So, internet. I’ve been meaning to tell you all about my two little vacations. I am blessed enough to A. be able to take vacations, and B. have the internet to write blogs about them. I tell myself every year, I’m going to not book as many shows over the summer. Once school gets out, shows are hard to get people out to. There’s just too many other options. Things like cookouts and beach days and bonfires. Things that I should be doing.
But again, here was Fusion Shows, with 50 shows (plus involvement in many others) from June 1 to August 25. And as August came to an end, I realized that my “summer to-do list” was in dire need of filling. I had done so few of the things I had set out to do this summer, nor had I had any spontaneous trips of any sort. Not to say that I hadn’t lived or experienced much, but it wasn’t really going to be in those “summers to remember” categories.
So once August 25 was done, Fusion had two weeks off, and I vowed to get on the road, in some fashion. Teresa still had to work the first week, so the plan was to head out on my own for a week, return home, pick her up, and hit the road again. So that’s what I did. Here’s how it went:
Monday, August 28 - Haircut, shopping, packing, oil change. Nothing makes me feel more guilty or negligent than an oil change. ”When WAS the last time you changed the sprocket lubrication liquid filterator”? ”You know, I don’t know. I’ll get it next time.”
Tuesday, August 29 - I hit the road. My plan was to take a lot of roads I’d never been on, to places I had never been. I didn’t really have a plan, other than to end in Toronto for a day or two, so I headed south. I had heard of this area called Hocking Hills in Ohio, that was known for it’s natural beauty, camping, and one of the Midwest’s first canopy zip-line tour.
I booked it on the interstate until about Bowling Green, OH, and then hopped off and took a 55mph-er through the heartland. The weather was so nice, I had the windows down the whole way. Even Ohio was beautiful in 76 degree, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky weather that I traveled through.
As I got farther south, the landscape changed. The endless farm country and semi-trucks-passing-me-on-2-lane-highways-when-i-was-already-going-10-over gave way to rolling hills and some pretty decent views. I stopped and had lunch at a little cafe in Marysville, Ohio. I’ve got a thing for diners. I don’t know if it’s watching too much Guy Fieri on Food Network, but I always go in expecting something amazing, and walk out wishing it was more like Cracker Barrel or some other corporate chain restaurant. This time around, I was the only person in the restaurant when I first arrived, and even then, the waitress seemed annoyed that I was there. The club sandwich was pretty decent though. I was mad at first that it was really tiny, but it was the perfect lunch portion.
As I rolled into the Hocking Hills area later in the afternoon, I took the 13 mile road off the highway to Hocking Hills State Park. It was voted tops in the nation in some poll, so I was expecting grandeur. What I got was kind of sad compared to most of my favorite MIchigan State Parks, but it was still pretty nice. I did that thing where you drive in and select your favorite campsite, and then head back to the office.
“Site 155, please!”, I said, excited to have found the perfectly shaded campsite, far from the generator-toting assholes with their huge RV’s, “roughing it” with their televisions and air conditioners running loudly well into the wee hours.
“Sorry sir, someone JUST took that one”.
Of course they did. I just said, “Well, 154 will probably be cool.”
I drove out to 154, excited to set up my little 1 pound backpacker’s hammock, to quietly waste some time before heading out on my zip line adventure. When I got there, I was shocked. There was no real campsite. While my “neighbors” were across the drive setting up on MY campsite, I was left to what literally amounted to a concrete pad, a 8x8 square of grass with a fire ring, and some long grass with one scraggly tree that had seen too many 7 year olds learning how to use daddy’s chainsaw. It was pathetic. So I tried again.
I headed back to the office, for the third time in 20 minutes, and asked to move to site 128. It wasn’t exactly off the beaten path, but there was at least a lot of space, and plenty of nice trees to string my hammock up in between. She begrudgingly switched me to that site, after trying to refund a little old lady for the water that she “pushed the button for” on the vending machine outside, which gave her Sprite instead.
After all of this, I had to get moving. I headed back towards the highway, passing a car that decided to leave the roadway and hang out with a guard rail for a bit. As I swerved through the “wilderness area”, I was kind of impressed. Ohio didn’t suck that bad after all!
I got to the Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, and there was a tour leaving in 20 minutes. I paid my $89, and waited in the lobby. I work on High Ropes courses and zip lines at the Howell Nature Center, so I’m always excited to see how other courses work. I had never done a true “canopy tour”, which is mostly made up of zip lines between trees. Well, this one was well done. Two southern dudes, Josh and Jake, were our guides, and our group only had 3 people, myself and a 50-something married couple. These lines were fun because we were in control of our own speed, having to slow ourselves down by applying the garden work gloves we were wearing directly to the cable. It was a series of 10 zip lines, as long as 600 feet, going over 30 mph, and as high as 85 feet off the ground. It traversed a section of wilderness that included caves, forest, and the cleanest river in Ohio. We zipped right over the heads of two young deer. It was awesome. Josh and Jake were witty, funny guys, who excelled at being sarcastic and convincing you they were serious just long enough to say, “Uhhhhhhhhh, I gotcha, didn’t I?” All jokes aside, they were really good at their jobs, and the course was awesome. As someone who works often in that field, it was cool to see how someone else does it.
After the canopy tour, I headed back to the campground, where to my intense delight, four college kids had set up right next to me, and were drunkenly chucking a football back and forth in the street, while holding their beers and yelling LOUD obscenities, just to be seen (by the old couple to the other side of me, myself, and the families with kids down the block). From the screaming, I gathered that they were OSU students (duh), and that the 2 guys were desperately trying to get in bed with the 2 girls, who had no intention of being a party to that party.
As the football chucking session came to an end, they settled in around the fire and continue with their yelling and ranting obscenely about nothing. Then, dude #2 (I’ll call him Raoul) got out his djembe. He sat down and began to serenade us with the same “beat” over and over again. Loudly. I stormed around the campsite, making a dangerously tall fire, fueled with hatred for all things Buckeye. Raoul was going to die.
After a few minutes, Raoul’s banging started to get even louder, and I yelled something along the lines of “Bro, marching band practice is over”. That’s when girl #1 (let’s call her Megan) decides to tell me how camping is:
Megan: “Man, I’m just trying to listen to my friend’s music. We know quiet hours don’t start until 10, so we’ll be quiet after that. For now though, if you want peace and quiet, you should have totally like set up in the woods or something.”
Me: “Right. All of that. But asshole hours ended a few hours ago, so what about that?”
Megan: “Uh, well, my friend’s really good, man, and he just wants to play his music.”
Me: “But that’s not music, man.”
This continued for an hour, until I just walked over and stood on their site and stared with that “hit it again, and that camp-chair is gonna be a permanent hindrance to your ability to walk when I jam it up your ass” look on my face. Apparently, it was fierce, because they put it away a few minutes later. But they continued to talk loudly around the fire, camping in their headlights until I stormed off to bed at 11pm or so. They stayed up ALL NIGHT, loudly yelling about stupid Buckeye shit. I think most of it was about cheating at everything, cuz that’s what Buckeyes do. I got up at 7am, and the girls were still up, chattering away like school girls. I wonder how long the Raoul and the other dork kept up the pursuit before retiring sadly to their respective tents for a blue-balled evening?
Wednesday, August 30 - I hit the road early, and headed due east, until I hit the Ohio/West Virginia border. I took the road that runs along the Ohio River north, crossing the border from time to time for the fun of it, all the way until I was in Pennsylvania. The country through there was unbelievably beautiful, though lined with power plants and lots of industrial smells. As I came into the Pittsburgh area from the south, I was blown away at the variation in height. One of my favorite things, as a Michigan flatlander, is driving and being able to look down into a valley and see an entire town unfold in front of you. I got into Pittsburgh, and headed to meet another promoter for lunch and a tour of the town.
I came in through a tunnel from the south, and popped out along the river, with the Pittsburgh downtown right across the river. It was really cool. I had heard that the city was cool, but I had only ever driven through on the way farther east. I jumped on Carson Street and headed to Fat Head’s Saloon, a really cool neighborhood bar on the south side. Josh, the other promoter, met me for lunch, and I ordered a burrito with which the secret ingredient had to have been “fire of death”. It was the hottest thing I had ever eaten. It tasted amazing, but I couldn’t finish more than half of it because I sweating, crying, and panting the whole time.
After Fat Head’s, Josh took me to two of his venues in town. First was the Smiling Moose, which is basically Pittsburgh’s Mac’s Bar. A small upstairs club, about 300 capacity, with a similar “punk as fuck” vibe to it. But it did have a floor, walls, and a ceiling, so it wasn’t completely Mac’s, but I dug it. Then we went over to Altar Bar, which was basically a smaller Clutch Cargos, an old church converted into a venue. After that, Josh took me across the street to the Altar TV offices. They’re an internet-television destination, recording and airing sessions and interviews from all kinds of great artists. Some of my favorite on the site were a brilliant live studio session from Now Now, a cool interview with La Dispute, and a really nice session with Good Old War. The quality was incredible, and the artistic value was inspiring. Check it out when you get a chance. Their office space was in this cool upstairs warehouse, and the guys had some incredible technology at work. So good.
From there, I headed downtown to PNC Park, the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the local major league baseball team. The Pirates were home that night, playing the St. Louis Cardinals, and I sprung for a good seat, in the 4th row in the right field box seats. One of my goals for my life, and specifically this year, is to watch baseball live in as many stadiums as possible. As much as any sport, different stadiums are so important to the game, and PNC Park, located on the river with a beautiful view of downtown over the outfield wall, was no exception. It was probably the nicest stadium I’ve been to, and the game was awesome. It was maybe 65 degrees, and the Pirates won 5-1. It was cool to see the home fans go home happy. The game was really interactive without having too much loud music or silly between-inning stunts.
At the game, something really cool happened. Carlos Beltran, a well-traveled star outfielder, in the twilight of his career with the Cardinals, was warming up between innings, playing long toss with the centerfielder. A young boy wearing a Pirates jersey came down to the railing, with his baseball glove, and politely yelled “Mr. Beltran! Mr. Beltran! Please throw me the ball. Mr. Beltran!”
Carlos paid him no attention, and continued to warm up, and the kid kept yelling. As warmups ended, Carlos waved off the centerfielder, and turned and tossed the ball right into the kid’s waiting mitt, just to my right. The kid turned and scampered back up to his parents, his night (and his life) completely made. I was right there, and as Carlos watched him show his ball to his parents, I gave him the customary golf clap, as to applaud him for being a class act. He looked at me and nodded. That’s what’s so damn cool about baseball. There’s still history and honor and respect in the game. He tossed a warmup ball to a kid wearing the opponent’s jersey, when he could have just as easily given the ball to a ballboy or to a coach. And they were losing at that point, pretty handily. Just a classy move by a player that I have grown a lot of respect for.
After the game, I had been told to head up “Mt. Washington” to see the view from the top of the city. On the northside of the city, there’s a rather large hill that is about 500 feet above the rest of the city, overlooking the river and the entire skyline. It was 100% dark when I got up there, and when I walked out onto the terrace of the Duquesne Incline, my breath was taken away. I had never seen such an incredible view of a city. You could see for miles, and people looked like ants, and cars like matchbox and hot wheels of my youth. And loud and clear, between Heinz Field (Football) and PNC Park (Baseball), a band performed at a small amphitheatre (Stage AE). The people were so far away, but the sound carried perfectly over the river and up the hill. It’s always awesome hearing thousands of people singing together, and they were singing a song I knew! Fun’s “We Are Young” rang loud and clear from the venue, and I watched as best I could from a mile away. Then, a few songs I didn’t know, and then “Meet Virginia”? What the hell? It was Train, and they had covered Fun! What band does that? Covering a current single from another band!? Weird.
Anyway, I left the overlook, drove two hours north to Erie, and grabbed a hotel room. It sucked, like most hotel rooms do.
Thursday, August 31 - I was planning on heading to Toronto on Friday, so I had a day to kill. I had thought about heading to Cleveland, to meet another promoter and catch another MLB game, but the Indians played at 12:05, and I just didn’t think I had it in me to get into town that early, so I just stayed in Erie. I slept in until almost 11, grabbed a “nearly” free continental breakfast (who charges $4 for a hotel breakfast?), then set out on my quest to find the best beach on Lake Erie.
I found it. And quickly. Erie’s Presque Isle State Park is absolutely beautiful. It’s a pretty huge park with a whole bunch of beaches. Only two of them were “open” for swimming on this day, because it wasn’t exactly hot out. But it was nice and sunny, and I wanted to swim in one of the Great Lakes. And swim I did! It was no Lake Michigan, but it was really nice. Clean beach, nice sand.
Then I decided to head to one of the not-open-for-swimming beaches, and hang up my backpacker’s hammock (my 2nd true love, behind Teresa). I found 2 trees, set it up, and in minutes, I was laying in a comfy section of parachute material, swinging back and forth, looking out at the water and listening to my favorite music on my iPod. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep a few times. I laid there for about 3, maybe 4, hours, until hunger said “Hey, feed me.” It’s a pretty awesome feeling to sleep when you’re tired, eat when you’re hungry, drink when you’re thirsty, and move when you’re done not moving, with nothing else in your way. I didn’t really have an end destination picked out, so I headed northeast, trying to stick as close to Lake Erie as I could. It was no Pacific Coast Highway, but it was a pretty scenic little drive at points, running along the shoreline when it could. Near the New York border, I entered wine country, and I swear to God, my sense of smell was enchanted like it never has been before. The breeze was nice, and I drove with the windows open, with grapevines on both sides of the road. The scent of ripe grapes drifted through the air. It was like I was inside a 5000 acre air freshener. For about 10 miles, I drove through this, and wanted to turn around and do it over again. It really was something else, an experience I’ve never had before. The conditions were perfect for such an assault on my senses, and I breathed it all in deeply.
And as suddenly as it started, the natural beauty ended, and I was surrounded by a kind of semi-industrial suburban line of gas stations, family restaurants, and dilapidated small auto repair places. I was approaching Buffalo.
I’ve never really heard much in the way of positive comments about Buffalo, similar to what people say about Detroit who don’t live there or have a stake in it. It’s a struggling town, hurting from the auto industry’s lack of growth. It’s a depressing place, but as I entered from the south, through the region called the “Outer Harbor”, it was pretty awesome. The highway skirted Lake Erie, and the city’s skyline, while not New York City or Chicago, was pleasant to look at in the fading twilight.
I had decided to grab dinner in Buffalo, and then push on to Toronto a night early, to stay with my friend Jason at his place in the outskirts of Toronto. The original plan was to come into town during the day on Friday, and hang out with him when he got done at work on Friday evening, but I figured, instead of grabbing a hotel room and staying in Buffalo or Niagara Falls, I’d sleep on his couch, giving me a whole day to use mass transit to explore Toronto. So first, dinner.
I descended from what I think they called the sky bridge, or skyway, and arrived in the middle of downtown Buffalo. Right near the stadium, government offices, and what seemed like the city center. AND IT WAS EMPTY.
Not like kind of empty either. It was scary, kind of post-apocalyptic. Here it was a Thursday evening, around 7pm, and I assumed that there’d be some sort of activity. Restaurants with outdoor patios, clubs and bars starting to get ready for the night, folks out walking and enjoying the beautiful weather. And there was none of that. There was a lot of building, all of which looked like they had been unused for the better part of the past 25 years, and a few drivers that had this look on their face that said “I kind of wish I was somewhere else, don’t you?” And I did. Immediately. It was like a bigger Fort Wayne, Indiana (that place SUCKS after 6pm - even Subway is closed). I drove around, almost in a panic because there was nothing to be worried about. I was half expecting to round the corner to see Will Smith acting out that creepy scene where he meets the half-dead underground people in I Am Legend.
I had seen a cool waterfront restaurant called Dug’s Dive on the Outer Harbor on the way in, so I decided I’d backtrack a few miles to eat there. I went back over the bridge, and again, the view was great, the sun was starting to get low in the sky, and there was no hint of the ghost town that was behind me. I pulled into Dug’s, and it was instantly the type of place I’d like. It had a little ice cream place on the front of it, and a deck where people sat at picnic tables and ate their dinner. And their food looked GOOD.
I went inside, expecting there to be a wait, and there was. I changed out of my bathing suit from earlier, and after returning to the deck, it was my turn to be seated. I got a spot on the deck itself, overlooking the harbor, where the sun was setting. I ordered the potato-crusted haddock, and it was incredible. The biggest piece of fish I’ve ever gotten at a restaurant, coated in this super good potato chip topping. Crispy and salty and perfectly done. It came with this warm potato salad full of cheese and bacon bits and peppers, a full cob of sweet corn, and a little scoop of cole slaw. For $15, I was in heaven. I sat there and absolutely gorged myself. I’ve never been unable to finish a fish dinner, but this one conquered me. I couldn’t be happier as I leaned back with that “holy shit, I ate SO much” lean, and watched the sun set in front of me over Lake Erie.
I waddled back to the car, and got myself directions to Toronto (my phone and the Google Maps I have become so dependent on weren’t going to work). I called Teresa real quick, let her know I was going off the grid, and headed into the great white north. The border took a while, so I just listened to Our Lady Peace and thought about mounted police and curling and Tim Horton’s and tweeted a lot. Twitter and cell phones in general make most waiting much more bearable. Remember going to the Secretary of State 10 years ago? Most awful day of your life. Now, 45 minutes of Bejeweled with intermittent tweets about how bad the lady next to you smells of perfume, and you’re on your way.
Anyway, I had an extra hour or so on the way, so I had no excuse to not go see Niagara Falls. Teresa and I had been once before, about ten years ago, but it’s amazing every time. The city and surrounding touristy bullshit is just that, bullshit, but the falls themselves are a sight. Seeing them at night, all lit up, just reminds you how crazy this world is physically. People walked hand in hand along the boardwalk, just enjoying the cool mist and taking bad pictures with their flashes up of the falls in the dark, but they were all so happy. And so was I. I realized that I had detoured pretty significantly from my directions, so it was time to find my way back to the QEW (Queen Elizabeth’s Way). As I got close to Toronto, things got nutty. Even at 10:30pm, the freeways were packed, and the exit I needed (and had based my step-by-step, mapless directions) was closed. So, I went from being on-time to being quite late, as I wandered around suburban Toronto looking for a street name that looked familiar to my directions. I somehow stumbled across East Mall, which apparently is a road in Canada. I found my way to Jason’s apartment building. He had a cool 17th floor, one bedroom apartment, which was a bit in upheaval, as he was moving into a new location on Saturday. We stayed up chatting for a while about life, and after a quick catch up on my social networks, I was off to bed.
Friday, September 1 - I had already done the tourist thing in Toronto some years back with Teresa, so I had no intention of repeating that. I actually slept in a bit (all that hammock-time the day before had me a bit tired), and got headed towards the city on the subway line (just a few blocks from Jason’s place). One of my favorite things to do in cities is conquer the mass transit system. My goal is that by the end of the first day, I’m no longer a tourist, and just another person, hopping on and off trains and buses like a pro.
Well, I got off to a rough start. I decided it would be far easier and cheaper to buy a day pass (it was), but first, I had to exchange money. I didn’t know which one was the looney, and which was the tooney, but I needed some of those to make exact change, so I told the lady at the bank I needed “some dollars”. Smart. I got back into the subway, and bought the pass, and stepped back from the window, without going through the turnstiles. The pass looked like a scratch-off lottery ticket, with one scratch for the month, and one for the day. It had no scan bars or UPC codes, so I couldn’t figure out how the hell to get through the subway gates. I stood there for a minute, kind of looking around for someone to help, looking probably quite pathetic. The booth operators on both sides just kind of looked at me like “What the hell is HE doing? Tourist….”
Eventually I figured out that I was to just show it to the person manning the booth, and go through the turnstiles nearest to their booth. That worked. Seemed really low on the technology totem pole compared to NYC and Chicago, but it worked, and off I headed towards downtown.
I had a 2pm lunch with another promoter who I’d been talking to online for years, Pat Murphy of Union Events. They’re a big independent company that buy shows from clubs to arenas across the entire country. I hopped off the Subway, and headed the wrong direction for two blocks or so (I ALWAYS do that, in every city, get turned around after coming up from the subway). I headed the other way, and it was hot that day, and things take FOREVER to walk in this city. It’s way bigger than it looks. And it looks big. I walked for about 15 blocks, and started second guessing that I had went the wrong way after all, but then I found a familiar street that I had remembered as being a subway stop on my way into town. A few blocks later, and I found my destination.
He had me meet him in a Starbucks (because there isn’t one of THOSE on every corner). We then headed to a local vegan restaurant that he really likes, and I ordered some really good tofu pad thai. It wasn’t your typical pad thai, it kind of tasted like spaghetti with a little thai flavor in it. Either way, it was awesome. Pat is a really good dude. Good chats about bands we like and agents we like (and don’t).
I then posted up at a “Second Cup”, which is kind of like Biggby in Canada (i.e. the alternative to Starbucks, but nearly the same in all fashions as a Starbucks). I got some work done, answered some emails, and found out that the Swellers were in Toronto for a show that night as well.
I met Jason at his office, which was really nice. He works for a booking agency that books tours for huge Canadian bands ranging from Rush to Sarah McLachlan, Sum 41 to the Tragically Hip. Met everyone there, seemed like a nice bunch of people. They had cracked into some tequila, so I think the work day was over.
From there, we headed to a cool sports bar for some killer fajitas. We had a really sweet waitress who looked as if she was more cut out to work at the Hooters down the street, but the food was good, and Jason and I got to catch up while filling our faces. From there, we jumped on a bus and headed to Exhibition Place for “The Ex”, a huge festival events. Exhibition Place is this ridiculously huge festival grounds. Think like a fairgrounds here in Michigan, but well-groomed and with more money than God. One of Jason’s agency’s clients, The Tea Party, were performing at the festival, and Jason had to show his face and say hello to some people. We walked within the festival grounds for what seemed like miles, through hundreds of carnival games and elephant ear stands. They had things like “Fried Butter” and “Fried Snickers” and “Fried Fried Things”. It was disgusting and awesome at the same time. It was like the biggest carnival you could ever imagine.
Finally, all the way at the far end of the grounds, we came to the main stage, where The Tea Party was muddling their way through their set of mediocre cock-rock tunes. Man, they were average. We stayed for approximately 2 songs, before heading out of the nearest exit, to find a cab. We didn’t find any for a few minutes, and started dreading that we were going to have to walk all the way back through the festival to get one. Then, we found one blasting down the divided highway. We gave him a wave, and he came careening to a halt in front of us. He asked “Are you gablehblahbleh?” or something like that, and Jason said “Yup!” We hopped in, and he knew he had just given someone else’s cab away, because he got scolded in some Arabian language over the radio the whole way to Sneaky Dee’s, where The Swellers were playing a set at the reunion show for The Full Blast, a Canadian pop-punk band who did some independent touring with The Swellers years ago.
We got to Sneaky Dee’s, went upstairs, and it was a really cool room! It kind of reminded me of Beat Kitchen in Chicago. The sound wasn’t great, the stage was kind of small, and I can imagine that load-in and load-out was awful. But the show was sold out (Jason was amazed I got us on the list in his town - “one of the toughest tickets in town”, he said), and the vibe was really awesome. The Swellers were just about to start, and they played about a 45 minute set. The reunion crowd, who hadn’t really been show-goers probably in about 5 years, were polite, if uninterested, but The Swellers’ set was excellent. Lots of “pissed off punk songs”, as Nick Diener told us had been requested by the Full Blast.
I was surprised to see Brian Southall at the merch table when I arrived, and even more surprised to see a Fordirelifesake T-shirt on the merch table. They apparently had been friends of the Full Blast too, and were asked to come play a secret set, which was a treat for many in the crowd. Similar to Refused, I missed the FDLS boat when it came through, and so while it felt cool to be at a secret FDLS show in another city (a position about 1000 Detroiters would have killed to be in), I didn’t really feel much during their set. It was cool and all, but I wish that I had known some of the songs. We left before the end of their set, because Jason had to be up early to move his stuff out of his apartment. I found The Swellers hanging outside the venue by their van on the way out, gave hugs, and Jason commented that I knew more people in his city than he did. It’s really awesome to be a part of a community that’s on the move like that, spreading that love from town to town. I never really feel alone when around this scene, because even if I don’t directly know anyone, I for sure have talking points and shared acquaintances with almost anyone on any tour.
We hopped on the subway for the long trip back to Jason’s place, and again proceeded to stay up until 2am, chatting like school girls. Jason’s a really close friend, and I wish I saw him more. He’s just one of those overtly positive people, that you can’t help feeling upbeat around. A cool energy about him.
Saturday, September 2 - I got up around 9am, and got on the road around 10, headed back home. There wasn’t really much to talk about on the way home. I got caught in some holiday-weekend traffic on the 401, and went back over the border in Sarnia. At the border, there was a pause, where all of the border guards came out of their booths and took positions behind their booths, like taking cover, hand on their guns. I’m not sure if it was standard procedure, because they didn’t look concerned, but I sure as hell was! I was just 3 cars away, and didn’t really care to be stuck in some crossfire if some dude decided to open fire. Once I got to the window, the border guard was nice, but the guy next to me, who was obviously of Middle Eastern descent, was being “randomly” searched, and had a real innocent look of fear on his face, that look where you know that you have no control what a bully’s about to do to you. I hope he got through the rest of his day OK.
I got home around 2 or 3pm, and vegged the rest of the day, watching Michigan turn in an embarrassing performance against Alabama.
My week of wandering was over, and it felt great to be home. As most trips do, it reminds you how awesome it is to be stationary, to have a home and a family and a group of friends and a community to come home to. But it also inspired me to try to do that type of thing more often. I spent some great hours by myself, and some more with friends that maybe wouldn’t be in my speed dial. I know thousands of people from this business, and I can call hundreds of them my friends, which is something that should comfort me in times where I’m not feeling so confident. In many cities across the country, there’s people I’ve met through doing shows over the years who would be great to do lunch with. And in those towns, they know where the best places to eat are, where the actual worthwhile tourist stops are, etc. Local guides, I guess.
Can’t wait to get on the road again. But also re-energized and pumped to get back to work, as this fall is our best season yet. I’m excited to jump back in with this group of people that we’ve built up here. The family that we’ve created with Fusion Shows is one of my proudest accomplishments, all of the shows aside. I’m really blessed in so many ways in my life, and I want to share those blessings with others.
If you’re still reading this, thanks for reading. I hope you’re inspired to do some traveling of your own, and just go see people that maybe you wouldn’t otherwise go see. It’ll open your eyes to a lot of things.