Memorial weekend, a fine time for hanging with friends in the woods. We found ourselves in between Birmingham, Alabama and Fredericksburg, Texas – somewhere near the half way point on some map is Cass, Arkansas. It’s a small town, population: a handful, and five and a half miles from the turnoff you will find Byrd’s Adventure Center.
Byrd’s is redneck heaven, not a lot of rules, there is a river, four wheel drive trails and this weekend, an event called Madness in May. Our friends Duane and Cody from Come Get Ya Some Motorsports are the hosts. They recruit their friends to help them put on a little competition through the woods. It’s a competition that has been going on for 13 years. Some of the best rock crawlers got their start here.
The highlight for many is the muddin’ for life competition, the highlight for me was the crawfish boil. Eighty pounds of crawfish, still squirming in the ice chest succumbed to the boiling water and curled their tails. That’s how you know they hit the water still alive. The corn and potatoes were seasoned heavily with Old Bay, or something like it. The shrimp and Andouille followed, all of it heavily spiced and delicious. This is a finger food meal, everyone standing around the double picnic tables covered in plastic. There are no serving platters, no worrying about insects, you just crowd around and get ready to eat.
Eating fresh crawfish is easier than you are made to believe, the tail snaps right off and you toss the rest of it. If you want to suck the head, it is really just the body cavity, that’s where the spice tends to gather. Of course, that’s also where the intestines are, so it looks like poop. Really, just like baby poop. The tail itself, you break the pins holding it together on the ends and then either peel it like a shrimp or pinch the other end and coax it out of the shell with your teeth. I like to look at my food, so I tended to peel the shell all the way off.
Of the sixty people standing around eating, I didn’t see one raise their eyebrows at the little waterbugs, every kid who walked by me had a plateful. It’s good to see young ones enjoying a great meal.
The biggest thing I noticed about the weekend was the kids, there isn’t a phone to be found out here on the mountain, everyone is talking to each other, enjoying the company and nature around them. We watched three kids in the river yesterday go from swimming to fishing to skipping stones in ten minutes or less, then start all over again. Ahhh, to be a kid again.