Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Schlitz and Giggles

While buying essential liquids at my favorite liquor-mart today I did a double-take - was that Schlitz long-neck bottles? Yes indeed. On a long and entirely worthwhile quest to sample as many beers of my dad's generation as possible, hopefully on tap or in bottles, my only brush with Schlitz was chancing across a $5 12-pack of cans circa 1999; it was swill, and low-grade swill at that. But now Schlitz is trying a comeback with the original recipe which was abandoned circa the late 1970s - they sped up the brewing process, had hops problems that kept the brew from foaming, and the death knell came when they tried to fix the foaming problem with a seaweed derivative that over time hardened into chunks at the bottom of the bottle... a turnoff to even the least choosy beer drinkers. So now they're back with the "1968 recipe" and a bottle with a 1950s style logo. And the first bottle's pretty good. Now for the next five.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How Drive Car Good Down Road

(I stole this image from another Blogspot user and I DON'T CARE!)

I feel it's time to gently share a few observations I've made while traveling the highways, byways and whyways (why did I take this route???). So here goes.
1) Why it's called a "merge"/"acceleration" lane - the concept is that you pace your speed to merge (ie join the flow) of traffic. This isn't accomplished by stopping at the end and CERTAINLY not by stopping at the beginning of the lane and looking helplessly at the cars streaming past. Hint: adjust your speed in the lane so as to pop into a gap between cars as you reach the end of the lane.
2) Making a right-hand turn. This is especially noticed on my highway commute home. You do not need to slow to a stop before turning - your car WILL NOT fall over. Practice taking your right turns a few miles an hour faster each time you do so. When you hear rubber screech and hubcaps fly off, back it off a bit.
3) Similarly to #2 - when going through a parking lot in your big-ass SUV you do not need to slow to one m.p.h. to cross a speed bump. Although you clearly do not know this your SUV has features such as a rugged suspension system and increased clearance between wheels and fenders that, ironically, make it ideal for hitting speed bumps at 30. Any slower and you're cheating yourself.
4) Conversely to #3: Slow the fugg down in parking lots - especially you damn kids that are texting, chugging Red Bull and watching Tokyo Drift on your dashboard DVD player! Ever had to clean a bird out of your grille? Yucky, right? Believe me, cleaning a toddler out of the grille is much worse.
5) What's up with this? I drive @25 miles of a two-lane US highway every weekday. A lot of people coming the opposite direction pull right to the point they're almost in the gravel shoulder when they meet oncoming traffic. Which can lead to all kinds of unpleasant things. Here's a tip: just stay to the right of that line down the center of the road, and I will too - and we won't collide!!!
I'm sure I forgot a thing or two - but will add them as I think of them. You've been warned.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vacation Vignette #3 - American Idyll/Wrap-up

(since B'spot loads the photos weird, we have: vintage liquor store sign in Longmont, hummingbird eating lunch at River Spruce, Trail Ridge Road snow in Rocky Mtn. Natl. Park, bull elk in RMNP, river view at River Spruce)
Well, there hasn't been much time for blogging lately, but I figured I'd better finish the vacation series while I still remembered it. We pulled out of Ft. Morgan Sunday morning for an easy two-hour drive up Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park. I got the jimjams driving up the canyon like I do every time I'm there, thinking about the horrendous flood of 1976. Donna wasn't familiar with it so when we hit EP too early to check into our cabin we went to the library and got online and found this (very sobering) video account of the tragedy that killed 140+ people: http://www.coloradoan.com/news/thompson/
I also looked in old phone books to find the cabins I stayed in with my parents and my mom's family back when I was an incredibly cute three-year-old; I found that "Mrs. Baldozier's Cabins" were actually called "Triple R Cottages" but there was just a road listed, no address, so I couldn't visit the site. Fooey. We killed enough time to go to the superlative River Spruce cabins. Ever checked into someplace based on their website and found out what can be accomplished with strategic photography? Not here!! Twenty feet from a rushing mountain river... uh-oh, the Big Thompson River... oh well... cabin in fine shape, our own hot tub, home-made rolls or banana bread every morning delivered to the door, neat as a pin, well-furnished and lots of extras... attentive proprietors, they even bought a four-wheeled cart for guests to haul luggage down the wood-chip path to the cabins after they saw the horrendous amount of STUFF we brought along. We settled in, found out the bonus feature: cell phones don't work here! - and relaxed. Of course, after about 16 hours relaxing, I was going somewhat nuts, feeling the need to disassemble an old lawn mower or something along that line. I left Donna to revel in natural bliss and sought out EP's thrift shops. At one I found a bunch of Judy Collins albums (don't laugh, she used to be real real good) and went up to pay. The elderly lady running the cash register was hooked to an oxygen machine, fair enough, but balanced on top of the machine were two half-pints of Ten High bourbon (fuck metric, I'm not saying 200mL!!) WTF?? We went to a miniature golf course that had been in business since 1966 and the elderly owner remembered the Baldoziers!! There were a series of great meals at the little pub a mile toward town, the Dunraven Inn just a few hundred yards south, Mary's Lake Lodge where we were unprepared for the mountain of food placed before us. Every night we drove up the road just for the herds of elk and mule deer we could stop and observe up close. I went on another solo excursion, got lost, and found.. the Triple R Cottages, alive and well about, ummmm, 42 years since I last visited them! My memories are pretty faint but they did ring a bell, searching old photos to compare to the ones I took.
All good things come to an end and we left EP for Woodland Park for our old haunt, a group of duplex cabins.. well, they call them suites... which are fine in their own right but the people that used to own them sold out to a pair of evil commie infidel zombies... if I'm not being too judgmental. We managed to work around them and enjoy ourselves in Woodland, Manitou and C-Springs, hanging out and guitar hunting with Fred-o, then subsequently drinking a tad too much at the Loop wiff him, an annual tradition. Our last night there we headed for Mollica's Italian Restaurant and Deli but they had fiendishly started closing earlier than listed on their website so we ended up at Outback... which is fine when that's where you're headed, not so good as a substitute, especially when at the booth across the aisle there's this SCREAMING LITTLE BRAT BOY and that picture of the Lindbergh baby in his shallow grave keeps flashing across your mind and then you find out they quit offering SHRIMP ON THE BARBIE but somehow you make it through and the next day it's five hundred miles home and you find out that the neighbors mowed your lawn while you were gone and you even find peace with the screaming brat, sort of, and you dig out the bottle of Piping Rock schnapps.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Vacation Vignette #2 - Drive-In Me Crazy!

Leaving Cawker City and the Big Ball of Twine sadly behind, we hit Hill City and headed north to Hwy. 36 west, Colorado-bound via a corner of Nebraska. The next day would be Sunday so I stopped in some small town, not even sure which side of the border, to replenish my peppermint schnapps supply (I've got a lot of Austrian blood, folks). Everywhere in the USA I've been there are two brand choices: Hiram Walker's and DeKuyper's. This place had "Piping Rock" made in St. Louis. Oh well, I gave it a shot (NPI). After driving through some remote Nebraska backcountry we arrived in Ft. Morgan, Colo. along Hwy. 34. This stop was carefully orchestrated by me because Ft. Morgan still has an operating drive-in theatre. We'd been wanting to attend one for years. All my careful orchestrating couldn't do anything about the feature that night... Hannah Montana. But I'd known that going in, and figured sneaking a couple drinks before/during the show would help ease the pain.

First we needed dinner though, and picking were slim. I found one likely sounding spot in the visitor's guide. Unfortunately when we got there it appeared to have been closed a couple of years. The guide also listed a bar and grill with the following features: "Big Screen TVs, Pool, and toilet seats on the wall." Not among my major requirements , but novel, so we headed there. Row of Harleys in front and a big "Biker-Friendly" sign. We decided to forego the toilet seats and look elsewhere. Maybe we could have made friends and invited everybody to go see Hannah with us, but oh well. We ended up at someplace that called itself a pub. Word to the wise - anyplace that calls itself a pub in the USA very likely sucks. This one sure did. My wife ordered a Crown Royal shot and got something totally not Crown (might have been made by Piping Rock though). They charged like it was Crown though... five and a half bucks. Enough of this mediocre meal. Let's go to the movies!

It was right down the street from the vintage motel we were at. Got through the gate no problem, was expecting a car search like when I was in high school. Picked a good spot. A dozen cars were there and more filtered in. And I began to see why there aren't many drive-ins any more: there are too many frigging idiots. Okay, it could have been worse, but people were backed into spots and turning their headlights on, at least two cars had some drive-in-unfriendly feature where every time a door was opened (i.e. almost constantly) the brake/parking lights would blink three times... a couple geniuses managed to set off their car alarms in mid-show. I fortunately was able to drink enough to tune these maroons out and concentrate on Hannah. I learned that she leads a regular life as country girl Miley Cyrus and almost nobody knows she's Hannah even though she spent most of the movie doing a very shaky job of covering up her alter ego.
Most memorable time at the drive-in was when I was @17 and managed to drink enough Jim Beam and Coke to a) Cry at Steve Martin's The Jerk - and that's a lot of Jim Beam - and b) vomit a rather nasty brownish fluid all over the side of my friend's car as he drove me home (and he left my parents' lawn chairs sitting there too, thanks, Paul!) As Miley sang a poignant song about how her dad Billy Ray used to compare her to a caterpillar, I felt a tear or two trickle down my cheeks. History repeats itself, minus the puke.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Vacation Vignettes #1 - Fine Like Twine

Summer's just around the corner and we managed to find time to hit the road in search of new vistas and fresh annoyances. It seemed our journey had hardly begun when we found ourselves in Cawker City, Kansas: home of the world's largest ball of twine!
Well, not so fast. There's a long-standing dispute with Darwin, Minn. because they have their own big ball o' twine (Kansas in general has problems with Darwin but that's another story). This one's bigger but has been added onto by townspeople after creator Frank Stoeber died in 1974. So Darwin's is the largest wound by one person, Francis Johnson, who spent four hours a day winding it. Obviously this is some kind of rare psychosis that manifests itself in twine-winding. Although the sign in Cawker claims "Thrift + Patience = Success." I guess it's success of a sort.
Here's the whole sordid story for those who want to know more (anybody?): http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2128
Next installment: We go to the drive-in movie and get irritated!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

31 flavors and instant death on the highway!

Wow, it seems like only last night that I was posting about soon there would be new weirdness and annoyances to write about! In fact, it was last night. And about not posting about food. Oh well. Crappy day at work so I stopped at Baskin-Robbins for a cone on the way home, first time in maybe six years or so. I ordered a single-dip waffle cone (black walnut) and found that 1) a single dip only half fills the cone, and b) the girl making the cone was hanging her medium length hair above all the ice cream as she scooped, unencumbered by a hairnet. There's your annoyances right there. So I continue home trying to taste a little black walnut amongst the cone, finish it and a few miles later, on the highway, an oncoming car drifts onto the gravel shoulder, turns sideways, and goes hurtling past me maybe two feet away. Ends up sliding backward into an embankment. There's your weirdness. So after I got home, I'm thinking: skip the ice cream, I'm miles away when the car wipes out. But if sloppy ice cream girl had screwed up counting my change, maybe I'm 100 yards back and that car hits me. Think I'll go back and tip her.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's been a while...

...since I last posted. Work has been busy and so has home... don't write about food again... no topics have jumped into my head lately... NO FOOD!... so I'm just checking in to assure the multitudes that I will return... not with another food post though!... spring is just around the corner with the promise of new weirdness and annoyances to write about... no more stories about getting po'ed at restaurants because that's still FOOD!... anyway I'm having trouble concentrating so will sign off here... let's go get a snack!