Pay: $33. Merch: $53. Gas: $89. Hotel: $90

8/19 Houston, Texas

Warehouse Live is a big, cavernous place, even in the smaller room where we were supposed to perform. At the beginning of the show, while the local band played, the scene resembled a high school dance, with everyone sitting in chairs along the walls of this square room. By the time we got onstage, it had filled in and turned into a great night, as evidenced by higher than usual merch sales. This was Astra Heights' hometown, so everyone stayed after the show, talking and drinking. At about 2:30 a.m. we got started loading the vans. That night we stayed with an uncle of Pipe's, and like any good Latin family, his household was loud and superhospitable. When we rolled up at 3 a.m., the whole family got up to say hello. They had prepared for us homemade paella, which we ate happily. After the feast — which included Chilean wine and guava cookies — they gave us their beds to sleep in. Johnny got Pipe's little cousin's pink room. She asked him politely, "Do you feel comfortable with pink?" Johnny was very happy to have a bed, no matter what color. You just can't beat family.

Pay: $167. Merch: $93. Gas: $53. Hotel: $0

8/20 Manhattan, Kansas

After two hours of sleep we got back in the van and drove 13 hours to Manhattan, Kansas, alternating naps on the floor. It was painful. By the time we got there we didn't even want to play the show, but with the help of a $30 bar tab, we struggled through. We met some cool people there who really appreciate musicians, from an army kid with a punk heart (he recommended a Ukrainian punk band) to a very nice, older Midwestern guy who bought our vinyl and gave us some words of wisdom and inspiration. In the end, Kansas was fun and full of humble, awesome people. We capped it off by partying at the hotel room with Astra Heights until 4 a.m. And, excluding Mexico, Kansas had the lowest gas prices so far: $3.48 a gallon. Of course, you need a whole lot of it to get there!

Pay: $150. Merch: $43. Gas: $133. Hotel: $80

8/22 Chicago, Illinois

The easternmost stop of the Circo Rocktastico tour put us in the Metro, a classic Chicago venue with a killer stage and a professional staff. Quite a change from all those cozy little bars. We had to load in really early to avoid traffic from the Cubs game across the street, but they had plenty of couches and beer downstairs, so we made ourselves at home and felt like rock stars for the afternoon. Cat sneaked out among the swarming baseball fans for a Cubs T-shirt and Pipe found himself a Chicago hot dog. Once again, we loaded out at 2 a.m., tired and spent. We stayed at our friend's loft nearby, where he and his girlfriend were waiting for us with cookies and OJ! The next morning it was so hot we woke up to find Rob curled up under a desk just to be near the air conditioner. Johnny was already up, enjoying an excellent homemade breakfast and telling stories about being hung over.

Pay: $200. Merch: $10. Gas: $123. Hotel (on the way to Chicago): $70

Okay, let's add it up:

Total pay for eight shows: $994

Plus merch: $344

Minus gas: $793

Minus hotels: $240

Which leaves $305 to feed four people for eleven days — a little under $7 per person per day. Taco Bell, anyone?

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