Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Road to the Final Four
(or, JG and Vega$ do Nashville)

If anybody has noticed the lack of activity in this spot, well, it's because I'm pretty lazy about updating this thing anymore. However, the last week it has been due to a road trip to the great city of Nashville in order to view some quality college basketball as part of the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament. We (that would be JG and I) departed stupid early on St. Patrick's Day, returning this past Monday (errr, two Mondays ago at the time of publication). The following is an account (how detailed it turns out to be has not been determined; see my previous remarks re: laziness) of this trip. No embellishments were made and everything is guaranteed 100% true. And if you don't believe me, just ask JG or myself. I'm sure you will find that our stories corroborate.

Day 1

This starts with a 4:30am wakeup in order to get on the road at 6. JG and I are completely loaded into the car and ready to go at 6:16. The morning drive is mostly uneventful, with little traffic to speak of. Then, an hour or so into the trip, the weather takes a turn for the comical, as it starts to snow. That's right: snow in Southwestern Virginia, at a time when many kids around the country are about to start their spring break. Good times. We make a stop for gas, where I also buy myself a nastyass bear claw, some chili cheese Fritos (for snacking later), and a tasty beverage. After a smoke and a smash, we head back out on the road. We pick up the ESPN affiliate and are disgusted that they are already doing a poll to talk about what should be the lead story on Sportscenter: the opening of the steroid hearings (but remember, Kucinich says it's "not a witch hunt") or the opening day of the NCAA tournament. So we flip through the stations and happen upon the Flemish morning zoo type show. (Note: Flemish was our code word for "Southern" for this trip. I forget how that came up.) This was hilarious, as the morning crew was doing some bit where they were all Irish (it's St. Patrick's Day, dont'cha know) and were telling some story, but for the life of me, between the comedy of Les Cracquers doing an Irish accent and the fact that they were cracking themselves up while doing so, I could not tell you what the story was about. But the punchline was "Prostitutes? I thought you said Protestants!"

Our next stop, some six hours into the trip, was at a Wal-Mart in Bristol, VA, where we picked up snacks intended for the duration of the trip, and some disposable cameras. In the check-out line, we were behind a mother and her daughter, who looked to be three years old. The girl was cute and kept babbling, as children do. Given her age, I would have assumed that some actual words would be in the child's vocabulary. But I swear, what she was saying was not of this world. She said something in my direction, and I turned to JG and said, "I'm sorry, I don't speak Flemish." Chuckles!

We then went over to Damon's to get lunch and watch some tournament games, which had already started. Nothing much to report from here, except that it started my run of meals that included some sort of pork product. Check that: it continued it, as JG and I had dinner at Southside 815 the night before and I had some sort of fried pork sammich. From there, we got back on the road. Most of the next part of the drive was uneventful, as far as I can tell, as I slept through a decent part of it. Though, I will say that the near head-on collision with a big ass truck (which I caught on camera!) was hilarious, if nearly pantwetting.

Our next stop was...Knoxville? Shoot. I can't remember where it was, I think it was just before Knoxville proper. I just know it was at a Dairy Queen, where we stretched our legs, got some beverage, and returned the calls of one Mr. O. (I got voicemail.) After some more photo ops, including a shot of Dairy Queen's brutally honest depiction of their breakfast combo, we hit the road again. A few hours later, we're in Nashville. By the by, if these times I'm posting are inaccurate, well, it was nearly two weeks ago and I slept a lot while we were on the road, so deal with it.

The traffic getting into the city is pretty terrible, as we hit town right at rush hour. Not good for JG's nerves. Combined with his sleep deprivation from the last week and the loooong drive, it had a very zombifying effect on him. As we're turning right onto Charlotte (or was it Church?), I point to JG's left, "Hey! There's Anothy's Showplace!" Well, this startled him, as he briefly took his hands off the wheel and was completely befuddled for a second, later telling me that he thought he had missed a turn. We get to the hotel, doing a circuit around it trying to find the non-valet parking (turns out there isn't any). I jump out and check us in while JG handles the parking. The lobby is decorated with Georgia Tech banners. Turns out, the Yellow Jackets were staying in the same hotel. Unfortunately, there were no Ronald McDonald-looking seven foot Aussie's lumbering around when we checked in. Room keys and cookies in hand (I *heart* the Doubletree), I meet JG downstairs, where he's finishing up the valet paperwork. We grab a bellman's cart, unload the car, and Nathan--the valet/bellman--helps us bring up our stuff. After some friendly chit-chat and tipping, JG and I begin to decompress. After some sufficient relaxation, we decide to walk to the Gaylord Center to see how long it will take to get there from the hotel. After reaching our destination some five minutes later, we go in search of beer and vittles. We walk by a bar and JG stops and says, let's go check this out. I walk back. "It's dead." We continue walking again. "No, let's go check this out." We go back, hesitate in the doorway, before one of the bartenders says c'mon in! So we do. We take a seat right at the bar. The place truly is dead, save ourselves, the two bartenders, and the three performers onstage. But, as it turns out, JG made the right call.

Exhibit A: the cutest damn bartender ever. EVER. She was totally a JG girl. (I won't elaborate; those who know JG will know exactly what I'm talking about.) She was flat out adorable. And she had the cutest Flemish accent, with just a trace of that helium-influenced young girl sound. Awesome.

Exhibit B: she and the other bartender (an older lass) were experimenting with new drinks. Since nobody else was around, and they couldn't really drink them, we got to sample them. By my estimate, we got three or four free shots. A Covered Wagon, a Six Shooter, Cowboy Candy, and Spitfire. Those are the ones I remember.

Exhibit C: being St. Patrick's Day, they had some drink specials. No green beer, but green shots were just $2 a piece. Apple Pucker is a green shot. I asked how much it would take to fill up the drink cup (that previously contained my Six Shooter, which is like a Flemish version of a Long Island Iced Tea) with some delicious pucker. She said she couldn't fill up that cup, but she would gladly pour shots from a small shot glass into a very large one. Worked for me. Four shots got it filled, and boy they were delicious. So much so that I got four more soon after.

Exhibit D: good music, provided by Julie Raye, Chicken and Kenzie. Mostly covers, and mostly just guitar and voice (provided by Chicken and Julie, respectively), with hot fiddler Kenzie occassionally joining in on fiddle, or taking lead vocals. It was pretty nice.

JG and I were there for about four hours before we decided to head back to the hotel and get a good night's sleep before day one of hot basketball action.

And that wraps up day one of the trip. I think I will be posting these by day, instead of putting it all into one gigantic post. This is done because of my laziness and attention span.