Mystery Of The Mentally Ill Musician

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Me and my banjo

June 19, 2016

San Diego, CA

I got this email today, asking me to join a new Meet-Up group that’s forming in my area. It started with:

“I would like to start a Meet-Up group for mentally ill individuals who enjoy music and play an instrument.”

Well, I am a musician, and the thoughts that immediately ran through my brain, in this order, were:

#1. This is a joke, perpetrated by one of my funny musician friends. This is funny!

#2. This is not a joke, but rather, it’s someone asking me to help run a group that will help mentally ill individuals. I would love to help out this great cause!

#3. OMG…someone sent this to me because they think I’m mentally ill! WTF? 

Now, I’m not making fun of mental illness here, so please, no lectures or hate mail. I’m just sayin’, why would I be on the receiving end of that email?

Why does someone think I’m mentally ill?  Is it because I started playing the banjo?

As far as I know, I do not, nor have I ever, suffered from mental illness. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! And not saying that I won’t, someday, acquire a mental illness. Shit happens.

In the meantime, I deleted the email. If they resend the invite, maybe I’ll go check it out.

File this one under, “Things that make you go, hmmmm.”

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Bugageddon, Anal Glands, & Tornadoes…What A Day!

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Day 112          September 29, 2014

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma   to  Tucumcari, New Mexico

We were driving west on a pretty boring stretch of I-40 west, when suddenly, BLAMMO!! A swarm of about 50 bugs, ran smack dab into our windshield. It was ugly! A freakin’ bloody massacre! Otherwise, the drive out of Oklahoma City was uneventful. So, at least we had Bugageddon to talk about for a while.

Hello Texas!

Hello Texas!

When we got to Amarillo, Texas, we paid a visit to Swann Animal Clinic. I’d called ahead to make an appointment to have Dax looked at. Seems he was having a little problem with his anal glands. Yes, anal glands. This day was really shaping up nicely, wasn’t it?!

The folks at Swann Animal Clinic couldn’t have been nicer. Ends up Dax had an infection, so it was a good thing that we had him looked at. We got him set up with some antibiotics, thanked everyone, and went on our way. Poor Dax.

We didn’t know if we’d ever in our lifetime, be back in Amarillo, Texas, so we took a little time to go see what downtown Amarillo looked like. Checked that off. 

Old building in downtown Amarillo

Old building in downtown Amarillo

Downtown Amarillo

Downtown Amarillo

Fun, cool angles

Fun, cool angles

Very pointy...

Very pointy…

Downtown Amarillo

Downtown Amarillo

Downtown Amarillo

Downtown Amarillo

Downtown Amarillo

Downtown Amarillo

Don't mess with Texas!

Don’t mess with Texas!

When we got back on I-40 west, we were in such a deep discussion about donuts, that we almost passed right by Cadillac Ranch. Thank the good lord that we saw it just in time!!

In the distance = Cadillac Ranch

Looking quite tiny, in the distance = Cadillac Ranch

Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia….

“Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation and sculpture in Amarillo, Texas, U.S. It was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group Ant Farm. It consists of what were (when originally installed during 1974) either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line (most notably the birth and death of the defining feature of mid twentieth century Cadillacs; the tailfins) from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.”

The infamous Cadillac Ranch. Let the spray painting begin!

The infamous Cadillac Ranch. Let the spray painting begin!

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

We had a fantastic time at Cadillac Ranch! A nice young couple there gave us a can of their spray paint so that we could actively participate and leave our mark on the old cars. The interactiveness of it all, really enhanced our experience of the place.

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Love this place!

Love this place!

Endless fun with spray paint

Endless fun with spray paint

Nice couple who shared their spray paint with us

Nice couple who shared their spray paint with us

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

Goodbye Cadillac Ranch

Whatever.......

Whatever…….

On the road to Tucumcari

Back on the road to Tucumcari

If your horse needs a vacation, this is the place to go...

If your horse needs a vacation, this is the place….

New Mexico....looking a little blurry at 65 mph

New Mexico….looking a little blurry at 65 mph

Under the threat of tornadoes in the area, we made our way to Tucumcari. We were smack dab on the old Route 66, the Mother Road, surrounded by super cool mid-century modern architecture, signage and landmarks. Cool stuff, so we did a little drive about before stopping at Tucumcari Cactus RV park.

Cool stuff on Route 66 in Tucumcari

Cool stuff on Route 66 in Tucumcari

Cool stuff on Route 66 in Tucumcari

Cool stuff on Route 66 in Tucumcari

It was getting late, and we were too tired and lazy to cook dinner, so we walked over to nearby Del’s for dinner. Being that we were in Tucumcari, well, we didn’t expect a great meal or anything. So we were blown away by the completely delicious food and great service. If you’re ever in Tucumcari, this is THE place at which to dine!

So far, no tornadoes. As we walked back to the RV park, we felt the wind pick up, and felt a little rain falling. Lucky us, it wasn’t until we were safely back in the Space Shuttle, that the sky began to rock ’n roll. Wind, lightening, thunder….all night long. It kept us a little on edge, but, that’s as bad as it got. No tornadoes. It was a totally great day after all.

The Day That Went To The Dogs!

Old Quebec City

Mark and Dax hike up a steep, narrow street in Old Quebec City

Day 97    September 14, 2014

Quebec City, Quebec

Canada

Lucky for us, French Canadians love dogs, and dogs are allowed on the passenger ferries that cross the river into Quebec City. So Dax and Trixie would be hangin’ with us in the big city today!

Taking the ferry to Old Quebec City

Taking the ferry to Old Quebec City

Mark and I, and Dax and Trixie spent all day wandering around Old Quebec. There was one downside to having the pups with us. It was really cold outside, and although we’d have loved to been able to sit inside and eat lunch in a nice warm bistro, we couldn’t. The French Canadians don’t love dogs that much. So we ate lunch outside in the cold. That’s what coffee’s for…to warm up. So we drank a lot of coffee.

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Interesting architecture in Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

A lot of tourists in Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

After lunch, Dax and Trixie met a very nice Irish Wolfhound, who was touring the city with her people. Her name was Harriet. She was spectacular! The biggest Irish Wolfhound I’d ever seen!

I started thinking that maybe Harriet the Irish Wolfhound, was my mom, Harriet Cohen, reincarnated. My mom wasn’t particularly fond of dogs, so this would kind of make sense that she’d have to come back as a regal and beautiful dog…ya know, to gain a love and appreciation for dogs! At least, I think that’s how it works.

When we were thoroughly worn out from the cold and from so much walking around, we took the ferry back to the other side of the river. Dax was being Mr. Congeniality on the ferry. He was smiling at everyone, getting lots of pets, and giving lots of kisses. He was pretty much the center of attention on that ferry ride! Trixie ignored everyone, as usual, and just searched for scraps of food on the ground.

Later that evening, we drove back into the city to have dinner. We easily were able to park the Space Shuttle just a couple blocks outside of Old Quebec. And we were able to go out to dinner, without the dogs, to enjoy a little French Canadian cuisine. Or, as we dubbed it, Cuinadian!

I tried to order in French. I have no idea what actually came out of my mouth when I spoke. But the waitress appreciated my attempt, had a good laugh with us about it, and brought me what I ordered!  Cie la Vie!

I got what I ordered!

I got what I ordered!

Girl With The Nerdy-Geeky Full-Body Anti-Bug Suit

Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

Day 84     September 1, 2014

Red Bay, Labrador to Portland Creek, Newfoundland

We’d been sequestered inside the Space Shuttle since sundown the day before…since the nasty biting black fly attack and counter-attack. We’d planned to stay in Labrador another day and night, but couldn’t stomach the idea of dealing with that again. Both of us already had welts from yesterday’s attack, and they were pretty painful.

In fact, we were so afraid to go outside, that we got up at 5:30 am, fired up the engine, and got the hell out of there. If we were lucky, we’d be able to catch the 8:00 am ferry back to Newfoundland. And we were lucky, and we did.

Early morning drive to the ferry terminal to leave Labrador

Early morning drive to the ferry terminal to leave Labrador

Adios Labrador. I hope I can go back there some day. But, next time, I’m gonna buy one of those completely nerdy-geeky full-body anti-bug suits.

Couple hours later, we found ourselves touching ground back in Newfoundland. We stopped somewhere along the coast to walk the pups and to get some fresh fly-free air!

Back in Newfoundland! Cute church. Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

Back in Newfoundland! Cute church. Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

And off we went to the next historic site….L’Anse aux Meadows, where there’s evidence of an old Viking settlement. And by evidence, I’d be referring to dead people. Or, actually, grassy mounds that were burial sites.

Getting close to L'Anse aux Meadows...

Getting close to L’Anse aux Meadows…

Near L'Anse aux Meadows

Near L’Anse aux Meadows

Mark and Fiona

Mark and Fiona

Near L'Anse aux Meadows

Near L’Anse aux Meadows

Near L'Anse aux Meadows

Near L’Anse aux Meadows

Near L'Anse aux Meadows

Near L’Anse aux Meadows

In California, this shack would cost about $1.2 million.

In California, this shack would cost about $1.2 million.

Near L'Anse aux Meadows

Near L’Anse aux Meadows

There was also an historic reenactment village nearby. Those historic reenactment kinds of places kind of creep me out, but it’s like seeing a car accident on the side of the road…you just can not stop looking. So, we visited that too.

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village. A viking game board.

@ the Viking reenactment village. Mock-up of a viking game board.

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

The view at St. Anthony's.

The view at nearby St. Anthony’s.

As we drove south, we enjoyed the beautiful sunset on the coast, and then finally docked for the night at Mountain Waters Resort Campground in Portland Creek.

Grandpa Was An Iceberg Hunter… & Other Adventures in Labrador

Ferry boat @ St. Barbe

Ferry boat @ St. Barbe

Day 83        August 31, 2014         Part 1

St. Barbe, Newfoundland to Red Bay, Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Another day, another ferry boat ride. First thing in the morning, we got in line for the ferry over to Labrador. Technically, the ferry takes you to Quebec (the Province, not the city), and then you drive to Labrador. And technically, you could drive across Canada, through the province of Quebec, and across Labrador on the Trans-Labrador Highway, and never get on a ferry, but we like ferry boats, and we’re not so crazy about unpaved roads. We met a few people who’d done the drive, and word was that the long unpaved parts were pretty brutal.

Ferry boat @ St. Barbe

Ferry boat @ St. Barbe

Fiona, on the ferry

Fiona, on the ferry

Goodbye, Newfoundland

Goodbye, Newfoundland

Time to be creative on the ferry

Time to be creative on the ferry

Time to be creative on the ferry

Time to be creative on the ferry

Proof that we came from aliens!

Proof that we came from aliens!

So, here we were, on the ferry to Blanc Sablon, Quebec. The ride was less than an hour and a half, and smooth sailing all the way. There weren’t many people on the ferry, but we did manage to meet a nice young couple who were on their way to see her grandfather in Mary’s Harbour.

They told us that they would have about a 1.5 hour drive on an unpaved road once they reached Red Bay. Red Bay, the end of the paved road in eastern Labrador, was our destination.

The couple also told us that her grandfather would have drinks waiting for them that were made with iceberg ice. And technically, yes, ice from icebergs. And in case you’re wondering, yes, her grandfather does actually go out on a boat and chip off ice from icebergs! 

Apparently iceberg ice is super dense and lasts much longer than the ice cubes that we all are used to. I see a great benefit there…no longer having watered down drinks from melted ice. I wish I could grow an iceberg here in southern California.

Upon landing in Quebec, we took the road east and crossed into the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We’d made it to Labrador!! And it was looking as if we were in the minority. Labrador was even more sparsely populated than Newfoundland. And the landscape was vast and beautiful!

Arriving in Blanc Sablon, Quebec

Arriving in Blanc Sablon, Quebec

Which way to go!

Which way to go! Labrador…go right!

Still in Quebec

Still in Quebec

Still in Quebec

Still in Quebec

Not in Quebec anymore!

Not in Quebec anymore!

Artsy-Fartsy, Fishy, & Full of Cows

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Day 76   August 24, 2014          Inverness to Dingwall, Nova Scotia, Canada

On the way out of Inverness, we stopped at the Inverness County Center for the Arts. We viewed the local art, and bought some cow themed greeting cards done by a local artist. We were eyeing some whimsical wooden cow sculptures, but decided against taking one home with us.

Inverness County Center for the Arts. Our first art stop.

Inverness County Center for the Arts. Our first art stop.

Up the road a bit, we stopped to peruse the La Bella Mona Lisa Gallery. They were also selling more of the exact same series of greeting cards that we’d just purchased. We found out that the artist who did the cards, actually owned this gallery. We bought a couple more cards for our collection.

Our second art stop.

Our second art stop.

Heading clockwise around Cape Breton.

Heading clockwise around Cape Breton.

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

What's this? A secret government project? Cape Breton

What’s this? A secret government project? Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Rocky alcove, Cape Breton

Rocky alcove, Cape Breton

Rocky alcove, Cape Breton

Rocky alcove, Cape Breton

Great views! Heading clockwise around Cape Breton.

Great views! Heading clockwise around Cape Breton.

Further on up the road, I spied a funky grey shack with a “Folk Art” sign hung on the side. Too interesting to pass up! But when we walked up to the door, it was closed for the day. Damn!

Our third art stop. Home of the cows and of the fresh mackerel.

Our third art stop. Home of the cows and of the fresh mackerel.

As we were walking away, we saw an older couple getting out of their car and waving to us. We lucked out! These were the owners of the folk art shack. They were just returning from a day of fishing.

The wife came over to talk to us and to open the art shack for us, while the husband went inside the adjacent house. In a couple minutes, the man came back out. In his hand he held up a very large zip lock baggie, full of these amazing fishies that he’d just caught. And for no reason other than to share, he gave them to us! Fresh caught mackerel. They were beautiful….shiny and colorful like I’d never seen!

Mark put the fish in our fridge, and then we all went into the art shack to have a look around. Imagine our amazement to see a shack full of wooden animal sculptures, including cows. Well, what do you know? This fisherman was the actual artist! And yes, he was the same artist that made the cow sculptures we’d been admiring back in Inverness.

Our fate was sealed. We had to buy a wooden cow. It was meant to be. I knew this wouldn’t be a purchase we’d regret later. We already owned one wooden cow sculpture that we’d bought 30 years ago in Wisconsin. It was time we owned two cows.

That’s how we became “five.”   2 Crazy People + 2 Dogs + 1 Airstream Motorhome + 1 Cow

We spent the night at the Hide-A-Way Campground in Dingwall. Pretty cool campground, with great views of the coast. After watching the sunset, we cooked up those amazing mackerel that the cow artist had given to us. They were almost too beautiful to eat! Delicious!!

Campground

Campground

View from our camp site

View from our camp site

Great views from the campground.

Great views from the campground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An interesting neighbor. Will make a point to meet them in the morning.

An interesting neighbor. Cool camper! Will make a point to meet them in the morning.

Fresh as you can get, mackerel.

Fresh as you can get, mackerel.

 

 

The British Explosion vs The Halifax Explosion….Who Knew?!

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

Day 73    August 21    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Following our long morning dog walk, i.e., our attempt to poop out the pups, we drove back into downtown Halifax.

Morning dog walk in the park

Morning dog walk in the park

Morning dog walk in the park

Morning dog walk in the park

Morning dog walk in the park

Morning dog walk in the park

Morning dog walk in the park

Morning dog walk in the park

We took the Harbour Hopper amphibious boat tour, which started out with a driving tour around the city, and ended up with a cruising tour on the harbor. The tour hosts were entertaining, and we got a good overview of all the cool stuff to see in Halifax.

Out and about on the Harbour Hopper tour

Out and about on the Harbour Hopper tour

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

It was on the Harbour Hopper that I finally found out what the Halifax Explosion was. I thought it was a reference to a music movement, ya know, like the British Invasion, or British Explosion refers to the time when all the great British Bands and British culture became popular in the United States. And I kept waiting to hear about all the great bands coming out of Halifax.

Wrong!!!

The Halifax Explosion was a huge freakin’ explosion out in the harbor back in 1917. Short story is that a French cargo ship loaded with wartime explosives, had a collision, which started a fire on board, which led to the big KABOOM!! Killed about 2,000 people, injured almost 9,000 others, and obliterated almost all of the buildings within a half-mile radius. The blast was the largest man-made explosion prior to nuclear weapons.

Explosions are cool in the movies….not so cool in real life. But the cool thing that did happen, was that this was the beginning of an everlasting love between Halifax and Boston. Seems that Massachusetts was key in the relief effort, sending doctors, nurses, medical supplies and household goods to help out the people of Halifax. And to this day, every Christmas, the Province of Nova Scotia presents a giant Christmas tree to the City of Boston. And this would also explain why we saw so many people in the city wearing Boston Red Sox t-shirts and caps.

Anyways….safely back on land, we took our own walking tour around the city, and booked a tour of the Alexander Keith’s Brewery. This brewery tour was unlike any other. It wasn’t so much a tour of the actual brewery, as it was an historical reenactment of the history of the brewery. Sounds corny, but it was actually quite fun and really well presented, and we got free beer.

Poutine!

Poutine!

Halifax

Halifax

Cool building in Halifax

Cool building in Halifax

Halifax. Another old church.

Halifax. Another old church.

@ Alexander Keith's Brewery

@ Alexander Keith’s Brewery

@ Alexander Keith's Brewery

@ Alexander Keith’s Brewery

@ Alexander Keith's Brewery

@ Alexander Keith’s Brewery

@ Alexander Keith's Brewery

@ Alexander Keith’s Brewery

@ Alexander Keith's Brewery

@ Alexander Keith’s Brewery

Come evening time, about the only thing left was to find some good live music. And so, we did. We first found an awesome guitar duo playing at The Carleton. And we finished up the evening at Durty Nelly’s, where there was a good old fashioned Ceilidh (kind of an Irish music jam).

@ Durty Nelly's

@ Durty Nelly’s