Every day I tell myself I’ll update more frequently so that I don’t miss any details, because there’s a lot of small things I can’t fit into these posts without making things too long-winded. For example, we’ve just started cooking eggs in the microwave on the regular, and I can’t believe we haven’t been doing that since day one; egg sandwiches are the big three: cheap, easy, and delicious. We’ve also been going to the gym pretty frequently and I loathe it – I don’t get any of the endorphins you’re supposed to get after working out, but Greg loves it. I haven’t driven the van since Florida, and Greg’s gotten really good at backing up without needing me to get out and guide him. We haven’t had any issues with the water system or with bugs in a couple weeks, which has been a huge relief. And a million other little things that I’ve already forgotten. Anyways, here’s this weeks’ highlight reel.
Happy to report that our time in New Orleans was an absolute blast and the exact kind of break from all the chaos of the van that I needed. It was undoubtedly the most fun I’ve ever had just visiting a city with no real plan in mind. There’s so much to do literally every waking second of the day, between the non-stop parades and street performers and restaurants and shops; even just people watching on Bourbon Street proved to be highly entertaining.
Those of you that know me well know that good food is something I am always seeking out everywhere I go, and I’m always up to try something new and different. New Orleans was an absolute gold mine of amazing food. A brief review:
- Beignets. Ugh, I want to eat these for breakfast every day. These are basically French doughnuts, topped with powdered sugar and usually served with a latte. I loved these so much I specifically planned for us to eat them twice. I should have planned for a minimum of like, five times.
- Gumbo. We had some gumbo in Florida that was good, but the gumbo we had in the French Quarter was good.
- Jambalaya. Greg really liked this one. Basically a spicy rice with seafood and sausage. The spice in the food down there is like 95% of the reason that it’s good. You could make this stuff at home, but I’m certain that without knowing the exact blend of spices they used it’d be almost impossible to duplicate it well.
- Absinthe. A bit out of left field here, but there was an absinthe bar on Bourbon Street. Ever the adventurer dragging Greg begrudgingly to things he’d rather safely avoid, I insisted we try some. The absinthe we had was neon green and tasted very strongly of black licorice. I did not care for it at all, nor did any hallucinations occur, which was probably for the best.
- Crawfish. We spent one day in the van just hanging out at the RV park and got some food delivered to us. I unabashedly ordered an entire crawfish boil for myself. After a quick Google search on how to properly eat them (and heeding the advice of one of our Uber drivers who told us that you have to “suck the juices out the heads”), I ate like two pounds of crawfish sitting in bed watching TV. Once you get the peeling method down, in my opinion it’s even easier than getting the meat out of crab legs. Again, very spicy and flavorful.
- Po Boys. Some of you may remember that one of our first good meals of the trip consisted of po boys from a seafood place in Savannah. The po boys in New Orleans were (take a guess) much spicier than the first ones we had, which in my opinion was an improvement. (Have you gathered yet that I like spicy food?) We had these twice as well, once after our night out on Bourbon Street and again as our last meal in the city. I’ve developed a taste for fried oysters and andouille sausage that I will be chasing for years to come – I’ve had variations of some of these foods before, but they sure don’t make ’em up north like they do in NOLA.
So far, this was my favorite stop of the tour. And this will be far from the last time I write about New Orleans, I’m sure of it. We didn’t have the time (or mobility, the streets down there were absolutely not made for anything bigger than an SUV, let alone The Beast) to do and see everything I wanted to. In reality we barely scratched the surface. I’m already looking forward to our return, whenever that may be. Photo dump incoming:
Oh yeah, and the show we had in New Orleans went fine. We (perhaps stupidly) booked a show in a cafe the Monday after a holiday weekend, so unsurprisingly the turnout was quite small. But we met a handful of very cool musicians who we shared the bill with that night, all who were also on tour from far away places (Wynne C Blue from Seattle & David Rosales from Huntington Beach, to be precise). We don’t have the opportunity to see much live music with the way we travel, so it’s always fun to get to hear some new original music from like-minded folk.
We repaired the solar charge controller and muffler Tuesday morning before leaving New Orleans. The new solar charge controller is working perfectly, much to our relief. The muffler tape we bought was not as successful and had completely come undone within two days of driving (We’ve since repaired it again and things are holding much better this time around). The series of misfortunes that befell us prior to these repairs seem to have finally come to an end, knock on wood.
Our next stop was Dallas. This was one of our longest drives since the initial trip down to Savannah – a little under 8 hours in total. We did it in two days to break things up without any major incident. This second half of the tour has a lot more long drives in it compared to the first half, and the full days of driving do take a bit of getting used to when you haven’t done them for a while. The nicest thing about this is the rapid change of scenery. We went from the Gulf Coast to central Texas in a matter of hours, a stark difference from our six weeks in Florida. I was also very excited to find that one of my favorite fast-food chains, In-N-Out Burger, has locations in Dallas. I got to introduce Greg to the glory of my favorite brand of cheap and delicious burgers this past week. Is there someone I can call to get them to open these nationwide? Yet another thing I will miss when we return to the east cost.
Our show in Dallas paired us with more touring musicians, this time a cool folk/bluegrass family band from Arkansas, Route 358. This venue was a little unique in that they’ve hosted a number of seriously successful artists over the years when they were still small. It was encouraging to see our poster alongside their names on the wall. Honestly, it’s nice to know that some of the things we’re doing have worked out well for other people!
Friday in Dallas was a bit of a whirlwind. We started the day with some authentic Texas barbecue, which is something I’ve been looking forward to having again since my first trip to Texas in 2015, and almost satisfied my craving for more beignets and gumbo. Then it was off to Guitar Center to pick up some replacement cables, as we’ve gone through quite a few so far on the tour.
Hanging on the wall in the Acoustic Guitar room is the guitar I had been hoping to run into for a long time. I had put off the purchase of a new guitar when Greg bought me a nice Taylor for my birthday last year, but the pickup system has been giving me all kinds of problems, to the point where I’ve playing Greg’s backup guitar for a majority of the tour. At our show the night before I was kind of at my wits end with the Taylor and was thinking about taking it to get repaired, and was dreading doing so to some degree. Instead, in we walk to this random Guitar Center to see a Sunburst Gibson Hummingbird Pro, on sale, just sitting there. I had basically decided I was going to get it as soon as I saw it, before we even got it down off the wall. It plays like an absolute dream, the sound is far superior to anything I own (and most guitars I’ve ever played), and it ain’t half bad to look at, either. I am not one to make snap decisions when it comes to large purchases, but I have zero regrets about this one. Worth every penny.
Post-Dallas we headed north to Norman, Oklahoma, a state neither of us had been to before. Only a 4 hour drive this time, but we still split it up over two days. We spent the entirety of Saturday hanging out at a truck stop learning new songs and messing around with the new toy (and watching the cows across the street – there’s a LOT of cows in Oklahoma). Our show in Norman was on Sunday. We had a smaller crowd, but they were very generous with tips and merch purchases, and the bar owner was incredibly kind and hospitable. He’s one of the rare few that actually wants to do right by the musicians that come through his bar; it’s hard to find people like that most places. Plus I got to play the new guitar, which in itself made it a great time for me. We met some incredibly fun people after the show as well, and had a really nice night of (poorly shot) pool and cheap beers, which is something we don’t get to do very often.
And that brings us to today. We drove into Amarillo, Texas this morning. Northern Texas looks nothing like the central & southern parts of the state – we saw hints of red rocks and the beginnings of canyons along the highways on the drive over. I’m so excited to get back out into some campgrounds and do some hiking in the coming weeks as we head further west; this is a part of the country that I’ve never seen, and I hear it’s beautiful.
We’ve got a radio interview tomorrow morning ahead of our performance at Fire Slice Pizzeria tomorrow night. From there, we’ll leave Texas (for only a month!) and head to New Mexico. Hard to believe it’s almost April – we’re past the halfway point now, and starting to plan for the fall and beyond. And I’m happy to report that there is no end in sight. I really like the idea of being on permanent tour, and all things point to us being headed in that direction.