Published: March 21st 2012March 15th 2012
Not gonna happen.
On the way to Nashville, I discovered a nearby bouldering spot. I only had a vague concept of what bouldering was, so I researched the subject. Basically, it is rock climbing on the small scale. Rope is generally not used, just a mattress to fall on, and instead of quickly scaling, the goal is to work out the most efficient way to scale. Boulderers refer to their courses as "puzzles". I was highly intrigued.
The site gave a poor description of where the rocks were located, but the backroads were fun to drive on, and I was listening to some metal, getting pumped to try this new sport out.
Finally, after driving up a dirt road past a bunch of farm land, into an abandoned logging area, I saw some big squarish stones, and pulled over. I put on a loose pair of shorts, tight T-shirt, and my trail shoes, still wet from the Smokies. I walked around the rock, looking over each spot. The site specified that there were 12 routes on this one rock, but I couldn't really distinguish one from another so I just decided to start on a short part, and work out my own
Left to right, building confidence and testing skill
One side was covered in moss, and made for pretty lousy grip, so that was out. Of the other three sides, there was only one section that was about ten feet tall, everything else scaling up to a maximum of about 35-40 feet. I scaled a few easier routes, testing my ability. When I got to the top the first time, I was surprised to see a lush, green jungle on top, especially considering the surrounding area was mostly dead and covered in brown leaves. Each time I got to the top, I felt a rush of excitement and adrenaline. It was addicting.
I moved to a high wall, since everything had been so easy, and quickly scaled up to the top. At this point, roughly 30 feet up, I ran out of notches to grab. I slid side to side, looking for a way up and finally found one. Climbed on top, and declared to nobody in particular how awesome I was.
The ground was pretty soft, and I could easily jump down from twenty feet, tuck on landing, and break my fall with a roll, so nothing I had done was all that disconcerting.
A spot for shelter.
With the rush of my last accomplishment, and perhaps a bit of overconfidence, I decided to take on the tallest section, which was above some fallen logs, taking away the safety net of my parkour falling skills. What the hell, I thought, I've been doing great.
I started scaling, and within about two minutes, my eyes were level with the top of the cliff. Excitedly, I looked around for something to pull myself up. Again, I had run out of notches. I tried to slide back and forth, but there was nowhere to go. My arms were getting tired, and I decided I may have to scale back down. This is when it became apparent that the part I am holding on to is significantly further out than what I have to scale down to. I realized that in going up, I can see every move I make, and conform my fingers to a notch pretty easily. Going back down, I have to blindly test my footing, while using my arms to hold my weight. I cautiously adjusted my weight, testing new steps, and almost lost it about four times. After being stuck up on this rock for about
Nothing came out when poked.
fifteen minutes, relying on my upper body strength, and after all the previous climbing, my arms were exhausted. Adrenaline dumped through my veins, the last line of defense before I gave up and fell, and my body shook like I'd downed four redbulls.
I blacked out, but somehow ended up on the log at the base of the rock. I let out a sigh of relief. My arms fell to my sides, unable to lift any longer. I had pocketed my camera for the last climb, wanting to take a shot of the jungle on top, but at that point, my arms wouldn't work enough to scale even the simplest part. Oh well.
Stopped in Nashville for some BBQ and internet, but wasn't really interested in the music scene or anything else they had to offer. Listened to a drunk lady babble about how great New York is, and why its night scene, pizza, tourist attractions etc. are all so much better than everywhere else. I love New York too, but this lady's frail ego, obsession with status, and a poor attempt at humility throughout the bragging reminded me why I left. At least the brisket was good.
On to Memphis.
The first thing I noticed driving in was a giant pyramid. I wondered if that's what the Vegas pyramid was a replica of, or if they were both just glassy versions of the Egyptian pyramids. When I asked the locals about it, I discovered that it had been a basketball stadium and concert hall, which didn't work out acoustically, or for the fans stuck in the corners. It had been abandoned for about ten years, while retailers fought over the space. It's destiny was to be a Bass Pro Shop.
Memphis claims to have the world's best fried chicken, which had to be tested. The place was a dank and dirty hole in the wall. When I walked in, I felt a thick layer of grease cover my face. The walls were covered in memorabilia, pictures of celebrities that had stopped in, an old school jukebox, and a selection of beer bottles that included forties. These were all very good signs. Forty of Budweiser, fried green tomatoes, and three piece dark. It all lived up to the hype.
I walked along the river, stopped at a pub for a Fat Tire, talked to some
locals, hit on the waitress, and moved on.
A buddy of mine who's hometown is Memphis recommended a place for BBQ that night. Again, random awesome abound on all the walls. The place was crowded and loud, so I got a pulled pork sammy to go. It was everything a pulled pork sammy should be.
He also recommended Beale street for some evening fun. Every place on this street was a bar, most of which had live music. Stopped here for some blues, there for some jazz. Oh look, an outdoor rock band! On Beale street, everyone seemed to be holding a beer. I verified the legality of this with a police officer, who confirmed and encouraged me to enjoy myself. If you insist, sir.
I met countless strangers, danced with a birthday party of black girls until the band started playing "play that funky music, white boy", spent far too much money, and walked around half the city looking for my car that was parked less than a block away from Beale. Finally found it, slept soundly, and woke up ready for a greasy breakfast.
My Pa had heard of a place that fries their
burgers in oil that they have been recycling for 100 years. I headed that way, but they didn't open for another half hour. I grabbed a gatorade, and sat in the park. A lady a few benches down, in a similar state of hazy confusion, engaged me. She was on a road trip, heading back to Nevada from New York. It's supernatural how many roadsters I happen to meet. I invited her to grab a burger, but she was disgusted at the prospect of really old grease. We arranged to meet up at Hooters when I was finished.
The south makes me envy cows, with their four stomachs. The burger was greasy and delicious. And Looney Tunes was playing on the TV. I giggled frequently as Wile E Coyote blew himself up with a variety of rockets, and at Sylvester dressing up as a bulldog to catch Tweety who was perched above an outdoor dog pound.
I headed over to Hooters, hung out with L and J, who looked like a strung out hooker and her pimp. Shockingly, she told me about how she used to work at Hooters, then at a strip club, then had a stint
Bar With Mugs
Tried to paint one, but they were all out :(
with meth that ended when she got knocked up. People can be so predictable sometimes. Even still, they were pretty fun, and anyone who has lived that much counter culture is totally non judgmental, so I hung out for a while.
They decided to detour to New Orleans for the St Patty's Day parade, and since they had no phone, we made plans to meet up at a park at noon. We said goodbye, and I hit the road again.