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.