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CJ, DC, Illiniguy, and Uncle Mike

“Do you get to meet with Ricochet members very often on the road?” asked Ricochet member Curious John, as he and Illiniguy and I enjoyed our burgers and beer. “Not often enough,” I said before explaining how the rigors of life on the road frequently conspire to make such get togethers virtually impossible. But, oh, how I wish the opposite were true.

I contacted CJ a few days ago to tell him that there was a chance, though not a certainty, that I would be in the neighborhood last night. I hate imposing, and I certainly don’t want to disrupt people’s schedules. But on the off-chance that things could work out, why not make the effort? As it turned out, CJ was free, and so was Illiniguy.

After delivering 30,000 pounds of Ziploc bags to Waukegan, Illinois, I drove north about 25 miles and found a large truck stop with ample parking just inside the Wisconsin state line where, in due course, I met CJ. He’s about as affable a gentleman as I’ve ever met, and I asked if he’d like to take a stroll in the cold wind, cross the parking lot in the back of the place and look at the Ride of Pride. He accepted. The sun had set, but the parking lot lights did a sufficient job of illuminating the truck’s artwork just a little. And since I had taken the time to clean my room, I gave him a quick tour of the cab’s interior as well. He seemed surprised by how spacious the thing was, and it seemed the highlight of the tour for him was seeing the alligator head on the night stand.

Then it was on to a place called Uncle Mike’s Highway Pub, in nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin. What a friendly place, and I don’t think you’ll find a larger beer menu this side of Germany. We settled on a specialty beer that was brewed specifically for Uncle Mike’s Highway Pub. The waitress and CJ called it an, “IPA,” which I’m sure means something, but I forget what exactly. It had a slight bite to it, and a taste that seemed almost citric to me … but I found that the more I consumed of it the more I liked it. That’s happened before.

The conversation was free-wheeling, including the discovery that both CJ and I do some of our best writing when behind the wheel. When traffic is calm, the ideas start to roll in. The trick, as we discussed, is keeping these ideas alive long enough to actually write them later. A speech to text electronic application of some sort is indispensable.

And speaking of indispensable, a short time later, Illiniguy walked into the restaurant. I neglected to ask just how tall he is, but suffice to say that we all looked up to him. Infact, I was happy that our photograph was taken while we were seated, otherwise it would have looked like bring your kid to work day, since both CJ and Illiniguy are a great deal taller than the Little Cajun here.

Illiniguy is a tax attorney, a gentleman farmer, and a gentleman all around. With him on board, the conversation took more interesting turns than the Blue Ridge Parkway. We talked about history and how the most fascinating things about it tend to be biographical (at which point I suggested to Illiniguy that he really needs to get down to New Orleans sometime and explore the history there, since you can’t fall down without hitting your head on a fresh place where something fascinating happened at one time or another). We talked about food, and compared regional cuisines. 

Our conversation was punctuated at times by some lady with a microphone making incessant announcements. I couldn’t understand a thing she was saying since she sounded like the teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoon, only with the mic shoved halfway down her esophagus. But CJ and Illiniguy figured out that she was asking questions for a saloon-wide trivia contest that was taking place. Looking around, there were flat screens that displayed the questions for those of us who couldn’t make sense of what the lady was squawking about. One question, I believe, asked which state could boast giving the nation two presidents. Or something like that. At any rate, the answer was Massachusetts, as Illiniguy told the table next to us. They won that little round, thanks to the acumen of the on-scene Ricochettti.

In between the trivia announcements, we talked about CJ’s hugely interesting Audio Meet-Ups, and his ideas on expanding the podcasts. If you haven’t had a chance to participate in one of those conversations, you’re missing out on some real meat and potatoes exchanges. And, as CJ and I agreed, you’re missing the chance to talk with a delightful Ricochet member, Nanda Panjandrum, who is CJ’s mainstay on the Audio Meet-Up.

As the evening went on, we discussed our respective prognoses for the republic (fair to mostly dire), but eventually came around to the conclusion that, at some point, events will overcome and expose Barack Obama’s inability to lead and perhaps undercut current liberal trends. The magic question, of course, is how much of our liberty will be salvageable by that point. But that question would have to wait until next time, as we needed to adjourn and get some rest before reporting to work the following day to earn someone else’s “fair share” of goodies.

But we left secure in the knowledge that friendships were forged, and happy that Ricochet has become such a delightful community of interesting and talented people from so many walks of life. As I told the gentlemen, I don’t get to meet nearly as many Ricochet folks as I’d like. Hopefully I can improve on that this year which, come to think of it, would make for an excellent new year’s resolution.