Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Wicked, Twisted Road- Coastal Carolina Goes to Texas-Part 1

"HEY OLD LADY LET'S GO,
TO THE MOTEL COWBOY SHOW,
WE'LL DRINK AND DANCE THERE'S NOWHERE ELSE TO GO
WE'LL HANG OUT ALL NIGHT LONG,
WE'LL TOAST THE BREAK OF DAWN,
HEY OLD LADY LET'S GO,
TO THE MOTEL COWBOY SHOW
(Words and music by Willie Braun, Cody Braun and David Abeyta)

It's Thursday night, March 10, the day before Scott and I leave for Corpus Christi with clear goals-to get someplace warm after a long winter; to find some redfish and seatrout; to conduct a taste test of the local beers and ales; to see the best bands on the planet-Reckless Kelly (formed and fronted by brothers Willy and Cody Braun from Stanley, Idaho, the "jewel of the Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains)" and Mickey and the Motorcars (formed and fronted by Willie and Cody's brothers Mickey and Gary Braun); to clear tired and cluttered minds and do what guys do-share an experience that can be lived and re-lived, told and retold the rest of our lives-getting just as much pleasure from the stories as the original experience and also gaining more insight into the experience (and embellishing it) as time goes by.

I'm in a cheap motel near the Raleigh airport so I can sleepwalk to my 9:15 flight to Atlanta to rendevous with Scott. Scott is from Beaufort(pronounced "Byoo-firt)," South Carolina, is a criminal defense attorney, and will be 37 years old in a little over 2 weeks. I am from Beaufort (pronounced "Boe-firt)," North Carolina, am a prosecutor and will turn 50 in less than 2 months. We have been friends since we met through a mutual friend a little over 9 years ago. He's all you can ask for in a friend-brilliant, deep, witty, loyal, fun-loving, generous and dependable-I'll leave it at that. Any adventure with Scott generates memories that last a lifetime and this trip proved no different.

It's been a long winter in coastal North Carolina. I judge a long winter by how many times I can get out in the boat and be comfortable for even a few hours. In the five years I have live here, I have been able to run my skiff at least once every two weeks. I have never had to winterize my engine or stabilize the gas in the gas tank. This year, it's either been honking wind or bitter cold-I haven't had the boat in the water since the new year arrived. Two years ago Scott and I went to Islamorada in the Florida Keys and fished the Everglades. We had a great time although one of our fishing guides was obviously auditioning for a job at Auschwitz-he barked commands at us from the time we parked our rental car until we paid him and left. Boot camp at Parris Island would have been less demanding and a hell of a lot cheaper. All I could think of was the character Nedermeyer in animal house puttting the paddle to the pledges-"Thank you sir, may I have another?" And paying $500.00 for the pleasure!


Wednesday night-so excited I can't sleep so I prepare a list of thing to pack and start throwing back Bud Light and Jack Daniels to "take the edge off." No luck, I'm still wired- I've got the new Reckless Kelly blasting and I'm alternating between playing along on the guitar or the harmonica and the dogs are giving me strange looks from the couch.

Men's and women's packing differs greatly. Women's generally begin with actual necessities like underwear, seasonal clothes, make-up kit, toothbrush and toothpaste. etc. These things would appear at the bottom of a man's packing list. Mine began and ended with these items-fly rod, reels, flies, booze, flask,shorts, rain jacket,wading sandals, ball caps, cash and wallet with picture ID and itinerary. Once these essentials were rounded up, I began cramming a few pairs of socks and underwear into the corners of the suitcase. Next came three pairs of jeans, some pearl snap western shirts, long-sleeve T's, sweatpants and finally a shaving kit. The booze and some books I could pretend to read on the plane went into a backpack carry-on and it all went by the garage door so I would have to trip over it on the way out the door Thursday afternoon. Thursday I tried a jury case that took from 9:00 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. (jury selection to verdict), got a verdict, went to lunch, came back for an hour to finish up court and went home at 3:00 for a short nap before my 3 hour drive to Raleigh. Then it's in the car heading west, putting the spartina grass marshes and sounds in the rearview.

The motel is seedy, but close and cheap. I have the best car in the parking lot-by a long shot. It's been a long time since I have seen a Ford Maverick or a '72 Old's Cutlass. My room faces a Wendy's. There is no interior hallway-all doors open onto a concrete walkway. The rooms are non-smoking which means that every room door is open and darkened by a scruffy white male pulling hard on a cigarette and exhaling the smoke into the chilly night air. I pass about 10 of these cretins on the way to the ice machine-they all nod and grunt. With the help of a couple of toddies and a Wendy's combo, I get a fitfull four hours sleep. I wake before the wake-up call, throw my stuff in the car and head to RDU (that's the Raleigh-Durham International Airport).

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