The Tragedy of the Female Football Announcer

I heard a debate recently on whether or not females make good in-game sports announcers, primarily in football. The guy against them didn’t have a strong argument outside of, “I don’t like it,” and the guy for it played the equal rights card and suggested the best woman is far better than the worst male. While undoubtedly true, it’s completely irrelevant. He went on to jokingly call his opponent a sexist, chauvinistic simpleton.

Then I realized how strongly I disliked female football announcers too. Am I sexist? Am I chauvinistic simpleton? I say unequivocally no.

Don’t get me wrong. I love coming home to a freshly made delicious dinner my girlfriend has prepared. But I don’t want her in the kitchen barefoot with an apron. I’m perfectly happy that she cooks in her business casual attire after working all day long herself. I support her and the money she contributes towards the bills. I don’t have anything against women working, just as long as they aren’t the ones calling my football games.

It’s not that I think women aren’t capable. I’m sure their dads and brothers taught them the basic rules of the game, how to keep score, and where they keep the water on the sidelines. It’s not their knowledge, or lack thereof, that irks me when they’re behind the mic. It’s simply their voice. It just doesn’t fit.

We’ve all met someone whose voice didn’t match their body. Whether it’s the ‘roided-up gorilla meathead with a squeaky voice or the petite cutie that sounds like a sixty-year-old lifelong smoker, we have all run into that vocal paradox that makes our head spin. Everything that person says gets lost behind the trance their voice puts you in. They might as well have a baseball sized mole on their forehead.

This is the way I feel when a female announces a football game. Football is a man’s game. Outside of the few women who have made their way onto high school squads as kickers, it is the only sport that women don’t play. Football feeds the inner gladiator in us all. It brings out our primal thirst for violence while implementing war-like strategy. George Carlin described it best.

Football is played on a gridiron in a stadium with names like War Memorial Stadium. (…) The object of the game is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy despite of a blitz and even if he has to use the shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory balancing his aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the defensive line.

To serenade such manly event with a feminine voice-over disrupts its proper atmosphere. It turns a poker game with beer, cigar, and farts into a game of rummy with pretzels and punch.

For those who insist it makes no difference, and that some women are extremely talented in the art of play-by-play, where do we draw the line? Would you be okay with a 10 year old boy announcer? He might be the most football knowledgeable 10 year old in the world, but everyone would agree his voice belongs in the Vienna Boys Choir, not among the Dallas Cowboys.

What about a 100 year old lady? Would that be okay? She has 80 years of experience watching football and remembers players you’ve only seen on ESPN Classic. Would she be a suitable announcer?

There are some sports I think women can call and nothing is lost. Take basketball for example. As bad as women are at it, they do play it a lot, and it’s not exactly the full-contact barbarian battlefield football is. Women even have their own (subsidized) professional league with games on TV and everything. Because of this female prevalence in basketball, it doesn’t make me cringe when they call a men’s game. They can have their free reign of volleyball, lacrosse, and field hockey as well. But when pads begin to crack and the cool autumn air hits, lets keep the estrogen in skimpy clothing on the sideline and let the fellas handle the play-by-play. We should be afforded that much chauvinism.

Bunny Ears? Really?

Isn’t it time bunny ears went out of style? When was this ever funny to put two fingers up behind your friend’s head when a picture is about to be taken? It’s been around as long as I can remember, and I’ve never liked it, condoned it, or participated in it. Let’s look at reason why it’s time to put the most widely used prank ever to rest.

For starters, two fingers don’t look like bunny ears. They look like two fingers. Show me a person that has ever mistaken a the peace sign for bunny ears and I’ll show you someone who probably smokes enough weed they wear peace signs on their clothing.

The perpetrator isn’t “getting” anyone. Maybe the first person to ever do it can claim some creativity and add a little notch to his prankster belt, but it should really stop there. I’ve never looked at a picture and thought, “Oh man! That guy really got her good! She doesn’t even know he’s giving her bunny ears!”

Lastly and most importantly, it’s genuinely not funny. There might be some exceptions. Let’s say President Obama did it to George W. Bush or maybe a member of Al-Qaeda did it to Osama Bin Laden. I could see some humor in that. It might also be funny if your 5 year old did it to the Easter Bunny in a photoshoot. That, I would admire. But it’s not funny when the Cartman of your group ruins all your pictures.

And it’s not just teenagers and college drunks that are guilty. Adults everywhere and of all ages have been known to throw up the stereotypical two fingers and bellow in laughter afterwards. The madness has got to stop. Bunny ears started getting really popular in the 1950′s and have been around ever since. That’s a really long fad. I’m begging you. Do your part. Make bunny ears a really embarrassing meme of the past.

The Rapture Match

It’s almost been a week since the world was predicted to end, and we’re still here. It wasn’t just a calculation of when a big meteor would smash into Earth…you know…something we can prove. It was supposed to be the time when supernatural beings would plunge down from the sky on horses, raise the dead Christians from the graves, followed by the living Christians, and fly them to heaven. That’s when it would be safe for God to torture and kill every other human being in graphic and hideous ways. Of course, that might be a welcome change to oppressed women in the Middle East or starving children in third world countries.

Now lets forget the absolute absurdity of the literal Biblical account of the end of days and focus on the fact that way too many people put their trust in this guy, Harold Camping, who predicted this specific date and time.

Look at the picture above. The billboard has a sticker that “The Bible Guarantees It!” Well then it must be true. I know the guy on the right of the billboard believes it…he’s shitting his pants! I got a mass email from a coworker spreading this propaganda, and it really hit me how many people were actually duped into believing this nonsense.

Let me tell you what really happened.

Reports out of heaven are that the rapture was indeed planning to go down, but things changed when Macho Man Randy Savage got to heaven just a few days prior. In a never-before-seen Rapture match, The Macho Man faced off against Jesus El Savior Christ in the squared circle. If Macho Man won, the Earth would be left unharmed, but if El Savior won, he would get his way and the roughly 6 billion non-Christians on Earth would perish and suffer for all eternity.

The match went back and forth for a long time until Macho Man was able to drop a top-rope elbow across the throat of Jesus. Everyone thought the match was over, but dare I say, miraculously, Jesus kicked out. That’s when things got out of control.

The late Miss Elizabeth, Savage’s former manager, got into the ring and distracted the referee. Then Chris Benoit, Owen Hart, Andre the Giant, Eddie Guerrero, Bam Bam Bigelow, The British Bulldog, Mr. Perfect, Big Boss Man, Test, Road Warrior Hawk, Yokozuna, The Junkyard Dog, and a host of other deceased wrestlers came to the Macho Man’s aid and unloaded a flurry of finishing moves on Christ. There wasn’t enough miracle juice left in tank. When the ring cleared, Miss Elizabeth jumped down. The referee then counted as the Macho Man covered Jesus for an easy 1-2-3!

Despite the interference, God had no choice but to call off the rapture. But fear not, divine wrestling fans. The master promoter Harold Camping has set a rematch for October 21st, 2011, the revised date for the rapture. That will give Christ six months of intense training to hopefully overcome any obstacle the Macho Man and the hoard of other dead wrestlers have up their sleeves. It’ll be a match made in heaven.

It’s hard to say how much promotion the new date will get, as several hardcore Christians emptied their life savings into promoting May 21st. Sorry, dudes, they already got your money. And there are no refunds.

I’ll tell you where I’m putting my money on October 21st. I’m putting it on the Macho Man! OHHHHH YEEEAAAAHHHH!

Albuquerque, NM to Phoenix, AZ

It wasn’t new anymore. It wasn’t exciting anymore. It wasn’t fun anymore. I was ready to just get home. The check engine light was still glaring at me while my girlfriend was glaring at the check engine light. I just really wanted to be home.

The only highlight of the desert landscape was a tumbleweed that crossed the road in front of us. Silence echoed around the car as we had completely ran out of topics of conversation and no radio station would stay in range longer than a couple minutes. Before we started the trip, I anticipated this section of the trip would be the one where a huge fight broke out. I was wrong. There was no ill-will towards my girlfriend at all…just ill-will towards the road, the car, and the insane semi-truck drivers.

I saw a billboard still up proclaiming May 21st would be the day of the rapture. It was the 22nd. There must have been some sort of divine intervention with time, though, as it seemed to absolutely crawl, while occasionally stopping altogether.

The last 2 hours were the worst. I had driven from Flagstaff to Phoenix a number of times in the past, each of which seemed like a fairly quick drive. Not this time. It was mind-numbing. For all I know, I could be writing this in a day dream and we could still be 100 miles away from Phoenix.

We did, finally, make it back safely and without any speeding tickets. The front of the car, though, looked like a nuclear bomb hit a bug metropolis. Death everywhere. She’ll have to get it washed twice. I’ll make sure she doesn’t go to the car wash that didn’t guarantee a clean car.

Really though, I appreciate you reading the road trip blog. I got a lot of comments from people who probably weren’t avid readers before the hiatus. Like I said before, I hope this rejuvenates my motivation to keep writing, but only time will tell. Until then, I plan on not driving anywhere again for a long time.

Daily totals:

Miles: 470.7 (total: 2624.4)
Time: 7 hours, 15 minutes (total: 46 hours)
Money spent on gas: $75.01 (total: $321.01)
State License Plates: 2 (total: 36)
Cracker Barrels: 6 (total: 31)
Roadside Carcasses: 6 (total: 72)

Trip Totals:

Miles: 2624.4
Time: 46 hours
Money spent on gas: $321.01
State License Plates: 36
Cracker Barrels:31
Roadside Carcasses: 72

Total averages:

Miles Per Travel Day: 437.4 miles
Miles Per Hour of Traveling: 57.05 mph
Miles Per Gallon: 32 mpg
License plates not seen: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Wyoming
One carcass seen every: 36.45 miles

Tulsa, OK to Albuquerque, NM

tballmidol

This was the stretch of the trip that one that separated the men from the boys. Going in, we knew it was going to be a long, viscous stretch of nothingness, but compounding factors made the baron landscape even more unsightly.

The day started off with my 4 year old nephew’s t-ball game. Well, it’s hard to really call it a t-ball game. It was more of bunch of kids running around a grassy field with gloves while one of them attempts hit a ball from a tee. To help manage the madness, the respective parents of each kid stood by them in the field. My little nephew, though, asked for me to relieve his dad mid way through. I obliged and found myself teaching the ready position to my nephew in a swarm of parents and munchkins. My nephew did such a good job of being ready, he got to 3 balls in a row before anyone else did. The coach had to finally say that someone else had to get a turn fielding. ‘At a boy.

From there, things went downhill pretty quickly. The first roadside carcass we saw was a skunk, and I should have taken it as the omen it was. It fact, most of the roadkill on the trip reeked nastiness as we passed.

It wasn’t long after this the dreaded check engine light reappeared. It wasn’t me this time, but regardless, blame was immediately assessed to me. My girlfriend then picked this opportunity to tell me nicely that she had a full fledged case of PMS.

Only 600 miles to go.

We stopped for lunch at Wendy’s against my wishes. I wanted A&W across the street, but decided to forgo that battle. Instead, I ate one of the worst grilled chicken sandwiches of all time. It had way too much of whatever disgusting sauce they put on it and was void of the tomatoes it showed in the picture. It was also apparently laced with barb wire as it completely ripped my stomach apart. It actually made us stop at the very next exit on the interstate. And the one after that.

I thought to myself, “Maybe the world is going to end today, after all.”

After reconsulting the car expert that is her father, we were fairly assured we could make it to Albuquerque without the engine blowing up. After failing to figure out how to spike my girlfriend’s Diet Coke with Midol, I tried to coerce her to go to sleep. That would at least give me less time experiencing the symptoms of secondhand PMS. She was finally able to nod off as I kept radio loud enough to hear, but soft enough to not wake her up.

After two separate 30 minute power naps, she seemed relatively back to normal. It didn’t decrease the miles between us and New Mexico, though. We resorted to going through her old school CDs she made in high school from MP3s she downloaded from Napster to pass the time. Did you know Jennifer Love Hewitt had a hit single?

We had two wineries bookmarked during this stretch, but we told them both to kiss our ass when we passed them.

The restaurant we chose in Albuquerque was the “best New Mexican food in New Mexico.” New Mexican food is just more expensive Mexican food. Spicier too. In fact, my carne adovada burrito was too spicy for me to eat more than a couple bites. I filled up on chips and guacamole. Oh, and it turns out the difference between a House Margarita and a Traditional Margarita is absolutely nothing but $4. There’s no telling how expensive the Regular Margarita was.

Our hotel was a much needed sight for sore eyes. We had booked a standard room and as we rode up the elevator, I dreamed of jumping headfirst into the sea of hotels blankets and pillows. But as we opened the door, it appeared someone had gotten there first. Literally. Random luggage, clothes, and makeup littered the entire room. Luckily, they weren’t in the room at the time as that would have been an extremely awkward interchange. So back down to the lobby we went.

Then came the rainbow at the end of the storm. The hotel receptionist was sincerely apologetic and since there were no more standard rooms available, asked if it would be okay if we got switched to the King Executive Suite. We agreed.

This place was decked out in modern furniture and decoration. There were two huge rooms, each with a big screen TVs mounted to the wall. They had robes and sandals laid out for us as well as a stocked mini bar.

One more leg to of the road trip to go, but I wasn’t going to worry about that until the morning.

Daily totals:

Miles: 655.1 (total: 2153.7)
Time: 10 hours, 10 minutes (total: 38 hours, 45 minutes)
Money spent on gas: $69.94 (total: $246)
State License Plates: 4 (total: 34)
Cracker Barrels: 2 (total: 25)
Roadside Carcasses: 17 (total: 66)

Little Rock, AR to Tulsa, OK

Our hosts in Little Rock treated us with thick, juicy fillet minions, twice baked potatoes, and news that their first child was on the way. The steak was delicious and their house was incredible, and it was good to see my old roommate from school. We took off early that morning and spent the next 7 hours and 45 minutes traveling a mere 300 miles and helping ourselves to five, yes, five wineries along the way.

Four of them were on the same exit in the self-proclaimed wine capital of Arkansas, Altus. Altus has a population of 841. I don’t know where they all could have been hiding. Each winery had it’s own distinct characteristics.

The first one was German themed and was run by a cute 21 year old in a dirndl. I’m used to seeing German alcohol in the form of huge mugs of beer, but the wine was a nice change of pace.

The next winery was not run by a cute 21 year old in a dirndl. In fact, it was a lot more Arkansas as a very obese, smelly woman in a dirty purple t-shirt and jeans manned the tasting room. Seriously, I had to put my nose in the wine glass the whole time she was close to us to mask her stench. The building itself was classified as “historic.” This just means the building is really old and has had no upgrades ever. It was more dungeon-like than anything else, with a few shelves for their wine supply. Surprisingly though, this place had the best wines top to bottom we had all road trip. Great books with horrible covers around the world rejoice.

The third winery was unremarkable, and the fourth had labels featuring the owner of the winery. She was 34 years old and looked nothing like the label. It kind of reminded me of the time I met Lance Burton. For hundreds of miles driving into Las Vegas, you could see several billboards featuring the young, strapping magician. In person, the only thing that resembled the picture was his pearly white teeth that were always showing. He was nothing but an older, wrinkled, weathered man who had been in show business way too long.

In Okalahoma, the first winery we tried to see was closed. The hours were posted on the gate: “Friday through Sunday 12-6 and whenever the gate is open.” The gate was not open.

Now it’s 3 and 4 year old munchkins to abide our time for the next two days before we set forth toward the only hotel on our stop in New Mexico.

Daily Totals:

Miles: 291.1 (total: 1498.6)
Time: 7 hours, 45 minutes (total: 28 hours, 35 minutes)
Money spent on gas: $34.00 (total: $176.06)
State License Plates: 0 (total: 30)
Cracker Barrels: 3 (total: 23)
Roadside Carcasses: 12 (total: 49)

Knoxville, TN to Little Rock, AR

I went fishing in a river once when I was 12. Outside of one deep sea fishing excursion where the work was done for me, that was the last time I’ve held a fishing stick. Or rod, or whatever. That Tennessee morning though, I was going to change all that brave the nearest watering hole for some fish. I reluctantly woke up at 6:30, woke my friend’s satchel ass up, and was ready to go. We dressed like we were going polar ice fishing in the Actic, and then felt kind of ridiculous when we walked outside to 60 degree weather.

I’d like to tell a big fish story about how I caught the biggest big mouth trout the state of Tennessee had ever seen, but instead it was just a regular old Tennessee fishing story. It went something like this:

Well, ya know this boy we was gonna go down to the river with, you see he’s my buddy’s cousin’s friend. He’s got this boat we was gonna fish in. Well I guess the truck that was haulin’ it’s battery died and it wouldn’t start. My friend told him about it last week but he don’t listen. He don’t keep care of that truck cause he don’t wanna put any money in it. I don’t blame him. But it took him a couple hours to get that battery changed out, so we run out of time, cause I had to get back on the road. We was lookin to push a good 500 miles that day and oughta hit the road by 10:00, so we packed it back up and headed to the house.

Whew. So we didn’t get to go fishing. The trout can rest easy…for now.

My girlfriend took first shift, the first time she was behind the wheel so far. This also begat another first, as I snuggled in for the first solid nap on the trip. My girlfriend is one of those people who has to take their own pillow with them everywhere they go. While normally I take great pride in making fun of these people, my mouth remained closed as I propped that pillow against the window to get one in deeeeeep.

I woke up to see a billboard of a winery right off the interstate. Wineries were to us like hitchhikers to Dumb and Dumber’s Harry and Lloyd. “There’s another one!” “Pick em up!” These two Tennessee grape houses were much better than the tourist crap we had the day before. They were nothing super special, but they were good enough to add to our bottle collection in an already tightly fit car. I know at least one bottle is going to break before we get there…I’m just hoping it’s not a red.

Right after the winery and getting the right kind of gas, I got one of the biggest nose bleeds ever. Luckily, my girlfriend had stocked her glove compartment with a years worth of Wendy’s napkins. They finally came in handy. As I was struggling with bloody napkins up my nose, rejoice filled the car as the check-engine light went off. Hallelujah! We sang chorus songs in the car with the bloody napkins up my nose for the next several miles. It was a time to celebrate.

The only other real point of note along the way were the absurd amount of tire shreds along the way. I won’t get into my soap box about that as I already wrote a blog post about them a few years ago. Cracker Barrels also made a surge on the tally sheet, proving the fact that Tennessee people love them some Crack. The carcasses also got much smaller through Tennessee proving that you don’t have to shoot a deer to hang their antlers above your big screen.

Daily Totals:

Miles: 538.7 (total: 1207.5)
Time: 7 hours, 30 minutes (total: 20 hours, 50 minutes)
Money spent on gas: $50.03 (total: $142.06)
State License Plates: 3 (total: 30)
Cracker Barrels: 16 (total: 20)
Roadside Carcasses: 10 (total: 37)

Pikeville, KY to Knoxville, TN

DollyGas

The sun did not shine bright on my old Kentucky home when we pulled out of the driveway. In fact, it was no where to be found. The rain finally made up it’s mind and decided to hound us the entire trip. The only blip of sunshine came from the deliciousness of Dairy Cheer before we left. I consumed all the mouth watering calories of a footlong with everything (chili, slaw, mustard, and onion) and a helping of onion rings with kind of joy that can only be whispered about by the angels. 

After polishing off a scoop of Superman ice-cream, we were on our way to Tennessee, the land of smokey mountains, country music, and puke orange decorations. 

It was the shortest leg of the trip so we decided to make it longer by stopping at some wineries along the way. 3 of them to be exact. The ones we found were all in Pigeon Forge, right beside Gatlinburg and of course, the incomparable Dollywood. 

The thing about this area is that tourists flock here like maggots to a roadside carcass. I’m not sure which came first, the tourist or the several mile stretch of souvenir shops, dinner shows, and go-cart tracks, but they are all there now in full force. 

The rain kept people off the go-cart tracks and sent them piling into the wineries. This led to us being treated more like thirsty cattle than than the sophisticated wine connoisseurs we were. They also made the West Virginia winery seem like a place in which we should have worn tuxes. 

More importantly, the wine itself was horrid. It was nothing but bitter, fruity kool-aid. We did earn a wine glass by going to all 3 though, so the trip wasn’t a complete loss. 

After the equivalent a couple glasses of wine, I’ve been known to do some stupid stuff. Well, it happened again. My girlfriends fancy little car apparently only takes Plus gasoline. I knew this but, but while she ran to the bathroom to pee out her blueberry-blackberry-raspberry “wine” I stayed back and pumped away, and put a full tank of Regular gasoline in her car. One mile down the road the dreaded check engine light came on, and I realized what I had done. 

I do not know anything about cars. I used to say all I know how to do is put gas in the car, but I can’t even claim that anymore. We made a call into her dad, the car expert, and learned that after we put Supreme gas in it half way down, it should be ok. But I was honestly more concerned about the wrath of my girlfriend than not having a car to complete the cross country drive. 

Luckily, we were only about 30 minutes from my friend’s house when this occurred I only had to endure a barrage of “I told you to put Plus in!” for a short time. 

I tried to change the subject back to roadside carcasses but it didn’t really work. It was actually a prevalent topic. My friend we were staying with in Tennessee is a master carcass spotter. We spotted 10 on the day’s journey, but if he had been with us, the number would have been tripled. Easily. He can spot a dead animal (or live one for that matter) a mile away, and that’s without his contacts in. 

He and his girlfriend took us to a sushi place where we had a huge spread chef specialty rolls that were all unbelievably good. Between that and Dairy Cheer earlier in the day, it was one of my top 10 food days of all time. 

And my girlfriend thought we’d just be eating Wendy’s the whole way. 

Arkansas, you’re next. 

Daily Totals:

Miles: 235.4 (total: 668.8)
Time: 5 hours, 50 minutes (total: 13 hours, 20 minutes)
Money spent on gas: $34* (total: $92.03)
State License Plates: 9 (total: 27)
Cracker Barrels: 1 (total: 4)
Roadside Carcasses: 10 (total: 27)

* maybe should have been more if someone had reminded me to use the right gasoline. 

Pittsburgh, PA to Pikeville, KY

Slurpeedonkey

I drove, as my girlfriend’s eyes were inoperable for the first twenty miles due to flooding. No levy in the world could have held back the raging waters that ensued once she hugged her mom in the driveway before we left. So I got in, reset the trip odometer, and started pondering the number of roadside carcasses we would see that day.

Once the tears subsided to the point of cognition, she remembered she had been craving a Mountain Dew Slurpee from Sheetz for days. The problem was that we were well past the Sheetz in Pittsburgh when this realization occurred. She would not be deterred, however. She made a quick GPS search of the nearest Sheetz gas station, and we set forth on our first detour of the day.

The GPS said it 2.7 miles away. Evidently, it didn’t take into account roads. It may have been a 2.7 mile direct path there, because about 10 miles later out of our way trough some small town, we pulled into the Sheetz parking lot and prayed their Mountain Dew Slurpee machine was working.

It certainly was. My girlfriend is a very small girl. The thing about very small girls is that they have proportionately small bladders. So when I saw her pour her surplee into the biggest cup they had, I knew we were in trouble. This thing was 32 ounces of caffeine-infused, sugar-filled, condensed liquid that was sure to make a B-line to the urethra once consumed. And we got two. I then made her pee twice while we at the gas station so we could at least make it a few miles down the road before stopping again.

Somewhere between getting getting a Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line” stuck in my head and guessing how many Cracker Barrels we’d see along the way, we passed the “Welcome to West Virginia – Wild and Wonderful” sign. I first snickered about the thought of being welcomed to West Virginia, but then I realized that Hell probably has a welcome sign too. In an effort to take a picture of all the state welcome signs, we failed on the very first one as the girlfriend’s camera trigger finger wasn’t quite fast enough.

Enter detour number two. We drive 6 miles to the next exit and flip it around. The road trip photo album would not be complete without the West Virginia sign. We were able to get Pennsylvania this way as well, so I suppose it was worth having to enter West Virginia twice.

The thing about driving through West Virginia is that you always come out dirty on the other side. Believe the stereotypes. It’s a haven for toothless rednecks who love to smile, and come to find out, are terrible pot hole patchers as well. Yes, I know I’m from Kentucky, but West Virginia is the only state we can really make fun of, so I’m taking advantage.

Conversation on the first day stayed strong. Neither of us napped or watched a movie and the radio even remained fairly mute. In depth conversations were often interrupted by one of us yelling out, “Carcass!” when we say a unfortunate animal recently made into roadkill, or when we spotted a new state license plate.

The other cross country mini journey we had planned was to stop at a number of wineries along the way. And yes, there was one in West Virginia. It was 25 miles off course, but it was worth it. Trying to find the place was an adventure in and of itself. Mapquest took us to a road and said we were only a mile away. I use the term “road” lightly. It was more of a collection of gravels and dirt that happened to make it’s way through a forest in a very indirect fashion. About 100 feet into the road, it forked. One one side was more of the same, but other side featured uninviting property. Evidently the owners really liked their privacy or were collectors of “No Trespassing” signs. Scattered across the entire hill was every kind of we-don’t-want-you here sign ever made. “Danger” “Beware of Dog” “Private” “Keep Out” “Caution: Dog Bites.” This did not make my girlfriend have to pee any less.

Now what I haven’t told you is that I had to pee really badly too. And, to her credit, while she can hold it pretty well, I cannot. We had to find this winery, and fast.

After calling the winery and getting the worst directions ever given, we turned to GPS to get us there. Luckily, it put us on the right road, but although it was paved, it was still only wide enough for about a car and a half. I knew the winery was still going to be hard to find and the bladder pain became unbearable. I found a wide spot in the road and jumped out and commenced peeing in the bushes. We hadn’t seen a car on the entire road, so it only made sense that 20 seconds into the flow, a huge white truck would pull around the bend. I quickly clamped off walked around like nothing was going on.

I waved at guy in the truck, hoping he’d pass on through, but West Virginians are much too courteous for that. He rolled down his window to see if he could help. “Naw, I’m just taking a piss.” He laughed, bid be good day, and continued onto wherever he was going. I finished up and we pulled into the winery about 1 minute later.

The winery was very West Virginia. It was ran by a barrel chested woman with several chins and a guy whose teeth were more black than yellow. What teeth he had anyway. Their facial features were…I’m going to stop there. It’s not their fault they were victims of generations of inbreeding.

The tasting glasses were actually plastic dixie cups the size of fast food restaurant ketchup holders. Most every wine on their list was some kind of sweet fruit wine. The guy told me, “We couldn’t keep the lights on by only selling dry wine.” It turns out West Virginians don’t have very mature pallets. There was one wine that stood out to me the most. It was called Ginseng wine. When I asked how it tastes, this is the conversation that followed.

“Have you ever chewed on a ginseng route before?”

“Um…no.”

The woman thought for a moment. “Well, it kind of tastes how fresh dirt smells.”

Wow. I had to try it. I did. It tasted how I imagine dirt would taste.

We also brought up the gravel road we originally turned around on. The guy said, “Yeah it gets pretty narrow up through there. And it might be flooded. You all probably wouldn’t have made it in that little car there. About a year ago some boy said he was gonna up here and fix it. He ain’t ever done it. I don’t know what he was gonna do to fix it, but that’s what he said.”

We bought the bottle of the wine that was the least disgusting. A couple pictures later in front of the old-timey apple masher, we were on our way back on the road.

Right outside of the winery we saw a donkey trying to have sex with a horse. I really don’t have any special commentary on that. But I promise I’m not making it up.

It rained on and off throughout the rest of the trip. It was like the rain couldn’t make up it’s mind if it wasn’t to come down or not. You might be even say the rain was…wishy-washy. OH!

We finally rolled into the driveway exactly 7.5 hours after left. Our daily totals were as follows:

Miles: 433.4
Time: 7 hours, 30 minutes
Money spent on gas: $58.03
State License Plates: 18
Cracker Barrels: 3 (Although we did see several Biscuit Worlds)
Roadside Carcasses: 17 (12 in West Virginia)

Tomorrow, we’ll be off towards Knoxville. You better bring it, Tennessee. West Virginia set the bar very high.

The Flight

airplane

There’s nothing like starting a good road trip like an airplane flight. My flight from Phoenix to Pittsburgh was scheduled to take off at 7:00 am. That’s early. That’s even earlier when you didn’t leave the bar until 1:00 am. It was my last night as a full-fledged bachelor and I wanted to go out. Early flight be damned. From here on out, I’m going to break down the sequence of events by time.

6:00 pm: I packed everything up and laid out a pair of gym shorts and a tshirt in anticipation of a showerless, quickly dressed morning. I had no idea at the time that doing this would effectively save my life. 

12:25 am: Good times. I was out with about 10 of my closest friends of friends and having a blast. I had spent most of the night wing-manning for a Mormon I barely knew and trying to find the people I actually knew. 

12:41 am: My ride informs me he is about to leave. I tell him two more minutes. 

1:03 am: My ride tells me he’s ready to leave. I tell him two more minutes. My ride leaves. 

1:14 am: My ride turns around and comes to pick me up. Clutch. 

1:39 am: I plug my phone into the charger and make sure the alarm is set for 5:15. I pass out in my bed.

6:17 am: I wake up on the couch downstairs. I squint at the time on on the cable box and flip into a state of paranoia.  Evidently during the night, I had taken a little sleep walk. My subconscience must have told me, “This bed is not sufficient for optimal sleep. You should walk as far away from your alarm as possible and sleep on your much more uncomfortable couch.” The problem with sleepwalking is that you become a slave to your subconscience. You do whatever he says because your old buddy Logic drank a lot of beers last night too and he was passed out, nowhere to be found.

6:19: I bang on my roommates door who was giving me a ride to the airport. I seize the gym shorts and tshirt I had so thoughtfully laid out the night before, grab my wallet and take the phone off the charger. I think to myself, “I know I’m forgetting something.” I leave my phone charger by the bed and see my girlfriend has sent me two texts and a phone call to make sure I was up. No time to respond. 

6:23 am: We get in the car. My girlfriend sends me a text that she’s really nervous I wasn’t awake. I respond, “I’m up.” It wasn’t a lie. 

6:32 am: We whip into terminal 4 and I start running through the airport like Macaulay Culkin’s parents. I print off my boarding pass and realize my gate is on the other side of the airport. I take off running like Macaulay’s mom’s milkman was Usain Bolt. The security line was short for the first time ever. I get through and see my flight is already boarding. I slid into my my B18 spot on southwest that was next to board. I made it. 

6:50: I text my girlfriend that I’m boarding, the flight is on time, and she worries too much. 

7:10: I can’t sleep. I can always sleep on planes and I can’t sleep. My body yearns for water to wash away the sweat from my recent sprint and the dehydration incurred from last night. I can tell the old couple beside me hate me. 

7:24 am: Finally the flight attendant comes around. She looks like she used to be a stripper. The ozone layer must be slightly thinner over her house from the amount of hairspray she used. She had dyed autumn hair except for one strand that was blonde and another smaller strand that was bright red. Her makeup was caked on and the lipstick she wore could be seen by the blind. “I know this sounds stingy, but can I have two waters?” She smiled back at me and said she’d bring me a can. She felt my pain.

7:50 am: The cotton mouth is setting in. The flight attendant comes back but with no drinks. She has snacks instead. I know peanuts aren’t going to quench my thirst. The old couple beside me take about 4 snacks a piece. They’re stingy too. The Difference: mine was out of necessity, theirs out of gluttony. I’m trying my best to hold in the beer farts in. I finally let one go, knowing other passengers would see the really tan old guy in the Hawaiian shirt beside me and consider him the most likely culprit.

7:59 am: She’s back with drinks, but only enough for the few rows in front of me. I see that someone ordered two beers and cringe. Flight attendants have to be the only alcohol servers in the nation to not get tipped. Well baseball stadium vendors too. 

8:04 am. Salvation. I’ve never seen water in a can before but I would drink out of a pig trough at this point. The water streamed over the oversized ice cubes like a gently flowing spring in Heaven’s meadow, then rushed down my gullet like a hurricane in New Orleans. Twelve ounces didn’t last long. Neither did the second twelve ounces. 

2:00 pm: After the connection in Chicago I sat beside a man, no, a gentleman in a yellow sweater vest, bowtie, mustache, and khakis that were way too short. And he was a talker. I now know the zip codes of Pittsburgh, the life and times of Ian Fleming (author of James Bond), his daughter’s law school graduation, his grandson’s 3 year old birthday adventures. He knows I’m a pharmacist. 

2:57 pm: Ding! As people made a mad rush to the exit and the plane deboarded, I couldn’t help to think of the Southwest slogan. “You are now free to move about the country.” Country, here we come.