Eating $7 oatmeal at Whole Foods in Nashville, TN stressing about my financial status, how my December is looking for gigs (anyone need a band for their Christmas party?) and how I will get back to Nashville as quickly as I leave. I’ve been here one day and have decided it will be every bit as good as New Orleans, which was incredible. But I am behind or ahead or something or other! Let’s go back, to Arizona.
On October 4th B and I made our way across the desert along the infamous Route 66 to Kingman, Arizona, an adorable town with some very nice folk including a bartender named Jeshua who fed us Zinfandel all night long while we played a very intimate set. The owner of the venue hooked us up with a meal and her driveway to sleep in, although we just ended up in a parking lot nearby (don’t zinfandel and drive). We woke up early the next morning to head to the Grand Canyon. Well kind of… I insisted on doing some work so we very hungoverly hit a coffee shop where the only plug we could find was on the stage. So I sat, with my coffee, in the middle of the stage on my laptop doing work while B tried to book us camping in the Grand Canyon. Apparently you should do this at least a week out, not the day of. SO there was nothing available. We decided we would figure it out when we got there, grabbed groceries, firewood, filled the sink tank up with water and gas tank up with gas and rolled out.
$30 to get in to the park – If you are going to go to 3 or more National Parks on your US road trip I would highly recommend buying an annual pass ($99). We drove to the only campsite that didn’t take reservations in the grounds hoping we might get lucky. The ranger shook his head and pointed to the jeep to our right explaining “that guy just got the last spot… BUT, if y’all go back out the East entrance, down about 6 miles or so, you can pull off to your left and set up wherever you like”. We did get lucky – Thank you park ranger. Not only was this spot beautiful and completely our own, but there were rock fire pits already made AND it was free! The canyon really is breathtaking. We posted up at Navaho Point with a bottle of wine and two camp chairs and watched the sunset. The next morning I drove back to the same spot with B asleep in bed to wake him up just in time for the sunrise – worth the $30.
The next day we headed to Albuquerque to play a small wine bar and see Brendan’s second cousin Margot and her husband Tom, who are possibly some of the nicest people I have ever met. Balloon Fiesta was going on in town so we woke up to hundreds of hot air balloons in the sky – it was like out of a movie. We had a breakfast of eggs from the chickens in the back and listened to the rooster crow every time someone turned on the bathroom light. The visit was short but sweet. We had to be in Norman, Oklahoma in two days (9 hour drive) so we decided to break it up by stopping in Amarillo, TX. Looking back I wish we hadn’t. All Amarillo gave us was some really bad Mexican food and a very unsafe feeling (just our experience). We took off quickly the next morning to Oklahoma.
Norman was rad! I got a call the night before that the booker of the venue had messed up and thought we were coming in on the Friday and not the Saturday. He said he wasn’t going to do us wrong and still wanted to pay us and get us to play, but we would now be opening for 5 punk bands he had booked later in the evening. Serenade some punk fans with some R&B slow jams? Yes please. Not to mention you could smoke cigarettes in this bar – Red Brick was a dive but we kind of loved it. I think we even converted some people. We slept by a water tower in a field.
October 9th we were off to Dallas for Canadian Thanksgiving!
We finally found a campsite around 8pm, after hitting up three campsites that were closed due to high water levels. I cooked up a fierce turkey dinner in the van (B made homemade cranberry sauce) and it was a good end to a tough day. We woke up early and walked around the campsite, hitting up this weird little indoor fishery where people sat in chairs drinking beer and watching TV while fishing in cut outs in the floor… we decided to head into town. We spent the afternoon walking around Bishop Arts, a darling neighbourhood with little boutiques and coffee shops, etc. We then headed to Deep Ellum to check out the street art and grab some dinner. It is a really cool part of town, with lots of live music venues, tons of food and some very cool graffiti. I can’t remember where we ate, but I remember that we didn’t eat at this hole-in-the-wall BBQ joint that was serving slaw and mac and cheese out of big silver containers, much to B’s chagrin. I am all for hole-in-the-wall eateries, when my gluten-free self is able to eat anything. We played at David’s Pub that night and met some great folks who told us about a blues jam back in Deep Ellum. We hit it up but decided we wanted to go check out a brass band down the street instead. The Big As$ Brass Band is still one of the best bands I’ve seen this trip (check them) – they were just what we needed to get pumped on New Orleans. Two nights in Dallas was awesome – Then it was off to Austin!
https://franklinbarbecue.com/Our first stop in Austin was the famous Franklin’s BBQ (to make up for Dallas). Even though they were out of ribs, it was ridiculously good. This city is really cool. Zilker Park is a 350 acre public oasis where the Colorado River and Barton Creek meet. B and I are total water babies and drove straight to Barton Creek Pool, a natural pool with man made perimeters including a diving board and ladders to get in and out. Uhhhhhmazing. We spent the afternoon there and later took a stroll down 6th street, listening to all the different music in the clubs flood the streets. We decided to check out an open mic – performed a few tunes and then decided to check another, across town. There was a small listening crowd and it was worth the drive. In the morning we headed to the State Capitol which was cool (literally it was air conditioned so that was sweet). We then walked across town to check out the HOPE outdoor Gallery. Talk about street art! Some very cool graffiti. In the afternoon we headed up the Green River for a hike and a swim, meeting some young kids from Houston and jumping in the water off the rocks. I got eaten alive by mosquitoes so it was short lived… and we ended up back by Barton Creek Pool having a glass of wine and swimming in a spot just beyond the man made pool, that was free. That night we played a show at a bar in hostel. You walk into a tiny room and say hello to reception, then go to the bookshelf and pull back a book where a secret door slides open and leads you to this real funky bar. Austin likes to party – so we indulged. The gig was super fun and I was sad to have to leave the city so quickly – we really enjoyed it.
And the next morning we felt just how hard we had enjoyed it… add too much drinking with waking up in a sweltering hot van and having to drive for 2.5 hours to Houston and it will end in camping out in your hotel room watching TV and eating Thai food all. night. long. Yup, we skipped Houston to re-charge. Air conditioning and take out was just what we needed before heading to NOLA – B’s final destination.