You’ve seen glorious pictures of the CCBM crashing major events and checking out world landmarks for years on this site. What you don’t often see is the story behind those pictures. This is one of those stories.
This story revolves around the Cardinal Head, the masked jewel of CardChronicle.com. The sight of which, in its early years, was given fake internet points just for its existence. The pursuit from morons like myself of a featured picture on our favorite website donning the mask required no effort at first, due to its rarity. Early on, a Cardinal Head sighting at a game would suffice. Over time, a featured nod of the mask in the wild required more effort, perhaps even proof of its presence deep into enemy territory. When every opponent’s home court had been rightly conquered by this cagey Cardinal veil, creativity was the lone threshold remaining – requiring fanatics and basic idiots alike to include a notable backdrop to distinguish ourselves among the crowd. This quest – sophomoric, but of noteworthy importance to me, is where my story begins.
I’m blessed with the resources to travel when time allows. On a recent trip to Belize, I brought my own Cardinal Head with me. To my wife’s chagrin, we found enough room in a checked bag to get it airborne and destined for a perfect shot. “Maybe I’ll catch it ziplining through the jungle, perhaps portside on a fishing boat, or even carefully hanging out of a helicopter as we hover over the islands”, I thought. As will become a common aspect of this story, luck got in the way of those unimaginative yet photo-worthy plans. While my Cardinal Head was indeed stuffed in a checked bag headed for Central America – to this day, American Airlines doesn’t quite know where that particular bag is.
Undefeated in the capacity to remain optimistic, I purchased another mask when I was stateside. I’ll take it on another trip I thought – this time on a snowmobiling adventure into Yellowstone’s National Park. In the cold pre-dawn hours, I shoved it deep inside my backpack for the day’s adventures. A couple of hours later we are riding towards Old Faithful across the frozen tundra – bison in the distance, the occasional chunk of snow from my wife’s Suzuki pelting the windscreen in front of me. I was setting myself up for a once-in-a-lifetime picture with the Cardinal Head in all its glory, doing the “L” in front of one of America’s most iconic natural features, void of the summer crowds. The geyser was due to erupt at 10:15 that morning and as a product of an excellent game plan, we arrived a few minutes early. However, in what I can only assume was a response to our current pace, a lady in a brown mount-me hat informed us that the showy steam rising from the surface nearby was a sure-tale sign that Old Faithful was going to abandon its principles just for us and erupt a moment or two earlier than expected. Startled and immediately void of all pride associated with my logistical achievements, we jump off of our snowmobiles and run towards Old Faithful, dodging icy patches and onlookers, making as much haste as canvas onesies and snow boots would allow. We made it just in time and the scene was fantastic. The heat from the magma below meeting the crisp air through a towering display of water and steam was a sight to behold, but as you might expect – the backpack was still strapped on the sled. It was my one and only shot, and I accidentally left the mask a mere 50 yards away.
My optimism blindly concluded that I had lost yet another battle, but not the war. The next day we skied at Grand Targhee Resort, the top of which offered a view as close to eye-level as possible of Grand Teton, the peak of Wyoming’s prized possession. Everything went perfect, and I was even able to remove the mask from my backpack on the chairlift without my wife rolling her eyes at me, her mirrored goggles hiding the truth. The wind was whipping, the temperature was barely in the teens, yet I was determined. We skied a traverse to the perfect spot and let me tell you – we got the perfect picture. There I stood – helmet off, strapped to skis at 11,000’, squinting through the horribly placed nostrils in the mask with Grand Teton behind me, illuminated by the sun on a picture-perfect day. We finally got the shot, my quest for Card Chronicle fame was almost complete and my wife got to finally enjoy the company of her husband without his childish desire for a “silly picture with a mask”. It wasn’t until our ski boot zombie-walk back to the truck that those dreams were dashed. The jarring nature of the trek caused her phone to fall out of my hands into a salty puddle of old water and new tears – the photos of the day ruined. With the desire to point blame, the Cardinal Head (who I had once considered a partner in this endeavor) was angrily tossed into the backseat of the truck.
The next day brought with it the final leg of the trip, allowing us enough time to ski once more before we packed up and headed back to the lowcountry. We drove over to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the promised land for skiers, and I couldn’t bear the excitement. I could sense my fantasies coming to fruition; Waffles in the cabin on top of the world, watching Pros drop into Corbett’s Couloir, 2,500 acres of pristine slopes and world class lifts – it was all too much. As the day and fresh powder flew by us, so did the time. It was about 3:45 before it dawned on me that “THIS. IS. MARCH!” and that if I wanted an incredible photo, this was my last chance of what was sure to be a spectacular postseason. If you’ve been paying attention however, you’ll remember what in that moment I had forgotten, that the Cardinal Head wasn’t taking up space in my backpack on this day. It was still in the purgatory of yesterday’s debacle, somewhere in the backseat of my truck, a shuttle-stop away. Naturally, the last lift runs skyward at 4:00 and there would be no time to take the tram to the top again for the picture, nor would my legs be able to support another descent from its peak. I was officially defeated in my quest, and that’s where the story ends.
After all those attempts to stuff the Cardinal Head into luggage like a toddler hiding a toy, after every picturesque scene, after every adventure and opportunity failed – I have this to show for it. A generic, poorly framed, forgettable photo of a tired man at the end of a long day, standing in front of a simple sign in a basic parking lot, wearing a mask and doing some kind of hand gesture. All for the hope of seeing his picture on a website focused on a sport that just moments later I would find out is cancelled, and the day before I board a flight from an airport where TSA agents have the ‘Rona.
This March Sadness is real, bro. You’re not alone. I hope my story allowed you to experience at least a fleeting moment of twisted happiness as you read about someone else struggle with the reality of it all. We’ll get through it – but wow does it suck!