San Diego - Vegas - Ontario (5 shows in 72 hours..)

 Sororo Cactus

The next leg of our trip took us from Tucson to San Diego, we were fortunate enough to have a nice hotel (Embassy Suites) right off of the port and we got to stay for TWO nights in a row! Being able to pull things out of your bag and not have to think about repacking it the next morning is an amazing feeling. My room had a balcony that looked out into the port and *sigh* I just love Southern California…I really felt like I was in heaven…I think it even smells good out there! We pulled in around 4 and we had the night off so our regular group of criminals headed out to the hip part of town known as the Gas Lamp District. It’s a lot like “Boys Town” or “Wrigleyville” in Chicago. Great shopping and food eateries. After walking around a bit we decided to have a nice dinner outside at the Urban Kitchen. I had pasta with Shrimp and was like to die for…we all took pictures with our food. It was a bit of a splurge but sitting down to a nice, relaxing dinner had it’s regenerative qualities as well…it’s definitely good for the traveling soul! After dinner we headed to Ghirardelli’s Chocolate where Shay imbibed on a Sundae and Tim and I got some hot chocolate…from there we hopped across the street to a Mexican place where Shay and Tim tried Tequilas and young Chris (21) and I choose the “Purple Haze” Margaritas. I got mine on the rocks (the only way) and Chris got his blended…mine was definitely the better of the two ;) We took our time meandering back to the hotel and I just took in all the sights and smells…as I mentioned before I love So Cal…for me there is something sooo relaxing about it. The next day we had a show in the evening but we had the morning free so Shay, Shawna and I headed out to do some shopping at “Old Town” a Tijuana like place in San Diego, where you can get Mexican wares and shop. After we mailed some of Shawna’s stuff back home (she was getting over weight on her baggage) we hit up the train/trolley to get to Old Town. It was pretty cool…the best shop in my opinion was a tin shop. Where they made all sorts of things out of tin, the best was the HUGE chandelier that hung in the doorway…I think they said it was about $250. If I could have fit it in my bag I would have left with it! An old BU friend of Shay’s (He was a freshman I think when we were seniors at Bu), Gregg, met up with us at Old Town and Graciously offered to drive us over to Balboa park. This place was huge and Gregg told us that the San Diego Symphony (of which he is Principal Percussion) plays some of their summer season out there. We just missed seeing the largest our door organ, but we did get to see the Coy pond and the famous rose gardens. After we left the park we went searching for food. Gregg suggested a Mexican place (Pokeeze) near where the orchestra rehearses…It was interesting…Shawna and I both had to use the restroom and to get to it you had to walk thru the actual kitchen…putting our worries aside about the cleaniness of the place we ordered and to our delight is was pretty delicious. I do think however that Amigo Chinos near our house in Chicago is the best..cheapest too…but..I digress. After lunch Gregg dropped us off near the hotel at San Diego’s “Seaside Village”. There was a walkway along the port and we grabbed some ice cream and strolled along the walk. It’s pretty touristy but the views were spectacular and people in the distance were flying these giant kites. There was this cool place too where someone had stacked rocks up and they sat there perfectly still…with no glue…I don’t know why but it fascinated me! The show that night was one of the best. The audience was full and loud…just the way we like it. After the show there was a bit of drama…you see every night while we are playing the second half of the show we get the next day’s day sheet. This sheet has all the information and times for the next day. Often there are also notes and reminders at the bottom…in San Diego we all returned to the dressing rooms to find out that we were going to have to put on of our bags (we were allowed two) on the truck in Vegas and we wouldn’t see it again until at the concert in Corpus Christi. This sucked for several reasons…first of all our contract states we can have two checked bags, secondly, we weren’t going to have access to these bags for almost a week and thirdly we didn’t find out until less than 24hours before we were going to have to hand it over…I was pretty tired from the first couple of weeks and now I knew I would really have to do my laundry ….in addition an old friend from Elementary School lived in the area and through the magic of face book we were able to set up a time to meet for a drink…needless to say it was a long night. I have known Lisa since I was a 5th grader at Gladys Wood Elementary and the last time we saw each other was at our high school graduation from AJ Dimond High School in 1995...She drove over to the hotel after the concert and we had a drink in the restaurant…before we knew it it was after midnight and she had to get up early the next morning (she’s a surgeon) and I still had to do my laundry and pack my second bag that I wouldn’t see for a week…all in all San Diego was good to us…I wanted to see as much as possible so sleep was not a top priority…something that would come to bite me in the but by the next week.

Different scenery as seen from the bus, enroute to San Diego

Wind Farms

My pasta dish from the Urban Kitchen...delish!

Tim bought Shawna a rose...too bad she's already taken ;)

Young Christopher with his dish.

Shay and Shawna on the San Diego transit train.

Church in the middle of old town market.

Old Town Market.

I love stuff like this!

Me and elementary school friend Lisa.

Fajitas from Pokez.

Early…and I mean early the next morning we left for Vegas. The drive was pleasant though since it was Memorial Day weekend traffic was heavy. I have wanted to go to Vegas for as long as I can remember. Mick was a little worried about me going seeing as I have a weird love for the slot machines. I love the action of pulling the handle down. Lucky for us both most machines are all electronic and therefore were not as interesting to me as I would have hoped. We stayed and played at the New Orleans Hotel, a creole - Louisiana style hotel just across the highway from the strip. Other than the main “strip” there is not much to Vegas and the to be honest there is a depressing air about the whole town. After we played our show, even though we were dog tired, the usual suspects grabbed a shuttle to the end of the strip…I mean I couldn’t come all that way and NOT see it or throw a few bucks into the slots… I am glad I did this, because I now have absolutely no desire to ever return. Memorial weekend is the busiest weekend for Vegas…It took us over an hour to walk up half of the strip. We did see the Bellagio and caught part of their famous waterfall show…that was pretty cool…another old Alaska friend, Kevin, now lives and works as a musician/bartender on the strip so we met up with him at the Monte Carlo (he works at the Excalibur). While others in our group headed back to the hotel, Kevin, Shawna and I went to a club to catch part of a show of a friend of Kevin’s and then we gambled a bit. We saw Star Wars themed slots so we had to take our picture in front of them…lost some money in the slots…and called it a night. Vegas sure is glitzy, but I can’t imagine spending any more time there than I did…but hey, I can legitimately say I’ve played Vegas…that’s something ;)

Lunch stop in the Mohave Desert I think...a lizard ran across my feet at this stop!

New York New York.

Me in front of the Bellagio.

Me and Kevin inside the Monte Carlo!

Me and Shawna playing the R2D2 slots.

Promotion is everything ;)

The next day we headed back to California to play a show in Ontario. I don’t remember much of these shows…by this point we were all looking forward to a week “off” in Corpus Christi, TX…in the past four days we had  played 5 shows and traveled almost 1000 miles. I will mention that I was suppose to meet up with Rich a trumpet player and friend from BU at the hotel after the concert but for whatever reason he stood me up…which didn’t make me happy seeing as how we had to get up at 4 am to catch the bus to the airport…I was not a happy camper…good thing my “vacation” was only a few more hours away…

Shows to date: 15
Number of hotels stayed to date: 14
Best hotel to date: Omni Hotel, Ft. Worth TX (though the Embassy Suites in SD Bay had the best view!)
Miles traveled to date: 5,521


  1. Jo, I'm so jealous of your trip, wish I could come see one of your shows!

    Was your hotel the one with the alligator jazz band sculpture in the lobby? We stayed there when we were in Vegas. Since I was at the height of sickness while we were there, I remember that the room was cheap and the bed was SOOO comfy! And that we stayed in room 666...

  2. Kort - Yes that is where we stayed. The Orleans. The rooms were okay. We only slept a few hours because we went out to see the strip after the show. The trip is pretty cool...everynow and then I am like...really? I'm getting paid for this!


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