Mr Douglas I presume?

Facebook is a powerful medium, being able disseminate information at a frightening rate.

About a month ago a received a request to attend a Jerry Douglas concert in Seattle entitles "An Evening with Jerry Douglas" at the EMP complex in Seattle. I have asked, pleaded to Mr D. to come out to Australia. All to no avail in the sense why travel to Australia when hardly anyone knows him? Good point. I have seen other major names announce concerts and then pull the pin because of poor ticket sales. It was time to act. It's now or never. A quote from 1625 "If the mountain won't come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain." That's it folks, time to bite the bullet. I immediately bought a ticket. Only a few days later I found out that Mr D. is performing in Portland. What a conjunction of events: Two gigs in two nights that I can attend. Bought tickets for the second show. Got onto Flight Centre and arranged a trip to start with Seattle and end in Los Angeles over a ten day period.
My passport was still valid, so let's go.

28 March 2014

This is how the day unraveled.

Date/Time Hour Comments
28/03/2014 03:00
Out of bed, shower, pack back pack.
28/03/2014 04:00
Travel to Tullamarine.
28/03/2014 05:00
28/03/2014 06:00
Wait for boarding. Flying QANTAS.
28/03/2014 07:00
28/03/2014 08:00
28/03/2014 09:00
Through security.
28/03/2014 10:00
Takeoff. 10:20.
28/03/2014 11:00
28/03/2014 12:00
28/03/2014 13:00
28/03/2014 14:00
28/03/2014 15:00
28/03/2014 16:00
28/03/2014 17:00
28/03/2014 18:00
28/03/2014 19:00
28/03/2014 20:00
28/03/2014 21:00
28/03/2014 22:00
28/03/2014 23:00
28/03/2014 00:00
International Date Line: Gain one day.
28/03/2014 01:00
28/03/2014 02:00
28/03/2014 03:00
28/03/2014 04:00
28/03/2014 05:00
28/03/2014 06:00
Arrive at LAX 6:40. Clear Immigration and customs.
28/03/2014 07:00
Looked around for food. Ordered a cheese sandwich which comes with a side of fries!
28/03/2014 08:00
Waiting for flight to Seattle.
28/03/2014 09:00
28/03/2014 10:00
Take off. 10:45.
28/03/2014 11:00
28/03/2014 12:00
28/03/2014 13:00
Arrive at Seattle.
28/03/2014 14:00
Try and withdraw cash.
28/03/2014 15:00
Pick up rental car, Mazda 6.
28/03/2014 16:00
Buy AT&T SIM card for phone. Search for Hotel.
28/03/2014 17:00
Find Hotel.
28/03/2014 18:00
Dinner at the Hotel: Ruth's Chris Steak House.
28/03/2014 19:00
28/03/2014 20:00
Drive around town and decide it was a bad move. Back to the Hotel
28/03/2014 21:00
Lights off after a big day.

Seattle Airport in interesting in that there are buildings at the airport but no on surface way to get between building. Their solution is to run an underground rail loop network between buildings. The trains have no human driver, they just go round and round and stop at all stations with robot voices issuing orders.

Getting money proved to be difficult. I had a VISA Debit Card and while functional at some places failed elsewhere. Places likes car rental places, petrol stations, supermarkets for cash out. next time I'm taking a Credit Card as well, they are accepted everywhere.
In the Alaska Airways building there was no ATM! I struggled with what looked like an ATM but found out later was a stamp vending machine. I couldn't see any external difference. I was directed to the main building.

I managed to with draw $100 cash from an ATM. That's a win. The issue was that I had to pay the car rental business an extra $500 as I wanted a one-way rental. For some reason this had to paid at the desk. What I wanted to do was withdraw $1,000, that way I could pay the fee and have some cash. I tried the ATM again, nope, see your bank! I next approached a Currency Exchange business. I explained my problem and they started their work. BOOM, wouldn't take my Debit card. Another, more senior person advised to used the Credit button and voila, success. Go figure.

Off to the car rental business, Alamo, and went through their process. There is some fine detail in their documentation that states you CAN use a debit card IF you have a return ticket. So I didn't need all that money anyway. The person dealing with me said a small car probably wasn't the best option for a long trip, so, she just put down a sheet that ALL of their models and said "Pick any car, they will all be the same price!" The way it works is you just wander down to where the cars are parked and pick a car, any car, they all have the ignition keys in them. I looked around and decided on a new Mazda 6 and I was off. I also took the GPS option, very important in a strange place.

Drove to a Shopping Centre a few kilometres down the road and tracked down an AT&T reseller and bought a SIM for my phone. They sort of fumble around but I get what I want in the end. My phone uses a nano-SIM which they didn't have. However they did have a device that looked like a heavy duty stapler that cuts the excess to reveal a nano-SIM. I questioned him on the fact that nano-SIM's are thinner. No problem he says, it will fit and indeed it did. I also knew that to open an account I needed personal identification details. When I questioned him he replied "That's OK, we don't need it. Were pretty relaxed in Seattle!"

Staying at the Grand Hyatt and that was an experience in itself, on two levels. Firstly it's almost impossible to find if you're traveling in a car. There are no obvious signs that a hotel exists, it just looks like a truck loading bay. Yes there is a street number displayed but it's tiny and not a street level. The only thing that has the hotels name on it are two flags that were limp and unreadable. After more than an hour searching for the Motel I find it. Seattle is a town of one way streets. One wrong turn and you're suddenly sucked up onto the interstate.
They only have valet parking as they don't have a car parking area and use city car parks to park vehicles.

Entering through the main doors was like transitioning into different universe. From grey, drab concrete to plush carpets, high ceilings and gold plated everything. Unbelievable. Everything was provided. Best place I'll ever stay at.

Put my only bag, the backpack into my room and went downstairs to have dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House, which appears to be a franchise of it's own and part of the Hotel. Had a splendid meal and was looked after very professionally. Getting used to the tip system.

Thought I'd take a spin and look around town. Not the greatest idea, but I did have a look around, but near gridlock put an end to that idea very quickly. To make matters worse Seattle was hosting a comic convention and that brought the city to life but killed traffic.
Only In America. Comic fans dressed up as their favourite hero and were everywhere. Mind you female comic heroes wear skin tight revealing costumes and so it proved to be in real life. Real good on the optic nerve :)

Long Day.

29 March 2014

Up around 8:00 and went for a walk and located a familiar McDonalds sign a few blocks away. Headed for that before locating a better choice: Starbucks! Ordered a Slow-Roasted Ham and Swiss Breakfast Sandwich and a black tea, just right for a light breakfast and better than McDonalds. In America for some reason sandwiches use buns not bread.

Back to the Hotel, have the valet retrieve my car and back to the reseller. Part of what I wanted involved sending SMS messages back to Australia and I kept failing because it couldn't be delivered. What International code do I use? In Australia it's 0011. Researching AT&T's web site suggested 01, nope. The reseller had great difficulty in providing me with an answer. Even though was an official reseller he had to take the same path as everyone else, no back door. I finally deduced he wasn't getting anywhere and was as frustrated as I was. I stopped and thanked him for his efforts and moved to AT&T direct.
From the Mall map, AT&T had a store just outside the mall as was displayed on a map. Alas, the map was not to scale and in fact was quite some distance away over a very busy road. The person serving me tried valiantly to solve my problem and probably spent an hour and a half before a understanding what the issue was. The international dialing code is 011 for a start. While he was on the phone, I experimented and managed to send an SMS to a work colleague who SMS's back. A valiant effort considering it was 5:30 am his time. The end result was that the person I was trying to SMS most likely was not accepting international SMS messages. End of story, I could go no further.

By now it was around 1:30 pm, so I decided to check out the Space Needle right next door to EMP where the concert is to be held. Parking was a joke, traffic was terrible, I give up and head back to the Hotel. Had lunch at the restaurant but was told I wouldn't be able to have dinner there as they were booked from 5:00 onwards for some sort of show function and she was terribly sorry. Not as sorry as I was.

I had come to the conclusion that I would take a taxi and avoid any parking issues. Went for another walk and spotted the Monorail. Aha! That's how I'll get to the concert as it terminates there. Great.

Left at 5:30, took the monorail to the Space Needle. Looked around for some food and settled on a Starbucks breakfast. Set off for EMP in the rain and had just enough time to check out part of the EMP museum which closed at 7:00. Immediately went to the Jimi Hendrix section and took in the sights: Pictures, bits of guitar, what did I expect?


I had to leave the building for thirty minutes so security could shut down the museum. It was raining outside, so I split my time being in the bar and waiting outside.
7:30 arrives and I wait in the bar for the masses to climb the stairs to the auditorium. Never was much for queues. In the auditorium, which I must say is magnificent, the seating was divided into three. A large central group and two satellite groups either side of the central group. On a rough count I'm guessing 600 seats and all of them were occupied.



Mounted on the ceiling were these umbrellas.
They were animated in the sense that the arms moved up and down making them look like jellyfish.


Behind the stage was some sort of back projection screen that covered the wall from floor the ceiling.
Images changed to suit the mood of the music as well as showing promotional images as seen here.

I found a aisle seat in the right satellite group and made myself comfortable. About ten minutes before the advertised start to the show I caught in the periphery of my sight a person appear. Maybe they wanted a seat in my row? No. The person was a lady and announced "I'm Jill Douglas and we'd like you to accept this gift." and handed me a paper bag with two JD items in it. I was blown away. I hadn't announced my presence to anyone and yet Jill found me. Words failed me except to stammer out a thank you.

Paul Allen had created the EMP (Experience Music Project) complex and had stocked the museum side of it with rare and vintage instruments. For this show, three instruments were removed from their display cases and were to be used in tonight concert. The instruments were:

• 1920s Weissenborn Style 4 acoustic lap slide guitar 

• 1936 National-Dobro Hawaiian electric lap steel guitar. This unusual guitar features a circular, cast aluminum body 

• 1928 National Style 4 Tri-Cone Resonator guitar owned by Chicago blues legend Tampa Red (1904-1981), the first black musician to play a National steel-bodied guitar, and famous for his his one-string slide style. This stunning National is elaborately hand etched and includes his name. 

The show started around 8:00 and went to 10:00. Mr D. had the stage to himself and what a stunning performance it was. Mr D. had two of his own Dobro style guitars which he alternated between. During the show he featured the first and second guitars for a song each.
Near the end of the show he brought on another musician who played the third guitar bottleneck style.

In introducing the song "Route Irish" Mr D. explained the meaning of the song and enumerated the nationality of the armed forces serving there. When he reached Australia, Mr D. broke the commentary to announce there was an Australian fan in the audience who had specifically traveled for this show and asked them to put their hand up. So I did. Nice to be recognised.

Of course when Mr D. announced the last song of the concert there was thunderous applause and demand for another song which he duly performed. Mr D. had an anecdote to explain his behaviour in not leaving the stage to 'rev up' the audience. He related how he had once had a dog named Sally who when young would obey the order "Roll Over" by rolling clear out of sight and then reappearing when the command "Roll Back' was spoken. Mr D. said when Sally was old, when issued with the same command, simply rolled her head, so Mr D. figured why leave the stage when you have to come back.

The show was very emotional for me and I lasted perhaps five seconds before I had tears rolling down my cheeks. This continued off and on for half the time of the show.

After the show, Mr and Mrs D. were at a table signing whatever was passed their way. I waited until I was the last and approached Mr D. with a "Hello Mr Douglas" Mr D. acknowledged me with with my Bulletin Board handle 'OzMaz'. I got to shake his hand and thank him for his music. Had the paper bag signed. Mr D. told me he'd chat with me after tomorrow nights show in Portland. Looking forward to that.

The staff at EMP summoned a taxi and so back to the Hotel.

30 March 2014

Up around 8:00 and had another Starbucks breakfast.

I wanted to take as much of the coast road Route 1/101 as I could. Route 1 was more interesting as it went through towns. Route 101 is an Interstate that avoids towns.

Drove to Olympia, the state capitol then to the coast stopping at Astoria for lunch. Had a very good meal at a 60's style restaurant named Silver Salmon. The bridge crossing the river to Astoria was a sight to behold both in its length and height.

After lunch I headed inland to Portland. I hadn't booked any accommodation so that was the first of my aims. I first tried to drive to the Aladdin Theatre where tonight's show was to be staged. The GPS had other ideas and refused to acknowledge the street address. I had to use Maps on my iPhone. It's a very old theatre with great character.


Next step was to find some accommodation. The GPS was still giving me grief but stumbled upon a Marriot Motel and that's where I stayed.

Headed back out to the Aladdin Theatre and kept following the road looking for food. A few kilometres up the road I spotted a steak place and settled on that. After I found a parking spot I noticed a Mexican restaurant across the road so that's where I had dinner. Back to the Aladdin Theatre and a queue of patrons had formed stretching right around the corner. That's a good sign. My immediate problem was finding a place to park the car. The first thing you notice anywhere you can park, is a sign stating: if you are not patronising my business I will have your car towed. Hmm, drove back to the motel, parked there and took a taxi.

I arrived about thirty minutes before the start of the show and found a seat. My ticket caused some issues as I had purchased it over the internet and the man at the ticket booth had a lot of trouble validating my printed copy of the ticket. He eventually did and then the ticket printer ran out of tickets and had to be refilled. Patrons behind me were not impressed. Finally inside I found a good seat about six rows back from the stage. Tonight's show was split between a young duo named Mandolin Orange and Mr D. yet again solo. Mandolin Orange were very good and performed a lot of original compositions. They performed for about forty minutes and there was a short intermission. MO seemed a little stressed performing and somewhat unsure of themselves. That will change as they get more experience.

Back to me seat and Mr D. starts up. Quite a different performance to last night. Mr D. was joking about a locally made product named Voodoo Donuts. I think Mr D had consumed a few because he really pushed the envelope playing and pulling off unbelievable notes/chords. He was smiling and pulling faces at what he was doing, great to see.

Mr D. had quite a large collection of effect boxes and of course the Fishman JD Aura processor. At one point Mr D. clicked on a doubler or something like it and played some weird stuff for about thirty seconds. No boundaries tonight. During the Route Irish introduction he said a fan from Australia was here named OzMoz or something like that. That's the donuts talking :)

Finished up, another encore, same anecdote, same audience going nuts. Tonight's audience was perhaps a third less due to the smaller venue and there were a few vacant rows at the back, however the people that came were very enthusiastic.

After the show there was the usual CD signing. I waited until the end again and this pic was taken of us. You'll notice I am holding a bag. This was given to me by Mr Nefarious contain home made bread and chicken soup. Friendly bunch these BB'ers.


JD & Me

Me, Mr Douglas and BillJ with Mr Nefarious in the background.
Taken at the Aladdin Theatre, Portland, OR.

As soon as this pic was taken the security people stepped in and told us all to get out, which was a shame, as the chat with Mr D. never eventuated. Thanked Mr and Mrs D again.

I had struck up a conversation with another fan during intermission who had known Mr D. since he was a young teen. He had bought some CD's and had an LP as well. He graciously offered me a ride back to the Hotel. Nice guy.

Straight to bed. Long day.

A:B Comparison

Seattle show: As Mark stated there were three guitars out of the EMP collection to be played, but Mr D didn't play the National Tri-Cone.
Let's set the scene. From left to right you'd see the following:

The National Dobro on a stand.
Behind that was the Weissenborn on a stand.
Moving a little right you had the following from front to back:
  - A vocal mic.
  - A mic set lower to capture the sound of a guitar.
  - A chair.
Moving to the centre was a vocal mic.
A row back were two of Mr D's Dobro's:
  - A sunburst one on a stand
  - A black one on a stand
In the back row were two Fender amplifiers.
In the front of all this was Mr D's effect units. (Maybe eight of them.)

Portland show: Quite different to Seattle. The scene is from the front:

Effects pedals.
Two mics, one for vocal, one to Mr D's right to pick up the Dobro direct.
A row back were two of Mr D's Dobro's:
  - A sunburst one on a stand
  - A black one on a stand
At the back was a foldback wedge facing Mr D's back.

Mr D would move over to the other microphone to get a more acoustic sound and then move away again.

The foldback level on the stage must be close to the feedback threshold as in both shows for a very short time you could hear the sound of certain notes starting to feedback. Not squeal, just hang on.

The two shows, although containing similar song choices were presented in quite different styles. Not having seen Mr D perform live before it was impossible to rate the show with anything else but exceptional. But after attending the Portland show I can compare shows.
Seattle show:

- Fantastic.
- Mr D didn't seem comfortable and was somewhat restrained.
- Business like.

Portland show:

- Fantastic.
- Mr D was very comfortable in both speaking and playing.
- Freewheeling.

In the Portland show Mr D didn't seem distracted and spoke smoothly and with wit.
Mr D really pushed the boundaries and at times surprised himself with what he was attempting on the Dobro. Mind you he pulled it off with similar finesse as a tight rope walker without a net. Truly wonderful. Breathtaking stuff. You could see Mr D smiling to himself as he flew into uncharted territory.

I really didn't doubt Mr D's flexibility, and it is what I anticipated to see. I love seeing/hearing inspired players and Mr D sure fits the bill.

Mr D had the audience of both shows in the palm of his hands. Everyone one there was a fan of his music and went predictably nuts. The Portland show had patrons lining up around the corner. A man in demand.

I'm really glad I made the effort to see/hear Mr D live. A living treasure.

31 March 2014

Up at 8:00 and tea and more of Nefs bread.

I had planned to use the cigarette lighter socket in the car to charge the iPad/iPhone, but this didn't work out as I really needed that GPS. Located an Apple store in Portland on 5th street. Drove down 6th street, parked and paid for an hour. Walked to 5th street and had trouble locating the shop. The building numbers on a lot of the shops were missing due to construction work. I asked help from a valet and he pointed where I had to go. The other side of the street which had much better street numbers. Bought a mains charger and cable.

I left by another door and promptly got lost. I did work out where I parked the car, but I was a little anxious as I didn't want to get booked. Arrived just on the expiry time. Next time when I park I'm going to open Google Maps on the iPhone and 'drop a pin'.

Drove the Aladdin Theatre and took a few pictures of the building.

Left Portland heading for Lincoln City and then on to Brookings. Somewhere along the way I stopped for lunch at Subway and one of their Flatizzas. Very nice.

Lovely coastal scenery.

Booked into a Best Western. I have decided that if they are available I will use them. They offer good value for money.

Had a Chili Colorado from a traditional Mexican family shop. The lady serving me had trouble understanding me, got there in the end.

When I booked in I was offered a second or third floor, but managed to get a disabled ground floor unit as I don't cope well with stairs, and, I was over fifty five.

Bought a bottle of wine to help me write these notes.

1 April 2014

That bottle of wine knocked me around a little, so I didn't get up until 9:00 am and by the time I was on the road it was around 10:00.

Stopped at a tourist trap named "Trees of Mystery and SkyTrail". Located in the middle of a redwood forest, there was a gift shop from where a trail had been constructed to take tourists through the forest. Very damp area as the moss growing off everything indicated. Halfway through the trail you were given the option of continuing to walk or take the SkyTrail, a sort of ski lift, I opted for the SkyTrail as the path was ridiculously steep. A really good stop. Enjoyed walking through the trees.


The plan to take a right at Leggett didn't quite work out as planned. There is no exit for Leggett, just an exit for So Leggitt. I ended up passing the exit, but reversed to take the exit and there it was, a sign with Leggitt on it. It's more of a locality than a town. No cell phone coverage so no Google Maps. Managed to make the GPS work for me.

The road from Leggitt to the coast was extremely windy and narrow, I averaged 20 mph. Nearly ran out of petrol. However, lovely views worth the effort. Really dislike route 101! It's an interstate! No quality at all.

Finally made it to Fort Bragg and tried to fill up. Different rules. You can pump your own petrol, but you first have to leave your credit card with the operator, otherwise nothing happens. Yet again the Debit card failed. Paid cash.
I checked later and had plenty of money in my account.

Bought wine and junk at Safeway. Found a Best Western motel and booked in. Making use of the free WiFi.

Back into town and had a beef fajitas. Had some fun with the currency. I have major trouble with Dimes and Nickels. The bill came to $20.10. I tediously worked out $50 and ten cents. When it had been processed I received a whole bunch of notes/coinage. Huh? I asked a guy what was going on. I said I had paid $50 plus 10 cents and was expecting $30 even, not what I had received. Turned out his wife had missed the dime. All's well. Paid them a $10 tip. They were happy.

Long day tomorrow, so showered, wrote up the day while consuming the wine.

Sent a few SMS messages.

It's 9:15, off to bed!

2 April 2014

I was a little nervous about being out on the road too long and wanted to get to Los Angeles as quickly as possible. I can always kill time there.

So I drove and drove and drove and made it to Santa Barbara which was the next 'big' city after Fort Bragg. Found a Best Western Motel and was too bushed for dinner, so I just crashed.

The scenery along the way was fantastic. Pictures do not do it justice, you just have to be there.

I was getting a little sleepy and decided to make things a little more interesting by going a little faster on the curves. This of course resulted in my catching up to cars in front of me. Route 1 doesn't have passing lanes and of course the centre double lines were always there. The states solution to this is to have what are called 'Turnouts'. These are little clearings on the right for you to turn off the road to stop. This is where you head when you have a line of cars behind you and want to do the right thing and get out of their way. Good idea. Sort of a bit like the road from Wave Rock in Western Australia. As I would catch up with cars they duly took the turnout to let me pass. This kept me active and awake. It's quite a challenge taking these turnouts as they are not signed or sealed.

3 April 2014

Up at 7:00 and headed off for Fender Shop to join a tour. Because of really slow traffic, I missed the first tour which started at 10:00 and had to take the 11:30 tour. We were each given guest identification, a pair of headphones and a receiver that you clip onto your belt. The tour guide had a headset and a transmitter. Our tour guide I'm sure was high on something, he just never stopped talking and became a bit of a distraction to what he was trying to explain to us. Fender only make solid body guitars at Corona. Fender Steel guitars are made in Japan. The majority of the workforce is Hispanic.


We were offered a heft discount to buy direct from the factory.

After the tour headed for the Taylor's Shop for their tour and arrived just as the only tour finished. Bought a guitar strap similar the one I have but a lighter shade.

Headed off for Bakersfield and just gave up. It took me four hours just to get to LA using I5.

Headed back towards El Cajon. Buying petrol is a pain in more ways than one. There are NO stations on the interstate and the stations don't like my debit card.
Stopped at Santa Anna and bought petrol. I used the GPS to find it, just too hard any other way. While I was filling, a young black man approached me and asked for seven dollars for a meal. I said later and never did give him any money.

Stopped at a real Mexican restaurant, even the menu was in Spanish! Had three tacos. Very good. The base was a little like pikelets

Arrived at El Cajon around 10:00 and found a Best Western.

4 April 2014

Got up around 9:00 and drove the few minutes it took to reach Taylor's. Can I book in? No you're to early. Fine. Start taking down guitars and trying them. A little difficult without a plectrum, so I bought some. Lots of choices to be made.


Left around11:30 and had a Subway Flatizza. Just the right sized sort of meal.

The tour was somewhat oversubscribed, so there were two groups. I ended up in the second group. Only problem is we kept on catching up to the first group and our tour was rather fragmented. Mind you our tour guide was very good and hands on. Our tour guide showed us how things were done in real time by actually doing the job. He made the side of a guitar by putting it through a Taylor made press. Showed us the laser cutting, etc. very hands on. Again, no samples.

I can now do an A B test between Fender and Taylor

Fender: - I get the impression they are just treading water: No new models, etc - Like a boy's club. - Stuck in the past.

Taylor: - Lots of new models and new techniques. - Professional. - How can we improve on what we have? Very environmentally focused. Nothing is wasted.

Taylor wins hands down.

I was telling the receptionist I was here to hear Mr D. She looked it up on the Internet and was playing his music from some web site and she didn't turn it off after one song. Might be another fan in the making. I feel a bit like Johnny Appleseed. Sowing Mr D's songs into people's ears.

Tried again for Bakersfield and time used I15 and made it time. I confused myself yet again by just entering Bakersfield into the GPS and it duly took me there, the centre of town. I put in the co-ordinates of the Crystal Palace and I was there in a few minutes. As I left the interstate using the off ramp, located at the end of the ramp was middle aged black woman with a cup soliciting donations. That seems to be the modus operandi: Solicit people where they have to stop. By comparison, the white guys, in general, just sit down look miserable and have a sign asking for change.

Booked into the Best Western right next to the Buck Owens Crystal Palace. My allocated room wasn't supposed to be used as it had a faulty air conditioner so I was allocated the LAST room at the HOTEL.

The Crystal Palace is a mock up of an old style saloon comprising thee stories. Very clean and professionally run. There were two bands on this night and both were very electric with Telecasters a blazing. More like a Las Vegas show than traditional Country. Still some very good playing.

CP 1

Entrance to the Crystal Palace.


Band performing live on stage.

I had to sit at the bar as all the tables were taken. Had a fantastic meal washed down with wine. The lead singer was a bit of a poser, pulling all sorts of faces and changing guitars all the time. Apparently their keyboard player was in the Buck Owens band. On the wall behind the bar was a huge car adorned with silver dollars, steer horns, guns, rifles and horse shoes. Apparently Buck Owens won the car in a card game with Elvis Presley.

Lasted until about 10:30.Sack time! Over and out. Headed for the door and made it to the front gate before staff rushed up behind me to remind me I hadn't paid my bill. Oops! Walked back with them and paid my bill and then back to the Hotel.

5 April 2014

Up around 9:00 and went to Starbucks for breakfast. Bad news, my standard meal is unavailable! Tried three more stores same result. I had some munchies left over from last night so that became breakfast.

Driving over the Tejon Pass through the Tehachapi Mountains is quite an experience. 300 feet at Bakersfield. 4,000 feet at Tejon Pass. 300 feet at Los Angeles. Quite a feat of engineering.

Found my Hotel in Beverly Hills, the Crowne Plaza. Took a bit of finding as well.

Followed the road down a bit and found a Subway, but no parking spots, so I had to use a car park. Had Flatizza for lunch and then back to the car park. Found the ticket, but by the time I hit the ticket booth the ticket was gone! Now she's the only one at the booth, traffic wanting to come in, traffic wanting to out past me all at a standstill. Where in the hell did that ticket go to? I ended up paying top dollar just to keep things moving, but ah, the paperwork. Not a popular guy. Never did find that ticket. Spotted a Ruth's restaurant just up from the car park, there's dinner.

Tracked down LA Guitar Sales on a recommendation from a JD BB'er and they sure had some lovely guitars. Liked the Larrivee Nylon the most. The owners were really lovely people and we chatted for awhile and exchanged business cards.

Drove to the Guitar Centre and boy did they have some gear there. Some guitars cost up to $50,000, just a tad over my budget. Lots of everything. Across the street was Carvin, Mesa Boogie and Sam Ash who had four shops. Amazing gear. Not much Bluegrass wise and the cheapest of Dobro's. I asked for a slide to try out a Regal and was handled a metal bottleneck slide "Sorry, best I could do!"

Drove to the Stars on the footpath and kept driving. Wanted a picture of the Hollywood sign, which I did get, but up towards the sign the roads become extremely narrow and windy. When people parked their cars it was a very, very tight fit to pass opposing traffic, you just had to pull over to the right and pray.

Back to the Hotel and relaxed a little.

Decided to walk to Ruth's as it wasn't that far away. As I left the hotel I spotted a suspicious person checking out cars in the outside Hotel car park. Kept walking.

Had a wonderful meal at Ruth's and of course a bottle of wine. Took a taxi back.

Read a little and then lights out. Big day tomorrow.

6 April 2014

Today was just planned badly, simple as that, and it WAS a Big Day!

I had set in my mind that I had to have the car back at 7:30 am for an 11:30 am flight. Not so. I took the car back and handed it in and then discovered that it was pm not am! I tried to get the car back to no avail. Took the shuttle to the airport and found there were no food shops my side of immigration. The solution was simple: Go back to the car rental area and rent a car for the day. This time I had a Nissan Versa. Much easier to drive in city traffic. I also needed to find some money as I had wound down the American money to a bare minimum, I need to cover the days expenses.

Decided to take a trip to Mount Wilson to check out the views and observatory. Yet again the GPS would not recognise Mount Wilson or the road it was on. Drove to Pasadena and couldn't find any signs. I ended up selecting the road by locating it on the map. Very scenic, with the twisty roads and 4,000 feet elevation. Wonderful. What a windy road with magnificent views. Up at the observatory there were lots of squirrels. Tried getting a good snap, but only ended up with this. :)


Headed back and took it easy as the roads were steep. Ended up using the turnouts a lot to let traffic past. Lots of motorcyclists.

Put Beverly Hills into the GPS and kept driving. Hmm, seem to be going a long way. Ended up South and East of Los Angeles, a long way from where I wanted to be. Still short of money, so I tried withdrawing some via a Supermarket. I could buy the stuff I picked, but NO money!

Worked out how to get to Beverly Hills and up and down the Sunset Strip looking for an ATM. The GPS was no use at all. I finally visually located a Chase ATM and I had petrol and dinner.

Running out of time, so I fill up with petrol, buy a Flatizza and head for the car rental place. I stopped a little short of the hand over area so I could eat my pizza. Nope, keep moving buddy. Drove to where I was directed and emptied out the car and had pizza sitting on the bench seat.

Took the shuttle to the airport and relaxed a little.

Checked out the Chivas Regal at the duty free shop but didn't buy any as it's the same price as what I can buy at home.

Through immigration, onto the plane and find my seat. This time I have an aisle seat in the three seat section with the middle seat free. Actually the rear of the plane was only about 10% full. Hmm, I think, maybe a chance to stretch out over a few seats. Nope, those 10% of the people covered 100% of the seats. Back to my seat.

Napped, played backgammon, napped, rolled over, more backgammon and before I know it I'm home. Only took fifteen hours.

Found the car and drove home. I can still drive on the left hand side of the road.

Went to bed and got up twelve hours later.

Wonderful trip, glad I took the initiative to take it.