ATTENTION: This blog is not current. It never has been. For current information please read a newspaper. Or an RSS feed. Or a sundial. All provide more up-to-the minute information than this blog.

For instance, this entry is about Tampa Bay. Do you really think we’d go anywhere near Florida with Katia threatening to backhand most of the eastern seaboard? Four Vines is “wine crazy”, but let’s call a spade a spade – wine crazy and crazy are not even close to the same thing. Okay? Old. Got it?

The above represents the terms and conditions of this blog. By clicking “AGREE” you’re indicating that you have read and understand the conditions, and, furthermore will not call, email, text, tweet, or send smoke signals anywhere near Four Vines Winery and any of it’s affiliates RE: where the bus can be found in Tampa, Florida.

To access the rest of the blog please click AGREE.

Okay, it’s not actually a link – just a little underlined text – but you get the idea. Because I swear if one more person calls me and asks where the bus is in Florida and how they can hitch a ride… (The following has been omitted for legal reasons) AND WE’LL SEE HOW YOU LIKE THAT!

Of course I’m just kidding. I would never do any of those things. I don’t even own a porcupine. And you’re right. Where are my manners? I should be flattered that you want to track us down – even if it is in the past tense. And, hey, I’m not without fault here – after all, if I just wrote this three months ago we would have never found ourselves in this predicament in the first place.

So we both pretty much suck.

Now where was I? Oh right, Tampa.

Here’s the spark notes version: Us. Tropicana Field. Naked.

That sounds wrong. Fun. But wrong. Maybe, I should fill in a few more details:

The city was a mess that night – the way all major sports cities are a mess when not one but two of their three major sports teams have games on the same night. So while we were headed to Tropicana for Rays/Yankees the other half of the city was headed to St. Pete Times to catch a Bolts game. I’m pretty sure both stadiums were empty, though, because the entire population of Florida seemed to be on the 275. Very strongly considered throwing the RV into park popping the Widescreen on the roof and streaming the game for everyone around. But then, there were the 60 tickets burning a hole in my pocket.

So we broke a few traffic laws. Made a few new “friends” on the interstate. And finally, finally, made it to the game.

The good folks over at Premiere Beverage tore through an entire pasture worth of ribs from Mazarro’s Italian Market. Now I what you’re thinking, Ribs aren’t exactly a traditional Italian fare, but the way Mazarro’s did it, they could have convinced me that Italy invented cows. I kid you not. If you are anywhere near the southeastern United States – get some. Now.

And don’t get me started on the wine. Naked. OVC. Biker. Maverick. Sophisticate, Syrah. Anything and everything. There and gone in a blink of an eye.

And that was just the primer. Once we got into the game itself, we’re lower level, third base line, right behind the NY bullpen. Of course, I’m a big Red Sox guy so I wasn’t impressed, but everyone else was eating it up. Okay, I ate it up too.

But just a little bit.

Til Next Time,
STAY NAKED

 

So I have what amounts to an absolutely splendid idea – stop me when this starts to sound familiar – I’m going to plan an insane tour across the country. And write about itt. Sorry for the extra “t” there, that was just my keyboard sticking from all the cobwebs. Yeah. It’s okay. I know what you thought. You thought that this blog was kinda like the party that you get invited to, and you showed up because you thought it was the cool party, but when you get there, it was totally dead because everyone else got invited to this other cooler party that you didn’t even know about.

That never happened to me or anything. It happened to my friend. Except not really, because if he was really my friend he would have been at the cool party with me. Yup.

I’m just going to stop talking now. I’m being swallowed up my own analogy.

But I’ll tell you what I’m not being swallowed up by – BLOGS. I got all high and mighty with my open letter to three people, and, then…. Well. Didn’t write a damn thing. So, EPIC FAIL.

Until now.

(Let’s all be honest, it might be an epic fail after this very moment too, but, admit it – you’re at least a little curious…).

So, where was I?

Phone rang. Driver Flaked. I took off like a bat outta hell. (Pardon the cliché. I could try to be more creative, but that might very well lead to more of the compelling nothing I’ve been serving up for the last two months. Besides “Bat outta Hell” is classic. Not Cliché. Classic.)

So we’re on the road again. Phoenix in 10 hours. We’re making good time. The problem is we need to be making great time. In Dallas. Tomorrow. That’s the dream.

Gotta stop for gas. Except when you’re driving on the 30 miles that I10 runs along the Rio Grande River, Juarez, Mexico stopping might mean never starting again. Ever. I thought Tijuana was bad with a couple thousand murders in a 12-month period. Juarez is pushing 5,000. Now, I’m not mathemagician, but I can tell you the difference between 5,000 and 5,002 equals “We are NOT stopping for gas!”.

But that was just the first problem.

If you followed the last blog, you know Janelle is a bit of a chowhound. Some people want cure cancer. Janelle wants to eat a slice of pizza in every city in America. And for the cities that don’t do pizza, what does she order instead? Mexican food. Which she sees. A Lot. Somehow, I become the voice of reason. God, help us all. But a bright red 40-foot RV is not pulling off near Juarez, Mexico. I’m too pretty. I offer to drop her off. She declines.

So that was the story of the longest half hour of my life.

We make it through. We get gas. We’re not dead. This trip is really starting to shape up.

First stop Super Wal-Mart – what a dazzling piece of Americana that is, but considering that they have enough money shut down this blog before you read it, I’m gonna take the “classic” ‘live and let live’ approach. A quick nap, and then we decide to head across west Texas, Midland – you know the drill. I didn’t see a bush or a tree taller than 2 feet in over four and a half hours of driving. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a landscape quite like the one that I’m looking across as the sun rises over Dallas, Texas.

We made it.

Now what?

If this were a normal blog, I’d be concerned with things like, oh, I don’t know, making sense. There would be beginnings, middles, and ends – in that order, give or take. Correctly spelled words. I’d (try to) refrain from drinking and typing at the same time. You know, all that boring stuff people have come to expect from the credentialed journalists of the world. If this were a normal blog, I’d have up-to-minute coverage on the Drink Naked Tour. This post would be about Aspen Food and Wine TONIGHT – and not what we did 6 months ago. It’d be, you know, relevant, and all that.

No such luck.

This blog is, at best, a Drink Naked Tour origin-story. We got a hot tip from a Hollywood exec that prequels were gonna be all the rage this summer, so we decided to cash in on a sure thing. The funny thing about sure things, of course, is they never seem to stay sure things for long – right LeBron? Opps. Guess, I should get back to my normal life, or, at the very least, this glass of Naked Chardonnay…

If this were a normal blog, I would never do what I’m about to do – which is go back BEFORE FLORIDA. Before my last post. Back to 2009. When it all started.

But almost didn’t–

2009

“Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in!”

And they is you, in case you didn’t pick up on that, America. The Drink Naked Tour was over. Epic. One of kind. We gassed up a bus and took Woodstock to every city in the country. You don’t do that twice. Doing it once was crazy enough.

But America felt otherwise.

To the people we partied with in all those cities, Naked Chardonnay was more than a wine. It was feeling. It was a declaration that summer isn’t only for the young – it’s for anyone with enough gall to get NAKED and stay that way. I’m not talking about living without clothes. I’m talking about living without pretense. Without boundaries. I’m talking about taking the mask off. Standing up and saying, “The World can go to Hell in hand basket for all I care. This is who I am. And this is who I intend to be.” That was the tour. That’s what it was about. And those nights – you smile just thinking about them – but they were crisp, light, care-free, and, in a word, unforgettable.

Turns out people remember unforgettable.

Dammit.

2011

So, I came up with a solution. The tour doesn’t need me. The Tour is the Tour. Get the bus there. Pop open a few cases of Naked. That’s where it’s at. So, I thought, what the hell, I’ll hire a driver – let somebody else take it over. So I did. And I put it outta mind.

Until I got the call.

I’m groggy as hell. Twenty or so empty wine bottles in the kitchen. Enough for a maybe a month, maybe two – and they probably would have lasted that long, too, if it wasn’t for the fact that we drank them all last night. What does it matter? I’ve got a day or two to shake it off. And then, as if on cue–

The phone rings.

Our driver bailed on us. So I’m there. Janel’s here. And the 2011 Drink Naked Tour was over before it started. So I look at Janel, and say “That’s it. It was a one-time thing. I tried – the second one just wasn’t in the cards.” Except, I didn’t say that. I said. “It’s Sunday morning. By Tuesday at 3:00 that bus’ gotta be in Dallas, Texas…. I’m going for it!” I start to pack. Finally, Janel says, I’ll go with you.  You can’t do that alone.”  Secretly I am thanking God but I didn’t want to have to ask her to do it.  I can’t believe I’m doing it.

I know it sounds crazy, but somewhere deep inside. Maybe my soul, maybe my kidneys, hard to tell, but I could have sworn I heard the something say:

“You know this one’s going to be bigger, right?”

You bet I do.

STAY NAKED

“What do you mean there’s a hole in the fence!?”

I guess, I should back up, because any fence, any hole, who cares, right? Except this fence. This hole. Right now. Not good.

But let’s get something straight, first.

If on a normal day, in, oh, I don’t know, New York or Chicago, were I to accidently stumble down the wrong alley, I might sweat. I’m not saying I can’t hold my own, but if by some ill-fated circumstance I found myself face-to-face with the wrong ten or twelve guys, or, you know, the Hun Army, there might be trouble. The point is I could get mugged – lose my wallet, maybe my shoes – but that’s an alley for you. That’s what happens. I used to worry about that kind of thing – muggings, you know, normal stuff. But what I didn’t worry about was being EATEN ALIVE.

That was before our drive to Miami.

Why? Because in Florida – on a little stretch of highway between Tampa and Miami – alley means something a little different. This isn’t your run of the mill squeezed-between-buildings-and-lined-with-dumpsters alley. There was not a single waiter – not one – out taking a drag of a much-needed cigarette. No prostitutes. No nothing. Not in this Alley. What can I say? Florida’s strange. Instead of buildings, you get Everglades. And instead of waiters, alligators. Luckily, there was a fence protecting the alligators from me and my black belt.

“What do you mean there’s a hole in the fence!?”

Shut up. Don’t judge me for squealing like a girl just then. It happens. Get over it.

Welcome to Alligator Alley – potentially the last stop the Drink Naked Tour ever makes…

COMMENT ON THE POST IF YOU THINK THE BUS

A)   Hit an alligator

B)   Swerved off the road to avoid hitting an entire family of alligators

C)   Broke the sound barrier getting the hell out of there

Planning a trip and not quite sure how to get the most out of your tasting? The following is an easy-to-follow two-step guide to insure that you hit a home run every time.

Step 1: Make sure the words “Four Vines” are clearly visible on the label.

Step 2: Drink.

What?

It always works for me…

STAY NAKED

So as my therapist was pretty quick to point out, journaling isn’t quite my strongest suit (apparently neither are anger management or “casual” drinking, but we’ll leave those for another day).  The point is – I owe you a blogs. With an S. I just figured I’d get out of it, what with the world ending and all on the 21st. Oops! How does all of humanity get a reprieve, but I still manage to get screwed? Oh well.

But herein lies the dilemma: I know it’s not February. You know it’s not February. Do you want me to pretend like it’s February and write about Daytona? That was rhetorical. Because, 1) No one’s reading this. And 2) I’m going to do it anyway.

DAYTONA:

I travel light.

I’m talking left-shoe-and-a-toothbrush-light. But since I went straight from my gate, to my Avis semi-compact, to the speedway. I had a bag with me. ONE BAG. Okay. We’re talking all of five pounds, six ounces. This a newborn. If it wasn’t for the handle, it’d be a wallet with wheels. Get the picture? Yeah. So – and this is important – PROBABLY NOT A BOMB. A grenade maybe. But “Little Brother”? No. Call me crazy, but it seems like a ton of steel circling a track lined with people is more dangerous than my left wingtip. Just me. Anyway, the guy at the gate wasn’t buying it, so I had walk 2 miles – an entire lap at Daytona is 2.5 miles, by the way – before I found a gate that wasn’t all bagphobic.

(If, at this point in the story you’re asking yourself why I didn’t just take my bag back to the car, and go in the first door, I’d just like to remind you that retrospect is twenty-twenty, and you were the kid that no one liked in school.)

So I’m in.

And, I don’t know, maybe 2 miles was 2 miles too many. Or maybe that semi-compact cut off the circulation to my head. Or maybe I never quite quite shook off the plane ride. Or I just inhaled too much exhaust. Or I was just exhausted. Whatever it was. This place just about knocked me out. I thought I was going to a bus parked in the middle of a racetrack.

But this is New York City.

I mean it. There were low, middle, and upper-class neighborhoods. A couple cops. And a guy handing out campaign buttons. IN THE BUS PARKING LOT OF THE DAYTONA 500. The way I see it, we were a hospital, a couple traffic lights, and a baseball team short of declaring this lot our own private island. Forget Drink Naked Tour. Welcome to Drink Naked Nation!

Maybe next year…

Okay, so anyway, I’m starting to get into this time-machine thing. We’ll call it a victory lap. Of course, you’re not reading this. But if you were, maybe I’d tell you that there’s more where that came from. A lot more. And maybe I’d also tell you that if you came back you read about it you might even win a bottle of Naked or a trip to a Naked Bus event. Or, hell, maybe even a bus of your very own.

Maybe…

Til Then,

STAY NAKED

This is an atrocity.

I mean, seriously, this is a insult of blogospheric proportions. 4 months. 10 states. 3,192 gallons of gas. Probably just as many gallons of wine. Daytona. Indy. Enough barbeque to last a lifetime. And, all of, what, 15 words? Seriously? That’s pretty pathetic. Okay, no…. that’s REALLY pathetic.

We apologize. The three of you deserve better.

Of course, when you’re out ripping America a new one it’s hard to find time to document the mayhem, but, then again, if you don’t what’s the point? When you get right down to it, The Drink Naked America tour sans America is just four middle-aged guys drinking alone on a bus. Not as cool. Actually, a bit concerning…

So, Mike, Tom, and Sharon – thanks for still wearing the team colors despite the 0-16 start. When this thing really takes off, and we’re posting an Open Letter to our 10,000th follower – you can tell him that’s he’s just another fair-weather fan trying to hop on the bandwagon–

Or should I say hop on the BUS!

More posts to come. Til then,

STAY NAKED.