Meat Loaf, Voodoo, and The Sazerac

I’ve spent a lot of time on the road. I’m certainly no truck driver, but I’ve made my mark all over this land, weather it was touring with pop punk bands as a teenager, moving across country, exploring with friends, or just simply getting out of town for a good old fashioned road trip. I believe my state tally is now up to 44 out of 50. I think it’s possible to spend multiple lifetimes traveling this country and still not see all that it has to offer, but I’m certainly trying to make a dent. I’ve gotten to the point now whenever I head out and venture on the road, I have my favorite cities and places I like to stop, and the things that I love to do when in those places. We’re very much creatures of habit, and even my travels now represent that.

Following our stop in West Texas, we continued to venture east to Austin and eventually ending up in New Orleans. Austin is a town that I love to visit, one that many years ago I thought about setting up roots in, but ultimately decided against it. There was a moment when I had a lot of friends, very close friends at that, who lived in Austin. But time has a way or changing all of that, and many of those friends are no longer there or we’ve now simply lost touch. However, the places that I’ve grown to love in Austin over the years are still there, and almost like clockwork I feel back into my routine. Breakfast at Magnolia on South Congress, lunch at Whole Foods, and of course then running across the street to check out records at Waterloo. What did surprise me about this trip was that even in the midst of doing what I always do and hitting my spots, I found new experiences and adventures. And that’s what makes me fall in love with the road again and again. While we were at Waterloo Records, I saw a sign on the door that said Meat Loaf was going to be in visiting the store for a signing. After looking around and noticing a small line forming, I realized that it was the very afternoon we were there. We had been jamming meat tunes all throughout the trip, so we had to stick around and say hello. He told Lauren to “go get in some trouble” and of course we had to oblige. Our 36 hour stop in Austin then included getting tattoos at Rock Of Ages (thanks Donnie), dinner at Salt Lick (best BBQ in the land), and more bars, hot dogs and bands than we could count. As if we didn’t already cram enough into our Austin trip already, we had to stop by The Cloak Room, a bar that some friends had told me about. People might describe it as a “speakeasy”, but it’s much more that than. The bar has been around since the 70s and is situated in a non-discrete basement, just steps from the Capitol building. It’s dimly lit and cozy in a certain type of way and the first thing you’ll notice is Beverly or “Bev” working the bar. She’s been there since the late 80s and still rocking the same hairstyle since that time. She’s the sort of character that you hear stories about but now seem to be a dying breed. She makes the bar. Pop in there, order a drink, and you’ll see what I mean. Just don’t order anything with more than 3 ingredients.

After our way-too-short stop in Austin, we packed up our rental Nissan and made our final drive east on the I-10 to New Orleans. Summertime in the south wouldn’t be complete without a few scattered thunderstorms, but for the most part it was hot and sticky. I think New Orleans may be my favorite city in America and I could write on and on about why. We stayed in the warehouse district and spent the majority of our time eating and drinking our way through the French Quarter. If you even happen to be in New Orleans, my “must hit” bar recommendations would include The Sazerac Bar, Tujague’s, Pat O’Brien’s, Old Absinthe House, Lafitte In Exile, and Blacksmith Shop Bar. Aside from hitting all the great bars, we rounded out our trip with a ride on the Steamboat Natchez, visiting the Louisiana Museum and Katrina Exhibit, late night eats at Clover Grill, jazz on Frenchman Street, Satchmo Festival, Muffuletta sandwiches, and something I’ve always wanted to do in New Orleans, a show at Preservation Hall. This historic room, a room with no air conditioning and about the size of your living room, has been sacred ground for jazz musicians all over the world. We caught the last show of the night, a show that featured the Preservation Hall Jazz Band All Stars. I can’t quite fully describe in words what it was like to be in that room, but it was some of the most beautiful sounds my ears have ever heard. If you’re ever in New Orleans, take the time to catch a show at Preservation Hall.

Back in Los Angeles now, the last week seems almost like a distant memory. We crammed 2,000 miles, 3 cities, countless deserts, and more hot dogs than I’d like to admit into one heck of a trip. I enjoy writing about the places I’ve been because no matter how many times I go back, I always seem to find new experiences there and that’s an amazing thing to me. So here are some photos from the trip. Maybe they’ll inspire someone else to make a trip of their own.