Days 44-47: Red Eyed Fly
The journey across the deserts of the SouthWestern United States was long, hot, and miserable. Luckily, our air conditioner was pushing out cold air… for most of the trip at least.
Somewhere in the middle of the desert we had to pull off the highway do that Stevie G could give one of his Skype guitar lessons. Root and I walked around the truck stop that we were at for a bit, but the fact that it was literally a hundred degrees in the shade made it so that we spent most of our time in an air conditioned Subway sandwich shop. Because Nate had his big office days Monday/Tuesday, we drove all the way to La Cruces, NM and found a Walmart to sleep at, so that we could have another solid office day yet still make good time on our way to Texas.
After a productive Monday in a Starbucks, we hit the road in the late afternoon. Shortly after we left La Cruces, we passed the mountain ranges that were the backdrop of the ‘Bombs Around Me’ video. Ten nostalgic miles later, we crossed the border into Texas.
Our plan had been to make it to Fredericksburg, TX for the night as it was the only big town between where we were and Austin, so that we could have another office day at a coffee shop or wherever. The road to there was a county highway, and not an interstate. Our progress was slowed down dramatically because of the enormous deer population roaming about. I grew up in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts where deer litter the roads like New York City pigeons, but I think for sure that I saw more deer lining the sides of that highway than I have all the ones in the rest of my life combined. To top it off, as we were climbing the gradual Texan hills, some of the same transmission slippage that had been going on randomly started happening again, so we shut down all unnecessary systems (including the newly charged A.C.!), and found a place to pull over for the night.
The next morning we finished the trip into Fredericksburg and found a coffee shop. Nate dove in on work and we called to set up a appointment with our Mississippi mechanical MacGyver, Mike McCabe. Our plan was to keep going, play the Austin gig, and then beeline to Gulfport, MS, so that we could be in town for our festival show and so that Mike could diagnose our bus. That also meant that we would be driving with only essentials on, so as not to tax our power system. While the worst of the heat was over, Texas is no temperate zone.
After Nate was done work, we finished our drive to Austin. We arrived close to sundown, so we stopped on the Congress Ave. bridge to see the nightly nature show that the thousands of bats that live under the bridge put on. Typically at dusk, every night from spring to fall, about a million bats awake from their day slumber and take flight, turning the sky almost black for a few seconds as they fly by on their way to hunt insects for the night. True to our luck, that evening the bats decided to sleep in. It was well past dusk when the they started their flight, so there wasn’t much to see.
Leaving the bridge, we went to grab some BBQ. We stopped by Stubb’s, which during SXSW is currently one of the premier venues for bands to showcase at. After some BBQ’d brisket, we headed out on the town.
Austin, when it’s not SXSW (as I’ve said before), is a whole different city. It’s still very a musically charged city, but it’s less hectic and over crowded. We walked the streets a bit, promoting our show the following night. Once on 6th ave, we stopped by a few tattoo shops because Nate was looking at design concepts to flesh out the ink on his bicep. Armed with ideas, we continued on down the strip.
I was soon in a much better mood because we found a bar that had $1.25 well drinks… Cheap non-beer drinks are a rarity all across the country. We finished the night out and headed to a Planet Fitness parking lot, to make our morning routine easier.
Two Gatorades, a 15 minute workout, and a shower later, the next morning didn’t seem so bad. We headed back downtown and I went with Nate to get his tattoo. (If you want to see it, bug him 😉 haha)
After the tat, we headed to the venue for load in.
Red Eyed Fly has two stages, a small inside stage and a larger outdoor one that abuts a small ravine with a stream below. We were playing the outside stage, and during Man on Earth’s set nature interrupted a bit… but, not in the typical way. Usually, inclement weather is nature’s middle finger to us, this night, however, an overly comfortable raccoon meandered about disturbing the people watching the show. Apparently, the coon was a resident of those parts and while docile, has been a nuisance to patrons and extremely elusive to the animal control officers.
We took off shortly after our set because our goal was to get to Mississippi early enough to make some more friends with some promotion, and also have Mr. McCabe check out our bus. With Austin in our rear view, we continued east, Gulfport Music Festival on our minds.