Strip Down to Texas Tour - Day 3: Rollin'

Phase 1

I woke up from a phenomenally deep, albeit insufficiently long, slumber about 10:30 AM Thursday morning in a surprisingly comfortable full bed at the economical Knights Inn outside New Orleans (NOLA) where the SUNSPOT SXSW tour overnighted following yesterday’s NOLA shenanigans. I looked over at the other bed in the room to find it empty, my roommate and fellow roadie Stuart already awake and prepping himself for the day. I did a 15 minute meditation before I too got up, downed a handful of herbal stimulants, and drank all the coffee I could make with the fixings in the room. About noon, we all regrouped at the tour van, after checking out, and Mike took the helm for the first leg of today’s road trip from NOLA to Austin TX, stopping at a truck stop for a road breakfast and more caffeination a few miles down the road. The truck stop had a little burger joint where I scored a double cheeseburger in an effort to improve the protein quotient of my road trip diet, which thus far has been starch heavy. It was a damn tasty meal too.

I have to report that Louisiana is far and away the dirtiest state I have ever visited. No judgment, just an observation. I am sure there are dirtier states, I just haven't visited them. There is just a kind of filthy stank every place you go in Louisiana...perfect for a touring rock-n-roll band. It’s not easy to capture smells in a written word travelogue such as this, but NOLA had a lot of telltale fragrances, including stale urine (and beer), body odor, and rotting garbage, that pierced my nasal passages with varying degrees of intensity depending on where we were. New Orleans reminded me a lot of Dublin Ireland, only dirtier. Both towns have a similarly high festivity quotient though and I suppose richer aromas are the cost of that.

Most of the day today was spent driving across the deep south. I took a stint at the wheel from 2 to 7 PM that took us through Houston’s hellacious rush hour traffic and resulted in me learning from Mike far more about the history of Kellogg’s corn flakes than I ever thought I could or should know. I also learned what onanisme is. When Stuart took over driving from me, we were still a couple hours or more out of Austin.

One thing I liked about today's long haul in the van was the escape from corporate media, both mainstream and social, because I was free from reminders about the shitty state of politics in America and could just enjoy the people and places in my immediate surroundings. It felt pretty awesome.

As I finish writing this Phase 1 entry, we are sitting in standstill traffic on I-10 between Houston and Austin, due to an accident a few miles ahead according to the navigator apps some of us have running in the van. So I am going to use the delay to grab a few ZZZs.

Phase 2

Due to lots of traffic, construction, and at least one accident on Interstate 10 in Texas, we didn’t get to the outskirts of Austin until after 10 PM. Since SUNSPOT guitarist Ben Jaeger was arriving at the Austin airport about 10:30 PM, our timing actually could not have been more impeccable, and we re-routed van GPS toward the Austin airport to get Ben. This saved our host during our stay in Austin, one Vic Hidalgo, an airport run.

We arrived at Vic’s house in Austin, where we’ll be staying the next few days, about 11 PM. He had pizza and cold beverages waiting for us. Another band that is on tour and playing SXSW, named GLASS MANSIONS, was also staying at Vic’s. They left after a while to go party downtown and see music. It was a beautiful night with a light breeze, so the SUNSPOT posse decided to chillax and banter with Vic on his back porch for the remainder of the night. Vic’s roommate Norman arrived a little while later. He owns Brass Hall in Marble Falls TX where SUNSPOT is booked to rock a show on Friday night. During the day on Friday, we are going to head down to 6th Street in Austin to check out the SXSW festivities. I am pretty geeked to experience it for the first time. Stay tuned.

Although today’s shenanigans were fairly tame, we got some much needed rest and relaxation at Vic’s ahead of the extended weekend rock-n-roll party to come.

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