Written by Puff Staff

Saturday, 16 August 2003

User Rating: / 1

clubs and organizationsrtda 2003
special events
Paul Shoberg and Rob Shibata of Top25Cigar recount their experiences at the 2003 RTDA show in Nashville. The show, the cigars, the drive, all a part of an overall unique few days!

The RTDA returned to Nashville after abandoning Orlando due to the smoking ban enacted last year.  It was interesting to note that the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville was a “No Smoking” facility who rescinded their no smoking policy for the duration of the show.

Part I - On the Road: Cigars, Taters, and Itty Bitty Rain

Word of warning…this first section will detail a bit of the journey to Nashville, including the smokes and odd experiences along the way.  If you’re looking for the show review only, you may just want to skip ahead to the next section…but be forewarned, you’ll never know how to hold a proper conversation at a Kentucky rest stop if you do.

Our Cigar Heroes, Rob (left) and Paul (right) depart from Chicago for the 2003 RTDA in Nashville.

Paul had the not so brilliant idea of driving to Nashville from Minneapolis, as it seemed like a great opportunity to smoke some cigars and relax.  Since Rob was in Chicago at the time, he was picked up along the way for the remaining drive to Music City.  Plenty of smokes, a full tank of gas, and a few bucks in our pockets, maybe this won’t be such a bad drive after all. 

From Minneapolis to Chicago, you basically drive through Wisconsin.  Trip summary: all cheese all the time.  Everywhere you look there are cheese stands.  In fact even the fast food restaurants serve something called cheese curds.  Cheese everywhere…hurry up Chicago.

Once Rob is picked up in Chicago the cigar fanatics are ready to go.  We start out stuck in Chicago traffic and light up a pair of non-Cuban Partagas 150’s.  We decide to grade all our smokes along the way:  above average, average, and out the window.  Sorry to say that the very first cigar, the ever exulted Partagas 150 that had the 18 year old wrapper would have been lucky to get an “average” grade.  This was a cigar that made a person feel good rolling down the window to chuck it.  Way over-rated.  Combine a crappy cigar with some crappy Chicago traffic, and this cigar only got 15 MPC.  (Miles Per Cigar)

Farm country of Illinois opens up in front of us, as does our next cigar.  A firm and aggressive Cuban Cohiba Robusto, a cigar we both have experience with.  Unfortunately this Cohiba does not live up to the ones we have both had in the past.  Good, but not great.  Better mileage though…about 90 MPC.

Southern Illinois, we can hear the banjos of Kentucky beckoning us.  Rob digs through the stash and pulls out a Cuban Romeo y Julieta Edicion Limitada 2003.  We are both smacked by Tyson.  This cigar is a monster.  Strong, and gets stronger as you smoke it.  We look at each other through the thick blue haze and smile like a couple of giddy school kids.  This cigar is great now, and with some years, may just become an all time great.  Everything is good.

We’re in Kentucky, and things start getting weird.  First off, if you haven’t ever driven through Kentucky, you’re really missing something.  Not only is this a gorgeous state, but they have the best damn rest stops on the planet earth.  More vending machines than a stoned Doors fan could plug with change, and bathrooms so clean Alice from the Brady Bunch would approve.

We need a pick me up, and start getting some coffee from one of the vending machines.  Then the conversation begins.  It seems we picked up a friend.  A fine southern gentleman who has seen more than his fair share of days in the backwoods decides to follow us from the restrooms over to the vending machines.  As Paul watches the machine dispense coffee into a Styrofoam cup (something Paul seemed to think was pretty darn cool…almost to cool) our new friend…let’s call him “Lonny”, like that guy in Deliverance…opens up conversation.

Lonny:  Looks like it’s gawnna rain.
Paul:  Yup.
Lonny:  Might cuwl things off some.
Paul: Yup.
Lonny: …less it’s a itty bitty rain.
Paul: blank stare
Lonny:  Itty bitty rain only makes it hotter. We need a big rain.  Ya know, I don’t like itty bitty rain, nope don’t like it at all.
Paul: Uhhh OK.

This short conversation is followed by Paul staring at our friend Lonny.  It’s obvious to all three of us that Lonny expects a response.  Paul dreams up the current line of the trip. 

Paul: Havya ever eaten a leech?

We quickly depart for the van and the next leg of our trip.  We didn't want to know the answer.  We also soon realize that there is a "Lonny" at every rest stop in Kentucky.

Okay, you’re bored by now (so are we) so we’ll summarize the rest of the drive to Nashville by categorizing the rest of the drive into positives and negatives.


Cuaba Divino – “hints of McDonalds French fries on the finish” –Paul
Out of “Taters” (a direct quote) at Wendy’s. 


Cuaba Divino – “Paul your clueless”  -Rob
Ramon Allones Specially Selected
Montecristo 2001 Edicion Limitada Robusto
Ozone Air Freshener from Target 

NEXT - Day One at the Show

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