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Showing posts from March, 2010

2010 USA Tour : March 27th, San Francisco

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Waking up in El Capitan’sI believe we woke to a vacationer’s dream. Warm sunshine, the calling of tropical birds and the relaxing caressing sound of crashing waves on a sandy shore. Claire and I were up early to enjoy a short vacation moment before our day’s travel. We skipped down the flowers and herbs rich path down to the cliff steps and down to the fairly remote golden sand beach to walk the shoreline a little and enjoy our arrival at the Pacific coast. We celebrate having truly travelled coast to coast from Florida beaches and California beaches. Alas, we realised our time here had to be short due to a long drive to San Francisco.to San FranciscoBeing such a lovely sunny and clear day I would have loved to have driven the stunning and legendary Route 1 Pacific Highway through Big Sur, featured in so many movies. We did drive this during a tour three years ago but just did not have the time for the route this year. Instead we drove route 101, a compromise instead of the relatively…

2010 USA Tour : March 26th, Moreno City CA

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into the desertWe awoke to a very welcome hot sunny morning outside Bullhead City. I was up early, opened the RV door and was greeted by a couple of ducks, mr and mrs, asking for some breakfast. After providing them with a little snack of broken tacos, which took some manoeuvring with their shovel beaks, I set off to explore and peacefully take in the ultra clear rolling waters of the Colorado River that flowed by where we were camped. There is a little island there like a little lake isle of Inishfree and this was seemingly guarded by a couple of large moorhens or coots.As usual, we wanted to stay here longer and vacate, but we had to leave to make it to Moreno City in good time and with comfort time to stop on the way. This was our last day on and beside Route 66, and perhaps the most sentimental part of following this remarkable road journey. This was truly the desert section with remains of forgotten relics of cheap motels, diners, reptile pits, gasoline fill ups, service centers…

2010 USA Tour : March 25th, Bullhead City AZ

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into Arizona of many landscapes and climatesToday was our longest drive of the tour, but no performance tonight. Thank goodness for that as it was a tiresome drive, but also one of much beauty.Setting off from Albuquerque at around 10:15 was among sun but with a chilly breeze that was soon to escalate into a several hours of difficult driving through strong cross winds. Before leaving the RV site I bought a set of Route 66 maps from the local trading post. The next section beside the old Route 66 is perhaps the most interesting, Sadly, Arizona has not made the efforts to preserve its Route 66 section as much as TX, NM and parts of OK are doing. Much of this part of the route is through tribal country stirring a wonder about how these people live and survive. Their homes are generally very basic and often in need of serious repair. I could not work out if this was due to choices, preferences, poverty, not caring what their homes looked like or just something I would not understand thro…

2010 USA Tour : March 24th, Albuquerque

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stuck in Amarillo awhileWith a mix of strong winds, wear and tear and large unexpected freeway potholes, several items had become loose, broken off, bent and damaged on the RV, to the point of being dangerous.As there is an RV service center on the camp site we took the plunge to request a sort out. Now wondering if this was a good choice as he is in regular mechanic mode, finding more things and insisting we have them done, but we are saying “no!” a lot.Here’s hoping we’ll be away by noon to be at Albuquerque on time. Its a 6 to 7 hour journey if nothing more goes wrong. off to AlbuquerqueWell at least weather is better, no longer snowing, wind dropped some, a bit warmer and a lot clearer.It is a beautiful barren trek west to Albuquerque. The modern I40 mainly follows the old Route 66 which sits to the north of the highway. Much of it has been restored from the almost disappeared trackway it had become. This year, we did not see anyone following the old road like we did last year. Ev…

2010 USA Tour : March 23rd, Amarillo TX

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to Amarillo TexasThis is a journey that inspired a lot of singing and jokes from some of our friends around the world.It was wonderful to, at last, be heading west. There is such a different feel once we travel west of Tulsa. I think this was also edged on by enjoying a sunny warm day. It was windy with gusts battering us hard on the freeway, but when we stopped the wind was warm and that was exhilarating too. West of Tulsa means quieter road, less traffic, and far, far less quota hungry cops pulling over speeders and cracked back light offenders. We love the USA and especially the USA people with their humour, optimism and incredible manners (in most places). The severe downside that irritates me and must irritate the people of the USA is the “legal” racketeering abuse on people. There is endless, everywhere you look, signage and notices along with verbal warnings that literally translate as “if you do not do exactly as you are told we have the legal right to empty your pockets, empt…

2010 USA Tour : March 22nd, Tulsa OK

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Road to TulsaThis is the first of several long freeway drives over the next 5 days so we set off early as today was one of our longest drives of the tour. It was a beautiful flat plain view sunrise through an a bitterly cold Texan air but it did not take long for the day to warm up into what we feel is quite summery. Barely a cloud in the sky until we reached Tulsa, and even then it was just a slight haze. Scenically this was not the most exciting drive. Austin to Dallas seem to be a constant continuation of modern enterprises and the endless selection of franchised, mainly food, chains we see all over the USA. The roads were billboard heaven, lots of them all along the journey screaming for attention from passers by. We were highly amused by one advertising “Exotic Jerky available 24 hours” that popped up every few miles until we got to a small log cabin store that sold many unusual flavours of beef jerky and was open 24 hours as chewing jerky is a favourite feast of truckers, one of…

2010 USA Tour : March 21st, Austin TX

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To AustinPart of me wishes we had committed to another day at Sherwood Forest Faire as this morning the sun rise is glowing without a cloud in the sky. It is a cool morning but I suspect will warm up very quickly. There is no wi-fi service where I write at the moment so I cannot check on weather forecasts.It will be a special day at Sherwood Forest Faire, especially in their stone circle, as it is their spring equinox events today.However we have three commitments today and I am sure it will become another special day for us.We have a brunch with friends at 11:00 am, Things Celtic store 2 pm until 5 pm and then onto a Haiti Medical Supplies benefit concert. Here’s what happened ….At Green Muse CafeWe have heard Austin has a reputation of good intimate coffee bars with good coffee. It was at one of these, the Green Muse Cafe, where we met Heather Ash Amara, a shaman teacher who was with a group who guided in Ireland but spends much of her time in Mexico and Peru these days. It was wond…

2010 USA Tour : March 20th, Sherwood Forest Faire

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To TexasWe set off promptly at 7:00 am but a slight mechanical problem at the start held us back about 30 minutes. Weather as we departed was lovely, sunny and warm and with anticipation of a good day ahead.Alas, as we approached Houston TX, the horizon sky was a doom defined straight line of jet back sky as if a weather person had placed it there. Once under that line the heavens opened with intense rain.That rain lasted until we were about 50 miles north of Houston. As we were approaching Paige, the small town near where the Sherwood Forest Faire was hosted, a ray of sun gave us hope.Sherwood Forest FaireOh dear, the sun welcome was short lived and was replaced with cloudy sky and an extremely cold bitter wind which motivated people to leave rather than stay around.We optimistically took the harp and props to the stage, but rounding up an audience was a near impossible task. If we had a fire pit beside the stage we would have won the day, because the people who stayed settled at eve…

2010 USA Tour : March 19th, Haeuseur's Hotel Louisiana

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About Haeuseur’s HotelNot a public hotel, but always seems to have a lot of residents and people passing by, largely connected with the southern Renaissance Festivals. Its also like a permanent audience.Claire and I had plans for being tourists in New Orleans, something we have not yet done on our visits here, but instead we chose to relax.Relaxing Louisiana StyleWe both arrived here quite tired last night so its a very welcome day to keep living simple and enjoy all that is around us. Its a fabulous warm sunny dry day here, hot but not uncomfortable. It has been a time to sort through our things in the RV, catch up on laundry and catch up on some online things. Generous time out for lunch outdoors on the porch and watching the many red cardinals was a huge treat.It was good to briefly meet Marc Gunn on a quick errand here before returning to New Orleans. He was full of good news and will be performing here tonight too.Claire is just practising “Hold On” on Jamie’s piano and it sounds…

2010 USA Tour : March 18th, Birmingham Botanical Gardens

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Bald RockThough the morning was misty Claire and I were determined to walk the Bald Rock Trail at Cheaha State Park, as it was misty when we visited and camped last year. An hour later the mist started to rise and sun tried to break through. Our visit there was a moderate success. It was beautiful to see the trees growing out of the rocks like big bonsais. The view was largely overshadowed by the missed but there was a strong sense of height and wonder there.Birmingham Botanical GardensOur adventure on Bald Rock delayed our leaving from Cheaha State Park and threatened our time for having lunch at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. We made it to their Garden Cafe 10 minutes before their closing time at 2:00 pm .The Cafe experience was incredible! So beautifully presented with classic tablecloths and silverware, lots of flowers, and an extreme ambient elegance. The staff are wonderful and the background music is classic Alabama blues.Claire went for the bean soup of the day and a salad…

2010 USA Tour : March 17th, St. Patrick's Day in Alabama

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Leaving North CarolinaThis morning was a cloudy, cool and drizzling day, but did not wipe out the visibility of the North Carolina mountains. It was a beautiful drive into Georgia and on our way to Alabama. We had become used to our short time in NC, so it was a little sad to drive out of the state.For lunch I had a yearning for a big plate in a Cracker Barrel, a southern food restaurant chain, and Claire agreed that this was a good idea. I thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful plate of catfish, hush puppies, okra and turnip greens, with lots of iced tea of course. Claire chose chicken livers. Into AlabamaOur destination was Cheaha National Park, the highest part of Alabama. Last year when we was here it was misty and we could not see any view. So far, with this visit, not much difference yet. We arrived in mist but it was still daylight so a walk in these beautiful woods on arrival was essential. We were greeted by a couple of curious white tailed deer.When evening fell, we have this evenin…

2010 USA Tour : March 16th, Bryson City NC

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Lay in, repairs and then to lunchThis is one of the few resting times of our tour so we both took advantage of a little lay in though I was up early to handle essential correspondence and catch up blogging. The RV plumbing repair man appeared, to discover a hidden valve we needed to open to make the system work, that we were not shown. All is well in the RV now.Its a cool misty morning with a forecast or warmer sun to come later this afternoon.After a bit more writing and organising, its off to Maggie Valley town for lunch before heading to Bryson City for tonight’s show. We were hoping to dine at “Country Vittles” a restaurant that we were curious about last year, but was closed. This time we discover it closes on Tuesdays, today!The only place open for lunch in the whole town was Subway.We then received a phone call from friend Ymani Simmons, who could not find our gig yesterday, and was in Maggie Valley. She asked if we would join her for lunch, so a shared lunch at Subway it was. …

2010 USA Tour : March 15th, Max Patch Road NC

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Getting away from BristolAs this was one of our shorter driving days Claire decided to have a lay in to catch up some rest and I caught up on laundry as at least this overnight RV site had good laundry facilities. I was then approached by the manager of the RV park, a saddening moment. The manager was a very frail elderly lady who could barely walk. I did not know she was the manager until I saw her fall down, helped to pick her up, and before a thank you she asked me for my overnight rent. Actually, I did not get a thank you but a request to help her collect the other rents. Apparently her brother, who lives far away, owns the RV plot and employs her to manage it and collect the money. How and why he could not provide her with an electric mobile chair was a mystery. The frail lady also asked me to help her home and on the way explained all the metal parts installed around her body. Poor thing, her knuckles were bleeding and she was awfully bruised. Into The NC mountainsThe sat-nav (g…

2010 USA Tour : March 14th, Abingdon VA

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Good Morning From Lake Greenwood ParkIt is a good morning here. Sunny, calm, still and the water looks lovely here at Lake Greenwood Park. Not many campers here this year and one camper said this was the first beautiful morning here for awhile. The morning before was fierce winds and cold and two days before that flooded and muddy. We are lucky!Time for a stroll around, watch the ducks and squirrels, then on the way to Abingdon VA. We do not seem to have suffered from losing an hour’s sleep from the time change into summer time last night.to Abingdon VAThe beautiful sunny weather became smothered with cloud and some wind as we started to approach the North Carolina mountains. Even so, the freeway drive through them on I26 was spectacular, though I’ve never seen so many law enforcement cars pulling over drivers for speeding. The Highway Patrol, State Police and local sheriff departments were earning a fortune every few minutes. I assume there is no other crime to “protect and serve” th…

2010 USA Tour : March 13th, Saluda SC

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From Kingsland GAA wonderful campsite to wake up into. Quite rugged woodland RV site here in Kingsland GA. All campers are spaced well apart so decant privacy. Of course we wish for more time here in the still warm sun and lots of singing birds we are not familiar with, but its pack up up and off to Saluda we go. About 340 miles drive, about the same as from Naples to Jacksonville, and we will pop into our campsite to check in on the way to SaludaToward Savannah GA, the sun soon turned to cloud and fierce wind. Add to that, many, many miles of extensive freeway repair and maintenance work turned the journey into some quite adventurous driving.North of Savannagh, we were onto the country highways of South Carolina and a very different world. Small cotton picking towns with sadly a lot of poverty, wooden homes, often wooden shacks, that seem to be about to fall down around those who live in them. As we passed by in strong wind and showers a lot of people were setting up their outside gr…

2010 USA Tour : Pick Up RV and off to Jacksonville

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Fri, March 12th :
Its raining and TV tells us to stay indoorsFolks are not so early for breakfast here in Naples this morning. Maybe they did party hard last night. 7:30 am and only dribbles of people here for breakfast since 6:00 am.The TV in the dining room is telling us of impending fierce thunder storms accompanied by 50 and 60 mph winds. TV is telling everyone to stay inside and away from windows this morning. Help, we have to leave shortly to pick up our rented RV so we can reach Jacksonville FL on time this evening. You’ll read on to see what happened ……RV Pick UpAs we rolled out of Naples towards Fort Myers the strong wind and torrential rain hit us, instantly flooding the roads Florida style, but no thunderstorms and lightning.At Fort Myers, the RV centre was easy to find, but they had lost our booking. That took about 30 minutes to sort out because the agent had set up our rented vehicle, but could not find the booking on the computer. Of course we wondered what information …

2010 USA Tour : Pick Up The Harps Day

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Thu, March 11th : Everybody Up! Its Morning!6:00 am, I am wide awake, so I sneaked out for some PC work and coffee. Yes, the people here in the Naples hotel are all up for breakfast at 6:00 am. Quite basic breakfast compared to Kissimmee, and a long line to use the toasters and waffle irons. Breakfast was also over and cleared up by 9:00 am. Overall it seemed like the New Yorkers and other snowbirds up at 6:00 am. All other USA people by 7:00 am, U.K. and Irish visitors up and in for breakfast 8:00 am, followed by the French and German at 9:00 am, wondering why it is all cleared away. As forecasted, not so nice day. Humid, cloudy, and quite a bit of wind to start the day.Claire phoned the harp renter. Seems to be some delay in picking up the harp so Claire is off to a nearby Barnes and Nobles to have a browse while I continue some tour admin stuff. Getting The HarpWe successfully picked up the rented harp from outside of Naples to the east, a bit hard to do from the west. Its a beaut…
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Tue. March 9th : Arrival in USA As usual, despite so much preparing we did not feel quite ready for this tour, but did arrive at Dublin Airport in comfortable time expecting, as usual, to get pre-immigration clearance, but found this is not so for Orlando. It is so less stressful go through all of the formalities before a flight than after. Orlando immigration was very slow as there is a very thorough check of everyone entering, at least 5 minutes per person. Unfortunately I have a glitch on record, that’s nothing to do with criminality that totally confuses immigration when it pops up. We were held up for an hour while I explained why its there so the agent can write a report and cover his backside. Very tiring, but I applaud the immigration officers for their courtesy, kindness and good humour. Then there was the discovery of baggage being sent to another terminal building, another 30 minutes or so hold up, followed by a mix up with the hertz car rental, but this is not a blot on Her…