Bananas and Other Missed Opportunities

Plans are few and far between on the road, as are reservations when Jenn and I travel, and traveling solo was no different for me. As I made my way from East to West across the states I pretty much stayed where I wound up by day’s end that had a vacancy and a cheap rate. And always only after a bedbug bed check Jenn had instilled in me whenever we traveled as I’d watch her strip the sheets of her bed while I was more worried with checking Yelp for what nightcaps were in the area. Once she was satisfied they were clear, we’d settle in and head out.

Sometimes we’d note places to go and things to see and even get to them if they were of utmost importance, and sometimes we’d see a road sign for a landmark or local must-see and take a segue from the path for that instead. For the places we’d wind up missing as a result or didn’t get to in time we’d just add them to our list for the future.

And then there are the fruitless but fun pursuits. Somewhere outside of Atlanta Jenn texted me that the Big Banana Car was on display. So with her as my co-pilot in spirit I turned around and drove in its direction. If you know anything about Jenn then you know she loves her bananas.

When it comes to costume parties I go glam and Jenn goes bananas
When it comes to costume parties I go glam and Jenn goes bananas

 

 

 

 

 

And if you know anything about GPS and map apps you know they’re not always right. Half an hour into my journey the directions sent me to some industrial park with a similar named street. There was no banana where I wound up, just an office building and a cop who pulled up alongside to tell me to pull into the parking lot nearby instead of the side of the road where I was attempting to re-route my route. Eventually I did see 3 banana yellow colored cars but no actual banana.

Not a banana
Not a banana

 

 

 

 

 

Not a banana either
Not a banana either

 

 

 

Finally I made it to the strip mall where they had tweeted they were at when Jenn texted they just posted they had packed up and were off to their next destination. Mission Banana was a bust. By this point I was hungry and saw something banana yellow nearby calling my name.

Moe knows it's lunchtime
Moe knows it’s lunchtime

 

 

 

It was named Moe’s and had a great big sign hailing it as the original Moe’s.

Moe's sign

I figured it was a local southern fave. Turned out it was more South of the border as it served up southwest fare and was a chain rather than a Mom & Pop’s type place I prefer, but new to these parts it wasn’t a franchise I was familiar with and I’m always up for a quesadilla to quell my hunger, so I ordered up a chicken club one and sampled the salsa bar as I took a bite of a new (for me) regional staple. I was less bummed I passed up something more regionally Southern in these parts, like the BBQ joint I passed back by the industrial park, than I was about being able to connect with a banana for Jenn. We have a very odd bond. But when someone has saved your life in the past you’re willing to jump on board and support what they live for.

Still not a banana
Still not a banana

 

 

 

 

 

Found these at a gas station/convenience store. So close.
Found these at a gas station/convenience store. So close.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On my way to Nashville that night I made a detour to Chattanooga and delighted myself (I’m easily amused) by standing on the tracks of where the Chattanooga Choo-Choo once chugged along.

Choo Choo!
Choo Choo!

 

 

 

 

 

tracks

 

 

 

 

 

tracks feet

 

 

 

 

 

Whiskey is another passion of Jenn’s. Bananas and whiskey, what’s not to love about that gal? She’s a fun friend. It’s a shared love, as I do enjoy a good whiskey sour time and again, so in her honor as I continued on and saw signs for the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in the distance I also made a sidetrack trip to see that. Sadly it was closed by the time I made it to its gates, which is ironically situated in a dry county, but the scent of the pungent forbidden spirits filled the air. I paid my respects and took a photo before moving on.

JD sign

Unfortunately Nashville would prove to be a dry stop for me as well even though it was soaking wet. After managing my hydroplaning car through a torrential downpour on the highway I could only find an affordable hotel on the outskirts of the city. I drove down the main strip of fun bars and listened to the live country music coming from each, but decided that to stop for a drink and try to find my hotel in the rain or bothering to go back was not particularly wise or safe (or would be near the legal limit if you saw the number of fun bars there were to try) so I stayed in and added a night out in Nashville to the future to do list for another visit.

2 of my favorite things. I will be back.
2 of my favorite things. I will be back.

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning I did find a funky banana yellow van in the parking lot registered to seekers of the paranormal. Proving that on the road you can count on the abnorm.

Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!
Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

 

 

 

 

 

On my way out the random encounters continued as I drove through the city on a sunnier morning. I was greeted with participants dressed in tutus and even bunny ears gearing up in costume for some sort of run/walk fundraiser. I saw a big boot, a giant guitar, and the birthplace of bluegrass, Ryman Auditorium.

Size does matter
Size does matter

 

 

 

 

 

 

guitarBlues sign

 

 

 

 

Somewhere outside of Music City there was no love as I came across a very likeable little place called the Loveless Café.

No love, no vacancy
No love, no vacancy

 

 

 

 

Well in lieu of love they had something even better, lots of bacon! bacon sign

 

 

The BBQ smoker house adjacent was at it filling the air with rich smoky goodness for the dishes being served up inside but there was a line out the door and a wait for a seat so sadly I passed on some ribs and got some of their Piggy Popcorn, candied bacon popcorn, which they sold in their shop alongside an assortment of bacon concoctions and themed gifts as well as a variety of another local fave, pralines, including whiskey ones. I was really enjoying my taste of Tennessee.

Oink if you love bacon
Oink if you love bacon

 

 

 

 

 

 

bacon sign 2

 

 

 

 

Mmm, that's nuts.
Mmm, that’s nuts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I drove out a loveless-themed tune called “Merry Go Round” by Kacey Musgraves came on the radio with the lyrics, “Mary Mary quite contrary, we get bored so we get married… Jack and Jill went up the hill, Jack burned out on booze and pills and Mary had a little lamb, Mary just don’t give a damn no more.” I turned it up as I was even starting to enjoy Country music too. They sure do know how to turn a phrase and tell a story. I looked forward to my next new story on the horizon as I headed down the road.

Happy trails,
Sara

© 2013 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved – Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

Montana: Land of Big Sky… and Little People!

First off, let me assure you there are plenty of big people (medium too) with big hearts in Montana. In fact we enjoy this state so much Jenn and I made sure to make another visit on this trip.  But what we encountered this time around, instead of ghost towns and the site of an historical hanging, were actual little people, or rather midgets. Don’t get mad at me, I know the proper PC term to use and being tall myself I am sensitive to height issues, but according to the flyers at the local bar where they were set to perform they were advertised as “midgets”.  Now our friend Paul, upon seeing the photos we posted on Facebook, commented that they appeared to technically be dwarves, but I digress.  I’ll get to that event shortly, no pun intended. Back to Montana!

 

 

 

 

 

Upon arrival to Bozeman, we two weary road travelers were greeted by our good friend and host, Maria, with shots of tequila lined up and ready to go down the hatch as we dropped our bags at the door and entered her kitchen. Now that’s a way to greet your guests. We soon switched to wine and chatted away the evening on her patio catching up, all the while as I pet and reconnected with my official roadtrip boyfriend, Fernando.

Fernando mi amor

 

 

 

 

He’s loyal, he’s warm, he’s furry, and oh that face!

 

The next day we enjoyed the warm weather and sunshine on the patio of The Club Tavern and Grill for brunch with Maria and our friend Bob. Bloody Marys and gravy smothered chicken fried steak were on the menu so they made their way to our table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that’s a hearty meal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later that day we made our way with Maria and Fernando to spend the afternoon at the river. As we sipped iced tea cocktails on the banks Maria warned us the area was also home to a nearby hunting ground. Fortunately the only danger we encountered was the chill of the water as we waded in to cool off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That night was the big event: Extreme Midget Wrestling. Maria’s roommate Jeff had informed us of it when we arrived and there was no way we were going to miss it. Simply for the opportunity to witness that such a thing truly exists.  On the way back from the river we stopped by The Belgrade Lounge to get our tickets. Apparently a lot of other people had to witness this too as they were selling out fast.  And that’s when we met one of the main men of the main event, midget wrestler Rampage.

Don’t be fooled by his sweet demeanor or our cackling (shocked) laughs. This shot was taken right after he got grabby hands.

Again, I would normally and properly say little person, except after he asked if we wanted to take a photo with him and then he grabbed our asses just as it was taken, I get to call him a midget.

When we returned that night we discovered the midget wrestling was the least of the more memorable moments to be had. Among them: Jell-O shots, guys wearing wigs (these were the audience members not the performers, er, I mean athletes), drunk girls getting mad at me, a dance-off competition where the winner got to grind a midget and being caught in the middle of a bar fight. A chick fight bar fight at that.

To quickly recap: Drunk girl, or “drunky drunk girl” as Jenn dubbed her, one moment was telling me I needed to wear my part differently and started restyling my hair and the next got upset by something she did or said yet somehow got mad at me for and for the rest of the night glared at me. Remember the character Drunk Girl from SNL?  She was like that. Her moods turned on a dime. Later that evening I found her out in the parking lot stumbling around and venting about some new issue as Rampage escorted her back to the bar. He appeared chivalrous in his action, but I can’t speak for his hands. Then there were the girls Jenn overheard in the bathroom who were upset that they didn’t win the dance contest. Following the first half of the wrestling event the show took a break so the emcee could invite the ladies in the house up to take part in a dance contest. The contest was called Grind A Midget. Yes I said, and saw with my very own eyes, Grind A Midget. Jenn and I declined but several other young ladies did not and jumped right into that ring. After the #1 grinder was decided, the “winner” then got to lie down in the wrestling ring as Rampage sort of climbed on top of her, flipped her over and grinded her as the crowd cheered. At least that’s the blur of what I last remember burning into my retinas when I finally put the camera down and went in search of Jenn.

Gather round boys and girls, it’s Grind A Midget time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we have a winner!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instead that’s when I walked directly into a bar fight. And a chick fight at that, my first one! A girl appeared to suddenly stumble and fall onto my foot. I assumed she tripped due to the crowd and as I reached down to help her up I suddenly caught sight of a gaggle of other girls leaping from their seats at a raised bar area nearby and charging our way. Turns out the leader of the pack had shoved the girl on the ground and they were ready to pounce while she was down. Now I’m a lover not a fighter so I froze, but luckily, like a scene out of The Jerry Springer Show, guys in shirts marked “Security” swarmed in.

Settle down everybody, his shirt says Security.

 

 

 

 

They managed to pull them apart and subdue the scene, momentarily, because next thing I knew a guy wearing a wig got into a new fight right next to me. There was a group of guys wearing wigs that night. (At this point in the evening why wouldn’t that make sense?) His wig flew off and once again security flew in. By then I found Jenn and the two of us decided to take flight as well and called it a night.

But we had more than a few laughs, and since, recounting it all.
Just another reason to hit the road. You never know what you’ll find out there.

-Sara

© 2013 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved – Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

An Encounter With Dinosaurs and an Old Buzzard

Putting our best feet forward

Day 1 of our epic cross country adventure- This trip we left from LA, heading East as I would eventually drop off Jenn in Chicago for a visit with her fam before I headed on to friends in Massachusetts. With previous trips that started out as a 4 day excursion but wound up with us still on the road 2 weeks later roaming and discovering where we might end up next, we were well prepped for these travels.

It’s so big

First up, the world’s tallest thermometer located in Baker, the Gateway to Death Valley, because if you can’t find a ball of string big enough in these parts a thermometer embodying all that is grand about Americana culture will do.

Next stop, Las Vegas. Leave it to us to treat Sin City as a pit stop and a place to “do lunch”, but we needed to refuel, which we did at The PBR Rockbar on the strip.

We took the bull by the horns at Rockbar

 

 

 

We didn’t need to dance ‘til dawn this time around- been there, done that a dozen times – although we did miss our usual poolside service with cocktails topped off with toasted coconut at The Cosmopolitan, but this day we dined outdoors, beneath its looming exterior, remembering its glistening chandeliers, at the appropriately named The Chandelier bar and morning-after recovery brunches at Wicked Spoon, which we were wickedly tempted to try again, but were more than satisfied by our bold bar food selections and our sidewalk patio setting, watching the variety of people Vegas has to offer on display passing by. We skipped drinking PBR’s and stuck with root beers as it was back on the road for us following our meal.

The next test for us was to pass through the Valley of Fire without being burned. No problem for these two pros as we safely entered Utah, but only temporarily were we secure, for next up was an unexpected encounter with dinosaurs!

 

 

 

 

Run, Sara, run!

The Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm in St. George. Containing some of the best preserved tracks and fossils, which were discovered during a real estate project to level some land, and dating back more than 195 million years, this gem is a true Jurassic Park to treasure, and just as much fun for us to be let loose in.

That dinosaur sure is lucky it was protected from Jenn by that glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beaver would be where we would settle that first night, but not before we let off a little restless energy at Renegade Lounge.

What lies beyond the red door?

This one stoplight town, and one bar, thanks to some sort of grandfather clause, as told to us the last time we were there by the guy whose grandfather owned the place, is the local hot spot. That’s right, this wasn’t our first time in these parts and served as a familiar go-to drinking hole, as it did for the other patrons passing through or seasonal workers stationed there.  As soon as we arrived, Toto, we realized we weren’t in Los Angeles anymore. A group of friendly guys chatted us up, invited us to join them, bought us drinks and even offered up the delivery pizza they had at their table. (Those looking for a light bite can help themselves to the popcorn machine on the bar top.) Not one asked us if we were in the biz, or even what biz for that matter. There was simply actual human interaction and conversation taking place. And they were ever so much more interesting than any A-list celebs I’ve met.  These guys weren’t just delightfully social, turns out they were death defying. I’ve had my share of crappy day jobs, from working for a pent up office manager who wanted me to decorate all of her binders with pretty patterns of wallpaper cover sheets and stylish font styles when labeling them to a high powered portfolio manager with unmanaged anger, who couldn’t make eye contact but could scream at you from down the hall and an office away. His former assistant quit in tears. I stuck it out amused by his issues. But unlike our new acquaintances, I had never risked my life by going below ground, surrounded by deadly gas at a geothermal plant drilling for hot water. Cade, who had tempted us to their table with cheesy bread and dipping sauce accompanying the pizza, (yeah, we’re very high-end and hard-to-get when we’re on the road) showed us video of them on his camera phone suiting up in tactical gear and gas masks as they prepped for their next shift. And I thought my ill-fitting tuxedo pants I got at a thrift store for my uniform during my catering days were bad. I just had to make sure I had my comfortable shoes and a wine opener on hand versus hoping I didn’t inhale anything toxic in order to make it through a shift.

Old Buzzard and Funny Shit sharing a laugh

We shared tales of cheating death and our taste for adventure. The crew was as colorful as their job description. Hector and AJ restocked the rounds as I was introduced to their boss man they affectionately called “The Old Buzzard”. He in turn nicknamed me “Funny Shit” as I made him laugh. He then tried to make me dance. Boys on the road, especially in the West, sure do like and look for any opportunity to two-step.  We both soon learned I do not, and really can’t. The Old Buzzard who had suffered his share of challenges as a former bronco rider on the rodeo circuit, including a broken hip that caused him to limp, soon gave up on me declaring after a turn on the dance floor, “You keep leading. You don’t know how to follow!” Such is the curse, or benefit, depending on your dance partner, of being an independent woman. We returned to our stools and swapped stories of adrenaline rushing activities we enjoyed. I told him how I had jumped out of an airplane, he told me to top that I needed to ride a bull.

So you think you can dance?

He then took Jenn for a spin and got her to two-stepping after she had wrapped up a freestyle session blowing it out with Cade in a dance-off below the pulsating disco lights.

 

 

 

 

 

Swing your partner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tired from the day’s long drive we took our bows for the night and trekked back to our hotel, the Best Western Butch Cassidy Inn, where we had comfortable beds waiting and a complimentary breakfast the next day before hitting the road, well rested and refreshed for the journey ahead.

Vroom, vroom!
-Sara

© 2012 Dart and Map All Rights Reserved – Copyright notice by Blog Copyright