Vinny Pickens is a man who loves his Blueberry Redbull. He's been hooked since he started getting them at the Tully's near his work every day. Unfortunately for Vinny, a Tully’s in the eastern most section of Washington State is as rare a find as a bar in Ballard that doesn’t serve PBR.

This concoction consists of soda water, real blueberries and of course the magical ingredient: Blueberry Redbull. At his first suggestion that we stop so he could purchase this beverage, all in the car thought he was bullshitting us.

“Dude, coffee shops don’t sell energy drinks. They sell coffee.”

However, the barista assured us that such a drink does exist, and not only that, but she could make him one right there in what suddenly became in our eyes the finest coffee shop in all of Colfax, Washington. It was probably the only coffee shop, but that’s beside the point. Vinny was going to get his fix all while hundreds of miles from home. Elated, we drove off with a newfound desire to explore every last hidden pocket of the Palouse. Life was good. The joy, however, was short-lived, as Vinny's expression suddenly turned to a mix of disgust and disappointment.

“This isn’t Blueberry Redbull! What the hell, man, it’s plain Redbull and she certainly didn’t add blueberries or even blueberry flavoring. And where’s the splash of almond syrup I asked for?”

Dené, knowing that there would be much complaining ahead, insisted we turn the car around and go back.

“Come on, you should return it. I’d rather you see if they can fix your drink so I won't have to listen to you grumbling for the next few hours about how to make a proper caffeinated beverage.”

“No, I can’t. We’re going to the grocery store.”

Vinny, having to maintain his reputation of being the most laid back man alive had no choice but to resist Dené’s suggestion. This is the guy who earlier that same morning asked for coffee at breakfast, which to all of our amusement was delivered in a ceramic cup with a red lipstick print right on the rim. Jokingly, Vinny commented how awesome it was that he got to share his cup with some mystery woman. The waitress, blushing in embarrassment, asked if she could get him a new cup.

“No thanks, I can just turn it around and drink from the other side.”

“Umm, okay…”

In Vinny’s defense, he did eventually succumb to our judgemental snickering and the waitress’s insistence that he get a lipstick-free cup at about five minutes and two-thirds of the way through his coffee. By the time we left, he had made it through two and a half cups of coffee and he was only getting started.

Bringing a camera along on a road trip changes the whole dynamic from what would be a leisurely and relaxing getaway to an extreme test of endurance. Time for sleep often doesn't come until near midnight, and waking up at 4:00am is late enough to be considered an emergency, much like those times when you sleep through your alarm clock and without even having to see what time it is, you know that you’re already 15 minutes late for work. Fortunately for us, this wasn’t a problem, as we were getting up before 3:30 every morning. Now unfortunately for us, this made Vinny very tired. Vinny had made a habit of drinking several cups of coffee with breakfast, and then shortly afterward, making a morning trip to Rosauer’s Supermarket where numerous Blueberry Redbulls were purchased and subsequently pounded.

Now let’s fast forward to day 3 of the Palouse -- the day we were set to make the long drive home. We fully supported having an IV drip, or any other delivery method necessary to keep our driver going for all the hours it would take to get home. I'm not a nurse so luckily it didn't come to that. I had a suspicion that the Redbull would eventually build up to toxic levels in his body, in much the same way that critical mass is achieved when a minimal amount of fissile material is present to sustain a nuclear chain reaction.

On this particular morning, we awoke at 3:20am and spent several hours searching for new spots to photograph. Vinny maintained his constant diet of candy and Blueberry Redbull, which kept him going through the primitive dirt back roads of Palouse farmland all morning and into the early afternoon. Eventually the weather changed and it was time to pack up and head back to Seattle. With heavy rain falling, we made it to a rest stop at the junction of Highways 26 and 395, where he finally hit the wall. Here we were, stuck 203 miles from home with Vinny incapacitated due to a serious need to burp. In extreme discomfort, and due to the general fatigue the three of us were experiencing, we briefly tried to sleep at the rest stop. Vinny kept waking up every few minutes with vivid nightmares about Starbursts, licorice and, of course, the famed Blueberry Redbull that he had consumed in mass quantities. Knowing a nap was futile, given the terrible state of his tired, bloated, and over-caffeinated self, he figured it best to stand up and walk around. This was a mistake, as he could no longer even sit down. Now standing, he wished to let even the most miniscule burp out, anything to shrink his overly bloated stomach. It wasn’t happening.

“I can’t drive anymore, I feel like I’m falling out of my body, man.”

“I don’t even know what that means but be careful. I’m getting a little concerned.”

Stranded at a nondescript highway rest stop situated in the middle of flat, uninteresting farmland, in a dark and depressing rain storm hundreds of miles from home, we listened to Vinny mutter about how he'll never drink a Redbull again. Pacing back and forth, unable to burp at a rate high enough to keep up with his ever-expanding gas-filled stomach, he contemplated a finger down the throat to release the demon with wings from within. We observed with pure amazement.

Eventually, acknowledging resounding defeat, he was able to regain composure, and as uncomfortable as he may have been, we headed for home. We didn't even have to stop at an emergency room along the way to get his stomach pumped.

Friends, please drink responsibly.

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