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Monday, May 29, 2006

Paris, London and Texas Within Three days!

Friends, I didn't have any internet for five days, so here is the rest of the trip. I know that I have some typos, I have over 20 pages of text and I didn't have time to proofread everything. I'll fix it, later.

I'm back in East Texas, safe and sound. And when I see you, I'll tell you all about the adventures of my 2006 tour!

5-24-06 in Herb in Paris

Link to Photos

The last day in London for five days. I got up and took a shower. Then I practiced guitar before I had to leave the hotel room. At noon I stayed around the hotel and used the internet. I studied up on tips for Paris. It was good to learn a few things to help me enjoy my vist.

After a few hours, I went to the Tube station. I only needed a one way ticket since I was taking the EuroStar to Paris. There were times that I saw a ticket on a turnstile left by someone that didn’t needed it. So I walked around and I found one! That saved me three pounds. Rock and roll!

I got to the Waterloo station without any problems. Over the last week I learned how to use the Tube pretty well. Since I found the ticket, I wanted to pay it forward so I gave it to someone that was in line. He told me ‘cheers’ and I walked off. I wonder if he would do the same thing when he was done with it.

The EuroStar station is a bit like an airport. I had to go through security, but it wasn’t as bad as the airport. As I walked by, I set off the buzzer. Then it was like a scene from “Midnight Express”. My arms were spread out and I had the pad down. I found my harmonica. No problems, I was let through.

I then had my passport stamped. The guy didn’t say anything. Right then, I was in a French/English zone. Soon I would be in an only French zone.

I waited for the train. It was a bit late. Then they let us board and we all walked towards the EuroStar. I was shocked to see that no one was there to help you. I figured out on my own that I was on coach four. From the outside there are no numbers, so you have to look inside to see what cart you are on.

There was a lot of room to put my stuff. Then I sat down and a French dude sat down. He said that we had a flight to connect to in Paris. That was all I talk to him for the rest of the trip. For the most part, the trip was quite. I slept off and on a few times. There was some cool scenery so I taped so of it. Under a few tunnels, my ears would hurt for a few seconds. The scenery in the U.K. and under the Channel in France looks the same except for the architecture of the houses.

A few hours later, I was in Paris. I got off the train and I was in country that I didn’t understand the language. So I had to figure out the Metro on my own. Well I did go as ask for directions to help me on my way. A few minutes later I was on my way.

I made a line change like a pro and I was on the way to the station by my hotel. I walked out of the Metro and walked down the wrong street. For the last month I have been practicing French in the car and I asked a French dude if he spoke English. He said a little, so I showed him the address and he gave me great directions. A few moments later I was at my hotel.

There was a one-hour time change between London and Paris. So it is one hour later here in Paris. I came in the hotel and the dude asked for a voucher for the Hotel. I did all of this booking on the internet. He said that I could give it to him tomorrow. So I’ll have to figure this out, maybe I can find an internet café to print. We’ll see.

I was hungry so I walked around the hotel. It is late, so not every place is open. Some guy started to ask directions in French. I told him that I spoke English. In my suit jacket maybe I look French.

I did see a McDonalds. Well I didn’t come all this way to eat at McDonalds, so there was a Greek place next to it. None of them spoke English. They asked if I spoke German. So I use a combination of English, German and French to order a chicken sandwich with fries to go. The hardest part was telling them that I wanted mustard. They gave me a fry with what I thought was mustard. It was a bit more spicy, but I motion yes for that sauce. And by the way it was really good for 4.50 euros.

I came back to the hotel to eat and I am watching a show in English with French subtitles. It is about how bad the US corporations are. Surprise, welcome to Paris!

5-25-06 in Herb in Paris

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I got up and took a shower. The hotel is furnished in an Art Deco style and the shower is where I have to hold the showerhead in my hand. This isn’t the best way to take a shower.
I walked to the Metro to go to the Louvre. This place is big and looks great from the outside. I went into the Pyramid to buy my ticket. It was 8.50 euros. I asked if there was a teaching discount and there was if I taught art or design. Music didn’t cut it. So I paid the 8.50 euros and went in. Of course everything is in French, so I went back to get the audio guide. This was the best 5 euros that I have spent in a museum.

The art was overwhelming. In the span of three days I’ve seen so much art the it is kind of blurring all together. In the Louvre I got to talk to nice folks from the States and Canada. It is great to be able to talk English even for a few minutes here in Paris.

The Louvre is so big that I got lost. I asked a few guards that worked there, but their English wasn’t that good. So I finally found the “Mona Lisa”. This was the one painting that had a crowd surrounding it. And it had two guards and for it while the rest of the Louvre had one guard per room.

For some reason, everyone wanted to take a photo of the “Mona Lisa”. I saw a lot of people use their cell phone to take a photo of it. A few people were caught and they make them delete the photo.

I looked at the “Mona Lisa” for a good ten minutes before I got into line to stand in front of this masterpiece. A few minutes later there I was in front of the “Mona Lisa”. I was within ten feet in front of this painting. So I stood there for about five minutes looking at the painting. The most famous painting in the world and I was there ten feet from it! Wow!

Everyone told me that the “Mona Lisa” was a small painting. Well compare to some of the ten feet paintings in the Louvre, it was. This however is a portrait. It is the right size for a portrait so when you see it, you’ll won’t be disappointed.

After I was done looking I sat down and wrote my daily chorale in the same room of the “Mona Lisa”. It is great that I was able in create a composition a few feet from it.

The Louvre is so big with so much art that you can walk by a famous painting without realizing it. Well, I did the same thing. There where some famous paintings of Napoleon. “Le Sacre de Napoleon” is a painting that I walked right by the first time. I was looking at the other side of the room. When I walked back, I saw and freaked out. This painting took three years to paint and is really large!

The largest painting in the Louvre is “Les Noces delana”. It is in the same room of the “Mona Lisa” and it fills the complete wall. It must be 30 feet tall and 60 feet long. It took a group of painters a year to finish.

In the Louvre I got to see some famous statues too. “The Winged Victory of Samothrace” and the most famous of all statues “Venus de Milo”. You were allowed to take photos of these works of art. Amazing again to be in the same room as the “Venus de Milo”.

After about six hours in the Louvre, I was done. I was hungry and wanted to find a grocery store. So I used the little French that I know to ask directions to a grocery store. The people say that they only speak a little English, but they are wrong, they can speak it great! So after a walk and a little more help from the locals, I found it. The prices are about the same as in London. And I learn something, the French don’t eat peanut butter. So I got some jam, bread, cereal with an English name and of course some water.

In line I met another person from Canada. So I was able to talk to them for a bit. I walked to the Metro and came to the hotel to eat!

I rested for a while then decided to go to Eiffel Tower. In the hotel I asked for the directions on the Metro. I also asked if the Metro when all night.

So after a line change, I was there. On the Metro I guess it is alright to hawk for money, I’ve seen a saxphone, clarinet, guitar players as well as a puppet show in the Metro.

I walked off the Metro and a few later I saw the Eiffel Tower. I walked towards it and then I saw it in full view for the first time. Over the years I have seen the Eiffel Tower in movies and pictures and to be honest I never thought that I would ever see it in person. It is amazing to view in person.

The Eiffel Tower looks great at night. A lot of people are sitting in front of it. Talking or eating is what they are doing.

After looking in front of the Eiffel Tower for a while and taking a lot of photos I decided to walk to it. It is even bigger when you are standing right under it! It costed 3.80 euros to climb to the base. So I did it.

So 700 steps later I was at the base. I did feel a bit of vertigo climbing up this far. It was great to see Paris a night this far up. After I was there for a bit, they let you take the lift down. I think that this was the last lift for the night and they were waiting on me to leave. Sorry.

A few moments later I was at the surface again. Wow, I’ll glad that I did it.

While walking back I ran into some skateboarders from Switzerland. There English was great and told me that they were staying in the tent in front of the tower. They told me that all day tomorrow they were boarding.

I walked to the Metro and sat for a while. Then one of the works yelled out to everyone in there that the Metro was closed. So I guess the Metro closes at midnight! Paris ain’t London!

So I was miles from my hotel. And no bus either. So my only choices were to walk it or take a taxi. A taxi it was.

The cab driver spoke great English and seemed like an honest dude. It was 15 euros to get to my hotel. So I have another cool experience to talk about.

5-26-06 in Herb in Paris

Link to Photos

Today I got up and it was a nice day out. I sat down and filled out some postcards. A post office is only a few feet away from my hotel. There was a long line. I ask if anyone spoke English and a nice woman did. She helped me buy some stamps with a stamp machine. Then I put them in the mail. I hope that they will get back to the States in a few weeks.

I wanted to rock out in front of the Eiffel Tower, so on the Metro. This time I’ll make sure that I’ll get home before midnight!

I played many of my favorites songs as well as one I wrote in France. Many folks are in this area in front of the Eiffel Tower and were digging my tunes. A lot of little kids were rocking out to my songs. I had one old dude almost give me some money, but I think he wasn’t sure if I was playing for tips. Making music for others is all the payment I need, but I would’ve taking it to help pay for this trip.

During one song I had some teenagers started to dance around while I was playing. They took a lot of photos too. My music is rocking the world!

One Russian dude told me he was learning guitar and was in a band. I asked him what American bands he liked and he said Nirvana in French and I couldn’t understand him for a minute. I gave him a nerd CD and he was so happy. It is cool to give someone some joy for a few moments.

A got to talk to a lot of Americans and Canadians once again. It is great to be able to talk to someone for a few minutes. English is used by a lot folks in Paris. You can’t believe how many people take photos in front of the Eiffel Tower. Or maybe you can.

I took the Metro back to the hotel. It seems to take a lot longer than the Tube in London. It also smells more than the Tube.

Walking out I saw another grocery store and this one is cheaper. Then name of the store is ED. I bought some chicken lunchmeat and some carrots, peas in a jar and some more batteries for the camera. When I checked out, there was no bag. She told me in French that I needed to pay .20 euros for one. So I grab my stuff and walked out. Later I went and bought some French bread at a bakery by the hotel for .70 euros. It was good, really good.

I am watching some French TV. There is a good bit of American movies and TV shows dubbed in French. I have CNN in English and the German channel has some programs in English. Watching the French TV I can understand what someone that doesn’t speak English in the USA feels like.

After I rested for a bit, I walked around the hotel. I found another Metro station that was going to the Eiffel Tower. So I got on. A few minutes later I was in front of it once again. More people were out taking photos. And a lot of crazy skateboarders, roller bladders and bikers were jumping and riding down the steps.

I learn my lesson yesterday and went back to the Metro well before midnight. There was a photo making kiosk so I printed a few photos and they look great. Better than the ones I get in Nac.

I got on the Metro and got to talk to some more folks from Canada. Then I met a mother and daughter that were from Texas. And the daughter is going to Sam Houston and almost went to SFA. It is a small world! They freaked out when I told them I teach at SFA. Another full day.

Here are two Music Videos of me in front of the Eiffel Tower.

I’m a Nerd

The Further I Go

The Further I Go 2.8 megs mp3

5-27-06 in Herb in Paris

Link to Photos

Today was a full day out in Paris! I got up and took the Metro to de la cathedrale Norte-Dame. It is huge from the outside when you go in it is even bigger! There were what seemed like thousands of people there. It was free to go inside. There were places to pray and they had signs up to be quiet. So I prayed for my family and friends. That felt good to do that.

After Norte-Dame, I walked around. I got to see my first public toilet. There was a lady that wanted to use it, but it was cleaning itself and it took a good two minutes before it would let her in. The good news was that it was free to use.

I saw a Metro station and wanted to go somewhere outside the norm. So I decided to go see the museum of Picasso. I never had seen a really life Picasso before and here I was in front of the art that Picasso personally own. The self portrait of himself was great. I was love the work called “Studies”. Myself, I compose short little composition called “Studies” too, I never thought that artist would do the same thing. Studies are compositions where you work out ideas for major works.

Picasso and I are a lot a like. Most people don’t understand my work so they just laugh nervously. I’m sure that Picasso encountered this too. Maybe “Death Stairs” and “The Timetorians” are too a head of it’s time. Perhaps one day the name Midgley will be thought of in the same breathe of Picasso. Only time will tell.

After that I walked around a bit. I saw some kids playing guitar and I listen to them played. They let me played their guitar so I rocked out on “Sweater Girl”.

I got on a bus until I saw a Metro station. There was a place selling ties for 5 euros, so I bought one. It will make for a great story to tell folks where that tie was from.

At the Metro station, I missed my stop. I asked if anyone spoke English and no one did. One woman asked if I spoke Spanish. I said a little. So know I have used all of the languages that I know parts of to communicate here in Paris. One thing that I use more than anything else is sign language. I point or gesture to make my point and it works most of the time.

So I had three nice people help me to my stop. Wow. One nice lady actually got off the train and yelled at someone in French to point me in the correct direction! Wow! I guess that all the times I have helped people in the past had gave me some good karma. It is always great to pay it forward. I know that I will.

Well I got off at the Moulin Rouge stop. I knew my homeboys would get mad if I didn’t get a photo in front of it. And you’re your information it was 140 euros to go in and there was a huge line! I can’t believe my eyes that many people would pay over 150 bucks for that. That area was definitely the red light district of Paris. And there were of course a lot of people there and people trying to get you into there shops.

Only a short walk from the Moulin Rouge there was Sacre Coeur Church. It is big and a lot of people were there. People were all over the steps, which there were hundreds of going all the way up to Sacre Coeur.

I climbed the steps and there I was with a great view of Paris. This was breath taking, all of Paris before your eyes. So many people were there kicking it and having a good time.

Then I entered Sacre Coeur and it looked great. It was so much bigger in person and beautiful too. I had another opportunity to pray for my family and friends. In contrast with Norte-Dame, the ushers made sure to keep everyone quiet in Sacre Coeur.

I asked some people if they knew where Jim Morrison was buried and a lady showed me on the Metro map. So this was my next destination. It turns out that is was close to my hotel.

Pere Lachaise cemetery was closed when I got there, but I could see the top of it. I got closer to it than most people so rock and roll! It was late and I had been out for nine hours, so back to the hotel.

I had two hours that I could go back to the Eiffel Tower before the Metro closed. So I decided that I wanted to record a few more videos at night in front of the Eiffel Tower. There I was off to the Metro again!

It seems like the Metro takes forever in comparison to the Tube in London. So when I got there, I had about thirty minutes before I had to get back to the Metro.

This time I set up that a different local. It was dark so I did the best I could do with the on board light. The videos turn out all right. I had a few people listen to me rock out and clap for me.

After thirty minutes, I packed up all my gear and hit the Metro with one last look at the Eiffel Tower. If I lived in Paris, I would definitely go there and rock out and perhaps make a few euros.

In the Metro I met some folks from Dallas. It was a whole family with their maid, so they must’ve been rich. I wonder why they were on the Metro? I got home and packed so that I would be ready to take the EuroStar back to London.

Music Video in front of the Eiffel Tower at Night.
Hippie Chick Girl

5-28-06 in Herb in Paris to London

Link to Photos

One more full day left in Europe before I go back to Texas. I got up early and went out to buy some fresh French bread. It was great!

I checked my stuff and everything was there. It is amazing that I can live great with only the stuff that I can carry. This proves to me that I don’t really need all the junk that I have.

Walking out of the Hotel for the last time, I was on the streets of Paris. I have gotten use to the Metro so I made it to the EuroStar without too much of a problem.

Getting back into the U.K. is harder then getting into France. The guy at customs and immigration was nicer than the one at the airport. He asked about my Starfleet badge. It does give me VIP treatment around the world as well as the galaxy.

After a short wait, I was onboard the EuroStar. This is where I am writing this.

The EuroStar trip went great. It was again a bit harder to get in to London than it was to go to Paris. When I got to Paris, they didn’t ask for the ticket when I got there. In London, they did.

I made myself down to the Tube, and I had to figure out where my new hotel was at. A quick call on the mobile, and I was on my way. I got to the station, and looked at the map and walked to the street. There wasn’t my hotel. I asked for some help and it was behind the park. Who would’ve guessed that?

The great news was this place was a cool hotel. It was definitely a three star hotel. There was even a bath rode for the old Captain. VIP baby all the way.

I walked back to the Tube to because I wanted to see a few more hours of London. On the Tube I met some folks from Washington D.C. A nice girl from Italy that was working in London was helping them with directions. It is great that so many people on my trip were willing to help folks out. So I gave her a nerd CD and Timetorian DVD. She thought that I was a model or star from Texas. Maybe I am.

I got off the Tube and there was Big Ben. A few hours earlier I was in Paris and now I was standing in front of Big Ben. Wow.

Last time I was here I wanted to go the Westminster Abbey during the week they wanted 10 pounds to enter. So I made the 6:30 night service and it was free to go in. Yesterday was in Norte-Dame and today I’m in Westminster Abbey. Wow. The service was great and the organ sounded awesome! I got to see where Charles Darwin and the Unknown Soldier from the Great War were buried.

I walked around and made my way to Buckingham Palace. There were a lot of people taking photos. When I was there, I got to see the Changing of the Guard. All that stomping is got to hurt!

Then I got on a bus and go off at the Tube to go back to my old stomping grounds at Piccadilly Circus. It looked the same, a ton of people. I was hungry and I felt like Mr. Wu’s Chinese Buffet one last time.

On the Tube again and this time I was able to do something that I haven’t done before. Ride in an empty cart! Save until the last stop I had the whole train to myself! Rock and Roll.

The Hotel that I was in is great and I watch some British TV and practiced guitar. I recorded a few more music videos in London one last time before I get back to Nacogodoches! The bed was great and I slept with the widow open for the first time ever. That was cool. Tomorrow, I’ll be in Texas.

5-29-06 in Herb going back to Nacogdoches!

Link to Photos

Well after a good four of sleep I woke up. A good hot shower and I was ready to roll. I checked out and was out the door by 8:30 am London time.

I wasn’t sure how hard it would be to get to the airport. Gatwick is 45 miles from London, so I didn’t want to chance it. It is better to be early than late.

On the way there I met and old British man walking. I asked him what a “Bank Holiday” was. He really didn’t know, but it sounded like a few days off during the summer. There is more than one “Band Holiday”. Man I dig the green, but I ain’t celebrating a Bank on a vacation.

Then I bought my last Tube ticket. This time it was only a one-way ticket. A few minutes later I was at the train station.

I asked for help, last time I got on the wrong train. Some friendly workers pointed me to the right train. I made it one second before the train doors closed. Rock and Roll!

It didn’t seem that long to get to the Gatwick airport. Rain was falling down, but I was under a canopy. One cool thing is that Gatwick has free carts for your stuff. That was great for my back!

I check in and met some nice folks from Tennessee. This time the plane wasn’t over booked, so I didn’t get any vouchers offers this time. Oh well.

In line I was a girl with a guitar and I asked her how long she had been playing. It turns out that she just came back from Demark from a recording session. I told her about my “I’m a Nerd” song and how many downloads I had. She thought that was cool.

We talked shop about songwriting, recording and the music scene in Houston, College Station and Austin. She said that she came up to Nacogdoches and I invited her out to Rita’s on a Thursday night for Open Mike Night. It is a small world, and meeting another singer/songwriter from East Texas is great! I gave her a nerd CD and “The Timetorians” DVD then it was time to board the plane. It would be great to see her on MTV and say that I met her on at the airport in London. Maybe she’ll dig one of my songs and would want to record it.

I got on the plane and I was in the middle seat. Man it was going to be long fight. A girl came on late and the stewardess told her to sit down anywhere. I asked her if there were any aisle sits and there was one. I asked if that was going to be a problem and she said, “what are they going to do?” Rock and Roll! I sat down and the couple told me that there were two empty seats in the back. So I moved again and it is like being in first class. Maybe even more room. This is where I am writing this right now. And having a lot of legroom rocks. It makes all the difference in the world.

Since today is Memorial Day, there was very little traffic. It was smooth sailing back to East Texas. My folks were happy to see me again and like the trinkets I brought back from my travels.

I have been writing a lot lately, I am going to take about a week to reflect completely on this trip. There is a lot I want to say. I will say this, I am so glad to be from and live in East Texas. East Texas is the greatest place on Earth in my humble opinion. I’m glad to be back home. God bless Texas and the world!

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