I have crossed something off my list, a list I didn’t realize I had. This List has no name.
Some have a Bucket List; that list, either written or in mind, that contains the things that one wants to accomplish before they leave this mortal coil… or kick the bucket as they say. A few things I have been able to cross off my list, some even before I knew I had a bucket list have been things like:
- Descend into the Grand Canyon (in my case, by helicopter)
- Fly an airplane (thanks Bill!)
- See an active volcano – check twice (different volcanoes)! Once I flew to the volcanic peak via helicopter.
- Drink a Guinness IN Ireland – if you want to be technical, I crossed this off multiple times in the course of six days, but we don’t need to be picky.
Then there are things you wind up doing in life that you don’t ever expect to do, but have that “wow” factor. These are things that you never think about doing, have an urge to do, or even think that you might some day get to do if the opportunity comes around. These are the mysteries that life holds for us around corners. Life’s little enigmas, if you will.
The item on my Enigma List (a name!) that I crossed off was: Attend a Rodeo.
Now, you do not know much about me, I’m sure, but a rodeo really is the perfect thing on my personal Enigma List. This is for many reasons:
- I live in New Jersey. Yes the state with the reputation for big hair, plenty of beaches, industrialized towns, chemical landfills, the Mob and those morons from the reality show. I don’t live in Texas, Oklahoma, etc.
- I don’t watch NASCAR, work with livestock, or listen to either of the associated music, Country OR Western. I’m not judging here in any way, they are just not my thing. I watch football, work with computers and listen mostly to rock.
- I don’t have big belt buckles, a plaid shirt or a cowboy hat.
- I don’t chew tobaccy.
There is a rodeo in southern New Jersey called, wait for it… Cowtown Rodeo. This is serious. I heard about it years ago when I moved down here, but just kind of thought the whole thing was a guy named Jim with chaps and a lasso who had an aged horse and sickly cow. Oh how I was wrong.
This thing has been going for over 50 years, and from what I understand, is on the national rodeo circuit, or something. They do all the things that I saw on TV when I was a kid: bull riding, bucking bronco riding, steer wrestling, calf roping and abusing, steer rasslin’… maybe I have the names of some of them wrong, but come on give me a break! They even had a rodeo clown of sorts out there, mic’d up, to entertain the crowd. This guy was supposedly famous and from Wyoming. Something odd was when he started talking about the Philadelphia Eagles trading away our starting quarterback, Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins. At that moment I truly felt like I was in some kind of twisted dream sequence on Hee Haw.
The whole thing was the suggestion of one of our friends and it snowballed from there. All in all, four families headed over. I really don’t have enough space here to explain how many oddities I witnessed on that night. The mosquitoes were the only bit of normalcy I do believe.
First thing that hit me was the damn cost! We could have gone to a Major League Baseball game for the same cost that night. But the difference was, you could bring in a cooler of your favorite beverages! How, you ask? Well, you know at the airport before you check in at the counter, there is a size measurement for your carry-on? You have to make sure your carry-on fits in there, or it has to be checked. Well, the rodeo had that for coolers. The cooler had to fit in, or you couldn’t bring it in. Nice.
There were cowboys everywhere. The hats were on, the plaid shirts were blazing, the buckles were huge and the jeans were painted on. I felt very out of place in shorts and sneakers.
There was a guy on a folding chair drinking a 40 of beer, who, about halfway through, went into his cooler and took out a bag of Godiva chocolates. I mean what’s a better compliment to Bud than truffles?
All of the signs were blaring with painted letters on plywood or cardboard. From the front entrance costs, to the “Sandwiches” and “Fixins” signs at the food booths, to the sign trying to sell you a bull. OK, quick explanation here. There was some huge ass white steer that you could pay $8.00 to sit on and get your picture taken with. Yes, $8.00. Anyway, a sign was next to him saying that the steer and the whole photo setup was for sale, “Serious inquiries only.”
After several hundred mosquito bites, and about a hundred dollars’ worth of cowboy hats, funnel cakes, popcorn and drinks for the kids, we headed out at the Intermission. We left partly because it was getting late, and the kids needed to go to bed soon, but that wasn’t all. Mostly it was because our wives cheered loudly during the calf roping portion. Not in the traditional rodeo sense, but instead every time the sprinting calf escaped the lasso and wasn’t violently yanked to the ground. This, to rodeo attendees, is like a New York Giants fan coming into the Philadelphia Eagles stadium and cheering loudly if the Eagles fumble the ball. Let’s just say I thought some drunk cowboys were going to hogtie us.
All in all it was an adventure and a good time. It was the people I went with that made it a great time. Will I go back? Maybe if I tailgate first. But I was able to cross something off my Enigma List.
Oh yeah, I’ve also gone to a Lumberjack Festival, but that’s a story for another time.