Sunday, July 7, 2013

Spruce Pine Invitational Melee

Sue's table

Shirley's cupcakes

Diane and Charles (Kirk's dad)

Bo's on-the-warpath-for-the-tournament look

Listen up!

Lauren (with Mom & Dad)

Augustin with Jamie

Cleanup efforts

Lauren in rain gear

Uijin, Max, and Allen

Ruby showing off her "cute pose"!


Runners-up (with Kirk)


We drove up from Lincolnton, where we had stayed for a couple of nights, to Crossnore, NC, on Wednesday afternoon, July 3, 2013, to stay with our friends, Danny and Sue, for the weekend in order to both visit, and also to play in Kirk and Bo Edwards' annual Spruce Pine Invitational Melee petanque tournament.

Joining us at Danny and Sue's place later in the evening were Bo Johns, his wife Mollie, and their daughters, Lucy and Ruby.  The Johns family had made the long trip down from Zanesfield, Ohio, in order for Bo to play in the tournament on Saturday before the family proceeded on to Myrtle Beach for a few days of vacation fun in the sun.

Unfortunately, sun was in very limited supply in the North Carolina mountains this weekend.  The near-torrential rains threatened to dampen both the mountains and our spirits.  Fortunately, however, there were a few breaks in the downpours.  We managed, with the help of rain gear and umbrellas, to catch a Fourth of July parade in Banner Elk on the morning of the 4th

and then, another parade in Crossnore in the afternoon.  The girls, Lucy and Ruby, even got a chance to participate in Crossnore's annual frog jumping contest.  They both did a nice job but failed to win.  The trophies the event winners received must have been about four feet tall!

On Friday we took the Johns family for a little drive and, between showers, got to visit the famous Linville Viaduct and visitors center.  The view was, unfortunately, mostly obstructed by the dense fog that accompanied the stormy weather, so their best idea of what they were missing was probably obtained via looking at models and pictures in the visitors center.

Our next stop was at the top of Beech Mountain for a look at the ski village and slopes in summertime.  We saw extensive renovations being performed on the outdoor ice skating rink and a few people around, some of whom were taking the ski lift up the mountain.  We realized why, when we saw that some of the chairs on the lift had been replaced by racks for mountain bicycles.  It must be a heckuva ride down!

After pizza at The Brick Oven (really good!), we drove over to Sugar Mountain for a look at their deserted parking lot area to see if it had drained away enough rainwater to be playable for petanque.  It had, so we played.  We got in a couple of hours play before the skies threatened.

By then, it was about time to head back to Crossnore to regroup for the evening's entertainment-- an outdoor concert by th TAMS.  Any of you who are of our generation will no doubt remember them as a nationally-known beach music group.

So we headed over to Newland after supper (hotdogs and hamburgers in keeping with our attempt to honor the Fourth of July by eating nothing healthy or good for us) for the concert.  By then, it was raining again, of course, so we were greeted by a sign informing us that the concert had been moved to a local high school basketball gymnasium.  The acoustics were about what you would expect, but at least we were able to be in the dry for a few hours.

The TAMS did a great job of involving the crowd and getting a bunch of people, mostly of our generation, out onto the dance floor.  From our group, Ruby and Lucy decided they'd dance every dance at the frenetic pace that no one over the age of five could ever hope to maintain.  Our only concern was that a two-year old might not fare well if she were to run up against a sixty-two-year old couple on the floor, but Ruby managed to confound all odds and run between legs and around legs for about two hours without any serious collisions.

As we were leaving the gym, the fireworks for the 4th were about to begin, so, of course, we had to stay around in the parking lot for the show.  Nice!  The girls were thrilled, so they were able to hang on to the end even though it was, by then, around ten o'clock.

Saturday's forecast for the tournament was not promising, to say the least.  Nevertheless, people drove in from Lexington, Charlotte, Hickory, Boone, and several other surrounding towns to play in the melee.  There were only twelve doubles teams, slightly fewer than we had hoped for, but good considering the forecast.  Kirk and Bo provided a hot-dog-and-sides lunch for everyone and the tournament itself began around 12:30 or so.

There were three qualifying rounds of time-limited games, followed by the top eight teams proceeding to the quarter-finals.  After the quarters, and a rain interruption, with associated court clean-up and draining, the four teams making the semi-finals were:

      Juan Hernandez and Uijin Park
      Gary Jones and Lauren Grioscio
      Bo Johns and Sue Wien
      Bob Moyer and Shirley Jones

Bo and Sue defeated Juan and Uijin.
Gary and Lauren defeated Bob and Shirley.

There was a supper break (pork barbecue and vegetarian sides) prior to the beginning of the championship finals match.  Thanks, Kirk and Bo.

The rains interrupted play again in the finals match and play was suspended for about forty minutes.  The resumption of play saw Bo and Sue make a good comeback (they were behind at the point of suspension), but ultimately fall a little short.

Therefore, the 2013 Spruce Pine Invitational Melee Champions were Lauren and Gary with Sue and Bo as runners-up.

Many, many thanks are due Kirk and Bo for opening their home to the crowd, providing the food and prizes, and putting up with the wet and the mud from a large crowd of people tracking in and out all day.

See you there next year!?

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