Putting the Oyster on the Cracker?

I have to get this out there, if only because no matter the audience, I end up looking insane.

If I ask anyone in Texas why they server Crackers with Oysters, I get a funny look – If I tell anyone anywhere else, especially New England, that I have eaten Oysters on Crackers, I get a funny look.

The question was, and remains, what the hell are the Saltines for?

Yes, that is all Tabasco Sauce … They age it in Barrels sealed with Salt. I’m betting the Ark of the Covenant is buried in there somewhere also.

In 2016 I decided to take the bike for a ride outside of Houston Texas. I was back in town, after traveling a big loop that encompassed Avery Island LA (Mcilhenny Tabasco Plant), up to Monroe to see the Duck Dynasty Operation, onto Shreveport, and finally dipping deep south again to Houston – in one day.

Sunburned, dehydrated, and beaten up, all I wanted was some Crawfish, and all I knew was they served them at a joint named ‘Wolfies’.

Standing at the gas station, the GPS said Wolfies was 4 miles away, as I was looking across the street at … yea, Wolfies. I would later find out there were two locations, so screw it let’s find the other one.

There I am on the bike and apparently on the wrong side of FM 1960. This was the original location, complete with ‘No Guns’ signs everywhere and two armed Guards in the Parking Lot – yes, wave to the Camera.

Not that I noticed it, but I was the ONLY white person there, and all eyes were on me – Do you remember the scene from Animal House asking if they mind if they danced with their Dates? Except I WOULD mind if they danced with my date, because I was afraid *I* was the date.

Luckily Fawn Liebowitz was killed in a massive kiln explosion making me an Ashtray

I sat at the only seat in the house, and the guy next to me gets up and leaves. I ask the woman next to him what happened, and she rather apologetically explained it’s not his fault, he doesn’t like white people. So of course, I buy her a drink – WELL, it turns out the guy was her boyfriend, and he is now at the other end of the bar with his buddies planning my demise no doubt – chance of a drive by just went up ….. 96%

“Why yes, may I order a dozen Blue Point Oysters?”

People are looking at me as if to say ‘this dudes crazy!’ – or at least that’s how it felt. I think it’s pretty common knowledge I don’t give a shit about such things, but then again, some people do. Que sera sera, I’m hungry – so I buy the young lady and I another Beer.

Oh boy, here comes that delicious platter of … Saltine Crackers?

You see, in New England you eat the Oyster out of the shell, so I’m thinking “What’s with the Crackers? What do you do with them? Are they calling me a Cracker? Fuckers (I knew that wasn’t the case, but still)

I mean what is the point?

I pay the bill, (they were delicious by the way) and left – I even said night to the guy on my way out, but he must have been eating because he didn’t say anything back, and manners dictate not eating with your mouth full.

No cars following me into the county, no being found in a roadside ditch, or in the trunk of a car at the Airport Parking Garage. It was the end to a long 24 hours on the road.

Skip ahead to DAY TWO … the other Wolfies.

Ah yes … Crawfish

So this was the opposite – daylight, huge amounts of glass, and a Waitstaff that clearly needed to go walk around the parking lot a bit – my Servers legs were so white they were searing my Corneas. Come on Folks, go make some Vitamin D, So … more Oysters AND Crackers

She asked me to repeat myself a few times until I realized she was making fun of my accent, trying to ask Her ‘da crackaghs, whats wit da crackaghs?” – it was explained that you put the Oyster on the Cracker … Savages! Who puts a 2-dollar Oyster on a Saltine?? “Ya poot da oystagh on da crackagh?” I asked incredulously, and she laughed and laughed and laughed … time for more Beer. This bitch is going to down.

Soup, whatever, they still suck

Apparently Gulf Oysters grow to the size of your girlfriends tongue when the waters get warm – so eating them is like french kissing your girl, except you bite her tongue off and swallow it with horseradish and a touch of Cocktail Sauce. To combat the gag reflex of this giant snot rocket hitting the back of your throat, they serve it on a Cracker.

Ahhhhh Science, now I see – next time I’m getting a Heddy, and someone’s having issues, I will have to remember to bring Saltines. Magic.

So that is why they put Oysters on Crackers here – like salting Watermelon, it’s new to me, not to them, and pretty darn good either way.

Touchdown in Tucson

This is part of my ‘horry sheet” I got laid off series outlining my motorcycle travels after leaving the phone company back in 2016.

Tucson – what can I say.

File it under ‘Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time”

While Vatnajökull Iceland is where I want my ashes spread someday, Tucson is where I would live given the choice (or possibly Raleigh NC, but this is about Tucson so stay on target)

Sure, Texas is great – no state income tax, I have a million friends, every day is a nice day for the motorcycle, the girls are unbelievably pretty, and the beer is cold. Living in Texas makes it great to be a man for many, many reasons, I won’t argue that.

Still, Tucson has a way about her … and I was heading to court my old girlfriend who lived there.

It was about ten days of battling snow, rain, dust storms, and yes, a disabled motorcycle pulling a camper with one gear in Roswell NM before I finally hit Tucson.

I was scorched and dehydrated after nearly 17 hours on the road when I spotted ‘Brooklyn Burger and Beer’ off of I-10. Hey, it says Brooklyn Burgers so the burgers must be great right?

Fuck YES.

And in walks my partner in crime, but neither of us knew it just yet. I had spent the past hour buying everyone drinks, and yakking with anyone willing to put up with the fact my accent makes me unintelligible at times, when this beautiful stranger comes bouncing into the bar.

Ponytail, smile, knows EVERYONE … you know the personality – everyone knows a girl like this.

When I say meeting people was easy, I wasn’t kidding #Territorial

The people I would meet, would quickly lead to me making a network of friends. I hadn’t forgotten that I crossed a continent on a motorcycle to court my ex, no ma’am, but that would come with time.

After using Tucson as a base for my trips in the months that followed, funny stories would come out.

Things like, no one believed I was living in a tent in the desert far south of the city, or that I really was unemployed and homeless, eating bacon at 3am with the coyotes and pooping in a trench. They only believed it when they saw the pictures on Facebook.

All this picture is missing, is the poop trench (thank god)

That I spent so much time at the JW Marriot, stealing their Wi-Fi and bathing in the Mens Room, that the staff at the lobby coffee shop, and Hotel Bar eventually believed that I LIVED at the Hotel.

Home for the first half of 2016 – Just me, a fire, and a Desert full of shit wanting to bite and sting me – still, it was peaceful out there in my little home.

I used to carry firewood on the bike with huge bungees, and damn, it gets cold in the desert when the sun goes down. My neighbors were a pair of mangey looking coyotes who would come into camp and sit by the fire at night. Nothing but the stars, the wind, my book, a good fire, and a couple of hungry carnivores warming up – perfect.

Adrianne (the young girl who worked at Brooklyn) became my best friend quite accidentally. Her first remembrance was that of a stranger, sitting at her bar, who knew all the regulars by name and laughing all afternoon.

We remain in touch now that we live 1000 miles apart – we still drive 8 hours each to simply meet for a steak, travel between cities, and at times, get intentionally lost in abandoned West Texas ghost towns. #Kent

The Territorial – Nothing Good Ever Happens Here #Hooligans

She would lead me to the Territorial, and yet another cast of characters who became family.

And then there was beautiful Susan and that ponytail – and Ron, who drives a race car and wanted to kill me in a parking lot one night. I probably deserved it – sorry Guys! 😀

Tucson gets in your blood I guess – from Mt Lemmon (southernmost ski area in the US), to Davis-Monthan AFB, to being charged by a Javelina on the golf course at 2am, shitfaced, while looking for tarantulas with my ex.

Yes, my ex and I finally spent some good times together, if only for a short few months before deciding ‘meh, we have grown apart’ Que Sera Sera

I’m from New England – Snow on a Harley at 9000′ ? FUCK YES 😀

So, following my spring motorcycle updates (legend suspension pieces, tires, wheel and neck bearings, and custom paint) I will be back for my yearly ‘monsoon run’ in early August.

Fuck

I pick em well … the monsoon season is exactly what it sounds like … either its 115 degrees on the ground and your skin is being scorched off, or all hell breaks loose with torrential rain, 60mph winds, tornadoes and haboobs

Still, like every year, when I see Rita Rd, I will know I am almost home, and roll off onto Alvernon looking for my Margarita at Brooklyns, before heading to see Jeff and Scott.

It makes my face leak when I think about taking that off ramp (yes, my face leaks sometimes, especially when watching the Iron Giant when he blows up at the end of the movie – gets me every time)

Happy Birthday Jeff (60), and Happy Anniversary (34 years) to you and your beautiful wife – I can’t wait to share your moment in Tucson with Everyone.

See you all in a few months!

THREE YEARS AGO TODAY …

This is messed up, three years? where did the time go??

I’m sorry if I see this as somehow amazing, or any different than the things others go through, but right now, exactly three years ago to the date and time, I rolled into Austin Texas for the first time (I only knew where Houston was … OK I only knew where Bimbos in Tomball was – whatever)

In Austin 4 minutes – the Eagle had landed – now for a Margarita!

I had left Lowell Massachusetts on January 03, 2016 – light snow here and there, 15 degrees out with NO plan except to get to Arizona someday, to court my old girlfriend.

In the 18 months preceding this, I had gotten divorced, sold my first house, and took a package to leave my employer of 23 years. I remember a friend stopping traffic in front of the Club so the bike  could get out, as I waved over my shoulder saying ‘I will be right back’ – I never did go home, but I never saw that coming either. Home became the Road.

It took hours for my balls to descend again after this little jaunt

A few months later, scorched by the sun and hung over, I was standing in a parking lot in Sedona, gearing up for Death Valley when the phone beeped. It was Facebook, with a friend making me an offer I couldn’t refuse – except I could. It would be another two months before I signed on to IBM, but the offer wasn’t about the money – it was about finally realizing something started years earlier at Verizon. I was told it was in Austin Texas, and everyone in Tucson told me how lucky I was – time would tell.

I pulled into a little ghost town way the hell out in the desert to look at the offer on my phone – sitting there in what must be a terminal sand storm, I sheltered up against the wall of the blown out gas station and slowly started signing. Day one would be May 09, 2016.

Kamp … what a story (2 Guns Arizona)

I had a few weeks to kill, so I went to the Gulf Coast and partied with the Radisson Staff in New Iberia. Hijacking the hotel courtesy shuttle with staff members for a booze cruise on my last night would remain a hell of a highlight (the hotel was under renovation so it was just me, a few contractors and the staff … and a terrified 16 year old local driving the drunk bus)

It was this time, on Saturday May 07, 2016 that I rolled down Burnet Rd for the first time – I accidentally hooked a left into a shopping center here called the Domain, and experienced my first skinny pant wearing man bun boy sauntering through the lot with his Abercrombie shopping bag, and a sour look like someone just messed up his double decaf half cafe triple mochaccino.

Fucking weird

C Hunts … cold beer, beautiful women, motorcycles – Welcome to Texas

My first night would be when I met the first girl here, and several people who would become conduits to my current group. I asked SIRI ‘Hey SIRI find me a dive bar near me’ and VIOLA! I found C Hunts Icehouse, a home of great women, cold beer, and a leaky roof.

I also found Gina, in her little shorts and Kentucky accent – this was a place anyone would feel INSTANTLY at home. You had UPS Paul, Mechanic Mike, Bagger Scott … the list goes on and on.

So, I get to my first day at the IBM Campus … and it’s raining sideways – I mean cats and dogs living together, wrath of god stuff. I meet Kat looking like a drowned rat (oh, YOUR Mombo … and I’m thinking “yea super”).

Happy Monday morning.

It would rain like that for the next three weeks, you couldn’t build an Ark big enough for this bullshit, until I bought a huge golf umbrella and …. YES!, Sun from that point on.

In three years, I’ve actually used that golf umbrella maybe 6 times.

I said to Kat “I’m not made of sugar, I won’t melt” and with a wry smile she looks back and says “you know with the right amount of water, even shit melts” – we became instant friends, which is good because she controlled the coffee.

Three years later, I’m STILL here. This was supposed to be a year stint to get the lab going (yes, Thunderdome), but it was fun, so I renewed my lease and settled in for a bit. I was careful not to get too close to anyone, or let anyone get close to me, because I was leaving – that is what I told myself, but the people here are amazing (like everywhere I guess), so why not do two years.

Yes, there really is a corner in Winslow Arizona

Year two absolutely flew, with a blown motorcycle motor, trips to Dirty T and people traveling here. I learned to butcher steak, put salt on watermelon, sharpen knives, ride a horse (NOT a good look for me OR the Horse), and shoot feral hogs on my friends Ranch south of here. The weather seems to always be perfect, except when it’s not, and you can ride year-round in a t-shirt unless you are from here, and then it’s parka time at 65 degrees.

Will there be a year FOUR? I honestly couldn’t tell you at this point – I thought I was going somewhere, and maybe I will, but it’s been a hell of a run since riding out from the club years ago, a half bottle of Wild Turkey in me, and the clothes on my back.

My next stop would be Upstate Maryland after blasting through a snowy NYC on a Saturday Night. Never look back – Tucson, see you on the Monsoon Run in August. Have an amazing week my Friends and thank you for the good times.

The Day I left the Nest

How the hell did you end up in Austin?

Well I started this blog to capture some of the past few years, so while it won’t be in chronological order, it should be fun anyway.

It all started with my boss, after 23 years of stellar service giving me a hundred grand, and a year’s benefits (not to mention unemployment). I’m pretty sure he wasn’t amused as I jumped for joy, entering his office to be laid off (for the third time in my career at the phone company). This was old hat – they lay me off, wait thirty days, bring me back. He’s currently my boss again at IBM – small world. There it was though, my career over, and a really uncertain time ahead – the phone company was supposed to be what I retired from, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.

The months preceding that, I felt like Bill Murray in Stripes – I lost my wife, my house, and my job just like that. I was renting a room in NH, thinking about my next steps, and no it didn’t involve joining the Army. I had said months before the layoff that if it happened, I was going to explore the world on my motorcycle. And I did, but that’s next.

I was at the Pawtucketville Social Club in Lowell Massachusetts, the following Saturday morning, with the bike fueled, and my little camper on the back. A half bottle of jack later, and I rolled away in light snow saying, ‘see you in a month!’ – except, it would turn into years. The only one who knew was Ellen, because I certainly had no clue. It was 20 degrees out.

Where was I going? I HAD NO CLUE

I sometimes wonder about my mental health – 6 hours later, blasting through Saturday Night traffic in a snowstorm on 93 South in New York City, the temps had dropped to ten, and my balls nowhere to be found – at least I’d have had a good explanation had I just been in the pool.

What the fuck was I thinking?

Playing Frogger in NYC on a motorcycle puling a camper in the snow with hypothermia can be fun – hey I ALMOST made the length of the Jersey Turnpike without a traffic jam due to some inattentive cow in a minivan, but no – not this time – pretty much not ANYTIME.

Stopping in upstate Maryland proved to be my first taste of “Dude you aren’t in New England anymore”;

M: Hey can I get a Margarita?
F: Sure
M: What kind of Tequila do you use?
F: We can’t sell hard alcohol – we use flavored wine
M: Huh
F: Yea
M: But there is a Packie right there?!

Strange shit I would find in my travels – she was nice though. I would be in my room for the night shortly – standing there feeling cold air stream off my body due to the hypothermia I didn’t know I had, while the hottest shower ever brought my extremities back to life was amazing. It was perhaps 20 minutes when I heard a loud clang. Like someone dropping an anvil – IT WAS MY BALLS! Hey kids welcome back – yea they descended, which is kind of important.

Looking back, my first 18 hours on the road went well – my compensation wouldn’t hit my account for another month, I was worrying about money, it was winter, I had no idea where I was going or why, and I was wearing a t-shirt in the parking lot. Not to mention of course, what was I going to do for work?

I’ve NEVER had, or needed a resume, and pretty much kept to just two employers my whole career. I had no idea of how to do a resume, look for work, interview – I mean I’ve never had to do any of that, things just always fell in place.

I was hoping to hit N Carolina tomorrow, for now, just a quick check for bed bugs at the local truck stop Motel and suffering through someone banging a lot lizard through the headboard in the next room over. Time to get some rest for sure (more to follow)