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Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 3267
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 12:48 pm:   Edit Post

Well, I'm back at home (and work) after three fantastic weeks in the USA.
This trip was set to be our silver wedding anniversary celebration and Sandra made sure the airline staff knew it so the first thing they did once we left Heathrow was bring us a bottle of champagne. A great start!
Our first port of call was New York for 4 nights. I've a feeling we tried to cram far too much into our trip as we left NYC feeling wrecked having spent the time touring around on open top buses (a great way to get to know where things are by the way). We managed to get to Liberty Island and Ellis Island, took in the view from the top of the Empire State building, walked around Central Park, visited the Guggenheim Museum and the 911 memorial garden(very moving), shopped, ate, drank and tried to sleep (the hotel was 30 yards from Times square - not recommended). We also managed a trip out to Brooklyn - quite hair raising sitting on top of an open top bus going over the manhatten bridge when it was blowing a gale!

Next stop was Los Angeles where once again we took advantage of th open top buses for a day, riding out to Santa Monica via such places as the Chatau Marmont, the Whiskey a gogo, The troubadour, Rodeo drive and so on. I had a visit to the Petersen auto museum on the way back but sandra headed back to the hotel for a swim where she spotted Bob de Niro. They were also shooting a music video somewhere in the hotel and we kept spotting about a dozen dwarves in tuxedos - bizarre place (hollywood Roosevelt in case you want somewhere to avoid).
Time for acouple of pics..
We'd pre-booked a car for a day in LA so that we could drive up the canyoins and head to the coast. I got quite a pleasant surprise when the car turned out to be a bright yellow 6.2 litre Camaro convertible..


we took it up Laurel Canyon, stopping off at the country store to take in the ambience..


Then headed up to the top of Mulholland drive to photograph the views. Imagine our surprise when the Shuttle Endevour flew over twice while we were there - couldn't have planned it better..


After that we headed down toe Ventura Boulevard (where the car computer was telling us it was 110 fahrenheit) then over Topanga canyon to Malibu (Jimmy's suggestion) where we managed to cool off in the Pacific. That evening we headed down to the Baked Potato to meet up with Jimmy and watch him play with Mike Miller's all stars. What a fantastic show!..


all stars

Our last night in LA we headed up to the greek theater to see Bonnie Raitt (supported by Mavis Staples). What a great venue - you really feel like you're in the forest - Paul would have loved the gig - bonnie was his favourite artist and he even named his bass after her.

Next stop; San Francisco where once again we spenta day touring on open deck buses, first heading over the Golden gate bridge to Sausalito then taking an evening tour around the city centre, japan town, the painted ladies on alamo square and back to fisherman's wharf. No visit to SF would be complete without a visit to the haight so after a great walk around the japanese tea garden in the Golden gate park we headed over..

I even managed to find the old grateful dead house - 710 ashbury..

Of course, being in Fan Francisco we were only a short drive from Santa Rosa and I'd already arranged a visit to the mothership over the phone with Mica. I managed a brief stop at the Mesa Boogie factory on the way up and as we arrived, Mica was heading out for a short while so we were left in the more than capable hands of Uncle Bob who gave us a really good, in-depth tour of the whole shop. My Grandad would have loved the main wood shop as he was a master cabinet maker in his time and it looked just like I rememeber his workshop (although on a slightly grander scale...



At every station there looked to be a dozen or so instruments waiting for attention and with this being a small family concern it's no surprise that some instruments can take several years to complete. Remember this 12 string?...

I'm pretty sure this was started around 2004 and they're still having problems with the octave string tension. James told me they won't let it go till they get it absolutely right - that's what I love about our chosen manufacturer.
I spotted this beautiful Walnut bass in construction - my favourite wood and Sandra even said if I was ever to get a new bass it should look like this...

Once Mica got back we sat in reception for some time chatting and playing the instruments on display - I really felt like one of the family at this point. After collecting Jazzyvee's DS-5 we managed the obligatory photo with Mica then said our goodbyes...

Later that evening I risked the Bay bridge and drove to Bill Panzer's house for a night of music and conversation with Bill and Harry who are two of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet. There are photos of the night on Bill's gathering thread so I'll just post this one..
bill and harry

While in San Francisco we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge 4 times and never saw it once due to the fog - a bit disappointing but it made our evening trip to Alcatraz a lot more atmospheric.

The final part of our trip was a 7 day self drive around New England starting off with a full day in Boston where we 'did ' the Freedom trail, seeing how my forefathers lost the country before heading to the almost authentic Cheers bar on Boston common for a few beers.
The first day's drive took us up the coast to Portland via Salem but not until I had found a way out of Boston - Mica warned us that driving n Boston was a nightmare - she wasn't kidding!. Day 3 saw some rain in the morning but we didn't let it dampen our spirits. After seeing the portland light we headed out to Conway then along the Kancamagus highway to Lincoln seeing some fantastic color (note the spelling Bil) along the way...
This was the main reason our holiday was so late in the year so we didn't rush. Nor did we rush the drive over to Stowe in Vermont the following day where we met some great folks who spent an hour explaining the rules of american football to us after dinner. (in fact we met loads of people on our trip and they were all really nice).
Day 5 we drove down to Springfield via woodstock taking in some Maple syrup and Cheese farms on the way and day 6 was mostly spent in Hartford CT taking in the Mark Twain and harriet Beecher Stow houses befreo heading out to cape cod. Our last day was spent driving to the tip of cape cod to see where the pilgrim fathers first set foot on american soil then wandering around Plymouth doing some last minute souvenir shopping before reluctantly handing the car back and flying home.
I'd just like to thank Mica, Bill, Harry and Jimmyj for their incredible hospitality and say I can't wait to go back.


(Message edited by davehouck on October 10, 2012)
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 3177
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 1:09 pm:   Edit Post

Wow jacko, seems like you had a great time in the USA. It's incredible to feel that the bond of friendship with the forum guys and the Alembic family is genuine considering we only usually get to communicate via this forum and emails.

I bet you were glad to be filling that 6.2 litre car at USA Prices and not UK petrol (gas) prices.

Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 5245
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 2:05 pm:   Edit Post


It was a pleasure hosting you and Sandra during the East Bay portion of your trip. Tina loved Sandra's accent. After hearing Jazzyvee and you guys, my slipping in and out of my native New Yorkese just doesn't cut the mustard!

Sounds like you had an amazing trip - I'm half exhausted just reading about it!

Bill, tgo
Username: adriaan

Post Number: 2979
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 2:10 pm:   Edit Post

Quite the trip!
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 10922
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 3:34 pm:   Edit Post

Great pictures! And a great review of the trip. Glad you enjoyed your visit.
Senior Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 1318
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 6:27 pm:   Edit Post

What an excellent trip! Don't be disappointed about the fog over the Golden Gate. I've been over it many times and always wished for fog. You can get some great pictures of it peeking out above the fog from the hill on the Marin side.
Senior Member
Username: jet_powers

Post Number: 544
Registered: 2-2003
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 8:50 pm:   Edit Post

Nice report! Sounds like you need a vacation to recover from your holiday!
Advanced Member
Username: hammer

Post Number: 251
Registered: 9-2009
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 8:52 pm:   Edit Post


Thanks for the pic of the walnut bass! It's my build and I've heard/seen nothing about its construction until this evening when Will Gunn saw your pics and e-mailed me. It's a medium scale Signature deluxe custom with a crotch walnut front and back with continuous back plates. I went back and forth for ages trying to decide between Koa and the walnut but after seeing it, I'm now sure that I made the right choice. Thanks again for taking that pic and sharing it.
Senior Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 1938
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 10:01 pm:   Edit Post

Scots touring The Colonies ! Whoo-eee !

Glad you got to see a lot of the States, glad you had a great time, and glad our hospitality was generally good. Hell, I'd like to take that trip, and I live here !

J o e y
Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 3268
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 1:19 am:   Edit Post

Joey. Sorry to disappoint but even though we live near Edinburgh I'm not a full scot - just on my mum's side. I was born and brought up in the north east of england so technically I'm a geordie (think Sting, Ross Noble, cheryl Cole, robson Green, Alan price, the band lindisfarne and so on). My wife on the other hand was born in Glasgow but moved to my area at a very early age so she too has a northern accent.

Brian - your bass looks even better in the flesh. have you not asked Mica for a factory to customer thread or are you looking forward to the surprise? Either way be sure to post photos of the finished bass; it'll be phenomenal. Like I said, It's my favourite wood and I'm busy thinking about what I can do to afford something similar.

Graeme (also wondering how I can afford a new bass AND a trip back to the states)
Username: artswork99

Post Number: 1795
Registered: 7-2007
Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 6:29 am:   Edit Post

Graeme, Looks and sounds like you had a great visit to the states, thanks for the pics. When you get back look us up in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina. Best, Art
Senior Member
Username: jacko

Post Number: 3270
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 6:31 am:   Edit Post

That'll be high on our list Art. We much preferred the quiet back roads of new England to the Glitz of the cities.

Senior Member
Username: jet_powers

Post Number: 545
Registered: 2-2003
Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 6:40 am:   Edit Post

The back roads of New England are wonderful anytime of year but you hit them at just about the absolute best time possible. I need to make a point to revisit a few of them myself since they are in my back yard.... thanks for the reminder.

Senior Member
Username: tbrannon

Post Number: 1530
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 8:16 am:   Edit Post

Looks like a fantastic trip, Graeme. Glad you were treated well most places and that you got home safely.

So much to see in the United States- I'd second Art's recommendation of the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennesee. Beautiful country. Additionally, you might look at trying to visit the Ozarks if you make a return visit. All of my family is Scottish/Welsh/British descent, but was based somewhere in the Ozarks for the last couple generations. I think it's some of the most beautiful country our nation has to offer. With Branson being right in the Ozarks, you can get some decent music exposure as well as some beautiful scenery and driving.

Lastly- when we were living in NZ, we came back to the States for a month or so and met up with a NZ couple who were good friends and who had always wanted to see the U.S. The thing they were most impressed with was the Grand Canyon and the drive around the area. The wide open desert was something they'd never seen and they were quite taken with it.

End of my rambling- glad you had a blast! Thanks for the pictures. :-)
Senior Member
Username: terryc

Post Number: 2002
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 8:19 am:   Edit Post

jacko...ah memories..did both East & West and a bit of mid west too 12 years ago with the ex wife.
You had some intenary there!!!
You obviously had the holiday of a lifetime and the pics look great!
even though you crammed so much in three weeks just isn't enough is it??
Senior Member
Username: jimmyj

Post Number: 410
Registered: 8-2008
Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 9:51 am:   Edit Post

Man, that is some professional level tourist work. Amazing planning and timing (the space shuttle takes the cake). Can you arrange OUR next vacation?

In your Baked Potato pic that's Mike Miller on guitar, Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums, Walt Fowler on trumpet, (looks like I've momentarily fallen asleep - on bass) and Mitch Forman on keys. Good fun!

it was nice to see you both again, glad you had a fine trip and are safely home. After all that you may need a vacation!
Jimmy J
Senior Member
Username: mario_farufyno

Post Number: 839
Registered: 9-2008
Posted on Friday, October 12, 2012 - 1:21 am:   Edit Post

Oh, I must d this someday... What a nice trip!

ps.: Any relation with Tom Fowler, Jimmy?
Senior Member
Username: dadabass2001

Post Number: 1678
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, October 12, 2012 - 7:48 am:   Edit Post

I believe Walt, Tom, and Bruce are all brothers.
Senior Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 1322
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, October 12, 2012 - 3:29 pm:   Edit Post

Hey, Jimmy! Nice band! I've loved Smitty's playing for a long time, especially with Steve Coleman. Also, I recorded Mitch's gigs with Mike Stern and Bill Evans back in the early eighties at The Willow. I recorded them on Ampex cassettes, which have fallen apart. I made copies for him on Maxell and would love to get another copy. If you get a chance to ask him if still has them, that would be great! They were some amazing shows.
Senior Member
Username: hieronymous

Post Number: 1165
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Thursday, November 01, 2012 - 4:33 pm:   Edit Post

Graeme, sorry for the late response - sounds like you had a great trip! It was a pleasure to meet you and your wife and to get to hear you play my SC!

If you have more pics, would love to see some - either here or in the other thread.
Advanced Member
Username: peoplechipper

Post Number: 318
Registered: 2-2009
Posted on Saturday, November 10, 2012 - 10:17 pm:   Edit Post

Sounds like a cool trip!
The pic with the old Traynor bass master caught my eye; don't see too many in the states...anyone looking for vintage tube amps should look for Traynors as they're still kinda cheap and are really well built and sound killer...honestly they're equivalent to the Marshalls and Fenders of their day but with BETTER transformers; hard to kill and easy to work on...Tony

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