Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Post contributed by Josue Durham
I started watching this hilarious new show on direct tv seattle. It is called “Portlandia”. Basically, each episode is a pair of actors who do different skits. They dress up as different characters and make fun of Portland, Oregon. I don’t say that they are actually making fun of Portland, but just playing into its unique culture. Seattle ( my town) and Portland are always in a little bit of competition to be the coolest city in the Northwest. Portland is known more for being a laid back hipster city. I have to say that every episode that I have watched so far of “Portlandia” makes me laugh so hard I almost wet my pants. It is really so on key with all of the stereotypes of people in Portland. My favorite thing that they do is all of the original songs that they come up with about the town. The season opener song was the best. They describe Portland as the town that the “dream of the nineties is alive in”. It couldn’t be a better description. If you like to laugh and know anything about Portland, you should definitely watch this show. It is hilarious!
Seems like it has been a long cold lonely winter...I truly understand what the Beatles were singing about in their HERE COMES THE SUN hit. We have been busy planning our next year. Mary is going into real estate appraisal and I am looking at options.
I am also looking at, no I am not looking--I am struggling with maintaining the Blue Road Blogger website. I had thought life was going to get slower. I was actually expecting large gaps in my obligations that would create the time for what I want to do.
But life always has a way of increasing its speed as we age. It doessn't feel 3 years has passed since we first started looking at the road as a lifestyle. As a means to an end of well regulated existence. We have been across the stste of North Carolina more than we have traveled any state. That inludes east to west and north to south. We have also been to Florida and discovered the beauty of Savannah Georgia. We have wandered into some real hole-in-the-wall places and were almost always impressed by the people we met there.
So I guess it is inevitible that we are now planning our return to Michigan. This will be our home base, as it has been our home since birth. We have been expatriates of a state we can no longer deny as ours. As much as I love North Carolina, I have always known this was just a lay over. As were Madison, Wisconsin; Bolder, Colorado; Honeybrook, Pennsylvania; and all the places I had the pleasure of seeing and sleeping in while I bicycled across America--all 5,000 miles--in 1982.
It is my hope that Michiagn will provide us with the time we need to organize our expectations. I also hope Michigan will also afford me the luxury of healing. I am sure Mary feels a similar pang, as we left so much undone when we jettisoned from Michigan in 2009. Mary believes it is family; but I firmly believe it is much more personal, something much deeper that draws us back. It is not as shallow as a matter of the heart. I have done this many times before, for Mary this exile is completely new, It has taken me all of 52 years to understand what it is that tugs at the soul. The heart really has little to do with our compass. The heart is incapable of finding its way as it is always influenced by the smallest notions and distracted by the weakest feelings. The soul can never be fooled. The soul stands unmoved by emotions, it is only concerned with destiny. And so 2012 begins with our destiny taking our heart back to the beginning, where we seek clarity.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
We are starting to get out a bit more. The weekends here in North Carolina include an increasing amount of sunshine. So Mary and I decided to take a more in-depth look at our neighboring city of Fuquay Varina. We generally make our trip to Sanford for our Taste of the Wild dog food, but the Tractor Supply Store has yet to be rebuilt after the tornado of April 16, 2010. So we drive to Fuquay Varina once a month or so to pick up a 35 pound bag of goodies for Lola and Kramer. On several of our previous travel through F-V, we pass what look like an old train station on Broad Street just south of the railroad tracks. There is a large marquee atop the building with the words “Fuquay Varina Station.” The building houses the Aviator Brewing Company bar. Across the street is the Aviator Brewing Company Smokehouse. We were in the mood for some North Carolina BBQ. Walking into the Smokehouse, we were impressed with the openness and simplistic uncluttered décor. It is refreshing to find a place that doesn’t feel the need to compete with Appleby’s or Cracker Barrel by filling every inch of their walls with memorabilia.
Our server was quick, polite and very accommodating. The menu was reasonably priced with most appetizers under $7.99, burgers around $8.49 with a wide variety of goodies and entrees between $9.99 and $16.99 with the triple rack of ribs coming in at $39.99 and the offer to pin your picture to the wall should you consume the entire plate by yourself. I wondered if the man vs. food guy had been here before he retired.
We started with two varieties of the house beer, Mary had the Hot Shot, and I had a darker red Belgium version. Both were very well crafted. We also did onion rings as an appetizer. We enjoyed our beers and started in on the onion rings as we waited for our Cobb salad and pulled pork plate.
Did I mention the server was great? Other than our server and the beer the rest of the evening was far from great; actually it even missed the mark for being “good.”
The onion rings looked astounding sitting on the 8X12 aluminum pan. There were piled high and the batter was crying out for some of the southwest dip that came with. The rings were a bit greasier than we would have liked, and after 2-3 of the rings, they sat in the stomach like a lead sinker. The dip was different from other southwest dips we have had at other chain restaurants. The onion rings were a great reason to drink more beer. I still think over salted peanuts would accomplish the same and be cheaper. Our server was great and had our water refills and ketchup (which did NOTHIN for the onion rings) quickly and effortlessly. It wasn’t long before our dinners arrived—on those 8 X 12 aluminum pans covered with wax paper.
Mary’s Cobb salad was more like a wedge salad that was spread across the aluminum tray like a deck of cards. The components were draped across the top of the lettuce, not layered and were very cumbersome to eat. By the time we were ready to leave, the wax paper under the Cobb was deteriorating and created a very unappetizing image.
My pulled pork plate looked excellent. I had two traditional BBQ sides—greens and mac-n-cheese. I was ready to partake. The greens were sweet. Although cooked to perfection, I could not get past the overall sweetness of the collards. I found the BBQ to have a similar taste. Other than the “smoke” flavor of the pork, I had a difficult time distinguishing the meat from the greens. The pork had what I believe was the house red sauce that was rather bland and empty. In this part of North Carolina one expects a great vinegar base sauce on their pork. The mac-n-cheese was the best part of the meal. Again, it had a unique flavor, which is good for an eatery to have its own signature, and it was prepared really well. Over all the service was great. We would love to have another beer at the Aviator Brewing Company. As for the dining experience and the food, we would say it is a 4 out of 10 in the world of pork BBQ and if not for the saving grace of the service, the beer and the mac-n-cheese (in that order) it might not have been a 4.
Our thoughts are it is a great hang out for some fine micro brewed beer, but if we were hungry we would head over to real BBQ just up the road on NC 55 in Durham.