<span id="back-to-top-inner"></span>


US Odyssey Part 7: Flagstaff

photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

Waking up in Albuquerque, we knew we had to hit the road fairly quick. We left the hotel and motored on down to Flagstaff, taking a few moments here and there to take some photos and videos. Part of the appeal of this part of the trip was to explore a little bit of the old Route 66.

Remnants of Route 66 - photos by Jean-Paul De Roover + Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

We managed to find pieces of it littering the desert here and there, and even went on some off-road adventures looking for more, particularly parts that we could drive on. It took us a little while, and we definitely wound up under the existing interstate, almost stuck in a very small tunnel, but we got onto a stretch of Route 66 that was nice and weathered. With grass tufts growing out of it and a chunk broken off falling into an abyss, we drove over it (I’d say illegally, but there were no signs saying no…), and then carried on our way.

photos by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

We made a detour to check out some ice caves, which took us longer than expected because of the damn Garmin again. When we got there, it was a little less exciting than we imagined, but still pretty neat. We climbed down to a small cave that we might be able to actually explore, but sadly we had to observe it from the railing.

photos by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

We eventually got to Flagstaff, where we signed up for an open mic. After I got off stage, I had an interesting meeting with Vaughn. Vaughn came up and introduced himself as an assistant of a well known producer. Who? He didn’t say. Regardless, our interaction went like this as I was packing up my equipment.

Vaughn: “Hey, your set started off pretty weak, but it got pretty good by the end”

Me: “Thanks man, sweet!”

V: “I’m a producer and I think we should make a deal.”

M: “You’re a producer?”

V: “Well, I assist a producer.”

M: “Right on, cool.”

V: “I want you to talk to him. I’ll get him on the phone right now, just come with me outside and we’ll call him”

**No way was I going outside with this guy**

M: “Aw, I would, maybe after I’m done packing stuff up?”

V: “No man, this is a one-time deal.”

M: “Ok, well then you should grab my card so we can get in touch after.”

V: “No man, I don’t do email.”

**He leaves, talks to Shannon, then comes back a few minutes later. Not only did he not do email, but he also questioned if the number on my business card was ‘actually my number’, and if I was lying to him**

V: “Man, you missed your shot, I had him on the phone and everything, but you didn’t’ come outside”

M: “Aw, too bad. We’ll work something out next time instead.”

V: “I’ll try get him on the phone again now.”

M: “Ok, sweet.”

**Holds phone up to his ear**

V: “Hey, yeah it’s me again. Yeah, he’s standing in front of me. I don’t know. He’s scared or something. Here I’ll put him on the phone. [to me] Here he is again…”

**As he hands me the phone he exclaims**

V: “Aw, he hung up! You weren’t fast enough, you missed it.”

**This is extra funny because he held up the phone to me, and it showed an incoming call list with only two numbers, and they hadn’t been for a few days**

Looks like I missed my big break eh? Too bad, Vaughn could’ve made me huge!

It got really awkward after that because the bar started asking if I was ok, if he was bothering me, which he wasn’t really. He was just trying to pretend and impress somebody. He was aboriginal though, and the staff at the bar was about to kick him out for bothering the clientele, so I had to step in and get them to leave him be. Racial profiling towards aboriginals in the far south, felt somewhat similar to many parts of Canada. Besides some of the other local performers, there was also another touring act from NY called Click Clack Boom. Their high energy rock and rock made themselves a bunch of fans that evening, and they were definitely on top of their marketing.

That night we ended up staying with some nice people that let us crash in their living room beside their fireplace, which was perfect, because it started to snow that night. What the hell?! Are we not in Arizona? Apparently Flagstaff had the 2nd highest amount of snow in the US besides Anchorage, Alaska. Shannon was bitter because we were supposed to enjoying the sun and desert, and then I became extra bitter and sore the next day when I slipped on some icy steps and landed on my wrist, twisting it quite badly (I thought I even broke it).

US Odyssey Part 1: Entering the States

Here begins the US Odyssey, in many parts, as there’s lots to share!

The first leg of the trip saw us leave Canada through Niagara after having breakfast with my friend Timur in Saint Catharines (he used to book at a venue I played at, and now runs the bookings for the Mansion House) at a little diner before crossing into the US.

photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)

Once across, we were in Buffalo, NY, and it was remarkable how many old abandoned factories there were. I wasn’t aware that Buffalo used to be such a place of industry before. The interstate is nice to drive on, although it took us a while to get used to the speed being in miles rather than kilometres. Thankfully, the GPS we have displays it for us in a large font, so we always know. The Garmin has been good, but then randomly decides to send you in tight circles over and over again. “Recalculating…Recalculating…when possible, make a U-turn”. Shut up, Jill. You, and your computer generated Australian accent.

Shannon hanging out at Dairy Queen

Back to driving. Now we’re motoring through Cincinnati at night, and the overhead displays that would normally say “traffic is slow at next intersection” or something similar, instead say “missing adult male – black caddillac – licence #_ _ _ _ _ “. I guess we’ll keep our eyes open for that particular car? It’s either really nice that they’re spreading the word about this particular missing person, or absolutely impressive if that’s the ONLY missing person in Cincinnati at that point in time. Nevermind, I doubt that!

Florence Y'all - taken with an iPhone

We got as far as Florence, Kentucky on our first night, so we slept there, waking up the next day to find the above particularly awesome sight. Apparently way back in the day they had plans for a large mall, so they put up a water tower that said “Florence Mall”, but funding fell through and the mall didn’t get the go-ahead so they changed it to read “Y’all” instead.

Then we headed to Waffle House for the first time, where we had a very funny set of experiences. First off, the staff were so unbelievably friendly and bubbly, they were even singing. They did an abridged version of ‘Whistle While You Work‘, while also referencing the Family Guy episode that revolves around “Surfin’ Bird“. There was a trucker sitting behind us, and he even commented, “this is strange, usually the people at Waffle House are angry and sad.” We then struck up conversation, and it turns out he’s from North Carolina, and criss-crosses the country, however he’s not willing to go to Canada for fear of getting stuck in a blizzard. We then got hints on different places to go for food, and his affinity for BBQ shone through in his recommendations. Now, we must find a Sunny’s BBQ, where we “best be bringing some napkins!”

photo by Shannon Lepere (www.shannonlepere.com)