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US Odyssey Part 5: Plano

When we finally left Austin, we didn’t even go very far as we were headed to Plano, but wow, it certainly took us a while.

How long is a while you may ask?

What should’ve been a casual 3 hour drive ended up taking 7 and a bit. We were seriously wondering whether we were going to actually see Shannon’s extended family that day or not, as traffic was at a standstill for a really long time. Shannon’s bladder was becoming a cause for concern until we saw the reason for the hold up, and her pains seemed minuscule in comparison. A transport had ended up scraping itself against the freeway side wall, obliterating half the cargo container, and then smashed into the wall head on, if not maybe into another vehicle as well. To put it into perspective visually, front was crushed so badly that the drivers’ seat was now vertical and where the drivers side window should have been. Puts the reality of cross country driving in check.

Playing a baby grand in Plano, TX

We finally arrived in Plano to stay with Shannon’s uncle and family. We knew the place was going to be big, but we didn’t think that it’d be so big that the router barely carried the wifi to half the house. That, and they also had a ‘media centre‘ on the 2nd floor, which was actually bigger than most of Shannon’s apartment. Inside was a giant TV, all the gaming consoles you could think of, an enormous bean bag chair, 3 movie theater ready laz-e-boys, and finally, the piece de resistance; a massage chair.

Was it really a massage chair though? It mostly felt like a boxer was attacking your tailbone, while your feet were stuck in blood pressure cuffs, as this guy pinched the skin around your spine and twisted it.

Obviously we took turns of close to 30 minutes each in it.

US Odyssey Part 4: SXSW (in summary)

SXSW was filled with music. Literally, every bar int he entire downtown area had bands, most of the day, and then all night.

photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

There were also tons of acts performing on the street from folkies to dancers.

Street performers - photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

Here’s my summary of the bands I saw (that were noteworthy – I saw lots):




Rich Aucoin



Free Nachos at the Hollerado Nacho Party

Hollerado's Nacho Party - photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

Cadence Weapon


Cadence Weapon / Eisley - photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

PS I love you

Esben and the Witch

Hey Rosetta

The Liptonians

The Liptonians - photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

Imaginary Cities

Royal Canoe

Flash Mob failure

The empty lot where a flash mob was supposed to be rehearsing - photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

And a performance by the bartenders at Coyote Ugly

Lots of bras and booty at Coyote Ugly - photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)


Shimmering Stars – (from BC, we actually ended up meeting them at Denny’s a few days before)

Juice – (an a cappella trio from UK, that has done performances with Beardyman in the past)

Miracle Fortress

Mother Mother



DJ Jazzy Jeff


Extra Action


I ended up missing some of the bands that I really wanted to see because I got heatstroke, and also because they were free shows and just way over capacity.  This included …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Owen Pallett, This Will Destroy You and the Strokes.

Other highlights:

– Lots of free food at most of the venues

– Swimming in a natural pool

– Breakfast Tacos

– Walking down South Congress St

– Shannon enjoying a cupcake from a streamline vendor

– And finally, me making a deal with Death

Handshake with Death - photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

US Odyssey Part 3: Pre-SXSW and the red-light show

We arrived in Austin on Tuesday, a day before the music portion of SXSW started, so if you’re looking for info on that, check out the next entry in the US Odyssey.

My technique for finding places to stay, and also to meet people in this country are to play open mics. That way, they get to hear what I do, and I get to show how likeable/non-sketchy I am, and that I’d be a worthy addition to their floor. We went to Opa, a greek bar and restaurant to check out their open mic night, only to find out from the coordinator, Annabee (sp?) that they had prearranged scheduling due to SXSW. We chatted for a while, and found out that she likes to refer to herself as a Rednexican (the brilliant blend of Redneck and Mexican), and when she parties she usually has a friend in charge of keeping her out of trouble, referred to as the Beekeeper. Well, she was helping us out in this instance, by giving us a bunch of different numbers of people to call to see about renting a room for the weekend.

At SXSW, everyone’s trying to cash in, whether by hosting ‘unofficial’ events in the hopes that they’ll get more traffic, or by renting out couches and extra bedrooms at ridiculous prices. One person we talked to was offering a bedroom for $120 (to put it into perspective, most Motel 6’s are around $30-$40). With most hotels/motels being booked up for SXSW, that was starting to look more and more like the only possibility.

We hunted around for cheap motels a little bit more, and found one at the ridiculously low price of $15.99 a night. I walked up to the window while Shannon sat in the car, and before I even saw the check-in clerk, I saw a posting mentioning an hourly rate, so I turned and walked back to the car, walking past two ‘ladies of the night’ in short shorts leaving a motel room. A few blocks over we found another motel, this time for $47.99. Sold. However, as I was paying, Shannon was again in the car and this time saw a very fancy vehicle drop off a younger woman on the street corner, who may or not have been counting some bills. Alas, I had already paid for the Economy Inn before Shannon relayed this to me. Ah well, the room was pretty decent, with a  renovated bathroom, and all new TV and furnishings (everything was Sanyo, maybe they cut them a deal for buying in bulk or something?). We sit down, and then we get a text from one of the numbers that Annabee had given us; they have a room available for FREE, and we’re welcome to stay there for the duration of our trip. Really? That’s amazing!

Morgan's backyard in Austin, and Mallie - photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

Of course, if we’d like to make a donation, they’ll pass the money along to a non-profit group that helps keep Austin a Pet Kill-Free Zone. I go downstairs and try to haggle with the owner of the motel to get our money back, but no dice, so we leave the motel anyway and go stay with our new friends Morgan and Richard!