Monday, May 30, 2011

Savage Gulf: Stone Door (Trekking Review)

The South Cumberland and Savage Gulf offer a lot of options for the day trekker or for the serious hiker.  With over 90 miles of trails and perfectly nestled between Nashville and Chattanooga, it's impossible to not consider Savage Gulf when looking for somewhere to go hike.  The trails range from easy to very rugged and the lengths vary from 0.8 miles to 12.5 (one way).

Today we (Funkdubie and I) did a minor trek to Laurel Falls and Stone door.  Laura Falls is so close to the ranger station that it's near impossible to not take the tiny .4 jaunt to see the falls.  While they may be impressive during or after a rain, I was more impressed by the apparent sinkhole/mini-gorge that formed the falls than the falls themselves.  Laurel Falls is a mildly challenging hike at worst, primarily because of the uphill slope on the way back to the ranger's station.  However, the very short duration of the hike easily make's up for the small uphill.

From the ranger station the hike to Stone Door Bluff is about 0.8 miles one way.  The trail is paved for the first quarter mile (to Laurel Overlook) and the remaining trail to the top of the bluff is quite maintained and very easily traversed.  The bluff atop Stone Door offers a stunning view of the surrounding mountains.  Keep in mind that there is no railing around the bluff, so one should keep a very close eye on kids, clumsy people like myself, etc.  Also be sure that no one kicks/throws stones or anything from the top of the bluff as there are often climbers or hikers directly below.  By my opinion, the hike to the Stone Door overlook is considered "easy".

The Stone Door is a really nifty structure with an absolute gem of a past (actually - there's amazing geological history to the region).  The "Door" itself is a 10-foot wide crack in the sandstone rim that surrounds the entire valley and is, pretty much, the only easy way to get to the bottom.  Tennessee State tells us that the 'door' was used by Native Americans as a means to get to hunting grounds. Walking through the seemingly tight expanse of rocks, one can feel the cool breeze and imagine the sounds of eons past.  There are (wild guess) 75 stone steps that lead to the bottom of the door.  The stones felt well placed and poles were not needed. At the bottom of the door, one can traverse down slightly further and then branch out to where the climbers would go.  This section was rugged but very short (I believe there are steps created to go to this area, but a fallen tree made that a non-option).  From the bottom of the bluff, one can feel a new appreciation for the 'do not throw/kick stones' sign above.  The cool air blowing from the pitted areas of the bluff were a welcome feeling mid-day (the day we chose to go - May 30th - was unseasonably warm and hovering around 93-degrees).

As always, what goes downhill eventually has to go back uphill.  We made the trek back up the steps and took another brief glimpse of the expanse of forests. It's worthy to note that while the area has never been logged, the trees don't grow to the grandeur that one may find in, say, Joyce Kilmer park in NC.

Overall the entire trek, including the unplanned trek around the base of the Stone Door Bluff, took no more than 2 hours (and, had we not stopped to bask in the sunlight on the bluff, likely 1-1.5 hours total).  I would rate the Stone Door trail - including the steps to the base - to be 90% easy and 10% moderate.  If you can't handle steps, then skip the aforementioned 10% and just enjoy the beauty of the bluff from atop.

Wildlife:  We saw a very small black snake, typical squirrel, and a very gorgeous copperhead.  We first came across the copperhead after a man coming out of the trail warned us of an "eastern diamondback that was across the trail up ahead".  I snagged my cell phone (camera) and we trekked on.  Not far ahead we discovered the "eastern diamondback" but rather than across the trail, he was nestled just at the corner of a wooden overlook 'pier'.  The other embellishment was that he wasn't an eastern diamondback but, rather, a southern copperhead.  Copperheads have a reputation as an 'aggressive' snake, but most of the time they are really quite docile.  This little guy was maybe 1.5 feet long, so he was a young snake and hadn't found out the hard way that snakes laying on human structures don't usually have happy endings.  So, I gently encouraged him to at least move to the grass next to the structure (he did with zero issue).  On the journey back, I felt an urge to see if he had moved much and found the little guy peacefully wrapped up in a shaft of sunlight that was breaking through the trees.  He was off the path (by a foot, maybe) so hopefully he remained safe.  As for the hiker who said he was a diamondback?...  I hope he learns to ID venomous snakes of regions he's hiking more throughly in the future.  Never bodes well when, if it happened, someone tells the doctors you were bitten by the wrong poisonous snake.  (And how someone mistakes a copperhead for an EASTERN DIAMONDBACK is beyond me... they [copperheads] get more often mistaken for corn snakes and vice versa, but at least those two resemble!)

My point of going to Savage Gulf today was actually to peruse the terrain casually as my next planned hike is the 25 mile (round trip), rugged Fiery Gizzard.  I can't wait to review THAT one!

...Bring On the Fiery Gizzard!  (wow... for some reason that makes me hungry)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Harrison Bay Loop - A Casual Hiking Review

N35 10.088 W85 07.198 (Trail head)
Harrison, TN

Harrison Bay is a gorgeous area and the main reason I actually moved to this specific part of Tennessee.  Harrison boasts easy access, a great lake, good area, and friendly people.

The Harrison Bay hiking loop is, at it's very hardest, a mild hike; most of the 4.5 miles is a mere nature walk.  Twice I saw debris from the recent tornadoes in the area (a month - exactly - prior to the date of this blog) which was a little surreal for me.  The main tail head is very accessible and situated at the back of the boat trailer parking area.  When entering the park, go towards the boat ramps, not towards the picnic areas.  The pay-per-use site is near the gated recycle depot.  Most of the 4.5 miles skirts the water's edge so there's lots of pretty views.

Wildlife: mostly just the 'common' sights of basking turtles, toads, and lizards. Bird sightings were cranes, cardinals, and blue jays. Oh, and of course squirrels.

Pros: great views, easy access to the lake for pets, decently maintained trail

Cons: lots of bikers like the loop which makes it a little congested (I passed no less than 20 bikers) and there is a tendency for bikes to rut the ground in softer areas.  Also, the Bay is a popular boating/water rec area so it's rare to not hear boats or families splashing around from their boat.  Lastly, if you're a hiker, this trail isn't really for you unless you're just looking to test the comfort of a new pack or some new shoes. Again, it's more a nature walk than a hiking trail. One can easily maintain a 3.5 mph pace.

Geocache: I'm not sure if the geocache here still exists.  I perused for it but didn't spend a lot of time really looking because I had heard rumors that the cache(s) was removed.

(NOTE: I was supposed to hike in the South Cumberland today - a rugged 10-mile trek.  Due to unforeseen issues with my son's car, I had to let him borrow mine which limited how far I could then travel with the time I had available to me... so, there's a chance that I was a little upset over going on an easy hike to the bay rather than what I had planned on doing.  If I inadvertently took my angst out on my review, I apologize.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Who do you pull for when you don't like anyone?

Who do you pull for when you don't like anyone?

Tonight the one team left that I was pulling for, the Tampa Bay Lightening, were put out in a game 7 effort by the Boston Bruins. So now I have a conundrum: I don't pull for Eastern Conference Teams but I don't want to pull for the team that put MY team out of contention. So... what's a girl to do? I want to say I don't really care who wins but...

...then again, I don't want the team that put my team out of the race to feel the glory of raising the coveted Cup.  I don't want the team that we really could have beat (feel me here, offense!) to hoist the most amazing prize of my sport.

So, short and sweet: Go Bruins.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Woman's Guide to Solo Hiking

It's funny how often I'm told not to hike alone.  Uncanny.  Maybe I'm bolstered by statistics that are on my side. Maybe I'm too hard-headed to admit I'm the 'weaker' sex.  Maybe I'm just a daft and stubborn idiot.

Or maybe it's that I think I have more to fear walking to my car after work at night - you know, something routine that I do every day at almost exactly the same time.  Or, maybe, it's that my sole 'fear' of hiking alone has more to do with falling and less to do with being seen as a troll's 'prey'?  I'm not sure. Maybe... no, LIKELY it's a mix of all of that.

Regardless, I know I can't be the only female in the world that hikes alone (and by hiking I don't me trekking the Appalachian Trail, I mean a good 1-2 day hike) so I thought I'd toss some HockeyChic's Personal Pointers out.  Remember that I'm telling you my take on things, that doesn't mean that I might not still be the daft idiot mentioned above.

Most of the items on this first list are on vast numbers of websites... others, most of the ones on my Grit list, I haven't seen at all.  So, the
HockeyChic's Woman's Guide to Alone Hiking/Day Trekking: 

Always pack the 10 basics: 

  1. GPS, Map, and compass (yes, a 'real' one... and these all count as 1 item but you need them ALL)
  2. First Aid kit and "survival bracelet"
  3. Flashlight
  4. Sun screen (and Bug Repellent) and sunglasses
  5. Multi-purpose tool (if you don't know what we mean, look up a "gerber" and think "swiss army knife on 'roids")
  6. Water.  Make sure you look at bladder systems as they are efficient ways to carry.  Make sure you get the right size and don't go to small.  In hiking, size matters... sometimes things need to be small and light, but water is not where you want to skimp unless you're taking purifiers as well. 
  7. Food.  Again, pack for your trip but always take extra, dried goods are great for this (they don't spoil and are lightweight, too)
  8. Matches (waterproof) or a very reliable means of creating fire/heat.  
  9. Take your cell phone.  It may not get signal... but then again, it may! 
  10. Rain gear and dress in layers!  Hot doesn't always stay hot and cold doesn't always feel cold.  (This goes with #5 under the Grit.) 

Now, the HockeyChic's Grit behind being a solo female hiker: 

Always know the 10 Solo Female Hiker Basics:
  1. First and foremost: tell someone where you are going and be as detailed as possible.  I don't care if it's a family member or staff at the Ranger's station (though both would be best), but someone should know your intended destination, route, and intended duration.  Always leave a number for a Ranger's Station, if you can, with a family member along with the above details.  IF something were to happen (again, I fear more for a broken ankle than a stalker), I want people to know where I planned on being because that should be a good indicator of where to look.  
  2. Know your location.  I don't care how many times you've hiked somewhere, take a good map (topo) of the area and a hand-held GPS unit as well as a back-up compass (the old fashioned kind).  You may have been somewhere a billion times, but one washed out trail or landslide can really wreak havoc on plans.  
  3. If you're out overnight either be within easy view of some tents or be completely out of view of anything.  The idea is that you're either in ear shot if needed, or you're invisible if you feel safer that way.  Don't camp near roads and if there's an overnight shelter, check it out first before just packing it in for the night.  
  4. Be prepared to stay longer than you thought.  I say this for a few reasons.  Sometimes we underestimate terrain and get 'stuck' out longer than anticipated.  I hope we never face this, but there may be other times where something doesn't go as planned and you're just plain stuck for the night or for an undetermined amount of time.  Think big storms or (we REALLY hope not) an injury here.  Always have, at bare minimum, a first aid pack and emergency blanket, extra water or means to purify water, dry matches, and survival essentials.  You may think this sounds nasty, but it also doesn't hurt to know how to fish/hunt and, if required, prepare (field dress, scale, clean, etc) animals/fish. Lastly, it doesn't hurt to know the vegetation of the area; which plants are edible and which are NOT.
  5. Read the sky.  Be aware of the weather for the location you're headed to as well as the weather coming that way.  Remember that your body is more prone to temps during 'exposure' to the elements.  Don't forget not to wear cotton because it doesn't retain body heat if it's wet and it doesn't wick moisture away from your skin, either. 
  6. Be Prepared for any bad stuff.  Just to be clear, by "bad stuff" I mean anything dangerous to your actual body/self ranging from boars or bears to poisonous snakes to trolls (bad men).  Have mace, bear or pepper spray, a firearm (if you are licensed to carry, QUALIFIED to carry, and there are no firearm restrictions where you are going - which is actually going to be rare if you stick to state or national parks), and an 'all purpose' or 'multi-' tool that includes knife, shears, etc.  These items help with wildlife - in any form - but make sure that you really know what you're doing. None of these are  helpful to you if you aren't 100% knowledgeable and secure in use.  Also, really take time to study the wildlife in the area that you're headed.  Know how to handle potential wildlife encounters and what the best means of self-defense is (which, sometimes, is merely avoidance!).  A good example is that your bear spray may work better on a bear than a gun (depending on caliber).  Also, most snakes aren't going to chase you through a forest, they're usually only going for self protection, too!  Worst case, know basic self defense against trolls.  Of everything on the trails, trolls are the scariest things.  Know these things. 
  7. Don't take unnecessary risks.  This ranges from NOT taking short cuts to staying hydrated.  Furthermore, don't overestimate your abilities or strength.  
  8. Use common sense.  Yes, this would seemingly go with #7, but it includes your common sense about people and places, too.  If you feel lost, stop and count slowly to 10 before looking around.  Find something you are 100% sure you recognize if you can backtrack.  If you can't, stay put.  Also, if you come across a guy who is overly willing to accompany you, lie about having a partner with you.  Never underestimate the validity of an 'uneasy' feeling about a person or situation and never assume everyone is good and chivalrous. 
  9. Know how to ask for help in different forms.  Remember the 3: Three bursts on a whistle = "help".  Orange flares.  Mirrors.  
  10. Check in.  If you are going on a long hike, sign hiking registers, call home, or do whatever you can to update someone on your location as you go.
As a side-note, I have a dog.  I take my dog.  She's super sweet and loving and, as a general rule, polite and kind to anyone we meet. But once, she flared up on a man and I was more than willing to take her word for it and high-tail it out of there.  Even the most docile family pet can either be a deterrent or a helpful hand (tooth) when necessary.  

So, like I said, I'm not going to proclaim I'm the world's most successful solo-female hiker. I'm not going to say I trek vast forests on my own.  What I WILL say is that I'm not afraid to hike alone because I refuse to NOT do things I love simply because I can't find people to join me.  I hike with people and like it... but hiking alone is very invigorating and enjoyable.  The above list, it's mine and I'm sharing it; not because it's "tried, true, and unbeatable" but rather because it's just about everything I can do to make others (and myself) comfortable with my decision to hike alone.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

AT&T Wireless vs. AT&T U-verse; Service Faux Pas

Service – Noun or Verb?
It’s not often I vent my personal woes publicly.  Ok, so not as often as I could.  But this is worth the read, my friends, I promise.  Full of drama, angst, and (thankfully) joy and satisfaction.  Let me give you the back story…

…Unhappy with her current internet/television provider, a certain heroine (me) opted to switch her service to the New AT&T U-Verse package.  I don’t fall for commercials saying it’s antiquated (it’s really not – Comcast is using 10-year old data for their commercials) and have had AT&T Wireless for eons – happily.  So I negotiate a new package and U-verse installs my service on May 3rd.  While the tech is here, he gets everything all wired up and tells Funkdubie “your new home phone number is ###-####”.  Funkdubie replies, “Dude, that’s not going to work for me… that’s my cell phone number that you had listed as the contact number to call before you got here.”  Tech says “oops, not my problem, call the U-verse service line” and does the biggest faux pas in the history of the world: PUTS THE CUSTOMER IN THE MIDDLE. 
Funkdubie calls me, I call U-verse, they admit the oops, disconnect the cell number from the house and assign a new one.  I call Wireless and they say “um, we can’t port the number back.  U-verse hasn’t released it”.  To make a woefully long story short (if possible) I spend about 5 hours on the phone between U-verse and Wireless only for U-verse to play stupid and Wireless to tell me they can’t do anything for at least 10 days while they try to get the number released from U-verse (keeping in mind that “this is all AT&T” per the commercials to US).

 U-verse’s call center, for the record, is in the Philippines. 

I wait as 10 days pass with Funkdubie having NO cell phone (my resolution was supposed to be done) only for me to find out the port escalation area hasn’t worked on my account yet (no real fault of their own, my rep was in an accident).  As I’m on hold with Wireless, I get an email notification from U-verse that my new bill has arrived and it’s $459.  Then, the Wireless person gets back on my line and warns me that Wireless assessed me an early termination fee on the line that U-Verse stole… $300 (which would be waived after I talked to the port people). 

My eyes bugged out.

My blood pressure shot up.

They left a message for the port specialist to call me ASAP.

As for the U-verse bill, I had agreed to waived installation and activation fees along with a $160/month package and they are charging me $459 after ONE WEEK?!  I think not.  Pissed as a girl can possibly get, I called U-verse and told them to come and retrieve their equipment, release my effing cell phone number which they messed up, and cancel my service.  (Response?  They can’t help with the cell number cuz it was disconnected, I have to pack up their  equipment and UPS it to them within 10 days or I’m billed for it, and amazingly they had my service shut down within 15 minutes… funny how fast they work on THAT!)
Two hours later, I get a call from Mike, a “port escalation specialist” with Wireless.  He assures me he will be working on my issue till resolution.  I tell him what a bad day I’ve had and my angst (and cancellation) with U-verse.  He says “uh oh.” 

Not what a girl wants to hear. 

Apparently, the ‘quick fix’ was to have U-verse reassign the cell number to my home and then they could port it over within a few days… well, that wasn’t exactly an option now that I cancelled my service.  Fuming, I told Mike I didn’t care anymore and I wanted a new number.   He said “we can do that, but I don’t have the authority to waive the early disconnect fee, but our service area can and then you call me back tomorrow after you make sure that’s what you want to do.”  Mike assures me that in the interim he’s going to try to call U-verse and get them to release the number and, oh, for the record, this is his third escalation this week for this exact problem.

He transfers me, and I get Christy. 

From the start, Christy is nice… empathetic… genuine.  I give her a run down of my version of what happened as she’s reading the novel that has now been written on my account.  Christy takes the time to get permission to waive the “early termination fee” associated with my account and also a $40 reactivation fee.  She repeats to me over and over that she thinks it’s only right because none of this is my fault.  She continues to work and, when we’re at the part where we assign a new number, she says “just to see… let’s try to reassign his original number to him”.   

With nothing short of a ‘wow-ing’ moment, Christy has his phone up and running under the OLD number in 30 minutes.  Now, we’re not sure how much credit Mike gets here, as some may be due – but after 10 days and HOURS on the phone for something I didn’t cause and of being told that there was no fix, Christy fixed it.   (Note: Christy and I were on the phone for no less than 2 hours and she never once waivered in her empathy and determination to see this through.)

That, my friends, is what service means.  Service is NOT a noun that is a job title… it’s a verb – and Christy never once forgot that.  We’re all willing to vent when things go wrong, but so often we don’t tout something when it goes well.  I’ve always been of the opinion that we should give thanks anytime that it is due and, Christy, I owe you one huge effing THANK YOU for making me feel like a human and not an account number. 

(Last note: Yes, I had her transfer me to her supervisor and I bragged with every bit of my vocabulary on how pleased I was with the service she provided and how she, alone, made me feel like my issue was resolved… and not to say that there’s no such thing as a good outsourced call center, but Christy’s call center is located in Colorado – where they understood me, spoke in non-scripted language, and actually tried to resolve my call.  It didn’t hurt that Christy is a huge hockey fan, either; we talked hockey while she was [and still is] working on the technical aspects of the fix from her side.) 

Message to the world: U-Verse may eventually get their service up to speed, and I had zero issues with their product (the actual product) for the week that I had it.  But, as far as service goes, they suck so much donkey dung that it’s beyond comprehension.  They caused the problem and then put the onus on me to fix it.  Furthermore, they didn’t fulfill their contract as they had agreed with my billing.  I will never recommend their service to anyone and am quite pleased I opted to give it a “trial period’ before cancelling my former internet/television provider. 

AT&T Wireless, however, has proven to me over and over again in the service that they have provided (dude – they called ME when I went to Canada and didn’t realize I was using foreign coverage!) that they care about me as a customer and, for that, they will always have my business. 
</end rant>

(later that day: I got a call at 10:30 at night from the director of one division of AT&T Wireless saying he would have the final issues resolved with our number in 36-hours…  SERVICE ROCKS!)

(and since blogger was down last night: today - phone service reinstated fully to Funkdubie's phone by 4 pm.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Post Season Rambling and Love for the HockeyTonk Town

I’m not a conspiracy theorist usually.  I don’t normally blame my teams’ shortcomings on flimsy circumstantial ‘evidence’.  I will admit though, I’m not exactly sure if I am willing to give the Vancouver Canucks the respect that so many others are willing to toss their way just because of points standings or series wins.  I realize you didn’t ask why, but I’m going to tell you anyhow.  
I don’t  dispute that Vancouver has some great talent.  Sedins, Kesler, Luango… who wouldn’t want names like that on their roster?  But names like that should be in the upper echelon of playing skills and, never once, should hockey fans have either had to try to justify their action or question their action.  Players of that level should be above questionable antics. 
Vancouver fans may say I’m being a bitter fan or whatnot, but Vancouver’s own Bieksa publicly stated:  "It's not cheating," Bieksa told the Vancouver Province. "It's within the rules and if the referee wants to assess it, he can penalize you for it. It's not cheating but it is a matter of integrity."  Someone, please elaborate: What does it mean when someone on your own team, Vancouver, essentially says ‘it’s shady play and we’re above it’?  
While I’m prone to angry outbursts over officials (or “awficials” as I have dubbed them), I’m equally as angry that people say we only gripe when calls ‘don’t go our way’.  Two things:
  • First, yes, I’m a fan who does like it better when I don’t feel like my team is taking heat merely due to their geographic location in proximity to Toronto and,
  • Secondly, when someone on my team draws a call, I’m willing to at least say “he drew that call” or - if he did something stupid or uncalled for - openly yell "nope, people – quiet down – he deserved that penalty”.  
Why?  Because I don’t want to be a team that plays like they are going for the Oscar awards instead of the Stanley Cup.  I think that there are ethics that each player should live by before getting to that level.  I do NOT believe in the old saying of “if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t playing”.  Maybe I’m too old school… maybe my Superman tattoo goes beyond skin deep?  To quote one of my favorites (Joe Yerdon): “…What Vancouver does during the game for the serious NHL watcher is enough to make them really dislike how the Canucks play hockey.” (full article here)

I’ll admit I’ve openly ranted on the officials this year, heavily this series, and I really don’t want to revisit that.  I’ve also vented on commentators; again, I’m going to back off.  Why?  Because my season is over so now it’s just pointless.  

I Love This HockeyTonk Town
My season was really amazing this year.  There were roller-coaster trends on the roster and on win-loss streaks.  But the snapshot of my year shows what it almost always does:  my team perseveres.  My team never gives up.  My team is a fan-friendly team and, regardless of the Western Conference Standings, I have believed in my team since 1999 (yes, I was a late bloomer).  Here’s just some musings on my team’s roster – by no means a comprehensive list.  
Blake Geoffrion and Jonathan Blum: Both showed amazing talent and an ability to step up into an NHL role and really become Nashville Predators.  
Jordin Tootoo went from being a 400+ PIM player to a 40 PIM player… and with some puck handling skills and dynamic plays to boot.  The crowd loves him, I adore him, and the Nashville Predators should be proud to call him theirs.  I know that I am. 
Jerred Smithson made efforts to step up in the center role and pull everything he could our way.  Let’s not forget that some crucial goals were tipped in by the talented #25.
Shea Weber and Ryan Suter: perhaps the best tandem D in the league and, without a doubt, a physical force to be reckoned with.  These two are like the Kariya/Selanne of the defensive world.
Joel Ward ended up playing a crucial role this season.  He complimented quite well with our consistent ‘shooters’ of Erat and Legwand. 
Shane O’brien really seemed to mesh with our roster and provide some of the grit and rumble that we needed – especially during the month of January.  If he can keep his temper (and self-discipline) in line, I think he’d be a good long-term addition to the team.  
And who could ever, EVER look at Pekka Rinne and not feel a sense of pride at the potential Vezina Trophy winner – a goalie to end all goalies and one that I’d love to see break a few Brodeur records in his time.  I hope that Peks really knows how much we believe in him and how we, the fans of the Predators, have placed enormous amounts of faith and trust in his skill.  I remain in awe of Rinne and having him makes me every bit as proud as when we had Forsberg*.
While my season may be over, hockey is not.  I will continue to watch and figure out who I’m pulling for. 
I have never been so proud of my team and the accomplishments we achieve and adversities we overcome.  
…bring on the tattoo artist, I’m getting the logo inked.
*(Anyone who knows me know that Forsberg is my all-time favorite – so giving Rinne a spot along with/next to my hockey idol is nothing short of incredible).  

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Nashville Battles to Stay in the Playoffs

There's nothing scarier to a die-hard fan than thinking your "Win or Go Home" night is an away game.  There's some special sort of fear that strikes at the heart of a fan, especially when your team has gone further than they ever have in their history.  I wasn't ready for the away game on 05.07.11, a game in 'enemy territory', to be my final game of the season.  I wasn't ready to go for a long summer without my team, my sport, and potentially seeing a lot of my friends as often.  One thing had been my mantra from the beginning of the playoffs and my Twitter account was on fire with the #iBelieve in my #Preds hashtags.

Luckily, my team held off the #1 team in the league and held on to my playoff hopes.  They kept my dream alive by pulling out a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks in hostile territory and, perhaps, against all rationale odds.

The win was amazing and there aren't words to say how pleased I am that my season continues on.  But there are a few things I need to vent.  First, I loathe Ryan Kesler.  He has managed to injury three of our players in this series and we've dubbed him the Pred Killer.  The NHL seems to turn an eye to elbows, dives, and shady play.  I'm sure Nuck fans love him, but if roles were reversed we'd be taking a lot of crap publicly.  The officials don't help much either.  They'll call Jerred Smithson for an Oscar-worthy performance by Luongo yet our guys get injured left and right and nary a call is made. On Kesler, finally, there was some due comeuppance as he took a puck to the face and ended up with a few stitches being applied on the bench.  We suffer from Karma, so welcome to YOUR KARMA, Mr. Kesler.  Second, I'm getting EXHAUSTED from the mispronunciations by 'professional commentators' on our guys.  It's pronounced FRANZEN, not frazen; and REE-NAY, not rhine.  This is the big league, boys; and these players have earned the right for you to learn how to say their name and show a little respect.  With each mispronunciation my respect for Versus and NHL commentators goes down bit by bit. And you know what NHL/VERSUS? MY TEAM DOES DESERVE TO BE HERE.  We worked our butts off to get this far so back the **** off and start giving some respect.

Even with my occasional angst for whatever annoys me at the moment, I can't help but be in awe of my team's season this year.  Pekka Rinne has amazed us all with the prowess that he shows in goal.  Our best tandem D team brings pride I can't ever express in words.  The offensive line that has remained consistent and the others that have stepped up to play their roles... my appreciation goes to you.  Lastly... Jordin Tootoo, who battled his own demons earlier in the season... he has grown into a very dynamic player this season and watching him on the ice is a real pleasure for me to behold.

Along with the team, my appreciation goes to the amazing fans that show up and cheer on the underdogs game after game.  The volume we maintain in our barn is nothing short of chill-bump-causing enchantment.

I'll see you all Monday for the next home game and, as always: #iBelieve in my #Preds