If it seems like Uncle T-Bone has been out of sorts lately, it’s because, well, he has been. In fact, he’s not even sure he can keep up this third-person charade. So enough of that.
Basically, my job took me to two (almost) simultaneous segments of the NCAA Division I basketball tournaments – one in Albuquerque, N.M., and the other in West Lafayette, Ind. One men, one women. One Mountain Time, one Eastern. One 1,300 miles and less than 48 hours away from the other.
Some of the highlights from my last real road trip of the school year:
* Turns out Albuquerque is a big, beautiful drug town – meth and heroin, to be specific. At least, that’s what two friends familiar with the area claimed and who am I to argue with hearsay and/or what’s portrayed on television (Breaking Bad). Sadly, I came back with no direct knowledge of the situation because no one offered me anything remotely illegal. Am I that much of an overt square? Apparently.
I mean, at least Seattle had the decency to try to sell me some weed. I didn’t realize that ABQ was so judge-y.
* That’s not to say my first trip to New Mexico was completely devoid of awkward encounters. Shortly after arriving at the media hotel, I walked across the street in search of lunch. There were two close options: A deli and a taco joint. In other words, there was only one option.
Except when I sat down in said cantina, it became obvious that something was amiss. The hostess wasn’t wearing many clothes. Neither was the waitress. But they were draped in tattoos and piercings. Turns out that “Ojos Locos” is like a Mexican-themed Hooters. I’d never even been to the American version of Hooters, and not for lack of opportunity (having lived a couple of blocks from one in Fargo).
Once again, my discomfort must have shown through – eyes on the screen – because nobody offered me much of anything. Thankfully. At least, they served ice cold, sugar-free Red Bull (or would it be Toro Rojo?).
*As for West Lafayette, did you know that the Battle of Tippecanoe took place there? Me, neither. Did you know anything about the Battle of Tippecanoe other than the name and that it rhymes with “and Tyler, too”? Me, neither.
Wikipedia tells me it was a struggle between American settlers and Native Americans that was a precursor to the War of 1812. Just don’t ask me what year that took place. I didn’t have time to visit the site.
* I did, however, make sure to check out the oldest drive-in in Indiana – Triple XXX. No, it’s not the Midwest version of Ojos Locos. Rather, it’s an old-school restaurant from the white counter tops to the lack of televisions. They serve root beer in mugs and freshly ground burgers. I ordered the Duane Purvis, a burger with peanut butter named after a former Purdue football player. It was the first of two peanut butter burgers that I destroyed in 24 hours (the second even had jalapenos).
So, yes, I approve of the combination.
* Lafayette is right across the river from West Lafayette, and it’s the home of the Lafayette Brewing Co. Sounds self-explanatory enough, right? Sort of. Except the in-house brews – in addition to being served up in a refreshingly non-corporate setting – go behind the standard 3-4 variations. They make more like 10, some exotic and potent enough to be served in snifters. Or, if you’re a lightweight like me, you can order the (roughly 4 oz.) sample size.
On second thought, maybe Albuquerque was right to withhold. I don’t deserve to turn down their drugs. Sigh.
Uncle T-Bone, out.