Jennifer and Sean and I drove up to Providence on Sunday to catch the Skateboard Street Finals at the Gravity Games.
The Gravity Games are an example of "extreme sports" such as showcased in the X Games. In fact, the Summer X Games had originally been held in Rhode Island in '96 and '97, partly in Providence and partly in Newport... but in '98 ESPN decided to move the location to the west coast... so Providence (which had very successfully presented such events as Street Luge in the X Games) got together with NBC Sports, resulting in Providence being the host city for the '99, '00, and '01 versions of the Gravity Games. NBC tapes just about every thing that happens during the week of competion this collection of extreme sports and then edits it down to broadcast on Sunday afternoons in October. (I understand that they had more cameras set up in Providence than they do for an NFL professional football game.)
Last year Sean and I had enjoyed watching the downhill skateboarding competition and had hoped to see more of this year's competition but work kept us away (my business trip to Pittsburgh and Sean and Jennifer's jobs). Sunday was the last day of the games and Jennifer, an enthusiastic skateboarder, really wanted to see the street finals.
I was very impressed with the high degree of organization and effort that went into presenting the games. The street skateboarding venue was an incredible series of slopes and ramps, complete with railings and walls and even a fire hydrant. The even had been scheduled to start at noon and when we arrived at around 12:30 it was underway. The wait in line to get seated in the viewing stands reminded me of waiting to get into one of the lesser courts at Wimbledon (not Centre Court!)... It only took about fifteen minutes before we were able to be seated. I'm not sure which October Sunday will feature the skateboarding finals but look for us in the stands... about in the middle, perhaps four or five rows back... Jennifer is seated on my left, blue hair, baseball cap turned backwards.
The skateboarding was in Waterplace Park, right across the street from Providence Place Mall... a new upscale in-town shopping mall (the place cost something like $410,000,000 to build -- yeah, thats four hundred ten million bucks!) and although it has been open for months, this was the first time I had visited it. We hit the food court on our way back to the car (parking is $10 for up to three hours -- unless you spend at least $10, in which case parking is only one dollar) -- unfortunately (at Sean's suggestion) we ate pizza -- should have gone for the Chinese or Japanese food because those greasy pizza slices seemed to stay with me the rest of the day. Oh well, at least I was able to scope out the layout of the mall and I now know where the cinema section is... they have just added an IMAX and Nancy and I would like to drive up sometime to see Everest.
While riding down I-95 we passed a large white RV covered with pictures of jelly beans... followed closely by a Volkswagen New Beetle also painted with pictures of jelly beans. According to a notice on the side of the RV these vehicles belong to the Jelly Belly jelly bean company and are part of some JellyBean2000 tour (where they apparently give away free samples to publicize Jelly Belly jellybeans). Juggler Jelly Bean would love it!
Sean had asked to be dropped off at the multiplex movie theatre in Warwick and wanted to be picked up at 6:30. Jennifer and I left him there and went home. The weight of that pizza in my stomach kept me from wanting to go for a run so I read for a little while until Nancy came home from some errands she had been running. There is a new house under construction on our street (well, actually, there are three or four but this is the one that is closest to us)... It was a Sunday, no construction going on, so we took the opportunity to snoop through the house. (Do you do that? Check out new houses? We've been in this neighborhood since February '96 and about a dozen new houses have been put up each year and we have explored almost half of them before they were finished.) This one is going to be one of the larger and most expensive houses on the street -- den, living room, dining room, kitchen, family room on ground floor -- three bedrooms, a laundry room, and a bathroom plus a master bedroom (with its own bathroom) on the second floor (first floor to those of you who count floors in the European fashion) and another bedroom and full bath plus large storage closets in the attic. Very nice. (Of course at this point the interior walls are still just studs, etc... we'll have to see if we can visit again after the walls are finished, unless locking doors are put on before then.) I still didn't feel up to a run but needed exercise so Nancy and I went for a bike ride for a half an hour or so.
Then I had to go pick Sean up from the movies... while we were not in the house he had left two messages on the answering machine (of the type: hi - this is me - is anybody there?) so I brought a book along with me on the chance that the key information that he had not thought to include was that he was seeing a different movie that would get out at a different time -- sure enough, I got to read for half an hour because that's exactly what happened. (The sure sign of an experienced parent?)