One of the most unexpected belly laughs I've had in a while came from a young Applebee's worker. Finding decent food along the U.S. interstates can be a challenge to say the least, not to mention finding a place that everyone can agree on. So every once in a while, we end up at somewhere like this, in the middle of Ohio or wherever and just sort of loosely hope for the best. Adam and Bill both ordered a chicken dish. Well, let me paint the picture a little better. We were served by no less than 8 different people, mostly kids. They all seemed slightly out of sorts, in their own ways. My meal (also chicken) and soup came out quickly and simultaneously, at least 15 minutes before everyone else's, delivered by a third person. (Our waters had been delivered by two people, separately). Almost immediately our initial server came up to me and said, "Wait... why is that chicken here? You're not supposed to have that yet." I looked at him blankly until he walked away, puzzled. Hungry, I started in, figuring the rest was on the way. As I finished up, the other plates started to arrive. It seemed to me that at this point they were just throwing Applebee's shirts on kids from the neighborhood and telling them to take a plate to us. A young blonde kid brought Adam and Bill's chicken, which wasn't actually chicken at all. It was clearly salmon. He said, "Who had the chicken?" I looked at it and told him that it looked like salmon. He drew the plates close to his face and said, "Well it kinda looks like chicken, but I dunno, maybe it's salmon... I don't know man, I'm just the cook."
It's been an eventful tour. Our rental van broke down about two hours out of L.A., and thankfully we were able to replace it that day, but after about an 8 hour delay. So we lost a day of driving, and had to put up for the night in the city of sin. Uh oh. Sure enough, sleep didn't come until the wee hours, and many a die had been tossed around the craps table. Bill had a pretty epic run, while teaching me the ins and outs of the game. I hadn't really played before, and I rather enjoyed it. The free whiskey too. Being the only table really going at 4 am, it was a hot spot of stumblers, tossers, and watchers. Good times, and little did we know the journey that was in front of us. To get to the first show on time, we calculated that we'd have to drive straight through to Columbus, Ohio from Vegas. No time to stop for the night, so we switched drivers and slept in shifts, driving through the night and almost two full days. Think it ended up being about 39 hours, including changing time zones.
I took the graveyard/black hours shift, through Colorado and Kansas. It was actually a beautiful journey. With everyone asleep in the back, I watched the moon rise, the sky change from black to navy, to turquoise, and then the pinks, purples, reds, and oranges all the way into the sunrise to my left. All the while, off in the distance to the right was a raging lightning storm, with the ever persistent road splitting these natural events down the middle. Listen to "All I've Ever Known" by Bahamas and you'll get the vibe. That was my jam for the sunrise.
At some point before the colors, I stopped for a nature whiz and to try a long exposure from the side of the road. Decent execution, but you get the idea of how cool it was.
We stopped in Niagara Falls for a few hours as we waited for our crossing papers into Canada for the first stop with the Fratellis. I've been there a handful of times now, and it just never ceases to amaze. This time we hoofed around the American side, and I got a different perspective, which I'm always angling for in general. The upper observation deck, and down at riverside where the Maid of the Mist boats board, and the tourists lemming around in blue plastic bags, trying to protect from the incessant mist.
I've had limited experience in Canada, but that's about to change. In fact today we are en route to Vancouver before heading down the west coast. In late November we do a full Canadian run with the X-Ambassadors, from Vancouver all the way to Montreal. Two things come to mind. One, COLD. Two, I'm probably hopelessly optimistic about this, but I'm truly hoping to see the Aurora Borealis make an appearance. I hear it's possible, though we may not be northern enough in route to catch it. All digits crossed anyway. Canada is truly different. Not in an opposite or absolute way, but in the details. It's hard to explain, though I'm sure I'll have a better grip, and more to share after that tour. We had a day off in Toronto during the TIFF, and so we walked, we drank, and we chatted. I left my camera on as I was carrying it and somehow drained the battery, so I only really got this one shot of a street musician. He was killing it though, in multiple senses, playing some wicked drone-y instrumentals.
In another first, and one of the last of the states I hadn't stepped foot in or visited, we hit Wyoming for a night after the Denver show, and a drive day all the way to Salt Lake City. I'm already a sucker for proper Americana, and this route had plenty to spare. I found myself singing Home on the Range on repeat, longing for camp stew, and wondering what I would name my horse.
You may have heard something about the super blood moon eclipse. It was indeed a marvelous sight. We were in mile high, a mile high when it all went down, and I was able to grab this after our set while it was still red. The sky is like, pretty cool, man... Dig.
- BW -