Thursday, March 31, 2005

Beverly Hillbilly Bikers - Burnt Ends

Beverly Hillbilly Bikers - Day 1
Beverly Hillbilly Bikers - Day 2

Day 3

Do you know what "burnt ends" are? Burnt ends are some of the best and cheapest kinds of barbecued meat you can get at a "real" barbecue joint. Burnt ends are the blackened, crispy edge pieces of a brisket or slab of ribs that have been slow cooked over a fire pit. Usually, though, these pieces of meat have been quickly seared over high heat to seal in the juices before placed in a lower heat section of the pit for the slow cook. When the restaurant cuts the beef up to serve, they cut off the "burnt ends", before slicing the rest of the meat for sandwiches or cutting up the ribs for servings.

They're cheap because they aren't the prime pieces of the meat. The term "burnt ends" can be a little misleading since they aren't actually "burnt" so much as "blackened".

But, it is cheap and it is good.

On the third morning of our trip, I awoke at 8 AM to a sunny day that was already in the mid 80's temperature wise. I woke up that early, not because I wanted to, but because it is very hard to sleep in a tent with the sun blazing through the thin walls. You know, tents aren't exactly equiped with "black out" curtains.

I had slept like a log the night before. I had slept so hard and so relaxed that the pillow had become stuck to my face. You know, the next best thing to super glue is your own spit and slobber.

I could hear the birds chirping and a stray dog or two barking somewhere in the distance. It was already muggy enough that I had kicked off the sheet I'd used the night before as my lone covering. I finally turned over on my back and decided to wake up after realizing that no amount of digging my face into the pillow was going to block out the sun or the sound of the "wild", much less the constant low buzz of the people from the other tents.

Crap! I was on vacation and still waking up at some ungodly hour of the morning.

Did I mention that I am a crappy "morning person" until I've had one (or two or three) cans of caffeine? Yeah...chirpy birds? Shut the fuck up, what's there to chirp about? get the picture.

A small aside, when I worked as a manager of a department, if anyone had to come see me about a "problem" at 8:35 AM, before I saw the person, I would see an arm and a hand sticking through the door bearing a can of coke. Yeah, it's like that.

I finally pried the pillow off my face and flopped over on my back, shielding my burning eyes from the evil sun. A few more minutes of coming to realize that sleep was gone for good and I finally sat up on the edge of the cot, swinging my legs over, rubbing my sleepy eyes and squinting to see if I could find the pair of keds sneakers I'd packed in my "camping" bag for stumbling to the bathroom or just walking around the campsite.

Yes, did I mention my cot? It was a quick assembly job I picked up for 20 bucks at K-Mart. The rest of the folks were teasing me about "roughing it" with my cot and my little air cushion that laid over it. They could tease me all they wanted, but I was damn sure not going to lay on the hard ground with only a sleeping bag between me and the Rock of Gibraltor that always seemed to find its way under the tent, no matter how judicious I was at "sweeping" the area for debris before setting up. And, the rock invariably found it's way right under my shoulder blade, lower back or my ass, insuring that I spent 30 minutes every night trying to "scoot" into a position of comfort. Let's not forget about the pine forest that was also always present, sticking you in unpleasant places.

I had learned my lesson about "camping" long ago and there were a few things that I had decided I preferred to do without and that included "sticks and stones" breaking my bones. After riding the iron beast all day, the iron beast I had purposefully lowered the suspension on so I could reach the ground causing it to ride like a rigid frame, having said Iron Beast shove your tail bone three inches higher than normal when you hit a bump or a pot hole, you really begin to appreciate the small comforts in life.

That first night on the cot and the harrassment I received was well worth it. Particularly, when I unzipped my tent and climbed out to go circulate amongst the other hillbillies and I noted the number of them walking around, bent over, rubbing parts of their bodies.

Yeah, who's the wimp now?

Actually, I didn't say that. I'm too polite so I just grabbed a can of coke, flopped down in my little camp chair (also purchased for 20 and folding up small enough to fit in my "camp bag"), I just raised the can to my lips, smirking behind it as I surrepticiously watched the dance of the crooked people from behind my sun glasses. My parents told me I should always cover my mouth if I was laughing impolitiely.

The rest of the crew stumbled out and finally flopped in their chairs as if they could go no farther and digging blindly in the cooler for their caffeine fix. Except Aunt Jeanie. She'd brought a small percolator to set on the fire and prepare a few cups of coffee. Some mornings when I needed the "strong" stuff, she'd poor me a cup and, for once in my life, I'd drink it black, no sugar.

After the rest of the crew finally meandered out of their tents, flopped in their chairs and at least 15 minutes of silence broken only by three word sentences and grunting replies, Aunt Jeanie finally broke in and said that Heidi recommended a nearby lake where we could go and swim in the "swimming hole". She figured she'd bring sandwich stuff if we brought soda and chips or anything else we wanted.

That sounded good. We agreed and then the conversation turned to the "rest" of the trip. Uncle Louis didn't know if he was up to it yet. He said he wanted to try and ride his motorcycle over to the lake to see if he was strong enough to hold it up. I was a little concerned. Falling over at a stop was one thing, but zonking out while he was driving was another and he always wanted to be in front. You ever see what happens to a group of tightly packed riders when the lead biker goes down? It ain't pretty.

I was determined to ride FAR in the back of the pack. I wanted every chance I could get to evade.

After another hour or so of sitting there waiting for the people in the house to wake up, I was starting to feel the need for the toilet. After last night's little mountain lion episode, I did not have any deep desire to try mother nature's beautifully decorated, if prickly, commode. No amount of leg crossing was going to cure it either. The in door bathroom seemed just as dangerous.

Finally, I got up and went to my tent to get dressed in "swimming/riding" clothes. I decided that I needed to "go get gas" before the lake adventure started. Unfortunately, I did not see the "why don't you wait and we'll all go up since we all need some gas?" that was coming. Well, crap! Short of just coming out and saying that the bathroom was an escapee from a Woodstock adventure or an all male construction company, I didn't know what my defense for just going anyway would be. Sometimes, being polite has it's draw backs.

I decided to speed up the process by going to get dressed and maybe everyone would get the subliminal message that we should get up and go before the sun was high enough to start cooking our brains. It worked. I put on my bathing suit and then a T-Shirt and a pair of overalls. Yes, overalls. Why do you think this is called the "beverly hillbilly bikers" story? Besides, as my dad always says, "They don't bind you up." Adjustable straps are great for that. They also had several pockets that could hold money, wallet and cigarretes. Although, cigarettes were likely to fly out of the upper bib pocket at more than 60mph and that would suck if it was a newly opened pack. Did I say I went from being a "social smoker" on this trip to all out "I need a cigarette"? That's my story anyway and I think you can see why.

When I was dressed, I went over to the hose, washed my hands and face and brushed my teeth with a bottle of water from the cooler. The hair, well, I did say that the pillow was stuck to my face, right? Brushing wasn't helping it much and I wasn't going to wash it just so I could get into some stinky lake water an hour later so I pulled out my scrunci and it was pony tail time.

At that point, I had to go very badly. It was getting to the point of pain. So much pain, actually, that I was contemplating using the indoor bathroom just one mor time.

I was saved when everyone suddenly start throwing stuff in the truck and heading towards the bikes. We finally pulled out with a caravan of five bikes and two vehicles, stirring up enough gravel and dust to choke an elephant. My poor bike was going to need some serious detailing when we came back.

Yeah, that chase vehicle was handy and it was packed to the gills with camping gear, clothes, tools and some cleaning materials for the bikes. We were all a little anal about that.

We got up to the gas station, started pumping gas and I ran in to find out where the bathroom was while I waited my turn at the pump. "Sorry, Ma'am," the guy behind the counter, "the lone bathroom is out of service."

"What?" Oh, damn. This is just making my vacation. I could feel my left leg jiggling back and forth in that nervous way people do when they just "have to go". In which case, waking up early, no shower, no bathroom, I was starting to feel in a less than charitable mood AND to top it all off, this kid behind the counter, not even old enough to grow stubble, called me "ma'am". Shit!

I stomped back outside, pushed the bike to the pump and quickly filled it up after swiping my card. I just love those kinds of pumps. Heidi said that the park was only 12 minutes away. Twelve minutes was almost a lifetime when you have to go, but I was strong, I could hack it. Even the pot holes were not going to make me "lose it".

We made it to the park just in time.

I kicked down the stand, jumped off the bike and started walking quickly to the outhouse/port-a-potties in the parking lot. Yes, I would even use one of those instead. Before I could get to far, I heard Aunt Jeanie holler, "Louis!" in a panicky voice. I turned around just in time to see my aunt with one leg swung half way over the bike as the bike began to go down. He wasn't strong enough to hold it up. Mikey and Robert were already off their bikes. They ran over and grabbed his bike before it could go down all the way.

It would have sucked, too, considering the engines were hot and getting pinned between a hot engine/pipes and the asphalt really sucks. That was enough proof to me that my uncle was in no condition to ride yet. Once I determined no one was going to be injured, the urge to go pee hit me again and I ran/walked to the john.

Ahhh...sweet relief.

Finally, we got over to the swimming hole (ie, a marked off area of the lake that supposedly had a net around it to keep the water moccasins and cotton mouths and any other creepy, crawly, swimming critters from joining us). We all ran down to the water and started playing. Which meant that we were grabbing each other and trying to throw each other in, push them under or generally just be a pain in the ass while we tried not to be the first person to put their head under water and swallow the greenish brown stuff. One of the reasons I am not overly fond of "lake" swimming besides the slithering, swimming creepy crawlies that share the water, lake water really isn't something that you want to take even an accidental gulp of unless you feel like shitting yourself blind for the next two days.

We swam around for several hours and then decided we needed some nourishment. We swam up to shore and my brother dropped down an laid sprawled by the edge of the water, face up. He has a "biker's tan" (we all do). His legs, stomach, chest and upper arms are white as a fish's belly and his arms, hands, neck and face are deeply tanned. I snapped a picture of him laying there. We posted it at home with the title "beached whale".

Then we started putting together some sandwiches. That's when I noticed that the "sandwich" stuff was a little sparse. It consisted of enough baloney slices to make each person a one slice sandwich with a slice of cheese and some mustard. We did have plenty of bread so I walked back to the truck and grabbed some cans of spam, pork'n beans and pringles out of the cases I'd bought (not that I love spam, but it's cheap and quick and the can keeps them decent). That was another thing that they teased me about, but those cans came in handy when you were too hot in the middle of the day to eat a burger (and suffer chronic heat induced reflux) or too tired at the end of the day to go get something or cook something around the campfire.

I wasn't even a boy scout, but I came prepared with can opener and sharp kife for the endeavor.

After we ate, we sat aroud a bit and then swam some more. Finally, everyone was tuckered out after six hours at the lake so we loaded up to go home. This time, Uncle Louis handed the keys to his bike to Robert and asked him to ride it home for him so he could ride in the truck. Candy would ride their motorcycle. I went to the bathroom one more time, hoping I could hold the line again that night.

When we got back, we all sat around the campfire and roasted marshmallows, talking about the trip. Uncle Louis didn't want to hold it up anymore, but he didn't want to stay there so he suggested that Robert continue to ride his bike and he'd ride in the truck with the air conditioning. That would work out fine except that I was still concerned we had a long way to go through nowhere Arkansas and Louisiana before hitting any major cities if somethig did go wrong. Aunt Jeanie said she had gotten some insulin a the hospital pharmacy and that they were planning to drink water.

We noted that we were low on water and a few things so we made plans to stop at the local Wal-Mart to stock up.

While we were all sitting their quietly in the growing dusk, I looked over at my brother who wasn't wearing a shirt, "Dude! You're glowing like a beacon! Didn't you use any sun screen?"

"No. I didn't know we had any." Totally amazing since I was sure he had to have seen me putting some on at the beach at least three times. "You know, you're not looking so good yourself."

"What?" I started looking at my arms and upper chest for signs of sun burn, but didn't see any.

"Yeah, your back looks like an apple." Well, crap! That was the one place I couldn't reach very well. That's one reason a riding partner is so useful: applying sun screen to unreachable areas.

Everyone else started looking at themselves to see if they were in the same shape.

There we were at the end of a cheap and lovely day, burnt to a crisp around the edges.

Burnt Ends.

Riding in the heat and the wind was going to suck tomorrow.


riceburner147 said...

Kat: I would pay to read the rest !

btw: got an idea, check your e-mail when you get a chance.

riceburner147 said...

It just keeps getting better, dare i say roistiferous !