Olympic fever caught in a Super 8

I don’t know about you, but I’ll never forget where I was when I watched the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I was in a Super 8 Motel in Ferndale. Being only a couple miles from the Canadian border added a certain international cachet to glamour and glitz of the experience, as did the slightly fuzzy reception of the television set bolted to the dresser of my room.

The motel was conveniently located a half-dozen feet or so from I-5, and featured three fine dining establishments within easy walking distance. It was difficult to choose from among the McDonalds, the Denny’s or the Subway, so I selected “none of the above” and instead went with peanut butter crackers, fresh blueberries and Gatorade as my pre-opening ceremonies training table meal.

I was in Ferndale along with a dozen or so other similarly situated soccer moms and dads to watch our daughters participate in the Rimland Cup Girl’s Soccer Tournament. Because this was a soccer tournament occurring in mid-August at the end of a week in which the thermometer had nearly hit 90 degrees, I made sure to pack several pairs of shorts, lots of cotton T shirts, plenty of sun block and enough Gatorade to hydrate a herd of camels. It being summer, I never even considered packing a jacket, an umbrella or anything resembling a warm beverage.

So, of course, it rained nearly the whole time we were there. Luckily for me, at least one of my fellow soccer dads was more prepared than I and loaned me a spare windbreaker he happened to be carrying in his car. I wore the thing all day Saturday, thereby saving myself from either drowning or hypothermia, perhaps both. I learned a valuable lesson about summer travel preparation from this experience. The next time I go to a soccer tournament in Bellingham during the summer, I’m going to first call Peter Denis and make sure he packs his extra windbreaker. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Between games on Saturday a couple of us went to a Haggen’s grocery store for lunch, which would ordinarily be a pretty uneventful undertaking. But just inside the front entrance of this particular store was a very nice new John Deere front loader for sale for a mere $22,749.00. If only my cart had been a little larger. It also turned out that, in addition to the Rimland soccer tournament, a local park was hosting a Civil War reenactment this same weekend. Many of the re-enactors also decided to spend their lunch hour at this same Haggens. At one point, I was standing in line next to a gentleman wearing a tattered and blood-stained Confederate infantryman’s uniform while holding a slice of pizza, a basket of jo-jo fries and a liter of Diet Pepsi. Besides giving me a disorienting sense of space-time incongruity, this little episode helped explain why the South lost the war. I mean really, who eats jo-jo fries with pizza? We all know they go much better with sushi.

During lunch, I scoured Haggen’s aisles to rig up an ice pack for my daughter, Lauren, who in addition to suffering a fat lip and a possibly broken nose, had pulled a muscle in her thigh. Showing typical Yankee ingenuity, I grabbed a big bag of party ice, a box of double zip-lock freezer bags, an ace bandage, and some athletic tape and smoothly strapped the resulting apparatus to Lauren’s leg while she ate the last of her jo-jos. My jerry-rigged little ice bag deal worked beautifully.

We survived the Super 8 and the tournament, and I got home in time to watch some actual Olympic events on a real television set. Maybe it’s just me, but based on watching several hours of network television coverage of these Olympics, one would have to conclude that this year’s Summer Games consists entirely of gymnastics and diving competition between men and women from the United States and China, women’s beach volleyball if it includes the American team, and Michael Phelps. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. At least it’s not raining.

Islander Tom Tyner is an attorney

for the Trust for Public Land. He is author

of “Skeletons From Our Closet,”

a collection of writings on the island’s latte scene.

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