Sunday, 19 June 2011

Bar Trek

The day after Brandon we meandered through more of Vermont, including a brief drive through Manchester - we felt we had to go, but it was about as interesting as our new friends from Brandon had suggested it would be. We did see some more covered bridges (there were lots in Lancaster County, and they're popular in Vermont too it would seem), but we need to be careful that we don't become "covered bridge spotters" as that could turn in to an obsession, and a very dull one.

We'd booked a B&B in Townshend and when we arrived that evening, we were advised to visit Rick's Tavern, out on Route 30 near Newfane, for a quick drink and a bite to eat. Apparently Mick Jagger was in there previously, and if it's good enough for one ageing, successful English rockstar, then it's good enough for this slightly younger (but still ageing), unsuccessful English wannabe rockstar.

We wandered in to the tavern which was almost completely empty apart from one guy sitting alone at the end of the bar. We sat at a couple of stools at the other end of the bar and ordered drinks and two bowls of chilli. Behind the bar were hundreds, maybe thousands, of badges from what must have been every fire station in the US. I was browsing each of these when my attention was diverted by the things that I've noticed at every pub we've been in so far - the TV screens behind the bar. There are usually at least three screens, even in the smallest joints, and often they're showing at least three different baseball games for the benefit of the Bud Lite consumers sitting at the bar. But the event that's being screened tonight isn't really sport, though it's no less competitive. Tonight, live from Vegas, is Miss USA 2011, hosted by our very own national treasure, Kelly Osborne.

So we're sitting in a bar in the middle of nowhere, watching the mother of all beauty pageants with the two barmaids and the bar regular, each of us voicing our opinions on the style of each contestant's evening dress, swimsuit or walking style. As the evening goes on, the coverage delivered by Ms Osborne attempts to give us an insight into the personalities, politics and principles of these lovely ladies. One of the contestants, Miss California, lists her passions as "hockey and space exploration". That's right, you read that correctly, Miss California is "passionate", not about bunny rabbits, pansies and niceness, but about a sport that caused Vanouver's population to rip it's own city to pieces, and… space exploration!?!

The impromptu panel of judges assembled in Rick's Tavern begin an animated discussion, wondering if Miss California has already tried her hand at space exploration - if not, is it something she plans to do soon. Our regular points out that he is passionate about fishing, but space exploration is a far more complicated and expensive hobby. Anyway, she had our vote straight away, although not being US citizens I don't think we were allowed to vote - maybe if we'd phoned Kelly directly she might have been able to sort something out.

Unfortunately, long before we got to the results of the judging, it was closing time and we were ushered out by a no-nonsense barmaid (if you're familiar with Carla from Cheers, you'll be on the right lines). The next morning I jumped on to the internet, desperate for the result. Guess who's the new Miss USA? That's right, it's Intergalactic Starfleet Commander Alyssa Campanella from California. Only a matter of time before she's Miss Universe.

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