Saturday, April 20, 2013



Dear Reader,

After the mandatory idiot-check in the hotel room, we bid farewell to the Element Hotel, with the Tour Truckster packed and tidy, we got on the road early and headed south for Greenville, SC and Flour Field home of the Greenville Drive baseball team - our next screening stop on the 20th Anniversary Sandlot Tour.

But first we had the ritual morning running-of-the-pup.  Captain Maverick is a high -drive working German Shepherd Dog (and yes, he [they] are not correctly referred to as German Shepherds, they are, in fact called German Shepherd Dogs) and as such needs much much more exercise both mentally and physically than the run-of-the-mill canine.  So we talk to him as if a human (he's constantly expanding his vocabulary) and run him 4 to 5 times a day - even if sometime those runs are on small patches of grass wherever we can find them on the road.

We head a little west then south through Pennsylvania (my home state) and through a little bit of the Amish Country.  Tidy farms and men with beards and women in bonnets riding in those picture perfect horse drawn buggies.  Except for one Amish guy with a big farm, a parking lot full of Ford Super Duty trucks and a whack of CAT farming equipment.  Apparently this guy was a "Jack Amish" - if there is such a thing.

Pennsylvania.  A farm.  That is all.

We see these in every state we've been through so far.

We swing into a gas station / food court place to refill the go-juice, and as I am walking toward the front doors, I swear this is the music that is playing over the outdoor speakers:

"Finger Poppin' Time." From The Sandlot soundtrack.  Copy that.  I consider this a good omen, The Sandlot is everywhere on the Tour.

Pennsylvania go-juice pit stop.

Sidebar: Virginia drivers.  If you will recall from a previous post, I identified Tennessee drivers as the worst so far on the Tour - gettin' all Nascar out there on the interstate.  Virginia drivers, however, are in another class altogether.  Not only do they run up your bumper, at 80 mph, while you're trying to pass a convoy of big rigs to the right more than a mile long with no chance of ducking back into the slow lane until you pass them all, but they will do this, tailgating you while eating a donut, tuckin' in Skoal Bandits, spittin' into a red solo cup and texting all at the same time - and some of these people even use this boring time behind the wheel to complete their Bob Ross Joy of Painting projects on an easel in the passenger seat.

The Welcome to Virginia sign should add: "And prepare to die!"

What's the difference between Virginia and West Virginia?  The word "west."

Hey, Mom, remember these places? :)

Virginia is by far the most beautiful state we've been through.

Clearly there's some sort of endemic collapse of reason at the VDM (Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles).  The requirements to get your driver's license when you reach the requisite age (which in Virginia I am assuming is 12 years-old), might just be the most relaxed in the world.  That great moment in every young person's life goes something like this:

Your dad walks you into the VDM.
The Instructor walks over and asks:

"Can you see, boy?"
"Yes sir, I can see."
"Congratulations!  Here's your license, a John Deere cap, a can of Skoal, an 8 track of Lynyrd Skynyrd LIVE at Gettysburg, a Johnny-Reb bumper sticker and a blindfold!  Now get out there and raise some hell!"

Yeah.  It's Mr. Toad's Wild Ride out there on the Virginia interstates.

The Captain at a rest stop, waiting on a treat.

Of all the public doggie poopie bag dispensers we've seen, these are by far the best!  Love the name.

The Captain in his mobile command center with his favorite road snacks.  Tatanka Riblets.

Top quality road snacks, for a Top Quality Pup.
Since we have a few days to make the next screening in Greenville, SC, we decide to cut the 800 or so miles into bite sized chunks of 200 or 300 miles a day, and stop in Winchester, VA for the night.  We find a Wyngate, download the Tour Truckster and run The Captain to stretch his legs on a nice long strip of grass we find behind the hotel.

Rhonda The GPS Lady.  Right on the money again.

After that, Navigator Stacey finds a pub and we're off for the end of day beer.

Union Jacks.  In a word: awesome.  The entire downtown area of Winchester is being redone with strict attention to original detail.  The buildings are mostly from the 1800's and the renovations have for the most part kept all the charm.  And there is no finer example of this than Union Jacks itself.  I was told the owner is also the architect who did the reno.  He did a great job.

Old Town Winchester, VA, getting a facelift.

Union Jack's used to be a bank.

Best Bar in Winchester, VA.

As we're walking into the place I find two lucky pennies.  I always pick up lucky pennies.  If you see one and pass it by, you're an idiot.  There's a lot of mana in lucky pennies.

Andy and two lucky pennies.

We find a couple seat at the bar and meet Shane (yep, just like the Alan Ladd character of the eponymous movie), the bartender.  this guy does everything fast: talks fast, pours a beer fast, moves around the bar fast.  He knows EVERYTHING about EVERY beer on tap and keeps interjecting that it's because of his ADD.  I must respectfully disagree, Shane, if you're reading this, I did not witness a single moment of any deficit of attention my friend, I did however witness some serious productive OCD.  So you might wanna think about switching that self-diagnosis.

Navigator Stacey at Union Jack's.

And then, it happens again:

Shane, "So, where you guys from?  And what are you doing in Winchester?"

Flash forward five minutes:  Super-bartender, guy that does everything fast Shane, is now literally speechless.  I mean, like, he can't talk for real speechless.  When he does manage to get a few words out they are something like this:

"Uh, uh, uh... What?!  No!  What?!  That, that, that is my favorite movie of all time!  It's the greatest movie ever made!"  So I go to the Truckster and get a stack of Sandlot Tour mini's and end up signing them for a hour for almost everyone in the bar.  And we didn't have to pay for out beer either.  See, lucky pennies.  Copy that.

We also meet a nice young guy named, Shawn.  He owns a small art gallery just down main street, and, he asks, would I stop by tomorrow and meet some of his friends and clients.  I say I certainly will.

We finish up the end of day beers, and head back to the hotel to sack out.

End of Day Beer - IPA - at Union Jack's Winchester, VA.
Check back soon.  And sign up to follow the adventures of Team DME: DME, Navigator Stacey and Captain Maverick Vom Evans on the 20th Anniversary Sandlot Tour!



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