Days Three through Seven

Austin was the usual hoot. I got in around 2:30 and Tara and I grabbed some really good Mexican food before goofing off at Waterloo Records where I bought the new (already!) Nellie McKay CD featuring a big band. It’s fantastic. I also got the most recent Boom Boom Satellites (Japanese electronica, hard to find anywhere else), and Thought for Food by The Books. We also went to a big sale at South Austin Music[1] where I am proud to say I bought absolutely nothing!

We were going to go out that night to see Holly Golightly, but we succumbed to laziness and ended up watching Pushing Tin. Jamie eventually demanded we meet her up the street for some music and drinking, and we rallied enough energy to make it.

Sunday we dive-bar crawled. The primary rule for defining a “dive bar” was that it should not serve liquor. Beer only. Also, a jukebox must be present. And the fewer windows the better. We found four, and one of these featured chicken sh*t bingo. Tara wagered on a square, and we all waited for what seemed like an hour for the chicken to do its business. It never did, and we had more itinerant drinking to do, so we left without the satisfaction of knowing who won. After all the drinking was done, Tara and I retired her place with a pizza and a rented VHS copy of Beetlejuice[2].

I left Monday morning, and drove 621 desolate miles to Las Cruces, New Mexico. Some facts in brief about this stretch of road:

Number of dead armadillos: 0
Number of dead raccoons: several
Number of dead bugs on my windshield: countless
% of which where butterflies: an unfortunately high number
Ratio of goat farms to cattle farms: 20 to 1

I had dinner at a sports bar in El Paso[3] to wait out rush hour traffic, and made my way to Las Cruces, where I checked in to a Motel 6. I fell asleep to the comforting sounds of highway traffic and people yelling in Spanish outside my door.

Tuesday I drove the 760 miles from Las Cruces to Los Angeles. I don’t remember much beyond the undifferentiated, yet oddly beautiful desolation (pictures here, as usual). I also drove through a massive sandstorm from Coachella to Palm Springs the likes of which I have never experienced nor do I ever want to again. My fingers were tired from gripping the wheel so tightly. And the final stretch into LA was interminable. I felt like an asymptote – a line that keeps getting ever closer to its destination, but never arrives.

But of course I finally did, and Meredith took me to Ralph’s grocery store, where she bought me a sandwich and chocolate cake and beer. A happy ending to a very long day.

1.) Where I bought this thing last March.
2.) Because she had never seen it and her orchestra was working on playing the theme music for an upcoming performance.
3.) I’ve made a rule that I will not eat in any nationwide restaurant chains during this trip, and I wanted to see how the Red Sox were doing. The bartender gave me chicken strips on special, which was super nice, assuming that wasn’t a synonym for “wow these are old, let’s get rid of them.” They were tasty enough, though.

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