Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nothing But Bad Luck and “Robert E. Lee’s Revenge” at the End of the Road

KC’s Crabs & Cues
10428 Jesse DuPont Memorial Highway
Good Luck, VA
Visited January 8, 2011

Beer selection: Shockingly good, considering the location.

Food: Local seafood you won’t soon forget.

“The road goes on forever and the party never ends.”
-- Robert Earl Keen

Robert Earl may be one hell of a song-writer but he was only half right.

Sometimes beer drinkers do hit the end of the road. Literally.

As a Suit in Strange Places, I’ve been to all 50 states, touched down at virtually every airport in America with scheduled service and driven every interstate. Let me tell you, I’ve drank beer along some genuine out-in-the-sticks byways and backwaters in my travels.

But there are a few places in this country so remote it is not even possible to pass through them on your way to somewhere else. Because there is no somewhere else to go.

Steve Earle sings eloquently about the “Hillbilly Highway”.

Folks, the Northern Neck of Virginia is where the Hillbilly Highway dead ends.

Hard against the Chesapeake Bay, sandwiched between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, old time Virginians have been making their living off the land and waters of this isolated peninsula for four centuries.

And they can get downright snippy about it too.

Forget any ideas you have about Southern hospitality. Northern Neckers can seem closer kin to Yankees – with a Tidewater twang.

Outsiders are called “come heres”.

And, no, that’s not a compliment.

Natives are “been heres”.

But it gets complicated. You can be born and bred in the Northern Neck, but if your granddaddy was a “come here”, you’re still not a “been here”.

Genuine heroes of liberty, Robert E. Lee and George Washington, were both “been heres”.

If you are still confused, maybe this will help.

As in, “ay, lil’ Jimmy Jett, don’t you go wunderun rund that there Get N Zip or wun a dem come heres ul snutch you up and curry you away!”

Or “Thum damn come heres kep buyun up all ur wuturfront rund my grunduddy’s fomland.”

Don’t take it personal. It’s just that Northern Neck “been heres” can be down right hostile to progress, so called.

You know. Like places to eat and drink beer.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple places to grab a meal and a beer on The Neck. It’s just that trying to find one that is open when you happen to be hungry or thirsty is harder than winning the lottery. In other words, Good Luck.

Saturday evenings in January can be especially difficult, apparently.

(One “been here” explained that the owners don’t want to work on weekends – they want to go drinking themselves.)

So you can imagine my excitement when I pulled up to KC’s Crabs and saw the “open” sign – a rare sight indeed – out here on Jessie DuPont Memorial Highway at a wide spot in the road unofficially known hereabouts as Good Luck. (That’s exactly what you’ll need if you dare to try the oysters.)

Backwater dive bar is definitely NOT the image this place is trying to convey.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, Zagats isn’t going to be stopping by any time soon.

But with a wide range of flat screen televisions showing Saturday afternoon college basketball games and the NFL Wild Card Playoffs, a clean newly renovated look and such down-right high-falutun' beer options as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on tap, you’d think the owners of this place were out to put their competition out of business.

If there were any.

But it was the owners’ entrepentrepreneurial spirit I really appreciated, as my beer glass doubled as a beer delivery vehicle and billboard, advertising local contractors and attorneys.

If I were a local bail bondsman, I’d definitely buy a spot.

Turns out, the local urgent care might be a good prospect too.

As the afternoon slipped into night, the place started to fill up with “been heres.”

Watermen, farmhands and families alike turned out to enjoy local Chesapeake Bay seafood. A few dudes eventually stumbled in to use the huge side billiard room.

As a “when in Rome” diner -- and given the name of the place -- I’m sure you are thinking this is going to be a blog about that most famous product of the Chesapeake Bay -- its world famous blue crab.

Just one problem.

Chesapeake Bay blue crabs aren’t in season in January.

But oysters are. And that’s a good thing. Or so I thought at the time.

The only problem with oysters is that there isn’t a lot to them. I’ve eaten seven dozen in one sitting before. And left starving.

That’s why I always order hush puppies with my oysters. And these were some of the best puppies I’ve ever had.

Crispy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside, these hush puppies had a delicious blend of seasoning and yet were as sweet as homemade corn bread. Hush puppy perfection.

My bucket of steamed oysters came fresh out of local waters. Or so I was told.

Don’t get me wrong. I left happy. Seven pints of Sierra Nevada, half a dozen delicious hush puppies and three dozen oysters will do that to you.

It wasn’t until the next day that the problems started. And I’m pretty sure the beer and hush puppies weren’t to blame.

Chills, fever, headache and fatigue set in Sunday afternoon. I’ll spare you the Monday morning symptoms.

Let’s just say I left Good Luck with more than just memories.

Look, as a Suit in Strange Places, it’s an occupational hazard. One I’m normally surprisingly immune to.

But if these Northern Neckers wanted to lay out the red carpet for this “come here” with -- let’s call it, “Robert E. Lee’s revenge” -- they succeeded.

This is one “come here” who won’t be coming back.

Rating: Wouldn’t Wear Shirt If They Paid Me.

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