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?):
Next installment: We go to the drive-in movie and get irritated!