California Highway

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santa cruz

After the conversation with Dave Tittle, Tyler was starting to sense that this trip was worth it. He did not necessarily believe more in himself. Still, he felt as if he would be learning something along the way about who he is.

His next stop in Santa Cruz would be his first overnight stand. The last time he was there was when he was only a teenager still living with his parents. His dad thought it would be a nice day trip for the family. He remembered his dad had locked the keys in the car, making him angry. If it were not for that, it probably would have been a good trip. Tyler recalled how his dad was so mad that he threatened to leave the car there and just go purchase a new car somewhere.

Tyler’s older brother found a coat hanger and had the car unlocked within a few minutes. Tyler recalled that his dad learned that his brother knew things that he probably should not have known – like how to break into cars.

Tyler arrived at the Fireside Inn in Santa Cruz late in the afternoon. He did his check-in, put his clothes in his room, and then decided to walk on the famous Beach Boardwalk. Tyler found somewhere to grab some dinner and watch all the interesting people around. The hotel he was staying at was a block from the boardwalk, so he decided to walk there. He came across the Ideal Bar and Grill, conveniently located at the entrance to the wharf. Perfect place to grab a bite and then take a walk to the end of the pier, he thought.

Tyler went with the burger and beer combo. He figured you can never go wrong with that. He sat outside on the patio while he ate and enjoyed the sunset. He did a little people watching there, as well.

It was a beautiful and perfect night for the sunset. As it fell behind the Pacific Ocean, the blues, purples, reds, and oranges lit up the sky, and the few clouds in the distance had a neon glow to them. While Tyler was enjoying the sunset, he overheard a conversation taking place at the table in front of him.

A man and a woman sat at the table admiring the sunset. The man held his girlfriend’s hand on the table. “Kelly,” the man started, “watching this sunset with you here is one of the most romantic things we have ever done. I honestly never want this moment to end, and I don’t want this to be the last sunset we see together.”

Tyler was starting to think he was going to be a witness to a beautiful moment of two people in love getting engaged. The man continued. “I feel like I’m lost in a daydream when I’m with you. You are honestly the best thing to ever happen to me.”

The man got out of his chair and went down on one knee. “Kelly, will you marry me?”

Tyler sat silent, waiting to hear what her answer would be.

“Yes!” Kelly said as tears of happiness started flowing down her cheeks.

Tyler, feeling privileged to have witnessed this, called the waiter over. “I’d like to buy that couple a drink. Whatever they want. It’s on me.”

The waiter approached the couple to ask for their order and let them know what Tyler had done. Tyler saw this as an opportunity to congratulate them in person. He went over to their table.

“I couldn’t help but overhear your wonderful proposal. Congratulations to the two of you.”

Both smiling, the man says, “Thank you. Thank you very much. Please join us for a drink. You’re buying, after all.”

Tyler felt it may be bad timing. He looked at the woman who was still crying. She smiled and nodded in agreement with her new fiancé.

“Thank you.” Tyler grabs an extra chair. “My name is Tyler.”

“Tyler. I am James, and this is Kelly.” The waiter arrived with the couple’s drinks. “Here, let’s toast to our new friend, Tyler.” They raise their glasses.

One of the first things Tyler notices about the couple is their attire. They are well off and enjoy wearing the latest fashions. Kelly is wearing a free-flowing white dress that says Louis Vuitton all over it. James is in a dark blue blazer and white button-down shirt. He almost looks like he just stepped off his yacht. Both are in their early 40s. James has an infectious smile and a friendly attitude about him. You can tell he loves life and wants others to love it as well. Kelly is attractive. Slim, long dark hair and a beautiful smile. She appears quiet and lets James do most of the talking.

Tyler adds, “And to the beginning of your new venture in marriage.”

Everyone smiles. They each raise their glass and cheer to the toasts made.

Tyler breaks the few seconds of silence. “So, what brings you two love-birds to Santa Cruz?”

“Well,” James says, “we actually live here. I own one of the restaurants here in Santa Cruz. Kelly works on the boardwalk. How about you?”

Tyler is starting to feel wherever he goes, he may have to repeat the same story about him being on this adventure. “Well, I’m from Benicia, just north of San Francisco. I’m on a little road trip to get away from things for a few days.”

“Ah, yes,” James said, “I love Benicia. It’s just a nice small town right there on the bay. I’ve been there before. There’s a small bar called The Old Tavern. They have some surprisingly good entertainment.”

Kelly finally speaks, “So, if you don’t mind me asking, what are you getting away from?”

James is shocked that she would ask that question. “Kelly!?!,” he exclaimed.

Tyler answers, “No, it’s fine. I’ve just had one of the worst days of my life. I felt getting away and going on a road trip down Highway One would be a nice trip to clear my head of things.”

Kelly continued with the questions. “Wow. It must be nice you can just take off when you want, like that. What do you do for a living?”

“Well,” Tyler grins while answering, “Nothing, now. That’s one of the things that happened to me. I got fired.”

Both James and Kelly sigh. Tyler is starting to feel uncomfortable talking mostly about himself and receiving unwarranted pity points when this couple had just gotten engaged. “So, enough about me. I didn’t come here to talk about my problems.”

“Well, Tyler,” James continues, “I hope everything works out for you. Are you staying here in Santa Cruz?”

“Yeah, I’m just a few blocks away at the Fireside Inn. I thought I’d head back and play a few songs on my guitar before crashing for the night.”

“Oh, you play the guitar?” Kelly says.

“Yeah, that’s actually what I am trying to do full time. I’ve put a couple of CDs out, and I used to have a place in Benicia that I would play at all the time. But it sounds like they have canceled all my gigs there.”

“That sucks about loosing your venue to play in,” James says.

“Yeah, it’s actually The Old Tavern, you were just mentioning,” Tyler says. “Who knows. Maybe you saw me playing when you were there.”

“Wow, what are the chances of that?” James says. “I have an idea. Are you here tomorrow night?”

“Well,” Tyler responds, “I wasn’t planning on it. But I guess I could be if I had a reason to stay.”

“How would you like to do a set at my restaurant? I’ll pay you for your time. I’m sure you could use a little extra cash now that you’re unemployed.”

Tyler is flattered but does not want to intrude on their plans. “Thanks, but I don’t want you to change your plans just for me.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” James says. “It’s normally our open mic night. You won’t be changing anything up. Come on. You have to play.”

“Okay.” Tyler agrees. “That sounds great. It will give me a chance to get in the groove again. Try to forget about things, if you know what I mean.”

“Perfect,” James takes a pen out and writes down the name and address of the restaurant. “I’ll see you around 7. Does that work?”

“Yeah, that’ll be fine. I’ll see you then.”

Tyler cannot believe it. One day on the road, and he has already booked a gig. He returned to his hotel, made arrangements to stay another day, and then went back to his room to go to bed. It had been a long day, and he needed some good sleep.

* * *

The next morning when Tyler woke up, he had an urge to call Karen but decided not to. He still could not believe the string of events over the last couple of days. Instead, Tyler picked up his phone and decided to call Robert. After all, he still thought Tyler was headed to visit his mom in Nevada County. He had no idea that Tyler decided to head south instead.

Just as Tyler was getting ready to make the phone call, the phone in his room began to ring. He answered. “Hello?”

“Tyler,” He recognized the voice. It was James from the restaurant last night. “This is James. I hope I didn’t wake you.”

Tyler was still wiping sleep from his eyes, “No, it’s all good.”

“Hey,” James continued, “Me and Kelly are headed to the restaurant this morning to pick up a few things. I thought maybe you would like to see where you will be playing tonight. Maybe do a soundcheck or something.”

Tyler was starting to wonder what kind of place this restaurant was. Soundcheck? Seriously? “Sure. I guess I can do that,” he responded.

“Great! Kelly and I will meet you in front of your hotel in about an hour.” James sounded excited. “We’ll see you then.”

Tyler hangs up the phone and heads to the shower. At least he now knows what he will be doing this morning.

After getting ready and waiting for that hour to pass, Tyler grabbed his guitar and headed to the hotel’s lobby to meet James and Kelly.

When Tyler got to the lobby, his eyes were fixated on a beautiful, mint condition, 1955 red Packard convertible. And to his amazement, James was sitting in the driver’s seat with Kelly right next to him. Tyler was now getting nervous. He started to ask himself who this guy was and why was he so nice to him? And more importantly, was Tyler going to provide the talent that James is looking for tonight? “Wow,” Tyler exclaimed as he approached the car. “What an awesome car.”

“Tyler!” James removes himself from the vehicle. “What? This old thing.” James starts to laugh while he moves the seat forward so Tyler could get in the back. “How are you doing today?”

“Pretty good,” Tyler responds as he placed his guitar on the seat next to him in the back. “Looks like we’re headed to your restaurant in style.”

“Not quite yet,” Kelly says with a smile. “We’ll do that tonight when we bring our classic Bentley. James loves his classic cars. He has three in total.”

“Now, now, Kell. We don’t want to bore Tyler with that.” James was making his attempt to change the subject back to Tyler. “This will be a short drive. We’re not too far from the restaurant from here.”

As they were driving, Tyler noticed James was headed north, away from the beach. “Where’s your restaurant located, James?”

“Ah, you’ll love it,” James said. “It’s right on the San Lorenzo River.”

Tyler knew about the river and was now getting excited. The nightlife along the river was just as good as on the boardwalk, if not better.

Sure enough, it only took a few minutes to arrive. Tyler could not believe his eyes. As they pulled into the parking lot, he was drawn to a two-story restaurant with wood siding. In bright blue letters was a sign that read “Paradise Pub & Grill.” Tyler had heard of this spot from some of the other entertainers in Benicia. They raved about it, saying it was one of the best places to perform in Santa Cruz. And now, here he is being given an invitation to play there.

James pulled the Packard into the reserved parking spot, exited the vehicle, and let Tyler out. “Normally, we have open mic night on Tuesdays. But I’ll inform Buddy, our manager, that you will be doing your full set. You can play as long as you want.” Tyler could not believe what was happening. And all because he bought the couple a drink after they got engaged. Tyler grabbed his guitar and exited the car, trying not to act overly excited. “Paradise Pub, huh? I’ve heard of this. A few of my friends in Benicia have played here.”

“Really? Did you hear that, Kell? We’re known in Benicia, California.” Kelly tried not to laugh too loud.

Tyler knew that this place was known throughout the state, much less the country. He realized what he had said was almost an insult.

Tyler followed James and Kelly to the entrance, where James unlocked the door and quickly walked in. He went directly to the alarm panel to disarm it. “Let me get the lights on, and you can see what the setup is like.” James disappeared down the hallway.

Kelly approached Tyler. “James is such a generous man.” She said. “He was extremely touched when you bought us a drink last night. James thinks that generosity is a lost virtue that is fading away with each generation.”

Tyler looks at Kelly. “Interesting. I think the same thing. It just seems like it’s more difficult to find nice people nowadays.”

“Yeah, James says the same thing.”

Everything became illuminated throughout the facility. “LIGHTS ARE ON!” A voice yelled from down the hall.

James reappears next to Kelly and Tyler. “Come on. I’ll show you around.” James led the way, Tyler following close behind. They leave the waiting area into the main dining room.

“Oh my god,” Tyler said to himself. In front of him was about a hundred and fifty tables. In the back against the wall was a vast stage. Large enough to hold a ten-piece band and all their equipment. The lighting was illuminating the scene in a way that made it appear as if someone more popular was playing tonight. Tyler started to feel as if he was not worthy of meeting James and Kelly, much less being invited to play at the Paradise.

To the far right of the dining area, almost the entire wall was a well-stocked bar that could probably make any drink you could possibly think of, and more.

“Tyler, over here.” While Tyler was admiring the place, James had moved toward the stage. They both walk up the stairs together. “Do you want a chair or something to sit on?” James asked.

“Yeah,” Tyler answered. “Maybe like a bar stool.” “No problem.” James went backstage and reappeared with a stool for Tyler. “Will this do?”

“That’s perfect. Thanks.” Tyler sits down to make sure it was the right height for him.

“I’m assuming you’re familiar with a soundboard?” James asks. He starts walking just off stage left. “I know nothing about this stuff. So, I’m hoping you do.”

Tyler follows James. “Yeah, I know how to use this. No problem.”

James smiles. “Okay. She’s all yours. Kell and I are going to take care of a few things in the kitchen. Have fun setting things up the way you want.”

“Thanks, James.” Tyler moves back to the stage. He locates a mic and stand just to the rear of the stage, and brings them upfront. He adjusts the height and heads back to the soundboard to do the initial setup.

Once he got the sound all situated, he went back on stage and took his guitar out. He sat down on the stool and lifted his guitar to strum a few notes to test the sound. It was perfect.

Tyler looked out at all the empty tables and started to imagine what it might be like tonight when they are all filled with people. It would be one of the largest crowds that he would play for. To warm up, Tyler leads off with one of his more popular songs. As he started, a spotlight turned on from the back of the room and shown on Tyler. It startled him, and he stopped playing.

“YOU SOUND AWESOME,” Kelly yelled from the spotlight location.

Tyler lifted his hand to wave thanks. James reappears in front of the stage. “Dude, you sound great. How long have you been playing?”

“Thanks,” Tyler responded, “About forty years. My dad taught me how to play when I was just a little kid.”

“That’s awesome.” James wanted to hear more. “I’m just going to sit over here and listen for a bit. Please, continue.” James walks over to a nearby table and sits down.

Tyler starts the song over again, this time with Kelly working the spot. At the end of the song, James stands up and applauds. “That was great. I can’t wait for tonight.” James heads to the front of the stage again. “Kell and I are done, so whenever you’re ready. And please, take your time. You sound great. I’m just going to sit here and enjoy the private show.”

“Okay, thanks,” Tyler responds. “Maybe one more song. Just to make sure it sounds alright.”

“Not a problem.” For the next song, Kelly decides to shut the spotlight off and joined James at the table.

“Since you’re both here,” Tyler says, “I have a special song for you. It’s called ‘Lost in a Daydream.’” he starts to play the song.

While performing, he noticed Kelly smiling and holding on to James’ hand. They appeared to be living the song. They looked like they were in love.

When Tyler finished, James and Kelly stand up and applaud. “Tyler, that was an amazing song. Thank you for singing that for us.” James turned to Kelly. “I actually said I felt lost in a daydream last night when proposed.”

Kelly was crying. She leaned over to James and gave him a kiss on the lips. Tyler’s heart started to feel all warm inside. He remembers this emotion from the day he met Karen. It was something that he hoped he would feel again someday.

“Tyler,” James started to speak, “If you want, you can leave your guitar here until tonight. I’ve already called Buddy to let him know you will be playing. It’s up to you.”

“Thanks,” Tyler responds. “I was actually thinking of taking it down to the boardwalk and seeing if I can come up with some new songs.”

“That’s awesome.” James looks at Kelly. “That’s dedication for you.”

“Maybe I can let people know where I’m playing tonight.” Tyler said, “Drum up some business for you.”

James laughs. “Better let them know they will be in line for a while. We’re sold out for about a month. And it’s about a two-hour wait to get in. When you get here, you’re going to see this place packed with people. If you include the back patio, it’ll be about 700.”

“Wow.” Tyler puts his guitar in his case. “I guess I better have my A-game ready, then.”

“Don’t worry. You sound great. You’ll do fine.” James said.

Everyone turns and heads back to the car.

James looks at Tyler, “Do you want us to drop you off at your hotel or the boardwalk?”

“Let’s do the boardwalk. Then I can find a nice spot and still have time to rest before tonight.”

“Sounds good.” James drops Tyler off at the boardwalk, as requested. “Do you want us to pick you up at your hotel or here?”

“The hotel would be great,” Tyler said. “I’m going to have to change and get all prettied up.”

They laugh, “Okay. We’ll see you around six.”

“Sounds good,” Tyler says. They wave, and James drives off.

Tyler walks over near the carousel on the boardwalk and finds a bench. He unpacks his guitar and starts to play some random tunes.

People would walk by and smile. Some would even stop and tell him how good he sounds. One man took out a five-dollar bill and asked Tyler where he was supposed to put it since there was no place to put any tips – Tyer decided to open his guitar case and placed the five in there. Within minutes, he was starting to collect some well-deserved cash.

After a couple of hours, Tyler was ready to head back to the hotel to get some rest before the show. He packed up his tips and put his guitar away. Just before he closed the case up, he heard a voice.

“Excuse me,” a woman said, walking towards him. “I’ve been watching you for the last half-hour. You sound fantastic.”

Tyler stands and looks towards the voice. It belonged to a young, petite blonde. Extremely cute, dressed in business-casual attire. “Thanks,” he responded.

She hands Tyler a business card. “My name is Vicki. I’m a promotional event manager here in Santa Cruz. I was hoping we could talk for a few minutes.”

Tyler did not want to say no. However, in the back of his mind, he could not help but think about the last girl that asked him to talk. Four cops jumped from the bushes and arrested him. But his inability to say no to cute event promotional managers was just too strong for him to resist. “Hi. My name is Tyler. Sure. I have a few minutes.”

They sit down on the bench. “Part of my job is to book entertainers for some of the events here in Santa Cruz.” Vicki pulls a planner out of her purse. “I was wondering if you would be available to perform for some of them?”

“Well, Vicki, I’m not actually from around here. I’m only visiting for a day or two.” Tyler’s mind was now wondering if he could move to Santa Cruz. One day in this town, and he has a gig and a connection to more bookings. “But I can keep your card and let you know when I’m in town.”

Vicki’s shoulders drop in disappointment. “That would be great. When are you leaving town?”

“I’m headed out tomorrow morning.” Tyler put her card in his wallet. “I’m playing tonight at the Paradise Pub if you want to come by?”

“Oh, I love that place.” Vicki was excited to hear Tyler in a more formal setting. She was even more excited since she knew The Paradise did not just book anyone. They only book the best. And if Tyler was playing there, he must be good. “What time are you playing?”

“The show starts at seven,” Tyler responds.

“Fantastic! I’ll be there.” Vicki put her planner away.

They shook hands and parted ways.

* * *

Later that afternoon, Tyler was putting the final touches on his attire for his gig. Good thing he decided to pack some nice clothes for the road trip. Because you just never know.

Tyler grabs his guitar and walks down to the front of the hotel. Sure enough, James and Kelly were already there in a primo, black and silver 1954 Bentley convertible. Once again, Tyler is in awe. James and Kelly were dressed to the nines, and Tyler was starting to think he was underdressed for the occasion.

“Good evening, fine sir!” James opens the door for Tyler.

“Oh my gosh. This car is awesome!” As Tyler is getting in the car, he noticed about a dozen spectators looking at him. They were trying to figure out who the “famous” person was. “I have to admit, you guys are spoiling me.”

James gets into the driver’s seat and closes the door. “Glad to know it. And I’m glad you think so.” James starts to drive away. “I believe everyone should feel spoiled once in a while.”

As they were pulling out of the hotel’s driveway, Tyler noticed the small crowd still watching. For the first time, he felt like he was somebody famous.

James looks in the rear-view mirror at Tyler. “So, are you ready for tonight?”

“Oh, yes. I think this is going to be fun.” Tyler said. “Oh, and I did invite one person to come to the show. I hope that’s okay?”

“Of course, it is,” James said. “Anyone we might know?”

“Her name is Vicki. An event manager, or something like that.” Tyler could not remember her full title.

James’ eyes got big. “Vicki Evans? Short blonde. Real cute?”

“Yeah, that’s her,” Tyler said.

“She’s one of the biggest event promoters in the area. If there’s a big event happening, usually she is involved. You’re lucky to have met her.” James was excited for Tyler.

“Wow!” Tyler responded, surprisingly. “I had no idea. I hope you have room for her tonight?”

“Of course. Vicki has her own booth. I think that it’s great that she’ll be there. That’s an awesome find for you. You’ll always have a place to play when you’re in town if she’s on your side.”

Tyler’s mood was going from good to great now. He could see many big things starting to happen. He was excited that he decided to head down Highway One instead of visiting his mother.

They arrive at the restaurant. Tyler notices the parking lot is almost entirely full, and there is a line of people waiting to get inside. “Wow. Is it always like this?” Tyler asked.

James pulled his Bentley to the front entrance. “Yeah, pretty much. We lucked out with this one.”

A valet runs to each side of the car and opens the doors. They knew exactly who was in this car and were aware of treating them well.

Tyler exits the vehicle with his guitar. And again, everyone looking to see who is getting out. Tyler could tell that the guitar was giving him away as the entertainer for the night. He could not understand what the crowd was saying. All Tyler heard was mumbling and a lot of points with their fingers. He noticed some flashes from camera phones going off. “This feels good.” He thought to himself.

As they entered through the main entrance, James directed Tyler to the backstage area. “Tyler, this is Buddy.” James tapped Buddy on the shoulder to make him turn around. “Buddy, Tyler. Tyler, Buddy. Buddy’s our stage manager. If you need anything, you let him know.”

James turns to Buddy, “Buddy. Make this guy feel like a star. Because in my books, he is. Take good care of him.”

“Yes, sir, Mr. James,” Buddy responded with a big smile.

Buddy turns towards Tyler. “Mr. Tyler. If you need anything, you tell me, kay?”

Buddy was a short, stocky older man who talked with a strong Spanish accent. He tries to comb over his big bald head with the few strands of hair he has on each side of his scalp. He looks like he fell out of a scene from Lucille Ball with his fifties attire.

“Thanks, Buddy,” Tyler responded to him. “I was here earlier with James and did a soundcheck. I think we should be good to go.”

“Excellent, Mr. Tyler.” Buddy smiles. “How about the lights? What kind of lighting do you need?”

Tyler is clueless about the lighting. He tells him to put it the way it was before – Blue background with a spotlight.

James returns. “Tyler, Vicki just got here and asked if you would like to join her before your set.”

“Sure,” Tyler said. He put his guitar case down, left it in charge with Buddy, and followed James to Vicki’s booth.

“Tyler!” Vicki yells as he and James approach. “Would you like to join me for a pre-show drink?”

Tyler sits down, “Sure. I can do that.”

James played the good host and asked what Tyler wanted to drink.

“Whiskey, neat,” he responds.

James leaves to retrieve the drinks.

Tyler is puzzled that James did not ask Vicki for a drink order. “Aren’t you having anything?”

“Oh, yes. James knows what I drink.”

Suddenly, Tyler realizes that he has found himself in the middle of the Santa Cruz entertainment circle. A little bit of anxiety is starting to show on his face.

Before he knew it, James returned with a double-shot of Larue Weller for Tyler and a vodka martini for Vicki, with three olives. James was about to leave when Vicki said, “James, where are you going? Sit. Join us.”

“I will,” James said, “I’m just going to get Kell, and we’ll be right back.”

Vicki turns her attention to Tyler, “So, Tyler, Are you ready for tonight?”

“About as ready as I’ll ever be, I guess.” Tyler was a bit nervous but did not want Vicki to see.

A few minutes later, James and Kelly arrive and sit down. James raises a glass. “Tyler, I hope you knock ’em dead tonight.”

Everyone cheers with their drinks.

A few minutes later, Buddy shows up at the table. “Mr. Tyler. Ten minutes until showtime.”

“Thanks, Buddy.” Tyler takes one last drink of his whiskey. “Okay, everyone. Looks like I’m on. I’ll see you after my set.”

Everyone smiles. Vicki yells, “Break a leg, Tyler,” and she takes a sip of her martini.

Tyler meets Buddy backstage, where he gets his guitar ready. “Mr. Tyler. You do great tonight! You knock ’em dead.”

“Thanks, Buddy.” Tyler cannot believe how friendly everyone is being. Buddy heads to the control panel and dims the house lights. Moments later, you hear a voice overhead. “Ladies and gentlemen, Tyler Bishop.”

The crowd claps. Tyler approaches the center stage. The spotlight gently lights him up, and he starts to play.

* * *

After a forty-five-minute set, Tyler thanks the crowd. To his amazement, everyone stands and cheers. Tyler walks off-stage, where he is met by Buddy. “Mr. Tyler. They love you. They want more. Encore?”

Tyler was caught off guard momentarily, “Yep. Let me think of a song.” Moments later, Tyler reappears in the center of the stage. “Thank you. You’re too kind. This is a new song. I just wrote this one this afternoon sitting at the beach. It’s called ‘Coastal Party.’ I hope you like it.”

Tyler plays one more song and gives the crowd another thank you. The cheers from everyone energizes Tyler, and he does not want it to end.

He returns to the booth with James, Kelly, and Vicki. Several people congratulating him on the way. He sits down with a big smile on his face, “Wow, that was fun.”

“Tyler,” James chimes in, “That was fantastic. You are welcome here anytime.”

Vicki raises her martini glass, “That is why I want your number. They love you, Tyler.”

The rest of the evening was spent listening to other musicians play during the open mic night and getting to know everyone better. Tyler did not want this evening to end.

* * *

At the end of the night, everyone started saying their good-byes. Vicki made sure that Tyler would stay in touch and got his phone number. He said he would be in touch the next time he was in Santa Cruz.

As Tyler was heading to the car to be driven back to the hotel in style, several people stopped him and asked for an autograph. He obliged them all.

As Tyler entered the back seat of the Bentley, James commented, “Pretty good night, huh? You did great. I really want you to come back and play. That crowd loved you.”

“Thanks,” Tyler said, “I will definitely be back. This was awesome. Thanks again for letting me do this. I really appreciate it.”

“Anytime, Tyler.” James pulls into the driveway of the hotel. “Here we are. I hope the rest of your road trip is as good as these couple of days have been. You take care.”

Tyler exits the car. “Thanks. And I will be in touch. You guys have been great.”

Tyler waves good-bye as they drive away. He still cannot believe what a great night it has been. Time to head back to the room and enter something in the journal to record these past twenty-four hours.

After meeting Dave Tittle on the beach in Half Moon Bay, I drove to Santa Cruz, where I planned on staying the night. Sometimes, things do not go the way you think they will.

While having a beer at one of the local restaurants by the wharf, I witnessed a couple get engaged. I was touched by the honesty and how devoted they sounded that I felt compelled to buy them a drink to congratulate them on their new venture. Little did I know, those few dollars for the beverages would change this entire trip in Santa Cruz.

The couple ended up being James and Kelly, owners of the Paradise Bar and Grill in Santa Cruz. I mentioned to them that I was a musician, and they invited me to play at their restaurant. But it ended up being much more than any other music set that I have ever done.

James and Kelly made me feel like I was a star. They made me feel like I was somebody. I will never be so grateful to any other couple than to them.

While playing my set, I could tell the crowd loved me. I ended up doing an encore, where I performed a new song that I had just written called “Coastal Party.” I wrote that when I was down by the beach that afternoon.

Speaking of that afternoon, that is where I met Vicki, a promotional event manager. She and James knew each other well, I would come to find out. And she wants me to stay in touch to play at some of her events in the Santa Cruz area.

I’ve learned that the smallest of good deeds can often have an unexpected return. I found out that generosity could make even the smallest of people feel like they are loved. And I learned that you should always treat others like they are the most important person to you at that moment. Because there is a good chance they are, or one day they will be.

I leave Santa Cruz tomorrow morning. My next stop will be Monterey. I can’t wait to see what else this journey will teach me.

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