We began the Summer with a journey from Santa Fe to New York City for the 45 year reunion of the Graduates of Performing Arts High School. Rather than brave the strip-search at the airport and worrying about my guitar in the hold for the entire trip, we decided to make it an extended vacation by car. This was a mixed blessing at best.
As we worked our way across Oklahoma behind the second deadly weather front of the Summer, the devastation was daunting. It is most unnerving to see a plaster wall standing in the middle of nowhere and then to realize with a start that it used to be surrounded by a house. We continued on to Little Rock for a visit to the Clinton library, but the ghost of Tornadoes past seemed to haunt us in the rearview mirror.
After a stop in Nashville to play some music and visit with friends we continued the journey, turning North at Knoxville. That’s where we met the deluge. From Knoxville all the way up to the New Jersey border, it was blinding rain, long accident-related backups and hanging on to the steering wheel for dear life as the wind buffeted us as if we were a toy.
Visiting with friends, many of whom I’d not seen face to face in 45 years was truly a joy. Performing for them was that much more special. We toasted friends departed and celebrated those who’ve survived ’til now.
Too soon, it was time to go. We stopped in Woodstock to recharge the Catskill mountain memories, but the weather was mostly uncooperative. Then all the trouble lights went on.
When one has over 180,000 miles on a vehicle these things shouldn’t be a surprise but, in truth, it was. The good news was we could drive home; the bad news was that probably due to rainwater mixed into the gas we’d bought along the way, one of the catalytic converters had burned out. This was bad news indeed, but with the silver lining that we could continue our trip and deal with it when we got home. Still, it’s less fun driving the highways and byways with a dashboard full of yellow lights flashing at you.
We tried to brighten our spirits with a visit to Niagara Falls. It was the first time either of us had ever left the country, but we were armed with our new passports and so, we joined the unending line of visitors crossing into Canada at the rainbow bridge. It felt stranger than we expected, being in a country that was, at once, familiar yet, at the same time, foreign; a bit exhilarating and intimidating. But the falls were everything we had hoped and, bathed in the spray from the horseshoe falls from the deck of the Maid of the Mist one experienced the awesome power that is nature. So glad to have done it.
Our trip home was uneventful, other than the caution-lit dashboard until the outskirts of Oklahoma City. There, dead ahead was a huge black supercell. A fortuitous error took us off the main highway into OKC, steering us instead to the south of the city and to the southern side of the supercell. Still, the rain was horrendous and the quarter-sized hail denting the roof and hood, positively daunting. Looking up, we sighted a wall of high clouds beneath the supercell, suddenly beginning a slow rotation. All I could think of was Jeff Goldblum in “Independence Day” and “Jurassic Park” saying, “Must go Faster. Must go Faster.”
Thankfully, the cyclone didn’t descend and, driving at speeds I dare not mention, we got out from under it. But it certainly gives one pause. Perhaps we ought to keep our visits to Oklahoma limited to the Winter months.
With that trip behind me, I look forward to “The Conference Season.” We folk musicians reserve the Autumn months to get together in conferences across the country. September will be Austin TX and October will be Irvine CA then St. Louis MO. It’s a chance to catch up on the latest trends in the industry, catch up on gossip over breakfasts and catch up on what each of us have been doing. After all, it’s rare that we actually get to hear each other as we are usually working at the same time as the other person is working. So I look forward to the kind to experiences had by anyone who has gone to a conference or a trade show. But I also look forward to sharing the joy of music with friends that keeps us doing what we’re doing.