An excerpt from An Ozzy Roadtrip ’06
The Players: Roy, Jonny B, the DJ, and me
The location: Rutherglen, Australia
Ain’t this a bitch. Picturesque sunset. Eight shades of pink and orange and red blanketing the sky. Miles beyond miles of sexy, tangled grape vines sprawling in every direction. A crisp breeze exciting a plethora of natural, exotic aromas. And then there’s me, half cocked on two plus bottles of wine dragging a busted bike down the road cussing the Ozzy swindlers who pawned it off on me. Gonna be dark soon, still got three or so miles to go, I keep knocking my shin on this stationary pedal, and probably gonna have to pay an extra day’s rent for of my impaired bicycle – up until now I thought being wine drunk and irritated were mutually exclusive…
…Only a few days into a two month long road trip, we had just left the Blue Mountains,
Home sweet home for 2+ months...All you need is wicked love!
the Beatles Van still had that new car smell, and the lone agenda item was to end up in Melbourne by the end of the week. What to do, what to do – a question that would be answered with a help of a map, some local persuasion and sweet glass of red. Rutherglen: Ozzy wine country in the foothills between Sydney and Melbourne, Victorian heaven if you ask me. Home sweet home of the Rutherglen Muscat and that delectable Tokay. Rutherglen boasts all the tell-tale signs of a robust wine region – gorgeous valley, rolling hills, sun kissed grasslands, and an abundance of those happy grape vines destine to bring smiles to the faces of millions.
Pete and I had enjoyed a couple days in New Zealand’s Marlbarough vino region months earlier and discovered the bicycle as the choice vehicle for exploration around wine country. Economical, somewhat safe, kinda legal, not to mention it’s just plain fun to ride around drunk on a bike – you can’t go wrong! So after some brief haggling, directional guidance, and bicycle handling instruction the four of us were set loose in the land of vino on a mission to slurp up the local scene.
There are 20+ wineries in the area and you’d really like to see them all, but that just isn’t realistic in a day – especially when you’re sporting a solid buzz after numero uno. I’d like to think my wine knowledge it pretty good, but the truth of the matter is my inebriated pallet has a hard time distinguishing anything besides good and terrible – usually (but not always) leaning towards the good side of things. That doesn’t change the fact that bullshitting with vineyard owners is one of my favorite past times. Something about that grape scent in the air really makes you feel as if you know what you’re talking about. We hit six or seven different spots in Rutherglen, but the vino descriptions at Cofield Wines were by far the most memorable –
Our Sangiovese blends sour cherry flavours to enhance a medium body with drying tannins. Should be accompanied with sparkling conversation, the endearing smile of a loved one, and an intimate snuggle close a gentle fire…
We were all sticking together pretty well throughout the day, but after the first 3-4 stops
Soaking it all up Ozzy style
young DJ starting lagging a bit. As it turns out, heavy drinking and exercise don’t always mix so well – neither do booze and time management. We found ourselves six or seven miles outside of town with about 30 minutes before it was time to return the bikes…time to hurry. Jonny, Pete and I raced ahead and DJ brought up the rear.
I had been cruising pretty good all day, but something was starting to feel a little off. I mean I could be wine drunk but I think my bike is running a bit sluggish…wait a minute…yep that’s a flat tire…perfect!! After some fruitless jostling, my fate became imminent and it was time to walk. Jonny and Pete were probably back by now, hopefully the DJ as well – and here I am a drunk guy with a drunk bike. It was at the height of my groveling when a rusty old man pulled over in his rusty old truck – ‘having some troubles mate?’ – I excitedly explained my plight and my new friend graciously remarked that my bike would fit in quite well with the twine reels and gardening tools in the bed of the truck – ‘Jumper on in’ – Oh sweet relief!
As we cruised back along the rolling country roads, I elaborated on my predicament, and
The Ozzy traveling crew, taking advantage of Rutherglen's wine country
excessively paid gratitude toward my benevolent chauffeur. He was a sober, weathered, older gentleman who was happy to help out another human being in need, hell, he was headed that way any how. With the windows down and dusk upon us, things were starting to look up again as another struggling biker came into view. As we approached I noticed it was a recognizable figure. Young DJ was bringing up the rear all right, still a mile or two out of town.
“That one of yours, mate?”
“Yeah, that’s actually my brother.”
“He gonna be all right?”
“Yeah, I think the wine may have just slowed him down a bit.”
“You got the flat tire mate – but looks like he may have himself a flat battery!”
“Ahhhahaha, I could kiss you for saying that!”
I managed to just think that last line except for the delighted chuckle. I love the great stories that always seem to make there way out of wine country, especially the ones that forever allow you to give your brother a rash of shit!
Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 9:11 am. Add a comment
An excerpt from Mis Dias de Peru
The Location: The Sacred Valley, outside Cusco, Peru
The Players: JB, Michaela, Caesar, and me
The Sacred Valley...Peru at its finest
I really shouldn’t have drunk all that mate de coca this morning. I mean, it’s delicious, nutritious and actually a real necessity at 11,000 feet with all that nagging altitude sickness looming around; but 5 cups right before a two hour car ride was probably a little excessive. Now, I’m doing my damnedest not to think about it, but I really need to take a leak. I got Caesar whipping around these mountain corners, slamming on the brakes, throwing down the gas, bobbing and weaving all over the broken alpine roads – really just ensuring we know he can drive like a true Peruvian. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think he was deliberately driving like this to torture me and my poor bladder. It is a full blown fact that I will wet myself if we don’t reach a toilet soon…
Caesar had pulled up to our hotel in his white Toyota station wagon a couple hours
post pee, up close and personal with the ruins
earlier and has cheerfully been touring us around the Urubama Valley since. We rode past the Sacsayhuaman, Q’enko, Puca Pucara, and Tambomachay ruins, and then got some nice pics of Cusco at up over 12,000 ft. all while enjoying some fun facts from Caesar in this smooth Spanish/Quechua mixed dialect. My favorite part was that first peek of the Valley as you ride out of Cusco. It is nothing short of spectacular. The whole scene makes your body kind of tingle, and I can definitely see where the Incans were coming from when they named it The Sacred Valley. Michaela literally had to take a step back as vertigo began knocking her off balance. The cool blue river surrounded by multicolored farmland on the valley bottom looks amazingly peaceful as it slices through the band of treacherous snowcapped mountains dominating the skies. My eyes doubled in size and I heard a faint ‘wooow’ seep through my lips as I’m pretty sure I saw God when we came around that first bend and the Valley finally revealed her exquisite beauty. In an area so rich with history and culture, Caesar has been foaming at the mouth, attaching interesting tidbits of info to every rock, plant, and mountain peak. My Espanol has progressed to the point to where I’m picking up a good 60-70% of what he’s feeding me, but a lot of the stuff is location specific and I’m pretty sure he’s mixing some Quechua in there, so who knows. Anywho, I’m translating and relaying what I can to the back seat for mis padres, Michaela and JB, to enjoy as well.
Pisac, which is where we’re headed and billed as the highlight of the day, is a quaint little
Overhead fortress view
town known for its festive Sunday Markets and mind-blowing backdrop of Incan Architecture. The Pisac ruins ascend from valley floor to mountain peak, equipped with all the bells and whistles of nearby ruin rival Machu Picchu, with a tenth of the crowds. Displaying a level of ingenuity and creativity unsurpassed for its time, Pisac is the largest Inca fortress discovered to date – modern researchers still have no idea how construction of such magnitude was capable 500 years ago. With all the legend and mystique surrounding the Inca Empire it becomes easy to believe there was some sort of Divine Intervention at play. I’m doing what I can to soak all this up as we pull up to the base of the ruins, but it’s kinda tough as I got to pee so bad I got the sweats.
My momma and me in the Pisac ruins
There are a couple tour buses around the base of the ruins; a few tents set up selling arts and crafts, food and drink, and some other just useless shit; and a decent amount of people milling around – but no bath room. Well ok, there has to be an isolated area around that I can sneak into and relieve myself, you know in the middle of a magnolia tree, or behind a dumpster, I’ll even take a knee between a couple of cars, but no such luck. Maybe I can hold it, we’ll do a nice little lap around the ruins and before long I’m sure I can find a nice secluded spot. So we begin our self guided tour and I awkwardly lead the pack battling the urge to buckle over and do the ‘I gotta pee’ dance I was so good at in my elementary years. A few hundred yards into our tour, I realize the secluded spot I fantasized about is just not going to happen; and I quickly come to the realization that if I am gonna pee, it’s gonna be on Sacred Ground. But do I really need to be urinating on sacred ground? Something about the idea is very unsettling. I want to be respectful and I certainly don’t want to follow the lead of those original Incans who got turned to stone by some subterranean Andean spirit. But then again the Incas had to do their business somewhere. You would think they had a few designated areas but I’m not sure the excavators have gotten around to speculating on where the old John was just yet. So here I am, surrounded by the raw beauty of the Sacred Valley, in a fortress built to honor the gods, whose construction may have been aided by the gods, and I am having one of the best pees of my life. I have a shy bladder but there was no shyness in this session – just pure bliss. JB helped out as my look-out to ensure a sense of privacy and after seeing the exorbitant relief on my face, he decided to join in on the action. This way if I am damned, at least I’ll have my dear ole Dad to suffer with.
Relieved and refreshed we continued deeper into the massive fortress bouldering over
Pisac ruins overlooking the famous Sunday market spot
ancient stonework and up narrow stairways. You try to get a grasp on how the Incas where able to erect such a large scale and intricate development and it’s just impossible. A people so intelligent and ahead of their time, surely they had some designated bathroom facilities. So for my second restroom break of the day I searched long and hard for an enclosure that resembled an ancient bathroom, and as I completed my business, offered up my apologies to the ancient ones if this was in fact someone’s bed — cause I know I’d be pissed if someone were peeing in my bed.
Posted 3 years, 7 months ago at 10:03 am. Add a comment