We’ve been driving for a little over an hour now. Yesterday’s 9 hours on the bus were nice, but after that I had to get outside. I took a quick shower and dressed and wondered where the party was. But then I thought perhaps I was cramping the guys’ style. I went to the front desk and asked if it was safe to walk around at 9 pm. They said yes, and pointed me toward the Haymarket area and new arena. I spent 30 minutes walking around, hands shoved in my overcoat pockets, looking in windows of closed shops and listening to the trains pass. I took a picture of a train and buffalo bas relief mural.

Then I met Javier, our natty conguero, for a drink at the bar across the street from the hotel, and we had a nice chat, with him describing the contrast between this tour and the ones he has done with latin bar bands all over California, Nevada and Utah, hitting small towns filled with Mexicans, unloading the van and setting up the stage like army ants, then partying before and after the gig, then cramming back into the tiny van with feet and arms and heads akimbo and moving on to the next town. I said that while part of me thought I’ll be terribly spoiled by having my first extended tour be this kind of well-managed experience with good pay, concert halls and five-star hotels, another part thought, fuck it, I’m old enough to deserve some luxury in my life. And while there may be a different feel for the kind of tour he was talking about, with attendant pros and cons, that’s OK, there are many ways to live the music business. I just love the fact that I’m running the same concert circuit travelled by some of the world’s virtuoso performers. It’s like surfacing to a whole new ecosystem.

This morning I woke at 8 and decided to run before breakfast. I headed away from the arena, and instead ran up P street to the Centennial Mall. It’s being rebuilt (currently is just empty patches of dirt and steps) and is bordered with rickety cyclone fencing. The mall leads on one end to the elegant courthouse, or city hall, I’m not sure. Drifts of leaves swirled on the sidewalk. I wore shorts and my Oakland marathon long-sleeves, but no gloves or hat. It was nippy but not nearly as cold as Indiana. I like the feel of Lincoln, from the few blocks I observed. I passed Mexican restaurants,, some music venues papered with posters for local and touring acts like that Ukelele guy Jake Something-something-buko. The people on the street weren’t all white. Still, as in Indiana, the sheer lack of people (despite a good number of cars) is surprising for this Californian. According to Wikipedia, Lincoln’s population is around 258,000, so less than Oakland’s. The state of Nebraska has 1.8 million, a little shy of California’s 38 million. I mean, I can get away from people any time I want in Oakland because of where I hike and run, but empty cities are still hard to comprehend.

I like the solid feel of the stone buildings, carved with messages that honor pioneers and buffalo. The train is quite near, and I love trains. I can’t say I saw much more than that. Just passing through.

Now on the bus we are halfway across Nebraska, en route to Fort Collins, Colorado, where we have a gig tomorrow night. We’ve passed cornfields for days, which is a contrast to California’s diverse fields of fruits, nuts, citrus, rice, grains, beans, you name it. A Twitter friend, Matt, noted that if you planted human food in the plains it would be more than we could eat. Now halfway across the aptly named corn husker state, stands of riparian trees have begun to appear, with yellow leaves that glitter in the sun like dollar coins. I thought of using a line like that in a song yesterday, and it was going to be a love song about America. I listened for a while to some chords in Garage Band, and then turned on iTunes Radio and listened to singer-songwriters for inspiration. A Harry Chapin song called Taxi came on, but it lost me with a lot of the orchestration and modulations. Though I liked the parts of the storyline that I followed when my mind wasn’t drifting. Unfortunatley I can’t stand having things in my ears for too long so I eventually gave up.

These trees are beautiful. I wonder what they are? I am trying to think of the word to describe their branching patterns. The trunks are very dark, and tend to diverge right at the base or jut out singly from the grassy ground but at a slight angle. An American flag waves, signalling someone’s homestead. I can’t tell what these rolled up things are, some kind of sod? Where are the people? I suppose you need humans (tipicamente son Mexicanos) to pick human crops, but threshers and whatnot can pick corn. Oh just passeed a graveyard for curvacious old American trucks, all spaced equidistant and facing the highway like baleful sentinels.

Apparently we are heading for a truckstop in about an hour. Nature calls…