Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Davis Fetter Interviews....

Over the years ive befriended some great people and local musician Davis Fetter is one of them...his band the Venus Infers has had their music played on all sorts of TV shows and have toured with the B52s, Peter Murphy, Chris Cornell and others. We easily could have chatted for hours about all things but this was a good interview simply talking music, the music bus and hows its changed with the internet, instruments, history...and other topics.
I hope you enjoy listening to the interview as much as I did doing it and encourage you to check out more of Davis's work at his website...

Davis Fetter Official Website


Fetterhipcheckpt1 by Scott Cahill

Fetterhipcheckpt2 data by Scott Cahill

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Belated Cinco de Mayo stroll down memory lane....

An excerpt from my yet to be published novel "The Gin Asian Hockey Diaries" I present this item. My memory is hazy as to the exact year this took place but I would assume 2001 or there abouts. Feel free to provide some feedback and enjoy!

Julie came over and we were off to Mario’s for margaritas and more Mexican food and that’s when things got interesting. We met Tom Snark and sucked down a few margies at the bar and Tom’s mom showed up and had a few as well. There were some Sauza tequila girls who weren’t half bad looking but not exactly smoking either. They were hocking 5 dollar shots of Sauza and were followed by some tall Lurch-like fucker who we all acknowledged look hauntingly like Iggy Pop. The bimbos were handing out plastic shot mugs, hats and t-shirts and other promo gimmicks...that sort of thing. We tried to hit them up for merchandise but they said no and went around the bar talking to everyone much like some of the Bar Girls in Tijuana the only difference being you tend to get more then a plastic shot glass when you play your cards right. And by using the term "playing your cards right" I really mean having 20 bucks to spare and knowing the real ones from the pawns.

Julie was drunk and as annoying as she could be and gave me a dirty look every time I talked to one of the Sauza bimbos. She was 29 going on the 10th grade and I ignored the occasional stink eye she threw at me. Anyhow I talked to the Sauza Bimbos and made jokes about how Iggy Pop was their pimp. In reality he was a good guy and later brought us back hats and t-shirts, which plays a vital role in the story as you will soon read......he really did look like Iggy Pop though.

It didn’t appear as if Tom's mom was drinking a whole lot but when got to the table I noticed a strange opaque like globule on her shirt. I kind of ignored it and we ate a quesadilla appetizer and enjoyed ourselves. Well Toms Mom didn’t eat anything she just sort of sat there with a glazed look. I order a big combo plate, which Julie and I were going to share and consequently did. Things were going along swimmingly as we all ate except for Tom's mom who kept her head on the table and said how drunk she was(well not exactly in those terms you know I am paraphrasing here).

Pretty soon Iggy Pop and the Sauza girls came back and indeed give us each a hat and t shirt. The mens shirts were black and had a big green silhouette of a margarita and the sauza logo on the back while the womens shirts were white in same style only exception being the margarita silhouette was pink. I can never turn down a free t shirt and praised my good fortunes.

Pretty soon I noticed his Mom throwing wasn’t exactly a good ole' big chunky style of puke really more of a pure liquid alcohol style of a brownish hued semi watery puke and to her credit-she did a fantastic job of playing it off and was pretty casual or at least as casual as can be while sitting at a table vomiting in a Mexican restaurant on Cinco de Mayo. It takes a special kind of woman who can puke on the middle of a table and still manage to throw out a handful of very funny one liners to keep the others amused.

She used her brand new Sauza t-shirt the sauza girls and Iggy Pop gave her and used it to wipe her mouth. Our poor Mexican waitress noticed she wasn’t doing well ....maybe had something to do with a sopping wet semi-brown puke filled white Sauza T-shirt sitting squarely on the middle of the table. Anyhow she(the waitress) had a worried look on her face and brought out a wash cloth/dish rag for her. It appeared as if the waitress had wet the rag down and Tom looked kind of funny cleaning the puke off his mom face as Julie and I tried to play it off. Truth be told we weren't getting let one little puking in the restaurant incident ruin our evening and we then proceeded to finish our plate as I fed her the last bite; which for a split moment seemed odd since we were having a crab enchilada but it really didn’t bother us at all and we almost considered ordering a deep fried ice cream in flagrant disregard of the pile of puke on the middle of the table which at this point was starting to pool on the floor.

Julie ended up helping Tom’s mom into the bathroom while he and I corralled the waitress for the check. Tom slipped me some cash and said to take care of the tab. The bill came and it was 45 bucks.....I gave the girl 55 bucks as I figured having to clean up a mound of puke had to count for something.

I planned on taking a cab back to the apartment but as I walked outdoors with the fresh air and a full stomach I didn't feel nearly as intoxicated as I should have given the circumstances and decided to drive home. Made it home and there never was a real question. It was a great day and I couldn't wait to get home and have my way with Julie . I knew though I couldn’t be scragging her all night long though as I had to get up a little early to drive up to El Segundo and play in my monthly Ice Hockey game with all my crazy hockey friends. Ive played hungover in the past and while I didn't mind it wasn't my first option. But staying up the entire night having some fun with a female companion is a much harder proposition then simply boozing and passing out. Its not so much about focus as it is about energy and stamina. Then again-waking up early and tired to drive to LA is much more rewarding when its due to Item B then Item A. Sometime the combo effect here after known as Item C can be lethal.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Maui Trip Day 3- I am beaten and robbed by a group of drunken locals

The next morning we slept in a bit…of course sleeping in Hawaiian style with the time change meant waking up at 6:30 or there bouts. We were off to visit one of the beaches named as one of the best in the Maui Revealed book that we saw several tourists also carrying around town. We Stopped by Longs Drugs and in full tourist mode I bought some sunglasses, Alex some sunglasses, 2 packs of Honey Roasted Sunglasses, More Hawaiian Coffee, a new Mask for Alex…and for some reason more POG. I got a chuckle out of the fact the childs mask cost more then the Adults mask. Between that and the cost of Maui Pineapples I always get a kick out of the items that get the tourist mark up.

Off to Palauea Beach the drive was pleasant and soothing, Watching tract homes in Maui got me wondering what life must be like for those who actually live there and being there really isn’t a business district on the island per se I thought about who must live there and what they did for living. Approaching Palauea Beach the houses starting getting nicer as did the country clubs and estates…it certainly was the higher real estate area of the island. We parked and walked up a path where construction on a new home was going on and half way up the path one of the Roofers kindly told us the path we wanted was a bit farther down so we had to walk with all of our stuff over a couple of hundred yards before settling in.

The Beach was beautiful and I am sure was used in several post cards. The clarity of the water was amazing and you could see from 50 feet away every submerged rock and coral structure and wide open sandy expanses. A perfect day, a perfect beach. I threw on my snorkel gear and was in the water in a flash. Swimming out to the first rocky outcrop I saw so many different varieties of Tangs and Thin Blue Dory Fish(not sure of the real name but the blue fish on Nemo). Seeing that many colorful fish so close to shore is almost overload. I was enjoying for about 10 minutes before noticing how very close I was to shore. I decided I would try and put Alex in the water and using his new mask and a boogie board we pilfered from the condo would simply have him lean over the side and look down into the water and marvel at all the fish. But as a lot of things go with Alex it wasn’t quite as simple as that and Alex tends to have a bit of a slow time acclimating to new things. Making matters worse was when we were in about a foot of water and I was demonstrating proper board technique to him a rogue wave and hit me from behind, and then the boogie board which shot up and hit poor Alex square in his new Longs drug mask. As luck would have it, Alex’s first foray into snorkeling started off poorly and I blamed myself…for a couple of seconds anyway.

Afterwards I did my best to coax him back in the water but he wanted none of it. Quite frustrating knowing that meters away in the water was some world class snorkeling and even turtles and Alex not willing to give it a try. Making Alex and myself a bit more frustrated was the fact Dustin was not afraid of the water at all and while I was trying to get Alex in noticed Dustin in his floating ring, huge smile, with both feet and hands over the side of the ring dipping them into the Water as Tomoko swam him around. If only they were toddler sizes Daquiri’s available I am sure he would have had one as well.

Walking back to our towels and bag I noticed and Indian couple getting ready to go in the water and the woman not looking very comfortable with the idea. Later I found out she was a poor swimmer but being a good citizen of the World I offered her the use of the boogie board in hopes she would get to see some of the things I was trying to point out to Alex.

We sat and watched the guy do his best to get her in the water but he was having about as much luck as I did with Alex. They brought the board back to us sheepishly and I told her it was OK that the first couple of times snorkeling is always kind of scary.

I went back into water and swam much farther out into the water and a bit farther down the coast where there was a huge rocky outcrop forming a pseudo peninsula of rock and coral. As always there was a bunch of brightly colored fish and other assorted sea life and anemone and swimming a bit closer saw three turtles all feeding on the rocks including one very large who stuck out amongst the others. I paddled in closer and literally could have dog paddled for hours simple watching them before deciding to go back in to check on Tomoko and the Kids. Walking to the shore I saw the Indian guy and told him to swim out and then left for him to see the Turtles. He did just that and 15 minutes later came back all smiles being able to witness it.

We sat on the blanket and munched some snacks when someone in an inner inlet of rock called us down. The turtles had worked themselves around the bend and were now feeding in literally waste high water. I brought the boogie board down in hopes of letting Alex simply float but his bad experience earlier along with some idea that sea anemone were poisonous and would attack had him saying “lets go back” every couple of minutes. Finally Tomoko took him with her and I held onto Dustin who really loved watching the Turtles. I found a rock to stand on and kept my balance as the waves came in. Almost slipped once or twice but managed to hold Dustin above the water. Getting back to shore discovered I has sliced my index toe pretty badly as well as a pretty good sliced chunk a bit farther down.

I knew I was still going to snorkel so hoped my best the sand sticking to the wound would act as some type of natural bandage. Hey, I was in Hawaii and I was going to let a couple of coral induced puncture wounds on the bottom of my foot ruin my day. I was slightly concerned about sharks however but still went out again.
Enjoying the warm water and having a full day of snorkeling by the rocks I went out simple swimming and looking down. I found an area that had a smooth sandy bottom and nothing else. I really enjoyed just gazing down in the perfect sand and water and even swam down 15 feet or so to run my hands through the sand. Swimming out a bit further I noticed a loan swimming turtle in about 20 feet of water. I took a deep breath and swam down to his level and for the next minute or so simply swam by his side. Occasionally he would look over at me and I would wave or do the Hawaiian Hang Loose Sign to which he was quite frankly a bit indifferent but that was ok with me. I was content to simply spend the afternoon having a leisurely swim in Maui in 20 feet of warm, pristine water side by side with a Large Sea Turtle. There really is something special about seeing Turtles…I wonder if Hawaiians get tired of them?
Palauea Beach will forever be in my memory as the perfect maui beach. Tomoko and I my a promise that when I get wealthy through my new job venture that we would be one of the homes on the beach and visit every 3 months for a week or two.

Driving back we stopped in downtown Lahaina to watch the sunset. As the sun dipped down into the Horizon some cloud cover obscured the final dip of the sun and any chance I had of witnessing the legendary Hawaiian Green Flash. Don’t want to explain here…feel free to google it.

We stopped by another take out place favored and known by almost everyone in maui called Okazuya Deli. We ordered Mahi Mahi in a lemon caper sauce that was fantastic as well as a Chicken Katsu dinner we figured we would give the kids. Both plates were so fantastic it almost seemed weird eating them in the standard take out Styrofoam Clamshell you find in cheap take out places. I am certain that of all places to eat in Maui that Okazuya Deli is the premier place to do it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Maui Trip in Writing-Day coffee and 6 dollar pastries

The next morn we awoke bright and early to witness one of the obligatory Maui sites of the sunrise over Mt Halueakala. Some of the more weathered travel writers have on occasion claimed the experience overrated. Having driven the road to the peak previously I knew what I was in for and having read the pros and cons of the trip elected to go with the “life altering religious experience motif” over that of the “cold, vastly overated waste of time” motif. In my mind I saw it as waking up early, grabbing a cup of kona coffee and some pastries and embrace the entire experience. The reality of the situation was that Maui is not Southern California and there isn’t a 24/7 convenience store on every corner. Imagine my horror when wave after wave of quickie marts lights were all dimmed with doors locked as my inner urban yuppie scum cried for caffeine. Alas after the hour plus drive to the base of the mountain did I find a place to get a hot cup of coffee. Truth be told their selections of breakfast pastries and cakes was sadly lacking so I settles on a package of sweet potato cakes with some type of filling not too different the Japanese Azuki bean. It looked charming enough with its 5 little cute cakes until the cashier Rang it up as 5 bucks….proved to be a semi recurring theme for the rest of the trip but I was willing to deal with it as I had paid for the entire trip with money I didn’t really have anyway so why sweat about it?

The winding road to the top of the hill was just as I remembered it and I enjoyed occasionally feeling the subtle change in temperature by putting my Palm on the glass from my drivers side window. One of the kids mentioned something about car sickness which meant turn on some air, crack the window slightly, and turn up the radio a bit louder. Shooting a glance over to Tomoko I noticed her color wasn’t its normal hue as well. I did however have a now filled bladder that I thought would be a good idea to empty sooner rather than later on a two lane curvy road at 5000 ft altitude. There proved to be more than a fair share of turnouts later that would have proved more than sufficient I discovered later and was almost disappointed that I couldn’t have killed two birds with one stone in being able to not only enjoy a good brisk outdoor leak but a subtropical vacation one at that. NOTE TO SELF-Urinate at a turnout at out Halauakala next time we visit Maui.
We finally got to the top of the mountain and paying the entry fee discovered it was still 30 minutes to the peak. Reminded me a bit of our Joshua Tree adventure where we paid at the rangers station yet still drove an additional 45 minutes to get to our campsite. We found a spot in the overflow lot and as I stepped out of the car everthing that was ever said about the blistering cold was absolutely true. There was a driving biting wind that literally found a way to quickly chill any exposed flesh it happened to come across. I was very glad we decided to take all of the blankets from and towels from the Condo with us and still questioning whether we had enough clothing to keep us warm. Tomoko started putting on the kids stocking caps and asked me where mine was. Silly me, I thought that in her pre trip packing that she would have remembered to bring 4 caps but it was not to be. She ended up wearing a towel and I used her cap which I am sure will be forever ruined for her after the stretching needed to cover the expanse of my vast cranium.
Taking Dustin out of the car he immediately began to shiver and kept repeatedly saying “I’m Cold.” Kids are so cute at that age. I wrapped him in a blanket and tried my best to assure him the trip would be worthwhile. It was interesting seeing the first ray of light that creates a new day make their way over clouds. As a matter of fact at that height some of the clouds really resembled a body of water and the mountain/water optical illusion conjured images of a cold morning kid lakes on spring morn in some eastern local.
None the less the wind still pounded and the impending rays of the sun’s heat were greatly anticipated. As the first tip of sun peeped over the horizon one of the guides from the local tour buses went into some Hawaiian traditional good morning chant(or what I assumed as much). At that point there was no doubt that the site was semi awe inspiring but at the same time I flashbacked to the times I saw the sunrise over the foothills of Westwood and LA, over Central California, hell over the sleepy Midwest for that matter. I really can’t think of too many places where the morning rays of the suns location wouldn’t be inspiring and if one could come up with a place that this effect does not ring true has nothing to do with the sun but purely what must be a truly abysmal location to witness it. So while yes, it was fantastic-I couldn’t help but think at that early in the day Fresno probably has places where this effect rings true.
The sun reared its head and a truly comical site occurred in which every tour bus waiting for the suns arrival just as quickly made its way back down the hill in what seemed like a matter of minutes. We took the time and decided to walk the extra 100 yards or so up the actual summit. The whole landscape is very bizarre…almost other wordly. I am sure if you took select pictures of the scenery set with Sepia tones you could convince someone there were pictures of Mars taken from the hubble. Alex and Tomoko hop scotched their way to the top of the hill while I was left with carrying Dustin across jagged boulders, slippery sliding soil, and other hazards that only 3 year old boys seem to accompany on a regular basis. It was fine though-apart from me starting to sweat underneath my sweatshirt and the frigid conditions proving to be an interesting paradox I took the view in for all it was worth and wondered on future trips if camping at this location would be worthwhile. Sure it would be very cold and probably not as comfy as a queen leisure at the 4 Seasons but how many people can claim that they spent a clammy chilly not camping in Hawaii? We made our way back down the mountain and the next phase of my quest came in the form of getting to actually visit the Takamiya Market but nor before first stopping at McDonalds…as much as I hate fast food I have to admit that this may have been the best Egg Mcmuffin I have ever had. I don’t know if I was just very hungry but not aware of it or this city has the golden touch when it comes to breakfast sandwiches at Mcdonalds. Either way it was amazingly good. I would have killed for such a treat later in the trip where the Road to Hana tested me like a bad episode of Survivor.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Maui Trip in Writing-Day 1

Ive been nibbling at writing this as a whole piece but being as it is taking a bit longer then expected I will start posting here in bits and pieces. As always-feel free to comment.

We made the obligatory trip to Costco for some milk, wine, beer, POG, and croissants as well as stopping by the food stand to feed after the 5 hour flight. The weather wasn’t perfect, it was semi cloudy and windier then I’ve remembered in the past but I was in Maui….how upset could I be?

We got back to the condo and it certainly wasn’t s nice as the Kahana Sunset we stayed at previously. It was probably due to me not being acclimated to the tropical humidity but it seemed mega hot and the design of the condo was as such that our room neither faced the ocean to get a breeze but the breeze we did get was blowing perpendicular to our door and window. Making matters better yet was the fold out couch bed had two huge Bars running through the mid part and the foot end of the bed lurched upwards about 4 inches higher than the head end of the bed. I found lying diagonally and using a couple of extra pillows made it bearable enough but once again I was in Maui….how upset could I be?

The next morning I woke up at 6am Hawaiian Standard Time. I slipped through the back door barefoot and walked the cobblestone foot path the led from our Lanai to the main center court walkway that led past a rock fountain stocked with Koi through a small entry way and out onto the cool dew topped grass fairway that overlooked the ocean by about five feet. It was just me and me alone; the ocean breeze in OC would have meant brisk temperatures but in Maui, and Hawaii, it never seems to get cool enough to need that extra layer of clothing. If I was a guy into meditation this would have been a perfect place to lay out some type of mat and become one with nature. I had to be satisfied with the off chance of seeing a sea turtle and be pacified at the impending cloud covered clearing silhouette of Molokai in the horizon. I stayed 10 minutes, took it in for all it was worth, and went back to make my morning coffee.

Soon the kids and wife were up and after some plain toasted croissants we made our way to the first beach Napili Bay. We set up our ½ tent which is basically a tent that has a zipper that completely opens up one entire side of the tent and perfect for days at the beach but the brisk wind conjured up visions of the one ½ tent on the beach in Maui becoming dislodged and blowing half hazardly across the red sand. I made sure to use all the stakes and fill the pockets with sand…even then the occasionally passerby would stop by with a suspicious gaze and question what you could call the “structural integrity” of the tent. I paid no mind after all, I paid $15 bucks for it at a Big 5 Sporting Goods store and nothing says quality craftsmanship like Big 5.

After 15 minutes of blowing up the kids floaties and playing with them in the surf the wife gave me they thumbs up to go into the deeper water for some snorkeling. The water was very clear and the sandy bottom meant I had to swim out a bit further to get to the rocks, coral, and any other structure that attracts fish. After a swim of roughly 50 yards I approached a nice long reef with swimming with fish. Not as many as I remembered in the past but one can never trust memories sometimes as memories almost always seem to be much better than they really were at the time they happened. The wind still meant for conditions that weren’t exactly ideal but not enough by the same token to not have me go way out and check it out. There was a huge rocky outcrop that I was certain would have Turtles feeding but the surf was fairly high as well and I didn’t feel up to pushing my challenge level up to 11 on the first day of my trip. I took the leisurely route and finally made it back to shore and talked the wife into going out on her own.

Packing up all of our gear we walked back to the same rocky outcrop I felt too rough to check out in the water. On the land we counted no less than 3 turtles feeding. I felt happy I would still have a couple more days to swim with turtles. The trail to that area passed directly below the Gazebo restaurant I plan on eating at once or twice during our stay.

We made it back to the car and stopped by the same shopping center that had the coffee shop with amazing pastries I enjoyed on my last trip. We stopped by a BBQ place and picked up a chicken lunch as well as a pulled pork sandwich. The guy working the counter sensed the tourist haulie in me and copped a bit of an attitude, completely unwarranted I might add. We got back and I chuckled as the pulled pork sandwich was just that-pulled pork on a Hamburger bun with no other accouterments. Just a pile of pork on white bread-no tomato, no pickles, no squirt of bbq sauce even. Back home this would certainly warrant a scathing review on Yelp but on vacation I found it amusing.

I took a nap and woke up to take the kids to the pool, something that I would find myself doing almost every day of our trip. It was made better by the fact that at least the Paki Maui had a nice hot whirlpool that later proved to be brutal on my sunburn initially but felt better after those first few initial moments of enormous skin burning discomfort.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Latest Short Story

Finally finished this up tonight and probably have missed a couple of things in the editing process which you can feel free to point out to me. It really happened and for whatever reason thought it would make an interesting short story. Would love your thoughts.

When a simple family camping trip turns into a scene from Raymond Carver, one corner of the sleepy beach town of San Clemente takes on a life of its own.

San Clemente State Beach is a campsite we often refer to as “camping lite.” While it neighbors the mighty pacific ocean on one side and rests on bluffs offering a beautiful view, it also neighbors the 5 freeway-the main thoroughfare and artery that connect Los Angeles and Orange County to San Diego counties and then Mexican border. An eight lane monster that sees a gazillion vehicles pass through non-stop its literally a man made oceanic paradox that thunders and rages with an ocean roar of its own. Gas stations, Lodging, Fast Food, and Liquor Stores are all a stone’s throw from the campgrounds. Roughing it? Not exactly.

As the suns finals ray were being swallowed by the horizon, my family, as well as that of my brother’s family, started the obligatory tradition of getting the camp fire started. Normally, I can go to the semi dry riverbed by my home and collect enough firewood to last a night or two. Or sometimes my brother, in the construction trade, can pillage a job site for scrap lumber. When it’s a very special occasion and I have time, I will make the trek inland to another local campsite that sells large bags of thick slow burning firewood for 5 bucks a head. Normally, firewood has rarely been an issue, but tonight was different.

Throwing the last large log into the thick cast iron fire ring and my cell phones display tapping me on the shoulder to tell me it wasn’t yet 8:30pm, it was apparent this was the trip we were going to need more wood. Life is never better, nor simpler, no more profoundly sensible and validating as the waning moments of the night spent watching the flicker of the fire, favorite beverage in hand with the people you love. It’s simple.

Of course at this site in San Clemente it’s not nearly as soul soothing as other campsites given the nearby lights from the freeway and the accompanying traffic noises nor the visible signs from the local businesses easily spotted from the campsite. But it still is camping nonetheless.

Another reason for “Camping Lite” is the local market/liquor store is about a 5 minute walk. And while some stores that cater to campers via a semi desolate location tend to mark up the prices for its good and services, the fact this market actually is located in an area that makes it non-camp specific I have found the prices very reasonable and the two guys working the front counter always very nice to me and my oldest son who try and make the walk every time we camp here.

Heading through a dark well worn walking path bordered by half logs in some areas and marked by missing foliage in others, my brother and I and one or two of our kids set out in our portable jogger stroller which I always found handy to take on the trip as it not only could seat 2 kids but had space enough to carry a couple of bags of ice or a twelve pack beer or any other items I would rather roll with then carry on my shoulder.

Finishing a beer on the walkway and throwing the can away before stepping foot on one of the official sidewalks of San Clemente, I noticed that even though it was not yet nine pm, the normal red neon of the market was not lit….as a matter of fact the entire store was not lit which was a bit unusual and disappointing since the closing of the store meant going to the camp entrance to buy wood from the Ranger Station-which was open but out of wood.

Seems the 20 or so bundles of remaining wood were bought up in their entirety from one camper. If we wanted more wood, it meant leaving the solace of the campgrounds and venturing into the Evil City. “The Shell Station generally has wood. I’d try there first” echoed a blasé statement made by the same ranger who checked us in and not 2 hours earlier promised Wood available aplenty. It almost reverberated in my thoughts as I knew something, or someone was sending me out of the comfy confines and semi-tranquil solace offered up by the semi suburban spot of nature in an otherwise asphalt existence.

I was already on my 3rd or 4th drink, me taking the wheel would be out of the question. My brother was on a more moderate pace and having arrived later to the campsite then I did, it was agreed upon that he would drive. Being his vehicle was still hooked up to his travel trailer though meant we would be taking our families mini-van to do it. It’s always a strange feeling sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle you normally would be driving and that was a hint and harbinger of the next 10-15 minutes that seemed to last a lifetime.

Merely a 5 minute blip from the campsite we came to Shell Station. It was a humid night and strangely there was not a lot of traffic on the road. We pulled into the Shell that was anchored the same corner as the North Bound Onramp and thus pulling into the station itself was a bit tricky. We walked into the minimart that was staffed by 2 young 20 something Hispanics one male one female. The female had a smile on her face as we walked in the male was standing with a strange lean that lurched awkwardly on the counter. I got the feeling that we maybe interrupting something as we paid for the wood I happened to noticed the top buttons of her blouse were undone and she looked a tad frazzled. We paid and got and joked about it a bit before seeing a liquor store with a Green Neon Sign caddie corner to the station next to a small motel.

Pulling across the street was a bit confusing with the freeway on ramps as well as a lack of driveway entrances. What looked like the liquor stores parking lot was was actually the Motel parking lot. The Neon sign for the Motel wasn’t lit and there was a card board box that had the words “No Vacancy” written in Black Magic Marker on a square of card box. Classy place.

A Chain divided the store and the motel and even though it was a red zone we figured we would only be in for a moment or two and given the lack of traffic rolled with it. Stepping out of the van I noticed we had parked right in front of an old rusted/sun bleached pickup truck that not only had four flat tires but also weeds growing from the concrete it was parked on. “Something tells me we won’t be boxing this guy in” I said pointing to jalopy that may have been a great prop for the tv show Sanford and Son. “Ive seen day laborers who wouldn’t be driving in that” my brother said, his construction background ever present.

Holding down the chain we walked over to the liquor store. Even though we had our wood my brother wanted to go buy a package of cookies for later in the night after a few more drinks out in the night air when cheap snacks taste particularly good. We parked and once again noticed the lack of other cars and trucks in the area. The humidity coated my skin once again. We walked in and were greeted by a heavy set women with semi crossed eyes and thick European accent with huge drooping breasts. We walked through the some of the aisles before noticing they had a pretty good wine selection for a typical liquor store.

“Maybe I’ll pick up a good bottle of wine for the wife,” my brother said. Knowing that I am up to date on Wines and pricing and what not he asked if there were any good deals to be had. I pointed out one or two bottles of some really expensive stuff and asked the women if we could haggle over the price or if we bought one of the wines would she throw in some Nilla Wafers and maybe a package of Pemican. She smiled and laughed a bit and saw through my routine fairly quickly. Finally my brother picked up a jug of some of the cheap red wine that I have never bought in my life thus not knowing the name but it comes in a huge jug with a little nub of a handle on the corner. “She’s not choosy about her wine so this will do.” I was a bit disappointed as I hoped he might of bought one or two of the good bottles.
Also seeing firewood at the liquor store my brother noticed it was Pecan. He loves pecan we use his Texas smoker and even though it was going into the fire pit I guess he thought it was a sign of good luck-we bought it along with our Nilla wafers and our gallon of cheap jug wine.

Getting back in the Van and doing a quick u turn in the parking lot to leave the one exit/entrance of the 4 room no vacancy beach motel with broken down truck occupying one of the 4 parking spots I noticed a light on in the one room closest to the street. From the passenger door, I could clearly see into the room with its see through white drapes lightly blowing through the wide open windows and tattered screens saw a 70 or 80 year old white haired man sleeping on a pull out couch wearing a wife beater tank top, chest heaving up and down in his sleep.
Driving forward I stopped my brother from turning onto the street instead imploring him to put the van in reverse to witness the scene. Slowly reversing and myself leaning well back in the passenger seat of my own vehicle for his to get a view we also noticed various old man toiletries scattered around the room and though my memory may be taking some dramatic license I could swear a black and white TV.
Hearing the engine the old man lurched up suddenly to see what was happening but only caught a glimpse of us as we drove back onto the street.

“It’s a shame the Neon sign of that Motel didn’t work” my brother said shaking his head and continuing with, “If it did I bet a couple of the letters would still be out completely and the L would only have that half power flickering look to it.”
Driving onto the street the campsite was on I couldn’t help but think that not only was he was right...but it was the only other possibility.