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TOUR DAYS 6 and 7 – DRIVING, L.A., MORE DRIVING

Rolling out of bed after a good night’s sleep in Vegas, we decided it was time to hit the road and make it to our next destination, Los Angeles, in time for our show at Café Cordiale in Sherman Oaks. Walking out to the trusty Rav4 & trailer, we were once again met with the sweltering ‘blow-dryer’ heat that was quite unbearable for us Pacific North-Besterners. We were quickly on our way after a quick visit to the Starbucks across the street for breakfast.

Once out of the city, we were met with more barren desert area heading south on I-15. We were in fact, closing in on the Mojave Desert on one side of us, and Death Valley on the other. We were excited for this drive though, since it was only about 5 hours and were curious to see what L.A. had in store for us. Before long, the band was crossing the CA border, and we were ready for the typical checkpoint this time around where they ask if you have any produce or animals (last year was a bit of a surprise). However, we were many miles in to California before we even got to the checkpoint. The apples and carrots were covered up in the back, and Rav got through with no problem.

Of course, as with any road trip, the band needs to make bathroom/gas breaks. So after a couple hours the need for bladder relief was expressed and we exited the first chance we got. The Rav rolled into what we thought was a gas station and store out in the middle of nowhere, a little ways past Baker, CA. It was called Desert Star Ranch Market, but just with a giant sign on top that read, “Market”. http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ll=35.070223,-116.408622&spn=0.011363,0.022724&sll=35.41665,-115.584165&sspn=0.072763,0.128059&t=h&z=16
There was no gas to be found, but instead small wire sculptures and random old things laying about. We were greeted with music blasting out of some giant speakers mounted to the old building – the whole situation made us a little uneasy. It reminded Kurt of some post-apocalyptic movies or games like Fallout. Wanting to take care of our business, we all proceeded to use the restroom, make calls, or buy beverages. Everything turned out to be fine; in fact, once the cashier saw Patrick’s guitar picks from his pocket, they got into a discussion about music. The cashier showed Pat some strange contraption of a guitar he was building that lights up, and the fact that we were on tour was brought up. A copy of Mon Chéri’s new CD was retrieved and the store immediately put it in the stereo, blasting for all to hear outside. A scraggly old man with a beard was hanging out there too, and was interested in the band. He took some pictures of us with his camera, and then we were on our way again, surprised and amused at our experience.

The band made into the L.A. area right when rush hour was beginning, so that was a concern, but perhaps since we were heading INTO the city, it wasn’t so bad. Patrick handled the traffic well, and we made it to the venue early enough for a grocery store stop for dinner and rest. It was decided to kill some more time by finding a park to hang out at. A close one was found on Google Maps, so we drove a little ways south, and made our way onto smaller and curvier residential roads – WITH the trailer. We were all skeptical how it would end up, but we trusted the map. Brandon was handling the iPhone map (‘Ravigating’) and made a mistake with a turn (Gloria Drive vs. Gloria Road or something…) which led is right into a residential dead end, and nowhere to turn around. Instead of attempting to back the Rav4 and trailer all the way down the road, Patrick maneuvered the trailer back and forth in front of a couple houses and managed to get us turned back around. But we weren’t done – one more turn and it would take us to the park. At this point, it looked like it would be nothing but a ditch with trees, and thought it wasn’t a good idea. But Patrick decided to make the turn so we could see for ourselves – and we drove right back into a dead end. Once again, Patrick had to maneuver back and forth to turn the whole rig around. Embarrassed, disappointed, and disheartened, we finally gave up, drove back and found a good spot on the side of the road for refreshments. Not our best moment on tour, but at least it’s a testament to Pat’s improved trailer handling skills.

The gig at Café Cordiale was an acoustic set, and the band has played at the café last year on tour. The set was between singer-songwriters Alex Rhodes and Skee. We all thought we played well, wrote a better setlist than normal, and even made “She’s So Heavy” into a chill number. Donovan, who booked us, always treats us great, and it was fun to be back. We sold a cd and made our way to Glendale, where we would crash at our friend (and one of Kurt’s bestest friends) Eric’s apartment.

Eric and his girlfriend treated us well, and while the rest of the band slept a few hours, Kurt stayed up most of the night to enjoy time with Eric. It wasn’t long before 6 am rolled around though, and we had to get up to start the next leg of the trip: L.A. to Eugene. Approximately 850 miles and 15 hours of driving.

Brandon, who is used to working on little sleep, got the first drive shift while Kurt and Zach slept like logs for 4 hours. The L.A. traffic wasn’t bad that early in the morning, and we started the long trek up I-5. Not much to mention on this drive, except that we knew we had to make one stop: The Liquor Barn just before the Oregon border. Warehouse prices + cheaper liquor tax than WA = mandatory band stop. We quickly snatched up a few quality selections and made it to Eugene by 9:30ish. That Red Lion was certainly a welcome sight (thanks Jimmy!)
Up next: Seattle

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