Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Goodbye Columbus

How do you separate the truly die-hard fan from a wannabee? Just tell her when she wakes up on the morning of a planned road trip that the forecast includes a Tornado Watch, drenching rain for the first hundred miles or so, and then snow showers the rest of the way (~300 miles). If the first question out of her mouth is "Have the State Police closed the roads?" And when you answer, "No," she says, "Great . . . let's go!" That's when you know you're in the presence of a real fan.

So this morning, Petey and the BCs hit the road for the first leg of our drive to West Lafayette, Indiana, where the Terps will be playing Purdue tomorrow. We loved driving in snow on those mountain roads in Western Maryland and West Virginia that twist and turn . . . you know, the ones with runaway truck ramps about every quarter-mile. What fun! (Not.)

But we made it to Columbus, Ohio, by late afternoon. And this being the home of Ohio State, we figured we might be able to get the Big Ten Network on cable (and indeed, we could), so we made this the pit stop for this leg of the race roadtrip.

Of course, a successful roadtrip requires rest and refreshment. A Hampton Inn off the highway took care of the first; the second, finding a good place for a relaxing meal, we thought might be a bit harder. For some reason, that's often hit or miss for us when we're in an unfamiliar city.

But this time, did we ever hit the jackpot! We happened upon a cafe/pizzeria in the historic district of the city with an interesting name, Plank's Cafe. Plank's? A restaurant with the same name as the most successful coach in Mystics history? Was this an omen? Perhaps, but a little research never hurts. So BC Judith googled it on her smart-phone and learned this is a popular family-owned business dating back to 1939 . . . a virtual institution in this part of Ohio. The menu looked appealing. We huddled with Petey and decided to give it a try.

We walked in and immediately felt at home. Spacious brick and barn-wood decor with a large bar and plenty of tables to accommodate groups of all sizes. But the best part was that the walls were filled with hundreds of college pennants and pictures of great sports teams, stars, and memorabilia. Our kind of place.

And that was even before we met Julie Plank's Mom and one of Julie's sisters, Jane, and discovered that, indeed, this warm and inviting cafe was owned by members of Julie's family. Our first clue was when we spotted Mom and Sis sitting by themselves near a GIANT photo of (you guessed it) Julie herself (from her Stanford Double-Natty-Winning Assistant Coaching days). The family resemblance was obvious. So introductions were made and they invited us to join them for a lovely evening.

Cold beer (of the root and especially the non-root varieties) was consumed in generous quantities, and delicious pizza (with a slightly-sweet, secret recipe crust) was consumed, also in large quantity. But the company was the best part. A friendly, fun evening for a few road-trippers. What good fortune we had today -- stumbling upon one of the best known-eateries in all of Columbus, established by Julie's grandfather and now run by the third generation of pizza-making Planks. Would that all of our road-trip stop-overs were this enjoyable!

We had such a nice time, we almost hate to leave. But the ACC/Big Ten Challenge beckons, so reluctantly, tomorrow morning we will hit the road again and bid Goodbye to Columbus . . . and Hello to West Lafayette.

More tomorrow after the game.

Go Maryland/ACC . . . Beat Purdue/Big Ten!

Photo Credits (excluding Map): DC BasketCases


At 10:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great post! Neat that were you able to meet the family of Julie Plank.

At 8:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!!! What a small world.

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Jill said...

Hope you enjoy your trip, although I'm rooting for a Purdue victory. Make sure you visit Harry's Chocolate shop and the Triple XXX to complete your voyage to WL.

At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Basketcases-be careful on those roads! Great find with Coach Plank's family restaurant..awesome. Don't get the Big Ten network - I checked. However, I'm planning on watching a certain NBA player return to the scene of his "crime" in Cleveland tonight. I'm interested in how the fans express their displeasure. Not interested in anything vulgar or vicious. Just need to see what could be adapted for a certain opening game here come summer; nothing aimed at the players or Coach/GM Lacey, but we will not forget.

Go Basketcases, go Terps and thanks for the travel log!

At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, so wat's Julie up to?

At 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big Ten is 85 on MoCo fios (585 in HD).

At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read the dcbasketcase blogs since my sister Julie became head coach. I had a great time meeting the bloggers last night. I felt that I knew them just from reading all the positive Mystic blogs for the past two years. They are true basketball fans and really nice people. Thanks for sharing fun conversations. I'll miss the games next year, but will continue to read the blogs. Go Mystics, Go Terps, Go BUCKEYES!!!!!

Much appreciation,

Jane Plank Varga

At 6:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell your sister she will be missed and thank her for her time with the Mystics. She is clearly a great coach and I am sure she will be coaching somewhere else very soon. Who wouldn't want a proven winner. Oh yeah, I forgot...the Mystics apparently.

At 7:06 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

That? Is AWESOME. Only you two (well, three, didn't mean to leave Petey out) would manage that.

The Wittenburg banner is a nice touch in that picture- wasn't that Brian Agler's old stomping grounds?

At 5:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We sure wish Coach Plank the best and hope that she realizes what an awesome job she did here in Washington. I appreciated her work ethic, kind personality, and drive for excellence. What a loss! It will be a longgggggggg time for someone to be able to fit her shoes. Sad for us fans. Good luck in your new endeavors. You'll be in a better place I'm sure.

At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How lucky you were to meet Julie's family at the cafe. Some of her other fans will also be making a trip there. To Julie's sister Jane-please let Julie know that her time here meant the world to us. She was amazing to watch with the players! She was always kind and easy to talk to at events. Things will not be the same here without her. It is a sad time for some of us here-still in disbelief. For some,no longer Mystics supporters. Wish we could have given her a proper goodbye and thank you! THANK YOU JULIE! We will miss you and be thinking of you. We wish you all the best!

At 2:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sheila Johnson is a fool. Who could think that letting Julie Plank go would be a good business decision? Too bad for the mystics. But happiness and good luck is wished for the whole Plank family.


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