Monday, March 2, 2009

Do you Play Pool or Billiards?

We decided, on the spur of the moment, to go to Anchorage for the weekend so that Tom could play in the Fur Rondy Pool Tournament. First, for anyone not in Alaska, Fur Rondy has its traditions in the old fur trade (furs are still traded today) and as a break in the monotony of the tremendously long arctic winters.

When Sarah and her cousins were growing up, it was the highlight of our winters. I'd bundle up the kids and we would go to the carnivals (outdoors rides like ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl) then go see the snow sculptures, maybe stay late enough for the fireworks. Then we would do the indoor stuff. Craft fairs, face painting for the kids, whatever sounded interesting :)

That kind of stuff waned as they became teenagers, so I haven't really participated in any of the Rondy events in years. In the past I had visited one of the local pool halls, in the basement of a popular bar, just to see what it looked like, but you could cut the cigarrette smoke with a knife and I can't stand the smell of it, so I quickly left (besides it was intimidating with all the guys concentrating on their shots and games).

Anchorage banned smoking in restaurants and bars a few years ago and the pool hall moved to a new location so I was in for quite the surprise.

Anchorage Billiard Palace was an exceptional treat. So much so that I gave up the chance to shop for fabric, poke around for a few antiques and all the other errands that I put on my list when I heard "two whole days in Anchorage".

Tom taught me to play pool and he's very, very good at both playing and teaching. He placed on both Saturday and Sunday, in 8 Ball and 9 Ball, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching him and the other players in the tourney. Most of all, the staff at the Billiard Palace was outstanding. Polite, friendly, warmly meeting the needs of all the players and spectators, allowing me to take video of the room, they are the reason I'd go again. I am shy by nature and a hermit in my old age, so it takes a *lot* to get me out of the house, but I'm thinking about putting in the practice hours on the table so that I don't embarrass myself if I ever play at the Billiard Palace. I put up a poll on the right hand side of the blog, at the top, because I am curious - do you play?

Some of the things I loved the best: 12 nine foot tables, good lighting, great staff, dress code for men and women, no children allowed, central location in Anchorage and the nicest, most interesting people I've chatted with since I came back from Quilt Market.

I did get to see Sarah and Audrey for breakfast and some fabric shopping, but afterward I couldn't wait to get back to the games! If you have never been inside, here's what it looked like for most of Saturday and Sunday:

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