Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Santa Barbara, CA to Las Vegas, NV

Today Amy is having her meeting. It’s our last day, so the boys and I are going to spend the day exploring. Around midday we head down to the Harbor to have a wander. I do the fatherly thing and show them the ocean, seals, seagulls, sand etc, but they are not interested – actually they are a pain in the butt with all their fussing. After an hour I can’t take it any more so we get back in the car to see if they will calm down. They do – by falling asleep. I decide to drive around, just for the peace and quiet. I try and stay along the coast as long as possible, just to enjoying being near the water. We ended up back at the hotel in time for them to eat, and after lunch the fussing continued, so we stayed inside. I tried to get them to nap later in the afternoon, as I wanted one as well before the long haul home.

When Amy came back I went out and got her a sandwich for dinner. We fed the boys, packed the car, and at 7.30pm we were on the road back to Vegas. The drive home was uneventful (thanks mostly to nobody being in the HOV lane for a majority of the drive), though we stopped just outside of Baker, where Amy took over driving as I was starting to nod off a little.

A good weekend – as usual not long enough. But a great town. We’ll hopefully be back someday, though I say that with many other places on list to visit.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Santa Barbara, CA

This is our whole day to ourselves and we decide to drive up to Solvang. We’d heard about this town, but neither Amy nor I had been there. Solvang is a small town an hour northwest of Santa Barbara that was settled by Danes in 1911. The northern European influence is evident in this small touristy town. We got there just as things were opening, and I think Mondays are their hangover day from the weekend, as there were very few people around. It was nice to wander around the small shops (and not see any large chains that you see in every other US city), and just spend time somewhere different with the family.

We headed back to Santa Barbara after a couple of hours. We stopped at Solvang Mission, but did not take the tour. We drove up via the coast road, which was picturesque. Just to be different we went back via the inland road. This was just as scenic, but of the surrounding country side, rolling hills and Lake Cachuma, but not the Pacific Ocean. We stopped at Whole Foods back in Santa Barbara to pick up some lunch for all of us.

After feeding the boys their 2pm feed, we went out and wandered around the town – checking out State Street in Santa Barbara . Such a beautiful town – and again just being outside in the perfect weather made for a relaxing afternoon.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Oxnard, CA to Santa Barbara, CA

Once we got the boys started for the day we headed down to Oxnard Beach for an afternoon of sun and sand. The weather was just perfect for us to put up an umbrella by the channel and watch the boats drift in and out. The boys, as always, loved being outside, though they wouldn’t venture off the blanket and on to the sand. We picked up some take away from Manda’s Galley and enjoyed the sights and sounds that I miss from living so far from the coast.

In the afternoon we made the 45 minute drive up to Santa Barbara , where we are staying at the Inn of Spanish Garden. The drive was non eventful, actually we went beyond as the boys were asleep and we were happy with the quiet.

After working in a 4000 room hotel, staying in a 23 room hotel was bliss and this one was beautiful. We are 3 blocks away from State Street (Santa Barbara's main drag) and about a mile from the beach. By the time we got settled in and fed the boys, we decided we’d head towards the beach to find dinner for us. We walked out on to the pier and picked up some fish and chips from Char West and sat on the pier. While it was a little cool, it was great to be outside (again) enjoying the ocean air.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thousand Oaks, CA to Oxnard, CA

Up and out pretty early for our quick trip to Carolyn's. We reached Oxnard in no time and after a drive past the beach, we arrived early at Carolyn’s. It was a beautiful day and we took full advantage of being able to sit outside on the lawn. The boys loved it! While a little hesitant at the feel of the grass they were content to play on their blankets and enjoy the outdoors.

After their lunch we all drove into Ventura and we wandered around the small town and headed towards the beach. Again the boys were in their element. Feet up in the stroller, girls fussing over them and the warm sun on their faces. For me it was just great to see the ocean. All the smells and the people enjoying themselves – the ocean just seems to relax me. After wandering we settled on Corrales for lunch. This little, local hole in the wall Mexican place was fantastic. The best burrito I have ever had. And not just because we were both starving.

We drove back to Carolyn’s on the local roads. It is amazing that this area is mostly farmland, just a couple hours north of LA.

That night Tina, Grace & Sophia came around to see the boys and split a pizza. The boys had fun until they hit a wall, then it was all over for the night.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Las Vegas, NV to Thousand Oaks, CA

After the debacle of flying to Phoenix last August it was decided we’d drive to Santa Barbara with the boys. But we’d do it after they had their last feed and were headed to bed. Success! We left the house just after 7.30pm and the boys slept most of the way (with a few minor wake ups). Just before midnight we started looking for a place to stop – though if we could’ve got a hold of Carolyn we would have driven all the way through to Oxnard . At Thousand Oaks we pulled off the 101 and bunked the night at the Quality Inn. Nothing special, but a pillow after a long drive.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tool & Intronaut @ Mandalay Bay Events Center

Again another favorite band – Tool – and a long time between shows – nearly 15 years. What is wrong with me?

Having only seen 1 show at Mandalay Bay Events Center before (Van Morrison) I was a bit skeptical because of the venue. (I don’t like arenas). But we were on the floor so how bad could it be…. Well seats on the floor bad. But it’s Tool so that will make up for everything.

We were in early, not realizing there was an opening band. Intronaut were good, but not my cup of tea. Good for them though – hardcore Tool fans seemed to like them and it was not a bad half hours / 6 songs work.

Intronaut Setlist
Primordial Soup / The Literal Black Cloud / Above / Elegy / Core Relations / Miasma

Tool came onstage just after 9pm and the sold out crowd was on fire from the start. Hooker With A Penis was a great start to the night. Sound in the venue was really good and though Maynard was off on some of the notes and words the band sounded great. Stinkfist had a ton of power and another great show. And 46 & 2 is another personal favorite that sounded awesome. But the highlight for me came during Lateralus, when Buzz & Dale of the Melvins came on stage. Buzz tore up a wild solo before Dale & Danny went apeshit during a drum duet. Dale providing a blaze of arms, and out-banging Danny with only half the drum kit. Finishing with ├ćnema was great as well (you think I like that album?).

My gripes were :
a) only 11 songs – yeah 100 minutes were great but how about another classic instead of an extended intro to Schism
b) seats on the floor – what’s that about Mandalay Bay ?
c) Tool, Do you remember albums called Undertow & Opiate?
d) If you are going to bring the greatest band, The Melvins, to play one song, why not get them to open for you. I’m a cranky old man sometimes.

Regardless this was a great show – as have the other 3 Tool shows I’ve seen. Musically they are a great band and the visuals added to the music are like they are made for each other – perfect. I hope they come back around soon (and in a smaller venue – how great would that be?). Until then I hope I don’t wait another 15 years.

Tool Setlist
Hooker With A Penis / Jambi / Stinkfist / Ticks & Leeches / Pushit / Schism (Extended Intro) / Intension / Forty Six & 2 / Lateralus / The Pot / ├ćnema

The Crap Facts:
This is my 324th concert.
This is my 2nd concert at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
This is my 119th concert in Las Vegas.
This is my 119th concert in Nevada.
This is my 131st concert in the USA.
Intronaut are the 386th band I've seen.
This is my 4th Tool concert.