mukilteo, WA, and the Hilton Garden Inn, which was surrounded on three sides by Boeing! (Those planes are big up close, and I’m phobic… So creepy…) The room was perfectly adequate, and we were tired from driving, so we crashed and burned pretty quickly.
The next morning, 9:00 A.M., was check-in for the WSUSBC Queens Tournament at Evergreen Lanes (which was about 10 minutes away from the hotel.) The house has 20 lanes, which are synthetic, and wood approaches, and there were 36 women there all attempting to take home the crown! There were also a number of fun people there who we were very pleased to see and talk to, bowlers and spectators both, and these people, the regulars, the BOWLING FAMILY, are the main reason that we love going to these tournaments. (This is at least true for Mariah and I—Ellie might be more addicted to the challenge). The competition is great, but getting to visit old friends is really what it’s all about.
Qualifying was six rounds on a 40 ft. “flat” pattern. (“Flat” means that the oil goes from edge to edge of the lane. On a normal “house” shot the oil coats the first 35 to 36 feet down the lane, and the thickest oil is in the middle of the lane, getting drier as you get closer to the edges. This helps people who hook the ball make it to the “pocket.”) Long story short, the shot was TOUGH, slick as an ice-skating rink, and scores overall were pretty low. (Only one bowler averaged over 200 for six games, and the cut was minus 159!)
Ellie had a rough time on games two and three. Lots of splits, couldn’t get lined up, and she might have even started to lose heart (just a bit), but thanks to some great advice and encouragement from a couple of friends (Thanks Cindy Mattingly and Tanner Spacey!), Elvis found the right ball and a great line and made a SERIOUS comeback! (She even cracked 200, twice, on this very challenging shot.) Unfortunately, the last frame of the final game of qualifying, she needed a double (two strikes in a row) to make cut, threw a GREAT ball, and the 7 pin started to fall, but got bumped by another pin and stood back up! (She missed cut by 8 pins!) The Bowling Gods just didn’t want it to happen this time. Elvis was upset when she realized she didn’t make it to the second round, but quickly got over it, and we stayed to watch our friends who made the semi-final rounds! (Congrats to Crista, Lori, and Cindy for making it to bonus bowling!)
We watched the next four games while we ate some lunch, then said our goodbyes, and dashed back to the hotel! (Stopped at DQ for some frozen desserts, and mine had a bit of wire in it, like from a Brillo pad or something, so they made me a new one—even though I’d already eaten like a quarter of it! Awesome…) Although we considered taking a nap once we got back to the Hilton, we noticed that the swimming pool was unoccupied, so we quickly changed and hit the water! The pool was tiny and not very deep, so we did what any group of people like us would do in that situation, and tried to create a whirlpool by quickly walking around the edge of the pool in a circle. (Oddly, we chose to walk counter-clockwise. I’m not sure why…) We splashed around, had a fun time, sat in the hot tub for a bit, then went back to the room for that nap. When we woke, we found a local pizza joint (Brooklyn Brothers) and grabbed some pie.
Sleeping in hotels is never easy for Elvis or myself, but we were tired again, so we did eventually crash. The next morning (it was Sunday by then—funny how that works), we got up, gathered our gear as quickly as we could, and drove straight home, somehow sliding through Seattle, Fife, and Tacoma without incident. All in all, it was a great weekend. We got to visit with some very entertaining people, Ellie felt pretty okay about how she bowled at the event, we had fun shopping and swimming, and we got home nice and early. Couldn’t really ask for more than that, and I can’t wait for the next tournament!
—Richard F. Yates