I arrived in Spokane
Friday afternoon by way of rideshare, and had no particular destination in the city, so I got dropped off on a random corner, along with the other passenger my driver, Matt, had picked up. The guy, Phil, was a hitchhiker, another wanderer, who was also heading up to Glacier. I was looking for the polo court but it wouldn’t come up on Google maps, so 2nd Avenue and Wall Street was where I first set foot in Spokane. I had scored a set of waterproof pannier bags for $10 in the U District in Seattle at a place called Recycled Cycles, and my arrival in Spokane was the first time I got to mount my bike with both bags loaded. I could feel the weight drag on the back of my bike, but it was still so nice to have it off my back. I wandered around town while I waited to hear from Andrew, Spokane’s informal ambassador of bike polo. I zig-zagged through the city’s mellow downtown streets, which for the most part were wide and empty. I came upon the Greyhound/Amtrak station and headed inside to investigate bus and train schedules. The station was deserted and the service windows were all closed. Within minutes of my arrival, Phil dyed in. The thought of having a travel buddy was alluring, but I had hopes of playing polo in a new city, and Phil was eager to get into the wilderness, so we exchanged numbers and wished each other a good trip. Maybe we will meet again in Montana.
I met up with a small group of polo players and friends in a part of town called Browne’s Addition, where they were hanging out outside a camper van, having some beer and enjoying the music and bustle of ElkFest, an annual music festival put on ny the corner bar. They were trying to round up enough for a game, and told me how the cold, snowy winter, along with an exodus of several players, had greatly lightened the polo crew.
Shortly after my arrival Donnie showed up and we rolled 2 blocks down to Couer d’Aliene Park, where there just so happened to by an art fest, with the court situated in the middle of the whole happening. From there the weekend evolved into a full-on PoloFest, in which the games went on ’til the late Northwestern sundown at almost 10, at which point the party continued until the beer stopped flowing. The Spokane polo crew was eager to play but lacked the numbers for consistent games. Donnie’s and my arrival couldn’t have been at a better time; and were happy to help the spokane crew get their fix and hone their skills. Additionally, the artfest drew dozens and dozens of spectators throughout the weekend, and even got some fresh blood on the court. One guy, Dominic, took to polo like a fish to water and played with us all day Saturday and Sunday. At the end of our games on Sunday I gave him one of my mallets; he said he wanted to play every day. I think Spokane bike polo will gain a lot more players after this weekend.
As I came into town without a place to stay (since my plan initially was to catch a Friday night train up into Montana), I was fortunate to have come at a time when Andrew had a Dragonfly camper van on loan for the first day of the festive weekend, and spent my first night in the city there (as did Donnie), exactly a block from the polo courts and 20 feet from Tully’s coffee shop, which I wandered over to in the morning.
I had devised a new plan to ride out of Spokane Saturday, but was having too much fun and decided to stay on for a full weekend of polo.