NV > CENTRAL COAST, CA – Ghost Town, Desert Aliens, & BB&B!

As I was driving through the middle of the desert, I saw a phenomenal beam of light rising from the desert floor. And there were a series of hundreds of beaming lights powering that super-beam. I thought that certainly this must be aliens.. And maybe it was! But it also looks like power! IMG_4640I believe these arrays of mirrors super-heat the big contraption in the middle, heating some kind of liquid that turns a turbine of some kind to generate electricity. For all the heat out there, I’m glad they’re doing something with itIMG_4649Ghost Town! Calico is an abandoned mining town out in the desert. I was hoping it would just be desolate, abandoned  buildings – but of course, it has been turned into a tourist attraction. They refurbished some of the buildings and have little lessons of the old days taught for the kids.. Not exactly what I was expecting. But interesting to seeIMG_4686My trip came mostly to a wrap-up when I arrived in Nipomo, CA for an annual family/friend gathering called the BB&B (Beer, BBQ,  & Baseball) each summer. IMG_4734We visited a neighbors’ party, and this is my Mom and Dad walking my little 1yo nephew down the driveway..IMG_4663Destruction derby! Every year before the BB&B, my family goes to the fairgrounds to watch destruction derby. If you’ve never seen it, cars driving around in circles slamming into each other, trying not to disable their car. The last car running wins! Ironically, this was probably the most seemingly-southern-inspired thing I did on my trip to the South, and not until I got back to my parents’ house in CA! lol

 

LAS VEGAS, NV – STRIP, STRANGERS, & KISS TATTOOS

LAS VEGAS – STRIP, STRANGERS, & KISS TATTOESIMG_4586Cruising down the strip in the convertible on a nice warm night was awesome 🙂 Haven’t been here since I last went sky-diving, as a late-night drunken decision lolIMG_4623Met some strangers at the bar. One thing I found on my trip is that military dudes know how to drink! Everyone Vet I met knows how to slam a beer or two 😉  We had some drinks, lost some money, then saw a lonely lady at the end of the bar.. Come on over!IMG_4600This woman was sitting alone at the end of the other side of the bar, so I asked her to come over and join us. She’s Eastern European and loves this particular bar because they play 70’s/80’s rock. Some further conversation leads to… KISS!!!IMG_4599…KISS!! The band that is!!! I can appreciate anyone who is passionate enough about something to tattoo it in large black figures across their body lol. Still not exactly sure what she is wearing her. But this whole experience was super fun!/funny!! 🙂

ROUTE 66 – Cadillac Ranch, Ukulele, & Get Your Kicks!!

ROUTE 66 –  Cadillac Ranch, Ukulele, & Get Your KIMG_4542Come on! Get your kicks! On Route 66!! Route 66 is a mix of interesting, sad, and adventure. But more on that later.. One of the more unusual gems on Route 66 is the Cadillac Ranch, or “Cadillac Stonehenge.” This started as an art project funded by an eccentric and wealthy gentleman in TX. It was originally arranged like Stonehenge, but then was moved. It’s officially on private property in the middle of a farm. But the gate is open, and they encourage you to bring paint cans to transform the monument while you are thIMG_4554Surprisingly nice paint on this building, for it being a closed-down gas station. Sad to see so many businesses closed down.. IMG_4560This is an abandoned hotel on Route 66. One of many abandoned hotels and businesses. The parking lot is empty and weeds growing rampant through the cracked blacktop. The lobby door is kicked in and swung open, with trash and squatter’s remains strewn about the still-intact building.  The sign stands bold on the roof, but is no longer lit. This was probably a busy road-side hotel for families before they built the interstate system, leaving many of the businesses alongside Route 66 to die. IMG_4566Such beautiful scenery and rocks coming back in towards New Mexico. I stopped for a while to relax and play ukulele on the way back 🙂 Learned a few songs on the road!

 

 

WEST TEXAS – Massive Windmill & Train Track Coins

WEST TEXAS – MASSIVE WINDMILL & TRAIN TRACK COINS

Ever put coins on a train track to flatten them? I have, and it’s a fun souvenir!IMG_4391Bam! Just like that, some fresh, new change 😉  *Don’t try this at home kids. Always be careful playing on the train tracks 😉IMG_4444Ka-chingIMG_4466This was particularly amazing to me. As I was driving down the 10 in Texas, I saw this ENORMOUS windmill that was still on the ground, just off the freeway. I took the Bimmer offroad to go check it out. It was the most enormous thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Multiples larger/longer than the biggest 737.

IMG_4517This second picture with my car up close to the base show’s a fraction of the enormity of this thing. It was eerie out there in the quiet; a warm breeze blowing; and the enormous mass of windmill creaking slowly in the wind, tethered by a few chains, resting on several blocks of wood. As the massive hull of these blades groaned with movement in the wind, I wondered how flat they could crush my car and body if it fell over…?  (But I got out safely 😉

MISSISSIPPI – Americana: Ice Cube, Firecrackers, Bullshit Peanuts, & Jesus

MISSISSIPPI – Americana: Ice Cube, Firecrackers, Peanuts, & JIMG_4344ICE CUBE! A lot of places I saw in the South put a picture of Ice Cube on the ice machine. Thought that was hilarious! Perfect little scowl too grrrr  :-#IMG_4354Next to apple pie and baseball, everyone knows there’s nothing more patriotic than buying cheap firecrackers imported from China!!! And hey! It was even close to 4th of July! How did I get hooked into this? Marketing!!! As I was driving by the sign below, with the shabby trailer in back, I knew I had to check it oIMG_4352“Happy Independence Day. Light the sky with colorful artillery shell.”  Flanked by flags!?!  USA! USA! USA! The purveyor of the store was about a 532 year old gentleman with no teeth, who lived in the back of the shop (and he smokes! :-/ )  It’s a different world out herIMG_4348Just up from the firework place was this business selling headstones (for the very dead) and a teal corvette (for the very living). I’m sure you could get a package deal if you feel like you’re going to crash the ‘IMG_4345BOILED PEANUTS ARE BULLSHIT!
Boiled peanuts are everywhere in the South. Every gas station, corner store, and outhouse both has them, and advertises them. And I’m still not sure why. Some are even served cold and mushy. My cousin Dominic said something like, “They taste like soggy peanuts that have been sitting in a tub of water for a couple days.” Well I agree! And that’s what they are!! lol

The picture above is actually of an old peanut roaster, at a peanuttery in Biloxi if I’m not mistaken. The peanuts that came out of here were delicious! Throw away those boiled peanut crockpots,  and get more roasters!!IMG_4363 IMG_4373

JACKSONVILLE, FL – Beaches, Bikes, Booty-Shakin’, Fun, & Sun!

JULY 2017

Florida was one of my favorite surprise states!! I almost went up to Charleston instead of visiting Florida, but glad I came to Jacksonville!! I LOVE the beaches here!!

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The Sunrise view from my hotel room in Jacksonville Beach. I had to get some work done today, but not a bad place to work from!!

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The water is SO nice and warm in Jacksonville. On a summer day, perfect to hop in any time!!  IMG_4338Booty-Shakin!!  I ended up meeting and hanging out with this crazy, fun-loving traveler for the last night in Jacksonville. As we walked down the sidewalk from the bar, 3 women were having a booty-shaking contest outside the club as we approached. So he decided to start it back up when we got there lol

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BEACH CRUISER!! <3  The beaches are firm enough by the shore to ride a cruiser bike down, and I love it!!! The beaches are also SOOOO long, you can ride forever. Can’t do this in California! Or jump in the water any time..  Don’t tell CA, but I think the beaches in Florida are better!!IMG_4238

SAVANNAH, GA – 4th of July, Food & Drink, and Family

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Dominic! The man! My 2nd cousin and I didn’t even know what each other looked like before I called him on the way to Atlanta. Yet he invited me into his home and showed me around like we were brothers. Thanks so much Dom! And for all you do to keep helping our troops 🙂 Keep on rockin!! Welcome out to SF for a tour any time!

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We stopped into this bar late-night, and they were pouring shots of fireball for the entire bar *on the house* about every 30 minutes or so! Wow! The bartenders were super awesome and fun too 🙂

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Some jazz and steaks at Ruth’s Chris on 4th of July before the fireworks. Such a delicious steak, as always, on par with lil’ ol Jocko’s in Nipomo, CA. Steaks. Whiskey. Beer. Fireworks. What could be more American?

Was really interesting.  We were chatting with the lead player in the jazz band is part of some secret society type thing in San Francisco, with corporate execs, high-level government officials, and some musicians. IMG_4158

U S A! U S A!

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Hit up a warehouse-style brewer in Hotlanta for some tasty brews. I think this is the longest my beard has ever been. Joining the Amish soon! Out of control!!!

SOUTH CAROLINA – Country, Deer, Guns, Darts, USA, & Family

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My Cousins, Aunt, and wonderful kids all together in Sumter, South Carolina. Thanks Heidi, Rodney, and fam for having me over! Appreciate it so much, and had such a great time!! 🙂  Shooting, fishing, darts and drinking.. a little bit of everything 😉

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Straight off the porch, looking out past the American Flag, over the corn field, just before 4th of July..

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Getting my hair braided so I can be more stylish in Sumter..

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Beautiful Sunset.

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Target practice. Everyone gets to shoot!

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We got to go fishing in this beautiful pond on a neighbor’s property. Beautifully still 🙂

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NASHVILLE, TN – Country Music, Drinking, Southern Food & Bad-Ass Hotel

JUNE 2016

After 4 days of camping, it was nice to relax in this amazing hotel in Nashville. It is the former Union Train Station, and was converted into a hotel. The entire lobby is filled with natural light from the expansive stained glasss windows that cover the ceiling.

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The Nashville Palace is where we ended up our first night in Nashville, listening to Honky Tonk. This location is next door to Cooter’s and Willie Nelson’s Country Store, not far from the Grand ‘Ol Opry. This pic is of the slide guitar. I even got them to sing Happy Bday to Sarah, as this was her actual 30th Bday Night!

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Drinks at Tootsie’s, a famous and awesome 3-story Music Hall & Bar with different music on each floor. Good times!!

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Late-night drinks on the roof-top deck. Lots of open-air places to drink in Nashville! 🙂

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Awesome Hatch Show Printing, right next to the Country Music Museum. They have been and are still producing posters for concerts and events all over the country, the old-fashioned way by hand!

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Exhibit on Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson in the Country Music Museum. It was interesting seeing how much country has gone all over the place over the years..

IMG_3758Delicious middle-of-nowhere local restaurant in Nashville. Awesome Southern Food!!! Sooooo unhealthy!!! (like most food in the South hehehe)

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IMG_3763Sarah and I escaped from the escape game in Nashville!.. along with a group of strangers. I think we had about 30 seconds left, so we were super stoked! It was a lot of fun!! Highly recommended!

 

BONNARROO, TN – Music Festival!!! Yoshi, Camping, Booze, Fire, Madness, & More w/ Sister Sarah!!

IMG_3424Bonnaroo 2016!!! This trip was awesome!! 4 days of camping, music, art, eating, drinking, and meeting some really awesome people!!! I flew my sister out from Phoenix for her dirty 30 Birthday, and had an awesome time!! I can’t believe she’d NEVER been to a music festival before! Quite the eye-opener for her!  (and it wasn’t even Burning Man!! lol)

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Rocking late-night concert. Performances are all-out, with light shows, fog, fire, blasting speakers, late into the morning.. 🙂

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This night was madness!!! After a bit of drinking and what not, we ended up meeting one crazy dude with a Yoshi costume and an RV!! He had lots of supplies, so we spent a few hours chatting, laughing, and trying to help him get his Yoshi costume on..  Can’t even tell you how hilarious this was.. Good times!!

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Fire blowing out of the stage in the expansive music festival area with the late-night crowd.

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Cooling off under the mushroom waterfall in the blazing hot day!

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The water was nice and cold! 🙂

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Another late-night party, with dancers spinning poi, huge crowd, and epic stage!!

AUSTIN! Boating, Crawfish Boil, Family, & Queso, w/ Lynn Currie!

AUSTIN, TX – Awesome! Thanks so much to my Host, Bad-Ass Custom Home Builder Lynn Currie!

Crawfish Boil!! This is a seasonal tradition in the South and other crawfish-havin’ states. It’s interesting contrasting the similarities of Austin with the South, which is just about as far away as the dry deserts of West Texas (the humidity in Austin is definitely much more like the South too!) Lynn and her friends were nice enough to have me over for a crawfish boil near Lake Travis, before going boating out on the Lake!

IMG_2729IMG_2724LAKE TRAVIS – We got to ride inner tubes off the back of the boat (I’m in the boat here looking back at Lynn and her friend). So much fun!! Felt like I was a kid again!

IMG_2742We had some beautiful days on Lake Travis, cruising in the boat, drinking IPA’s, riding in the inner tube, jumping in the Lake, and having an awesome time!!

IMG_2744Lynn was awesome to let me stay in her beautiful Austin home! 🙂 It’s so great hanging outside in the evenings, enjoying the day in the pool, watching the crazy lightning storms from the porch 😉

IMG_2779And even let my family stay while she was off exploring in the Airstream! My Nephew, Brother, Sister, and Sister in law were in town in Austin from Illinois and Phoenix, and we all got to hang out at the house!

IMG_3174Queso!!! Austin’s favorite appetizer!! Queso comes in many forms. And this one was particularly good! For those who live in California and have never had it, queso is various forms of melted cheese and/or cheese product, sometimes mixed or topped with other flavors or stuff, and served with chips. It’s tasty!! As an all-sorts-of-cheese lover, it’s hard to say no. It’s weird that, much like delicious breakfast tacos, you don’t see queso out in CA. Another regional dish..

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TEXAS – Huge Machines, Cowboy hat Conference, and Austin Fun!

TEXAS! Everything is bigger in Texas!!! I ran across this machine on the side of the road, and it’s amazing! I wanted to hook it up to the Bimmer battery and see if I could get it fired up, but at about 1/20th the size, I don’t think my car could hold up lol. I would like to see this machine turned into a tiny home.. How cool would that be!?! 🙂

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I was planning on going to Austin, but ended up driving the 1,000 miles from Phoenix to Austin in 24 hours because I found out about the HomeAway conference in Austin, TX. This is a conference for furnished rentals, which is a big part of my business, and why I can travel around the country. I also do some business with them, and it was for property owners, so I decided to check it out! First things when I walked in was a cowboy hat! Learned some interesting things and interesting folks at this conference though..
(PS – I will be at the AirBnb Open Conference and hanging around downtown Los Angeles from Nov 11-21, 2016, if anyone wants to join or say hi in LA!)

IMG_2712And what a trip to TX be without BBQ!?! Each region has it’s own flavor of BBQ, smoking, BBQ sauce.. but almost all have delicious brisket!! Brisket is not as popular where I come from on the Central Coast of CA, where smoking is not as popular, and most people use open-air oak BBQ’s. There’s more tri-tip on the Central Coast (try Santa Maria Style BBQ), but lots more delicious brisket & burnt ends out here!

IMG_2992Breakfast Tacos are a huge thing in Austin, TX. What are breakfast tacos? Well, pretty much a taco with an egg in it! lol But they are served everywhere, at almost all hours. I’m a fan! The twist is that they’ll serve it with all kinds of interesting things inside – often BBQ – but also the standards.. There are also TONS of good food trucks in Austin, lots of them in old Airstreams! The shiny aluminum travel trailers have a sort of cult following in Austin..

IMG_2753And will tour through more of Austin in the next post!!