The Long Road To Del Taco


Why We’re Driving This Long For Tacos

Tex-Mex fast food places are often the only places open late at night where you can get a “meal” after playing/seeing a show, so I and many other musicians I know have grown a kind-of love for it. Among these places, Del Taco is by far my favorite since they actually have real vegan options, but it’s still a place that you can only find sparsely scattered east of the Mississippi. It’s much more common out west, and I always make it a point to go whenever I’m in Boise (or god forbid, Bakersfield). Sure, they’re coming to Virginia now, but I’ve hyped it up so much to my friends that we decided a road trip was in order for them to experience it. Why not spend endless hours in a car for fast food tacos? What else are we doing? I mean, the pandemic is still going on. Right?

The closest locations to Virginia are in South Carolina and Ohio, and our original plan was to drive down to the former and then back home in a single day. But the plan evolved; there’s gotta be more that we can do. We’ve done, like, nothing in the past 2 years and while the Del Taco joke has gotten to the point where we’re definitely willing to drive for 8+ hours, that’s still a lot of time and gasoline burnt for something that’s coming to us in the next few years anyways.

So then, thanks to a combination of listening to Devo and the existence of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, our destination switched from South Carolina to Ohio; Cleveland specifically. But it turns out they don’t have any Del Tacos in Cleveland, so Del Taco no longer became our destination, but rather just a stop on our roadtrip.

Like all good roadtrips, we needed a mixtape for the long drive. Even though I have a sizeable collection of cassettes, my car does not have a tape player, so the mixtape here is actually a playlist. But, because I am a luddite without a Spotify account, that playlist is on YouTube.

We didn’t stick exclusively to the playlist though, occasionally pulling up a band Julian found on Bandcamp or playing some songs that make us feel nostalgic.

April 5th

The Day We Actually Go To Del Taco And Also Search For Mothman

April 5th for us actually started very late on April 4th. I decided that we should leave as early as possible, because the route we were taking would be 12 hours (not including stops), and the less people I had to deal with going around those mountain curves the better.

Nothing much occurred as we rode 64 into the mountains and across the border into West Virginia, except of course for performing the required ritual chant to cross the border (even though, like, most of the stuff in that song is, like, in western Virginia, not West Virginia, right?). Eventually we saw signs for a toll road around Charleston, and since none of us had any cash, I panicked a bit; there were no exits between where we were and the toll. But, after seeing a sign that said “No Cash”, I accepted my fate ready to pay with card. But I guess that sign just meant that the West Virginia highway people like the band No Cash, because they refused to take my card, and I got a notice to pay the toll online (plus a service fee), which was awesome.

“Gasoline” by No Cash

After about 7 hours of driving, we made it to Point Pleasant half an hour before the Mothman museum opened up, and grabbed some coffee at a place across the street while we waited. 10am finally hit, and we went in to browse the Mothman artifacts and also pick up some souvenirs for everyone else.

What if we hardstyled in front of the Mothman statue haha… jk… unless….

After another hour and a half drive, we finally made it to the original inspiration for the trip: Del Taco.

Drive Thru Enlightenment

Apparently, it held up to my hype, and questions were raised, asking why these weren’t replacing Taco Bells everywhere. Kion, however, defended the brand from total replacement by mentioning his love for their cheesy gordita crunch. Anyways, after an additional 3-ish hour drive through the Ohio flatlands we finally made it to the hotel. We grabbed some Mexican food from a nearby restaurant, and crashed for 12 hours. In total, with stops and all, we had been on the road for 14 hours. 14 hours and we never even got to actually search for Mothman. Weak.

April 6th

The Day We See The Rock And Roll Hall of LAME (that was a very clever joke — we are very clever)

Thanks to a train station that was across the street from our hotel, we eventually found our way into downtown Cleveland, and then to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Ya like rock?

The 0th floor (where a bulk of the museum was located) was pretty amazing. Exhibits on the genres which influenced the development of Rock & Roll, on it’s development over the decades, and on other genres which are derived from or influenced by it; and a ton of artifacts from iconic locations and musicians.

They even had the 2nd CBGBs awning

On the second floor, they had a “garage” with some guitars and basses hooked up to amps, as well as drumkits, with video tour-like things that teach you to play songs on them. There was also a complete “jam-room”, but it was closed by the time we found it, so we stuck to the “garage”; primarily the drumkits, where we all took turns playing D-beat. Tupa tupa.

“State Violence/State Control” by Discharge

After the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame closed at 5, I hit up my friend I know lives in Cleveland, but she was out of town at the time. Bummer. I guess I’ll have to make my way back up here again, eventually.

One of the three record stores we had planned to go to was also closed by this time, so we went to the second one on our list; a record store in Lakewood called My Mind’s Eye. Their selection was great, and we picked up a few 7″s, some zines, and vegan jerky. I even found a 7″ from the band who I almost broke my arm to in the pit of a Charlottesville house show (Biff also grills the best vegan hot dogs). Did I mention I was vegan?

The third record store was also closed when we got there (looked like for remodeling?), as was the anarchist coffee shop we had planned to go to. There were also no shows going on that night either. I mean, it was a Wednesday, so what did we expect? Good thing the bars were open.

Julian had found a bar that sometimes hosts shows, but as mentioned, none were going on that night. Still, why not stop in, grab a drink and see what’s up.

Sure, we all like Minor Threat, but Julian really likes Minor Threat

That night they were doing a John Waters film thing. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a John Waters film, but I am tangentially aware of his work from his appearance on the Simpsons and some sound-clips from his movies that were used in songs. The bar was cool, and we searched the walls for stickers and tags of bands we knew; then we saw this:

I have no idea if this has been there forever and we were just that unoriginal with our name, or if it was more recent and (assuming it even refers to us) whoever wrote it just totally misspelled it. I mean, I wouldn’t put it past anyone to misspell our name (it happened every other show flyer). Whatever the reason, it was a weird find, even if it’s totally unrelated.

After the bar, we went back to the hotel, and crashed for another 10 hours. At least I did. Julian and Kion stayed up to make D-beat on Garage Band. Tupa tupa.

April 7th

The Day We Return To Paw Paw

Our route out of Ohio was intended more-or-less meant to be less eventful. Maybe stop off and find a Devo hat or something since the ones at the Hall of Fame were $40 per (but that didn’t happen).

There’s at least $120 worth of Devo in this picture

Intended was the key word there

And that key word was right: not a lot actually happened. The drive from Ohio into Pennsylvania into Maryland was pretty normal: winding roads passing between mountains and fields. We stopped off in Frostburg to grab some Jappenese food, and Julian and I reminisced about Skumboyz opening up the first year of the Savage Mountain Punk Fest there back in 2016.

Skumboyz @ Savage Mountain Punk Fest 2016

That show was the closest we ever got to feeling like rock stars, since it was a long drive, the venue had a green room, and we even booked a hotel. The show itself was alright, but most of my memories of that night are of us needing to tactically extract our vocalist our of downtown Frostburg as quickly as we could. But that’s a story I’m not gonna tell here.

From there, the drive back was the exact same route we took home from that show, but this time missing the “Fresh Tomates” signs around Paw Paw, WV. At least they re-paved a lot of the roads.

In total we spent 11 hours in the car before arriving home with a new slew of inside jokes generated during the trip to torment our friends with.

We’ll eventually go back. One day we will find Mothman.

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