Tales of Dixie: served with rambling thoughts on the side

-From a letter I had sent to Stacy Sitton about a place that (was) very dear to me. I honestly am starting to get to where I feel depressed leaving there... I don't know what it is but... It's like the old west back in there, nothing but dirt roads and high Mountain trails, lost from the ticking of clock's and what one would call a 'normal' civilization. I've posted some pic's that give a little taste of it.

The day starts early. The back of an axe gonging the iron fire pit down below the main cabin and the hauler from Dunabar, 'Timmme tooo git the Fuck up, Yewww Cocksuckers!' Frost on the fresh grass and the sound of Mallard creek meandering around 'Franks' (the lower cabin) and off under the bridge above You on the main road. A trip to the side by side outhouse and Jeff and I take turns with the latest addition that he brought up (Maxim magazine). The outhouse is Comfortably carpeted and hung with maps of Italy and old magazine articles for the reading in the biting cold of the beginning day. The sun comes up over the Mountain as the short walk is made up to the main cabin. The coffee is poured and a game of cribbage is sparked up. The smells... That of the whole thing beginning and breakfast is served. Pancakes filled with Huckleberry's that were picked from a trail high above the night before. The work is done in the mornings. Usually one of the logging way. Shawn falls the timber and trims the branches and t 'Old Mans beard' from the lodge poles as the rest of us follow behind and stack for burn piles in the fall. Brauc fires up one of the 4 wheelers and skids them down the slope into the landing. The choices are made on what’s for poles and possible cross fence. The rest are marked evenly for firewood. Shawn fire's back up the Stihl and the cutting continues as we again follow behind and stack the wood for the cold season. Somewhere before noon arrives and the work of the day is done. The first beers are cracked and we look around at each other and smiles and giggles erupt for we are ‘in it’ and all is fully awake. The fun loving awryness of Men begins and Dunabar falls as first victim with his gag reflux, Brauc and I take

turns pretending to get sick and Ron immediately begins to dry heave. The boy's stand in the circle and chuckle and laugh as Ron is buckled over trying to hold it back.

The agenda is to drink cold beer at decided meeting points and find new trails somewhere out there amongst it all and to find what's on the other side. The ritual of boone’s farm is passed around as if to toast this unknown journey and the men who go out and seek it. The trail starts at the 4 corners and ends up at the Montana road (One that arrives in Darby Mo) Where we are met by Brauc in the support vehicle (one that has no gas, nor hose for siphon. nor chain for towing or even a hint of first aid. Just beer and we couldn't be happier). A little pinch is taken and we head up the Montana road to the #505 trail that moderately to steep leads up to an area of dead wood standing like burnt spears high above us and the dust turns to ash. We stop to take it in. I look back and Stu is smiling. 'This is just fabulous.' He says in his Scottish way. The bikes kick to life and back down the other side we go off this unnamed Mountain. overgrown brush to one side and cliff to the other added with more throttle and a spit back of snoose I follow Jeff and his two stroke smoke down towards the rendezvous near the Red River Hot Springs. Brauc is nowhere to be found and We are wondering where the Hell that 1066 trail We were supposed to meet him at was somewhere at the bottom of this thing, and decide to head on up to the Hot Springs that was decided as the alternate backup in this case. A half hour goes by and the decision is made with low gas to take the roads back. Hauling ass and dust filling the air I notice a sign next to a road we are passing. 1066... The boy's wait below and I head up with the full tank to find Him. You can hear the 'COCKSUCKER'S AND MOTHERFUCKERS' as I'm meeting him coming down the hill. I start laughing and he answers back with one, and: 'HELL, I JUST TOOK A NAP. I FIGURED FUCK YOU GUYS. THEN I GOT TO THINKING: I WONDER IF THEY'RE IN TROUBLE? THEN I SAID FUCK IT AND WAS JUST GOING TO HEAD BACK TO THE CABIN AND WAIT IT OUT. FUCKERS’LL FIGURE IT OUT SOMEHOW...'

At the bottom of the 1066 we pull in and supply the boys with much needed mountain water from the ice cooler. Still having one Quad low on gas and non to be found in the ‘support vehicle’ we again decide to take the main roads. The road is long and inviting that way. We hit a piece of pavement and enjoy the clearness for a change through dusty sunglasses.

We arrive back (with just the right amount of gas we planned for...) at the cabin in late afternoon that stands at the mile high mark above sea level, and have a short pow wow of streaming oldies of forgotten country songs through the satellite radio. We begin to take our drinking serious and have a game of ‘31’ and talk of NASCAR at the Reno Club in Elk City. The game ends and we load the Ice chests into the Trucks and take the back roads into a forgotten town filled with rednecks and outlaw types refusing to give up on the idea of Liberty. On the way we chat of lost time and potential future, a pinch of Copenhagen and an occasional spot of game. I’m filled with peace for a moment looking out over the landscape of continuous mountain range. An emotion I tend to hold back these days. I’ve been in self sustaining limbo since I graduated High school 16 years ago, and have been in search of this very thing. Only to come to the conclusion of debt and a ladder climb to get out. Being a Pilot now is one of the best things that has happened to me. But I’m starting off on the bottom once again and these things take time. In that thought I choke down the feeling of piece for now. Hell it’ll be awhile before I can allow my soul to rest in such a place.

Otherwise I’d be in a state of constant misery in L.A. Something needs to be said about my L.A. times, though I’ve come to love it there. Back in the early 90’s when I was in the Marine Corps. I would have spoken a lot different of it. These days however are an acception. I’ve even considered staying there for good, thinking about it at this moment the possibility of a time share between both worlds wouldn’t be that bad of an idea.

Around a bend of forest road and manmade objects appear. Piles of scrap iron and old junk cars scattered amongst this beauty and the road opens up to a valley and Elk City sits there in all its glory as if the only thing in all this time that has changed is the seasons and the obvious modern façade of vehicles and a few structures surrounding it. But as for the heart of her one is reminded of that other time, imagining a minor from the late 1860’s swaggering across the street from the Hotel to quench his thirst at the Reno Club. Like a mirror of the past we pull up to the railing as if to hitch Brauc’s Chevy truck to it and head on in to quench our own thirst. The boy’s pull in behind us and Stuart gets out in awe. Stuart being a son of Scotland and a Cop that walked the beat in the streets of Glasgow to a Hostage Negotiator in Liverpool and into his recent retirement as the Chief of Police of the Grand Cayman’s has never witnessed an ‘old west’ time capsule such as this one. I’m pleased by his expression. For I was the one who dragged him well over a thousand miles of Plane’s, shuttle’s, car ride’s and motorcycles to get here.

The Reno Club is everything I had remembered. Prize kills and old photographs add to the cherished lean of this place. A greeting from the Barmaid’s and a round of drinks we settle in. One of the barmaids is on our side of the bar and I go over and begin a friendly flirt. ‘I haven’t seen this place for a spell. So, how long you been around these parts?’ ‘All my life’ She says in a half twangy, matter of fact half raspy voice. ‘where ‘er all you comin’ in from?’ ‘Dixie way, Mallard Creek to be exact. From Ellensburg Washington originally. Try to get up here a couple times of year. I’m really falling in love with this place. Stuart and I live in L.A. now and came up for the week.’ ‘I stayed in Ellensburg for a spell.’ ‘Not a bad town.’ ‘I needed to get back here though.’ ‘Ya, I can understand that.’ ‘Things around here are just different.’ ‘That sounds about right.’ ‘You wanna do some shots?’ She asks. ‘Hell, I don’t see why not.’ ‘You ever had a spider bite?’ ‘I've tried real hard not to But what the hell. What’s in it?’ ‘It’s a shot of Tarantula Tequila and a Red Bull. You pour the shot in to a glass of Red Bull and you drink it all at once.’ ‘Sounds delicious.’ After a couple of them. (Which tastes like Bazooka Bubble Gum), we started mixing it up. We took turns ordering the difference between my world and hers.

‘I feel like sucking a cock!’ ‘What did you just say?’ I ask her. ‘Oh, nothing.’ She lies back at me. ‘O.k.’ I sit for a second suspended in what I’m sure I just heard and decided to leave it right there where it was left. I noticed an L.A. Helicopters sticker up on the wall next to a picture of an Erickson Air Crane which had a Carson sticker attached to it. ‘You Gal’s wouldn’t happen to know of a guy by the name of Andre Hutchings who fly’s for Columbia Helicopters would ya?’ ‘Hell yes!’ I couldn’t stop from laughing at that point. The Man is a complete legend. I met Andre through an English friend of mine named Dave Walsh ‘Walshy’ 3 years earlier. I shortly there after drove to L.A. to his flight school and has became one of my closest friends. A quick entry on the ‘skipper’: Andre was from Australia. And had come out to L.A. when he was of age with a thousand dollars in travelers checks. He spent all of it on ‘piss’ and chasing California girls until one morning he woke up hung over and reached into his pocket to find that he had only one hundred dollar traveler’s check left. At that point he knew he wanted to stay in what he likes to phrase: ‘A great fuckn’ Country’. So he set out to find a job, and purchased himself what he calls his first ‘ride’, a huffy bicycle, and a bike lock to keep it safe. Andre beat the streets and soon found out after meeting a Mexican women in a laundry mat that he needed ‘papers’. ‘What are papers?’ ‘They are the numbers given to you that allow you to work in this country.’ The woman replied. ‘Well how many of them do I need mate?’ The lady just looked at him and smiled. So Andre finished up his laundry and stuffed them into his pack and headed out with a new plan, shortly to find that the palm tree that he locked his bike up to had only left him the tire with the lock attached to it. ‘Somebody stole me bike mate!’ As he tells the story. ‘So I took me tire and started walking down the street with me pack in one hand and me push bike tire in the other. And I came across this big tall fucka sweeping the pavement out in front of his shop. So I

went up to him and I say hay mate do ya have any work? He stood up and looked down at me and in this big Texan voice he says to me. ‘Where you from boy?’ I’m from Australia and he looks at me and says ‘come on inside’. ‘You got a place to stay kid?’ Ya, mate, I tell ‘em. ‘Well you can start by sweeping up the isle’s and we’ll go from there’. After I’d finished up me sweapin’ he sits me down and asks for me to fill out a bit of paypa’ wourk. A bit into it he comes to the part where he asks me for a Social Security Numba and I look at ‘em and he looks at me and I looked at ‘em and It hit me. That must be me papers, so I start givin ‘em numba’s and I get to the seventh numba and I hesitated and he looked up at me as if he was waiting for something so I said, 5 an paused, and this big mutha fucka goes. ‘Alright kid. Do you have a green card, anything?’ I tell him about the little Mexican gal in the laundry. He looks at me and says just as plane faced dry as can be. ‘alright this is what we are going to do, you come back here tomarra morning and we’ll go down and get you a bank account and we’ll put ya to work’. ‘I love this fuckn’ country mate, land of tha fuckn’ free. He took me down to that bank the next mourning, put a thousand dollars in me account. Come ta find out this big Texen mutha fucka is loaded, retired from some big oil company in Texas, moved out to Beverly Hills, went fucking bored and decided ta open up a little Ma and Pa’s. Neva went back to Oz mate.’ At that point I asked him what drove him to become a Pilot. ‘When I was a little kid we lived up above this Military base and I would watch these choppers haul ass and weave through the canyons below our house and I knew I had ta get in one. So every little bit of spare change I could save up, I’d go get me a flight lesson and the rest is history brutha.’ -Andre is thought of in the Helicopter world as one of the most natural Pilots to ever be put in a Helicopter and as a Man to be one of the best known.

I could hear the boy’s laughing and cracking wise ass remarks from behind me, so we ordered a round for them.

‘During the winter, I came up with this drink called ‘the vacation getaway’’. She named what all was in it and everything else for that matter. For She was a true mixologist of the trade. I can’t recollect the measure of spirits but they all came out pretty damn good. We took the shots over to the table where they were watching the Nascar race, and they all gave me that look of ‘You crazy son of a bitch’. My only point in hanging with the girl is one of that I like to get into the mind of the locals. For me in these cases it brings the trip full circle. I will admit that she had nice lines that connected in the right ways. But as far as I was concerned she reminded me of Calamity Jane from the HBO series Deadwood. Only a lot better looking. So Calamity Jane says to me: ‘Let’s go down to the VFW and get us a drink’. I look around and decide, sure enough, we are in a bar but say fuck it with mixed feelings and reply ‘Why not’. I go over and let the crew know about our plans and Shawn and Dunabar start chuckling, and Stu gives me the nod and fist to chest ‘go for it dude’look as Brauc loudly replies ‘THE FUCK YOU ARE! WE’LL LEAVE YOUR ASS.’ ‘I’ll be right back’ I tell ‘em and walk out the door with laughs and boyish comments left behind. As we walk down the hill I remind myself that I had quit smoking and take a drag off of her cigarette anyway. We enter the VFW at the bottom of the hill with a new knowledge that she is engaged to a local who is up in the country somewhere hunting and realize I’m walking into a potential ass kicking a this local post. Rough looking characters sit outside on the porch drinking ‘animal beer’ and cheap mixed drinks and we arrive at this thing with a lot of small talk and mixed looks upon me ‘the stranger’. I leave her to her business and carry on to the bar inside and belly up. There are a couple of ‘characters’ sitting down at the end and the place is empty accept for a very old man weathered and thin. ‘Howdy’ I call out to anyone who is listening and get a nod outta the one at the far end. Calamity Jane comes to my side and I take an uneasy step around the bar and then figure fuck it. When in Rome. ‘You wanna nuther ‘spider bite’. She calls out. ‘why not.’ I reply. ‘Make us one of those bar keep and make sure they’re fucking cold! You son’s of bitches keep forgetting to plug that piece of shit cooler of yours in ‘till mid day.’ ‘Hey. You watch your mouth in here.’ The old man cast’s and heads into the back for at least five minutes I would say and comes shuffling back with a couple of cans of Red Bull. Ten minutes later we take down the warm concocsion in a swallow. ‘Do you think I could trouble you for a can of Rainier old timer’. I ask. A nod and he shuffles over and back and sits it on the counter in front of me. I reach for it and realize it’s the temperature of the sun and take a pull. ‘Well, my lady. I guessn’ I’d better head back up and meet up with the boys’. ‘You sure you don’t wanna stay’. She says ‘Naw, We’re probably about ready to head back for supper.’ I reply. ‘Well I’ll go with ya an keep ya company.’

‘Sure enough.’ We make the short walk uphill back to the Reno Club and have a pleasant talk of her home and how I would like to end up here. Not thinking that that might have been suggestive, she looks at me and takes my hand and smiles. ‘You coming back this way?’ ‘Oh, maybe, depends on what sort of itch we get.’ ‘How long you staying up at Mallard creek?’ ‘Until Thursday’. ‘Well I’m supposed to drive up to camp and see my Fiance. But I might just come over and see you instead.’ I held back a look of… and put on a smile and said, ‘ya, if you’re up that way stop on in’. ‘I know just where you’re at’. She says. Oh good. I think to myself… We get back into the joint and half the crew is gone. With a sigh of relief I meet they’re twisted looks with a smile. Brauc let’s out, ‘We can come get ya tomorrow, if ya want?’ ‘Naw, I’m good let’s get back to the cabin.’ We shuffle out of the joint and I give her a shorter than a long goodbye. At this point I can tell she’s waiting for me to put up a suggestion but I fold and hug her goodbye. ‘Until next time my dear.’ I leave with the tips of our fingers extend at each other and I turn and slip away.

The day is over and we enter the evening. Jeff and I take a pull off a bottle of Absinthe he ordered from the old country and smile at each other with biting faces. It’s getting quieter now as the sun is nearly down over the mountain and we sit out on the deck of the main cabin,a fawn comes down from hillside to the salt lick below us. We sit and let the day out and the night in. Smoking cigars and play a game or two of cribbage as Shawn prepares one of his gourmet meals consisting of: marinated flank steak, Bodie’s beans, morels simmered in butter and baby yellow potato’s marinated in olive oil and dill. There are no words that can describe these meals, nor will I give away the secrets that make them as good as they are. But I will say that it takes people who are special and a pride in making them, a dash of the moment and a cup of where you are at, and the one’s you are sharing it with.

With full bellies and light from the lanterns lighting our way we sit and listen to the haunting sound of old country songs lingering in the background. We take to the late evening night cap of poker. There are no details on who won or who lost, for we all won that day. The prize was that of doing whatever it took to get so far away and share that time together amongst our friends and family. I lay awake in bed and am in awe of this quiet. It is almost a defining stillness. Jeff and I usually talk ourselves into sleep with ancient talks we all had growing up. A brilliant and lost art we all had from sleep overs in our beginning age. Jeff and I have had many, and many to come my friend. (I want him to know how much that means to me. I want them all too know) It’s been years since I have witnessed such a thing. I’m left now in this dark with my mind clear. I think of how lucky I really am and wonder of her as I often do. Wondering if, like I do when I lean over that railing looking out to the road, that maybe one day she will get in her car and suddenly appear like a dream. I’ve said many times that the idea of something is sometimes a better thing (for it is not ruined). But where would we be if we always hesitated and did not let that idea of peace in and never allowed our dreams come true. That damned security one feels they need to obtain for social standards. We could all take a lesson from those who live on the other side of ‘civilization’,

For those who live in 'Dixie'. -As for me, I'm heading back to L.A. now. I’ll keep on keeping on and when I feel my belly is full, and my goal is obtained I’ll get in my car and drive until I find 'Dixie' and there I will stay.

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