Texting

Long before texting there was a meet-up plan.

“I’ll pick you up in front of the gray building on the corner at 7:00 p.m.”

“After the baseball game, find me on the other side of the park.”

“If I’m late, stand by the market on the Northeast corner.”

Life became simpler with texting. At least that was the idea. Yet, between auto-correct and thumbs—or in my case an index finger—messages crossed flying back and forth like the ball in a ping pong tournament.

Still, over a three-day period at last year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest group texting with my family was our way of coordinating meeting up in a crowd of 65,000+ people. Whether it was a simple rendezvous, logistical plan or basic information the text was often prefaced by asking:

“Where are you?”

“Near green flag 10 yards in front of the flag Don’t Tread on Me.”

Google Earth couldn’t have provided a better detail.

or

“Headed to Blues tent.”

“Robert Cray?”

“Don’t see you.”

“Far right near aisle facing RH screen. See guy in Hawaiian shirt on aisle?”

”No.”

“Turn around.”

Somehow we managed to connect each time.

”Where are you?”

“Jazz tent. Dad’s still at Acura stage then back to Gentilly and Congo. Check out BBQ turkey leg.”

“Who are you seeing?”

“Leah Chase.”

“I’m at entrance to Blues tent.”

“I’m at Jazz tent. Main entrance on side in back.”

“Headed there.”

“Now Irvin Mayfield. Meet you there. Getting something to eat first.”

“Need a drink first.”

Texting not only provided instant logistics and music options but also culinary enlightenment.

“Where are you?”

  “Eating boiled crayfish in front of food now.”

“Pronounced crawfish.”

“Where again?”

“In front of alligator pie.”

“On way post turkey leg.”

“Meet you?”

“Look for us.”

“Next to the path.”

“Opposite red and yellow flag.”

Occasionally, a crisis can arise.

“My phone’s going to die.”

And, when in doubt:

“Meet you in front of bathrooms to right of Gentilly St exit.”

Now, there’s a meet-up plan.

Road Trip

“That’s the first road kill we’ve seen,” I said, spotting a flattened raccoon as my husband and I drove through Pleasant View, Colorado.

“No, it’s not,” he said. “I saw a dried-up squished skunk back in Monticello, Utah.”

I obviously hadn’t noticed.

We were on the road from Moab to Mesa Verde where the view ranged from cows, horse farms, bales of hay stacked like adobe bricks and skeletons of abandoned shacks. Highrise-sized red rock mountains nesting under cotton candy clouds cast alternating glares of light and shadows over the pavement. Music from the Outlaw Country channel on SiriusXM with DJ Mojo Nixon, the Loon in the Afternoon, hurdled through the radio like a freight train as we rolled down the highway. Our fingers drummed on the steering wheel and/or dashboard to songs like Party in My Pants. We sang along when we knew the words, and made them up when we didn’t.

As we passed through a town the length of an eyelash, Jim asked “I wonder where people buy groceries?”

“I’d look it up,” I said. “But I have no service.”

We cruised by an empty gas station next to a hollowed-out former café outside of Yellow Jacket. I pulled some turkey jerky out of my pack while watching a parade of Holsteins heading across their pasture. Highway meditation.

Moab

Moab

Sports and Barbeque – Stop Two

“Figure out where we’re eating in Bowling Green,” my husband said as we drove by horse farm after horse farm in rural Kentucky on our way to Nashville.

“Why are we stopping?” I asked.

“It’s the home of the National Corvette Museum and Western Kentucky University,” he said.

“How are the sports teams at Western Kentucky?”

“I have no idea. Their mascot is the Hilltoppers.”

“What’s that?”

“Beats me. We’ll find out.”

“There must be a barbeque place in Bowling Green,” I said. Twangy music two-stepped through the radio. “Whatever it is, it has to be better than the local deli where we ate in Bardstown. I haven’t had tuna fish with pickle relish since camp.”

I scrolled through Yelp and Urbanspoon on my phone. “I found a place.”

After assistance from Google maps and Siri piping in, we pulled into a rutted half-paved parking lot next to a gray Purdue University van. We pushed open the glass door to the restaurant and stood in line behind a tall guy wearing tattoo sleeves and a woman in cut-off denim shorts. Instead of country music, Fox News blared in the background. Not a good omen. I strained my neck to read the Sharpie-written menu on a whiteboard.

“Bad barbeque vibes here,” I whispered to Jim. We stayed anyway.

“Help ya’ll?” the man behind the counter asked.

“I’ll have the barbecued chicken plate, please,” I said.

“We’re all out of chicken, ma’am. It won’t be ready for another half-hour.”

I hovered in barbeque decision no-man’s land. “Go ahead,” I said to my husband.

“I’ll have the pork shoulder with Coleslaw and beans,” he said.

“I’ll have the pork shoulder, too,” I added. “No sides.”

We were given a number and grabbed an open Formica table that happened to be under the television. Fortunately, the current weather on Fox excluded any apocalyptic predictions.

Our order number was called and Jim picked up two Styrofoam containers, napkins and plastic forks. We opened up our boxes at the same time and were presented with four slabs of brown material that looked like remnants from the floor of a tannery. I broke a prong off the fork trying to cut the foreign matter. So, I picked up a piece and took a bite, hoping I wouldn’t break a crown.

In the background Fox was airing a story about a man who broke the window of a locked car using the leg of his wife’s wheelchair to rescue a small Pomeranian mix.

“I can’t eat this stuff,” I said, poking at the brown Naugahyde-like road kill and waiting for a growl, except this creature had died centuries back.

“This is the worst barbeque I’ve ever eaten,” Jim said, wrestling with his lunch like a fighter in the ring at World Wrestling Entertainment.

“Hey, look at that,” he said looking around the room. Posters of Western Kentucky University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams plastered the walls. “The Lady Toppers won the 2015 Conference USA Championships.”

Some consolation. It certainly didn’t help the kitchen.

Sports and Barbeque – Stop One

“Where are we having lunch?” I asked my husband, one of my favorite questions, as we headed out of the Louisville airport rental car lot. We were on the front end of a road trip from Louisville through the Bourbon Trail and ending up in Nashville. As a non-drinker, I was much more interested in food than the alcohol.

“I thought we’re going to Frankfurt Avenue Beer Depot and Smokehouse,” Jim said.

“That’s right, I forgot. They also have free miniature golf. I didn’t have a chance to practice my swing.”

As we drove down the highway, we passed a sign for the University of Louisville.

“Is the school’s basketball team any good?” I asked.

“They’re very good. University of Kentucky also has a great basketball team. They’re big rivals.”

A new important bit of information.

We parked the car in front of F.A.B.D., and grabbed a seat at a porch-side picnic table with a view of the two black smokers in the parking lot, but not too close.

“How ya’ll doing?” the blonde waitress asked. She handed us plastic-coated menus.

“I’m passing on the spicy cheese balls,” I said to Jim.

We placed our order. After our food arrived, my sports education continued over a plate of smoked chicken with tawny brown skin, a beef brisket sandwich stuffed into a bun, and two sides each. Country music wafted through the outdoor speakers.

“I wonder what professional sports teams people here root for?” my husband asked over the clamoring of a passing freight train. Multi-colored graffitied cars rattled down the tracks.

I stabbed at a chunk of potato salad and pushed a mayonnaise-coated onion to the side of the plate. “Tennessee Titans?” I asked, showing off my NFL knowledge.

“No, don’t think so,” he said, wiping sauce off his hands on a napkin. “Well, for football it could either be the Colts, or maybe the Bengals.”

I envisioned my son’s old wooden puzzle map and the proximity of Louisville to Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

“What about baseball?” I asked.

“The Reds or the Cardinals, maybe.”

“Basketball?”

“Based on geography there’s no obvious answer. The Indiana Pacers would be my first choice.”

We finished our lunch and as we meandered to the car, passed a guy laying slabs of pork ribs with a grainy red rub on the smoker.

“Those look great,” I said to him. “How long do they take to cook?”

“We got a late start today,” Rib Man said. “They take around 6-8 hours.”

Oh well.

“Where was the miniature golf?” Jim asked as we pulled out of the parking lot.

“In the back,” I said. “Maybe we should come back for dinner. “Then we can find out what professional basketball team people support.”

BBQ

No Direction

“How far is it to the next town?” I asked my husband. The B.B. King Blues station wafted through the car like the aroma of slow-cooked pulled pork.

“I’m driving, take a look at the map,” Jim said.

I unfolded the map and studied the tiny print. “I’d say about two-inches.”

He shook his head. “You’re looking in the wrong direction. You need to learn how to read maps.”

“I’m spatially challenged,” I responded, even though I can always tell if a shoe on the display case in the store will fit.

“We’ll get there eventually.” I started to fold the map.

“That’s not the right way,” Jim said, stuffing my origami creation between the seats. “Pull up Google maps on your phone. Put in Current Location.”

“I’ll try. I just hope I don’t get carsick. We could ask Siri.”

“I guess I have to figure out where we are,” he said, fumbling with his phone.

If he wasn’t driving, he would have prayed to the heavens for assistance.

“This is not like Bonfire of the Vanities,” I said. “We’re outside of Burlington, Vermont.”

Jim changed the radio to a regular FM station.

“Yuck,” we both said. “Coldplay.”

He pushed the button for the Backspin station. Undecipherable rap lyrics bounced out of the speakers.

“It’s a good thing my new car will have GPS,” I said.

“Your iPhone does the same thing.”

”It’s not the same to me,” I said. “Remember the olden days? We relied on the AAA map and signs. There’s a sign ahead. The next town is seven miles away.”

“Why don’t you find a place for lunch?”

“I know how to do that.” I picked up my phone and Googled lunch in the area. “Olive Garden is listed under Italian. See, the phone doesn’t always get it right.”