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We here at stormfans.org have been looking forward to this trip since we first heard about it. Not only would we not have to face driving back to Seattle ourselves at midnight, but we would also be traveling with a pack of Storm fans. While we haven’t been harassed by Fire fans in Portland, we also haven’t felt like we can go all out like we do at KeyArena. We are looking forward to going nuts tonight.

But first, we have to get to the game. There seems to be some confusion as to what exactly constitutes the Park n’ Ride near Northgate Mall, the place we have been instructed to meet. Not only are there parking lots o’ plenty around the Mall, but there is a Transit Station, and 2 Park n’ Ride lots. As it turns out, people are spread out all over the place and have to be rounded up. To make things even more confusing, the buses are parked in the Mall lot waiting until they have to come pick us up. Karen Bryant zips in and tells us to stay put (we are in the correct lot) while she goes and collects everyone else.

Once the buses arrive, the Storm folks make sure to outfit everyone with foam fingers, mini-coolers and beverages for the trip. We choose our ride, Storm Bus 1 (out of 2), and take our seats. Karen comes aboard, introduces to Bruce, our driver, and Whitney, our leader. She admits that “The buses haven’t even left yet and it’s already an adventure.” She isn’t going to ride with the buses, but is going to drive down in her sporty moss colored Saab (speed limit, what speed limit?).

We are hoping that we get some fan activity / spirit boosting along the way, but we instead get to see “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” While Matthew Broderick is funny, it seems to be a missed opportunity that there really isn’t any “community” building on the way down to Portland. We know that we probably could have done it ourselves, but we didn’t want to jump in if Whitney, our Storm rep, had something planned. Next time, the last 45-30 minutes of the trip ought to be set aside for something to get everyone pumped for the game, like a Storm trivia contest, coming up with some cheers for the game (although we did pretty well on our own), or some other group activity to get things rocking.

So, the 3 hour 15 minute trip to Portland is fairly uneventful. We do notice that Bruce tends to slow down every time we approach a police officer who has already pulled someone else over. Maybe he was following Karen and her Saab. Hey, we have to get there on time. We get one fifteen minute pit-stop along the way, and Bruce tells us that “The difference between a passenger and a hitchhiker is about 2 minutes.”

Once we get to Portland, Whitney hands out our ticket and hotdog/drink voucher and in we go.

Please go to the Gameday for the game details.

After the game, we meet out in front of the Rose Garden next to the fountain (and flame pillars). After making sure everyone is present, we are led down to the bowels of the stadium where the visitor’s bus is parked. Once we get down there, a rather gruff security guard points us to the autograph pen where we can wait for the team. It’s too small to allow our entire 75-80 person group to fit, so some have to stay out at the entrance.

Lauren and Simone are the first players that we see, and they come over for high-fives, a few autographs, and, in Simone’s case, lots of hugs. Simone climbs over the barricade and mingles with the group. The Simone Zone group gets her off to the side and then ambushes her with silly string. She gets a can and reciprocates by shooting Lauren and then Kamila who has just joined the crowd. Lauren gets another “Aussie, aussie, aussie, oi, oi, oi” cheer, which gets us a smile and a thumbs up.

Katy comes out with a group (her family?) and leaves with them, followed by Sonja. Katy, who is dressed in street clothes the whole game and is supposed to be getting knee surgery (we heard anyway), lives in Portland and isn’t going to travel with the team on the upcoming road trip. Sonja, who also lives in Portland, leaves with two enormous ice bags taped to her knees. Yikes. It’s easy for us to take it for granted that the players work hard, but we don’t often get to see the physical aftermath of a game. Those ice bags made our knees hurt in sympathy.

Before Lauren gets on the bus, Tom Maher, coach of the Washington Mystics and the Australian National Team, and Chamique Holdsclaw come out to their car which is parked right next to us. Lauren and Tom speak a little bit and Chamique comes over to sign a couple of autographs.

Stacey Lovelace gets a “Love lace, love lace” cheer when she comes out. The Rose Garden announcer continually mispronounced her name during the game. Semeka gives some high fives on her way to the bus as well.

The one person that we don’t get to see that we want to cheer for is Jamie Redd. She was already on the bus by the time we got there, so we didn’t get a chance to let her know how much we appreciated her fantastic second half performance. A “Jamie, Jamie” chant starts up, but she doesn’t come out.

The Storm bus, which thankfully is a lot nicer than ours (we certainly don’t have WNBA player leg room), eventually leaves to the hoarse-throated cheers of the fans. We troop it back to our own buses and it’s off to Seattle. By the time we hit the Columbia river, the fireworks are in full bloom over Ft. Vancouver. Pretty much all the way back, we see burst of color from home-launched fireworks. Oh yeah, and we get to see “My Best Friend’s Wedding” on the way back.

This trip was a blast, no fireworks pun intended.

 

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