vrijdag 27 december 2013

7 dec: Columbia - Saint Louis, MO

Red Roof Inn is a great value for your money motel, but they dont have breakfast, and their coffee sucks, so we went into town to find something. Also, I wanted a fridge magnet.

And this was only after one day on the road :-)
forgot to take ALL the water out of the car: ice cubes

Christmas decorations


We were a bit late already and looked for something like a bigger gasstation or a Walgreens. Saw a few of them, but you have to be able to get there without causing accidents, so we ended up driving into town a bit, and getting back to the highway...we passed... Aldi!
There, right in front of us!
We shop at Aldi at home every week, and we've always been very curious about the American Aldi. (no, thats a lie, I'm very curious, Robert can't care less :-) )
I didnt have to ask, Robert just pulled over and we went in.





Just before we entered the shop, all of a sudden a tiny tiny bell rang... wait, didnt I read something somewhere about not being able to pay with a creditcard? Nehhh....
Stepping into the shop... bit of an anti climax! It didnt look like the Aldi at home, it looked EXACT like the Lidl at home :-D (another German discount shop) the only difference was that it was filled with American products. We looked around a bit, bought snacks for breakfast, and I noticed my new pants were falling down. Yep. I had to hold it with one hand while strolling through the store, and felt like a lo life, we found a souvenir bag that said "www.aldi.us" (how exotic!) and went to the check out.
Long story short: of course our creditcards didnt work! credit cards dont work at any Aldi all over the world! we tried our debit cards... didnt work either. (of course) so we had to pay cash, and we were almost out of cash. We were able to drag up dollars from all corners and pockets and quarters too, didnt have to use my 2 dollar bill.Of course these things always happen at Aldi, just like at home :-D We were totally embarresed and ran out with our groceries...(still grabbing my pants with one hand)

Now we were out of cash, out of gas, and I was about to show up at Janets door with fallingdown  pants looking like a lo-life.
First two problems: gas station. Got gas, Robert stayed in for a long time and came back with bad news, he tried all options on the ATM inside but no cash, so we had to ask for assistance in Saint Louis.
I could have gone out and change all my clothes on the bathroom, but for some reason thought it would be easier to do in in a driving car. Dont ask, but I did it, and we werent stopped by the omnipresent highway patrol/police. (never seen so many cars pulled over EVER as this trip)
YAY!!

Saint Louis coming closer again! We got the adress in the GPS and drove into town. we saw all kinds of interesting and weird stuff like the water tower, a space ship shaped museum (decorated with a bow for christmas) and the biggest old hospital we've ever seen, it looked like a factory and/or like something from a scary movie.


There we were on the streets of Saint Louis. It took 12 years for me to come back but we're here now!
First impression of town... it looked familiar (ofcourse, I've been there) then... it all looks so dutch/european! Couldnt really put my finger on it. Then we passed some buildings and I said "I know this... I've been here 12 years ago"

Robert said "how big are the chances? St Louis is huge!"
I said "there will be an Applebee's on the left within moments"
HA!! There WAS!!!
Still maybe coincidence, but funny anyway :-)
We found the right street and drove up.
I was so nervous to see Janet!

We found the house, parked in front, and saw to familiar faces from Facebook that arent on Facebook (hah!) and they turned out to be Jody and Derron, who turned out to be awesome. Brian came out and while we were standing outside I all of a sudden saw this blonde flying down the stairs! Janet!!
Several big hugs, wow, FINALLY!! I was totally exhausted and mixed up and said stupid things like "you're really pretty in real life!" hahaha!!
Next was Rocco, who wasnt that happy with the strangers in his house at first, and they tried to convince him we were good folks.

What followed was a great, superrelaxed afternoon. A lot of people came by and we had great food, (delicious pasta) stories and laughs! Another blonde I was so happy to meet after all those years online: Marcia, who came with Steve, (and a tray of her signature devilled eggs, mmm) I was a bit overwhelmed by meeting everyone at the same time but had a great time. Also our dearest friend Fran walked in later (how super cool of Janet to invite her too!!) we didnt see her in a long time and it was just fantastic. (just at the chocolate wine she brought!) we also had... cake. A huge Bottle Rockets cake!
Janet and Rocco. Rocco: "mommy, those Europeans make me wear a hat! please say something!"

Introducing: The Cake
(disclaimer: *we* brought him that mug)


The venue was "really close" so Robert and I thought we could walk. Haha, no. First of all it would have been quite a walk, and second, we had to go through some bad parts of town.

Off Broadway is a very nice, not too big venue. It was already very crowed when we arrived, and the first thing we did was another attempt to get cash from the ATM. So Robert ended up with at least 5 Americans around him telling him which buttons to press :-D and yaayyyy, we got cash! Got a drink and politely tried to get as close to the stage as possible without pushing others away. we did ok!

First, finally OTIS. I only heard him on youtube, but was so thrilled to see him live finally (there is no way you can get around him in Bottle Rockets land) I thought I could only be dissapointed. How wrong I was! His songs, his voice and his stories are just awesome, straight from the heart, straight to the heart. He made me cry!



We were standing right next to Tom and Phoebe and it was great to see them again. Its funny how quick some people feel like friends after only seeing them once, but that was something that kept happening here... adding to the magic.
I think it was Janet... who showed up with a cute girl (with cute hat) and introducing us... Johns wife Liza! After the show we talked a bit and I felt sorry we couldnt hang out longer. All those great, sweet, nice, awesome people popping up from everywhere!!

This time I was totally ready to rock and the band didnt let me down for one second. It was such a great, great show!! And what a nice surprise to get Alone in Bad Company again!
(now I know why I usually make notes during some concerts, because you will forget everything within a week when you see several shows in a row) so, details? I'll give you some details: they were awesome!











Free Fallin... with very interesting lyrics... :-D and Take me to the bank, requested by and played for Marks mom, who was sitting in the back!
I danced the whole show...
Fran saw the band open for Fogerty in 1997 here in Saint Louis, liked them, and was very impressed by the way they sound now.
Robert and his "rare t-shirt twin"


After the show I was totally ready for a party. Hang out with everyone, and dance some more... but, probably due to the bad weather, people were leaving early. Also because some had to go to work in the morning. Had to say goodbye to Fran, and to Marcia and Steve, nooo, not that soon, we barely had the chance to hang out!
Met another online friend who was on his way out, Tom (Bottle Rockets attracks Toms :-) and his wife.

With Phoebe and Tom

With Steve, Fran and Marcia

But then Mark appeared and introduced us to his supernice parents and sister Ann!
Had to say goodbye to them to as we were leaving... back in the cold and snow, back home through "one of the bad parts of town" -not the worst parts of town. Luckly, the criminals didnt wanna come out with this kind of weather, but we did start to feel a bit nervous when we had to wait for a red light for a while.

Here's the link to the official Bottle Rockets message board with a decent report of the show by "Lightning" hope it's ok to post it here.

6 dec pt 2: St Louis-Columbia: reunited & we made it!

I thought I would be happy to be in Saint Louis again, after dreaming about it for years (yeah, some people dream about going to Saint Louis!) but now I was double happy, after a ride like we just experienced.
Entering Saint Louis from the bridge, with that view, just like I hoped we would, it was awesome. It was also the way I left Saint Louis 12 years ago, in a Greyhound bus :-)
We passed the Busch/Cardinals stadium, it wasnt very easy to find the right way but hey we're together and we did.

I tried to send some messages to people to let them know we were doing ok and heading for Columbia, but my phone didnt feel using *new* American contacts. By the time I was finally able to send one from Roberts phone, we were almost there already (and it turned out we sent it to someone who cant receive textmessages)

Anyway, relieved that we were now REALLY on our way, that we were out of the ice, that we just passed Saint Louis and that we WERE going to make it, our level dropped to "extremely SILLY"
To entertain Robert I sang the whole Sgt Peppers album for him (dont ask why) some Bottle Rockets songs, and made up nice new songs blending them all together.
And you all know I really, really, really cant sing! Poor Robert!

there was not much to see in the dark on the way to Columbia. Lots of shops that sell fireworks (no one them said Bottle Rockets for sale, unfortunately) and a town called Mexico! and a lot of signs for motels.
We found our motel, and were excited because we knew the band was here too. Got a heart attack when we saw a white "band van" but closer inspection told it wasnt theirs, and we assumed they were in the club already.

Then, just after we walked out the office...walked to our car... there was this white van slowly pulling up on the street...
within seconds, we recognized Brian and Keith.
This was it. This was the moment I even lost faith in that it would ever happen again: we were looking at the Bottle Rockets, in real life, after 4 years, after giving up hope once, after deciding to come to the States for over 2 years.
We started waving like crazy and they stopped so we ran there.
It was totally weird. They laughed, shook hands and said "see you in the club!" and they drove off. It maybe took one minute, it was way too short to realise what had happened!!
At our room, I felt like I just dreamed it!

We didnt have much time, still had to eat but decided to go to the club in time. As by a miracle, someone just left with the car and we found a parkingspot right next to the door.
It was COLD!! it was freezing cold, 15°F/-10°C!
the club looked like a nice place and we got in, to walk into the band again. Now there was time for hugs and a talk, but I still felt weird! But on the other hand, it just felt the same as when we left them in Spain.
At a certain moment I realised that pretty red Rickenbacker guitar onstage was one and only RIKKI, I've longed to see her in real life for so long, but everything was just so WEIRD that I just didnt get it. (for the non-Bottle Rockets fans who read this: the guitar is famous in Bottle Rockets circles because her owner can't shut up about her :-)

One big bummer: One and only Otis Gibbs was supposed to open for them.... but... just like us he left from Nashville this morning... but a bit later... got caught in the same ice.... and when he left the highway for gas, he couldnt get back on it anymore because the police closed it!! what!!! made us realise once more how lucky we've been!
(small note for those who've never been on American highways: unlike in Europe, you have to really leave the highway and drive a bit, for a gasstation)

The club had a small pizza corner, yay, so we could have a bite, and we sat down near the window. I was enjoying ever second and everything that I saw. The view on dark Columbia, the American neonsigns, the whole American club experience, the Bottle Rockets on our right mingling with the crowd. This guy approached me and asked "are you Petra?" yes! It was long time BR fan Tom and and his wife Phoebe, who I've been in contact with for years on facebook and before that on the messageboard. It was so great meeting them, and also the first time ever that I met other die hard fans!

Robert grabbed a beer coaster from the bar and showed it to me. It said "Rolle Bolle New Belgium"
Wait, waaaaa? this was our introduction to the Belgian Style Beer phenomenon. I dont know why we never noticed before, that "Belgian Style" beer is everywhere.... for now we just laughed, but in the days to follow, we couldnt set one foot in a restaurant, club or supermarket without being buried in the Belgian Styles.
What is it? Well, we're still not sure. I tried to look it up, its American brewed beer, "brewed in old Belgian tradition" or something. There are at least 500 different beers in Belgium so I'm not sure. The next day we wanted to try one and asked "one of those Belgian Style beers" and got... a "Bavarian Style beer" :-D what's going on here?!

We were standing right in front of the stage and it was a great show, but... it just didnt get  through to me, I was way to emotional. The Bottle Rockets! There! Playing music! In front of ME! After all those years and times I thought I'd never see them again! After realising I had to go to them, because I'm not going to wait forever untill they ever come to Europe again. After getting really obsessed with finding a way to see them again. Sometimes, if you wanna have it, just come and get it when possible. Since januari of this year I started working extra hours, and it wasnt always fun, but I kept on thinking "its for the Bottle Rockets" and wow, now I was here, looking at them.

So it took at least untill the encore to get myself together again. I just stood there looking silly. Looked at Robert every now and then, who later said I had a bright smile on my face the whole time.
There were quite some songs I didnt know or only heard on youtube, like Big Lots and Monday but I liked them.
they came back and either asked for requests, or we just starting yelling them. I yelled for Alone in Bad Company, they noticed I was yelling something and came over to hear <3 arent they the best! With that song came the story that we came all the way from Belgium...














Great to hear the song. The story behind it AND the song would turn out to be a big part of the days to follow, mostly summarized, but this is the whole story:
fourteen years ago, I went to see the Bottle Rockets in Amsterdam to check them out, I've never seen or heard them before. The moment they walked onstage I smiled and the moment they started playing I thought "not bad".
That was the era that I've seen a lot of "americana" bands that turned out to be so boring.... but the Bottle Rockets werent one of them. In fact, they were ok and I decided to go and see them a few days later in The Hague, at the big Queensday festival.
It was there, the second time I saw them, the second time I heard Alone in Bad Company, I realised they were not just ok, but more than that.... this was it, I felt in love! It had been a while, but I found a band again that I  really, really liked. (I went to see two more shows that tour!)

After the show we talked with the band and fans a bit more, we stayed with Tom and Phoebe who proved to be excellent merch-salesmen! People were leaving early (doh!) and it was time to go. we allready talked about our ice adventure in Kentucky and Keith and John jumped in our car to show us where the windscreen defroster was (note: there isnt any! :-P ) I just stood there looking at them fooling around in our car. Men!! :-)


The club closed and we stood outside waiting, the van was parked next to our car. I didnt realise where we were waiting for and thought we were waiting on eachother first. We discussed the cold (it was COLD!!) and the ice in Kentucky etc. We werent sure why we were waiting there :-D ("oh we're just standing here because the Bottle Rockets are standing here!") but finally everyone was there and we said goodbye, and followed them to the motel.
It has been a weird day... lots of emotions... both good and bad, and now there was just only thing left to do: SLEEP!!

zaterdag 21 december 2013

6 dec # 1: ice roads and snowstorm in Kentucky

(first part = live blog, written on the road)
weather reports scare me a bit. We can do only one thing: be carefull and use our brains (= safety first) Got a message from Brian that they booked a room in Columbia, because of the extreme cold they dont wanna drive back to STL through (apperantly) the middle of nowhere (in case something happens) and that we should do the same so we did.

During breakfast we first heard "dont take the 24 and 64, my sister-in-law is there and its 30mph max because of snow and ice and sleet!. you should take this and that road!"
then the man at the other end of the table said "no, you're sending them straight into a snowstorm, its really bad out there"
 ok, so.... "we'll just follow the GPS and hope for the best" but thanks for caring!

Nashville in the rain....


we'll see what we can do. Right now we're on the road and driving. If its too dangerous to drive we'll stop. Like I wrote to Chuck the other day "I hope Saint Christopher is with us"

Temperature is heading for 32 and we dont like that as its raining :-( GPS only gives 7 mins delay on 6,5 hrs so still hope we will be ok.
OMG there it is, electrical warning signs "snow and ice on roadway be prepared for slow and stopped vehicles" crossing my fingers.

I think we're in Kentucky :-D
Yes we are! yoohoo! For fridge magnets take the first exit.

snowcleaning trucks ahead. One of them just made a uturn on the highway (to the other lane)
And we reached 32°F .

Ohdear. A car in the ditch. At least it was standing on its wheels and the passengers were standing next to it. Highway patrol was allready there.
rain...

...turning...

...into ice!

OMG another one. The snow and ice are here. slowing down and crossing fingers.
3rd. 40mph. Ice. Feeling very uncomfortable. Giving Robert compliments so he'll stay relaxed.
Maybe this would be different at home. We have ice, snow, sleet and dangerous roads at home too. we had to make detours because we couldn get uphill etc, but I think it just makes it twice as bad because we're not at home or in our own car.
at least they put sand or salt or what is it on the road here.

28°
I'm glad we were smart enough to bring a big bag of food and a tray of water with us.

Lunch.

ok on a lighter hand now. the landscape here and in Tennessee looks a bit like home. Some hills with trees and now fields. This could have been Belgium right here.
We see quite a few out of state cars: mostly Florida this time (in Cali it was Texas!) and some georgia. Oh wait there are the Texans :-D
Teehee a tourbus named Kincaid :-)
6th car in ditch + walking driver


Its snowing now and 25°
---
so far for the live blog, I had to put my laptop away and help Robert, as the windscreen was covered in ice, and the wipers were covered in ice too, so they didnt touch the window anymore, and we couldnt see ANYTHING.
there was a icecube sitting on the end of the right one, scratching a clear strip on the window at my side.
Half panicking we had searched for the windscreen heater, but couldnt find it, and it also looked as if there wasnt one. 
We had to stop the car and clean the window (at least we had a scraper) but the road was this bad, that we couldnt see where the road ended and the shoulder started, and we feared getting stuck, or worse, in the ditch, or even more worse: getting run over by a big truck who didnt seem to be bothered much by the weather as they kept on passing us.
Somewhere, we went from "dammit, we're never gonna make it to the show tonight!!" to "we have to reach that next motel exit so we wont strand here and have to spend the day and night in the car in the snow - or worse!"

I'm not lying when I say we saw OVER 50 cars and trucks in the ditch before we finally reached Saint Louis.
Lots of them were bigger cars and pick ups. Maybe some get a bit reckless in a big car? I was told that its difficult to drive an unloaded pick up truck on an iced road (because of empty back)
Some of them were upside down, none of them hurt bad, we only saw one ambulance. All cars had an fluo orange "flag" on the antenna, probably to find them in case they got snowed in, and also to tell that the vehicle was empty?

Somewhere on that ice road, Robert said "I think we have a fourwheel drive" and yes we did. This is where I started to believe in miracles: when we booked the car for this part of the trip, we booked a Ford Focus again... but as soon as it was booked, Robert received a mail from Dollar Rental that we could have a free upgrade to a "semi SUV" We checked out these cars and they looked ok, so we booked it. (esp for the space) One thing for sure: without that free upgrade, we would have NEVER ever made it.

We had the worse part of the road in Kentucky, and around a small town in Illinois called "Vienna"
In my memory we drove miles and miles through the middle of nowhere, but as we were only going 10mph, of course it took a long time.
We kept an eye on the GPS, and the arriving time kept getting later and later with big steps.
Our windscreen kept getting worse and worse and as we couldnt stop... we had to keep on moving. I was peaking through the opening on my side, and helped Robert, who had to stretch to see through a hole at his side. You dont wanna sit in a car on ice and hear the driver say "I cant see anything"

the snowplows had left a darker trail of the salt, and that was the trail we followed, because we couldnt see any sides of the road. That, and the pick up in front of us, who was also going slowly. That was one thing, apart from one "fool" in a SUV that passed us later, everyone was driving really carefull and slowly. Makes you wonder how come you end up in the ditch, but then again, that SUV that passed us... a few miles later we saw him again, starting to spin and slip, and for a second we thought he was heading for the ditch (see ya!  - thats a Bottle Rockets reference ;-) they barely made it.
By now the wipers made sounds like "KLOINK-KRRRR-CRACK. KLOINK-KRRRR-CRACK" instead of the gentle "swish, swoosh" they're supposed to make. So I was pretty sure they would break off, and then we would be doomed.
Welcome!

I thought i'd try to stick my head out of the window to give directions, (yes, we'd sunk that low) and because it was snowing like crazy, I carefully opened the window. A cloud of snow blasted in, and the window closed again. And we were only going like 10mph!!
When we saw an exit, we had no other chance then to take it to park the car.
Right now, we were both freaking out and in panic. I was screaming that i was scared and he said I made him even more nervous, what made ME even more scared.
Thinking back at it... what should we have done, once we were there, other than trying to keep on going?

As there was no traffic behind us, we stopped in the middle of the road (what we couldnt do on the highway) and Robert got out. I wanted to help but he insisted that I stayed in the car. Grmph!
He was foot deep in the snow, cleaned the window and wipers ("honey, take a picture, I want a souvenir!") and got back in the car.
scraping ice from wipers, after scraping the ice from the window.
Back to the highway. Or wait... where is the highway entrance? we looked around and only saw white. We looked around again, Robert got out again, walked a bit up and said "I see a tire trail between those poles"
At least our windscreen was clean now, for the time being.
Carefully (and totally scared) we reached the highway.

I got myself enough together to pretend as I wasnt scared anymore.
"honey, I'm ok, now you cleaned the window, I'm totally zen!"
I wasnt, but the last thing I wanted to do was freak him out. I deserve an Oscar :-D

better view. The dark spots arent asphalt, but ice.

Traffic on the highway was still moving. The window got a bit bad again, but we could still see enough, and we finally figured out how to heat it in the right way to get the best results. (I read the user manual when Robert was cleaning the window, but didnt was much of a help) One big thing was... they dont have build in windscreen heaters in the States! In our car, in such conditions, put the windscreen heater on and... no problem.
salvation is near!
And... we had to stop. Luckly only for a few moments and we saw why, several vehicles stuck in front of us. The driver in front of us got out to peel the ice of his wipers; we were not the only ones. We could move ahead, and had to drive zig-zag between the stuck cars and big trucks. Some of the big trucks were totally stuck and had the driver digging out the wheels with a shovel.

how?!


snow plow
Glad that we were moving again, that our window was clean, that we had a fourwheel drive, that everyone was driving carefully, we were passed by a big truck going FAST....
"carefull" we said while he passed us and a few cars in front of us, the huge thing all of a sudden started "fishtailing" like crazy. (slipping rear end)
NO!!
"Dont fall down!!!" we screamed. This was not the way it was going to end, if a big 18-wheel truck ends on his side across the highway, nothing else matters. (it didnt even occur to me that he could have hit other cars too)

YOU. NEED. TO. SHUT. THE. F. UP!

We saw signs of the other highway getting closer, and it looked like the snowfall got less... and yes, by the time we finally reached the motel exit, the road was a whole lot better!
A bit further, in the town of Marion, we could exit for gas. The roads were ok, but we had to wade through big heaps of snow to get in the gasstation by foot.
We got back on the highway ok.... what not everyone could say, as we found out later.....

The road got better and better, but not very *good* untill we finally reached Saint Louis, with 3 hrs delay (on a 4,5 hr ride!)
getting closer! over asphalt, instead of ice!

WE MADE IT <3 we're (back) in SAINT LOUIS !!!!

We still had 2 hrs to drive to Columbia, but we made it out of that ice mayhem!

4 dec: Flying to Nashville.


returned rental car at 6am and were nice on time for our flight at 9. Got a connecting flight in LA and first part went way faster than we were told (yay!) with nice views on SF, the valley we drove through to SF, and a real cool view on LA.
San Francisco

Los Angeles

Whats that?!




connections cant be easier: we walked out of the plane and had to make a direct right turn to the gate
next to us!
Flights to Nashville trigger my imagination. Who are all these people? Who's that cool old lang haired rocker? who's that guy with the guitarcase?

Flight went smooth. I took out my crochet project that quickly turned into an record attempt of "how many times can you drop the ball of yarn"  Its not always easy to "reel in" a dropped yarnball esp in a plane. One time I was able to drop it in the purse of the woman behind me, that put it under my seat :-D (so, warning: close your purse when you put it under the seat in front of you i a plane)

All of a sudden I noticed the woman a few seats to our left... was doing embroidery!  haha!! with an hoop and all! she was my age. I didnt see what she was making and didnt have the chance to ask :-)

Best in flight food ever

And we were in Nashville again! hehe. No matter what everyone says about new country and all, but for me Nashville is still special. Even if its only because of Jason and the Scorchers :-) Hey, its Nashville, its exciting, there is music everywhere. And about 50 ex John Fogerty bandmembers live here too!

Waiting for our bags, we found out that it was not just me seeing musicians everywhere. All the "suspicious" people ended taking flightcases from the bagageclaim, and there was a band on board we didnt see yet (each carrying small flightcases/drumsthings) a lot of guitars in flightcases appeared and the only dissapointment was that the cool old rocker only picked up a normal bag :-)

On our way to the rental cars, I all of a sudden heard someone announce mine and Roberts name... prenounced the American way (Robert Erts, Pet-rah Shap) Robert didnt hear it but I totally freaked out and ran back to the info desk to ask. The lady was pretty unfriendly and sent me to the American Airlines bagage desk. They were a bit friendlier but said it wasnt them and sent me to the check in desk. they were on the edge of RUDE and laughing about it. They did call the gate and when that was cleared out too, he said "yeah I see things all the time too haha" HAHA yourself!!
I was pretty pissed off and went back to Robert, with a headache and way too fast beating heart from the unpleasant excitement.

Robert made me watch the bags when he went to the Dollar desk and it took quite a while but it gave me the chance to calm down and stop shaking.
To keep a lot of stuff short: they gave us a Toyota RAV4. For us a big car that reminds us of our dear old Nigel <3 but still smaller than most other cars here. I like it better than the car in California and it smells better too.
Only thing was the front plate was folded up like someone tried to make origami of it... so we had to flatten it out back in the right shape.
The (superfriendly)guy that checked the car said "you guys are going to Missouri? You'll be heading straight into the snow!"

Found our motel (8) superquick and checked in. Motel seemed nice enough, but the room was tiny and not that clean and shower and toilet were dripping. But it was cheap and hey, I've slept in a Greyhound busstation (Columbus Ohio) so no worries :-D
And the shower was fabulous. I stayed in there for at least an hour, really needed it.

There were many fast food joints around us and we went to eat somewhere. It was really warm outside.
I felt a bit uncomfortable being in "redneckkistan" as some people had told me, esp after coming from left wing liberal California. Well how wrong could I be, but I was about to find out, as only nice people kept crossing our path, just like in California.
Robert thought it was a good idea to walk a bit and that was smart as we found some local restaurants. Some of them had signs saying "no guns" EEEK!! We ended up at a Chinese restaurant that reminded me of home :-) their buffet had lots of vegatables and nice other things so we had a great and very cheap meal.
 After that we checked out "big K-mart" but that wasnt a supermarket but a shop with BIG STUFF (hence) like 1 liter thermo mugs, 15 piece paper towel packages, gigantic xmas decorations (a stockingsock as big as a sleeping bag (REALLY)) and bags of chips the size of bed pillows.

America is THE place to buy a new thermo-mug, I've seen so many in California allready and bought a cheap and good one here. (not the 1 liter one!!) > and it says Bubba :-D
Walking back, we noticed the gas was WAY cheaper here than in California, it was around 3 dollar per gallon, in California it was about 3,69 per gallon (apart from the 5 dollar per gallon we had to pay twice)
at the hotel, checked the weather forecast for tomorrow one more time and it said "70°F with rain" like it said for days.