Tag Archives: Whiskey

D.C. Road Trip – Peanuts and Whiskey

21 Jul

Last week, my family left on the grand Washington, D.C. adventure that we had been planning for a long time. I wanted to go on a road trip like the ones my family took when I was a kid. My wife did not want to go too far because she and my stepdaughter had never done anything like that before.

Originally, we were driving to D.C. before going north to Pennsylvania to visit some of their family. As it turned out, they were going to Washington for a conference, and we all decided to meet there. With that change, my wife and I decided to skip Pennsylvania and go to Virginia Beach. That way, we could spend some time in the sun before heading home. Oh yeah, Williamsburg and Jamestown are close by, as well.

During the days leading up to the trip, I was nervous about a couple of things.

First, I did not know much about the area. Driving west, I know the distances, the things to see and, generally, how to plan an efficient and easy trip. While I have been to Virginia, it was not to see something. Basically, I was not sure where we were headed.

Second, I had never spent three days sightseeing in a major city. Most of the road trips in my past avoided major cities and focused on the smaller places in the country. We booked a room downtown because we thought walking to some places would be the best option.

Third, I wanted my family to have a good time. Growing up, I loved these kinds of trips because they felt like an adventure. I knew that they had never done anything like this, and I wanted them to have a good experience.

We left Tuesday morning and hit Interstate 40. Everything was great. My stepdaughter was reading and listening to music. My wife was looking at Facebook. I was cruising down the road. We had packed some snacks to eat along the way. It was fun. We made fun of my wife because she had to stop to pee every few miles. It came a flood in Knoxville, but that was the only downer.

When we got close to the Tennessee/Virginia border, we decided to stop for lunch, and that is when we saw the first cool sight of the trip.image-7

Seriously, how often do you see the Peanut-Mobile. This is one of the reasons I like road trips. If we had flown to D.C., then we would have never seen the big peanut. That may sound dumb, but it represents a lot of stuff. Flying from city to city means that you miss the landscape of the nation. It means that you miss the laughs along the way.

After lunch, we made our way into Virginia and to our destination for the night – Lynchburg. I chose this town for a couple of reasons. First, it set us up for our first stop the next day. Second, it got us off the interstate. The worst thing anyone can do is stay on the interstate the entire time. It is designed to get vehicles from place to place quickly. It is not designed as a sightseeing road. If you want to see real America, then you have to get off the interstates. Every exit looks the same.

We got off the interstate and drove toward Lynchburg. At some point, we had the following conversation.

Me: What is Lynchburg famous for?

My Wife: I know! Whiskey!

Me: That is Lynchburg, Tennessee.

We laughed about that for the rest of the trip. Actually, Lynchburg, Virginia is famous for being home to Jerry Falwell and Liberty University, the school that he created. Believe me, the university dominates the town. I do not know what the people in Lynchburg think of Falwell, but they had better be glad he put the school there.

When we checked into the hotel, we asked about a good place for dinner. My stepdaughter decided to stay in the room, but my wife and I needed to find a good place to eat and relax. We were told to go to a place downtown. It turned out to be a casual place that specialized in burgers. It was a great place for college students to hang out, and, surprisingly for summer, there were a lot of them hanging out.

They struck me as students who are into the arts – both Fine Arts and Liberal Arts. That may sound like profiling, but, after all these years, I am pretty good at determining who majors in what. Anyway, they were eating, talking and drinking. That made me think about Jerry Falwell. He was famous as a televangelist and the leader of the Moral Majority. I wonder what he would think about students at his university sitting around drinking in a bar.

After dinner, we drove through downtown and found a cool little city. They had done a great job with historic preservation, and there were shops and restaurants scattered out. There was also a children’s playhouse and other cool stuff. That is one of the other good things about going on a road trip. You get to discover towns like Lynchburg – both this one and the one that makes whiskey.

On Twitter, I asked a Lynchburg trivia question that no one answered. What movie moved our nation’s capital from Washington, D.C. to Lynchburg, Virginia? Does anyone know?

Days Of Wine And Roses

9 Feb

Actually, there is nothing about roses in this post. I have been trying to find a way to steal that title for a while and finally figured out a way to do it. This post is entirely about wine and the growth of its popularity in the United States.Wine

Wine is everywhere. We have a wine fridge in the bonus room. There is a new store in town that focuses on wine. I have friends who are proud to wear the moniker of Wine Snob. I know a guy named Dave who makes homemade wine. Doctors tell us that drinking wine is good for our hearts. Restaurants have wine lists that match the wine that goes best with a meal. As I said, wine is everywhere.

I understand the love of what. However, I do not understand when that love began. Historically, the United States has been a nation of people who desire alcohol that is made from grain. Whiskey. Rye. Beer. Those types of things. This history springs, I think, from two places.

One, the United States was birthed from Great Britain and its tradition of grain alcohol. I am not an expert in the history of European agriculture, but I think grapes have always grown better in southern Europe. Great Britain was in a non-grape zone.

Two, Americans did not run into proper grape growing areas until someone figured out that it could be done in northern California. I am not sure when that started, but it was long after Americans had created a tradition of drinking something else.

I suppose that wealthy Americans have always consumed wine and saw it as a symbol of success. However, regular folks stayed mostly with the grains. This even became the focus on a presidential election. In 1840, William Henry Harrison was portrayed as a whiskey drinker who connected with the common voter. His opponent, Martin Van Buren, was portrayed as a drinker of wine and champagne, which meant that he was out of touch. Harrison won.

This is just one example of how American has generally been a grain alcohol nation, but there are probably others. As a student of the American West, I cannot imagine a cowpoke walking into a saloon and saying, “Give me a bottle of your house red.” Instead, I can imagine him saying, “Give me a shot of red-eye.”

Prohibition was a big event in American history. Alcohol was made illegal, but organized crime made sure it was available. I have read that an underlying reason for Prohibition was to take wine away from immigrants from southern Europe, but I have never seen a film of G-Men hacking through barrels of wine. It was illegal beer and whiskey that they were after.

This love of grains can also be seen in popular culture. Think back on some of those film noir movies. How many times did the detective or dame pour a glass of wine? How many times did they put some ice in a glass and pour some whiskey over it? I think about a movie called A Face in the Crowd when Patricia Neal goes to a bar and has a cocktail sitting in front of her.

It happened on television, as well. In the 1960s, a bunch of television homes had bars, and they were all filled with whiskey bottles. I can remember Darrin, or Derwood, getting a drink whenever the antics of Samantha and her fellow witches were driving him crazy on Bewitched.

I write all of that to say that wine is a relatively recent phenomenon in the United States. When did this happen? Why did this happen?

Did the economic boom of the 1990s make people want to grab wine as a symbol of success? The wealthy have been drinking it forever. What better way to prove economic success than to adopt a tradition sign of that success?

Was it the marketing of wine producers? Did they follow in the footsteps of the Ernest and Julio Gallo campaigns?

I know that people have always drank wine, but, at some point, it became the drink of choice for a vast number of people. Like with a lot of things, I have my opinion as to how that happened. It was not a booming economy. It was not an ad campaign. It was these women.Sex and the City

I know that the women of Sex and the City drank martinis and other types of cool drinks. However, the show also provided the idea that a stylish, successful woman about town knew her wine. This popular show introduced wine to a segment of the population that drives our sense of style, and that sense filtered to other segments of our society. Then, we Americans figured out that we liked wine. Apparently, we are not as crass as we are sometimes made out to be.

Am I crazy? Probably. However, the mass love of wine by Americans is a recent development, and it had to start somewhere.

Looking at the Future Through a Glass Filled with Jack Daniel’s

29 Aug

What happens when you mix cold medicine, Jack Daniel’s and a dystopian movie? Last night, I found out.

I have been under the weather for the past few days, which sucks because classes started over those same few days. Luckily, it was all about going over the syllabi. I am not a big medicine taker, but my wife convinced me that I needed something. I am certain she was right.

Reason #32 to get married = There is someone around to make you take drugs when you are sick.

She also thought that a little whiskey might help. Before you start thinking that she was trying to kill me by mixing medicine and whiskey, I need you to know that we have a happy home. Whiskey is an old remedy for colds and such. Grandmothers used to give it to kids. Of course, that is the old days. Today, that would be considered child abuse and somebody would call the government.

Reason #14 not to trust the government = They make you stop taking home remedies for sickness and make you buy health insurance.

I don’t know if whiskey cures a cold, but it certainly makes you think the cold is going away.

So, I was filled with cold medicine and drinking Jack Daniel’s when I got the urge to watch The Last Chase, a movie about a bleak future. Being a movie made in 1981, that bleak future was supposed to happen about ten years ago. It’s always weird to watch a movie depicting a future that is currently the past. That’s why movie makers and religious leaders who predict the end of the world should follow the same rule. When you envision a future of destruction, set the date a long way into the future.

Anyway, the movie stars Lee Majors, Burgess Meredith and Chris Makepeace.

It was supposed to be the transition of Majors from television star to movie star. That didn’t happen. Instead, he was making this movie while Ryan O’Neal was stealing Farrah Fawcett from him.Farrah Fawcett

At least, that is according to an interview with the director.

Burgess Meredith was not far from the success of Rocky, and I wonder why he signed up for this.

Chris Makepeace was the Jesse Eisenberg of the 1980s, playing the intelligent kid who did not fit in with everyone else.Chris Makepeace

He was in a couple of hits like Meatballs and My Bodyguard, and I began to wonder whatever happened to him. A quick Google search didn’t tell me much. According to the Internet Movie Database, he last appeared in something in 2001. There is a Chris Makepeace tribute page, but it is lacking, as well.

Now, back to the movie. Gas shortages and a plague sent the United States into a tailspin. In the future, the government has clamped down and declared no privately owned vehicles. Everyone is controlled by public transportation. Franklyn Hart is a former race car driver who longs for the old days. He rebuilds his car and plans to drive it across the country to California, which has gained its independence.

A young kid from a boarding school doesn’t fit in with his classmates and spends his time hacking government computers. He hitches a ride, and the two head out.

The government tries to stop them by getting a fighter pilot to chase them down and kill them. He wants to be a free as they do and sacrifices himself so they can make it to their destination.

I have watched the movie a bunch, but this was the first time I have seen it with drugs and alcohol in my system. This is what I picked up.

In the coming apocalypse, our cities will not be destroyed by bombs or rising sea levels. They will be overcome by matte paintings.

Taking drugs and drinking whiskey will make you feel numb.

In the future, Smokey the Bear is still fighting forest fires.

Speaking of smokey, it would be nice if cops of the future really drove black and white golf carts.

When our society breaks down and we abandon the heartland, the Native Americans will take their land back.

Only in the movies can the guy find a woman in the woods to hook up with.Alexandra

The kid learning how to drive in a race car is like taking a driving test at the Indy 500.

The government will stop trying to control Utah and Arizona. Apparently, they are too difficult to deal with.

The future will have sex clubs and promote group sex. The government much think that mass sex is the same a mass transportation.

Even in the future, the government will find a reason to massacre Native Americans.

In the future, a plane can be refurbished in a couple of hours.

For some reason, the look of boarding schools never change. Just ask the X-Men.

Coca-Cola still has a fizz after twenty years in the can.

Combining cold medicine and Jack Daniel’s is an enlightening experience.

Speaking of Jack Daniel’s, it is timeless and will continue to be produced in the future. Same label and everything.

Computer technology will regress to look and function like computers in the 1980s.

Colonel Steve Austin could have ran to California on one leg.

Lee Majors ages more gracefully in the movies than he does in real life.Lee Majors

By they way, he took his stage name from Johnny Majors, who played and coached football at the University of Tennessee.

Since it is football time, that is probably a good one to end on.