Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Great Guys of INKYTNMO

What’s INKYTNMO? The 1,598-mile road trip I just completed with my family, with that name being derived from the states we visited. We journeyed from Milwaukee to a brief stop in Indianapolis, then on to Louisville, Mammoth Cave, Nashville, Memphis and St. Louis before looping back home. We had the time of our lives for nine glorious days!

Part of the fun of traveling is the people you meet and/or see on the way. This trip had no shortage of interesting sightings. In the Most Amazing Coincidence category: We picked out a fellow on the Belle of Louisville steamboat on Saturday who bore a slight resemblance to a certain star of home makeover shows. Our pal “Ty Pennington” turned up again at our hotel in Nashville and AGAIN at our hotel in Memphis! What are the odds? Meanwhile, a J.D. Fortune lookalike my daughter Manzi fell for at a Beale Street bar showed up at our hotel breakfast along with Ty.

Our St. Louis hotel turned out to be a hotbed of hotties. There was a big extreme sports event in town, and we discovered none other than Tony Hawk hanging out at the hotel bar. The next morning we saw a couple other famous skaters interviewed on local TV, only to see them live at the hotel restaurant for breakfast! Manzi forgot about “J.D.” and even Tony Hawk, once she laid eyes on Jesse Fritsch two tables over in the Union Grill.

But this column is not about men my kids find attractive, it’s about the ones I like! LOL So meet my favorite three guys from the journey....

Glenn Taylor, Louisville--Our first night of the trip we wandered over to Louisville’s Fourth Street Live. It’s a collection of restaurants, shops and clubs joined by an immense canopy-structure that covers the entire street. I can’t begin to describe it, but it’s way cool. There was a special “Beach Bash” on, complete with a pool and sand beach in the middle of the street. Music was provided by a most excellent cover band called
“This, That and the Other.” Everyone in the family immediately pegged the lead guitarist, Glenn Taylor, for me. It’s always fun when you spot someone who is exactly your type, especially when he plays guitar. Glenn bore a nice resemblance to a certain other person previously mentioned as my type on this blog, Cody Willard. Add vacation, beer, and a belly full of tasty appetizers and bourbon from Maker’s Mark Lounge and you have the picture of my happiness that night in Louisville.

Ranger Steve, Mammoth Cave--Sunday afternoon was our long-anticipated visit to Mammoth Cave. We were fortunate to be led on our tour by the wonderful Ranger Steve, a fellow who was a younger, more slender version of another heart-throb I’ve mentioned on this blog, composer John Williams. I’m not sure if Ranger Steve is a musician or not, but his charm lay in his fabulous story-telling abilities. As we descended ever downward into the cavernous abyss, he regaled us with tale after tale of 150 years of Mammoth Cave history. What could be more romantic than standing with 120 other people in a cave, by the light of two antique oil lamps, listening to Ranger Steve talk about subterranean discovery and disaster? Sigh.

Danny Umfress, Memphis--But the dream-man capper for me on this fabulous vacation came into our lives Tuesday night. We had discovered ahead of time that a band called Gary Hardy and the Memphis 2 was going to be doing a tribute to Johnny Cash that night at the Blues City Café. After gorging ourselves on barbecue, we headed over to the bar side of the Café, and on the way in we met Danny, who introduced himself and invited us to the show. We settled in with Jack & Cokes, and were treated to the most fantastic live sampling of old Memphis music you can imagine. Not only did Gary Hardy do a fabulous Johnny Cash, he knew everyone in the business and was owner for awhile of the famous Sun Studio. He was quite the storyteller too--funny and fascinating and a great musician. Meanwhile, Danny himself had played with Johnny Cash, and he proved to be a dazzling guitarist, the best I’ve ever seen with my own eyes. He also bore a resemblance to a certain person I have mentioned repeatedly on this blog, my main man, Les Stroud. Danny talked with us several times and seemed a sweet, gentle southern man. And believe me, I’ll never forget the way he looked at me during the opening riff of “Ring of Fire.” Danny, in my mind that will always be our song.

Ah INKYTNMO...how I miss thee! Who knows when I may again find my way down south in Kentucky and Tennessee, but I’ll remember forever Glenn, Steve and especially Danny, my dear southern boys.

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