West Coast tour blog #1

It’s hard to pack for three weeks.

There isn’t much room in our glamorous tour vehicle for two—Toni’s Saturn Ion, affectionately named Ian, whose gas mileage was just too good to pass up. So we pack for a week and hope we can hit up a laundry mat at some point. I realize within the first hour of driving that I forgot to pack a book and fear that I’ll end up buying some terrible dime store novel at a gas station at some point on the trip. Toni devours her philosophy primer in her stints in the passenger seat as though it’s light reading when it’s anything but.

There are a lot of sleepy miles from Minneapolis to Denver. Nebraska’s green and yellow crops streak by in a hypnotic blur for hours and hours. Toni does jumping jacks at every Super America and BP stop, and I spit sunflower seeds into a cup to stay awake. Finally, just when the alphabet game has lost its charm and we seem to have talked about everything under the sun, the Rockies, tiny and blue at first, begin to sprout on the horizon. I love Colorado, and the payoff of the first glimpse at the mountains is always worth the long slog through the Midwest.

Our Denver show was packed; there must have been 250-300 people there. I’m assuming they were mostly there to see the other bands (two bluegrass groups from the area) but there were a cluster of dancing fools up in front who knew all the words to “Pretty Lie” and “Stay Away from Me, Love” which is quite a feeling. That’s something you don’t get over, I think. That surreal moment when you see strangers’ mouths forming words that used to be very private and personal, and you realize the songs aren’t just yours anymore. They describe other people’s lives in some way, so you share them now. It’s beautiful.

After Denver, we had two days off, so Toni suggested we cross an item off of her bucket list and camp in Arches national park near Moab all weekend. We drove in at night so all the mountains and rock formations were just silhouettes in the moonlight. The thing about driving in at night is that when you wake up in the morning it takes your breath away. Everything is suddenly there… the rippled red rocks against an impossibly blue sky, the strangeness of the shapes. It was almost too much for our eyes to take in when we stepped out of the tent. Neither of us said anything; we had no words for how gorgeous it was. I’ll put a picture here, but it does a bad job of conveying the magic of that place. Go there, if you haven’t. Just buy a plane ticket and go one day. What a gift, to be able to stand in that place and wonder!

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Salt Lake City show was last night in a dive bar called Burt’s Tiki Lounge. It was a complete hole in the wall, plastered with all kinds of quirky, sometimes creepy, art, but the fans there made us feel like we were in a home away from home. They were so attentive and kind. Since it was a Sunday and there were so few people there, I got to meet every one of them and get to know a little about their lives. They met each other too; we had a little social hour after the show where everybody just talked to each other over a beer.

On our way to Boise now as I type this on Toni’s laptop at the peak of an espresso high. Toni is shimmying to the CD of Indian classical music we picked up on our last stop. We’re both well slept and giddy, and we’ve got a full tank of gas. Onward!