After the flood

The river banks of Arkansas
Writer extraordinaire and good buddy JoE Silva ditched air travel and is driving to the start of the Amgen Tour of California from his home base of Athens, Georgia. He’s en route to the Golden State to cover the Amgen Tour of California for Versus/NBC Sports/Comcast or whoever took over that dog and pony network.

I repeatedly told him he was insane. “Comcast will fly you business class to Tahoe and I bet if you pushed a bit harder they’d even have a limo waiting to pick you up!” But like any other delusional person, he couldn’t be swayed. Browne Eye Media is flying to California – shoddy plane maintenance be damned!

JoE took the time to send me a quick dispatch from the road of his three to four day journey across this beautiful country of ours.

It was time to ditch the Southeast. The temps were rising and all the co-eds have retreated to the Florida coast to bake themselves to various shades of brown throughout the summer. No Neil, I’m not ready 24/7 AC and cool lime shandies on the porch just yet. I want one last taste of white powder and temperate coastal climes. No…I’m not talking about Peru Sir, I’m referring to the left coast…the Golden State…Cali-for-ni-a. I want to see some hardcore climbing without having to rely on a YouTube-sized web portal with shaky connections to a Giro feed. The same action will be going down right here in America in just a few days time, and as you know I can’t resist the idea of top shelf cycling and well-stocked buffet tables in the press room.

But I’m doing it different this year Neil. I’ve had it with the friendly skies. Even though the President bagged Osama, the security lines aren’t any shorter, the food is over-priced and thanks to the unshakeable power of unions has left us with nothing better to look at than peri-menopausal stewardesses who’d rather give you a well thrown elbow to the jaw than the whole can of Coke. No Sir, and that’s without even mentioning all those 737’s whose upper fuselage is about as secure as the seal on a Pringle’s can. Nope…I’ve hit the open road. 2500 miles of pure black tarmac. Plush leather seats, loads of drive-thru cuisine, and Reptar blaring out of the stereo. Out here the highway patrolmen are concerned with whether you’re carrying more than 4oz of shampoo across state lines or if how far back your chair is reclined. This is the only way to Neil. Total freedom and no compromise. I even brought an extra bag with me (at no charge…) to tote back all the wine I plan on sampling while I’m out there. And yes, its far too big to ever fit in an overhead compartment.

That’s not to say that this trip hasn’t already seen it’s challenges. 500 miles in the trip or so we saw the evidence of the unchecked waters of the Mississippi roll savagely over the levees near Memphis and onto the riverbanks of Arkansas (see photo). The water levels had reached the height of the power lines in places and in some spots you practically would have needed sandbags and a submersible to visit a Dairy Queen.

No Neil, it isn’t all indiscreet scratching and tins of Vienna sausages out here like when you road trip. We have to be ready for anything. But with true grit and a good supply of moist towelettes, we’ll see Lake Tahoe inside of three days. Keep the phone lines open, and make sure my credit is restored at Harvey’s. Eric Burdon’s playing there this weekend and you know how he is around the pachinko machines.


Follow JoE on Twitter to see when he cracks at @The_JoESilva and on his blog “Just off the radar”

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