Friday, July 5, 2013

Coachella Part II

As the sun set on Day 2

Apologies for the finally delay, I had written the entire blog not knowing it was too big and the blogger simply erased the second half, devastated!!!

DAY 3 - Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Tame Impala

They had balloons over the festival every day.
People would walk around with them attached
changing the patters and adding lights once it got dark
Very cool!
To mix things up at little we decided to step outside the mania that is a festival and head to a cafe for breakfast. As the iPhone had been so successful in finding us an Eski (aka Cooler) we decided to rely on the smart phone to review and find us a close cafe. After a few quick touches of the fingers it had us destined to have breakfast about 7mins away, a place with positive reviews and a good selection of fine American foods, thanks smart phone.

Actually I take that back, it was not a smart phone on this occasion!!! We started driving and as we went the time seemed to increase? Is it not meant to decrease? After 30 mins of the directions changing, increasing and decreasing in time, stomachs rumbling, hangovers setting in we finally found our destination. Thank you technology! I think we were at the furthest Cafe possible from the festival in a completely different town. After the essentials to sustain life we headed back to the festival deciding to take destiny into out own hands. Throwing the phone to the side we simply drove in the direction of the festival. Surprisingly this worked much better, we made it back in half the time, passing numerous Cafes....
VIP next to main stage, where Jessica
Alba was spotted

The remainder of the day was almost  like those past, minimalist clothing, a couple of quiet drinks, food and good music.There was one difference, there was abundant sexual discrimination. Us males usually take the frequent generalizations made about our gender on the chin, we don't complain or make a fuss, but Day 3 was taking it to a new level. It was evident over the past 2 days that security felt males were more likely to smuggle banned substances into the festival, so we were generally checked more closely than females, taking on average twice as long to search as a female search. On day 3 security took it to a new level. To start there are male lines and female lines so you get frisked by the same gender.We entered our respective lines at the same time and location. Each minute Ez moved a step forward and within 10 she was in. During that time I had progressed 1m and still had 10 to go!! Not knowing that sexual discrimination had reached it peak, the males of the population started asking questions and wondering what was going on. Quickly they found out the situation and were informed by others to be prepared for a complete search with exception of that sacred cavity. This actually started laughter around me. The underestimated male race around had anticipated that this day of discrimination after day 1 and had been utilizing the female gender to transport all those banned substances into the event undetected. With time, laughter, banter and a full body search including between the toes and through his thinning hair, I made it through about 40 mins later. Time for music :)  

Upon arrival at the main stage we were treated with the spectacle that is Ghost B.C.We had no idea who they were or what they were like, but they sounded good, the interesting thing was their appearance and staging. We were treated to what could be described as a ritual sacrifice. They were all dressed in black gowns, hoods, masks/makeup and there was some weird stuff happening on stage. Quite entertaining and I would say a little crazy as it was 36 degrees in the shade. This was followed by Airborne Toxic Event, Gaslight Anthem, Lumineers, Tame Impala, Vampire Weekend, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Red Hot Chilli Peppers. One of the highlights was Nick Cave. He puts on a great show and is such an energetic and passionate performer. Obviously the Red Hot Chilli Peppers were awesome and a great way to finish the festival.
All the Coachella art together 

Beautiful festival Feet!

Sunset Final Day

DAY 4 - The beach and home

Day 4 was an early start so we could spend some time at the beach prior to heading back to the desolate Texas. We cruised towards the coast, seeing all the wind turbines and scenery we missed on the dark drive in. It was not a bad drive and around morning tea time we made it to Newport Beach for a cup of tea and biscuits with Jacqueline. She was great, I think she was loving the company. After a chat and with our arms full of Daft Punk merchandise, she gave us directions to all the things we should check out and sent us on our way as she was about to have an art lesson.

We made out way to Laguna  Beach and the sight of the ocean brought a smile to both our faces. Ignoring the other places she suggested we check out, we parked the car, flicked off the shoes, breathed in the salty air and went for a walk along the beach, feeling the grainy sand in between our toes, sun on the face and hearing the small waves crash. We walked for as long as we could, taking in as much as we could and then eventually at the very last minute headed back to the car, to make a bee line for the airport. We were pushing our luck, running late, Az was stressed (super stresed) as he hates being late and we made it to the rental drop off point with 10mins to go before boarding time. We had to then catch a bus to the terminal arriving as the plane was meant to be boarding. We got lucky as 2 things were happening. Firstly as always American Airlines was delayed and secondly there was the sequester. For those who don't know the sequester is a way for the US government to save money. So on particular dates around the USA the government is saving money by only running a skeleton staff in government organisations. Today was the day for airport customs. On entering the terminal there was a line as long as a football field waiting to get through security, Az was positive we would miss out flights. He went straight to the front and managed to talk the guard into letting us slide in at the front. We made out way up the stairs and found another line winding its way towards security. Resigned to the fact that we would be stuck in the airport we slowly made it through and thankfully our flight was delayed by a couple of hours so we arrived just in time to board. Thank you American Airlines! We made it home just after midnight, set our alarm for 6:30am and crashed to get some sleep before work. What a weekend :)
Laguna Beach

Monday, June 24, 2013

Coachella 2013

What is there to say about this little adventure - Amazing!

It all started on Thursday the 18th of April with a dash to the airport from work and a cocktail in the bar near the gate. After an excited drink and a quick snack shoveled down by Az, we checked the flight status and how unusual for American Airlines, it was delayed for a few hours. So after a couple more drinks and a growing fear about finding this little place in the desert of California called Coachella in the dark, we left from DFW for Ontario, California.

I can't remember what time we arrived but we were thankful to find the car rental place still open, picked up our little car and went in search of a Home Depot, (America's version of Bunnings) as we needed an Eski. Unlike many festivals in Australia, you could take your own drinks into the camping area, happy days!

Thanks to the invention of Smart phones we found Home Depot (how did we survive in the past), 5mins before it shut, and ran in to search for an Eski. Az being the intelligent one out of the two of us, as his head is bigger, asked where he would find an Eski. After a dumbfounded look from the shop assistant he tried every other word he knew from around the world to describe this product finishing up with "cool box, to keep drinks cold". At this point the American man appeared to become enlightened and quickly ushered Az towards the "Toolboxes" section, so close. Wow the differences in the English language! I am surprised by the number of times people cannot understand what we are saying, even though we are speaking the same language. Giving up on our Eski plan, we started to use logic and look around ourselves eventually finding a polystyrene Eski that the man called a "Chill Chest".

Next we had a pretty good 90 min drive in the dark and strong wind through the winding hills of the desert to
Coachella. It was a bit ire as we could not see anything outside beyond the light given off by the headlights and for a long of road section there was an unusual humming noise, which we found out on the way back was a huge wind farm. Upon arrival, around 11:30pm we were tired, Ez was ready for sleep, so luckily we avoided the masses in general camping. Thankfully we purchased VIP tickets (if you ever go I recommend paying the extra), which got us our own entry and car park with a short walk to our Tee-pee that included camping gear. Due to its prime location we got Tee-pee number 69, rolled out our sleeping bags which we got to keep, Ez went to bed and Az went for a wander around to check out the place.
We had a view of the stars :)

69 - our home for the next 4 nights

Art - next to a raging dance party!

DAY 1 - Blur, Yeah Yeah Yeah's and Modest Mouse

Day one started after a freezing nights sleep in the fetal position to keep warm, and being afraid to shift in the sleeping bag for fear of a cold spot. Apparently it was an unusual cold snap! This was soon forgotten as we awoke to a warming sun and beautiful view of the blue sky from the opening in the top of the Tee-pee, followed by this view out the entrance. Stepping out into the warm sun, seeing the Tee-pee village, Lake Eldorado and the mountains surrounding the Coachella Valley brought a smile to our faces. The only thing we now needed was some food in the stomach from the festivals local farmers market and then a trip into town for supplies to get the party started!
You remembered how I said you can take drinks into the camping area, there is one rule, they have to be in plastic bottles. In preparation for this I emptied a water bottle, put on a back pack and headed on the bus into the local bottle shop and supermarket. Full of barely clothed people all after supplies, we made our way through the masses in search of snacks and beverages. We found the basics needed to sustain life for the next few days, but the surprise came when we went to get some alcohol. We could buy any kind of alcohol you could possibly think of in plastic bottles, huge plastic bottles, 2.2L of whisky, vodka, gin, whatever you wanted could be purchased in PLASTIC and super cheap. 2.2L of Canadian Club $15.00! So after Az finally made a decision as there was so much whisky (Ez scored a 12 pack of pale ale for $6), and we packed our bags and headed back on the bus to start our weekend.

After a few drinks and some lunch we headed in to the festival site, about a mile or so walk to the gates. We arrived to find a massive lineup. So decided (as Az is unable to wait in any sort of que [especially traffic] for longer than 60 secs) that we would chill at the lake a little longer and then head in. When we finally did enter the gates we made our way around all the stages getting a feel for our surroundings. We ended up in the Rose Garden, one of the VIP areas. The Rose Garden was very pretty, a little background info the festival is set on a polo field grounds, so as you can imagine certain areas are pretty fancy, we found ourselves a couch in the shade, two yummy cocktails and sat back to enjoy the atmosphere, the tunes and the heat...
Coachella Fashion, the minimalist approach!

Well the rest of the afternoon was pretty much the same. We settled into the VIP area next to the main-stage. This was great as we had plenty of room, shade from the 35 degree sun (there is none outside the VIP areas), clean toilets and no cues to buy drinks, food or charge phones. The people watching, music and atmosphere was great. Our afternoon consisted of  Metric, Of Monsters and Men, Passion Pit, Modest Mouse, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grinderman and Blur just before bed.

Mechanical Snail that moved
around the festival, it will
feature in a few pictures
DJ Set next to the rose garden

Heading in for the DJ set

DAY 2 - Phoenix, The XX, The Postal Service and Hot Chip

Day 2 started with the same great view and Az was fascinated with how they assembled the Tee-pee and tied the bamboo together at the top. Was someone simply up a ladder supporting and tying it at the top whilst others placed the bamboo? hmm

Well it was another cool morning but no where near as cold, we checked out some of the local art and again tried for a healthy breakfast. Festival food prices are a little steep but the food was nice. After a wander around we went back to the comfort of Lake
Eldorado to use the clean toilets, take a shower without any ques and prepare for the afternoon.

Ez cracked an early beer, Az being a bit soft was waiting until lunch time and we sat under a tree next to the lake Az reading a book and Ez working on a grant!!!! The sun was shining, the lake glistening and it was pretty quiet in the festival with most people recovering from the previous night

After a little while a group started to gather outside the Tee-pee near us, there was a crazy English couple from the rough end of Liverpool, 2 older men who where apparently married to women, out for a boys trip to their 11th Coachella and a spattering of others. They invited us to join, offered us some drinks and snacks which we accepted and a joint which we happily declined, as did the English couple who only used "class A drugs, readily available from the van in camping location 1055!" They poured me the biggest whisky I have ever seen, conversations flowed,  laughs were had and after a couple of hours and one very large drink Az was tipsy and ready to go into the festival for the afternoon and evening.

As previously mentioned it was about a mile walk to get in. There had been allot of traffic on the paths in the
Yum, cold watermelon on a hot day 
previous 24 hours and air had started to develop into a dust cloud. Sunglasses were needed and people started using whatever clothing they had to cover their mouths and nose, it was not pleasant and only got worse over the coming days. Once we made it inside the gates the dusk subsided a bit and we made out way to the rose garden again for some cocktails. This is where we started to "get lucky"...

Sitting back we were joined by an older French woman called Jacqueline ( a little mature for a festival) and some of her friends and family.  She was a lovely lady, very chatty (as was Az at this stage) so I asked if they would like a drink as they were admiring our cocktails. Upon returning we again resumed chatting and I asked the question "what has brought you to this festival?" From this point we were captivated, she was the mother of Paul who is one of the creators behind Daft Punk. She informed us how they were just about to release a new song, that they knocked back $8million to release it at Coachella, so that they could release it in a little place in Australia called Wee Waa, NSW. She tried to play it for us but her I phone was not cooperating, so instead she gave us her number and said to drop into her place at Newport Beach on our way home for morning tea. After parting ways she went back stage and we went to the main stage for the afternoon.
Snail rocking out blocking our view

We drunk some more, ate some more and again listened to some great bands such as the Violent Femmes,
Cafe Tacvba, Hot Chip, The Postal Service, The XX and Phoenix. Life was good, could it get any better? Oh Yes it can!!!

Whilst listening to Hot Chip, Ez made an astonishing discovery. Jessica Alba and her entourage were walking behind us. Dumbfounded Az's eagle eyes pivoted in her direction and his jaw dropped as he tried to verify the discovery. It was not until the man next to us suggested that Az close his mouth and said yes that was Jessica Alba that we returned to the music and moved on from our brush with Hollywood. A great day finished off by awesome sets by The XX and Phoenix :)

TBC with Part II.... stay tuned

Re energize

Monday, April 8, 2013

Rollin' from the Big D, to the Big Easy!

New Orleans, the Mississippi, Ez and Toffee
We finally had a trip out of Dallas. A BIG drive to the BIG Easy. Az was enjoying his spring break and when the opportunity arose to head to the number one spring break destination on St Patrick's day weekend, he was ready. After juggling around some of my research commitments for my study we left Dallas in our rented car to drive the 440 odd miles to New Orleans! Google maps had kindly provided us with an estimated travel time of 7.5 hours, so as you imagine we were eager to get on the road on Friday and heading south.

Crossing in to New Orleans the first thing we notice is signs popping up advertising Casinos! There are no Casinos in Texas. So as soon as you cross the border you are the given the opportunity to gamble. The second thing we notice are HUGE churches along the side of the motorway. The border town Shreveport has a population of ~200, 000 and humongous churches! We stopped along the way in what felt like the middle of nowhere for lunch and fuel. The Relay Station was your one stop shop, Casino, Louisiana fine food restaurant and typical truck stop. We bravely went for the fine food; Az went for a grilled chicken sandwich and I went for the fried chicken - see below for evidence!

We continued on the road and were starting to feel pretty confident that we would arrive New Orleans by 6pm....Little did we know a town called Baton Rouge would be our undoing. There were countless vehicles broken down along the route and as we approached New Orleans this became more frequent. We think this is what slowed our trip, i.e. people "rubber necking". What we also found remarkable was the length of road over the swamps. Instead of driving on land the road was a looooooooong low bridge. Very Cool!!!

Finally we arrived in the Big Easy and got to the hotel room. The back story to our impromptu trip is our wonderful friend Tina's sister is a performer in Quidam a Circ Du Solei show. Lisa had been in Houston the week before, unfortunately we couldn't make it down to Houston but decided to venture down to see Lisa in New Orleans. Lisa kindly arranged/gave up her hotel room for us to stay in on Friday and Saturday night and also got us tickets to Circ on Saturday night. We were excited!
Upon arrival we headed off to the center off town to find a tasty dinner. We ended up on the infamous Bourbon Street. Being spring break and St Pattys weekend the street was packed and party people were abundant. We walked past a couple of places which had been recommended to us but the line ups to these restaurants were crazy so we kept walking. We ended up finding a nice place where the line was not too long. We sampled some of the regions famous oysters. In my opinion Tassie oysters are so much better. We also tried a sample plate of Gumbo, Jambalaya, and red beans and rice. It was delicious, I was beginning to understand why there are serious weight issues in this state! I will be working to develop a Jambalaya recipe to bring home for everyone to try!
Jazz and a great atmosphere in Bourbon St

After dinner we ventured out in to Bourbon St to soak in the atmosphere and for Az to try and get himself some beads. For those of you who are not familiar with beads, this tradition originated from Carnivale, but I get the feeling it happens every weekend or possibly night on Bourbon St. Anyway traditionally a male will throw beads at a female and in return she will flash her breasts at him. People were going crazy for beads, everywhere. Az managed to secure himself some pretty green ones... I'm not sure what was flashed.

Az had a man crush on the drummer!

We were able to find ourselves an outside bar that wasn't full of to many people throwing beads around, with a Jazz band playing, secured a table and sat back to enjoy the music and a drink. The band were fantastic, and the crowd entertaining. We also enjoyed some more local food Beignets, oh yum! After some good music we walked almost the length of the street to soak up the atmosphere, get immersed in the culture and buy a hand grenade from a window in a wall for Az to drink on the streets. Good times!
Later this night we had arranged to meet up with Lisa and her crew to go to a Burlesque show. Ez was a little hesitant about what we were heading to, Az was obviously keen. Upon arrival things took an interesting turn, it was not your average burlesque show, it was a gay and lesbian burlesque show?!?! With front row seats we buckled down for the experience. By this time Az was feeling more hesitant and Ez more comfortable. To both of our surprises it was very entertaining, funny and great fun. Az does have video footage of this but due to the rating of our blog we cannot attach it. If you ever think about going to a gay and lesbian burlesque show in New Orleans, do it!

Hand grenade and beads
The next day Az was a little under the weather but we headed out and about to check out the Mississippi, downtown and the french quarter. It was great to be able to smell the salt water, soak up the sun, eat some more local delights such as a Po Boy, fired chicken, and toffee apple (not sure if the toffee apple was a local delicacy). This day was all about food! Culminating with a trip to a New Orleans institution called "Mothers" for an early dinner prior to seeing Quidam. We arrived just after opening time and there was already a line up with a  half hour wait. To get people through quickly you  are given the menu whilst waiting in the line outside so there is no delay in ordering. The menu was very foreign to us so we decided to go with a Louisiana sampler, a little bit of everything, delicious!

It was then time for the show. Quidam was amazing, it is hard to believe that the things the talented performers do are physically possible. We were also lucky enough to get a back stage tour afterwards and see how everything works.After another sleep our action packed weekend was over and we had the pleasure of driving 8hrs back to Dallas.

Since New Orleans we have been keeping a low profile, working and counting the days until our next adventure to California and the Coachella Music Festival late April.
Below are some random snaps from our weekend in New Orleans and the past few weeks.
Stay tuned x

Dueling Piano Bar Dallas
Texan National Park
French Quarter New Orleans

Texan Compact Car

Fried Chicken / Chips and Garlic toast, yes because I needed more carbs on that plate.

NCAA Quarter Final (College basketball) at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas - Exciting Game!

Crab Cake Po Boy - Big enough to feed
the average Australian Family

Spring in Dallas

New Orleans Superdome - Home of the 2013 Superbowl

Our First sight of the local Swamp
People in Louisiana

Legal to drive

Tackling the Po Boy

Texan National Park
SMU Meadows Gallery Opening - Free food and drinks :)