Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Goin’ Down South
North Cakalacky Part One

This trip was more about visiting all the New Englanders who have moved to North Carolina over the past year than anything (think it’s any accident the state went to Obama?). I signed up for The SWANK to pin down a date and guarantee (almost) that I would stop talking about going down there and actually get the hell down there. It worked.

Wednesday I got a good start…overslept by a couple and a half hours, got down to packing, spent about an hour more than I should have loading music onto the ipod, and still I did a crap job and was sick of my tunes in about three hours. The fact that I found a few episodes of This American Life and a bunch Studio 53 mixed tapes in the Podcasts folder saved my ears…and my brain.

I got punished by the Gods of the New Jersey Turnpike. The upside was that I got some writing done…while my car sat in PARK for two hours. Frickin’ Nightmare. At one point I freaked out, just had to get off the road. I pulled into a service plaza that had nothing but a Roy Rogers and decided that I should continue my downward carnivorous spiral by ingesting a Bacon Double Cheeseburger. I did like Roy Rogers back when I was a fat eleven year old, how much could my palette have changed in twenty three years? A metric butt load, that’s approximately how much. I couldn’t even finish half of the thing and it still left me feeling ill and dirty.

Twelve hours later I was in Bethesda Maryland, or Rockville to be precise. Land of high security office parks, Chilis and Starbucks, a lovely place. I spent the night with my future brother in law (more on that sometime later) at The Hilton. Thanks Ben. Left way too late again the next day. Once I’m in the car, I can go like a Methed out trucker from Bakersfield but I have a hell of a time motivating to get my butt in the thing to begin with. Give me a large coffee with a double-shot and a bottle to pee in and I’ll go for ten hours only stopping to fill the tank.

I arrived in Carrboro late afternoon. Not enough time for a proper mountain bike ride, but plenty of time for a quick cycle tour of Carrboro and Chapel Hill with guide Chris McQueen. He pointed out all the points of interest as his son Dex hooted and hollered from the Burley trailer behind. My first impression of the area was 100% positive, I really liked it. Good cafes, sandwich shops, bars, restaurants, all packed into a kinda funky downtown area. It’s definitely a bike friendly place as well. Tons of folks rolling around on the wide, tree-lined streets.

Chris, the tour guide with Dexter in tow riding from Carrboro into Chapel Hill on the bike path.

Dex doing his "I am totally stoked photo-face".

Later that evening we’re hanging out at Chris and Ann’s place and Chris asks if I want to go down to the Taco Truck. They live in a quiet, suburban neighborhood, which is dark and extra quiet at night. I think to myself “Where the hell do they put a taco truck?”. I was picturing the ice cream man coming down to the end of the cul de sac – only with Carne Asada, not rocket pops.

Y'know, I didn't take any photos of Johnny's that really did it any justice. You can see the taco truck in the background and the two guys who wanted me to film them eating tacos for a music video. I have no idea.

We walked around the corner and sure enough, there was a well lit parking lot and a big taco truck sitting there. Go figure. Turns out the truck was in the parking lot of a place called Johnny’s, named after the guy who owned it during it’s previous bait shop incarnation. It’s now owned and run by a guy named Brian Plaster, a metal sculptor, mountain biker, and local icon. The space is unique, a small, “Spanish” convenience store in the front, a cafĂ© in the back, and a sprawling mega-patio area with hay covered ground, steel sculptures, and benches. This space is sometimes used to sell pumpkins, plants, or Christmas Trees. It also serves as a music venue. I had never seen anything quite like it.

McQueen preps Ann's bike for me to ride. The Brook's saddle did not conform to my, er "anatomy", I rode standing up a lot.

We had a few beers at Johnny’s then went over to Brian’s house for a bit. Again, unique…never seen anything quite like it. This place was an expression of Brian’s artistic vision. Notes and drawings scribbled on the sheet metal walls of the kitchen, a dining room table created from found vintage steel and wood, a fireplace full of metal tubes standing in for firewood, every aspect of it something he had manipulated or created. I was impressed.

Safety first. You never know when a piece of Biscotti might come up and hit you right in the freakin' head.

From there we rolled downtown on our bikes. First stopping at The Orange County Social Club, then The Station, and finally some other bar/music venue who’s name I forget, but it had a whole lot of nice steel work (Brian again).

At The Station. Here I had my first decent hamburger in twenty years (I've eaten a lot of bad burgers). It was mighty decent. Chris is probably talking about food, like putting hot sauce on the rim of your Tecate or curried pickles or something.

On the way back to the house Brian and Chris started turning the screws on their fixed gears, I got spun out and dropped, The Dunderchee is not a great street bike apparently.

It may take me a week to get to the SWANK report at this rate. Not like I have much to yammer about these days other than commuter rage stuff. Argh! I hate you Minivan – I hate you!


Ryan said...

I seriously hope you ate at the picture Waffle House.

I have a list of all exits with Waffle Houses between here and North Carolina. There is no need for such a list after North Carolina, as south of there Waffle Houses are as common as Dunkin Donuts in Mass.

In case you were wondering, I believe the furthest north one on 95 is in Delaware. The furthest north Waffle House in the US is in Scranton, PA. I have been to both.

Big Bikes said...

Of course!
I love me some Waffle House.

jeff said...

why you eating that animal flesh!?