Monday, February 16, 2009

Crisscrossing the Nation for College Hoops - Spokane, Washington

The next stop on the college hoops tour took me to Spokane, Washington, for a non-conference, Top-25 showdown between the Memphis Tigers and the Gonzaga Bulldogs.  Prior to this trip, Seattle was the only city in Washington state that I had visited.  Spokane is on the far eastern side of Washington, 20 miles from the Idaho border.  Although its population is only 200,975, Spokane is the state's second-largest city.  

The Gonzaga Bulldogs, longtime darlings of the NCAA Tournament Cinderella story, have in recent years fielded strong teams that have been expected to do well in the rankings throughout the regular season, not just in the postseason. They were riding a nine-game winning streak before Memphis ran them out of Spokane Arena by defeating the overmatched Bulldogs 68-50.

So the game may not have been great television material, but it was a good trip for me because I slept on all three legs of my trip (Syracuse-Boston-Denver-Spokane).  Like Syracuse, Spokane was a little to cold for me to walk around and see the sights.  Here's Spokane from the window of my hotel room:

The Davenport Hotel from the Davenport Tower

We stayed in the Tower portion of the Davenport Hotel and Tower, a gaudily appointed hotel adorned with animal skins and what appears to be the contents of Teddy Roosevelt's big-game trophy case.  Each guest room has a leopard-skin chaise longue and oil paintings of various animals one might find on the African veldt.  The bar and restaurant are a taxidermist's dream:  stuffed animals are everywhere, and I'm not talking about cuddly Gunds; I'm talking about wild creatures with large fangs.  (The restaurant, after all, is called the Safari Room.)  Surrounded by all of these creatures, I surmised, incorrectly, that the Davenport Hotel's namesake had to have been a hunter or enthusiast of big game.  The hotel's website doesn't even mention the existence of a safari theme.  Weird.  At any rate, the food is excellent - I highly recommend the crab and avocado omelet - and the people who work there are some of the nicest you'll encounter.

I took an early flight home on the Sunday after the game and had the next day off before my next game, Marquette vs Villanova.

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