This is the geek talking

This is the geek talking
July 18, 2005 Jon Armstrong

I’m home. Relatively safe. Relatively sound. Back in the arms of my almost 30 year old lover. I wanted to wrap up the trip by giving a brief itinerary, and crap I took along so we wouldn’t get lost and some final thoughts. More photos will be posted on flickr, I just have to get through them all.

Itinerary:
Monday afternoon, Flight with McQueen from Salt Lake City to Cleveland. Arrive Cleveland around midnight after connecting flight from Dallas. Meet JB. Drive into Cleveland and stay at Holiday Inn Express downtown. It’s next to a crazy amazing bank that I wish I would have taken a hundred pictures of, but didn’t because they would have likely thrown me out. We stayed up very late, reminiscing, exchanging birthday gifts and behaving like fools. No alcohol was consumed at this time.

Tuesday, wake late and walk over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Leave expensive camera in trunk, because rock stars suck and won’t let you take pictures of their crap. Elvis lets you take pictures of his crap. What gives David Bowie and Britney Spears?

Leave RNRHOF late afternoon to drive to Columbus. Stop at CVS on 9th (I believe) to acquire a cooler, ice, beer, smokes and a four dollar jug of pretzels that will fuel us the entire trip. A brief chase is given to acquiring an acoustic guitar. JB claims this is to practice for an upcoming gig. I think it’s to relive glory days. We arrive in Columbus without incident, but arrive late enough that most places are closed. We end up close to the university and end up having pizza at a non-divey place that looks as though it’s the place students take their parents to so their parents don’t freak out at the normal hangouts. We acquire the liquor that will fuel the rest of the trip; 1 fifth bourbon (JB and myself), 1 fifth vodka (McQueen) and 1 375ml Jose for when the spirit moves us, which would only be a few times.

Wednesday morning (more like noon) we head out for Bardstown, Kentucky. McQueen, who has done our booking for the trip (God bless you), is silent about what we will do in Bardstown. After an interesting rush hour drive (I’m a little more aggressive after my California years) through Cincinatti, we stop at Skyline Chili in Kentucky. The Ohio River is cool. Wednesday night we stay in, and I discover that the boys are willing to go to Maker’s Mark Distillery. I’m overjoyed at the thought. We hang at the hotel, drinking and singing and playing the guitar, me using some of McQueen’s drum brushes on an overturned rubberish trash can (to good effect), getting ready for the bigger cities.

Thursday we hit Maker’s Mark and drive through some beautiful countryside in a rainstorm to do so. McQueen wanted some rural on this trip, to get a feel for where the music came from. It was lush and green, wet and rustic. The distillery was fantastic. I’ll write more about that experience with the photos I will publish. I promise. After the distillery, we hightailed it to Nashville, bringing the storm along with us. On our way, the Louisville skyline looked like one of those black and white postcards from the 40s; someone dragged the saturation slider way down and all that was left is a grainy grayscale city that looked mystical. I tried to capture some shots, but alas, I was driving. After an offramp stunt, I was barred from driving the rest of the trip. I believe McQueen’s wife may have suggested that McQueen drive the rest of the way during a quiet cell phone conversation (a theory), which he did.

Friday was a late awakening and a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Followed by a mad dash to Memphis. The car was parked until we drove to Graceland and Sun Studio on Saturday, leaving Saturday night for a late dinner and an early (for the trip) sleep.

Sunday was spent getting home. The Memphis airport bathrooms smell like someone is reversing the plumbing on the urinals. Or using urine to mop with. You can smell the bathrooms from 30 feet away. Not so good. Plus, Dallas was jacked about 50 ways to jesus. First it was the trains, then it was the flight delays. Avoid Dallas’ airport at all costs.

Gear:
1 Lincoln-Mercury Grand Marquis LS (leather interior). Sweet ride and actually pretty good gas mileage.

1 IBM Thinkpad T40 laptop, running Microsoft’s Streets and Trips 2005 software. This is Google maps (sort of) without being online. Pretty cool and saved us a bunch of times. Attached to the T40 was a generic USB GPS unit, that would tell Streets and Trips where we were. The computer crashed an average of 3 times a day.

1 Tripp Lite 300 Watt Power inverter. You plug this baby into your ciggy lighter and it will charge a cell phone and power a laptop. The inverter was a loaner. Thanks DH!!

1 40gb iPod – mine, used as music playback and freelance hard drive.

1 60gb iPod Photo – JB. Don’t even get me started.

20 CDs, McQueen provided these as a break. I like CDs, but traveling with an iPod is the only way to fly.

1 Belkin Tune Cast II (mine)

1 Monster iPod wireless transmitter (JB’s)

1 10′ Ethernet Cable (for hotels that don’t have WiFi).

1 pack Djarum Lights

1 pack Marlboro Lights

1 pack American Spirits

1 acoustic guitar

1 styrofoam cooler, which, despite the red handle/clampy things still made horrific sounds at highway speeds.

1 USB cell phone cable for downloading photos and charging my phone.

6 Corona Extras

1 fifth Vodka

1 fifth Bourbon

1 375ml Jose Cuervo

1 VX6000 cell phone

1 1 gig Compact Flash card

1 512 MB Compact Flash card

1 Nikon D70 digital SLR

3 amazing wives who would allow their men to vacate for 6 days

Alcohol consumed: Just right. No super bad hangovers or barfing.

The trip was lovely, a bit long (sitting in Nashville thinking back to Cleveland made it seem like it was several months ago. Time shifted and warped in the car. Not having to load up on the last couple of days was a nice change.

If I’ve not mentioned something, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to respond.

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