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USA Trip 2012

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A trip of 7 funny people, starting in Nashville TN, leading through 9 states into the Wild West, ending in Las Vegas, Nevada. Music, fun and Wild Horses and a Wild Mule.

Barbie Hardrock

July 16, 2012: Long weeks of preparation and anticipation have gone by. Everyone´s excited and ready to cross the world. Our flights leave from Vienna, first stop in London Heathrow UK, then across the Atlantic Ocean with another stop at Chicago (which actually does not suck this time) before we arrive in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. A very happy Thomas M. Perry, taking over our rental car: Ford Expedition, which takes us to our first motel where we all crash  after the long and exhausting journey.


July 17, 2012: So much better sleeping in a bed than in a plane seat! We´re all still a little dizzy and feeling funny. However, curiosity is dragging us out of bed. Having a very very rich breakfast at the Cracker Barrel in Smyrna with eggs and bacon, hash browns, a load of coffee and god knows what else. GIBSON CUSTOM SHOP, NASHVILLE: A special guided tour (thanks Big Alex and Thorsten for making this happen!) where we see the most exciting guitars, hand painted and coated, making our eyes water! This shop does not sale any “common” Gibson guitars but only custom-ordered special requests. So exciting to look into the secret rooms and watch the process!

Smells like progress! Sucking up the smell of fresh wood to become guitars, thrilled to even get a special performance of the mandolin maker! You ROCK! On this picture, you see Thorsten explaining how the wood is being processed to get the best possible material for highest quality guitars. Stunning machines and man power to see in the Gibson halls. And quite interesting to follow a piece of wood becoming a shiny guitar how you know it from the shop!

This is a picture of a hand-painted Gibson guitar, which is not for sale – one of Gibson workers dearest piece. Take a look at the artsy time schedule, isn´t that amazing?
Next, we hit the road over to Lynchburg visiting our old friend Jack, before we get our load of country music downtown with dinner at the Wild Horse Saloon.

July 18, 2012: Shopping tour at the Opry Mills, then heading downtown. Some more live music at the Honky Tonk Central and Bootleggers Inn. Ooooh Nashvegas… So nice taking a deep breath here in Music City.. Grab yourself a beer and enjoy foot stomping music – the unknown band today might be in the charts tomorrow, you never know! Music doesn´t care about the time in this town. Even at 10 in the morning you can watch bands play in the bars at the broadway. Especially Tootsie´s is a must-see, she was known for offering a performance spot to unknown musicians at her cosy little bar, giving them the chance to show their talent to the people and maybe the one or other talent buyer. A big photo of her can be seen above the bar.

July 19, 2012: A visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Tom and me have been here before, however he says most interesting to him this time is the Tailor Swift Exhibition which is currently on. I fell in love with Webb Pierce´s “Silver Dollar” convertible, and it´s still there to be admired. Walking through the museum is kind of a time travel. Even if you´re not so much into Country Music, I think it´s worth a visit. You might be surprised to find some people in the exhibition of who you wouldn´t expect it – who had their fingers in the history, still!

Some fun along the way. So much cool stuff you can get here. Besides cowboy hats and boots, there are thousands of other useful things… I got myself a sign for my parking lot at home. So now we´re clear! If you ever visit Nashville, make sure to drop by at Demo´s Restaurant. It´s my favorite place to throw in a fabulous steak. And if you´re around Opryland Nashville, don´t forget to walk through the Gaylord Opryland gardens, perfect for relaxing a bit after a long and exhausting shopping tour.

We´re visiting some record stores, enjoying another beer and music at Tootsies, and in the evening I discover a very yummie Coronarita Margarita at the Chili´s Restaurant (oh my GOD this stuff is great), from where a blasting thunderstorm guides us home.

July 20, 2012: We´re on the way to our second destination: Memphis, Tennessee. Hasn´t changed much since 2009, I´m thrilled again by the vibes of this city! Hometown of another guitar company: Gibson Memphis,  and since we can´t  keep Big Alex and Tom back, we gotta see it again 🙂 A tour through the Gibson factory and some more amazing artwork going on there. I got stuck at a guy painting a guitar and then used a cotton tip for a special make over. These guys are artists! Every single piece is a piece of art! Next stops: Hardrock Café, then Airport catching my parents.

July 21, 2012: A beautiful day to visit Elvis! Mom and Dad are happy with their rental car choice: a black Jeep, well, we´ll see, it´s definitely good to have a four wheel drive with us this time. It´s a long way ahead of us, and it´s not only Interstate and Highway, as also my parents will find out. Today we spend at Graceland, and here we go, I got the tickets. How cool is the Jungle Room! I also love the basement – man, how´bout we do the next jam session down there? Graceland is just too big – it´s information overkill. So many golden records (and platinum and silver and and and) and so much to read and see! Guess you would need a couple of days to really “get” the whole picture.

Back “home” to Memphis, shaking down Beale Street. I really found our friend Cajun (the former waiter at the Hardrock Café, who served me a “Perfection” last time – no, just don´t ask ;D Just one thing: let´s say I get the chance to discover Memphis for the first time A SECOND time…) who is now manager at the Rum Boogie Café. Was great to see you buddy! However, this time I stick with the beer! 🙂

I love those toilet seats! I´m really gonna that glitter sax seat at some point.

One of Mum´s diary entries about me: She definitely got her grandfather´s genes: she knows someone everywhere! And if she doesn´t, she just gets to know them!”
… Oh, and wait a second Mom, does your writing here say “NIGHT bathing” or “NAKED bathing”?!?
Another entry: “Gas station, paid with credit card. Note: important for USA – travelling tweezers (e.g., if you put the card into the wrong slot)”…

July 22, 2012: Fort Smith, Arkansas. Feels like a ghost town. When we´re looking for a place to grab some lunch, it appears that everything is either closed, or gone. Where is everybody? Did we miss something? In the evening we find another Chili´s Restaurant. The waitress is a very young, blond haired girl, hardly interested, until she finds out where we come from. Now she´s totally excited and wants to know what the heck we´re doing in Fort Smith. A fun dinner! It´s a beautiful summer evening, perfect for taking a dip in the pool. No one else is here, so we got the whole pool for ourselves. Splish splash 🙂

July 23, 2012: on the road, heading for Elk City (through Oklahoma City), stopping by at Ackley Park. Nice little site with a funny miniature train going around the pond. Buckle up, crazy bitch is taking over.

July 24, 2012: The trip goes on. The GPS seems to have its own opinion about including the State Park into the route planned for today, and decides to take another one: through the middle of nowhere. Endless Texas freeway. Hunger is taking over at some point, so we agree on a picnic at the Hamilton Park. We anyway got some yummie food left from breakfast: sandwich, Philadelphia, Parma ham, cocktail tomatoes and ice cold Gatorade. Hell, they have quite a breeze there! SPLAT and Tom´s sandwich is stuck onto my knee.

We learn to deal with typical roadtrip issues: Is the fuel going to last until we get to the next gas station? Where are the damn cookies? Did we leave them at the last motel? Did someone let Alex drink too much soda? When are we there? Field… field… field… water tower… field…. Passing through between 2 thunderstorm cells, enjoying the power of nature. Next stop: Roswell, New Mexico. The aliens are everywhere! Even the street lights have eyes! Also not from this world: the pizzeria with the sheet of paper on the door saying: “No beer! No wine!”

July 25, 2012: Roswell is a funny town. It´s not getting boring. Even a walk down the main street is entertaining. And if you´re up for more alien stuff, you won´t be disappointed:  The conspiracy theory group (Tom, Ina, Alex, Betty) are visiting the International U.F.O. Museum, while we others enjoy the great day at the pool. Tom gets me an alien lolly, it´s a sweet blue alien head on a stick – how tasteful! Doesn´t taste that overwhelming though… After the (not so thrilling) experiment with tasting an alien, we get ourselves a delicious dinner at the Cattleman´s Steakhouse (T-bone steak, Sirloin steak, ribs,…) so everyone is happy.

A tale of the “We´re drinking ourselves through the country” series: Tomato beer and Ice Tea beer. Tom is obviously fighting with his stomach after taking a sip of the tomato beer. Still he pretends it´s becoming better with any further sip. Us girls stick to the ice tea version – yuuuum! First ice tea, then.. beer.. ? Not bad at all! Maybe not from this planet, but not bad 🙂

July 26, 2012: We´re getting back on the road. New Mexico´s landscape would be worth a story on its own. Our next destination is Santa Fé, and unfortunately it´s not a long stay, again. We already fell in love with this little art town when we came here on our 2009 tour. So we enjoy the stay and a couple of Mhmmmargaritas at our beloved Mexican Restaurant La Choza. You guys know the story behind that good stuff 😉

Slow and relaxing time in the beautiful old town of Santa Fé. Gosh, so much art, and all so fantastic. Navajo sand paintings catch my attention, unbelievably thin and symmetric lines, combined into a colorful coating of a champagne glass. Learning a lot about Native American art and tales.

July 27, 2012: Ina gets the price for buying the most exotic souvenir: a hand painted skull of a bull. Now how the hell are we getting this thing back home?

The houses are built out of red loam, which is typical for Santa Fé. Edges are soft and let the buildings spread harmony. Hard to leave this beautiful art city behind…
Plans for the next trip are already being made.

Madrid, NM. The friendly, colorful village in the middle of nowhere, famous because of the movie “Wild Hogs” featuring (amongst others) Tim Allen and John Travolta. A line of hand painted mailboxes, surrounded by flowers. Hand crafted stuff anywhere you look. Barbie getting rid of the car key in a mysterious way! Houdini go home!

After some time everyone searching, it is finally found by Ina (Tom´s Mom): sitting on the stand where all the bandanas are – in the middle of the girlie bandanas.. All good – ready for food! Heading over to the Mine Shaft Tavern, Barbie really needing a beer! Always and again action in Madrid! What is it with this little village?

The journey goes on, up and down the hills, slowly but steady: next stop Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dropping the bags off at the motel, and we´re ready for nonsense. Alright, what to do? Hard decision! In the end we decide to split into two groups. Tom, Alex and me head over to the Hardrock Casino (gotta prepare ourselves for Vegas), while my parents and Betty enjoy the view over the city from Sandia Peak.

Time to celebrate – again! Back at Burt´s Tiki Lounge! Tried some more yummie
Pirate drinks. Arrrrr!

Good to see that things haven´t changed much, we´re having a great time.

July 28, 2012: Cliff from the Red Feather Diner prepared us a wonderful breakfast. Last time we were here we were limited in time and unfortunately missed out on the historic old town. We´re making an effort slowing our roll, sucking up the warm Albuquerque breeze and letting the sun shine down on our colorful heads. Mum gets her huge pickles, and at last Dad manages to find some ice cream.

I dare you! Thomas and Chili from Albuquerque. Got myself some little bags of chili spice, and a chili chocolate which couldn´t cope with the heat in the car. I don´t really care, pretty tasty anyway 🙂 You won´t get to see the mess, though.

Ballooning is a big thing here, they are everywhere. Must be cool to watch them at the yearly festival. Look at that blue sky… isn´t that amazing? We all would like to stay longer, the old town is so lovely and peaceful. Although it can get pretty rocking at late night 😉

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we´re back on the road! Tom and me on the highway, listening to the Highway. Follow the road to your next destination: Farmington. There´s nothing better than a good roadtrip!

July 29, 2012: Jumping through four states at the “Four Corners” (Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona). The landscape is breathtaking, we´re passing through Valley of the Gods and Valley of Fire: Losing ourselves in freedom.

Monument Valley, Arizona. I can´t find words to describe this place. When you´re standing there, no noise, just a little breeze, a black bird gliding in the sky between the rock formations, it´s just like in the movies – but real. We see wild horses walking along the fence (Navajo Reservation).

The dirt roads are nearly taking our cars apart (at least Dad´s Jeep… “Now, where can we exchange the car for another?”). We tested them properly, and both cars made it. Somehow…

Some impressions from Monument Valley

Me, trying to catch freedom on tape

On the way to Tuba City where we want to spend the night, a heavy thunderstorm comes  down on our cars. Totally blind from all the water, pitch black and only constant lightning giving us the chance to find the road, we arrive at the Moenkopi Hotel. Flash flood warnings popping up on our US mobile phones again, the whole area is basically under water, since the ground can´t cope with this amount of water. Anyway, fun in the hotel room with power outtakes during our showers.

July 30, 2012: On the way to the breakfast we came across the pool (supposed to be the most beautiful of all hotels so far)… brown mud. Well, no swimming that day! So up for Grand Canyon!

Grand Canyon Panorama View


Crossing Kaibab Forest, entering Grand Canyon at the East, driving through until the South Rim. Here we are again!
Our group is spending the night in Williams, where we are lucky to see a show shoot out on the streets. Lovely little western village!

July 31, 2012: The adventurers (Tom, Barbie, Ina, Betty and Alex) are getting up at 4:30 so we can watch the Grand Canyon sunrise – just to find out that the one and only iPhone compass is not quite working as it should… Tom taking a time lapse video of the sun coming up over Grand Canyon.

Anyway a beautiful experience! Pretty freezing though! Since we want to grasp Grand Canyon in it´s complete grace, we even visit the Grand Canyon IMAX film. Stunning!!!

Some more Grand Canyon impressions

Next stop: Seligman, Route 66! Still the same, back in the 50s – I love it Even my Dad gets active and I caught him on a photo with Marylin. And this time I made it – the picture postcards are sent off – YAY!

We get back on the road heading for VEEEEGAS, BABY! Totally overloaded Valet Parking at the Treasure Island, but still we are checked in to our rooms and the tower suite pretty quickly. Party on, Wayne!

August 1, 2012: Betty and me fooling around during the hotel tour. We´re and walking down the strip, then take a guided tour through Hover Dam.

No idea where we crashed at night. Whatever… What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right?

August 2-8, 2012: We somehow make it finally, and visit our lovely friend Darcy at her place. Ready to go see the wild horses!

Driving our 4 wheel drive up to Cold Creek and there they are – the first Mustangs walking by in a distance from the road. We go up to the pond to see if there are some more. A mare with two black foals, jumping and running happily, making sure not to come too close but still very curious, drinking at the pond.

An albino is also there, and Ben the Mule with the broken and healed crooked legs is making his funny yells over in the distance. No racism between the fourlegged.

More horses on the road when we go up to Spring Mountain. Dad takes a bath in the spring. I just freeze my feet.

We drive up to the remote place on Spring Mountain with a beautiful view, no horses here today, so we take a historic group picture. Thanks so much Darcy, good to see some of your horses still being here – who knows if we´ll see them next time again.

Driving down the road, some more horses come along. They are now on the street and come over to check us out. It is so dangerous for them walking up and down the road, mares with their babies crossing, but they just follow the road to the pond to drink. People make it worse if they feed them, so they´ve put up a fee for getting too close or feeding the wild ones – just for the safety of them. Too many of them get killed on the road. No Pale Ale this time (the pale horse that you see on the pictures of the Spirit of the Wild West campaign, we saw him twice so far, but not this time unfortunately), really hope he´s fine.

What a lovely day again, out in the west. However, you just need to see it on your own.

Back at Darcy´s, we have a great time with Jodie and Jake and BBQ and some little Austrian souvenirs we got for them. After “Mozart(s) balls – which come in a … sack… ” last time, (guess what) – we brought them  “Mozartlikör” (the sweet, alcoholic stuff from Salzburg). The rest is up to your imagination 🙂

What else… Bull Riding and meeting our friend Ryan Maloney at the Gilley´s – you people should check out his Ryan Maloney Band! Tom, Alex and Betty dragging me into the ice bar (Betty loves penguins, and there really IS a penguin in there), pool party at the TI…

In the end, it was an exciting 3 weeks roadtrip, and we´re already setting up the spots on the map for the next one! For those of you who want to know more, or want more information about the wild horse cause, we´re very happy to hear from you, just drop us a line or get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter!