Oh say, can you sleep?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret : Touring on a bus is not for everyone. I have no problem with living on a bus. Just as I am amazed at those who live on aircraft carriers or oil rigs, I suppose you get used to the whole thing. The biggest rule on the bus (OK, 2nd biggest rule, since there is no #2 allowed), is to respect every one else’s space and act accordingly. The most valuable thing we can achieve on the road is decent sleep. If you are a night owl, there may be a time or two when the early riser on the bus wakes you up, as you may also keep up someone who follows Poor Richard’s advice and is early to bed. Either way, if everyone is aware of everyone else, then we all live in peaceful harmony.
I’m not saying it’s always idyllic and serene on a bus. It’s actually more crazy than not, and sleep comes at a premium. Like when we go through a bus wash at 4AM. (Betcha didn’t know we run that beast to a wash to keep it all shiny). Light sleepers also won’t do well on a bus. You’ll probably be awake at every bump, brake, and turn. I will say this, however, the gentle rumble and rocking back and forth of the bus puts me out faster than a parakeet with a black sheet over its cage. So if by chance you will be touring on the ‘sub’ in the near future, and need some advice, hit me up.
I’m up early at home, and I’m usually up (musician-type) relatively early on the road as well. It doesn’t help, however, to have the first day of the run ‘off’. We parked the bus at a sprawling mall, and we weren’t wheels-down until after 2PM, so the day was half over. Somehow I managed to shop for my (still very pregnant) wife, see not one, but 2 20-year + friends, and down a microbrew and a big – ass margarita to boot. Not a bad day off.
The bus rolled to Plymouth, NH, and more specifically to the Flying Monkey, a funky theater on the main drag. We played here a year or two ago, and made their newly-published book of acts (no, not THAT book of Acts). They treat us extremely well in Plymouth, and the quaint town is always worth a good walkabout. Try the French Toast Bagel at the Chase Street Market. And the bell in this tower was purchased by Paul Revere’s son. Fun fact #1.
We then headed upstate to LeRoy, NY for a beautiful outdoor show for the fine people good enough to keep the Canadians in Canada. We stayed on site all day, and Jefferson and I managed a great run in the gentle afternoon. The temperature at showtime was damn near perfect. I had the assistance of a 6 year-old girl to help me wrap my broken finger. It wasn’t much different than when I wrap it. I’m a righty! Give me a break! We met the Morgan Twins, who were very nice, and great singers. And if you listen closely, you can tell them apart. One has an accent. And I also managed to make friends with this Chug. Yes, a Chug. Try to look away.
Our shiny wheels spun a few hundred thousand times (my little brother can do the math on that one), and we woke up in Millville, New Jersey. Again with the great friends on this trip. First was my friend Mike (Jersey Mike), a fellow bass player and all-around great human, and the second was Paul Croom, my high school band director. To have Mr. Croom in the house was sort of surreal, and the Levoy theater was a great place for a show. Built in 1908, the theater went through a renovation, and now it is the pride of Millville. Or is it this sushi place? (The sushi was pretty amazing…) Either way, the show completely rocked. And we played ‘Born to Run‘. Really.
From the shady streets of Jersey, we were off to the equally shady parking lot of an upscale parking lot in North Baltimore. (It had trees, not drug deals going down). I made the decision the night before that I was going to fully enjoy my day off, and the first step to that is finding a rental car. Jeff and I ended up on the highway around 10AM, and headed out to Fort McHenry, situated on the Baltimore Harbor.
The fort is celebrating the 200th Anniversary of hold off the British in 1814. (Hey kids! We were at war in 1812. Any idea what it was called?) The fort is amazing, as are the visitor center and grounds. I learned a heck of a lot in a couple hours, and the day couldn’t have been better. We then found a sensational Mediterranean spot nestled in a neighborhood and had a great lunch with Al and his frescoes. Since we were in town, I decided to take full advantage. Just like touring, being on an adventure with me can be taxing to some, fun for others…
I drove by the Birthplace of Babe Ruth, and then we decided to check out the North Pointe Battlefield monument. After our handy Apple maps app told us we had arrived, well, we were confused. We looked around for some type of battlefield, and well, this is what we found. And it was located next to a strip club, which is exactly what our forefathers had envisioned…
On our way this massive and obviously historically significant monument, we spotted a B-17 flying overhead. Well hot damn – history on history! My kinda day! With another look at the handy map, we determined there was an airstrip close by. As fate would have it, there was the Memphis Belle (well, the one painted like her for the movie) in all her glory. We walked right up and took a nice long look. Simply beautiful.
I guess the day off wasn’t so bad after all. My planned visit turned into an unexpected and wonderful adventure. And to cap it all off, KT, Jake, and myself found a great water-side dinner spot to cap off the day. And I slept in an actual, non-moving bed. Scratch that Â - I stayed in a hotel. That sounds a little better. Either way, I’m rested, ready for the rest of the week, and trying to scrape up a cool million to buy a B-17. Kickstarter, maybe?
Enjoy your week, and enjoy my travel pictures!
See you on the road!