Day 18

I wake up extremely rested, have an awesome breakfast and am informed that Ramon and Erica have started a business where they have access to a mechanic’s garage.  They want to check out my car to make sure nothing weird is going on.  We drive over the shop and Ramon fixes some crazy rattling problem my car has been having, he changes the oil and replaces a belt that looks like it ready to fall apart. 

I get a tour of Bethlehem, PA which has a pretty amazing history.  The short version is Bethlehem was home to the booming business of Bethlehem Steel which provided steel for many of the buildings built in America over the last century.

The business grew and grew and eventually reached an abrubt end leaving huge empty metal works, industrial warehouses and office buildings throughout the city.  There are now people attempting to repurpose these structures but many of them remain vacant.

We eventually go back to the house where I get to eat legit Polish Food (stuffed cabbage) and then we take a night walk to get some gelato.  It is a pretty successful day off!  I have some regrets about canceling the NY show but ultimately think it was a good idea to have the day off.  I can’t imagine how screwed I would be if that belt snapped during the massive drives I would have had to make. I relax and watch some shows on Animal Planet and eventually get to fall asleep in the amazing bed again.


Day 19

I wake up, do some laundry and head out at noon.  My drive to Baltimore takes me through scenic Amish country.  I eventually stop and stock up on water and craisins at a drug store. 

It is a short trip to Club K and when I pull up to the venue I realize it is across the street from where I did laundry in Baltimore on the 2008 US tour. I have lots of time to kill so I get some lunch and go for a walk, finding nothing interesting to do. 

Eventually other bands show up and we all wait on the sidewalk for the venue to open up.  I listen to a story about one of the other bands sleeping in a barn and getting pooped on by birds. Eventually the show starts and all the bands are incredibly incompatible but everyone is having fun and I witness some good sets.  I really enjoy the band Music Bones which is a two piece (guitar and drums) where the drummer has a unique style.  She appears to be keeping time by gregariously dancing out the parts from behind the kit.  I have never seen anything like it!  It’s a style that wouldn’t come across in recording and would have to be seen live to understand it.  The second band “Something Like A Monument”  is simultaneously shreddy and bluesy and their singer reminds me of a younger, more coherent Charles Manson. They have a really good set and then I play third but can’t really tell how it goes over.
4th up is Chrononauts who are really loud and end their set by deconstructing their drummer’s kit one drum at a time.

I pack up my stuff and receive some compliments on my set.  I guess it went over well!  Once I am loaded out I decide to run over to Washington DC and do some site seeing at 3 AM.  I enter the Lincoln Memorial into my phone’s GPS app and speed off into the night.

The drive takes longer than I expected but I eventually arrive at my destination.  I park on a side street and enter the National Mall right by the Washington Monument.  I walk through the park and try to snap pictures but it is so dark that barely anything turns out. The morning is peaceful and the park is empty and silent as I navigate.

I find the capitol building. I find the World War II Memorial.  I find the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool.  At last I find the Lincoln Memorial and stand in awe.  It is a lot larger than I thought it would be.  I stand at the top of the stairs completely alone, snap some pictures and decide to get out of Washington before the sun comes up.
 I don't realize how close I am to the White House so I decide to skip the hassle of trying to find it and head out of DC at approximately 4:45 AM


Day 20

I start driving for towards my next destination: Salt Fork State Park, OH where I will be camping that night.  It is a 5.5 hour drive.  To my surprise I find a Waffle House (I didn’t know they existed this far North) and I pull off to get  dinner/breakfast/whatever.  I wouldn’t say the food is great or the  service is good but the lack of Waffle Houses on the West Coast always make me appreciate the opportunity to eat at one when I find one.  I gleefully eat a waffle and smothered hashbrowns.  When I am asked how my meal was by my waitress I excitedly reply “AMAZING!!!” I get a strange look from a fellow customer and my waitress seems off-put.

I am sleep deprived but feel revitalized by my meal and get back on the freeway.  The sun eventually comes up and I am back in Pennsylvania.  It is windy out and autumn leaves litter the highways. I encounter some mountainous terrain and notice my car is starting to putter and become weak on the hills.  I hope it is nothing serious and continue on to Ohio.

After a long, hilly, bumpy, windy journey I arrive at Salt Fork Park and once again, I am the only camper in the park.  I reach my campsite which is on a cliff that overlooks a lake.  The clouds are dark and I can feel sprinkles of rain.  I am so tired by this point that I eschew exploring the park and just set up my tent.  This campsite has an electrical outlet so I fish an extension cord out of my lighting bag and run it into my tent.  I charge up all my electronic devices, do some snacking and play some games on my phone as rain starts pouring down on my tent.

The wind roars. The rain patters.  Eventually the sounds become hypnotic and sleep takes me.


Day 21

I wake up.  The heavy wind is causing my tent to shake and the sound of the rain is unrelenting.  Trying to pack up my campsite in the middle of a rainstorm sounds unappealing so I try to wait it out.  After an hour I decide I should pack it up before it gets any worse.

I emerge from the tent and am soaked with cold rain as I attempt to fold my sleeping bag and tent in the hard winds.  I fail and just stuff them into my car.

There are wet leaves everywhere and branches in the road as I start driving out of the park. I notice a large building before I leave that appears to be a place where I can shower.  I park in the parking lot and I approach the door fully expecting it to be closed for the off season but it opens and inside there is a long hall with high ceilings containing some bathroom stalls, a laundry machine and dryer, and long line of shower stalls.

The sound of the wind and rain reverberate off the tile floors and walls and echo up into the high ceilings. The emptiness and the ambiance is a relief from a rough night/morning.  I take a long shower and do some laundry.  I discover that I have lost my towel but I know no one is coming so I hang out and wait until I am dry to put my clothes back on. 

I depart for Cincinnati after a couple of hours in the showering facility and notice that my car is continuing to struggle and occasionally my “check engine” light will come on and go off.  Most of the time it is doing ok so I hope for the best and continue on.

I spot a White Castle restaurant before I reach my destination and stop to try it.  I have had the opportunity to eat at White Castle before on my other ventures to the East Coast but I didn’t take it.  I promised myself I would stop if I see one on this tour and I finally found one!!!  While eating sliders I notice I am close to a Target so I take the opportunity to buy a towel.

Eventually I make it to Rake’s End in Cincinnati but I am VERY early and the venue is not open yet.  I decide to go for a walk and discover that the neighborhood it is in is very sketchy.  My time is probably better spent making sure my car isn't broken into.  I sit in front of the club and eventually fall asleep in my car.

I wake up and it is dark.  A van is sitting in front of me and it appears to have a sticker in the window that spells my last name.  It is not a very common last name or word so I am weirded out.

Eventually a guy gets out of the van and he looks like he is there to help out with the show so I get out and introduce myself.  His name is Devin and he does live sound production.  The venue brought him in on the show because their PA might be inadequate for electronic music.  We talk and wait for the venue to open and I question him about the “Alejo” sticker to which he replies that it is his friends DJ name.

Eventually the venue opens and we help each other load gear into the venue.  Mostly up until this point (aside from Whitehaus) no one from any venue has helped me load my gear in.  They just sit and watch me make trip after sweaty trip from my car to the venue carrying tons of lighting and audio gear in. When Devin was trying to load his PA in I could totally relate to his struggle and quickly offered a hand and received one in turn! I like Rake’s End a lot.  The staff was really nice and the venue is really cool and accommodating.

The first act up is Liquid Hologram who are an electronic duo that do psychedelic, trancey and very rhythmic music but I wouldn’t call it “Trance” it is more in the vein of The Dragon Experience.   The production is impressive and it sounds great live! I play second and it is very bassy.  Once again I have a hard time gauging the audience’s reaction but after the set I am given good feedback.  Up third are Softwarewolves who do rhythmic improvised electronics.  They play two improvised arrangements with a drum machine and some synths that is pretty cool and then Liquid Hologram do another set to close out the night.

I help Devin load out and point my car towards Kentucky.  I have a friend named Shasta in Lexington who is going to let me sleep at her place after the show.  I attempt to make good time but my car is really struggling and I barely make it to her apartment complex by 4AM.  I call her and wake her up and find that I get my own room and bed and then she goes back to sleep. The bed is hilariously girly but it is very comfortable!  I charge my phone and try to find a mechanic close by.

After some research I find a reputable mechanic 9 miles away that opens at 7:30 AM.  I set an alarm for 7 AM, hug a pillow, and try to get every second of sleep I can before it goes off. 


Day 22

My alarm goes off and I jump out of bed and put my boots on.  I enter the address of the mechanic’s shop and start my car.  The “Check Engine” light comes on and I start my drive.  The car dies several times but restarts and I finally putter into the parking lot of Complete Auto Repair (C.A.R). 

I go inside and explain my situation and a mechanic named Gary emerges to drive my car around to see what is wrong with it.  It starts up perfectly.  It drives perfectly.  They explain that they can’t diagnose the problem if my car won’t reproduce it and send me on my way.  On the drive back to Shasta’s apartment my car functions flawlessly.

Shasta is awake and we eat breakfast and she introduces me to her two cats.  They are both grey but one is very fat and the other is very skinny. Shasta gives me a key to her apartment and leaves to go to work.  I go back to sleep and stay that way for most of the day.

Eventually Shasta returns and I leave for Louisville to play a show.  The drive there is tumultuous to say the least.  My car putters and dies several times.  The “Check Engine” light come on and off and smoke pours from my tailpipe.  When I arrive to Third Street Dive I discover there is no street parking available.  I drive around downtown Louisville and I eventually have to park in a pay lot about one block away and regrettably pay the required $10.

I enter the venue and introduce myself to the bartender and find out he is also the owner.  He introduces me to the sound guy.  Luckily the sound guy volunteers to help me load in my gear and we make the long trek across the pay lot.  Once I am loaded in Shasta arrives to show and we watch the House band do covers songs. 

Everyone at the venue has an accent and I find out that locals pronounce “Louisville” in a strange slur that sounds like loo-a-vull.   Once the house band finishes a guy with a banjo does a set and then I set up my gear. My setup takes forever and I am heckled by the crowd.  In a thick Kentucky accent someone yells “C’mon Uuuuuglyhead…  Lets hear some music!!!”  This stresses me out but I eventually am ready to play.  During my set I have a microphone malfunction and the sound guy replaces it mid-song like a proper roadie.  I am very impressed! Surprisingly my set goes over well with the crowd.  I sell out of The Garden Special edition at the merch table and eventually pack up all my stuff while the final act performs (some guy with an acoustic guitar doing songs about comic books or something…).

I am finally able to park my car in front of the venue so I move it and load my equipment out.  Shasta goes to her car and finds that it has a smashed windshield.  I drive back to Lexington and have loads of car trouble.  I set my alarm again for 7AM so I can take the car into the shop again first thing in the morning.  Once again I hug a pillow and try to get whatever sleep I can.  I am stressed out and sleep does not come easily.