Fifty years ago this past Saturday, SOBUMD’s parents got married. Fifty years later, the fact of this event on this date remained sufficient to propel us out the door and into the car, facing the open road again - facing our destinies, our destinations, our debts, and our dreams. After the last few months, it required Jimmy Buffet at an unreasonable volume to help us reach escape velocity, rocketing us out of the existential horror of our suburban Margaritaville and onto the open road, but we did it.
It was a good weekend for gambling. The powerball was at 600 gazillion bucks, and the Preakness was running that night. For our part, we were betting that we could get three lunatic children and a lot of beer up I-95 to PA in time for the anniversary party at 3pm. The highway traffic was betting against us, and I didn’t like our odds.
Of course, on a larger scale, SOBUMD and I were betting that we will someday have kids setting up a 50th anniversary party for us. Higher stakes are there none, but I like our odds.
Jimmy Buffet and the soundtrack to the Broadway musical “In the Heights” got us in range of the only decent radio station left on the East Coast, Philly’s WMMR. Thanks to MMR, the Gin Blossoms, the Ramones, Led Zeppelin, and a host of others rocked us through the overcast miles, past bathroom breaks, past pit stops and snacks, past road signs and portents, and past a police-escorted motorcycle processional that blocked I-95 northbound for 25 miles or more. By the time we lost MMR, we were within hailing distance of our goal, by which I mean a few well placed Billy Joel songs saw us pulling in just in time for lunch.
Lunch was preceded by hugs and Christmas. As this was our first road trip in quite some time, there were Christmas presents that had been sitting under the metaphorical tree for so long, they’d had to be dusted. I remain grateful and thankful for my big present, which turned out to be a case of exceptional beer, from the Breckenridge Brewing Company, called 417. It’s a double IPA, bottled on the lees, and it’s truly great beer.
But where was I? Oh yes, heading over to the party down the street at SOBUMD’s sister’s house. We brought in the beer (though not my Christmas present beer – it was not cold, which mercifully saved me from considering bringing it for the party), a few errant bottles of wine, and the revelers. Revelling was again preceded with hugs, the aforementioned beer was quaffed, and the revelry commenced forthwith. All the kids were there, and all the grandkids, and the bride and groom’s best man and his wife, and the groom’s sister, niece, and a friend they’d brought with them.
Immediately on the commencation of revelry, I spotted that friend – the one and only Dandelion Deb. Alert readers will remember Deb from a post many moons ago; I was delighted to have her make a repeat appearance. The party and the social requirements kept us from picking dandelions, abut there might have been a dandelion or two rolled into the cigars we smoked on the deck. And when I say we, I mean her, with the Human Tape Recorder and I merely enjoying the aroma.
Such delights cannot last forever, of course, and the revelry soon devolved into more base pursuits, centered on the words “There’s a full sized ping pong table in the basement!” Uncle Jeff and I battled valiantly, then acquitted ourselves admirably against the 13-and-under crowd. All too soon, it was time to toast, time to tell tales, and time to head home.
The Sunday dawned with a minimum of fuss, fond farewells were exchanged, pictures were taken, and cars were loaded.
I’ve written before about the hell that is the PA Turnpike, but I’ll repeat it – there is no nastier stretch of road to be stopped on that the PA Turnpike. Luckily, we had the radio on and Tom Petty wouldn’t back down. (Every time I hear that, I flash back to a few days after Sept 11, when a group of musicians and celebs put together a fundraiser concert to raise money for the victims. Paul McCartney wrote a new song for the occasion, which was pure money. Tom Petty realized he’d written one already, and sang “Won’t Back Down.” Priceless.)
Eventually, we got off the Turnpike and made it to I-95, with an eye toward Baltimore, because it was time for a pit stop. In this case, a very literal pit stop.
Chaps Pit Beef is coal fired. Chaps Pit Beef has been written up on many sites and foodie shows. Chaps Pit Beef is as good as they say it is. Is it in a nice part of Baltimore? No. There were two billboards next to it. The near one explained the schedule for the Gentleman’s Club next door. (“Daddy, what’s a lap dance?”) I was just glad she didn’t ask about Swinger Saturdays. The other billboard advertised Tyrese Orr, who’s wanted for murder. They even had his picture. He looks like such a nice guy – I’m sure he couldn’t have done it. Except a quick search turns up that they evidently want him in Chicago as well; I don’t know if the Chicago cops think he’s in Baltimore, or he’s just on an interstate inner city murder spree. Regardless of the local sights and sounds, Chaps Pit Beef was everything everyone has said about it – worth the stop, if you’re ever up near Baltimore with your appetite.
Our need for good road food thus satiated, we wound and wended our way the rest of the way home. In doing so, we passed an old brick trestle bridge, that with the aid of the amazing iThingy I was able to find out about. It crosses the Patapsco River in Elkridge, and is part of a State Park. http://www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/central/patapscoavalon.asp http://www.patapscoheritagegreenway.org/history/HistPersp.html Barring anything else, it’s probably a great place to hide if you’re wanted for murder in more than one state.
Home at last, we stretched our legs and checked our bets. Oxbow won the Preakness, dashing the chances of a triple crown winner again this year; the winning Powerball ticket was sold in Florida, dashing my chances of immediate and wholly unnecessary wealth; and SOBUMD and I were on our way to our 50th, coming up in what is really not all that many years. Until next time, we will continue to dream of the open road, and wish you fair skies and following winds. Bet on it!