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  May 15th, 2004 - Cow Bop finds the 'Stonehenge of New Mexico'...

We got out fairly early (at least for us) and went over the Quarter Horse Museum. Since I am a card-carrying member it was practically free, and being there made us miss our horses something fierce. Maybe next time we'll try the trip on horseback, although the SPCA would probably have a problem with us subjecting our mounts to the 'challenge', can't say I blame em. (Sidenote: I'll bet many of you have noticed a definite twang to my writing, well, it is merely a product of the places I've been and am going through. I'll probably say 'babe', 'like', and 'let's do lunch' a lot once we get to Southern California) Back to the museum, it is a great collection of equine heritage and we really enjoyed the exhibits. Being from Cow-lifornia, we get a lot of: "you ain't REAL cowboys," especially from Texans. We even heard it from an Okie in Tulsa, (and she was wearing Birkenstocks! Some cowgirl she was!), but hey, we can deal with it. However, she did feel bad about what we were subjecting Pammy to, and toked us out pretty well. So, all is forgiven on that front. Back to "real cowboys", as I learned from the scholar Jo Mora, the first American cowboys were the Spanish Vaqueros of CA, that's right, Cow-lifornia. It was even noted on the wall of the museum, (which I didn't expect to see). Now, the culture and heritage has developed since and a person would have to be a fool not to note the contribution of Texans to the mix, so much so that the HQ of the AQHA is in Texas, enough said there, "can't we all just get along?" Next stop, Cadillac ranch. At first I couldn't tell whether it was a monument to bad drivers, or a Detroit Stonehenge sorta thing, and it looked like they could have used a better GPS system (Ellen would have definitely said "recalculating route". (For you newcomers, check some of our archived journal pages, Ellen is our GPS voice) The ranch is a herd of finned Caddys set in the ground at the exact angle of the pyramids. It is a work in progress, as they leave spray paint there for people to tag it as they visit. It is not marked and you have do some sleuthing to find it (or ask for directions, you know how hard that is for us guys). Actually, if you look to the south, on I-40, just west of Amarillo, you'll see it, but after that, 'you cain't get thar from here'. Cozy Dog left our brand on one of em and we headed out towards the half-way point between Chicago and LA. It was high noon, a wind was whipping tumbleweeds through the streets of Vega, a nearly deserted Panhandle town, as we wound our way on the oldest alignment of Route 66 to find the center spot. No turning back now, California here we come (we have actually been playing the tune, and it makes us all a bit homesick), Santa Monica or Bust.

The road seems to open up from here on. The terrain has changed and towns seem further and further apart, with fewer playing opportunities and our cash reserves steadily diminishing. It is going to take some clever and shrewd thinking to make this leg as fun and successful as the first. One big problem was that the original road is basically a frontage road to the interstate and dead ends with great frequency. Now the interstate has what one would think of as souvenir and curio shops (like those on 66), and on the surface they would be perfect playing and hanging opportunities. Not so fast, I say. It turns out all of those shops are owned by the same corporation, and they have a rule about people playing music. Get me back to old 66, and step on it.

We found it (Historic 66) around Moriarty, and it was a nice and welcome change. We fell into Rich Ford outside of Albuquerque (man that's hard to spell this late at night) and we were sent to their store in town. Seems as though they were having a big celebration and we didn't want us to to miss it. We found it not far from old 66 , which is Central Ave. in Albu...(you know what I mean, henceforth called AB). There was a big party going on, they had a a sound system and MC, lots of staff and of course, customers. The General Sales Manager Darin Wade was the nicest guy and really took care of us. With all of the activity, we both realized that an acoustic western swing/jazz band would probably be a fart in a blizzard there, so he bought a couple of CDs, and they helped us out, and sent us on our way. But not before John Williams gave us a lot of good leads on where to go to find some potential hits. It was a great thought, but heck, it was already Saturday night, and anybody that wanted live music already had it. However, AB is a great town, and we decided to stay another day for two reasons. Firstly, Route 66 splits back east of here, one leg goes up through Santa Fe, the other went straight to AB along what is now the I-40 corridor. Well, if this is the Route 66 Challenge we can't very well neglect an important part of the early history of the road. And second, since this might be the last town for many many of miles, we need to play and build up a stash for that long stretch across the desert. Anti-Buzzard therapy is what I would I call it.

We went by an old and deserted hotel and Mikey yelled out: "that's it!" Now, I thought he'd seen the perfect cardboard box for his new drum concept, but no, it was a hotel he'd spent a week in thirty or so years ago whilst here on the road. Well Mikey, I'd say you're doing a heck of a lot better than the motel...good going, it just goes to show you the power of swingin, don't it?

We did finally find a cool place to eat, and we made some contacts with the manager, (thanks to a cool waiter named Mark) and we are trying to work it out so we can play there tomorrow night. It has been really surprising how cool everyone has been in regards to the spur of the moment mode of biz we conduct. It of course makes it more impactful that people are pledging per mile, and that money will ensure that kids get access to mentoring from world-class musicians on a consistent basis through JazzMasters Workshop. We'll loop back around through Santa Fe tomorrow, then hunt up what we can back here in AB, including contacts on the westward trail. So, tighten your cinches folks and water your horses, the road might get a bit rougher from here on out.

Quote of the day: " You guys are CRAZY!" Darin Wade said, before cracking a car salesman's million-dollar smile, "... sounds like fun."

Click here to check out pictures from May 15th