Greatest Rest Stop on Earth
Whatever your religious beliefs may be, you’ll be glad to know that heaven does exist. Surprisingly enough, it’s in Texas.
On our way from Austin to San Antonio, we stopped at Buc-ees and it was glorious. Imagine the deli counter at the finest market you know. Now understand that this one is better for one reason and one reason only: it’s all beef jerky. How much beef jerky? Enough to empty your pockets and make your jaw hurt. In addition to beef jerky, Buc-ees sells every other important thing you will ever need to buy. Matt forced us to take a vote whether we would continue the trip or stay at Buc-ees forever. Rob and Mat voted to stay while Trent and Gary voted for continuing on.
Rob requested a recount and Gary denied it. A formal petition has been filed.
More than just a chapter in a history book, the Alamo turned out to be one of the stops that best fit our trip. Once inside, we were awed at not only the condition of the structure, but also by the amount of history still so visible. There was a man inside who we sincerely believe must have been one hundred and twenty-seven years young.
But for Gary the Alamo was very symbolic. At this very site, a handful of people fought a cruel enemy that was certain to defeat them. They fought valiantly, but ultimately lost the battle. Gary’s father battled a disease absolutely knowing he would be defeated. It was a battle fought selflessly and he chose to enjoy every possible moment and make the most of the time he has. Unfortunately, he, like every ALS patient, battled on knowing full well that there would be no reinforcements.
After a quick walk through the site, Gary decided to make a donation in his father’s name. We approached a volunteer, who also looked like she may have actually been alive during the battle of the Alamo, and explained what we were trying to do. She seemed somewhat confused by the whole thing, especially the method of payment. Gary filled out the donation form which included a space for credit card information. When he handed the form over, she was happy to accept the donation, but asked where the check was. The check is in your heart kind, old lady. The check is in. Your. Heart.
Another New Friend
Speaking of good hearts… After the Alamo, we decided it was time to cut the heat and rehydrate before getting back to the driving. While exploring the very awesome Riverwalk, we quickly ditched those plans in lieu of the bar at the San Antonio Cowboy Museum. To Trent, whiskey is liquid and liquid hydrates. We were convinced! While enjoying our fine Texan Ales, we made friends with our bartender, Justin. Granted he was the only bartender, but he still would have been our favorite. Justin proceeded to give us an amazing historical rundown of the city. We told him about The PanAmerica and he was captivated by what we were doing. In fact he was such a fan of our efforts that when we got the bill, he took care of our entire tab, and told us to “continue spreading the word for a great cause.”
The Riverwalk shocked all of us. There are canals . . . in Texas. You can ride little boats down these canals while getting a history lesson entirely unique to the area. We took plenty of pictures and Matt accidentally touched another man’s penis.
Talk about an incredible Sunset. After driving for what felt like days, we knew that time was coming once again. A toast was going to be had and we wouldn’t rest until we found a perfect spot. It just so happened that our perfect spot was adjacent to a sugar cane field. After all of us nervously urinated into the tall, thick cane line – pretty much awaiting a wild pig or axe murderer to leap out at us – we poured our glasses, looked toward the sun, and took on what was one of the single most awe inspiring sunsets many of us had ever seen. A refinery gently breaking the bright orange skyline created a scene straight out of some major science fiction/fantasy franchise that may or may not have involved a brother and sister kissing each other. Oh, and ewoks.
The Big Easy
This is a city that Gary and Trent could have lived in for the next two weeks. Having no convenient access to a green screen, and realizing Rob and Matt could NOT survive on their own, they had to make arrangements to not grow too attached.They failed.
Pulling up to our hotel, Rob sat in the car while the rest of us waited to be let in. Trent looked into the main hallway and let out a noise that most of us stopped making when we were six. He frolicked into the incredibly eerie main lobby and up the stairs to the check in office. If the random portraits and animal paintings didn’t make your skin crawl, then surely the narrow passages and cramped corridors would have. Did we mention that this hotel was supposedly haunted? Matt certainly wouldn’t let us forget it as he took every opportunity to remind us not to leave him alone.
New Orleans food!!! Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. There’s not much else to say other than Gary told us a heartfelt story about why he has a real connection with turtles. Unbeknownst to his mother until just now, Gary adopted a pet turtle as a child, nursed it back to health and released it back into the wild. We immediately mocked him and Trent ordered turtle soup.
After our meal, we met up with a few friends, Amanda and Leia. They told us about a great bar we should go to that was not near any of those “touristy” hotspots along Bourbon Street. That sounded like a great idea. “Can we get there by walking through Bourbon Street?” Matt asked. After the pained looks I’m sure they give all their friends that visit, they graciously gave us directions to the bar and we proceeded to walk down what is one of the single most nausea inducing, hot garbage water smelling, floor covered in sticky and soft at the same time, god knows why streets any of us had ever walked down.
Rob Gets a Bad Vibe
For those of you who don’t know Rob, he grew up craving adventure and planning an escape route for anything. He’s a man’s man, an activist for humanity. Humanity is his friend and there is rarely a situation that he can’t handle.
Toward the end of Bourbon Street, as we were making our way to some bonafide Pimm’s Cups, a man walked past us and commented that we looked crazy as we had no drinks in our hands. Assuming he worked for some local overcrowded Bourbon Street bar that served chalices of liquor mixed with liquor, Rob made a joke about how we didn’t need drinks because we were all on drugs. Absolutely not true, but had we been on drugs, I imagine Rob would not have handled the following situation the way he had.
The man stopped and took this as his cue to talk to us. Rob engaged the man, so the man decided to befriend us in only the way a potentially crazy and drunk person would: he serenaded via an impressive freestyle rap. We kept walking, and the man kept rapping, following us closely. Neither Gary, Trent, nor Matt felt threatened. Maybe Rob forgot what living in Los Angeles could be like because he whispered to Matt to have his knife ready and announced, “Over here. Here’s the bar we were looking for.” Trent tried to interject explaining we had a few more blocks north to go. Rob corrected him and corralled the four young men into the bar.
To paint a better scene, understand that the entrance to the bar was an open door frame. You can enter the space and still be seen doing ANYTHING. This move was the equivalent of an ostrich sticking its head in the ground as self-defense. We stood there awkwardly waiting for the man to walk away, a puppy who just wanted a friend. While we stood, we surveyed the crowd and noticed one interesting anomaly; there was not a single woman in this bar.
But we were safe, thanks to Rob.
We made it to our bar and enjoyed wonderful drinks and conversation with old friends. They told us a few good stories, one of which began with the greatest opening line we had ever heard, “One time I accidentally bought crack.” Other stories included a seedy nudie pool and “feeding the kitty.”
A Short Lived Quest
When we finally returned to our hotel, Trent did something only Trent would do. (A brief history about Trent: Trent is the oldest of six. He’s the “test subject” of his family. He watches anything, reads anything, eats anything, and most importantly, believes everything.)
Trent pulled out his digital recorder and answered our puzzled looks with, “It’s for EVPs. Electronic Voice Phenomena. You know? Ghost voices.” The conversation that followed went roughly like this:
Gary: Are you kidding me?
Matt: Why would you want to do that?
Trent: We’re in New Orleans, guys! This is what we told people we’d do!
Gary: It’s three in the morning.
Matt: WHY would you WANT to do that?
Trent: It’s the witching hour. I just need one person to come with me. In case things go bad.
Rob: Thiiiiiiiis is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.
Gary: We have to be up in four hours to meet with the Team Gleason guys. You’re not going to wander around trying to talk to ghosts.
Matt: WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO DO THAT?
Eventually the plan was scrapped for bigger and better things, but Trent is adamant he will find a ghost on this trip. And he will name it… Frank.