Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Costochondritis: Officially Ruled "Not Fun"

Any kind of chest pain is usually not cool. Chest pain while you're a 40+ smoker who's in the midst of a busy and stressful time at work and dealing with the holidays is an added level of uncoolness.

That's the bad news. The good news is that when I started feeling a bad pain in my chest yesterday, I didn't panic about it. It was obvious to me that I'd injured myself somehow and wasn't having a heart attack or anything. It was very tender to the touch and painful when I tried stretching, but otherwise didn't hurt badly, and my heart rate and rhythm seemed regular. Nevertheless, no one likes to be in a bunch of mysterious pain, so when Kat suggested that we take a little run down to the urgent care center, I didn't object as I usually do.

After arriving and waiting in the waiting room, then getting my vitals checked, then getting an EKG, then getting kicked out of that room into another exam room and then waiting in there for a seeming eternity, I got to speak to an actual real, live doctor. She let me know that I had a textbook case of costochondritis. Yeah, I'd never heard of it either.

Costochondritis is a benign inflammation of the costal cartilage, which is a length of cartilage which connects each rib, except the eleventh and twelfth, to the sternum. It causes pain in the chest that can be reproduced by pressing on the affected area between the ribs. This pain can be quite exquisite, especially after rigorous exercise. While it can be extremely painful, it is considered to be a benign condition that generally resolves in 6–8 weeks.

So, now we know.

A Short Break
I was scheduled to play a show tonight on Facebook via StreamJam, but with doctor's orders not to lift anything or chance straining the injury in any way, I'm taking a very short break from shows. I will be back a week from Sunday for my first show of the new year on January 2, 2011, at Triana's Music Trivia, which will be very fun.

Meanwhile, I'm treating the costochronditis with a week-long regimen of steroids. I was hoping that simple ibuprofen would be sufficient, but the doc seemed to feel that the anti-inflammatory aspect of methylprednisolone (Medrol) would help resolve the problem with the rib cartilage more quickly. I'm down with that.

So, that's all. On a side note, while it still hurts quite a bit today, it already seems to be a little better, and I'm sure I'm going to be back to my normal happy Zak soon enough.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Molaskey's Pub (12.20.10)


I've said it before and I'll say it again: Molaskey's Pub is a great place to perform live music in Second Life. I really think I've figured out what separates places like Molaskey's from hundreds of other music venues in SL:

1. They really like music.
2. They keep the place well staffed with people who know what they're doing.
3. They go the extra mile to help promote shows.
4. They really make artists feel welcome.
5. It's a cool place where people like to hang out, regardless of who's playing.

Those are five BIG things that I don't take for granted. As you can see at the top of this post, they've also started doing something I think is very, very smart: they're doing live audio/video feeds of events at Molaskey's on Ustream. This allows people who aren't in SL to see what it's all about, which in turn entices them to come in and join the fun. I don't know any other SL venue who is doing this, so hats off to the Molaskey's team in putting this together.

Me, doing my thing. Just another gig on an ice skating rink in a virtual world. I'm still amazed that this is even possible, despite having done it for four years. Photos by Kat.

A Fun Show
Last night's show was as fun as it always seems to be at Molaskey's. On Kat's advice, I pulled out some covers I hadn't done in a long time, and they turned out great. We had a good crowd there of fun and happy folks, and as you can see, the place was appropriately decked out for the holiday season. Most of the Zaksters came out to enjoy the tunes and the virtual ice skating, and both my voice and guitar were cooperating with me for the most part. Definitely one of the better shows of 2010, and there have been lots of good ones this year, so it's no mean feat.

Good times at Molakey's.

Molaskey's Set List...
Free Man in Paris (Joni Mitchell)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Any Major Dude (Steely Dan)
Ashes to Ashes (David Bowie)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Thank U (Alanis Morissette)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Things Behind the Sun (Nick Drake)
Behind Blue Eyes (The Who)
Old Man (Neil Young)
†Long December (Counting Crows)

†Not surprisingly, the last time I played "Long December" was December 23, 2009.

Live music, ice skating, and snow-covered palm trees. Not a bad way to spend a Monday night. Not at all.

Huge thanks to all who supported my show at Molaskey's Pub!
Jordan Hazlitt, Cellandra Zon, Nasus Dumart, Triana Caldera, Diana Renoir, Mia Kitchensink, Xerxes Ninetails, Cicadetta Stillwater, simple Winsmore, Shmoo Snook, Kat Claxton, Crap Mariner, Capos Calderwood, and of course, the rest of the great Molaskey's team... Katydid Something and Apple MacKay!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A report from Delinda Dyrssen's SL memorial

Kat and I spent some time both yesterday and today (December 18/19, 2010) at the Second Life memorial for Delinda Dyrssen. We'd both become friends with Delinda -- who hadn't? -- and were glad to be able to get together with her many, many friends to help celebrate her life.

Saturday's event at Sailor's Cove included performances by musicians including Pmann Sands, Christopher135 Quan, Astronimus Galaxy w/ Cellandra Zon, PonDman Haalan, Tpenta Vanalten, Truelie Telling, Nesto Silverfall, Noma Falta, OhMy Kidd, Pato Milo, and Anek Fuchs, as well as many spoken tributes from Deli's great friends.

Sunday's memorial at The Pocket had many more live musicians, comedians, and friends honoring Deli, including Pilgrim75 Swashbuckler, Lorin Tone, Arimo Teixeira, Frets Nirvana, The Follow, CraigLyons Writer, TwinGhost Ronas, Guitar Zane, ZeroOne Paz, me, Lauren Weyland, Maximillion Kleene w/ Cellandra Zon, Wytchwhisper Sadofsky, Silas Scarborough, Ande Foggarty, Blues Heron, Vaughan Michalak, Freestar Tammas, Von Johin, Moondoggirl Moomintoog, Kit Guardian, Matthew Perrault, RoseDrop Rust, and ColeMarie Soleil

Today, I got to perform at the event at The Pocket, and did a little set that I'd hoped Delinda would have enjoyed.

Delinda's Memorial Set List...
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
She's Always a Woman (Billy Joel)
*Amelia (Joni Mitchell)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Shine (Zak Claxton)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL.

Kat and I at Sunday's memorial. Delinda's worth getting dressed up for. :)

My view from the stage of all of Delinda's great friends.

Thank you to everyone who came to Delinda's memorial! You are all wonderful people! Don't forget that you can donate to the Kidney Foundation in Delinda's RL name (Denise Williams) here!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Delinda Dyrssen Memorial Events (Dec 18/19)

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, my friend and terrific Second Life music supporter Delinda Dyrssen tragically passed away at age 32. Since then, her friends have banded together, and under the leadership of Chestnut Rau have put together a two-day memorial that will hopefully serve two purposes. First, it will help raise awareness of a cause that Delinda was passionate about: kidney disease treatment and prevention. Second, the day will be filled with things that Delinda loved: art, sailing, and music!

The schedule below is still being finalized, but take a look at this list of performers; it really shows you how much Delinda was loved and admired by all of us.

Saturday 12/18 - Sailors Cove Theater

9:30am Pmann Sands
11:00am Christopher135 Quan
11:30am Astronimus Randt (or Astronimus Galaxy) with Cellandra Zon
12:00 pm PonDman Haalan
12:30 pm Tpenta Vanalten
1:00 pm Remembrance in Voice
2:00pm Remembrance in Words
3:00pm Remembrance Messages
4:30pm Truelie Telling
6:30pm Nesto Silverfall
7:00pm Noma Falta
7:30pm OhMy Kidd
8:00pm Pato Milo
8:30pm Anek Fuchs

Sunday 12/19 - The Pocket

9:00am Pilgrim75 Swashbuckler
9:30am Lorin Tone
10:00am Arimo Teixeira
11:00am Frets Nirvana
12:00pm The Follow
12:30pm CraigLyons Writer
1:00pm TwinGhost Ronas
2:00pm Guitar Zane
3:00pm ZeroOne Paz
3:30pm Zak Claxton
4:00pm Phaylen Fairchild
4:30pm Lauren Weyland
5:00pm Maximillion Kleene with Cellandra Zon
5:30pm Wytchwhisper Sadofsky
6:00pm Zachh Cale
6:30pm Ande Foggarty
7:00pm Blues Heron
7:30pm Vaughan Michalak
8:00pm Freestar Tammas
8:30pm Von Johin
9:00pm Moondoggirl Moomintoog
9:30pm Kit Guardian
10:00pm Matthew Perrault
10:30pm RoseDrop Rust
11:00pm ColeMarie Soleil

More Info
Per Chestnut...

"We do expect the sims to be crowded so if you want a quiet place to listen you are welcome to do so at my home or at Crap Mariner's Clocktree Park. If anyone else would like to stream the Memorial on their land please let me know."

Art Auction
Over 30 art pieces were donated for this event. Funds collected will go to KDIGO, a global non-profit foundation dedicated to improving the care and outcomes of kidney disease patients worldwide. When Delinda died, she was in the midst of traveling around the world to help promote the cause of paired kidney donation, so making a generous bid on the art will help further this cause that Delinda worked toward in her life.

Make a Donation
Even if you can't attend the events, you can help. Here is the donation page for the National Kidney Foundation. Choose the "Memorial Gift" option, and Delinda's family will get a note from the Foundation. Hopefully we can see a lot of compassion for people who want to help prevent this from happening to other friends and loved ones.

See You There!
If you're a Zakster, please note that I'll be doing a short (half hour) set at 3:30 on Sunday 12/19. I plan on playing a special song or two for Delinda, and I'm looking forward to paying my respects in a way I think she would have enjoyed. However, I advise you to check out lots of artists and events over the two locations in two days this weekend. In addition to the live music, there will be sailing, art, comedy, and much more that our friend Delinda hopefully would have loved. While it's a somber reason that inspired this gathering, Delinda was anything but a somber person, and hopefully some of the event will reflect Deli's fun, irreverent vibe. I look forward to seeing everyone there.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Report: ZC30 Show in Second Life and StreamJam


We sometimes toss around words like "epic" a little too casually. "How was that cheeseburger, man?" "It was epic, dude. Epic." I mean, I'm as guilty of this as anyone; being prone to hyperbole is a curse I have to live with. But I have to say that of the hundreds and hundreds of virtual and remote live shows I've done over the past four years, last night's celebration of the 30th anniversary of my live shows was possibly the most fun and memorable -- and yes, epic -- performances I've ever done in my life.

A brief recap as to the reason for the show: I did my very first live performance playing guitar and singing for a crowd when I was 11 years old, on December 8, 1980. To commemorate the milestone 30 years later, my great friend Bunny Knutson came over and we put on a show that was simulcast to both Second Life (at an SL club that Kat and I own in our parcel called Coyote) and to StreamJam, the live music app for Facebook. As a result, we were able to host audiences from both the virtual world and from casual Facebook users.

The view of the show in Second Life, at The Club @ Coyote. Photo courtesy of Kat.

Here's what it looked like in StreamJam. Photo courtesy of Triana Caldera.

It was, in a word, fun. Fun as hell. It was one of those shows that, as I look back from the vantage of an old man, will be among the more memorable ones I've ever done.

First, Some Really Geeky Stuff: Multiple Audio/Video Streams
As I prepared for the show, a good number of people (fellow performing musicians and various audio technology geeks) inquired as to how I was taking audio and video and streaming them into two places simultaneously. The answer is actually pretty simple (though it won't sound that way to everyone):

1. Microphones into mixer.
2. Mixer "tape output" into computer audio interface (a Digidesign Mbox in my case).
3. Mbox USB output into computer. This feeds my Nicecast software, which in turn streams audio into Second Life.
4. Mixer "main output" directly into computer's audio "line in". This feeds Ustream Producer software, which in turn streams audio that is picked up by StreamJam in Facebook.

The video portion is even easier. Ustream recognizes the built-in camera on my Mac. From Ustream, the signal is automatically picked up by StreamJam, which covers Facebook. In SL, the web page for Ustream is embedded in a prim, so people using compatible SL viewers can see the same video feed. Easy as pie.

I'm realizing as I write this that if I'd read it 10 years ago, I'd have no idea what almost any of this stuff meant. Such is progress.

Rocking in the Multiverse
Bunny arrived at about 5PM, having beat the crosstown traffic and giving us plenty of time to get set up, warmed up, and ready to rock. We only briefly went over what we'd be playing. One nice thing about having a good friend with whom you've jammed a lot; there's a simpatico that develops where it gets easier and easier to know what to expect from the other, so you don't have to pre-plan every aspect of the show, and let things happen naturally. It makes for a more fun and spontaneous vibe for both us as musicians, and for our crowd as listeners. In any case, I felt that the set went great.

ZC30 Set List...
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Fade Away (Zak Claxton)
The Sands of Redondo (Zak Claxton)
Shine (Zak Claxton)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Waiting for This (Zak Claxton)
†Black Phobe (Zak Claxton)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)

† This was the first time I'd done my new instrumental "Black Phoebe" along with another musician. Like, ever. We didn't even rehearse it... that was literally the very first time.

We did everything we could, including digital cardboard cut-outs, to allow people in both worlds to feel like they were experiencing the show like they were here in the room with us. Photo by Triana.

We ended up with a nice-sized crowd in both worlds, made up of great friends, Zak fans, and some folks checking out the show for the first time. It was simply terrific.

Massive thanks to everyone who attended, both in SL and on Facebook. Even larger thanks to Bunny and Kat, who really made the show special. I love you people!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

ZC30: 30 Years of Live Zak

December 8, 2010 will mark my 30 year anniversary of performing live music. To commemorate this milestone, I'll be doing a special performance simulcast in both Second Life and on Facebook via StreamJam. The amazing multi-instrumentalist Bunny Knutson will be playing along with me for this show... more details on that coming soon.

For the time being, I thought you might like to know a little about my history of live shows, since it's been a pretty interesting journey. Well, for me, anyway.

Show Number One: December 8, 1980
Before you start thinking that I must be 73 years old, let me tell you that I started on piano at age three, and guitar at age seven. In December 1980, I was an intermediate-level musician, but I was still only 11 years old (making me 41 now, for those of you who don't like math). That show left a mark; I found I really liked playing and singing in front of a crowd. I performed two songs that night: "Honesty" by Billy Joel, and "Spooky" by the Atlanta Rhythm Section, both current hits of the day. As you may also be aware, that date is infamous in rock history; while we drove home from my successful performance, we heard on the radio that John Lennon had been killed in New York City. It was an emotional rollercoaster, as I'm sure you'd imagine, but it added an element of unforgettability to the date. I've been aware of it every year since.

That's me on the night of my first show (December 8, 1980). I'm the kid in the middle with the big hair and the fake Les Paul guitar.

1981-1983: Learning to Rock
I had a couple of friends who played guitar and bass respectively. We would get together in our bedrooms and living rooms after school and on weekends, set up our amps, and make cacophony that occasionally resembled music. I can't say we did any gigs; it wasn't until 1983 that a drummer moved into the neighborhood to add a little rhythm to our unique brand of proto-rock.

1984-1986: High School Rock Stars
By the time I was in 10th grade or so, I was pretty immersed in music, and my local chums had progressed to the point where we were good enough to set up our gear at some backyard parties. I became known as a musician around my school, and everyone who was in my circle of close friends were also involved in music. As we grew older, the parties grew bigger. While at first we were playing to a group of 10 stoned guys in a garage, we eventually found ourselves at keg parties with hundreds of kids shouting our names. The peak of this experience was probably when, in Spring 1986, we performed during lunchtime at our high school, and damn near every one of the 1,500 students stayed on campus to rock with us. Needless to say, it fed our collective egos, and we were sure we were headed for bigger and better things.

The stick figure playing the Stratocaster is me, circa 1984.

Rocking my high school, Spring 1986.

1987-1992: A Lesson in Reality
I spent much of this time frame in college, and since I was working my way through school, it wasn't easy to be a wanna-be rock star. I did, however, spend every single weekend during the summer of 1987 playing local shows with my band at the time. My main musical activity through this time frame was learning to compose and record music, so even when I wasn't playing shows, I had a guitar (or bass or keyboard) in my hands for most of the day, every day. But the real lesson from this time period was that once you look beyond your local bubble, the competition for getting serious gigs was very high, especially in my hometown in the Los Angeles area.

By 1989, I was playing at parties, clubs, and various events pretty much every weekend.

I did lots of gigging as a bass player over the years. Here I am in 1991.

1993-1998: Hello Job, Goodbye Bands
While I was never completely absent from the world of live performance, this time frame had me doing the least amount of playing out. I was in my mid-20s, and my career was taking off at the time. I continued to write and record, but the time commitment to play in a band was difficult for me to juggle along with the demands of a real job.

One of the few shots you'll see of me playing live in this time period. Winter 1994.

Just because I wasn't gigging for big audiences didn't mean I wasn't still jamming. Live in the studio, 1995.

1999-2005: Getting Back Into It
During this time frame, I played in a couple of bands that were very busy on the club and bar circuit. It was one of the only times that I was involved in serious working bands, where we played more for money than for fun. However, like any other live performance situation, the fun was there, and the musicians I played with at that time were outstanding. I played dozens and dozens of venues around LA, from Hollywood through the South Bay, Orange County, and more.

Playing bass and singing, Fall 2004.

2006-2010: Going Solo into a Brave New World
In 2006, my ladyfriend Kat and I discovered Second Life, and quickly found out about live performance there. It couldn't have come at a better time for me; my schedule was way too intense to consider being in a band, but the ability to do live performances without having to get a bunch of people together and traveling all over hell and back was much more possible. Over the last four years, I've probably played more live shows for more people around the Earth than I did in all the previous years combined.

Still playing at a few real life shows. Summer 2006.

Jumping onstage with an old friend, Summer 2009.

Performing at my album release party, December 2009.

Still enjoying playing live in 2010... a rare shot of me on piano at a private party.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Report: Zak Live on StreamJam ep. XI (11.24.10)

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, everyone.

I kicked off the Days of Gluttony 2010 by doing my Wednesday evening show on StreamJam, the live music application for Facebook. But well before I got the show started, things got very interesting... as in the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times."

StreamJam works by picking up a feed from Ustream, a free online live video streaming service. On a side note, you can see a bunch of my previous performances on my Ustream channel... most of them are archived there. Anyway, Ustream must have recently made some changes, because after months and months of trouble-free use, it suddenly wasn't recognizing my Mac's camera. Great! So, with about a half hour until show time, here I was, frantically clearing cache, updating Flash, looking for files to uninstall, and so on. I usually like to spend that time warming up my guitar and voice, but that wasn't to be. Coming close to the point of having to cancel the show, I remembered that I had another software client that could access Ustream, and it worked... but then, I couldn't get the audio to come through. I briefly considered doing my show as a mime, or perhaps trying an hour of interpretive dance, but I eventually got the audio rolling with three minutes to spare. Whew.

Anyway, despite all those technical shenanigans, the show itself was fine. Took me a couple of songs to get into it (as mentioned above, I prefer to spend the time before a show preparing my music rather than troubleshooting my computer), but as the show rolled on, I had a good time and my little crowd did as well. I also just realized I did 11 songs at my 11th show. I really do go to 11, it seems.

SJ 11 Set List
Fade Away (Zak Claxton)
Triana (Zak Claxton)
Go Easy On Me (Zak Claxton)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
In My Time of Dying (Traditional)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
†Black Phoebe (Zak Claxton)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
*Amelia (Joni MItchell)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)

†"Black Phoebe" is now the name of my new previously-untitled instrumental. This was the first show I played it as a titled song.
*This was the first time I played "Amelia" live.

IMPORTANT NOTE... my next StreamJam show will be held on December 8, 2010... which is the 30-year anniversary of my very first live show (on December 8, 1980, when I was 11 years old). As many of you recall, it was also the night that John Lennon was killed; a very mixed emotional day, as you can imagine! PLease make a note to come to this show, since I'll be sure to make it a special one.

And, as always , thanks to everyone who came to see me! See you next time!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Delinda Dyrssen (1977-2010)

Beautiful Denise, aka Delinda.

These are my least favorite kinds of blog posts, and the less often I have to make them, the better off I am.

Delinda isn't my first Second Life friend who passed away, nor will she be the last. But there was something very special about her, and it's obvious that I wasn't the only person who recognized it. In fact, the outpouring of memories via people from all over the virtual world is astonishing. Delinda made friends in the worlds of music, of art, of sailing, and just about any other aspect of SL that she touched. Who can say what it was about her that made her a person who seemed to grab you like a magnet and draw you in? I can tell you a few things: first and foremost, she was funny. You had no choice but to laugh at her antics. Second, she was warm-hearted. You could spend just a few minutes chatting with Delinda, and you'd feel like you'd discovered a long-lost friend.

Perhaps beyond those things, though, was that the more you got to know Delinda Dyrssen, known in real life as Denise Williams, the more you'd be amazed by what she'd been through, and yet managed to stay a strong person. I won't rehash everything here; her close family friend Dan wrote a remarkable eulogy that's well worth a read... check it out here. As you can tell, this was a lady who endured a lot of hardship, and yet still remained a person who -- instead of being consumed by self pity -- was an inspiration for others, many of whom hadn't had a life nearly as difficult as her own.

I first met Delinda back in 2008. She popped up at one of my live shows in SL, and from the very start, had me laughing while I was onstage trying to sing and play guitar. She'd get so excited about a certain song or something going on, or just from seeing her friends teleporting into a venue. It was completely infectious, and when she was at a show, it meant everyone else was having a great time as well. I won't claim we were best pals, but in the small world of the Second Life music scene, Delinda was a constant presence, and we did get to know each other as time went by. I found out that she lived not very far from me here in Southern California, and we actually spoke about getting together to have lunch along with my ladyfriend Kat so we could chat about some thoughts in regard to the SL music scene.

Delinda in SL as most of us knew her.

In August of this year, I started trying out a new way of doing remote/virtual music performances, via StreamJam on Facebook. At one of my first shows, Delinda popped up front and center, and got everyone to turn around to take the picture below. That pic ended up being used by the makers of StreamJam (with Delinda's permission -- she was happy to give it) to put out as a press release which you can see here. Having Delinda in my crowd was like having hired the world's best promoter/cheerleader; everyone had fun when she was around, and my job as a musician got a million times easier, since people were already having a great time due to her mere presence.

The picture that Delinda took at my StreamJam show in August ended up being used for the press release. There she is, front and center.

In September, after she saw me playing one day, she asked if I could play at The Pocket for one of her famous Friday night extravaganzas. I was happy to do so, and it ended up being a terrific show for me. Delinda was delighted by the fact that I took a couple of minutes and made a little promo video for the show. It was completely within her nature to point out to everyone that I (and subsequently Pato Milo) did our silly videos for a show, and to spread the enjoyment around. That's just the type of person she was.

I was already a little concerned about Delinda around that time... she seemed to be burning through energy so fast, it was exhausting just to try and keep up with her. Then, I was amazed when I found out that she was leaving for a trip around the world with her brother. I made her promise to send us regular updates as to where she was and how she was doing, which she certainly did. I found myself looking forward to her Twitter updates.

I think we all know what happened next: on Friday 11/19, we found out the terrible news that her body began to reject her transplanted kidney. I, along with everyone, assumed that if anyone could fight past this setback, it would be Delinda. I'd hoped to wake up Saturday morning and find out that she was okay. That was not to be. Her passing was devastating. Kat and I spent a good portion of the day at her beloved venue The Pocket, where we hung out with a group of Delinda's friends... there are many of them. We talked about what made her such an amazing person, and what a huge loss her passing has been.

It's not easy to honor the legacy of a person like Delinda. She set a high standard for everyone else to try and live up to. But the least I can do at this moment is to make sure you're aware of a cause she passionately supported: paired kidney donation. I highly encourage you to click the link below and get information on how compatible kidney donors and recipients can find one another:

In Second Life, a group of Delinda's friends and admirers are putting together a memorial event that will also be a fundraiser for kidney disease treatment and awareness. I can't speak for Delinda, but if just one life is saved as a result of her mission to spread the word about this cause, it would have brought a huge smile to her face. And smiling is what I do when I think of Delinda. I know I'm not alone in that regard. Rest well, Delinda; you earned it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Notes Shack (11.14.11)

Whoops, heh heh. I'm normally really good about doing little blog posts directly after my shows. It's been a very busy time here in Zakland lately, and I honestly thought I'd already written this post, only to glance at Ye Olde Blogge today and see that it wasn't there. So, I either dreamed that I already wrote this, or I've gone insane, or (the likeliest candidate) both.

For the 743,975th time (or so), I performed at the Notes Shack on Sunday, November 14. The Notes Shack is an interesting place in Second Life in that it's the only venue I play regularly that's moved at least five times to different locations on the grid. Why? I don't know. You'd need to ask its proprietor, Krakov Letov, who is a super nice guy and really digs music. On a few occasions, other musicians have said to me, "You're playing the Notes Shack again? Why do you keep playing there?", and the answer is easy: because it's fun.

My latest show there continued the fun streak. I decided to spice things up a little by doing a show where I'd throw in some TV theme songs, and it was a refreshing new way to bring silliness to the Zak Show. We got decent-sized crowd and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Notes Shack Set List...
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
*Theme from "Friends" (The Rembrandts)
If You Could Only See (Tonic)
*Theme from Mary Tyler Moore (Paul Williams)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
In My Time of Dying (Traditional)
*Theme from "Good Times" (Dave Grusin / Alan & Marilyn Bergman)
Bertha (Grateful Dead)
*Theme from Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Charles Erickson and Joel Hodgson)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)
*Theme from "The Greatest American Hero" (Mike Post)
*Theme from "Scooby-Doo" (David Mook & Ben Raleigh)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
*Theme from "Cheers" (Gary Portnoy & Judy Hart Angelo)

*Indicates the first time i've performed this song in SL.

Thanks to everyone who came out and supported the show!
Horizon Darkstone, Lars Neiro, Kat Claxton, Juliette Venom, and the happy host Krakov Letov!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Report: Zak Live on StreamJam ep. X (11.10.10)


When I scheduled last night's show on StreamJam, I didn't know a few things. First, I didn't know that I'd end up breaking a tooth, requiring a series of hellish dental work. Second, I didn't know that the dental appointment I had for that morning would leave me in a position where it would be all but impossible to sing. Third, I didn't know (due to other factors that shall remain nameless) that I'd end up having one of my worst days in recent memory.

But when it came time to do the show, while a lot of other people would have probably canceled it, I felt that performing was probably the best thing I could do to get myself -- mentally and emotionally -- back on track. While singing was out of the question (since I could barely open my mouth at the time), I'm not just a singer; I'm a musician who (in the words of Pink Floyd) plays a mean guitar. So that's what I did: played guitar for an hour, though I did manage to mumble my way through one tune. Some stuff was purely improvisational; others were songs that I've written recently that I performed without singing; still others were renditions of my well-known tunes that I simply did without singing. One thing that I did quite purposefully: I didn't make any big announcement of the show, since I knew I wouldn't be able to deliver my usual kind of zany fun, and didn't want anyone to come who would think this was my typical performance.

But all in all, it was actually pretty interesting, and was definitely a change of pace for both myself and the few people who were there.

StreamJam #10 Set List...
Improv in G (Zak Claxton)
This Afternoon - Instrumental (Zak Claxton)
You're Like a Cloud - Instrumental (Zak Claxton)
Triana - Instrumental (Zak Claxton)
Waxing Gibbous (Zak Claxton)
Desert Song - Instrumental (Zak Claxton)
New Song in D Modal - Instrumental (Zak Claxton)
Waiting for This (Zak Claxton)
DADGAD Improvisation (Zak Claxton)
Mood for a Day (Yes)

Thanks to all who helped support my show and cheered me up at the same time!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Mansion (11.04.10)

For the second time in two days, I played at a Second Life venue where I'd never played before, this time at the Mansion. I'd been contacted by the owner, Terrell Merryman, who seemed like a nice guy, and as I've mentioned many times before, I like playing at new places since that's one of the only ways to meet new fans and give them a chance to get into my tunes.

I remember when I first started doing shows in SL (going on four years ago), I'd freak out if the show began and I had almost no one in the audience. I learned over the years that it's not like a real life gig in that respect; five minutes later, you can have a ton of people teleporting in and everything is cool. So, we started out the show with literally the host and one fan in the crowd (thanks Alexis!). But as usual, a short while later, people started popping up and by the end, we had a nice-sized crowd who seemed to be enjoying themselves.

A side note: we had a freak November heat wave here in the Los Angeles area for the past couple of days, and let me tell you: doing a high-energy show in a room that's over 90 degrees is an interesting experience, to put it mildly. But I wasn't about to let a little warmth stop me from rocking. The set went well, and I'm glad to have braved the heat to do the show.

Set List at The Mansion
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
If You Could Only See (Tonic)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Sex & Candy (Marcy Playground)
Go Easy On Me (Zak Claxton)
She's Always a Woman (Billy Joel)
In My Time of Dying (Traditional)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Things Behind the Sun (Nick Drake)
Fade Away (Zak Claxton)
I've Been Waiting for You (Neil Young)
Tribute (Tenacious D)

Huge thanks to everyone who helped support my show at The Mansion!
Charriol Ansar, Atrum Slade, Shugar Rebane, Kat Claxton, Altonia Jewell, point Coage, Mystique Ryerley, Alexis Fairlady, Efrantirise Morane, Locky Jarman, Daisy Silverweb, and the Mansion owner and host, Terrell Merryman!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lamella (11.03.10)

Today was my first time performing at Lamella, a nice mall sim in Second Life. Pretty simple place, really; a small stage and dance floor set outside among your typical batch of clothing, animation, and other SL stores. Owner Ymer Alsop turned out to be a nice guy, and set up a giant backdrop of my happy face behind me as I performed.

The show was unusual in that they asked for (and I agreed) a 90-minute show, instead of my usual 1-hour event. That would have been fine, were it not a freakishly hot 90ยบ day here in the LA area in November. I was hot and sweaty before I'd strummed a note, and it didn't get better from there. Furthermore, the heat was wreaking havoc with my normally reliable guitar tuning. Yikes!

Despite that, it was a fun show with a nice-sized crowd. I decided to debut my new arrangement of the traditional blues gospel song "In My Time of Dying", and it went really well despite my having forgotten to put on the harmonica before I started. the whole set seemed well received.

Set List at Lamella
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
*In My Time of Dying (Traditional)
Go Easy On Me (Zak Claxton)
Better Man (Pearl Jam)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Space Oddity (David Bowie)
Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
Time Never Waits for You (Zak Claxton)
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
Love Hurts (Everly Brothers)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away (Beatles)
Shine (Zak Claxton)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Fire & Rain (James Taylor)
California (Joni Mitchell)
Jane (Barenaked Ladies)

*Indicates first time I've performed this song in SL

Thanks to all the cool people who helped support my show!
Xerxes Ninetails, maddy Fierenza, Horizon Darkstone, Taunter Goodnight, henny Kuhn, Rena Lopez, Diana Renoir, Kat Claxton, Thera Taurog, Alexis Fairlady, Aurelie Chenaux, hostess Francesca Caeran, and Lamella owner Ymer Alsop!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Zak's Neighborhood (10.26.10)


I live in what I consider to be an idyllic little neighborhood, in a city called Redondo Beach, located in the greater Los Angeles area. I've spent most of my life in this general vicinity, and have lived in the same place since 1995. There's a reason: I like it here! I've traveled around the world and have seen and experienced some wonderful places, but none give me everything I have here at home.

Anyway, enough bragging about my hometown. The fact of the matter is that in addition to being in a nice area near the beach with good schools and low crime, there's also an element of community here that makes it great for a person like me. It seems that more often than you'd expect, something odd or funny or cool or interesting is happening around here. Hell, it probably happens where you live too; you just have to look for it.

Yesterday, while sitting here working on a pleasant day with my office window open, I heard the unmistakable strains of a violinist performing. I knew who it was; Jefferson Fara is a young guy with a big talent who hopes to become a part of the L.A. Philharmonic someday. In the meantime, he does what a lot of great musicians do: he's worked as a barista in a coffee shop, as a server in a sushi restaurant, as a salesman for a music store, and has given tons of lessons to other aspiring musicians. I've heard Jefferson play many times and have wanted to feature him on one of my own recordings, but in the meantime, I wanted to at least capture his talent. That's why I grabbed the camcorder and ran out the door. The results are above.

I plan to do more videos in the "Zak's Neighborhood" series, but these things can't be forced. If I notice something weird happening, though, I'll be on it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

BURN2 (10.22.10)

A nice-sized crowd at BURN2. Photo by Kat.

I had fun with the crazy playa people. Photo by Kat.

Three hard-core Zaksters: Triana, Kat, and Diana. Photo by Triana.

A new perspective on my performance. Photo by Triana.

A short while ago, Diana Renoir somewhat timidly asked if I'd like to perform at BURN2, the Second Life version of the well-known Burning Man event of real life. I jumped at the opportunity; I knew from experience that freaky-ass people tend to like my music. Plus, it was an opportunity to do some covers that I'm not always sure will be appreciated at less open-minded venues.

Despite it being my third show in as many days, I was really pumped for it, and ended up having a fantastic time playing there. I think that scheduling it for Friday at 4PM was a good idea; I was particularly glad to have ended my work week and playing for a big, enthusiastic crowd was a great start for my weekend. To celebrate the moment, I also threw in a tune I'd never done in SL before.

BURN2 set list...
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
California (Joni Mitchell)
After the Gold Rush (Neil Young)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
*Hey You (Pink Floyd)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
†Terrapin Station (Grateful Dead)
Go Easy On Me (Zak Claxton)
Redemption Song (Bob Marley)
Shine (Zak Claxton)
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (Crosby, Stills & Nash)

*Indicates first time I've performed this song in SL.
†Last performance of "Terrapin Station": August 2, 2008

Thanks to all who came to the show!

Report: Zak Live on StreamJam ep. IX (10.21.10)

It's my fault. Between crazy work schedules, recovering from my cold, and other aspects of my zany life, I really didn't do much to announce my ninth show on StreamJam until late in the day of the show. Also, instead of my regular Wednesday night shows, this one was moved to a Thursday due to a schedule conflict on my behalf, throwing my whole mojo off by 24 hours. The result was to be expected; I only had a few good friends in my audience. It's like when you plan to throw a party but forget to send invitations... don't cry when no one comes.

But despite that, we actually had a super fun time. With no one there but some friends who will excuse me from being a fool, I felt no qualms about taking my foolishness to the extreme. That included taking odd requests (including some covers, which I've never done before on StreamJam), and doing an entire song blindfolded with a flannel shirt wrapped around my head. It was, in a word, silly. But it was a fun way to spend an hour, and God knows I enjoy any excuse to play guitar and sing for an hour on a random weeknight.

SJ IX Set List...
Fade Away (Zak Claxton)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Time Never Waits for You (Zak Claxton)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Shine (Zak Claxton)
*Welcome to the Machine (Pink Floyd)
Waxing Gibbous (Zak Claxton)
Waiting for This (Zak Claxton)
Go Easy On Me (Zak Claxton)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton) -- performed blindfolded
*The Thin Ice/Another Brick in the Wall Pt 1 (Pink Floyd)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song for a live audience

Thanks to my great pals who dropped by last night! See you at the next show!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fibber Magees (10.20.10)

I have never not had a fun time performing live at Fibber Magees in Second Life. Seriously, I've played there at least a dozen times over the years, and each time am blown away by the professionalism of the hosting staff, and the fun crowd they bring in. Today was no exception, and being that it was my first show back in SL after a month-long hiatus, it felt great to get up in front of people and do my thing!

I am still getting over my cold, but I'm on the tail end of it, so I didn't interrupt my music too many times with coughing, which is nice. I think I picked some appropriate tunes, given today's gray and rainy vibe.

Fibber Magees Set List Du Jour...
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Space Oddity (David Bowie)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Polly (Nirvana)
Fire & Rain (James Taylor)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Jane (Barenaked Ladies)
Go Easy On Me (Zak Claxton)
Love Hurts (Everly Brothers)
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)

Huge thanks to all who supported my show and made it a fun day at Fibbers!
Fable Sinatra, Doug Glenfadden, Nicholas Esharham, Phooka Heron, Alexis Fairlady, Uke Takashi, Mike00 Carnell, Isobela Capalini, Kat Claxton, Jane1 Bookmite, Aurelie Chenaux, Snowangel Fallen, and my hostess today, Otawan Fouquet!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kat & Zak's Joshua Tree Vacation


On Friday October 8, Kat and I packed up our rented SUV and headed east to the Mojave Desert.

We'd planned this trip for months; not long after she got me my first good telescope in June, we knew we'd have to depart the light and air pollution of the Los Angeles area to really get a good look at the heavens. So, we looked around online and found a place to stay that seemed pretty cool, and filled out their online reservation form.

As the date got closer, about a week before our trip on a whim I decided to give the place a ring and confirm our reservations. "Reservations?" asked the older-sounding gent on the phone. "No, we couldn't have taken reservations for that weekend. We have a scrapbooking convention in town. Been booked for over a year. Whadja say your name was again? Nope, nothing in my system, sorry."

Well, that wasn't good. We'd made all kinds of arrangements to be out of town for the weekend and timed it for a new moon for the best skygazing environment, and now we seemingly didn't even have a place to stay. For a short while, things weren't looking very promising. I immediately started looking all over the web for alternative ideas, but every place I found either seemed outrageously expensive or was some craphole on the side of Highway 62 where we absolutely did not want to stay. Finally, a few hours later, I stumbled across a bed & breakfast place called the Desert Lily. The pics on the website looked cool, and I felt even better about it after calling and speaking to the innkeeper, Carrie Yeager. Not only did it seem like the perfect place, but it was actually cheaper than the place that lost our reservation. More on Carrie and the Desert Lily in a bit.

Hitting the Road
So Friday 10/8 came along, and the first thing we did was go pick up a rental car that would be appropriate for our journey. Kat had reserved a small SUV for the trip, but when we arrived at the rental place, someone pulled up with a car they were turning in. It was a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo X 4x4, and the rental guy at Enterprise asked if we'd like to use this vehicle. Well, duh! I have nothing but good things to say about this car... spacious, smooth as silk on the freeway, and able to easily tackle the dirt roads and hills of the desert. Plus, it had good AC and a nice stereo. Massive win.

After getting the car, we swung by the grocery store for supplies, then by Target to get a few necessities (sunblock, a new backpack, a first aid kit and so on). Then, after a brief stop for lunch, we hit the road! Uh... well, I should say we got onto a parking lot that doubled as the 91 East freeway. It was Friday afternoon at about 3:00 by then, and Los Angeles traffic is notoriously horrible before weekends. It was bumper to bumper for the first 70 miles of our trip, but Kat and I were in a great mood, listening to music and chatting as we rolled slowly along. The route we chose took us along the 91E, up the 605N, and east along the 60 until it turned into the 10. Then, straight up Highway 62, which leads directly to Joshua Tree... a nice 150-mile journey through Southern California.

Our journey to the desert and back again.

Finally, after four hours on the road that should have been no more than 2-1/2, we found ourselves pulling off 62 and heading down Park Boulevard. By this time, it was dark, and as I took a right onto the dirt road leading to the Desert Lily, I hit the brights on the Jeep. Suddenly, we were surrounded by cactus, scrub, and the ubiquitous Joshua Trees. Kat's eyes were big as saucers, and we continued down the bumpy dirt trail (very thankful we were in a large SUV) until pulling into the Desert Lily.

Carrie, the Desert, and the Night Sky
We'd seen plenty of photos of the Desert Lily as we got ready for our trip, and while the photos were great, none of them did justice to the experience of pulling up to the place at night. It's obvious that much care went into the design of this little oasis in the desert. It's simply beautiful. We walked in and were greeted warmly by Carrie, who showed us around the place a bit and let us know that, anticipating our interest in checking out the stars, she'd invited a sky guide to come over later and give us a tour of the night sky. I especially liked Carrie pointing out some of the little cabins situated around the B&B, explaining that they were a good place to go "smoke pot and have sex" if we were so inclined. I had a feeling we'd come to the right place. Carrie also keeps fresh-baked cookies and a variety of wines out for guests to enjoy at their discretion. The entire vibe there was above and beyond our best expectations.

After dragging our stuff into the room, we joined some of our fellow guests in the back of the main building and set up the telescope. But even without the scope, the sky was exhilarating. Den, the sky guide, was full of information and was an entertaining speaker as well. We saw things in the sky that night that we'd never be able to see in detail anywhere near LA. Jupiter, in particular, was incredible; we saw the four Jovian moons with incredible clarity. Then, with Den's assistance, we learned to located the Andromeda galaxy, and used the telescope to get a picture-perfect view.

As Kat and I watched the sky, you could hear coyotes howling. I'm not talking about howls from miles away; one sounded to be within 100 yards of us. The entire evening was mind-blowing, and after a quick dinner of snack foods and sandwiches we'd brought with us (we were too tired to even think about going into town to eat) and nice glass of merlot, we settled into our room and went to sleep.

Saturday in the Park
We made sure not to sleep in too late, mostly because the breakfasts at the Desert Lily Inn were one of the highest rated aspects of the whole place; we didn't want to miss it! And let me tell you, you don't want to miss it either if you visit there. On Saturday 10/9, Carrie made us a meal that began with a fruit dish in a bowl of yogurt combined with cottage cheese, followed by french toast made of cinnamon raisin bread that was stuffed with fruity cream cheese and topped with bananas, pecans, and syrup. It was out of this world. The guests of the B&B -- Kat and I plus a couple from Culver City and a couple from Switzerland -- all ate together outside on the patio at a beautifully set wrought iron table. It was a luxurious way to start the day! Speaking of which, the weather couldn't have possibly been nicer; it was in the high 70s and low 80s with clear, bright blue skies for the entire time we spent in the high desert. Fall and spring are the right times of year to go.

Yummy breakfast time!

The view from our front door.

The Desert Lily is awesome times infinity.

Being that we were on vacation, we were in no urgent hurry to do anything. The area around the Desert Lily, being several miles off the main drag, is basically situated in the park itself, and is a magnificent place to cruise around. We saw tons of lizards, rabbits, desert quail, and other creatures walking along in their natural habitat, all within a few yards of the hotel! I also took the opportunity to allow the desert vibe to inspire me, playing a couple of improvised tunes on guitar that I captured in audio and video recording.

Exploring around the B&B.

Desert session.

A little before noon, we jumped into the Jeep and headed into town (swerving a couple of times to avoid the desert bunnies hopping across the dirt trail). After a quick lunch and a stop by a store to get good wide-brimmed hats, we went back and drove up to the western entrance to Joshua Tree National Park.

Full of awe from the moment we enter the park.


Kat and I must have sounded like complete idiots; every sound we uttered for the first 10 miles into the park was incomprehensible gibberish. "Whoa! Look at- oh my GOD check out the.. OOH! WOW!" and so on. Pictures do not do this place justice. We cruised along, not having a very specific plan, but with a map at our side and Nick Drake's Pink Moon playing on the stereo, we drove along in awe of the plant life, abundant desert animals, and jaw-dropping rock formations that surrounded us.

Only a few miles into the park, we stopped and got out to take photos (which we ended up doing many times throughout the weekend). Eventually we found ourselves at the Hemingway Buttress, a spot very popular with rock climbers. We took photos and watched while people climbed up and rappelled down the amazing formations. I climbed a rock too; granted, it was only about ten feet high, but it made for a good photo op.

I'm on a rock.

The desert is beautiful beyond compare.

Our next stop was at the Hidden Valley Nature Trail. This was one of the highlights of the entire trip. Hidden Valley isn't a long hike; the entire loop is just over a mile. But what a mile! It curves in and out of the rocks, and up and down small hills and valleys. Only a few small signs along the way belie the fact that you're not on your own in the middle of uncharted territory. We saw amazing plants and animals everywhere. I'm happy to report that we were responsible with all of our excursions, taking backpacks full of water (and drinking it all the time), using plenty of sunscreen, and making sure we didn't wander off in the wrong direction. The desert is full of wonders, but many people have died there due to poor planning and inability/unwillingness to stay on marked trails. We were also responsible to the desert itself, not leaving behind a trace and not disturbing anything that was there.

Steak, Music, and more Stars
As the sun started to descend in late afternoon, we decided it was time to head back to the Desert Lily. Upon arriving (the folks there patiently listened to us raving about the park... I'm sure they're used to it), we asked Carrie about some dinner possibilities. Kat was in the mood for a steak, and Carrie suggested we go to Pappy & Harriet's, up in Pioneertown. She even made reservations for us. After a shower and a change of clothes, we drove up the steep road and ended up at the restaurant. It's a terrific roadhouse that doesn't have to try and be authentic; it's the real deal.

As it turned out, our trip coincided with the Joshua Tree Music Festival, and there were obviously lots of music-loving hipsters around. We got seated right away thanks to Carrie's pull in making our reservations, and both ordered nearly identical dinners (dinner salad, then rib eye steak with garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli). The food was phenomenal, and having this honky-tonk band (I'm pretty sure they were called the Shadow Mountain Band) performing while we ate and laughed made the night all the more fun.

After driving back to the B&B, we once again set up the telescope and spent a quiet night looking at the stars and planets. As the night grew late, we found ourselves exhausted but happy. I had a glass of ruby port and some chocolate, and then we headed into our room for some much-needed sleep.

Easy Like Sunday Morning
We awoke on Sunday 10/10/10 to another glorious desert morning, and situated ourselves at the patio table. We started with a similar first course of fruit and yogurt (and coffee and juice, of course), but Carrie managed to outdo her previous effort by serving us this unbelievable breakfast pizza. It was phyllo dough topped with cheeses, potatoes, peppers, onions, and an egg over easy, along with asparagus and tomato on the side. Yum!

The Desert Lily on Sunday morning.

Local bunny.

Since our departure that day was the end of our stay at the Desert Lily, we got all of our abundant stuff loaded back into the Jeep, and eventually said our sad goodbyes to Carrie (sad in that we'd have loved to stay longer). As we drove down the dirt path away from the B&B leading back toward the main street, we had another unexpected nature encounter. I slammed on the brakes after seeing something in the road, missing it by mere inches. Backing up slightly, I told Kat to lean over to my side of the SUV; there was a beautiful gopher snake, about 5' long, stretched out across the road. After a couple of pics, we continued on toward the park.

Mister snakey says "Sssssssss."

Our first stop on Sunday was at Quail Springs, a little picnic zone that had rock climbing. We took some snapshots and meandered around for a bit, then hopped back in the Jeep and headed for our highest elevation yet: Keys View. It's at 5,125 feet, but the panorama from the top is unlike anything I've ever seen. You can look all the way down to the Salton Sea at 230 feet below sea level, and within your field of vision you also see San Jacinto Peak at 10,800 feet. You can also follow the San Andreas Fault as it runs north. Just incredible!

Cruising around Quail Springs.

Looking a mile downward (and upward) at Keys View.

After winding our way down, we stopped at Cap Rock, where we sat and enjoyed some snacks, and then walked the very short nature trail there. It was perfect, considering we didn't want to overexert ourselves before the long drive home. As we rounded a corner, we ran into yet another surprise: a wedding was being held at the far end of the trail, and just as we approached them, we got to hear the newlyweds say "I do" and kiss. Another head-shaking moment on a trip that had been chock full of them!

Kat and I enjoy the short walk around Cap Rock.

Leaving Cap Rock, we made one more stop, driving up the dirt road to the start of the Lost Horse Mine Trail. That, however, is a six mile day hike, and we certainly weren't about to tackle that at the moment. Instead, we drove back down, and after a quick stop for lunch, got on the road to start making our way home. I'm happy to report that our drive back was much more smooth than our drive in; there was barely any traffic the entire way, and we covered the 150 miles in just over two hours, even with a stop in Riverside for gas.

Memories Galore
Kat and I are unanimous: our trip to Joshua Tree was one of the best vacations we'd ever had in our lives. Even after three days, we felt that we were leaving much too soon, with so much left to see for the next trip. And believe me, there will indeed be another trip. Kat already stated this in no uncertain terms within a half hour of our arrival! I find that I'm already looking forward to our next adventure in the Mojave Desert.

Farewell for now, joshua Tree! We'll be back soon enough!