Monday, April 15, 2013



Dear Reader,

As we left the hotel, backpacks on, Captain Maverick on his leash and preceding us out the door and into the hallway, we did not see what transpired in the next few seconds, but this is what we heard (and I'm spelling this dialogue out phonetically because otherwise it loses all its impact - remember, we're in the south):


We step out into the hallway after Captain Maverick and find a shudderingly terrified Housekeeper Lady hiding behind her cart, wielding it like a rolling shield against what clearly she perceived as a rabid wolf.   We apologize, and I tell Captain Maverick, "tighten up" - his command to heel closer to my leg - and as we're walking by the Housekeeper - she slowly turning the cart to keep it between her and the beast - I say, "Sorry about that, he's a very good boy, and well trained."  She replies, never taking her eyes from Captain Maverick, "I don't care!"

Captain Maverick in his Mobile Command Center before we leave Memphis and right after he unintentionally terrified a Housekeeping Lady at the La Quinta Inn, Memphis 

Captain Maverick ready for the long slog to Nashville

 Fair enough.  Oops.  You see here's the deal with Captain Maverick, he's an intimidating looking S.O.B.  And before I start getting a bunch a chastising emails from overly-sensitive mom's about the term S.O.B. I'll say this; there are no bad words, only words used badly.  I'm a writer.  Trust me on this. And furthermore, I'm using the term in its animal-husbandry sense here, because, of course, Captain Maverick is a canine and his mother was, in fact, a bitch.  So there ya go.

In the parking lot Captain Maverick jumps into his rear Command Center and as we shut the hatchback, what can only be described as a metric ton of pollen falls off the rear window.  Clearly we need a Whizzy-Wash.  And $150 in quarters.

Captain Maverick (with Navigator Stacey) settling in for the day's interstate slog
So with all the t-shirts vac-packed and stowed neatly in the Tour Truckster (literally without an inch to spare) we got a bit of late start because the hotel was right next to a 24 Hour Fitness gym and I was not leaving the pollenated wilds of Memphis, TN without steaming myself into a poached oblivion.

So I did.  And then Navigator Stacey did the same, each of us taking turns with Maverick in the Tour Truckster because he doesn't have a membership to that particular fitness chain.

Sweet relief for the Tour truckster
Pores cleansed, we head to the Whizzy-Wash, which here in the south is called Sunshine Wash. 

Buttermilk cornbread pollen attack!

It even gets inside, ARGH!
 I attempt to pre-soak with the wimpy stream of water and absolutely nothing happens.  The pollen just laughs at me.  Because you see, it's not just pollen, it's as if someone baked an acre sized deep-dish buttermilk cornbread and set it out to dry for 6 months.  Then, once the hardness of concrete, used a jackhammer to bust the cornbread into chunks, after which they tossed it into a tree chipper which spit out marble sized pieces of 40 grit gravel which then was applied to the Tour Truckster through a pressure washer mixed with super-glue.  Switching to "Hi-Pressure" I manage to get the junk off, but the damage done to the wiper blades is horrifying.  Mere shreds of their former rubbery selves.  So after a quick stop at Wally-World for a new set we finally hit the road.

GPS Lady, that Navigator Stacey has nicknamed "Rhonda," as  in the great Beach Boys song, "Help Me Rhonda!"

With about 1,000 miles to go to get to Philadelphia the intention was to split that into two 500 mile days, this day making it to the east side of Nashville.  But after 250 odd miles, with it getting dark, and my nighttime depth perception essentially worthless, and Navigator Stacey cramped in the passenger seat because it had been moved all the way forward to accomodate the t-shirts in the back seat, we decided to stop early.  In Crossville, TN.  Never heard of it?  Yeah, me either.

Sidebar: Tennessee drivers.  People of Tennessee take a knee.  Now listen to me, you idiots, it's a categorical impossibility that you all have the same last names, Allison, Yarborough, Earnhardt, Gordon and/or Petty.  It's not a Nascar race, it's an interstate.  And running up the tailpipe of the guy in the Tour Truckster who's doing 75 in the slow lane and drafting there expecting him to change lanes into a non-existent "slower" lane to the right is so stupid that ya'll aren't doing yourselves any favors on that whole "Stereotypical Southern Redneck" flowchart.  So back the hell off.

Moving on.

Quick sidebar: you won't find much litter in Memphis, TN., it's a remarkably trash-free city... EXCEPT for this: and you will see this EVERYWHERE... discarded "wing-bones":

Discarded "chicken wing" bone

We check in, then run Captain Maverick in the grassy area outside the La Quinta Inn, stow him in the "Little House" (our code-words for when he stays in the hotel room bathroom for an hour while we do errands) and head for the end of day Tour Beer.

La Quinta, Crossville, TN

There's a whole lot of nothing around here

I have no idea what this is, an NFL bar?

Here's the place we found (I mean "Really?!"  Are you kidding me?! In the middle of TN??):

Yes, a little bit if Vegas in Crossville

The tidy Lounge sign
Entrance to The Vegas Lounge, Crossville, TN
Top quality mural on the entrance wall of the Vegas Lounge, Crossville, TN

Vegas Lounge, Crossville, TN.  Craig holding court.
We meet four new friends here, James the bartender, and patrons Marty, Craig and Jo-Jo.  Good guys.  And Jo-Jo's a member of a motorcycle gang.  Even better.

Now, I never, ever tell anyone what I do, who I am (not that it matters) unless I am asked, and even then it's always a sketchy proposition because believe me, everyone between LA and NYC is obsessed with movies, movie directors yada yada...  It can get real weird, real fast.

But... they seemed like okay guys.  And they were.  So after signing a bunch of Sandlot Tour t-shirts for them (which I am finding is actually legal tender in the United States of America, because I haven't paid for the a beer yet!)  Craig tells me that The Sandlot is his favorite movie of all time and that he and a coworker are continually trying to out-do each other with Sandlot knowledge, trivia and who can say "You're killin' me Smalls!" first to whom every morning at work.

Sandlot t-shirt signed to Jo-Jo and his motorcycle club... in remembrance of their passed leader


Just to prove the point

I tell Craig, "Here's what you do... walk into work tomorrow, tell this guy (Paul I think his name was), Paul, please, you're going to want to sit down for this.  And you're going to need to please close your eyes.  Once he does, lay the t-shirt out in front of him on the table, with the autographed section facing him.  Let him stew like that until he's really uncomfortable.  Then tell him to open his eyes.  When he does, as egomaniacally as you can possibly say it, say this:  I WIN!" HA!  Wish I coulda been there to see that.

And now, the most awesome short video of the stay in Crossville (sorry jo-Jo, the world needs to see this):

After the end-of-day tour Beer...

End of day beer at Vegas Lounge, Crossville, TN
... it was back to the La Quinta (all of them pet-friendly BTW) to sleep because tomorrow was going to suck.  We were looking forward with no uncertain dread to an almost 800 mile day.

Check back soon and sign up to follow our adventures on The 20th Anniversary Sandlot Tour!



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