Showing posts with label eastern shore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label eastern shore. Show all posts

Monday, April 13, 2015

Muddin' at the Moose!

For those of you that don't know, I live on a little spit of land just off the coast of Virginia. If you've ever driven from Virginia Beach to Maryland, then you've driven through the Eastern Shore. It's not exactly a blink and you'll miss it type of place. It's more along the lines of, "Oh my God when is this drive going to end?" kind of area. There really isn't much to see on the highways, other than gas stations, a few shopping plazas, and a lot of fields. We still manage to find ways to have fun though. 

It was close to 30 years ago, but there used to be what they called "mud hops" up in the town of Tasley. What's a mud hop you ask? It's pretty much what it sounds like. A bunch of people dig a large pit in the middle of a field, spray a few thousand gallons of water into it, and try to drive their trucks through one at a time. There are different classes based on tire sizes and vehicle mods, but the end goals are all pretty much the same. Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? 

I was only 4 or 5 years old when the mud hops were held up in Tasley, but I can still remember it like it was yesterday. My dad was in charge of one of the tow trucks responsible for pulling out the trucks that got stuck. This meant I had one of the best seats in the house, on top of the wrecker's hood. Sitting there with an ice cold Coke in one hand, a snack cake in the other, watching the competitors trying to plow their way through several feet of mud, I didn't think I could ever have more fun. Except for the sailor hat. I was pretty fair skinned, so I always had to wear this ridiculous sailor's hat that came down over my ears. It was embarrassing even for a 5 year old. I was so happy the day my dad handed me my own child-sized Coor's Light hat. I wore that hat until it was too small to fit on my head. 

As much as I loved watching the trucks drive through the mud pit, I think I enjoyed it even more when they got stuck. That meant I got to ride with my dad and "help" him pull them out. It was a fascinating process, full of cables, levers, and dangerous looking machinery. We never failed to pull someone out, and we never got stuck. As cool as it was riding in the wrecker, I was always jealous of the people that got to ride in the tank. That's right, a tank. The National Guard brought one of their tanks along, and they would use it to pull out a truck every now and then. I want to say it even got stuck once, and it took a couple of tow trucks to pull it out, but I might just be making that up. Sadly, after a few years interest waned or the property was sold, and they stopped holding the mud hops. 

That all changed last fall, when the Exmore Moose Lodge held their first "Muddin' at the Moose" event. It was hugely popular, and it appears that they're going to make it a regular thing now. So when I found out they were having another mud hop this past weekend, I knew I had to make it out there. I also made sure I took a bunch of pictures to show off. 

As you can see, there's a common theme among the vehicles. 98.7% of them were pickups, with a couple of oddballs thrown in. Some of them had bodies that looked like they were just rolled out of a showroom, while others looked like they were leftovers from a 50 car pileup. Regardless of how they looked going in, all of them came out the same way; caked from tire to top with mud.

One thing about a mud hop, as the day goes on, the holes just get messier and deeper. Most  of the drivers hooked up a tow rope before they started, otherwise they would have to tromp waist deep through mud to attach the rope to their hitch. They didn't come there to get muddy, they just came there to drive. I was particularly fond of the truck above, mainly because it looks like the first truck I owned. This one just has a lot more engine and the tires are slightly bigger than the ones I had on my S-10. 

A few trucks had some pretty elaborate paint jobs, such as "Mud Mistress" up there. Someone spent a lot of time and money, only to have it covered the second it left the starting line. Some of these guys spend a lot of time and money building these rigs, and in most cases, it was just for that one day. After that, they'll put on some old tires and push it back into the woods or the garage until the next event. Still, it's nice to see folks take pride in their work, when most people around here tend to half-ass everything. 

One of coolest vehicles out there was this jacked up Camaro. It was one of my favorites, but I think that's mainly due to the fact I owned a Hot Wheels monster truck that looked exactly like it. As crazy as the car looked, it was one of the few in its class to actually make it all the way through the pit. It took a few seconds, and it was spraying plumes of mud 50 feet in the air, but they made it. 

Since it's pretty hard to convey all the noise and energy that goes on at one of these events, I actually took a couple of crappy quality videos to share with you folks.

I've never been much of a gearhead, but there's just something about hearing and feeling the amount of power some of these trucks are putting out. Some of these guys are pushing 1000+ hp, which is why they tend to just skip across the water, rather than sinking into it. 

It was a great time, and if you ever get the chance to attend a mud hop, I highly recommend it. Even if you don't like it, look on the bright side; at least you'e not the guy that has to clean up afterwards. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The time I found a dead body (kinda)

When you enter Middle of Nowhere, Va, the first thing you notice is, it's really dark. We're talking darker than dark. So dark you turn your headlights off and on just to make sure they were on in the first place. It's one of the consequences of living in a mostly rural area. There aren't many street lamps along the highway, and there are even fewer on  the back roads. I mention the darkness, because it makes more sense if you know the conditions of the night in question.

On the night "it" happened, my friend Scott and I were already a little freaked out. It was either a Friday or a Saturday night, because it was way late, and we were all up and hanging out. At some point, Scott and I left in his truck to either go to the store, or Scott's house so he could grab some games. We were driving out of my development when I saw a rabbit sitting under the street lamp near the end of my road. I didn't think much of it until a few seconds later, when I caught a flurry of movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked over, and I saw that the rabbit had apparently sprouted wings and was flying off into the night. I'm sure I exclaimed something along the lines of, "That fucking rabbit just flew off!". Scott understandably looked at me like I was crazy, while I stammered on about a rabbit suddenly turning into a winged demon of some sort and taking off into the night. After a few minutes I calmed down, and just laughed it off as having imagined the whole thing. Thankfully, we made it to our destination and back without any other four-legged animals taking to the sky.

A little later that night, I'd say it was between 12 or 1 am, my mom asked us if we could take out the garbage. We were still wide awake and didn't have much else to do, so of course we said we would. Scott and I loaded up the bags, and made our way to the dumps just a couple miles from my house. Scott made sure to keep an eye out for any flying rabbits, and I'm happy to say that all ground animals stayed grounded this time. Just a few minutes later, we were pulling up to the dumpsters when I saw the most horrific thing I'd ever seen in my entire life. And that's when the screaming started.

The human brain is an amazing organ. Sometimes you'll see something, and your brain has already processed the information and is formulating a plan before you can perform a conscious action. That's exactly what happened to me that night. As I pulled up to the dumpsters, my headlights shone on something so horrible, that I instantly started yelling. Before I could form a thought, my brain had already told my mouth that we were seeing some heinous shit, and that we should be scared.  Scott, who had just been talking to me a second earlier, started screaming because I scared the hell out of him. Then he saw what caught my eye and he started yelling even louder. Who wouldn't freak out at the sight of half of a woman's body?

After what felt like hours of yelling at the top of our lungs, we both calmed  down and processed what we had seen. It took us a few seconds to realize just what it was that had frightened us to near pants peeing levels.

Half a freakin' mannequin. Sitting next to a dumpster in a near pitch black parking lot with arms askew, this thing looked like the latest victim of the Eastern Shore Strangler. It took us a few minutes to get over the horror of the moment, but once we did, I can't remember many occasions where we've laughed harder. I'm talking can't breathe, eyes watering laughter. I'd like to think it was the counterweight to all the fear we had just experienced. As I was driving home, I remember thinking out loud, "A g-ddamned mannequin", which only caused us to break out into another fit of laughter.

Even now, the memory of that night makes me chuckle. Here we were; two big, strong guys, and all of our bravery and bravado disappeared the moment my headlights shone on a plastic woman laying on the ground.

I think it goes without saying, we kept our asses home the rest of that night.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Random picture post Summer edition.

One of the great things about the Eastern Shore in the summertime, there is no shortage of festivals happening around here. Even if it isn't listed in the newspaper, there's a safe bet that there's something going on involving food, music, and booze. Chelsea and I didn't make it to all the events this year, but we had a great time at the few that we attended.

Back in June, we made it to the Tall Ships Festival in Cape Charles. It's a yearly event, where historical sailing vessels dock in the harbors and allow people to take tours. Unfortunately, the two that showed up this year wanted about $45 a piece to take a look around. In the end, I was only able to grab a few shots of the ships before we went back to eating.

Every year, the Wachapreague Volunteer Fire Department sets up and runs a carnival in, well, Wachapreague. This year it ran from June 18th to July 12th, and it helps them raise funds for new equipment and operations. The Wachapreague Carnival used to be a regular summer destination when I was growing up. My cousin and I would spend hours riding the rides, and blowing our money on the somewhat shady games. Now, I mainly go for the food, since it's one of the only times of the year that I'll be able to enjoy a fried soft crab sandwich. 

There's my sammich in all it's glory. Soft crabs are definitely an acquired taste, and I can see how most folks wouldn't like them. It blows my mind that I've liked these things since childhood, since you're basically eating a whole crab. I know adults that would rather starve than put one of these in their face. Maybe it's the legs. It can be a little hard getting over the legs.

The fries were pretty good this year, though I always find it nearly impossible to finish them. This was a small, and Chelsea and I both gave up halfway through. It wasn't until I got up to toss them out, that I discovered the vinegar had soaked through the container and the paper, and into my jeans. I got to walk around the rest of the night looking like I had a very strange "accident".

I've never actually ridden the Spider. I have problems with rides that go in too many directions at once, so I tend to keep my butt off of them. I think it's best that I don't do my impression of a sprinkler, and shower the crowds with my recently eaten soft crabs.

The ferris wheel is still one of my favorite rides there. It used to be because it was one of the few rides that didn't make me nauseous. Now I appreciate it for the view it provides. It also allows me to escape the oppressive heat of the crowds, and enjoy the nice cool breeze blowing off the ocean.

Here's a shot of the carnival from one of the several parking areas. It's funny how much bigger it used to seem when I was growing up. I even remember getting lost a couple of times. Now, the whole area just seems cramped and overcrowded. I guess that's what happens when you get bigger; everything else looks smaller.

August 9th found Chelsea and I attending the Eastern Shore's Own Craft Beer and Music Festival. This took place in the lovely town of Belle Haven, next to the ESO Arts Center. This is only the second year they've had it, but if the turnout was any indication, it is going to continue to be an annual event. It helps to raise money for the ESO, which holds classes for everything from dancing to watercolor.

You get 10 different tastings for your admission price. There was a rather large selection of microbreweries to choose from, so you had to pick and choose which ones you wanted to try. Near the end of the evening, however, they stopped marking our wristbands. So, I ended up with a few extra tastings before the day was over.

Here's Chelsea modeling the mugs and the jugs.

I love these little mugs, if only because they make me feel like a giant. I like to use mine when I feel like stomping on a village.

The last even we went to this August, was the Church Creek Wine Club meet and greet. This is a shot of Chatham, the main house on the vineyard property. I've know the owners for a long time, and I actually worked inside Chatham, helping with the restoration. Once that was completed, I moved outside and helped Jon Wehner, owner of Church Creek Wines and Chatham Vineyards, start building what has become one of the best vineyards in the state. This event was sort of a "thank you" to the folks that joined their wine club. It was a great opportunity to meet some of the other members, and to try some wines that will never be available to the public.

Here's another shot from behind the house, this time over looking Church Creek. This is where Southeast Expeditions lands when they take people on their kayaking and wine tasting tour. It's also where we're planning on taking some of the pictures on our wedding day.

Why does it seem like there's almost always alcohol present in our photos? Hmm..

Here's a shot of the sitting room in Chatham. I wish you could have seen what this place looked like 16 years ago, because you'd never believe that it would look like this today. Every room is painted based on samples taken from the walls and woodwork.For the most part, it looks just like it would have back in 1818. Depending on your tastes, that may be a good thing or a bad thing.

Whenever Chelsea sees a piano, she can't help but sit down and give it a play. It's a shame she didn't discover it sooner, she could have provided some light music for the evening. 

August also saw the release of what has become my favorite comic book movie. I actually went into this movie knowing very little about the Guardians. I knew there was a raccoon and a sentient tree, but that's about it. It had the usual comic book movie plot issues, but they were easy to overlook because the movie was It also has the best soundtrack I've heard in ages. It's the first movie in a long time that I would be willing to go see in theaters again. That's about the best endorsement I can give any film. 

September is going to be another light month as far as posts go, but that's only because I'm trying to get some stuff together for October. Things haven't worked out for the past couple of Halloweens, so I'm hoping this year will be the one where everything goes as planned. Thanks to Eric, I already have an idea for one post this season, though I'm still trying to decide if it should be a video or a written post. A video post would probably work better, but it could go so very, very wrong. I guess we'll find out in October, won't we? 

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