Return to the Road

First off, thanks for the kind words from everyone regarding yesterday’s post.  It really meant a lot to me through this horrible time.

In fact, I needed to get out of Albany.  So I loaded up all my camera gear, grabbed my laptop, and headed to Manchester, New Hampshire.

Maybe if it was summertime, I could spend the day at the Canobie Lake amusement park.  But instead, I chose to do something I hadn’t done in a month – photograph a Premier Basketball League matchup.  And I couldn’t have chosen a better one this weekend.

The Manchester Millrats and Vermont Frost Heaves have battled for three seasons through two basketball leagues.  Three years ago, one of their games turnd into a brawl – not a basketball defensive brawl, mind you,  but an all-out fistfight.  Last year, both teams made the playoffs, but not without seriously intensive on-court matchups between each other.  And both teams have claimed the Premier Basketball League’s “Champlain Cup,” a tournament featuring teams that border Lake Champlain – the Frost Heaves took it in 2009, the Millrats won it this year.

Last night, the Frost Heaves came into the Millrats’ home court, the Fieldhouse at Southern New Hampshire University, and despite both teams mired in the second division of the PBL’s season standings, they played each other like it was the 7th game of the NBA finals.  Guys were dropping 3-point shots on each other.  Vicious blocks, most of them by Manchester’s Stanley Ocitti.  Ross Demasi of Vermont passing out assists like a card dealer at a blackjack table.  Vermont’s hundreds of fans brought their cowbells and noisemakers, and cheered the Frost Heaves every time they tied the score.  Manchester’s contingent of fans also were loud and boisterous, and roared back with exaltation every time the Millrats took the lead.

In the final moments of the game, the score was tied 111-111.  Manchester had the ball, 3 seconds left.  Inbounds pass to Manchester’s Anthony Anderson, who just returned to the team after a failed overseas tryout.  Two or three Frost Heaves surrounded him, Anderson released the ball as the buzzer went off.

Right through the cylinder.

The Manchester bench – and the fieldhouse – exploded in cheers.  The players ran off the bench and dogpiled Anderson, as the clock ticked off the final score, Manchester 113, Vermont 111.  It’s the Premier Basketball League’s most intense rivalry between the two New England border states – think along the levels of the Yankees and Red Sox in terms of intensity.

Here’s some seleted photographs from the game.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

Of course, now that I had the game photographs, I needed to get them uploaded to the PBL website and to my flickr site.  Unfortunately, the available internet connection at Southern New Hampshire University has been limited to students-only, so I couldn’t piggy-back onto the available internet connection, and I wasn’t interested in paying the $8-per-day internet hookup charges at my motel (which last year was a free service provided by the motel).

Then I remembered that McDonald’s just changed their policies from offering a pay-as-you-go Internet connection to a free Internet hookup.  I quickly drove to the nearest McDonald’s, about two miles from the SNHU campus.

Decals on the McDonald’s door said “Free Wi-Fi.”  I was in luck.  I went in and looked for a table with an available power plug.

And looked.

And looked.

There was not a power plug to be had in the entire dining area.  And I couldn’t take a chance on my weak laptop battery petering out.

Back in the car.

Off to another McDonald’s, this time in Derry, NH.

Sure enough, another set of Wi-Fi decals on the door.

I went in and looked for an available power outlet.

And looked.

And looked.

No power plugs here, either!

Then I remembered that there was a McDonald’s in Salem NH, about two miles from my motel.

I got there and the first thing I saw, inside the door, was a power outlet.

I gleefully plugged in my laptop and looked for the available internet connection.

And looked.

And looked.

No available networks.

Apparently the internet connection at this particular McDonald’s doesn’t work.

Oh-for-three.

I gave up.  I’m now paying $8/day at my motel to deliver this early morning blog post.

But at least I got the photographs up on the flickr site.

And I’m back photographing PBL games.

So it’s not a total loss.