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Chapter 21 - THE BIG DRIVE

After our horrendous drive from Biloxi to Houston, it was nice to know that we had a relatively short distance to cover for our next gig in Dallas, a mere 240 miles. So this became a rather normal travel day. There would be enough time to get settled in our hotel and we'd still have plenty of time to get everything together at the sound check for the show that evening. How refreshing!

At this point in the tour, 240 miles seemed like an afternoon drive in the country. But it was the next drive, the one that was coming up after our show in Dallas that would separate the men from the boys or the sane from the crazy which ever was greater. Yes, sir, this would be the Mother of all Drives, only true road dogs and crazies would take this one on. And of course, that ended up being Zoot and me.

That's right, when the going got tough the tough took an airplane! Yep, Dan, Jean, Photoglo, McEntee and even Bernie, our trusted tour manager, they all bailed on the big ride and decided to fly commercially. And the two crazy road dogs? Well, since we had two days to get there, Zoot and I decided, what the hell, we could blow the money we saved on either a huge meal and large bar tab or a large meal and a huge bar tab, which ever came first, once we got to the halfway point in Tucson, Arizona. The next day we would continue our journey to the final destination of the two-day marathon drive, Redwood City just south of San Francisco, a grand total of 1,793 miles!

We had a great show in Dallas and, being from Texas, Zoot's whole family came to see the concert. The drag was that we had to leave right after the show on our first leg of the Mother of all Drives so Zoot didn't really have a chance to spend any quality time with his relatives. It was an obvious disappointment to him but by the time the land yacht was finally out on the open highway and he'd downed one of his gourmet Martinis he was feeling OK. Still, it reminded us of our own families and how much we missed them.

We swung by the hotel to drop everybody off so they could catch their flights the next morning, and then we headed out of town in the middle of the night like true road dogs, just three crazies in a land yacht rolling through southwestern America -- Jeff the Invincible with his mug of Starbucks bean drink, Zoot with his perfect Martini and me with my Gin & Tonic. Okay, so maybe we had a couple of drinks. But it's a long way to Tucson and besides; we needed something to help knock us out enough to get any sleep at all in those awful bouncing bunks.

Our land yacht was well supplied for the trip. We had cold cuts, bread and everything else we needed to make flat meat sandwiches; there was a drawer full of chips, pretzels and other various snacks. There was plenty of booze and I, of course, had The Chair which provided me with a 70-millimeter, big screen, panoramic view from the front of the bus. Yes, indeed, we had just about everything we needed to have a ton of fun on our journey and we did ........... At first.

By about 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, we were leaving west Texas and heading into New Mexico. At this point 'Jeff the Invincible' was just getting up to speed and was
ready for the drive ahead while Zoot and I started fading fast and decided it was time to wrestle with the bouncing bunks for a few hours of sleep.

I remember it was a beautiful night in the desert and we were making good time. And when I awoke, we were still making good time but now it was a beautiful morning in the desert. But however beautiful it may be, it was still the desert and we had a whole lot more to cross before we would get to Tucson. I guess what I'm trying to say is, "Enough with the desert already. How much desert can a person take?" I know there are some people who really love the desert but I'm convinced that it's an acquired kind of thing, like acquiring the taste for Scotch or Sushi.

Thankfully our journey through the endless desert was punctuated with a stop to refuel the land yacht and its occupants as well. So while the bus was being topped up with fresh diesel, Zoot and I went in to have an extended, sit down breakfast. This also gave Jeff a chance to catch a few much-needed Z's before the final leg into Tucson.

Well, we finally pulled in to our hotel at around midday and had driven over a thousand miles, most of it through the endless desert. So of course the first order of the day was to go back to bed. 'Jeff the Invincible' obviously needed plenty of rest for the long drive ahead of us and Zoot and I needed plenty of rest so we could go out and party that evening. After all, it was a day off!



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