8/24/10 – Ames, IA

After a totally humane drive, we arrive in Ames, Iowa. I confess I love how Iowa looks. Rolling hills, cute farmhouses. It’s one of my favorite states. Nick’s special friend Sara is along for the ride, and it’s sort of embarrassing for someone else to see how far we’ve devolved. We cackle maniacally at the stupidest things. It’s like a loony bin on four wheels.

The tour is nearing its end, and we’ve had an inversion of our expectations. We’ve showered every day–which is inconceivable. However, we’ve slept less than we thought humanly possible. Every day is a Sophie’s choice between sleep and “doing something”–breakfast, thrifting, hanging out, reading, whatever. If we sleep as much as we need, we have no life whatsoever outside of the car. If we don’t sleep enough, we get to seize the day, for at least an hour that is–but we seize the day as zombies.

I want to make everyone eat a Maid-Rite, a special strain of burger endemic to Iowa. (Nathan is still being virtuous about his meat consumption, but I think I can corrupt him). I use my phone to locate a Maid-Rite and walk us there. But the storefront is now a dodgy-looking tapas place. I grab a strapping Iowan boy on the street and ask where Maid Rite has moved to. He laughs and says it’s been closed for years.

I expect Christopher Lloyd to screech up in a smoking DeLorean at any second.

Our show reminds me of the shows I went to growing up. All ages, in whatever space we could find. (For example, a very early Pavement show while the leadership of the Fraternal Order of Eagles stood around with their fingers in their ears.) But in many ways, those are the best sorts of shows. Everyone is there to see the music. Not to get drunk or pick up girls or whatever.

The show end early enough that we decide to drive to Omaha, where we each will have our own room. Everyone except me–I’ll be shacking up with my mom.

Mom wakes up at 2 AM when we arrive, and stays up til 4 with us. She is officially on Rock Time.

Day 3: 27 July 2009 – Liverpool

Today is a day off. It feels weird to have a day off after only one show. But I try to focus on the positive: we are on our first European tour, with a vast expanse of rock potential ahead.

Lawrence and John have kindly planned a day full of sightseeing for us.

As we’re driving through the countryside, we see a quaint hand-painted sign for a cafe called Nostalgia. This is the kind of place I always want to stop, but there’s never time, or the person driving wants McDonald’s instead or whatever. But miraculously, Lawrence turns off! We head down a gravel road and pass a backpacker with messy hair and stubble and these dead eyes, like a shark’s. He stares into the car, his mouth hanging open.

“That is a zombie,” I announce to the car. “Seriously. This looks just like 28 days later. Oh fuck!”

Nick chimes in that any second, an entire army of zombies will come hurtling over the hill. The hair on my arms stands on end.

We pull up to a beautiful little farm. There is a curly-haired three legged dog guarding the cafe. I miss my dogs so i give her lots of love. We enter the most beautiful tea room, with embroidered linens and fine hand painted china. We get breakfast and talk leisurely. We resolve that we’ll begin snorting cocaine off of hookers’ asses in earnest, just as soon as we finish our tea and scones.

Next, we make Lawrence pull over at a creepy little church and cemetery. We take some goth band photos and I admire the moss.

Then we go to visit the Eyam Plague village, a village that was cut off from the rest of the world once the plague broke out among its residents. There are signs in front of several houses announcing exactly when each of the families died of the plague.

One charming house has the special distinction of being officially called Plague House. I remember how mortified I was by my dad’s Volkswagen bus when i was an adolescent. Imagine how awful it would be to say, “Oh my house is the one at the end of the road — the one with the big sign that says… uh…Plague House.”

We pause at a sweets shop and I make the disappointing realization that the band Dolly Mixture is named after a type of candy.

Dolly Mixtures

Next stop, Liverpool. We go to Anfield where Nick bows down to the glory of Liverpool FC, his favorite club. Then we see a bunch of Beatles-ey stuff as John keeps insisting that they were a shit band. I’m not sure if he’s joking or not.

Nicholas at Anfield

Then we meet new friends, Will from Flamingo 50 and Sarah from Town Bike, and proceed to have way too much to drink. To add some drama to the evening’s proceedings, I start wagering with John about the mating rituals happening across the bar–exactly how long will it take the group of boys to approach the group of girls, etc. I swiftly relieve him of two pounds.

Heather wins a bet

When we can drink no more, we go outside and encounter a girl staggering down the street eating a pizza.

“Pizza,” Yoshi says, perking up. “I want pizza.”

The girl stops in her tracks. She shrieks, “WAIT! Are you Americans?!?! I love Americans!!!”

We spend the cab ride trying to figure out exactly what would make someone declare that they LOVE Americans — all of them, no exceptions.

We are completely stumped.