I truly enjoy cigars but rarely smoke more than two a week. As for the spirit world, it is a rare indulgence that I partake in. Yet the word on the street was that Crush and Roll was a primo event, that anyone who considers themselves a player or wannabe in this world should attend.
I did some homework and spoke to several of my cigar posse who attended last year and it was all thumbs up. I was stoked to go but did not want to make the journey alone. Paso Robles is 250 miles from LA, and a hard climb to do in one day. Crush and Roll is a 2 day gig but that was not the plan so I recruited two of my fellow cigar posse to make the trip with me.
One of the posse was a PHD who taught dental students how to spot oral cancer in your mouth. Interesting take if you smoke cigars. The other car mate was an expert in emergency preparedness . This is another reason I enjoy cigars. It has been described as an urban fishing pole, a gathering of mind and bodies who become brothers of the leaf.
The details were worked out, I was to be picked up early Saturday morning and we were going to make that 250 mile trip to Paso Robles and get there about the time the gates opened which was 1 pm. The boys came to my door a bit late but still within our time frame to get there by 1 pm. The first order of discussion was what cigar to smoke in the car. Mr. PHD.brought with him three Bahia Gold box pressed smokes and offered them to his car companions. I declined telling the crew I was not going to smoke till I got to Crush and Roll. That was received with some derision but I stood firm. Mr. Emergency Preparedness to be known as EP. decided to light up a cheap, machine made cigar which was a cigar in name only. This is not what I expected on the first leg of the cigar journey. Their choice however, so it passed without further ado.
Route 101 is a hell of a beautiful road on the way to Paso Robles, Ca. It borders the Pacific ocean until you get past Santa Barbara, then it’s path follow rolling hills. You swear you are driving in New England, except the temperature is close to 100. My driving companions continued to smoke and we discussed topics which frankly escape me now. They seemed important at the time but that’s the joy of cigar talk. It’s talk without malice. Of course the discussions can be heated or have opinions, but I have always found that most cigar guys will not hassle you even if they disagree with your rap. We made good time towards our destination and got to Paso Robles with an hour to spare before the gates opened for Crush and Roll.
Next to the outdoor center where Crush and Roll was being staged was another event that we came across. A flea market which sold mostly minerals and rocks. Rocks of different types, minerals made into jewelry, and some booths just looked like someone unloaded their garage and wanted to make a couple of bucks. Some of the stuff was pretty cool , we walked around and took in the wares. It was a pleasant sojourn viewing stuff I knew very little about. I did take two Geology courses back in college but my collective wisdom was just about nil. It was time to go to Crush and Roll and see stuff I knew something about. Cigars and other spirits awaited us.
We got to the line as the event opened and the crowd was buzzing and anxious to partake in the joys of smoke and spirits. I chatted with a dude from the town of Tehachpapi, Ca. made semi famous in a song by Little Feat. I told him about the song and he was not aware of it. Not sure he knew who Little Feat were. No matter, he was happy to be at Crush and Roll.
Whenever you go to a happening, you need a plan of attack. Should you jump in the line, wait forever for a cigar or a drink or just wait till the lines cool down a bit? My group went straight to the beginning of the line along with the other crazed folks looking for a cigar and alcohol fix. My first scores was a Partegas 1845 and Room 101 smoke. Also a taste of a Roxo port , very nice blend. The line snaked around several booths , we grabbed several more smokes, and what I noticed, people were chatting about the wine and this slowed the movement of the crew down. I stood around for a few more minutes and made a grand decision. I would barge ahead of the wine crowd and just go to the cigar vendors. This was a wise move. I picked up the pace and scored Camacho , Dignity, Torano, and Drew Estate without too much trouble. I then went to the other side of the booths and claimed my Tiant , La Palina, Berger and Argenti without a hitch. I was on fire now. Next came San Lontano, Kristoff,Chinnock Cellars, Bellaterra ,Asylum, Miami cigars, and Lou Rodriquez stogies. I needed a break and found a seat , grabbing a Figueroa Mtn. Red beer. The temp. was about 100, people were milling around trying to find shade, with the intent of either drinking and smoking. My smoke was the Bellaterra cigar, a brand I was not famiilar with and apparently not many others knew them either. No matter, it was a very good smoke and I would consider it a great find. That is the beauty of an event of this type. You get a broad sample of many cigars that are not widely distributed but are first rate. I found my two comrades and we all were quite pleased and took time for a quick bite.
Now, there is always drama in everyone’s life and I was about to get mine. My wife called me and said there was a report of a fire edging around my “hood” . The radio reports said the fire crews were battling this blaze along with the end of another fire near the 405 freeway which is close to where I live. She was calling me every 10 minutes or so and giving me updates. My phone was running out of charge, I was 250 miles away and except for getting freaked out, nothing I could do. Fortunately the blaze near me was misreported and actually was further away from my house. I could smoke again in peace.
The rest of the day proved to be very enjoyable. I received my samples of cigars from many vendors. There were 20 in all. I had good discussions with the reps from Blue Mountain Cigars, Roma Craft Tobac, the crew from Cigar Rights of America, and Cigar and Spirits Magazine. I met some Twitter friends who only knew from this venue. Saw buddies from San Lontano and Dignity who I knew from other encounters.
What I got from from Crush and Roll besides the products , is why I enjoy the companionship of cigars so much. People who I meet in cigar events want to be there and get a kick out of meeting other like minded people. You can be an expert or not, what you bring to the table is slightly enriched when you leave. My circle has gotten bigger, more joyful and if I manage to get to any of the towns my cigar friends live, I am sure they would invite me in for a sit down and smoke.