Sunday, October 30, 2011

Four days in New Orleans

When we got in to town, we called up Laura, a friend from Minneapolis who lives there now and set up three shows for us at the bar where she works. She was also sweet enough to let us park the camper in her driveway while we were down there. Check out this crazy creepy house across the street from Laura's, oh my god!

After we got parked, she drove us around to make copies of flyers and handbills to pass out to the tourists in the French Quarter. Then we went on a suuuuper long walk down there and tried to sweet talk people into coming to the show. When we got back to the house, we relaxed for about an hour before heading to the show and Laura told us that we were going to get a big surprise that night. The bar that we played is right on the edge of the hood so I didn't want to bring my camera in there-but I'm sure you know what Crankshaft looks like by now. The attendance was pretty lackluster, but Alex was sick and we were both pretty tired so it didn't really matter. Then our surprise showed up, Connie and Tom (Alex's mom and stepdad) all the way from Minnesota, wearing Crankshaft t-shirts! It was awesome! They stayed in town the whole time we were there, so we got to spend time with them sightseeing during the day and they even got us a room for a few nights so we could sleep on a real bed! We had so much fun with them and our old friends from Minneapolis that moved down there a few years ago!  I'm not even really sure what happened on which day, so I'm just gonna throw a million photos at you.

City Park with Nate, Molly, Connie, and Tom:

Alex and Nate on a giant tree:

Pretty black swan:

Sitting at the French Market with Connie and Tom:

Down at the levy with Molly and Laura and Trixie:

Alex and Izzy:

French Quarter buildings:

Sorry I don't have more words, but trust me we had a blast!  Thanks New Orleans!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gulf coast

We spent the first night of our trip to New Orleans at St. Andrews State Park in Panama City, Florida. It was a really rainy drive but we got there just as the rain was clearing out. Alex stopped at this super cute seafood joint for lunch and they even had veggie food for me and a few bisuits for Trixie.

The park included a long stretch of white sand beach so we went for a really long walk down to the pier only to find out that we weren't supposed to bring pets out there! But we did anyway cuz that's how we roll.

And we found an old VHS tape poking out of the sand.

Trixie still didn't know what to think of the ocean and she tried to fight it, then went nuts digging in the sand. We hung out there awhile and I called my mom to wish her a happy birthday, then we walked back to the camper and fell asleep pretty early that night.

In the morning we set our for Buccaneer State Park in Waveland, Mississippi. When we called to make a reservation, the dude on the phone said “Yeah, you won't need a reservation.” It was another longish day of driving, but when we got down to the Mississippi gulf we understood what he meant. So many things were never rebuilt or cleaned up from hurricane Katrina, even six years later. Driving along the coast, tons of houses were up on ten-foot stilts or even higher, and probably two-thirds of the lots were still vacant. There were steps and sidewalks leading to nothing, and a few piles of rubble still hanging around. There were decimated piers abandoned along the ocean, with nothing left except long rows of posts with a few sections of walkway remaining waaaay out in the water. The park we stayed at was pretty much in the center of the disaster but was one of the first things that got rebuilt after the storm because it had lots of electric hookups and that's where a bunch of the FEMA people stayed in the months after Katrina. The park used to have a big waterpark but that was ruined and hasn't been rebuilt yet.

One of the rangers there told us that all of the pine trees that were there died because of all the salt deposited in the soil and the only trees left were live oaks that were definitely struggling to adapt.

It was totally surreal, and really mind-boggling to think that this was after six years! There were only four or five other RVs in the whole park, but there was room for a few hundred at least.

It was a pretty sobering thing to see...I always thought I wanted to be Tank Girl, but standing in that post-apocalyptic wasteland, my heart just went out to all the people and animals that suffered through that nightmare.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Hoo boy. We slept overnight in the parking lot of the Village Tavern in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, then woke up and started the 310-mile trek to Gainesville. We drove our asses off that day because the show started at 6 and decided that 200-250 miles a day is our cutoff for the next tour. Too much driving just to get somewhere and unload stuff and play right away is sort of a bummer. We did stop at this cute little fruit stand to get some citrus and Trixie met her brother from another mother. He was kinda shy though so I didn't get a great shot.

We pulled in to the Kickin Devil around 430 and Alex's uncle Todd had just pulled up. He was the one that helped us set up the show, and he and his son Spencer helped us unload everything and bring it in. Alex decided to hang out for a while since nobody was really there and he thought he was going to play until around 8 or 9 before the blues society's open jam night. So we had about half hour of chill time, then the wardrobe change and setting up. Oh! And Bo Diddley's saxophone player, Nick Savage, called Alex up before the show and said he was really excited to come to the show that night! Woah! So Alex asked him if he'd like to sit in, how cool is that???

Todd and his buddy Ron were super into it!

Alex started around 530 and at about 615 the owner showed up and told Alex he'd have to stop at 630 because the blues society jam started at 7. The blues jam dudes were super rude and passive aggressive and they started setting up on stage while Alex was still playing.  While Alex was tearing down, one guy kept asking him if he was a professional musician and said “We should have been playing one minute ago!” It was completely ridiculous to see grown men throwing a tantrum because a touring band wanted to play, unlike any other experience we've had on tour or at home. Also, it was totally the owner's fault for the lack of communication with those guys and Alex because she told us he could play til 8 and I guess totally forgot to mention that Alex was playing to the blues society. We definitely didn't make any friends there! Except for Nick, of course.

After we got loaded back up we got the hell out of there because screw those guys. We followed Todd out to his house about 30 miles out of town where we slept for the night. We hung out a for a little bit and Trixie met his two labs, then Alex took a shower (I refused since there was no door on the bathroom or on the bedroom that the bathroom was in, and I'm too prudish for that) and we all went to bed. In the morning we went to town for some breakfast and hit up a thrift store for a few more movies. We stopped by Todd's girlfriend's house so I could shower, do laundry, and use the internet. Also, we went to the auto parts store for a gas cap because Alex left ours somewhere in North Carolina. Then we went back to Todd's and let the dogs run around while Alex and Todd changed the oil and flushed the radiator on the Beast.

Todd and Spencer made dinner for us, the best part of that was when Todd asked us if we'd like a napkin and reached into his cupboard and pulled out some old holey t-shirts. And he wasn't kidding! After dinner Spencer lit up a huge fire out back and we sat out there for a bit while Alex played some tunes.

The next morning we set out for Panama City to stay at St. Andrews State Park, which was only about 200 miles north and west of Gainesville and we had 3 driving days to get to New Orleans.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

South Carolina

On the way to Georgetown, South Carolina, we found this sweet abandoned gas station.

We pulled in to town around 4 on Friday afternoon.  The downtown area there is super cute, it reminds me of a bigger version of Anoka except that most of the storefronts are still occupied.  We found the Backstage Cafe and went in and talked to the owner Brad and his cousin Brent.

They were really easygoing and fun to talk to. Also, they fed us!   We explored the marina and went for a walk on the pier. 

We also noticed a bunch of people setting up tents and stuff along their main street and found out that the next day was the wooden boat show. It's a huge event there and lots of people come to town for it, so we had a great turnout that night. We met this group of bikers that fell in love with Alex, it felt so much like home! I don't know what it is but bikers love them some Crankshaft.  The next day we only had an hour's drive to Mt. Pleasant so Alex asked Brad if he could play for tips outside the cafe during the boat show.  

There was a band set up in a tent so Alex could only play during their set breaks, but he still sold around 120 cds by donation in 45 minutes. The south was nothing but good to us! I was sick that day so I didn't really get to walk around or explore much of the show, I mostly stuck to the camper with Trixie. It was so bad that by the time we got to Mt. Pleasant I was a terrible roadie and let Alex do all the work. I just needed to sleep and missed the whole show, so no photos from there, sorry! Next up is Florida.

Friday, October 21, 2011

North Carolina

We rolled out of Richmond and headed to North Carolina on Wednesday morning. That night we camped at Kerr Lake State Park at Satterwhite Point, which was deserted and the crappiest of all the state parks we've stayed at so far. It was still fun, just kinda dirty and I had 3 spiders in the shower with me there—not cool dude. The lake there was pretty, but the beach was all heavy clay that we got all over our shoes and paws.

Before we left Richmond we stopped at a thrift store and picked up a City Slickers VHS and watched it that night, which I'm pretty sure is one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time. We slept really well though! In the morning we took of for Chapel Hill, NC, a town that has birthed many rock bands including Southern Culture on the Skids, which is one of Alex's favorite bands and a big reason that we wanted to play there. We got there around 4 and parked right in front of the venue, the Cave, then went to find some food. When we were done eating we came back and hung out with Trixie for a bit which was sort of funny because we were parked right in front of some really fancy shops/restaurants in our crappy eyesore of a camper. The Cave was a really cool space underneath one of those fancy shops, decorated to look like, wait for it... a cave!  

Even in North Carolina drunk people steal Alex's tambourine.

The staff was really nice and the place is dog-friendly so I brought Trixie in after Alex's set and let her chill for a bit, then one of the guys that works there whose name I can't remember brought his little pup in to play. Her name is Basil and she was much better behaved than Trixie, but they had fun together. After we got everything loaded up we decided to drive a bit out of town toward South Carolina and find a spot to sleep. The first Walmart we went to had “no overnight parking” signs posted so we had to keep going and found a Sam's Club lot to park in. We got woken up in the middle of the night by some jerkwad employees bumping their bass right next to the camper. In the morning we drove on to Georgetown, South Carolina.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Three days in Richmond

It was another crazy long drive from Delaware to Richmond on Sunday. Lots of beach traffic and road construction, wahwah. Cy Taggart, a guy that Alex got hooked up with on the internet was hosting a DC Blues Society open jam in his backyard and was nice enough to let Alex play a few tunes. The show was from 1-6 and we didn't roll up until around 4. The crowd really seemed to enjoy it and we sold a few CDs too! Talked to some really enthusiastic dudes who gave us lots of contact info for the next time we head this way.  Here's a video that Paul Magill Smith took of Alex's set:!/photo.php?v=10150345540949500.  Also learned that Cy's house/property used to be owned by a family that ran a private zoo with giraffes and zebras and everything. Plenty of room for Ms. Trixie to run around, which she definitely needed. Cy and his wife Connie are awesome people, they even let us sleep in their driveway and plug in and made food for us! Cy also hooked Alex up with an opening gig for Monday night in Richmond at Bogart's. Alex gave this guy a shirt because he had a tatoo of Slim Pickens riding the bomb from Dr. Strangelove (the inspiration for Alex's request bomb poster/new shirt design).

During the day we explored a few parks, including this one that with an old broken down building and tons of rocks to climb around on.

And some robots.

And a goofy lookin duck.

The Monday gig led to two more on Tuesday, one at Legend's Brewing Company and another one at Bogart's. Legend's has an amazing deck that overlooks downtown Richmond.

Richmond was so kind to us, we will definitely be back!  Here's a parting photo of Cy and Alex:

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Last Saturday (yeah, I'm a little behind...) we drove from a Philly suburb to Bethany Beach, Delaware. Alex's cousin Tara and her husband Heath and a bunch of their friends were staying in a rented beach house for the weekend and were kind enough to invite us along.

We got there mid-afternoon and I took a long nap while Alex went down to the beach. I woke up and the dudes were teaching Alex how to play foursquare in the street.

I got a shower and then they fed us some delicious vegetarian lasagna and devil's food cake. After dinner and a game of liar's dice, Alex played a short set for them (due to noise restrictions) and they all loved it. So nice to have a good reception after the last few crappy shows!

In the morning we stopped by the beach so Trixie and I could see it, and it scared the crap out of her at first! 

Then she was just really happy to be tearing around in the sand. 

We let her freak out for 20 minutes or so and then we were off to Richmond, VA.