Location: Buffalo, NY
Written by: DJ Doran
TAKE NOTE: This post was written while DJ & Joey were on their RV roadtrip across America. Sadly, their trip ended before it really got started. No worries, Shelly & Lucia are taking the Connextions Out n About Roadtrip to new heights, exploring one RV park at a time!
We awoke this morning to a full parking lot. It was hard falling asleep with the bright blinking neon lights that illuminate the Seneca Niagara Casino and with the constant starting and stopping of the diesel engines of the tour busses parked next to us as the lovely odor of their exhaust wafted into our opened windows, but sleep did eventually come and thankfully we did not suffocate. As Joey grunted for just a few minutes more of sleep I worked my way to the dash and started the engine. The ever present danger of accidentally leaving some minor electrical power running and killing the batteries have made me paranoid of being stranded and unable to start the engine so I am constantly making sure that we have battery power… (The reason for this is a future blog). I started the engine and heaved a sigh of relief. Today is not the day that I yell “Oh Shit” the batteries are dead because we forgot to shut off the power before we went to bed. As the air pressure builds in the system I prepare the coffee pot to brew the first cup of the day, hazelnut creamer at the ready of course, let’s not get crazy here. Priscilla is equipped with an air pressure system primarily used for braking and shock absorption but air pressure is also used to extend a small step when the entry door is opened and to open and close the generator compartment, hence the reason for waiting for the pressure to build. Usually, we can start the generator without having to open the pressurized compartment with the push of a button inside, but because of a little mishap during the summer, the switch burned out and well, now I have to use a pair of insulated pliers with a piece of wire bent into a “U” shape to jump the solenoid to start her up. (This also is another future blog), it does the job but I digress.
As the smell of fresh brewed coffee fills Priscilla I am getting the sense that things will be ok after all. I mean, we have a place to sleep, we have food and now I have coffee, who could ask for more than that? As Joey starts to come alive, I prepare his favorite Wizard of Oz cup with a teabag (hold the comments) and light the propane stove to heat the kettle, today is going to be a great day!
After a few text message exchanges between Michael Rizzo of “In the Loop” www.mybuffalopride.com, regarding our meeting at 1PM, we crank the engine and Priscilla heads for Allen Street and the Gay/Artistic/Bohemian section of Buffalo affectionately known as the “Fruit Loop”. The drive along I-190 toward town took us back across 2 bridges, which looked a lot higher and narrower in the daytime. We passed through yet another toll and got off the exit toward Allen street. With Joey as my navigator and bridge clearance monitor we slowly made our way to meet our new friend. It is amazing how many heads turn to watch Priscilla glide by and I love to blast her trumpet horns when people wave. As we approach Allen Street I can’t help but notice that we are the biggest vehicle that is driving through the neighborhood. There are cars parked on both sides of the street and no space long enough to maneuver Priscilla to the curb.
Throwing caution to the wind because that’s what we do, we press on. As we slowly make our way down Allen I catch a glimpse of a vacant double space, but of course it’s on the opposite side of the street. With the confidence of a Lion about to make a kill and the aggressiveness of a New Yorker going after that perfect parking spot, I take a right turn down the Main Street looking for a place that I can turn Priscilla around and I immediately spy a parking lot that fits the bill… I turn in and start to back out when I suddenly realize that Priscilla, Like our boat needs to be moving in order to turn smoothly. With all of my strength I try to turn her big wheels to get the angle needed to head back to the parking space but the triumph of my choice quickly turned into agony as I realize that Priscilla is wedged nose to tail between two parked cars with precious little space to maneuver. Joey runs to the back window to yell out clearances as I seesaw back and forth across the main street trying to get out of the jam were in (no pun intended). Traffic starts building up in both directions as Joey yells STOP! STOP. I slowly edge forward but only to gain a few more inches toward freedom. 1x, 2x, 3x and finally on the 4th try SUCCESS… I do the only thing I can do and that is smile broadly as pass the gawking motorists and we head back to Allen street. As we sit at the light waiting for our chance to turn down Allen and the coveted parking spot, I fear that that evil nemesis time has claimed my prize and we will have to begin from scratch, fortunately that was not the case. The mighty parking space hunter (Me) bagged his prey with aplomb and patience and as I eased Priscilla closer and closer to the curb and parked. I set her air brake, shut down the power and Joey and I started the short walk to meet our new friend.
We arrived at the offices of “In the Loop” and walked in to find a young man sitting behind the desk. He stood up and stretched out his hand in greeting and introduced himself as Michael or “Mikey” as his friends call him. He could obviously see by our reaction that we were expecting someone else… perhaps maybe a little older. As we sat down around the small table it quickly became apparent that what Mikey lacked in years he more than made up for in the articulation of his passion, knowledge and connection to the LGBT community in his city of Buffalo NY. Mikey walked us through the neighborhood and we stopped to have a drink where he used to Bartend until… ummm he no longer worked there, let’s leave it at that, called “Q” Bar. As we sat at the bar and chatted with some of the patrons and got to know each other and the hilarious bartender Ryan, I got the feeling that we were in a sort of Gay version of Cheers, where “Everybody Knows Your Name”, more on that later.
We completed our walk around the neighborhood and made plans to get together for the First Thursday Art Walk and a sampling of the bar scene in the Fruit Loop including a Drag Show, my FIRST at Club Marcella!