Road Notes 4: Van Sleepin' Ain't Easy in the South
July 23, 2014
The drive from Houston to Florida is a long one, but it also has some spectacular moments. At one point I found myself behind the wheel at sunrise driving over the glistening waters of the Bayou while listening to James Taylor as my bandmates slept. Truly an unforgettable moment in my life.
To top off the great drive, Florida started out with shear perfection for us. AJ's family friend has a beautiful piece of property in the city of Milton that's located on an isolated peninsula surrounded by the warm waters of the Gulf. The house on the property is amazing and takes full advantage of its 270 degree ocean view. Basically this was the perfect place to spend a day off in Florida. We wrote new music, watched movies, and relaxed. Here is a view of the private beach:
It was definitely hard to leave the place behind, but after a good night sleep we had to make our way to Panama City to play at the A & M Theater. This gig totally rocked. The place was filled with people, many of whom had done their homework and were already familiar with our songs. We played great and made tons of new fans. Afterward we knocked out a bit of the drive to Jacksonville, and attempted to get some sleep at a rest area.
Admittedly we definitely underestimated the difficulty of sleeping in the south. A few brief moments after turning off the engine, the whole van becomes a swamp. We end up sleeping for about 3 hours at a time before turning on the A/C and letting it run for a while so that our bodies don't become completely mummified from dehydration. Once we've cooled down to standard operating temperature and refilled ourselves with adamant hydration, someone usually starts driving because gas is too expensive these days to waste on idling. Plus, if we turn off the engine and try to sleep once the sun comes up then my next post could very well be an obituary.
In this particular instance we made our way to Jacksonville, Florida to meet up with A.J.'s aunt who was incredibly kind enough to let us escape the heat for a few hours before our gig at Jack Rabbit's. We played especially great that night and the sound was fantastic. We'll definitely be back there some time down the road.
After the gig it became obvious that a small radiator leak in the van had started become an issue and we needed to take measures toward mitigation. We unfortunately didn't have enough time to plug it up with a liquid bonding adhesive so we here at Lose Control Auto Body did the next best thing:
Surprisingly this significantly slowed the leak and it's still holding.
Anyways, we had another "hell night" at a Denny's parking lot as we again attempted to sleep in the hot box. I got about two hours of sleep before I woke up drenched in sweat and opened the window. It took no time for a mosquito to sense the flesh and once it found me I took it upon myself to hunt the sucker down. After a fierce 10 minute battle I squashed the bastard, but the fight left me no longer fit for sleep duty. I retreated to Denny's to cool down. After my $4 breakfast, I took the wheel and headed for Columbia, South Carolina.
By the time we got there, about 8 hours before our gig, sleep deprivation was starting to set in and I really needed to get some rest. We decided to break into our small hotel fund so that we could all take a nap and have a cool place to sleep later. We got the cheapest place we could find, and although certainly a bed bug candidate, we made it out of there bite free. The gig that night was actually pretty fun considering we played in a thunder and lightning storm, torrential downpour, on a Sunday night, in a college town, in the Summer time… Not necessarily a winning combination, but the gig went pretty well considering.
The next day was an off day which we spent with AJ's second cousin and great aunt in Charlotte, North Carolina. They were extremely kind hearted and let us spend the day and night there which, as you now know, is an invaluable "sleepsaver". From there we were off to Local 506 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This was another great venue, and quite a cool little city. Again show went well and we played great. From there it's off to Jersey to stay with Pat's family.