I left off last time at the hotel in Roseburg, Oregon. The next day we headed into Eugene. We had a radio appearance set up there and a show a couple of days later. We met up with Carolyn, a friend of Joanne Rand’s in Arcata, California, who was kind enough to put us up for the night. My dad and I spent part of the afternoon walking around downtown Eugene. I like it. Eugene is a very mellow, friendly town. There’s a hippie element.
Oregon is a beautiful place. The next day we headed over to Bend. Sorry, hang on…
July 4, 2012. OK, so I just decided I was totally not in the mood for that on the 2nd. But it’s kind of funny to me to leave that there. So I did.
My dad and I drove into Eugene on an off night, but we had an opportunity to do some radio there ahead of the show at Tsunami Books, and we had a friend to stay with: Carolyn. We took care of business, explored Eugene a little bit, and headed back to Carolyn’s for dinner.
The next day we rolled towards Bend. We had a house concert there in Tumalo the day after that, and radio to do that evening. Our hosts for the concert, Maggie and Scott, were wonderful. It was a very nice, very attentive crowd which was also full of other musicians. The show was partly a benefit for a local bluegrass society. It was a good night, in a beautiful setting.
The next day it was back to Eugene and Carolyn’s. We did the show at Tsunami Books. They were a charming and appreciative audience. The book store was a great setting. If you’re ever in Eugene, you should get by there.
From Eugene we headed to Portland. It rained the whole way. Some accommodations that technically could have worked for both of us had been arranged, but after seeing it, I opted for a room. I was sick of the rain, road weary, in a weird mood, and the closest cheap place was another Motel 6 from hell. We’d had pretty good luck lately, but this one was crap. It just felt scuzzy. To top it off, before I leave to pick up my dad at the other place to go to the gig, I get in this minor argument with a friend on the phone. That raises the level of suck in my day. I’m just not in a good space.
I pick up my dad, we go find the house concert, and load in, talk to a few folks, and hang out a bit. We actually have a few friends in this crowd, which is always nice. I get perked up and start my set and immediately, looking out at this crowd, I felt re-energized and I knew it was going to be a magical evening.
Here’s the quandary: How do you talk about how incredible one crowd was in one place without making some other crowd feel like they weren’t in another. I’ll try to explain it. Sometimes there are just nights where the right combination of things just line up in some cosmic fashion and you start firing on all cylinders. Everything works. Not just you, but also the crowd. You’re on your game and in your prime. The singing, the playing, the timing on the jokes, the execution of the stories, and they’re getting it, too. And you can see it, you can tell it, and a tangible energy builds that just keeps feeding you, so you keep pouring it all out, putting everything you’ve got into every song. It’s an amazingly uplifting place to be. It makes it all worth it. It will make you forget those shitty days, like the one I was having. Thank you, Portland. I needed that.
By really early the next morning, the rain had stopped, I’d had some rest, my friend and I fixed the rift, and it was all good again. “This too shall pass.” Always. It pays to remember it, but we so rarely do in the heat of the moment.
The next day found us heading for the Seattle area. After we found some rooms and chilled for a bit, we headed over to the house where the show would be. Our host, Dean, was just amazing. He had a great set-up, an incredible spread of food and drink, and a capacity crowd on the way. They were wonderful. The show was great. I can’t say enough good stuff about the experience, really.
We ended up driving all day on 2nd of July. It was time to head east to Idaho. We did go and see the burial place of Chief Joseph in Nespelem, Washington, and almost accidentally, the Grand Coulee Dam.
We weren’t sure where we were staying or going that night. Ultimately on the 3rd we could stay at the nudist resort where we were playing on July 4th. Well, today. Tonight, actually. You see, I am writing this part of the blog while my dad is performing his solo set. I’ve already done mine. Oh… did I just gloss over the nudist resort part? I’m so sorry. Yes. We were booked to play a nudist resort. On the 4th of July. But I’ll get back to that. We still have adventures in Spokane to discuss.
So, yeah, at some point it was decided that we would just drive on into Spokane, Washington after our tourist adventures on July 2nd. For one thing, it put us really close to the nudist resort. Like within an hour. Secondly, we could be in a real city to more readily and easily grab any supplies we might need.
We rolled into west Spokane and found a cheap motel. Certainly nothing special. We enquired the desk clerk about the location of some civilization, and he pointed us down the hill. We ventured out for some stuff, and ended up asking the checkout crew at this grocery store where a good place to eat was. They told us Dick’s. (Watch out, that may be a theme here.) Dick’s is apparently a famous place. It looked old. It was cheap. It was old school. Not going to act like it was great, but it scratches a certain nostalgic itch.
Now Spokane is laid out in a highly screwed up manner, in my humble opinion. The layout is made up of all of these one-way streets and just confusing as hell lane changes, turn-offs, exits, and medians blocking you from doing what would make sense. Just kind of frustrating for someone who isn’t used to it. We had to circle the block several times to get to places from missing the turns.
On the way back the motel we encountered one of these things and missed an off ramp that wasn’t marked and which the GPS didn’t seem to recognize or warn us about either. (The GPS is another story.) I let the GPS reroute and it took us on this bizarro world detour from hell. Through these dark roads in these fucked up little residential areas.
But on one of the first turns we went down this dark, narrow road and I see someone walking on the opposite side of the street. As we get closer he changes his trajectory and is walking directly toward the car. I slightly swerve to the right and fake him out and go on by him. No telling what he wanted, but Spokane in general kind of felt like a good place to be for crack whores, street walkers and repeat offenders. I shudder to think. We finally get back to the hotel with our Dick’s. (Did you see what I did there?)
The next morning we get packed up and head towards the nudist resort where we arrive about 2:00 in the afternoon of July 3.
It’s a little weird at first, encountering your first nudist, but you get used to it pretty quickly. Americans are way too squeamish about this stuff. It’s completely silly. They’re just body parts, folks. I’m not suggesting it’s not a little surreal at first, but they were really lovely people, and I felt very comfortable and peaceful there. I did find myself staying in my room a lot, but what really struck me from a sociological and cultural perspective is that very quickly I found I was the one feeling self-conscious for having clothes on, which I think was partly why I hibernated a lot that first day. That and the fact that it was peaceful, and I needed some peaceful. I was beat down like never before. So tired. For quite some time I could perk up for the shows, but the rest of the day I was dour and dragging.
They fed us a late lunch, and after that, I essentially crashed and burned. I went into my room and watched “X-Files” on Netflix for hours, pretty much only coming out to eat dinner. I went to bed around 10 PM, woke up briefly and texted with someone back east, and went back to sleep off and on til about 10 AM. And, sure enough, I felt a little better.
I mingled more, as a result. We did sound check early because folks were going to be trickling in throughout the afternoon. After that, my dad and I went into Coeur d’Alene, a town about 30 miles away. Seemed like a pretty hip place. They had some interesting shops and stores that smacked of a pretty progressive and creative community.
When we got back there were lots of people at the resort. And more kept showing up. Then… it was dinner time. By the time we ate and had some conversation with the people at our table, it was time to get ready for the show. The place was actually pretty full for the 4th of July in the middle of the week. I did my solo set and came in here and started working on this, but now I’m finishing and adding in things after the whole show, so it’s this whole confusing time travel paradox thing that I’m going to have to fix somehow so this damn thing makes any sense at all.
The nudists were very nice folks. I really did enjoy myself, even with clothes on. And they had a huge and impressive fireworks display after the show.
Months ago when my dad initially asked me about this one, he was unsure. I said, “What the hell? It’ll be a new experience.” I mean, really! You might as well do these things.
The bottom line is that, sure, it was a little odd at first, but you got used to it. And then you felt strange for wearing clothes. But they were awesome hosts, great people, and it was an experience I will never forget.
Briefly, the GPS story…
I have about a 4 year old Magellan GPS. It was high dollar at the time. It has served me well. However, I think it’s reaching the end of its life expectancy. It has gotten a little quirky on this tour. It annoys the hell out of my dad, who thinks I put way too much faith in it, but it has rarely steered me wrong in the past. But it’s becoming a liability just lately. Not always, but often at the most inopportune moments, it decides it doesn’t know what to do, or becomes hung up and doesn’t give you the next turn until you’re right on top of it or just past it. I hate to replace it, but I’m afraid I will have to do that soon.
So now we’re rolling down Highway 200 in Montana, towards Great Falls. More soon.