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 © 2000 Muthuh's Rides

"Muthuh's Almost Excellent Adventure" © 2000 Muthuh's Rides, Durham, NC
It's been over two weeks since my last ride. And contrary to what you may think, I don't sit on the bike in the garage inbetween rides dreaming of the next one. I actually do have a life, and that includes doing things that have absolutely nothing to do with Harleys. Hell, I feel like a new member at AA admitting to the group his deepest darkest secrets..."Yes, I sometimes wear shorts and T-Shirts that don't have Harley on it, and party with non-bikers!" OK, there! Are you satisfied?

I know - it doesn't make me happy about it either, but there it is... and now that you're one of the very few who know our little secret, maybe you can sympathize with my predicament the other night laying up in bed - knowing I got to get up the next morning and drive the camper to some friends relatives house for a cookout. The plan, my lovely bride has been telling me, is to drive the camper to the mountains of Virginia and park it in the driveway of our neighbor's brother's house, attend a Brunswick Stew cookout, sleep in the camper overnight and haul home the next morning.

Hell, maybe in such a short period of time no one will notice me off the Harley, hmmm? Then it struck me.... 1:20AM to be precise... can't hardly drive the camper when it, uhhh, hmmmm, oh yeah! When the Battery is dead, right? That's it! The battery is gonna die first thing in the morning, and being the trusting, non-mechanically inclined wife that she is, Kim'd never know the truth! hehehe

This may just work out! With the camper dead, we could send our 12 yr old daughter up with the neighbors and we'd be free to ride the Harley and, hell...I may as well call it a Muthuh's Ride....OK, so none of these people are likely to have been even close to a Harley in months or years or ever, but I'd at least be on mine. We could send up blankets and pillows and all that crap with the neighbors... this is perfect - I fell asleep with a huge smile on my face!

So, at 7:30 am, I get up...go out to get the paper, and, uhhhh, nonchalantly try to fire up the camper.... WHAT? The Battery's Dead? I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS!.... Honey - guess what? The Battery's Dead! What rotten luck!

I fry up a couple eggs and sausages with the morning coffee brewing and suggest perhaps we should...(well, see above)... confident that I was about to go load up the Harley for a weekend ride in the Virginia Mountains in the peak Fall Colors Season....man this was gonna be great! (I'm smiling here, knowing I'm about to get my way!)

But NO!... in a supremely deft maneuver, she dashes all hopes of dodging the falling leaves on the scooter, when she says - well..... " Lets just go in the car so I can stop and shop for a bird house along the way - oh, and get a few pumpkins on the way home."

Whaadafuk? I suppose I COULD go out and rip out the battery cables from the cars too, but I think I saw a glimmer of a feint smile on her lips as she drank her coffee and read about the great weather we were about to have this weekend..... Damn! - Come on baby! Here's a perfect opportunity to ride the bike and go camping in the falling leaves! "No", she says, "we can't put a bird house on the back of the Harley with all our camping gear". Screwed by a friggin birdhouse...

(At this point I should interject the fact that after 27 yrs of being with this woman, I DO choose when and where to pick my battles, and even though I thought I was destined to go Birdhouse shopping - I swore I would stay in the damned car!)

And then a very nice thing happened.... the neighbor suggested the girls go shopping and the guys go in one car - you know - cigars, budweiser (except for the DD, of course), and unbridled lies about the women.... things were looking up! So before she had a chance to screw up ANOTHER brilliant plan, I unloaded my crap from the car and hopped in the car with the other guys for the 3 hour ride to the mountains of Virginia.

Pulling into the Brother-in-law's place in Virginia, it was clear the party had already started...well, the private party had begun anyway. Seems every year for the past 9 or so, several couples get together and throw this really great Brunswick Stew Party. What? You've never heard of a Stew Party? You're likely one of those Damned Yankees who've always wondered what a Pig Pickin' was, too, and just too embarrassed to ask. huh?

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For the party hosts and hostesses, it starts the night before (last night) with vegetable and meat preparation, cutting firewood, Bushhogging the fields, (You don't know Bushhogging either? man...thats sad - how'd you ever win the damned war?), and general "buy all sorts of crap" kinda preparations. Then this morning, they get the first Keg of Budweiser tapped and on ice - first things first ya know - start the fires and wrestle the 65-gallon cast iron kettles onto the supports and get the water boiling.

Between the water and the V8 juice and the potatoes and worchestershire sauce and chicken and beef and hog jowls (they come back out after a while, trust me! Even us southerners won't eat that shit!) and venison and pork and vegetables.... whew!... by late morning, the whole concoction is starting to take shape. At 11:00am, they toss in a couple whole chickens and whole potatoes and while the rest of the stew is cooking, their lunch cooks right along with it, chickens and potatoes being fished out about noon for lunch...all leftover scraps are returned except the bones of course.

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By mid afternon, the sugar and corn and more potatoes and more V8 and more water and more veggies are added, all the time cooking over a wood fire with one person constantly stirring the brew with large paddles with huge blades on the end to keep the mix from burning the bottom of the kettle. (Much like they still make Apple Butter in these mountains!)

From 11am until 10pm...somebody has to keep these two huge kettles stirring. They take shifts and god help the person who shows up late, or not at all! I managed to weasle my way in for a twenty minute shift (pic 18) while the host couples took care of other business, like garbage and. wood, and hmmmmm making the sure the Budweiser Keg didn't clog up...gotta keep them taps running ya know!

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In between stirring and making a pest of myself taking pictures...we strolled around the estate, sat by the mountain lake on the dock and enjoyed the beautiful weather.... what the hell - I wouldn't have done much riding up here anyway...by 4pm I was way past my usual 2-beer buzz and the scooter woulda been chained up by now anyway!

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The afternoon passed watching more ingredients being poured into the cauldrons, more wood on the fires and more Budweisers in our cups. By 5pm, the most wonderful sight pulled into the pasture we were in, a fully loaded, 8-tap Bud Truck... I almost got a woodie.

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About 6pm the party got rolling, slowly at first but by 7pm it was cranking pretty well.... they had a live 8-piece band that did an excellent job of doing southern rock, oldies and had the dance floor hopping most the night. My camera was pretty much put away by this time as I was not sure which end of the camera I was supposed to point towards the crowd, besides, my digital is not real good at night shots with a particularily unsteady hand...I got a couple pics in but I'm thinking I am going to have to take 35mm SLR pictures at night and scan 'em....

When they opened up the kettles, the level of the first one dropped significantly right away - I waited til it was almost empty (OK, I did some taste-testing throughout the afternoon, too!) - the thickening stew on the bottom of a nearly empty pot is always the best at a Brunswick Stew Party!

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By 9pm, the estimates were that about 600 people were there slurping down stew and saltines, and swilling beer from free-flowing taps on the beer truck. (at one point I was third in line behind some academic preppie prissy-type trying to nurse as much beer into the cup as the foam would allow, taking at LEAST a full minute at the tap... the second guy in line turned and looked at me rolling his eyes and said nothing. At least he demonstrated he knew how to pour a draft beer...

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They got a bonfire going using a full cord of wood that was used up by 10pm...at one point the flames were shooting 15-20 feet in the air with the embers shooting at least 50 feet...was quite a sight, and quite hot. They set up bales of Hay (I was quietly corrected that these were bales of HAY, not STRAW like I was saying....Hay is SOOOOO much softer to sit on) around the 15 foot diameter firepit. I'm told the 5 Masons who built the pit, did so for free for a guaranteed perpetual invite to the stew parties!

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There was the usual revelry at one of these parties - not quite the bodacious debauchery you might find at a biker party, but when you see the towns Police Captain drive his 4-wheeler ATM over two bales of hay and nearly eject his passenger over the handlebars, you know it's gonna be a fun night.

Eventually, the band quit at midnight, after a 20 minute rendition of "Strokin'"...the crowd thinned and those of us who came up from NC pulled the Hay Bales together up close to the fire pit and made pretty decent beds out of 'em (OK, so we had about 10 beers and 5 bowls of stew by now..we weren't thinking well!) laid out our blankets and pillows and were watching the stars in the dark by 1:30....

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Woke up with the sun, helped clean up the grounds a little bit (some more than others) packed up the cars, went to the main house for a 6-course breakfast of Belgian Waffles, Sausage and Eggs, bacon, toast, coffee, but...but....but........ where's the damned grits? No Grits? Come to think of it, I didn't see a single rebel friggin' flag the whole weekend. No Jim Beam on the tables, no burn-outs in the grass, and not a SINGLE Harley T-Shirt the whole time. Man, I'm not feeling too well at this point and beg forgiveness to get home and take the scoot out for a little spin, with or without the old lady....in fact - definately WITHOUT the old lady!

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OK, there it is.... almost a perfect weekend - great party but without the Harley...still, I thought you might enjoy a little backwoods Virginia culture like they still do it only in Virginia. (If my hosts are reading this - thanks for the fun party - just kidding about the grits, breakfast was wonderful!...hope to make it again next year! and tell the police captian that I will hold the pictures in a safe place in case I ever need them again in the future...hehehe)


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