Friday, May 22, 2015

Pismo Beach

Didn’t ride very far at all the next day. I can’t remember how long it took but maybe not even an hour from San Luis Obispo to Pismo Beach? At this point we were just making our way  s l o w l y  back to LA. In hindsight we spent too long coming down the coast… in my opinion. Anyway we got to Pismo, checked out the beach where we’d heard you could take bikes and cars or whatever, and then set up at the campground. Malcolm and I went back to go for a hoon on the beach but Joe didn’t because it cost $5 each. Which, yes, is kinda bullshit just to go for a ride on a beach. But we had time to kill and fuck all to do, so a ride on the beach seemed a good idea.

Back at the campsite we drank some beers and went down to the beach for a bit. It was kinda pretty, but there was a cold wind. We got wood for the campfire from a couple that was set up near us. The guy, Deidrich, came over later on, bought some more wood, and had a couple of beers with us. He was a real interesting dude and we enjoyed talking with him about his life and experiences growing up in America. Turns out him and his family – and actually quite a few other people – were living in the campground there. He told us there had been a bunch of white supremacists living on the other side of the campground, and that he kept a loaded gun in his tent.

Pismo was strange. It had a weird vibe about it. I don’t know why? We almost got tattoos in Pismo but we couldn’t agree on anything.

Big Sur to San Luis Obispo (The Madonna Inn)

After a pretty good couple of days looking around Big Sur I got up early to try and get my tent packed and carry all my shit back to my bike without having Malcolm and Joe wait around for me. I hate having people wait for me. It stresses me out.

This next bit of Highway 1, south of Big Sur, does actually get pretty good. There’s still constant traffic, but it’s a nice twisty road and the sun was out again. It was really windy is all, which kinda sucked a bit. We stopped a lot on the way down the coast – to check out the Elephant seals, and also Hearst Castle… although we didn’t end up going up to visit the actual castle because 1. It costs a bit, and 2. We had to wait for over an hour.

We didn’t really know where we were going to stay the night, but I knew we were going to be passing the famous Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. Money was tight for us all at this point though and I knew Malcolm and Joe probably wouldn’t be keen to stay there. I suggested we get lunch there though and at least check out the restaurant. I’d heard about The Madonna Inn from Warren and he’d told me that Lux and Ivy (The Cramps) used to stay there. I’d checked it out online and really dug it’s super kitsch aesthetic.

I think we were all pretty gob-smacked when we parked up and went into the restaurant. The carpets, the lights, the ornate tables… it was all so bizarre. You just don’t see places like this (anymore?). We were all enchanted enough that we checked out room prices and agreed to spend a night in the ‘Imperial Family’ suite. Having had a couple of nights camping we were pretty stoked to be in such a plush room, but shit got really awesome when we went up to the heated outdoor pools! We soaked ourselves for quite a while in these, had beers and didn’t get out until we were looking like wrinkled prunes. Feeling pretty good we headed down to the bar and ballroom where we’d heard there was going to be a live salsa band. There wasn’t. There was a DJ. But there was salsa dancing… which actually we didn’t end up watching (or, thank God, getting involved in!) because we met a dude at the bar and chatted to him and his friends all night long. They were great but I totally forget their names? The girl was a soil scientist and her partner was into music and knew quite a few NZ bands. We talked about the Dead C a bit and I told him I’m mates with Bruce.

For the first night on the whole trip Joe went to bed first!? And I went down to Denny’s for a feed.

San Francisco to Big Sur

We were looking pretty forward to getting on the road again after a couple of days in the city, and also because we’d heard that Highway 1, which runs down the Pacific coastline, was pretty amazing. It was cold when we left San Francisco and the skies were grey, although it didn’t look like it’d rain. We had a quick coffee and chatted to some dude who’d done a bunch of crewing on Baja races in the past and was really interested in our bikes. He was super nice and cool. We left the city and planned to get breakfast somewhere down the line. We ended up at Sam’s famous chowder house in Half Moon Bay, where we killed a bunch of time because it’s so popular you have to wait for ages to get a table. It was worth it though. The food was good. But we ate too much, and I kinda got hit by a food coma when we set off again. As we rode the sun came out and things warmed up a bit. I was getting really sleepy though (food coma!) and suggested we pull over for a coffee in Santa Cruz. I kinda wanted to go to Santa Cruz to have a look around just because I used to love skateboarding when I was a teenager and my first ‘real’ deck was a Santa Cruz ‘Rob Roskopp’, and so now the words Santa Cruz are synonymous with skating history for me. We didn’t see much apart from a market and a bit of the main street though. Certainly didn’t see any real evidence of any awesome skateboard history?

We set off again and headed towards Monterey. I have to say, at this point, Highway 1 ain’t that great. Not compared to the roads we’ve done so far on this trip. There’s  H E A P S  of bloody traffic, the scenery’s ok, but it’s not that great. Monterey conjures up images and sounds of Jimi Hendrix for me as, again as a teenager, I used to have the video ‘Jimi Plays Monterey’. I watched that sucker over and over and over! So again I was expecting something… that of course I wasn’t gonna get. I was actually surprised how sort of clean and banal Monterey was. We went to a bar and had a beer after walking round the town. The bar was terrible and had this rasta dude doing karaoke guitar to Bob Marley songs. Urgh. We left and headed for Big Sur hoping to find somewhere decent to camp…

I can’t actually remember the name of this campground but it was pretty much the first one we saw as we headed into Big Sur. We went into the parking area and realized you had to walk to the campground. Malcolm went and checked it out and came back saying it looked pretty good. I protested because I didn’t wanna carry all my shit (a few loads potentially) down a track for the next half hour. I got talked into it however, and, yeah, it was a good campsite. We stayed two nights here and enjoyed the wildlife. We saw – up close and personal – deer, skunks, a raccoon, a bobcat, and a couple of snakes (I missed the snakes, MT and JW saw them… so they say). The skunks were actually cool as fuck. They came out at dusk and tried getting into our food and our tents. They were kinda little shits, but I liked their ballsy attitude. One came right up behind Joe and sniffed him on the ass in the dark. Good times. We were careful not to upset them and get sprayed though.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Capitola to San Francisco


Next day Malcolm and I woke up, had a great breakfast on the warf in Capitola, and then had a wander around the little township part. I wanted to see the Psychic Mermaid but she wasn't open and we kinda had to go and meet Joe in San Francisco. So... we hit he road up the coast, Highway 1. It was cold and overcast most of the way but just as we came into Pacifica (which is pretty much the outskirts of San Fran) the sun came out. It didn't warm up much though. Sid was right, San Francisco is fucking cold!

We met Joe at the hotel he'd already stayed at – the Royal Pacific Motor Inn in China Town. This place was ok, but the woman running it was insane. Anyways, as I mentioned before, I'd found out the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was playing and I actually got us tickets for the gig on the way into town. I'd been figuring it'd be sold out, so I was pretty stoked it wasn't. I was a big fan of Jon Spencer a few years ago, and they'd been a big influence on Aaron, Brendon, and I when we started The Grand Saloon.

We unpacked our shit, put some newer, less-bad-smelling clothes on and wandered around checking out the sights before going to the gig ...

Now I have to admit I got a bit drunk, but memories of the gig as follows:... to kick things off we were having drinks next to the venue waiting to go in when Judah Bauer and Russell Simmins came in! That got me pretty excited and is probably why I might had a bit too much to drink. Anyway, went over to the venue – the Independent – to see the support act. It was kinda weird anticipating this act cause they're called 'We Are Hex', and my band back home is called 'Hex Waves'... but I couldn't imagine anyone like the Hex Waves supporting Jon Spencer!? We Are Hex came on and preceded to pretty much blow everyone away I think. It was good cause they weren't a blues, rock and roll band, but actually were kinda gothy I guess you could say. Sorta Souxie/Bauhaus vibe going on, and the chick singing had a good stage presence.

The Blues Explosion then came out and and proceeded to kick some ass. They were great and I got way to caught up in the voodoo. At one point I reached out, touched Jon Spencer's guitar, and he put his hand on my head – to keep me away – and said, "I feel fever... and head lice!" I was pretty touched needless to say.

My memories of the night end about there. But apparently I spent a while talking to both bands when they were done. I almost got kicked out of the venue for trying to sneak backstage, when luckily Joe pointed out that they (the bands) were actually all just milling round the bar!

Really hung over and sorry for myself the next day, but man, what a night! Eventually I got up the energy to go and ride over the bridge with Joe, but that was about it. That night we lay in bed and watched 'Traffic', which was kinda cool considering we'd just been down in Baja...