Let’s face it, our winters have sucked lately. As a fan of snow, and snow activities, I’m finding this whole global warming thing to be a massive inconvenience, as it’s really cutting into my cross-country skiing time. Anyhow, this last week we’ve finally been blessed with a solid snowstorm that’s managed to stick around for a while, and so I decided that my day off was going to be used for a little solo ski. Now, I take solo skis pretty often on normal winters, once or twice a week in the morning for an hour or so in lieu of the runs I take the rest of the year, but since this isn’t a normal winter, I decided an extra-long ski was on the menu in order to maximize what might be my only shot. I planned out an 8 mile ski that I expected to take a solid couple of hours, which coincided perfectly with the fact that I had a brand new audio book to start.
Can I just take a little aside to say how much I love audio-books these days? I’d tried to get into the whole books on CD a couple of years ago, as I had a pretty nasty texting and driving habit. I figured if I had something to listen to, I wouldn’t feel the need to check my phone. I purchased For Whom the Bells Toll, by Ernest Hemingway, one of those books I felt like as an English major I should really love, written by Jon Slattery, my favorite Mad Men, but for whatever reason, not even the soothing, familiar sound of Roger Sterling reading me a story kept my attention, so after several tries, I figured books on tape weren’t for me. Fast forward to this summer, and I get an email offer to try a one month trial to check out Amazon’s Audible, an audio book subscription service, as a perk for my Prime membership. I ended up picking Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please, which was a great listen. I also figured out the secret, for me at least, for audio books. It needs to be non-fiction. With fiction, I need to see the words to help me picture the story. Non-fiction is just like listening to the news, or a radio interview. It just feels easier to follow along.
I’m a huge disciple of one Mr. Bruce Springsteen. I’d always liked Bruce (you can’t be an upstanding American citizen and not like Bruce), but ever since a friend of mine introduced me to the lyrics to “Thunder Road” one night sophomore year in college, I’ve become a super fan. I can’t even count how many times I’ve listened to his songs, or explain how much I love his lyricism. I’ve seen him live 6 times, and can confidently say that an encore of “Rosalita” is an 8-10 minute embodiment of human happiness. I was excited when Bruce announced his was going to release his autobiography, but made the wise decision to hold off reading it, until it came out audio style. I mean, I was dying to read what he wrote, but don’t you agree that having Bruce read it to you, in his unmistakable voice, using the same familiar intonations he uses when singing, is really the right way to experience this for the first time?
I was right of course, and had an amazing 3.5 hour ski listening to the boss tell me tales of his childhood, impart life lessons, and have great a-ha moments when I realized an anecdote he was telling mirrored a favorite lyric, or learned the real life inspiration for a song. One such inspiration he told us, was that the “The River” was about his sister and her husband, a guy who at one point made his living on the New Jersey rodeo circuit. You heard that correctly. New Jersey has a rodeo circuit. In fact, Bruce informed me, New Jersey, you may be surprised to know, actually has the longest running weekly rodeo in the country, Cowtown USA. Now, I’m always on the lookout for new and fun things to do in the greater PA area, but coming from Bruce himself? I knew I had to investigate further.
It turns out the Cowtown USA is located in the town of Pilesgrove, in south Jersey, just about an hour from Philadelphia, so a super accessible trip from most points in southeastern PA (it also turns out I actually drove right past this on several Lancaster to Sea Isle trips. An adult general admission is $20.00, and the rodeo is every Saturday at 7:30, with doors opening at 6, from May through September. Each rodeo includes the following events:
♦ Bull Riding
♦ Bareback Riding
♦ Saddle Bronc Riding
♦ Steer Wrestling
♦ Girl’s Barrel Racing
♦ Team Roping
♦ Tie Down Roping
Do I have any idea what any of those mean? Absolutely not, however I’d be more than wiling to find out. Upon perusing the website, I found out that tailgating is allowed, the event is BYOB, and you can absolutely take a camper or RV, which would be a unique way to spend a Saturday night. If camping at the rodeo isn’t your thing, the website is exceedingly helpful in regards to recommendations for lodging, places, to eat, and other activities to do prior to the rodeo. I started exploring these a bit, and after only my first link, knew where I’d head before I watched some bucking broncos: nearby Auburn Road Vineyards. Why? Mainly because they have a “Rosalita” wine, that’s described as a blush that “jumps a little lighter,” and is perfect for the “swamps of Jersey.” Sold.
Cowtown USA looks like a unique way to kill a nice Saturday summer night. And if you’re still skeptical about a rodeo in New Jersey, well, as the boss man says, “have a little faith, there’s magic in the night.”