June 9th, 2011
I successfully packed my bike with everything I needed for the ROT Rally. Needless to say, I know there are some things I didn’t need to pack and they will be coming home with me later today so I have less to carry back home on Sunday. But the bike made the trip to Austin just fine—and I did everything I could to miss all the bumps in the road for fear that the weight of the pack would break the sissy bar (I’ve heard stories about things like this happening).
I took the 6-person tent with me on this trip to test it out. Once I set it up, I was glad that I did. It has more room inside than imaginable, and with Susan coming down on Friday we will have lots of room to spread out. I feel like I’m in a cabin, and if I had a portable table it would very much feel like home. I can store everything inside and still have room to stand in and sleep in. It’s very nice—I’m glad we bought this last year.
Once set up and with all the initial “hellos” to fellow SOBer’s (that’s what this group I’m with is called), I set out for Austin. It’s a real easy ride from the Event Center to East Austin—about 8 miles. East Austin is changing almost everytime I travel through there. It reminds me the most of New Orleans, and it is getting a real “Marigny/Bywater” funkyness about it. Probably my favorite place in Austin now, and if we were to move to Austin it definitely would be in the East. Lots of small local restaurants and shops, I also passed a place advertising “free” comedy during the week. I’m going to eat at a few of the local joints in East Austin during the Rally—I’d rather do that than pay high prices to corporate chains at the Rally.
There is a certain “block” in East Austin that catches my fancy—East 6th between Onion and Comal. That’s where the Volstead and the Gypsy bars are located. I didn’t go to the Gypsy last night because I was trying to get back to the campground in time to hand with the other SOBer’s. But I did get a chance to hang at the Volstead, and honestly this is my favorite bar in Austin.
Not many folks in the Volstead when I got there, but the jukebox was playing some great music and they’ve got Abita Amber in bottles! The bartender (Mark?) even conjured up an excellent Sazerac for me, and you know I’ll be back there every night this weekend ;) I put on a few tunes from the Treme soundtrack on the jukebox (now how many jukeboxes in Austin has the Treme soundtrack?) and got a chance to spend some time with the owner Sarah. I felt like I was truly home, and it’s good to hang with folks who actually speak and understand YAT! For those in Austin who are New Orleans exiles, THIS is the place to be every night!
As I hit my two drink limit, I headed back to the ROT Rally. For all the moaning and groaning we all have about prices going up this year for ROT, once I got there and began mingling with friends, I knew it was worth every penny. I met the folks I camp with for the first time last year. New stories, new adventures, broken relationships—all the things that go on over a year were talked about at the campsite. The social area is just outside my tent’s front opening, so I’m right in the middle of the action. Around 10:30 we all headed over to Bebop’s Bus to get ready for the nightly “midnight toast”.
Bebop’s Bus makes ROT for me. Good people, drinks galore, jokes and loud talking, and some stuff that only happens behind closed bus doors! On this Wednesday night, the bus was moderately packed, making us all wonder what it will look like by Saturday (last year, there was a line going out the door). Bebop is a great host, and his brothers and dad are a hoot. My signature was still on the roof, as were many of our signatures and various paintings of female body parts. Hey, it’s a biker rally—what were you expecting? We stayed into the early morning hours, and then it was time for me to catch some sleep prior to coming to work.
I will head back down to the Rally later today. Until then, I’ve got good memories of the first day at ROT. It’s all good :)