Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Oil-Free Bowling Alley

"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."

There's also a slightly lesser-known mantra that goes something like:

When a Wisconsin winter gives you temps below zero and enough inches of ice on the lake to drive a semi on...go bowling!


I spend many of my summer holidays with friends up nort (the "h" is optional, but frowned upon. nort!), and we often get together for a Winter Weekend as well. This year someone suggested ice bowling, if we could find some old pins and bowling balls. We did.

While the primary activity on Saturday morning was sitting around a table watching the needle on the thermometer slowly creep toward zero degrees (whether it reached its goal is debatable, depending on your angle to the thermometer), about noon, a couple of people started migrating out-of-doors and down toward the lake. And then a couple more. And a couple more.

I was one of the last ones down to the choice. But I had to go and see if in the frigid weather the balls and/or pins might shatter upon impact, or if there was maybe one very thin patch of ice on our "lane," and if the ball was unfortunately dropped in that spot, we'd hear a "Puh-lunk!" as the ball disappeared to the bottom of the lake to be fished out in spring.

Nothing shattered.
No puh-lunks.

I was outside for half an hour, to snap a few photos, most of which had a strange blue hue and unfortunate shadows (stupid manual camera settings and users who don't know how to set them!), before I decided that a heated garage would be a much better place to sit and enjoy a cold beverage.

The rest of the crew spent more than an hour outside, setting up various creative pin configurations (see the lonely bonus pin in the photo as an example), and occasionally knocking them down.

And bowling was over, and other weekend activities ensued, including (but not limited to) drinking beer out of 9-ounce plastic cups, eating Tobascoed chili, singing along to songs by artists as diverse as Kenny Rogers and Guns 'n' Roses, observing (but not participating in) the new exercise craze, called Eight-Minute Stairs, and debating the difference between the terms "sexy" and "attractive" (which can be an entire blog post on its own).

Quite a full day. And night.

"Building a mechanical device
for its appearance is like
putting lace on a bowling ball."
—Andrew Vachss


  1. While it's not Bache' Ball or Ladder Golf or Pontooning or attempting to straddle two noodle-like flotation devices while drinking out of two beer cans...but one can only stay inside so long on a cold winters weekend.

    And you make it sound like it was cold or something? When i went down at noon to shovel off the "alley" and give it few trial runs the sun was shining & the breeze was scant.

    Sure my glass of beer was getting slushy after 30 minutes, but it wasn't until 3:00 or so that i couldn't feel my feet any longer...

    Good times, good times.

  2. I've heard it said that ice bowling is both sexy and attractive as well as a great conversation starter.