Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 Crackin' Countdown

So, here we are. Another year is behind us and the time to share (or possibly subject) your opinion with everyone about the year's best and worst has arrived. This past time began rather humbly a few years ago as a basic mail between some friends highlighting the best tunes of the year. Since then and as the emails starting circulating to a wider audience it has grown and (d)evolved into a list of things from the past year about anything that you want to write about. Since I spent six months of this year traveling with my head (more or less) in the sand I don't really know what was good or bad this year. Actually, everythingwas good! That's me done.

Here's my 2007 Crackin' Countdown:

Good stuff - everything!
Bad stuff - nothing!

Well, I suppose I should be a little bit more forthcoming than that. Therefore, I have decided that I am going to write about the music from the road trip. The CDs we bought and played in the car.

In no particular order or style, I give you the 2007 crackin' countdown of Tarmac Soul. The Stereo Love.

Doolittle - Pixies
This was the very first CD we played on the trip after we arrived and rented our first car. We were excited. We were in Boston. It's probably their best album. It was our own little salute to the Bean Town.

Magical Mystery Tour - The Beatles
This album was very experimental and was in fact asoundtrack to a TV film of the same name. The film was totally crap but thankfully the tunes weren't. From the melodic McCartney songs 'Penny Lane' and 'Your Mother Should Know' to the heady Lennon tunes 'Strawberry Fields Forever' and 'I Am The Walrus' it is a great album to listen to while driving and sounds as good as it did when it was released forty years ago. It is also a very good representation of the infamous Summer of Love sound from 1967 during our Summer of No-Love in 2007...

Carte Blanche II - Various Artists
A nice little compilation that I found buried in a cardboard box in Rebel Rebel in New York. It was released by Naked Music and makes its way through lounge, nu jazz, breakbeat and house. Perfect for chilling out to and watching the miles go by. Not really Paulo's cup of tea but he never complained whenI played it. Even after the fourth or fifth time.

A Cut Above The Norm - Various Artists
A little beeeauty that I found in a shop in Boston for only six dollars! It is a collection of all the original tunes that Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim) used as samples for all of his singles. I like Norm's stuff although some of it can wreck my head after a while. But this CD gives a nod to all the obscure stuff he must have dug through thousands of crates to find. Qualiteee!..

The Doors - The Doors
A classic first album and one of the best debuts of all time. Even though they didn't have a bass player and Jim Morrison could barely look at the crowd when they performed live. I read somewhere the other day that The Doors still sell two million albums a year. When you listen to this, it's not hard to figure out why.

Dig Your Own Hole - The Chemical Brothers
The Chemicals second album that moved a little bit away from big beat / techno to introduce rock music into the equation. Kick-ass bass lines, hip-hop drum loops and sampled guitars all make for a collection of serious grooves. I dare you to try and stay within the speed limit while driving and listening to 'Block Rockin' Beats'.

Back In Black - AC DC
The first album after Bon Scott's death and the one that introduced the world to Brian Johnson. Paulo was driving while we played this and how we didn't crash the car is totally beyond me. I have never seen anyone do more air guitars, air basses, air drums and more air guitars in the course of 42 minutes in my life.

Rykodisc 20th Anniversary Collection - Various Artists
I picked up this compilation in Philadelphia in Repo Records on South Street. The label was formed in 1983 and claims to be the very first CD-only independent label. Twenty years can see a lot of music and this compilation does a great job at including just about everything but the kitchen sink. Eclecticism is always a great way to pass the time during long drives.

Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not - ArcticMonkeys
Of course we were going to listen to this. Paulo can't go more than a few days without listening to these guys. Another crackin' first effort by a bunch of guys who probably wouldn't have even been able to legally drink in a bar in the States when this was released. I'm still kicking myself for not buying their T-shirt in Newbury Comics in Boston. The usual - 'Oh, I'm sure I'll see it again'. After 12,000 miles I didn't see the shirt even once more...

Gets Next To You - Al Green
This one was one of my selections. After seeing this CD in loads of different shops over the years, I finally bought it in Bleecker Street Records in NewYork because the price was right. And because I finally decided that I couldn't live another day without his cover version of 'Light My Fire'. The album is full of covers and the whole thing is seriously funky. Willie Mitchell told Al Green that he would be famous within one year of moving to Memphis in 1969. It actually took two years and two albums but once this was released, everyone in the world knew who Al Green was.

High Havoc - Corduroy
One of Paulo's favourite albums from one of his old favourite bands. The lads from London who played acid jazz and were referred to as the guys who didn't really give a toss and didn't sport polo necks and didn't sit around comparing sideburn growthage. Either way their groovy film soundtrack(ish) take on the acid jazz scene goes down wonderfully when one has many miles to cover.

Aha Shake Heartbreak - Kings Of Leon
No trip anywhere or any time spent in a car would be complete without these lads. I'm not so keen about their last album but the first two are among my favourites and Aha Shake got a few spins on the CD player. They are the band of brothers and one cousin who grew up in Tennessee and had a large exposure to the south when they traveled around with their father who was a preacher. They also claim to have sang at rodeos while growing up as well being members of a choir for a short while. Whatever they may have done in the past, these dudes now rock, roll and deliver. Like they say in the Volunteer state - Tennesseein' is believin'!

Under The Influence - Various Artists (Compiled bySuper Furry Animals)
Another compilation series designed to reflect an artist's influences and favourite tunes. Thankfully, this one is not mixed and since each of the four lads from Wales chose three songs, it truly is quite eclectic. For me the standout track has to be 'Rez' by Underworld. They may be the band that I constantly get confused with Supergrass but they sure know how to make a mixed tape!

The Mix-Up - Beastie Boys
The boys are back! Another cracking instrumental album from the B-Boys who told us how to fight for our right to party twenty years ago. I picked this CD up in Nashville in a shop called Grimey's and immediately fell in love with it. The lads show off their musical talent while displaying their influences from funk, jazz, rock and electronica. Sometimes they plod and bounce along. Sometimes they break it down. Sometimes they groove and other times they rock. But they are brilliant throughout and never ever miss a beat.

Florida Funk 1968-1975 - Various Artists
Another little gem that I found in Grimey's buried way down deep on the compilation shelf. All the tracks are extremely obscure funk numbers and were recorded by bands from Florida. I'm not so sure why it was so damn funky down there during those seven years but thank God it was! I generally don't buy compilations that I can't listen to first but this one was tempting me. And when I read the sticker on the front that said three featured tracks had been used as samples by DJ Shadow there was no way that I couldn't buy it! My favourite track is one called 'It's Gonna Be A Mess' by the Mighty Dogcatchers. And apparently their career was. It was the only song they recorded that made any sort of impression but they had a hard time trying to play it live. Apparently, the drummer would get so excited that he was unable to keep a steady tempo throughout the song and would wreck the rhythm. Even the recorded version is a bit wonky. But you gotta love the fact that the brother was truly overcome by the funk!

An End Has A Start - Editors
A great fucking album. That's all I have to say. Fucking great. Paulo bought it the day it came out and I bought a copy in Seattle. With two CDs floating around, it featured quite prominently in our rotation. Not a duff track to be found. Fucking great.

Soul Message - Richard 'Groove' Holmes
A wonderful CD that I bought in a shop called Vintage Vinyl in The Loop in St Louis. Another great shop that I am kicking myself over because I did not buy aT-shirt. They use a picture of Miles Davis as their logo and I really need to get my head checked for not buying one. Anyhoo, back to the tunes...

Richard Holmes certainly earned the groove moniker he used in his name and this album is certainly among his finest work. He took the Hammond B-3 organ from it's beginnings in church and brought it into the jazz mainstream. He played it like few others and managed to cover the rhythm, bass and organ solos in each song. All at the same time! Some people have referred to him as the Jimi Hendrix of jazz. I'm not sure about that but this album is perfect for driving with the windows down in the summer time. It was on constantly during the few days we stayed in Cincinnati and had to drive back and forth between the city and our hotel. A relaxed, cool summer vibe through and through.

Summer Of Love - Various Artists
OK. I'm going to have to come clean. When I was in America, I bought some music in Target. (Or as we say around here (and there) Tar-Jay. It's cheap and cheerful and it's not often that a compilation CD with twenty songs delivers twenty absolute crackers. An excellent homage to the 1967 summer long 'love-in'.

Magnifico! - Alex Chilton
I first heard of this guy when I was living in Madrid. I went on a day trip to a small town called Toledo that was once the capital city of Spain. After strolling around in the heat for a few hours, we ducked into a little cafe for a drink. We were greeted by unbelievably friendly staff and one of the coolest, most appealing CDs I have ever heard. When I asked who it was the gentleman told me it was Alex Cortiz and showed me the CD.

Since that day I tried to find just a single copy of one of his albums. No luck. Until I walked into Rasputin Records in San Francisco. I found it by accident and it was only ten dollars! Plus it is a greatest hits compilation so it is probably the best starting place for his music. The talent that Cortiz has and that places him head and shoulders above most of his contemporaries is his ability to sample old funk nuggets and soul biscuits in a way that you know the song but can't quite place it. And his production is perfect. Truly a gem of a CD and a great find that only took about 15,000 miles of travel to find!

I could keep writing but I should probably stop there. Now you have some insight into our musical journey from this summer.

Many thanks to all of you for reading my blog and a huge thank you to Paulo for being my best mate and the best traveling partner anyone could ever ask for. You are a leg-end lad!

I wish you all a very happy Christmas and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2008.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tarmac Soul Volumes One And Two - Music From Life And Times On The Road

Hello and greetings once again.

Well, the end of the year is here and the summer (and road trip) is a distant memory. But don't worry! I am here to help. Although, I wanted to post this a few weeks after the trip was over, I encountered motivational, technomalogical, inspirational and chronological? problems and have only (finally) been able to sort things. So, with much adieu... I give you Tarmac Soul Volumes One and Two. A small but accurate insight into some of the music that sound tracked our road trip up & down & across & over the States.

To listen to the podcasts, click on the links below:

Tarmac Soul 1 - Music From Life And Times On The Road
Tarmac Soul 2 - More Music From Life And Times On The Road

As always mucho respecto to all the artists included and don't forget: if you like what you hear, go and buy it!

I thank you all for reading the blog, for your unwavering support and for your continued interest in all of my work. I wish you all a Happy Christmas and all the very best in the New Year.

Volume One
01. 30 Days In The Hole - Humble Pie
02. Rocket "88" - Jackie Brenston
03. Changes - Sugar
04. She Brakes For Rainbows - The B-52s
05. Barfly - Alex Cortiz
06. Light My Fire - Al Green
07. See How We Are - X
08. Dream Machine (Downtempo Mix) - Mark Farina
09. Shakedown Street - Grateful Dead
10. Goo Goo Muck - The Cramps
11. Kicks - Paul Revere & The Raiders
12. Big City - Shirley Horn
13. Roustabout - Elvis Presley
14. Swimming Places (Pete Heller Main Mix) - Julien Jabre
15. Nothing To Worry About - Buscemi ft Isabele Antena
16. The Beat Goes On - Sonny And Cher
17. Got To Give It Up (Parts 1 & 2) - Marvin Gaye
18. Same Old Saturday Night - Frank Sinatra

Volume Two
01. Fantasy (Album Version) - Aldo Nova
02. Cheated Hearts - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
03. Blue Suede Shoes - Carl Perkins
04. Rock Island Line - Johnny Cash
05. Walk Right In - Gus Cannon
06. Too Late To Turn Back Now - Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
07. Float On (Edit) - The Floaters
08. Jackie Blue - Ozark Mountain Daredevils
09. Eyesight To The Blind - Mose Allison
10. The 'In' Crowd (Live) - Ramsey Lewis
11. Jumbo - Underworld
12. Weekends And Bleak Days (Hot Summer) - The Young Knives
13. Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too - Say Anything
14. Suco De Tangerina - Beastie Boys
15. Wives And Lovers - Jack Jones
16. Phake & Phoney - Soulphiction
17. Sidewalk Talk - Jellybean
18. The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades - Timbuk 3
19. Fever - Stereo MCs
20. Beam - Sandoz

Monday, August 27, 2007


The road trip is over but Tarmac Soul will live on. I am in Colleyville, Texas to spend the week with my aunt. Paulo flew to Dublin yesterday, dumped some gear and went straight on to England for the week.

But don't worry, I will keep posting although not every day. After the week in Texas, I am flying to Tampa and will be spending September with my parents in Palm Harbor, Florida. It should be great as long as there aren't any serious hurricanes. Then, I will be going to Pennsylvania at the end of September and staying in Allentown, Reading, Lancaster and anywhere else that I can blag a scratcher for the month of October.

Thank you all so much for reading and I hope that you continue to check the site to read about my adventures during September and October. I will be posting some interesting things about the trip in the coming days and I am also working on a couple of podcasts that will include some of the music that we listened to driving across the country.

Until my next post...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Day 89

The Last Day

I can't believe it. I can't believe that the trip is over already. It's incredible how quickly this summer went. For me, 88 days feels more like about 88 minutes. Yes, there were some tough times and some obstacles that we had to get past. But we did it. And it was the time of both of our lives. I have never done or seen so much in only three months. I know already that it is going to be very difficult to settle down and readjust to a normal pace of life.

I was the first to leave the hotel - my flight from LAX to Dallas was at 9:05am. Paulo woke up as I was leaving. With heavy hearts and teary eyes, we said some parting words and our goodbyes to each other.

And that was it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Day 88

We both woke up late and had to leave the Big A in a hurry.

In an effort to wake up, we went to Starbucks for a coffee and then to The Blocks to have a look around. Its a big outdoor mall with some good shops. I found an old school Friars hat to add to my collection of baseball caps. Paulo found another T-shirt for his collection.

We then drove back to Inglewood and checked in to a Super 8 a couple of minutes from LAX. Both of us chilled for a while with some wifi time. Then, unbelievably we both had to face the fact that the trip was over and it was time to pack our bags one last time for the flights tomorrow. Bitter.

Feeling a bit dejected, we went to Chili's for dins - one last time. When we got back to the room, we watched a Futurama Marathon on TV before retiring for the night. And, thankfully, the last time in a motel.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Dude, Where's My Car?

Day 87

I went for a 50 minute run around Long Beach this morning. What a fucking dump. Seriously.

We checked out and legged it. Not a moment too soon. We drove up PCH 1 until we found yet another Starbucks for a quick coffee. Sadly, I feel that I am becoming a total junkie and I can't help it. I can't stop feeding my money to the big, ugly, disgusting corporate monster that is known as Starbucks. But when you need a fix, what can you do?..

In an effort to see something nice and salvage our last few days in California, we drove to Redondo Beach and walked along the beach & pier. Not great. There was nothing really going on.

So, we went a bit further north on 1 to Manhattan Beach. And walked around there as well. Fortunately, it was a much nicer area. We hung on the beach for a few minutes, checking out all the peeps and sights.

All of the hanging and looking around made us both hungry so we went through town and found a place called Beckers Deli. The sambos were fab. They were made with love and, when we opened our bags, there was even a cookie inside!

Then it was time to go. We drove east to Anaheim and checked in to the Big A. Then we got all gussied up for our last ball game and walked to the real Big A.

We went to the Angels game. I wasn't really impressed with the stadium and there wasn't much atmos, which was surprising given that it was Friday night and they have been playing so well. The Angels won 3-0. There were a couple of cool bonuses - they have changed the laws and now sell beer until the bottom of the 8th inning (instead of the 7th). One more inning to drink beer - woo hoo!

There was also a good fireworks display after the game. a plane even came along and flew right through the fireworks.

After the game, we left the stadium and walked to IP Schmidts for a beer. It was quiet and there wasn't much going on. We had a couple of beers there and then tried the bar across the street - The Cherry Pit. It was pretty cool. Really small and really grimey but full of atmosphere and interesting peeps. We had a nightcap (or two) there and then walked / stumbled back to the Big A.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Day 86

After five days off, I went for a forty five minute run today. And it was bloody hard. I have been a bit run down and really tired for the last week, so I figured a bit of a rest was in order. But my body has really shut down, trying to recover and today was a bit of a shock. Still, I should be feeling great again in a couple more days (I hope). At least that is what I am telling myself.

We had to check out of Harborview - especially since we were being harassed again by the staff. This despite the fact that I went down to the desk and asked the woman if we could have a few extra minutes.

We packed up and went to Richard's Pancake House or Dick's as we called it. Full of gay boys. NBC had claimed that it was the best breakie and town and I might have to agree. I had Eggs Benedict which were fab and the coffee was really good as well. And this time there wasn't really anybody staring at us. I think.

The next stop was Sunshine Center Laundry to wash our clothes.

Once we cleaned up our threads a bit, we got on to 5 again and (eventually) made our way to Encinitas. The 5, 605 and 105 were all like car parks and we only averaged about 25 miles an hour the entire time. After driving all over the country, I have to say that LA (and the surrounding area) is the absolute worst place to drive. Full stop. A total nightmare.

In order to take the edge off a bit we stopped at Lou's Record Shop in Encinitas.

Not a bad place. I found a few little gems, while Paulo bought a T-shirt for Lou. He wasn't going to but I convinced him not to leave it behind. When would he ever be in Lou's or Encinitas ever again?..

We drove a short distance down the street to Moonlight Grille for a sambo and to catch the end of the Friars - Mets game (by chance). The Friars were winning when we left and all of the locals were swilling some Spanish beer I never heard of that only cost one dollar a can. But I reckon what you save in the bar bill you make up for (and then some) with the doctor bill afterwards.

Later on we rolled into Long Beach and checked in to the Inn Of Long Harbor. Another kip. We just chilled out in the room for a while before going to bed. The end is near and I think we are both totally knackered. And I for one am not very impressed with LA.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Day 85

I skipped another run today as I am still trying to recover. Instead I went to a cafe called It's A Grind in Lickl Itly for a coffee and piece of cake. I ended up staying for ages surfing and downloading some music (legally).

Once my belly was full of coffee, I went back to the hotel to discuss plans with the chief and then I shot off to Ocean Beach. Paulo went into town to do some shopping. He was a bit concerned because he had to buy gifts for all of his fam and so far had - nothing!

I laid in the sun for about an hour then had a gander around Ocean Beach. Newport Pizza looked good so I stopped in for lunch where the pizza slices are all named after famous people. There is the Chuck Norris (cheese), MC Hammer (pepperoni), Donald Trump (everything), Hulk (greek) and of course the Ron Jeremy (meat lovers). It seemed like a really cool spot - there was a fair bit of stuff on draft as well and like the sign read "No crap on tap".

I drove back to the hotel for a Papi and then hooked up with Paulo. He had managed to go power shopping and found presents for his entire family in only a few hours. Fair play.

Although the afternoon was getting on, we decided to go to Tijuana on the trolley. Mostly just to say that we were there.

The trolley to Tijuana arrived around 6pm and took about forty five minutes to get to the border. We walked straight through and we were both equally unimpressed. A total dive. We walked past some stalls, crossed a bridge and were quickly in the center of town. We walked down Avenida Revolucion and were approached / accosted by loads of punters. Some wanted us to look in their shop and spend some money while others were trying to lure us in to avail of cheap women. Since this is a bit of a family blog, I won't repeat what they were saying to try and entice us in but needless to say it didn't work. The sun was dropping in the sky and we were both feeling a bit edgy about things. Then a truck passed us with police men carrying semi automatic machine guns. That was it. We decided that we should chuck the proverbial (u-turn) and head back to the US. Wrap it up and exit stage left.

The other side of the street wasn't any better and we were actually approached more but had a bit less hassle making our way back to the bridge. Once there, I managed a few snaps.

As we were coming back down off the bridge, two police men stopped us and wanted to see our IDs. It seemed like a fairly reasonable request but I couldn't help feeling a bit anxious. I had to show the entire contents of my camera bag while Paulo had to empty all of his pockets. But, in fairness, they seemed to be more curious than anything else. I spoke in my best Spanish and had a conversation with one of them. I told him about our road trip and that we were staying in San Diego. He wanted to know what I did for a living and how I learned Spanish. I explained things to him as best I could. Then he asked me about Ireland because he realised that we both live there. I told him that it was beautiful and very green but that it rained a lot. He laughed. By now the other cop had finished searching Paulo's things and was shouting rather loudly Irlanda! Irlanda! He also kept saying U2, Bono! U2, Bono! Having made a couple of new friends, we were allowed to go on our way - thankfully. I'm sure that things could just as easily have gone pear-shaped.

We walked over another bridge, back into the US and we were hit - a serious queue going through immigration.

But it moved quickly enough and they let us both back in without too much hassle.

We went back to San Diego and called into the local English Pub in Lickl Itly called Princess. They had some great beers on tap but they were very prizy. And the staff was terrible. Still, we managed to knock back a few pints. They rang the bell for last call at 11:00 and by 11:15 they were giving us grief for not having our pints finished. Of course we decided to start drinking more slowly. They were really obnoxious as well saying things like, "guys, you have to be done - now!" We continued to ignore them and the waitress as well who was yelling from across the bar that we had to pay our bill. The money was on the table but since she was too lazy to come and get it we didn't move. Fuck them. We were very unimpressed.

Then, it was the usual - back to the room and crash time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Day 84

Today I slept it out. I think 83 days on the road is finally starting to catch up with me and kick me in the arse. I'm wrecked. I eventually got up and went for a sniff around Little Italy. It was a bit disappointing really. The closest that I got to a coffee (other than Starbucks) was this wall.

So, I had to settle for Starbucks where I had a coffee and a scone.

I met Paulo later on and we walked down to the trolley station. We took the blue line, changed to the orange and went east to the Gaslamp Quarter.

We went for a bite in a strange place called PJ's. There were no jacks and the staff was very unfriendly. Our sambos took ages so we did get a free drink for our troubles. Paulo had a soda but I went for an espresso. I asked for a double but got closer to a triple. Giddy up!

Walking around the corner, we went to Petco Park. The Friars weren't in town but we had a look around the stadium.

The official store at the stadium was quite disappointing. Not much in the way of caps but the ones they did have were thirty eight dollars and up!

We got back on the trolley and took the orange line all the way around to the other side of the city, traveling north. There was nothing to see. Nowt. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

We changed on to the green line and traveled east back to the old town. Still nothing. We did an entire loop and didn't see anything interesting all afternoon.

Feeling a bit under stimulated, we went back to the room for some wifi time and watched the Friars lose to the Mets - bitter!

Then we walked into town to the Gaslamp district and went to Xaviers for a bite. We both had burgers - they were seriously tasty and we washed them down with three dollar bottles of Dos Equis. Ya canty go wrong! We hung out and watched the Angels hammer the Yankees and even got a free beer at the end of the night for being in the right place at the right time. It was pretty much a perfect night!

We strolled back to the hotel and I went straight to bed. At this stage I need all the sleep that I can get.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Day 83

I wanted to wake up and go for a run this morning but I was wrecked and didn't sleep well. And it was already about 100 degrees by the time I got out of bed. So instead we got on to the laptops and sorted accommodation in San Diego before checking out.

We went next door to a restaurant called Carrow's for breakie and then drove to San Diego.

We decided not to chance our arm with a possible three star hotel and went for the sure thing - a one star near the harbor. Well, we quickly realised the difference between one and three stars. Our first room smelled of shite. And there was food in the refrigerator. And the ceiling. Yes, you read that correctly. There was food on the ceiling. Fortunately, we were able to switch rooms and we were given one that was a bit more acceptable.

We unpacked and then went our separate ways. I went to watch the sunset at Loomas Point and Paulo walked into town for a bite to eat.

The sunset was fabulous and the sky was unbelievably clear. The only thing missing was a cocktail and some quality tunes.

I drove back to the hotel and then walked into to meet Paulo. He came across a place on 5th street called Whiskey Girl. It was bananas, especially for a Monday night. A crap DJ playing predictable tunes and everyone going mental for them. The usual. We had a bite and a couple of beers and then walked home opting to save our energy for later in the week.

Back at the hotel we wasted no time getting off to Z land.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Day 82

Up, up and ready to go we were today. Just in time for check out. Well, actually we checked out thirty minutes late but that is normal for us. We went to Dennys for breakfast and discussed our strategy for the last week (it wasn't a very long conversation).

We consulted our map, took 58E and drove to Barstow. Once there, we stopped for a coffee & cake. Paulo investigated the hotel options for San Diego while I drove down Route 66 to have a look. And take some pictures.

Route 66 was commissioned in 1926, the year that numbered highways came into existence in America. It is considered the 'Mother Road' of American highways and used to be referred to as the 'Main Street of America'. The highway was deactivated in 1984 and replaced with the modern interstate highway system. But as you travel through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California you can still see some stretches of good old fashioned Americana.

One such place offering a great glimpse of the past is Barstow. Perhaps because Barstow is a major regional transportation center. Maybe because several major highways converge in the city. Or maybe because the city is mentioned in the lyrics to 'Route 66'. Whatever the reason, it is a really cool spot and I couldn't resist taking lots of pictures.

After my short trip back in time, I went back to Starbucks to collect Paulo and we made our way to Palm Springs taking 15S and then 10E.

We checked in to Quality Inn and then drove into town for a bite. Palm Springs - seriously gay town. Seriously. We initially chose a place called Blue Coyote Bar & Grill but that was Mexican and Paulo didn't fancy it again. We walked a few doors down to Azul. The menu had tapas so it seemed OK. But once we sat down and looked around we noticed a slightly uncomfortable amount of gay boys staring at us. I suppose 'Footloose' by Kenny Loggins playing and the bartender doing a bit of a 'dance' should have tipped us off. Before we could move, our waiter showed up at our table and asked us if we wanted a COCKtail. We asked him for a minute and then in true immature, homophobic fashion got up and legged it! We went a bit further down the road and decided on a place called Hamburger Mary's. The place was empty and we settled in to some seats at the bar. Things were looking up when we managed to convince the barmaid to put some baseball on. But the gay boys started rolling in after a while and we were surrounded again. But it was grand. We had a nice meal, a few drinks and got some highlights of all the ball games on ESPN.

Back at the hotel we settled in and had a bit of wifi time before hitting the scratcher.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Day 81

I woke up this morning in time for a bit of breakie and some wifi time. Then I caught some rays out by the pool.

We checked out and drove into town again - more traffic and more jams. We made our way to 5th & Market, parked up and in one hour went to a few shops to pick up some bits and had lunch in a place called The Posh Bagel.

We walked back to the car and drove uptown to Presidio and along the Scenic Drive. We parked up and walked across the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge that crosses the San Francisco Bay, connecting San Francisco to the northern tip of Marin County. It was the largest suspension bridge when it was completed in 1937 until the Verrazano Bridge was built in New York.

The bridge was the idea of an engineer named James Strauss who had designed over 500 drawbridges. He began trying to sell his idea and create support for the project in 1921. After seven years, the decision was made to build the bridge but most of Strauss's ideas were rejected. Another engineer named Irving Morrow stepped in and a district comprised of representatives from six counties in California was created to design, construct and finance the project. It cost
nearly 37 million dollars and took over four years to complete.

In the end, Morrow had the most influence on the building of the bridge including the structural design and the famous international orange colour that was used to paint the bridge. He chose orange vermilion as the colour because he believed that it blended well with the natural surroundings. Since it's completion the Golden Gate has been regarded as one of the most beautifully engineered bridges in the world as well being declared a modern Wonder Of The

It was very windy and sunny all along the way. We were a bit worse for wear afterwards but we managed to walk the 1.7 miles across into Marin County and 1.7 miles back into San Francisco.

After our stroll, we drove back down Van Ness (101) and decided to have a bite in the local Mexican joint - Chevy's. Not too bad. And we watched the Giants play the Marlins. Bonds hit his 760th home run. I reckon now that he is relaxed and over the hype of the record he will hit a stupid amount of home runs in the last month of the season. He has also said that he will be playing next year. I think he wants to break 800 and then he will be content to hang up his
needles & bats.

We went back to the hotel to get our stuff and drove about 300 miles south to Bakersfield. We found an Econo Lodge and they accepted a coupon - happy days! It was late when we arrived, so we dumped our stuff and fell asleep straight away.