Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Like Swallows to Capistrano, Bikers Return to Tiki Bar

Friday, April 15, 2011
Warning:  No alternative energy news or eco-notes today, just a rant.

We are weatherbound in Solomons, MD (claim to fame:  More Bugeyes Built Here than any other Chesapeake Bay community).  We're constantly scoping for signs of spring, and the locals told us we got here just in time.  For, here in Solomons, spring arrives when the Tiki Bar opens.

The Tiki Bar doesn't look like much.  We went for a leg-stretch the night we got here, and if we hadn't know the place was famous we would have barely given it a first glance, let alone a second glance.  But "Tiki Opening" is a big deal. All our guidebooks mentioned it.  Solomons has a population of 1,500; for Tiki Opening, some 20,000 visitors show up.  Locals call it "Redneck Mardi Gras."

Um, Bar Opening is what it is.  No Arts Fest, or Jazz Fest, or Blues Fest.  No national or religious holiday, no Fourth of July fireworks, no commemoration of Important Local Historic Event, no parade, or sporting contest, or any other reason to drive to a small town in the middle of nowhere. Just a chance to consume expensive drinks in really really really crowded conditions.

Being from State College, we're quite used to this kind of phenomenon. After all, a group of intrepid Penn State students, sorely disappointed to be "forced" to leave campus for Spring Break and miss drinking with their friends on St. Patrick's Day, invented State Patty's Day--a random day on which to drink green beer to excess. Now thousands of students from other colleges drive hundreds of miles just to drink in State College on State Patty's Day. Go figure.

In State College, the police force directs significant resources to dealing with public drunkenness, and you could see the same thing happens here. Banners urging motorists to "designate a driver" fluttered on every corner not occupied by banners alerting citizens to expect police checkpoints. The team of Budweiser Clydesdales that pranced into town to open the event yesterday afternoon snorted their way past a vast mobile police command post, trucked in on a tractor trailer by the Calvert County Sheriff's office and staffed by grim-faced officers in full body Kevlar.

Anyway, while 20,000 visitors wearing miniskirts and Mardi Gras beads and preppie khakis and full Harley leathers and full-sleeve tats downed whiskey shots and snapped cell phone shots of giant inflatable beer bottles and big-hipped women bumping and grinding, we biked uptown to the town's OTHER famous attraction: a pretty little local museum, where we toured a lighthouse, ogled some otters, learned about oyster fishing, and enthusiastically admired the many antique wooden boats.

We had the place to ourselves.

More photos HERE.

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