For Part 1, Click HERE.
#5 – Boone-Mergency, Defiance, MO (2006) – The “Beer and Now” trip seemed to take us to tons of attractions that required we watch a 7-10 minute video before getting on with the actual visiting of the awesome thing. This was the case at the home of Daniel Boone, too, and when we combined that with the fact that all the employees were senior citizens wearing authentic period garb, our expectations weren’t particularly high.
And truthfully, it was a solid visit but not amazing. We saw the bed where Boone died, but so much was off limits and not allowed to be photographed that it ended up being kind of lame. One part stuck out, though, and it may have been the hardest we laughed the whole second day of he trip.
One of the elderly docents was escorting us to the Boone home from the gift shop, explaining a few things on the way, when suddenly some sort of burglar alarm started sounding from the ol’ Boone place. Immediately the wisecracks started:
“That’s the original alarm Daniel Boone himself installed.”
“Somebody just touched Daniel Boone’s body.”
And so on. What made it so classic, though, was the really, really elderly woman who bolted out of the gift shop at top speed and hauled ass to the house presumably to find out if there was a real intruder. If there was, I really think she would’ve killed him. This woman was legitimately worked up. I’ve never seen an octogenarian run so fast.
We nicknamed the incident the “Boone-Mergency” and still rate it high on our list of greatest road trip hits. Kevin’s still upset they didn’t sell Boone’s Farm wine there, though. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all. At least we got to watch that sweet 7-10 minute video, right?
#4 – Kevin Gets Violated, Louisville, KY (2008) – In order to save money, we’ve always just gone with one hotel room, and then as many guys who were on that particular road trip would just split the cost. In ’08, that caused some problems when there were five grown men sharing hotel space. This led, unfortunately, to the heterosexual sharing of beds. That, in kind, led to something that Craig will never, ever live down.
Put yourself in Kevin’s shoes. It’s like 3:00 in the morning and you’re sound asleep. You feel an arm drape around you, then a rough, hairy leg, then the light nuzzling of chin stubble on your shoulder. You’re positive that the only other people in the room are four dudes, so you know this can’t be good.
And it isn’t.
Our dear friend Craig had just grown too accustomed to sharing a bed with his girlfriend (now fiancée, soon wife) Laurel. Apparently (and unfortunately for Kevin), he’s a cuddler.
We had to spend the rest of the trip calling “Not It” for sharing a bed with Bingaman. He never did repeat the unconscious show of affection, but that doesn’t mean those of us that drew the short straw on any given night slept with any sense of security.
#3 – Beale Street, Memphis, TN (2008) – Memphis is a gross city. There’s absolutely no denying it. But Beale Street, where the blues feel right at home, is an absolute Mecca for music junkies, and we just so happened to go on the perfect night to get the most out of the experience.
It was a deliciously warm Saturday evening in June, and since it was the first day of that particular trip we were more than ready to get the most out of the night. What’s so great about Beale is that they keep about three blocks of the cobbled road blocked off to cars, and up and down are just a ton of blues bars that have their own personal outdoor stages. You can buy gigantic beers at little stands and then walk around from band to band just taking in all the great music.
We had a few drinks, enjoyed the weather and the music, and got a hell of a show from local legend and one-man-band Richard Johnston in front of an oldschool theater on the east end of Beale. It was just one of those great nights that make you love summer, and love road trips even more.
#2 – Spook Cave, McGregor, IA (2006) – “Okay,” our guide said as we crept up to the entrance of the cave in our small boat, “This is going to be a bit of a tight fit, so please watch your heads as we make our way inside.”
Kyle, Kevin, and I looked at each other with a bit of confusion, but we were heading towards the mouth of the cave pretty quickly and coming to the conclusion that a statement like “watch your heads” was significantly understated. We literally had to fold our bodies in half to squeeze in, and even then the rocky walls scraped and tore at our sweatshirts.
It was unbelievable, and we laughed the laugh of desperate people. You know the sensation you get in the pit of your stomach when you’re playing Tetris, and you start to realize that the stack of blocks is getting too high and you’re going to lose soon? That’s the sort of anxiety we had entering the cave, only like times a thousand.
Things did eventually open up, and for some reason the good people at Spook Cave really play up the fact that the area is supposed to be haunted. The “skeleton” of the first guy supposedly killed by spirits in the orifice was wearing a Spook Cave t-shirt. Kyle asked how he knew it was going to be called Spook Cave. The other patrons laughed. Our tour guide did not.
As far as attractions we thought were going to be lame, and actually did end up being lame but delightfully so, this one took the cake. To this day we all regret the fact that we didn’t buy t-shirts. At least we took advantage of some of the more colorful photo opportunities, and we got great video footage of us hysterically entering the cave. Little else matters, I suppose.
#1 – Shawshank Prison, Mansfield, OH (2005) – According to my itinerary, which is like Danny Tanner detailed, the Ohio State Reformatory was supposed to be closed for tours on the day we would be driving through. Since it was here where so much of “Shawshank Redemption” was filmed, we thought it was at least worth stopping by to snap some exterior shots for the ol’ collection. That’s really all we expected, but we ended up with much, much more.
There was some sort of auto show happening on the front lawn of the defunct prison, so they were giving special tours that day which combined the three different offerings they usually provide there. This is a huge place, and so an hour long tour can really only get you through about a third of the building. For the special occasion, or tour guide (who was awesome, by the way), took us through a Greatest Hits version of all three tours in about an hour and a half, and every minute of it was enthralling.
The ties to the movie would’ve been worth the trip by themselves; we got to see the beam where Red carved his name in the movie, we got to sit in the warden’s desk, and we got to see a number of areas on site where other parts of the movie had been filmed.
But beyond that, the building is just a ridiculously creepy place. It’s been out of commission for years, so the paint is peeling off of darn near everything and the entire place is in disarray. On Halloween, ghost hunters get locked in the facility for the night and freak themselves out. Idiots.
People were murdered in that building, and the atmosphere is such that you’d swear you could see the blood on the walls and floors. Add to that the fact that “Shawshank” is like one of the five best movies ever, and you’ve got probably the coolest thing we’ve ever done on a trip. There were just so many levels of entertainment value there. Consider it the ultimate tourist stop. We sure did. And do.
So where do road trips go from here now that I’ve got a baby girl that severely limits my ability to go on the road with my brother and idiot friends for a full week at a time? Extended Man Weekends—mini road trips that basically consist of a weekend plus a Monday. Ball games, fine local eateries, and of course plenty of the usual Americana we’ve grown so accustomed to frequenting.
For now though, we’ve just got the memories, but what fine memories they are.