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October, 2012:

Packing for Paradise

As I write this, I’m three point something days away from hopping a Southwest flight, on my first leg of a weeklong trip to the Conch Republic, mka Key West. Hurricane Sandy is very considerately staying out of my way, so I expect a safe and relatively uneventful flight east, followed by a lovely if not leisurely drive down Highway 1 on Monday.

What does one pack for a trip like this? In his book “A Pirate Looks at Fifty,” Mr. Buffett devotes an entire chapter to talking about all the cool goodies he packed his seaplane with for that particular trip. It was an entertaining read.

I, however, don’t have an entire aircraft at my disposal. I get two bags, plus the guitar in its case and my “portable office” shoulder bag. And I have to keep each bag under 50 pounds, or a) Southwest will charge me a small fortune for the privilege of hauling it for me and b) I will hurt myself trying to schlep it. Until I have a significant fraction of Mr. Buffett’s money, that’s how it’ll have to be.

So…what *does* one take, on a week-long journey to Paradise? I’ll spare you the details of the entire list, but share some highlights:

Guitar case – I take the soft case with shoulder straps; on Southwest, I can carry it on-board and put it in an overhead bin:

  • Guitar – Martin HD-28V, my “go to” guitar since roughly 2004
  • Spare strings
  • 1/4″ coax cable to plug into someone else’s amp, for when I need to do that
  • Songs I’m learning, in case I feel like dragging something out that ain’t completely baked
  • Capos – the regular full-neck version, and the “short cut” capo I use on “Green Flash.” I’ll eventually write and/or cover more songs that use it, maybe re-learning “Piece of Work.”

“Portable office:” CDs to sell, stickers and sampler CDs to hand out, sign-up sheets for my newsletter, coasters, pens, Sharpies, CD opener, Square widget for my cell phone, mini recorder(s), change envelope for events where someone else is selling my stuff. Paperwork folder – air reservations, hotel reservations, car reservations, parking coupon, MOTM confirmation for my membership, printed schedules. (Yes, I’m old-school about that. And in the habit of marking up the printed copy with where I have to be and where I want to try to be.) Music journal, because I always write something new while I’m in the Keys.

It will also contain my iPad. This will be my third trip without a laptop. I can do pretty much everything I *need* to do with just the iPad, and they don’t make you take it out of the bag going through airport security.

Merch bag: New for this trip, this will hold T-shirts, swag, and probably some CDs. It’s a rolling duffle from LL Bean in a Hawaiian shirt print; it should be impossible to miss coming off the baggage conveyor. I won’t put anything in here that can be broken. I *might* pack some costuming in, as I’ll be in Key West for Halloween.


  • Clothes for a week. I expect to do laundry sometime around Saturday, so I don’t have to carry clothes for the duration. There’s a great laundromat on White Street that has a Cuban deli attached; they make a decent Cubano sandwich. Clothes will mostly be Hawaiian shirts, 1-2 pair of shorts, and a waterproof windbreaker in case it decides to rain.
  • Pills and remedies. I ain’t twenty-something no more, so I schlep along the stuff I need to stay healthy and comfortable while I’m away. Also toiletries, sunscreen, similar stuff.
  • More CDs and/or shot glasses. This trip, I need to give out some of the extra “goodies” that people who supported my new album on Kickstarter get. And I might sell a few shot glasses along the way; they’re kinda cool. These go in the suitcase, so that Southwest has a harder time breaking them. πŸ™‚
  • Headset mic and cabling. I *think* I’ll have what I need everyplace I’m gigging this time. But just in case, I want to be prepared. I don’t need the rest of the portable PA, which has its own suitcase, but I’m going to take the mic.
  • Ear plugs. I need to preserve what little of my hearing is left, and some of the music is *loud*.
  • SunPass transponder (Yes, I got one!), maps of FL and the Keys.
  • Possibly an insulated cup to carry my own potables in.
  • Hat, to keep sun and/or rain off my face.
  • Power cord(s) – to recharge my iDevices, mostly.

It’s not an exhaustive list…but some items just really aren’t “need to know” for the Internet. πŸ™‚

My MOTM 2012 schedule

This handy-dandy graphic tells you where I’m playing:

Picture showing Loren's 2012 Key West tour schedule

Subject to change (my Monday night gig now begins at 6:30, f’rinstance) and me showing up other places in town.

Real-time status of where I am will be posted as follows:

  • Short notes: Twitter
  • Longer stuff: Facebook personal page, music page if I can get there using my iPad
  • Retrospectives: Here on this blog

The text version, with links:

  • Monday 10/29 early afternoon: Pit Stop Party, MM 101, Key Largo
  • Monday 10/29 6:30-10:30 PM: Rum Barrel, Front St. Key West
  • Wednesday 10/31 9:30-noon: Catamaran concert, with Dani Hoy & Key West Chris
  • Thursday 3 PM: Team drink and “Usual Suspects” group photo, Casablanca at Bogart’s, 904 Duval St.
  • Thursday 4 PM: Tropical Songwriters Showcase (runs noon-8) at T’s Bistro, 1114 Duval St.
  • Friday 1 PM: Green World Gallery, 712B Duval St. (Webcam available for remote viewing)

Thank you! :)

At this time, as I’m very close to having my new CDs in hand, I want to give special thanks to those of my Kickstarter friends and backers who’ve gone “above and beyond” in supporting this project:

Ben Reynolds

Amy Hanson

Robert Adams

Tom Backus

Eric Stone

Barb Hammett

Carl Debevec

Bill Zilberman

Ronnie Tsunami

Susan Fabula

Theresa Miyashi

Bee Gentry

Diane Rutledge

Geo Mealer

Carole Parker

Turk Sims

Tracey Blackstone

Trader Scott

You are a fine and wonderful bunch of Usual Suspects. πŸ™‚