Greetings from the road. Current location: Little Rock, AR. Current weather: Cloudy, humid, hot and heavy. Current mood: Awake
Dear Tour Diary,
Four weeks ago, we embarked on yet another tour unknowing of the adventures we’d find or of the memories it’d yield. Over 6,000 miles later, with 15 states and 42 $5 footlongs under our belt (figuratively and literally), we find ourselves 2 shows away from the end of this glorious run. So here we are now. Hair has gotten longer. Friendships have been strengthened (for both inter/intra-band relations). Patience has been tested. Sleep has been deprived. Voices have been nurtured. And oil has been changed.
This week’s post pays homage to all those who have helped us along the way in making our cross-country experience that much more fun, more nourishing, and more easy on our band bank account. I started thinking about this shortly after an experience we had as we approached New Orleans.
Brenda (our tour van for those of you just joining us) has been wonderful on this trip. She doesn’t complain, doesn’t ask for much. We don’t always treat her right with the trash that we leave or the lack of grace we show in loading and unloading our equipment, sometimes defacing her both internally and externally. And yet, there she is. Just there for us whenever we need her. Unfortunately, she was pushed to the limit as we approached New Orleans a few days ago and ruptured a valve about 15 miles outside the city.
Lo and behold, tempers flared as indicated by the temperature gauge and we had no choice but to pull over to assess the situation (a.ka. panic). Then out of nowhere, just outside the City of Saints, a man in a yellow van pulls onto the median of the highway going in the opposite direction and asks how he can help.
Side note: Now, I’m not usually an optimistic person. It’s not that I expect the worst all the time, but it helps me manage my expectations in this crazy world. I mean, come on, just look up today’s headlines and you’ll find more than enough examples of why this world is crazy screwed up. But my outlook on life has been seriously challenged on this trip.
Kike (Kee-kay) is his name. A fellow musician, he spends his days helping stranded travelers on the road while leading a 13-piece jazz band at nights. His home was destroyed during Katrina and forced him to relocate outside the city. Undoubtedly, hard times have pressed against him. But none of these hardships seemed to prevent Kike from being the brightest shining light that day. After about 30 minutes of diagnosing, Kike was able to Macgyver a solution and send us on our way. As I sat there watching him fix Brenda, I couldn’t help but feel emotional as I saw the lines of stress life had cast on his face get overshadowed by his infectious smile as he recounted story after story of his past youth.
As we drove away from Kike, our newly assigned patron saint of musicians, I felt the urge to revisit my philosophy on life. And then I began thinking about all the other bright lights we have encountered on this trip: Law students from Des Moines and Charlotte, med students in Milwaukee, river rafting guides from Ft. Collins, old friends from Omaha, new friends from Ames, cross-country runners from Scranton, free-spirits from Minneapolis, students from Ypsilanti (sounds made-up I know) and so many more… All of these couch-surfing hosts opened up their homes to us despite their own busy schedules and gave us everything while asking for nothing in return. It really melts my heart, this kindness from strangers.
Anyway, I apologize for the long-winded-ness of this post, but this trip has really taught me that despite all the effed up things we might experience in life, there are so many bright lights out there that help shine the way. And discovering that, and the people I’ve met on this trip, has probably been the best thing about this tour.
Here are the obligatory picture updates of the week:
1. Fun couch-surfing place in Cleveland, OH. I pretended that I left my toothbrush upstairs so that I could go up and down the staircase… twice.
2. We stayed at a farm in Richmond, VA. It was hard for me not to moo.
3. Homemade breakfast in Toledo, OH. The bacon was burnt…. with love. =)
4. Alligator swamplands in Wilmington, NC. To the untrained eye, that looks like harmless shrubbery in the foreground.
5. Bojangles! Home of sweet tea and high cholesterol.
6. Afternoon run in New Orleans, city of saints.
Until next time….