Day 7, Monday: On Monday morning, we checked out of our rental house and drove to San Antonio. I’ve always hated I-35, so I took the hill-country route — it adds about half an hour to the trip, but the scenery is worth it. Once we got into town, we found a decent Mexican restaurant for lunch, then wandered around the Riverwalk and the Alamo before heading back to the hotel for an afternoon nap. By the time we made it to the bar, tornado warnings were in effect and it was pouring down rain. The organizers cancelled the show about an hour later, and we looked for a bar closer to the hotel.
Day 8, Tuesday: We drove back up 281 to 290, and into Austin, making it to Rudy’s in time for lunch. Some of the group wanted to hit South Congress one more time, so we stopped there for a while on our way to the airport. Even after we gave them thousands of dollars for international plane tickets and another couple of hundred to get our baggage to LA, the staff of American Airlines were still extremely hostile. We decided we wouldn’t let them ruin our trip, and resolved to eat at Amy’s Ice Cream after going through security. Just as AA only hires mean old ladies to work their counters, the TSA employs mall-cop washouts to arbitrarily enforce their arbitrary rules, while continuously shouting at people to remove their shoes. We made it through eventually, and the ice cream did help, but the experience was a reminder that the “free-est nation on earth” is just as much an authoritarian state as “Communist China.”
A few hours later, we arrived in LA, were shuttled to our hotel in Burbank, and had our first chain-restaurant meal … at Denny’s.
Day 9, Wednesday: First thing in the morning, we grabbed all of the instruments and walked the three blocks to Fender’s Artist Showroom. They’d arranged a whole day of activities for us, starting with coffee and dozens of cool guitars, then a photo shoot, interviews, and finally a full on video shoot in the adjacent rehearsal space. More from this part of the trip should be coming out in the next couple of weeks.
Day 10, Thursday: LAX. TSA “security” once again. Fourteen hours on a plane. Back in Shanghai.