Mitch is too lazy to put one up, so...
If every business in the United States was run like United Airlines, workplace shootings would be an everyday occurrence.
Three months ago I booked a 5:00 AM flight to Thredbo.
“Make sure you get to the airport no later than 3:00 AM,” they said.
I complied with their request, as did most of the other passengers on my flight.
Unfortunately there were no United employees on hand at that hour to take our luggage.
We cooled our heels for a good thirty minutes or so before they strolled into the terminal, after which my fellow steers and I dropped off our bags and then stampeded over to airport security.
Turns out employees of the TSA don’t start work until 4:00 AM.
In spite of all that, I managed to make it to Thredbo before noon.
Ephemeral’s wife picked me up at the airport and then took me to the grocery store.
I took out my list and headed to the produce section, where I was immediately stabbed in the fuck with the Saber of Regret.
I started with the avocados, every one of which was as soft as a cobblestone.
As I made a second pass over the rocks someone had jokingly labeled as being “Ready to Eat!” a pair of teenaged girls appeared at my left.
One said to the other, “We need to find three ripe ones.”
Without looking up I barked, “Don’t waste your time. I’ve examined every single one of these fucking stones they call avocados and there’s not a goddamn ripe one in the bunch.”
They said nothing, and then moved a couple of feet over to the bin that held the organic avocados.
“None of those fuckers are ripe either, and yet they’ll cost you twice as much as these.”
One of the girls then whispered to her comrade, “I think there’s a trick to ripen them quickly.”
“There is,” I grunted, “And under different circumstances I’d give you the details as to how it’s done, but I’m in a hurry. The Google can show you the way.”
Once I finished my grocery shopping, eph's wife took me to the liquor store, where I picked up three liters of Hobo Spice, thirty-six beers, and a box of red wine.
Enough to get me through the week.
Eph’s wife then drove me back to their home, pointed towards their kitchen and said, “Let me know if you need anything."
Before departing SFO for Thredbo I was under the impression that I would be responsible for four meals: dinner with ephemeral and his wife (1st night), dinner with ephemeral at the campground (2nd night), a group dinner with whoever else showed up afterwards (3rd, 4th, or 5th night), and something for lunch. As such, I made a Bolognese sauce, meat and beans, pizza, and some other stuff.
Once I finished cooking for our trip (and destroying ephemeral’s kitchen in the process), I made shrimp and bacon tacos for our evening meal.
They weren’t as good as the shrimp and bacon tacos eph and I had while in Baja, but no one got sick, so I count that as a win.
The next morning ephemeral and his wife loaded his Jeep…
... and soon afterwards we were on the road.
Seemed the locals were worried that pxatim might be in town.
We stopped at a grocery/dry goods/guns & ammo/pharmacy/hardware/farming supplies/fishing & hunting/if-we-don’t have-it-you-don’t-need-it type store, where I bought my fishing license. Then we refueled the Jeep and grabbed a late lunch at one of ephemeral’s favorite restaurants.
The young waitress was enamored with eph (he can be quite charming), and next thing I knew she was at his side, spreading a map over the table and pointing out her favorite places to fish.
She was very well endowed, and as she bent over the table the low-cut shirt she was wearing revealed just enough (i.e., nearly everything) to make for an unexpectedly pleasant and memorable meal.
After lunch we grabbed some ice and then hit the road and made our way to the campground.
Upon our arrival, eph unloaded the truck while I drank some beer.
Eph then noticed that Mitch’s Uncle had beat us to the campground. His tent was already set up, but his vehicle was nowhere in sight.
Obviously he was out fishing.
We were sitting around the fire ring when a vehicle pulled up beside eph's Jeep.
“Who the fuck is that?“
Turned out to be the Ethiopian.
He and Mitch’s Uncle had both arrived early, and they’d both enjoyed a stellar day of fishing.
Not long afterwards Mitch’s Uncle drove into camp like someone approaching the finish line of the Baja 1000.
The camp hosts were not pleased, and they both stormed over and gave him a good scolding.
Bruiser rolled in well after the dust settled.
We’d all melted into our foldy-chairs with our beverages of choice, and while we were catching up, taking in the scenery, and washing the taste of travel out of our mouths, Mitch’s Uncle broke the spell and asked, “So what’s for dinner?”
“One Star Caesar salad, spaghetti in Bolognese sauce, Italian sausages, and fried chicken,” I replied.
“I eat my salad at 5:00 PM. I usually eat the rest of my dinner at 7:00 PM. Definitely no later than 7:30 PM.”
I smiled and thought, What do I look like, a goddamn waiter? If that was really the case you’d have brought your own fucking salad and you’d be eating it right now.
I soon realized he wasn't joking, because he kept droning on and on about how he had to eat his motherfucking salad at 5:00 PM.
Eventually I could take no more, so I drained my beer, walked over to the cooler, grabbed the kit bag of One Star Caesar salad I’d purchased the day before, and threw it at him.
“Here ya go, Your Lordship. Just don’t expect me to fucking mix it for you.”
Then I made myself a drink.
I told him where he could find the mixing tongs, but leaving his throne would have required too much effort, so he mixed it with his hands instead.
After pawing at it for a good ten minutes he said, “There’s no way I can eat all of this.”
That proved to be untrue, because half an hour later he pushed the last piece of romaine into his mouth, and One Star Caesar salad was off the evening menu.
We managed to get by without it.
(Photo credit ephemeral.) Mitch’s Uncle and the Ethiopian struggled to get a fire started, so I contributed two fingers of Hobo Spice to the effort.
Had I poured any more into the pit it might have been Ohio all over again.
Hobo Spice is like WD-40: a thousand and one uses.
I need to tell Hagen that it’s not just for mouthwash anymore.
Bruiser, Mitch’s Uncle, and the Ethiopian all went to bed early.
Eph and I stayed up late: smoking cigars, drinking, burning wood, solving the world’s problems...
As one does.
Bruiser was kind enough to lend me a Paco Pad. I threw a tarp on the ground, tossed the pad on top of it, laid out my sleeping bag on top of that, and slept like the dead.
The next morning Bruiser made a kickass “Spork Life” breakfast.
Afterwards Mitch’s Uncle and the Ethiopian went in search of new water to pillage, while eph, Bruiser, and I hit the water that they’d raped the day before.
Eph caught fish....
… and Bruiser caught fish.
Because I had no desire to spend another evening listening to His Lordship whine about how eating in the dark was unacceptable (for him), we headed back early so that I could get a jump on the evening meal.
I whipped up some pico & guac, meat and beans, tri tip sandwiches, and a one-and-one-half-star Caesar salad, the half star consisting of a fresh dressing made with imported anchovies, freshly grated parm, egg yolks, minced garlic, dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice, and olive oil.
The Ethiopian had a door that needed painting, so he was unable to stay for dinner.
After mixing up the guacamole, I divided it evenly into three bowls.
Mitch’s Uncle took one for himself and ate most of it, then turned to me and said, “Why did you make two salads?”
“What do you mean?”
“You made guacamole and Caesar salad. That’s two salads.”
“Guacamole is not a salad.”
“Well I can’t eat that Caesar salad now that I’ve had all of this guacamole.”
“Of course you can’t. My apologies, Your Lordship.”
“Why do you cook so much food? Do you like to cook?”
“I do, but what I really thrive on is people telling me when, what, and how much to cook, which is why I’m so very glad that you’re here.”
Bruiser and Mitch’s Uncle retired early, and once again Eph and I tended the fire with Hobo Spice and fine tobacco until the wee hours.
The next morning Bruiser prepared another kickass breakfast.
(Photo credit ephemeral.) (Photo credit ephemeral.) Afterwards Mitch’s Uncle said, “Hey guys. I brought you a bunch of beers. Come and take them.”
I took one.
It was some type of IPA; a brand I’d never seen before.
I turned to Mitch’s Uncle and asked, “Is this what you usually drink?”
“No, I don't like any of these beers. That’s why I brought them for you.”
He then followed that up with, “I’d much rather drink one of your Budweisers. Mind if I have one?”
Austrians. I’ll never understand them.
Bruiser and Mitch’s Uncle were now anxious to hit the water.
Before they left I gave Mitch’s Uncle a two-way radio so that
“This knob turns it on and controls the volume. I've already set it to the proper channel, so it’s the only thing you need to touch. The batteries are fresh, so don’t worry about draining them.”
Mitch’s Uncle put the radio in his pocket and said, “I’ll turn it on as soon as we get to the river.”
After they left, eph turned to me and said, “Let’s give them some time.”
I opened the beer Mitch’s Uncle had given me, took a sip, and spit it out. It tasted like someone had mixed a bottle of Sierra Nevada with half a cup of lemon juice.
I spent the next sixty minutes throwing back Budweisers, and once my palate was clear eph and I climbed into his Jeep and made our way towards the river.
It was a beautiful drive, and the scenery was spectacular.
Unfortunately, Thredbo is a super secret place, and I promised Bruiser that I wouldn’t show any photos that might give it away.
Eventually we pulled over onto a bluff that gave us an incredible view of the river.
Had we been younger we’d have grabbed our rods and raced down to the water, intent on catching every fish it held.
Instead, eph did this...
… while I set up my foldy-chair, fired up a cigar, opened a beer, and took it all in.
(Photo credit ephemeral. Cropped to remove any readily identifiable landmarks.) It was glorious.
Eventually eph pulled out his rod, rigged it, and hit the first pool.
He had no luck there, but farther upstream…