My Trip around the country in 2001 with Halley

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Epilogue: Looking back on a cross country trip 10 years later

In reflecting on this trip, I recall why it started. When I was seeing Hillary, I was very much into another girl, Alison. (I know, I am/was an asshole). When she decided to go out with another dude who had more money than I would ever have, plus was living near her north of the city, I was heartbroken. So I decided that I needed to get away from her and go on a trip. I was after all going to graduate in the fall and needed to get in some college road-trippin'. My interest had been piqued with yearly trips down I-95 to Orlando with my family and later in March of 1997 when I went on spring break with Z, Matt, Brad and others to Myrtle Beach and again in 2000 with a trip for a few Phish shows across the east coast. I needed to see the west. So I took off on the road, propelled by what had set many others on similar quests: hoping to gain a woman's attention or escaping the reach of a woman's influence.

After a few days being back home, I had a case of cabin fever and decided to visit Kate, my old roommate who had extended an invite to me at SPAC. Bringing Halley with me to visit Kate in Hanover, NH plus a drive through Vermont gave Halley and I a grand total of 30 states visited (plus Pennsylvania for me from earlier trips). Going coast to coast and seeing the greenest of the country (Colorado and Vermont) as well as the least hospitable (Arizona, Kansas), both oceans, multiple rivers and sights that I am glad I remember, it was an amazing journey. It is why I still travel today. As of this posting I'm on my way to the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan and then down through Wisconsin to Chicago for the Phish shows at UIC Pavilion before heading back to the Northeast for Liberate VT Festival, a fitting end to a summer of intense travel, 10 years later.

A brief recap of the trip that I started on June 26, 2001

Length of trip: 40 days

States visited: 28

Trey Anastasio Band shows seen: 10

Oil changes: 3

Days without air conditioning: 40

Hotels stayed in: One (thanks to my friends)

Campgrounds stayed in: Three

National Parks visited: Two (Grand Canyon, Zion)

National Monuments Visited: One (4 Corners)

Lowest cost for a gallon of gas: $1.11 (Southern Indiana)

Highest cost for a gallon of gas: $2.30 (Los Angeles)

Miles traveled: 10,500

Halley and I, June 2010 on top of Cascade Peak, Adirondacks, NY
Thanks for reading this blog on my trip

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Last Leg: Albany to Long Island to Great Woods to SPAC - Trey shows #8, 9 and 10

August 3

I woke up on Mike Z's black leather couch as he was moving around getting ready for work. He advised me on where to find food and towels when I got up, but to rest since we were in for a long night at the show. I went back to sleep and woke to check out the cable selections of Massapequa and get myself somewhat gathered before Mike came home. I showered and ate, took a walk around and missed Halley. I didn't bring Halley on this part of the trip because she was already home for a couple of days and bringing her on the end of the trip would have been more trouble than I could have asked for to end the trip. Z couldn't have dogs due to his landlord, but there was a dose of not liking dogs in there as well. He got along with Halley, but mainly at my place in Syracuse or on neutral ground, like a parking garage in Columbia, Maryland. Plus the next stop had a ton of cats and there was no way that would end well. So Halley was home and I missed her, even though I would be back in a day and a half or so. 

Final Leg of the trip:  670 Miles from Albany to Long Island to Great Woods to SPAC
Z came home and we hung out for a bit, got some food and took a drive around town. A sandwich later, we picked up some beers for the trip to Jones Beach and got our stuff together. I opted to drive because I had driven to every other Trey show that summer and I wasn't going to have the streak broken riding in Z's Toyota Corolla. The Saturn had been through hell and back and it was going to finish the job we started together.

We left around 3pm to swing by Mark's place and get him rounded up for the show. With Mark in tow we stopped by Amy's place to get Amy in the caravan and we were off on the road to Jones Beach. I had heard plenty about this venue over the years and was psyched to go. Living three hours north, I felt jipped not having been here before and was relieved to see that the parking lot was huge, flat and boring. Immediately, I wasn't impressed. We parked close to the venue but didn't get the big deal about the place. The drive in was dreary but supposed to get sunnier, which didn't help, but at least it wasn't going to rain. 

As parked the car, everyone showed up, an extended Long Island family of Phish fans, branching off from Z, Mark and Amy and ranging the expanse of the eastern half of Long Island. Gregg, Dan, Klug, Chip and Adam all came to the show. At some point in the past two years, I had met them in one form or another, either at a party or making the rounds with Z when I visited. All good people, most good friends, a few musicians and reliable for a good time when they showed up. Beers were drank, laughs were had, my trip was discussed, more beers were drank, and so on.

And then I saw a familiar face from tour. I didn't see many people who made the whole trek coast to coast. I don't doubt someone else or a few others did the whole trip. Maybe I didn't keep my eyes open but there was no one who looked familiar besides Shawn. I saw him from about 50 feet away, I could see him dealing with some ticket issue from a far and remembered that (for some reason unbeknownst to me) I had his wooden box that I found back in Cincinnati  to return to him. I could have thrown it out. Really, I should have thrown it out at some point on my trip but I didn't. I put it in my trunk and left it there, buried amongst all my stuff. How dumb an idea was this? Hold onto the drugs that could have gotten me landed in jail when I was driving a little drunk, or throw them out as soon as I find them? Sure, lets return the drugs to sender, personally. 

Not one of my finer moments. Regrettable on many levels. I saw Shawn, went up to him, got a quick hug from him while standing among his not-as-preppy friends and told him I had something for him. He was standoffish at first but his eyes lit up when he saw the wooden box. I told him I held onto it for him, partially hoping for the other $100 he owed me but also because it was nice to see someone else smile because I did something for them. Pleasing others, an Achilles heel. Shawn and I spoke, it turns out he went back to Syracuse with the folks from Red Rocks that picked him up in St. Louis, stayed there for a few days and found a ride to Philly for Trey band there, then Jones Beach and SPAC to finish it off. Shawn was working a little on the lots so I didn't bother him. He wasn't ready to hang with me, let alone pay me back the $100 but I was more focused on making it through the three days and I could deal with it when I got back to Syracuse. Besides, we worked together. 

The Long Island crew rounded themselves up and we got ready to go into the show. Our seats were all over the place, which meant I was either sitting alone or someone was taking mercy on me for a set or two. With no beer served inside Jones Beach (it's a State Park) I grabbed a soda and headed up to find Z. I had no cell reception and missed a few songs locating someone I knew. I didn't need to get nervous in a new venue that was uncharacteristically steep. I came across Amy for the first set and danced near her. 

8/03/01 Jones Beach Amphitheatre, WantaghNY

Set 1: Burlap Sack and Pumps, Acting the Devil, Last Tube, Flock of Words, Cayman Review,Sidewalks of San Francisco, Moesha
Set 2: Money Love and Change > Plasma, Mr. Completely, At the Gazebo, Sand
Encore: Mountains in the Mist, Back On The Train, Bathtub Gin

For this show, the first set started out with songs I had heard a half dozen times already. This was show #8 and there wasn't much I hadn't heard. I caught my 8th Last Tube, which was starting to becoming a fun song to dance to as they approached the improvisation sections. Flock of Words was new to me, although I know I heard it elsewhere. Sidewalks of SF was a nice instrumental tune. Moesha, we all could have done without. It's dancey but the lyrics are late 90s Trey - just terrible (see Jennifer Dances). Set 2 brought all the heat and Z and I down to the front of the amphitheater for a monster 25 minute Money Love and Change that segued cleanly into Plasma, much like the last show we went to in Holmdel. Mr. Completely blew the roof off the place, as it has so many times (see 10/25/02 in Utica when the balcony was literally bobbing up and down with the dancing going on). At the Gazebo was a soft interlude/break to rest feet before returning to the Trey band original, Sand. Fans got their monies worth during this set alone, but there was more to come.

Trey walked out with Mike Gordon for the encore and softly crept into one of the songs Trey debuted with his side-project in May of 1999 before introducing it with Phish later that year. Mountains in the Mist is such a beautifully soft song with the most gentle of chords and lyrics. Mike accompanied on electric bass for Mist then switched to an acoustic guitar and joined Trey on Back on the Train, a wonderful musical duet and had fans quietly cheering when Trey took a pause between lyrics. Mike looked comfortable from where we were standing, stage right. Mike returned to the electric bass for Bathtub Gin, although this version paled in comparison to the Red Rocks version. I had the awesomeness of the crowd singing the 'Do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do dooooo' part in the back of my mind from Red Rocks and hoped in this man-made amphitheater, we could recreate that moment. No such luck. Granted I was down low but the crowd didn't jump on the opportunity as much as I would have liked to have heard. Trey got a major kick out of it but with Mike on bass, the progression up the chords didn't influence the crowd to get into the song more than they were. Still, Mike came out for the encore and it was pretty sweet. Going on tour, you get the benefit of comparing multiple versions of songs.

We headed back to Mike's place, had some late night drinks as I relaxed, knowing I had a heck of a drive tomorrow from Long Island to Great Woods. 

August 4
I awoke to an interesting hangover that was quickly defeated with a trip to a local diner with Mike and Mark. I had to get on the road to Great Woods but I was in no great rush. It was a Saturday and I had no interest in rushing when there was going to be traffic no matter what way I went or how early I left. So we had a leisurely breakfast, talked a bit, recapped last night before I started the goodbyes process and got on the road to Providence to get to Marc's place.

The drive took me back towards the city, curved around Long Island Sound and on the coast of Connecticut along I-95. Having never driven here, the excitement propelled me towards Rhode Island and into Providence to my good friend Marc's place. He and I both were Political Science majors and had worked together at Faegan's for a few years, so there was a solid friendship there. We surveyed the scene as I arrived, decided we needed to get beer and headed out on the road to Great Woods, so as to avoid the inevitable Cape traffic and get to the venue before the easy in/easy out lot filled up. This was clutch and I wish I utilized it in June of 2009 and 2010 for the Phish shows because the parking situation at Great Woods is TERRIBLE - if you don't leave before the encore, you aren't getting out till anywhere from midnight-2am. I've had to do the latter and it sucks. The best option is the pay parking lot just before pulling into Great Woods. At the time, it was $30 and fully worth it to get in, hang out, have no hassle on private property and then leave without any issue. (The next year it was the same deal and Marc and I took full advantage of the pay lot once again.)

The day was spent hanging casually in the lot, drinking and catching up on our summers since we walked through graduation. We drank a lot and walked slowly to the venue and found our solid seats in the lower pavilion. Pete from Faegan's was there with his girlfriend Kate and we enjoyed the show together with room to dance and breathe

8/04/01 Great Woods, MansfieldMA
Set 1: Done Done It, Last Tube, Drifting, Alive Again, Flock of Words, Moesha, First Tube
Set 2: Mr. Completely, It Makes No Difference, Cayman Review, Burlap Sack and Pumps, Ether Sunday, Push On Til the Day
Encore: At the Gazebo, Mozambique

From down front, it was a different experience altogether. These may have been my best seats of the tour, and with a solid opener of Done Done It, the show was off on a roll, with an up tempo Last Tube that most folks didn't know but by now I sure as hell did, and after many beers in the pay lot, I could finally kick back and dance among those I knew the best. Drifting came and went, and was no a lament for Hill, who I missed the company of but had tried to keep out of my mind simply because I was looking to move on from her. I couldn't swear off her friendship, but I just needed time to myself at this point without a relationship waiting in the wings. Alive Again was a solid rocker again and received vociferous cheers from the audience with the refrain of 'The time has come for you to be alive again!' Flock of Words was more somber and I found my way out to grab a beer rather than hear yet another song that made me think of Hill. Moesha me meh - I watched others enjoy this song, and while the crowd definitely enjoyed it, I was over the lyrics the night before. First Tube got everyone up, as any song played by Phish would, but from the original band, and with horns, it is just so much better this way.

The second set started with a monster Mr. Completely, clocking in at over 25 minutes - 3 shows in a row the second set opened with a huge song and I couldn't have been found to complain. There were composed sections, horns solos, just Trey, Russ, Tony and Ray playing and then the full band to round it out. It Makes No Difference was touching and kept me fighting the urge to think about her. Cayman Review knocked that out of my head, as did Burlap Sack and Pumps, which had this great funk to it that kept the head bobbing throughout. Ether Sunday (then called Sunday Morning) was yet another tune that got inside my head. I dug the show at this point, but not the slow stuff, for once. I learned the benefit of a piss-break song, but this was killing me. An enthusiastic Push on Till the Day with Trey and Jen Hartswick dancing together, hip bumping and fake sword fighting added some humor to the end of the set, and showed that even after 19 shows, Trey was still having fun with this 'new' band.

The encore of At the Gazebo was beautiful, as this song had grown on me since Los Angeles almost 3 weeks ago. Mozambique, which I then learned was once played by Phish (thanks Pete) had a great start-stop ending with the band walking off the stage, horns a blaring and the audience cheering in full approval.

We headed out of the venue and I weighed my options. I didn't necessarily want to stay in Providence, THEN drive back in the morning/afternoon to go to the last show of the tour at SPAC. It just didn't see logical. Plus, I was on the sober side of drunk and decided that I could make it back to Albany. Plus, my brother Chris had the house to himself and I was damned if I wasn't going to enjoy that as well. So I drove back that night, I kinda had to. I bid Marc farewell, took off on 495 heading to I-90 and sped home. I smoked a half a pack of cigs on the way, stopped constantly at rest stops or the side of the road to piss and catch my breath. I got home shortly after 2am, solid time for being hopped up on caffeine and nicotine as the alcohol wore off. Arriving home, Chris was swimming, we talked and had a drink before calling it a night. He knew I was looking forward to the SPAC show and we had to make plans to get up there early. The last show of a 40 day trip around the country was 18 hours away.

August 5
I saw my first two concerts at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, aka SPAC, the first with my mom. I saw Huey Lewis for both shows, once on his Small World tour and again for the Couple Days Off tour. Between the two, I saw most of his catalog. Everytime I go there, I can't help but remember those shows. Thinking about it now, I actually stand around the same area on the lawn for shows, left side between the left and center walkways.
Kate, me and Brianne in the SPAC lots to end the tour
Having a tour end in your home town or in this case, at my 'home venue' can't ask for much more than that. To end up right where I started was a sign that this was a trip that had to be taken. Naturally, I encouraged friends from home to come to the show for the music and to celebrate the end of an amazing trip. A fair amount showed up, including my brother Chris, Madison from Buffalo, Kate from Vermont (both of whom went to Syracuse), a few friends from back in Albany and some from Syracuse who were Phish fans. It was a nice way to cap the trip. We parked in the main parking lot, caught up with everyone, drank here and there while I shared stories from the trip. Again, I left Halley back at the house since there was no benefit to bringing her up here, especially when she could lounge around in air conditioning and have the house to herself.

We all headed into the show to catch the end of an opening act, the Unknown Blues Band, of whom Tony Markellis was the bassist for, as well as being Trey's. Playing double duty, especially in your hometown at the end of the tour ensured that some fun shenanigans were in store. 

8/05/01 Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga SpringsNY
Set 1: Last Tube, Cayman Review, Burlap Sack and Pumps, Flock of Words, Alive Again, Moesha
Set 2: Money Love and Change > Plasma, Drifting, First Tube, Every Story Ends In Stone, At the Barbeque, Ooh Child, Push On Til the Day
Encore: Mozambique

What a way to end a run of 10 shows over 3 weeks across the country - opening up with the song I heard at every single show - Last Tube. Most Phish fans would groan at this while others may not see the big deal, but this was a rarity to get the song that much in a tour. Trey clearly enjoyed playing the song, more than enough to keep playing it and getting it right on so many levels. Moving into the highly danceable calypso number Cayman Review, I was able to dance and rejoice in the feat I had accomplished in the last few weeks. Burlap Sack and Pumps, another enjoyable tune. Then a break to head to the beer garden during Flock of Words so I didn't need to hear that again. Alive Again was great, especially hearing an even louder crowd than the night before sing the refrain 'The time has come for you to be alive again!'. And again, Moesha was just a sign I should beat the rush to the bathrooms.

A set 2 opener of Money Love and Change was, well, expected at this point, as was the segue into Plasma for the second song. Drifting was soft and sweet and even better with the cute girl I was talking to during it. As is usually the case, I didn't get her number. First Tube was more of a rocker this night than the previous two, making it a highlight of the final run of shows, giving Phish fans in the northeast a taste of what First Tube was like with horns - even better than the Phish version. (there, I said it) Every Story Ends in Stone was dark and trippy, nothing to dance to. At the Barbeque had Trey goofing with a Triangle a la Ed Grimly as he conducted the horns in an interesting composition that I was finally starting to take notice of. Ooh Child appeared FINALLY this tour - I had waited all tour to catch this song and finally it registered. Things were getting easier as the show and trip came to an end. Push on til the Day had yet another Trey and Jen dance, but that was topped off by a fan handing a sign that said "We're On Tony Tour" that Trey held up for all to see. With Tony being from Saratoga, it was an hilarious joke and a sign that the band was much more than just Trey playing with a few musicians, it was a few talented musicians who Trey was bringing to our attention and sharing their musical prowess with the rest of us. The encore of Mozambique featured solos from nearly all members, including the dance line that had each horn emerge in hilarious choreography to the beat of the samba-esque Mozambique.

We headed out to the parking lot with Chris driving me back to the house for a post-show dip in the pool and a relaxing end to the night. I didn't have to wake up early the next day, nor did I need to plan the next few days out. I had to do nothing except clean my car out little by little and relax. My trip around the country was complete

Coming Monday August 8th, an epilogue to a most fantastic trip.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Leg 13: Washington DC to New Jersey to Albany and Trey show #7: PNC Bank Arts Center

 July 29

Leg 13: 386 miles

After a good night of sleep, I woke up to dreary weather that followed me the entire trip into northern Jersey. What should have taken only 5 hours took 8 and I was irritated until the weather broke. The drive well north of the venue was due to picking up my friend Kristina for the show. I met her at Faegan's in Syracuse (naturally) slightly before she graduated in May of 2000. Being awkward and nervous, I struggled to talk to her but finally did and we hit it off. She graduated but we stayed in touch over the next year, hanging out when she came in to visit for Homecoming. When I was planning my trip, driving through Jersey was unavoidable, and with the Trey show at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, I made it a point to invite Kristina and she happily accepted.

We arrived at Kristina's place in West Orange and Halley hopped out and immediately looked for her spot to sniff and ran up to greet her. We exchanged pleasantries and went inside her house where they were having some sort of a party/get-together for her dad. Awkward timing but this was where I had to pick her up. We hung out for a bit with Halley waiting patiently in the drivers seat while we were inside. After a bit we got on the road and started driving down the Garden State Parkway. It was a difficult drive only because I had trouble keeping my eyes on the road with Kristina sitting next to me. She was a sight for sore eyes, and refreshing after a long trip and as I was now unattached. We got a late start on the road and hit some traffic so much so that all we could do was get to the show, let Halley out to go to the bathroom again and get her back in the car for the rest of the night. She was getting used to this and that was good, plus it was much cooler down near the shore. For her benefit, this was her last show for quite some time, until the 7/26/03 Phish show in Atlanta.

We went in, got a few beers and a bite to eat. To be honest, I had a crush on Kristina. It was fun hanging out with her, not knowing where the night would go. We enjoyed the first set and met up with Stacey, who I had known since freshman year at Syracuse, as well her friends who were at Red Rocks when I was there, although we didn't get a chance to meet up.

7/29/01 PNC Bank Arts Center HolmdelNJ
Set 1: Simple Twist Up Dave, Happy Coffee Song, Last Tube, Tube Top Flop, Mozambique, Cayman Review, Nothing But an E Thing, Alive Again
Set 2: Money Love and Change > Plasma > When, Sand
Encore: At the Gazebo, Push On Til the Day

The shows were starting to blend together at this point. What I recall from this first set is the return of Happy Coffee Song, a first since Red Rocks. Tube Top Flop was nice to hear again as well, although my 7th Last Tube in a row was forgettable. Cayman Review was cool to continue to hear but Alive Again was phenomenal and capped the set nicely.

During set break Kristina and I got a few beers and running into Z and Mark again, we drank even more. Ah, to be 23 and have no cares... It was great timing to meet up with them and we all had a blast talking about the tour, the show, Syracuse and such. Plus it helped me loosen up around Kristina who I was otherwise going to be awkward around. Well lubricated, we headed back up to the show for what turned out to be a MONSTER Money Love and Change. We had liftoff at the venue with this version, one I highly recommend you seek out.

And then they dipped into Plasma. In writing this, I recall why I still don't fully enjoy this song. I was dancing, having a blast during Money Love and Change, then sitting on the ground with Kristina we started to make out. Sparing the details, it was awesome.

Then the beer started to be unsettled and dammit if Trey didn't play When again. Kristina and I continued to make out.

And then I had to cut it short. I knew that feeling and goddammit if it wasn't the worst time. I was most definitely going to throw up so I excused myself and rushed towards the back of the lawn. The only problem is, at PNC, the lawn is sort of a triangle with a rise at the back, then a drop off. Lawn chairs are at the back of the lawn, not a gentle slope leading you to the bathrooms. So I sat down and started to puke. A fair amount, but the time spent up there wasn't helping matters any. I missed the rest of When, and just before the start of Sand, Kristina came up to me with some water and tried to take care of me. Embarassed, I puked some more. If this didn't attract her, well shit, what would? The pickup line was easy - "Want to go see a concert with me and drive me home after I get sick?" Somehow, that was what happened. Regrettable and a low point of the trip.

I was a bag of shit the rest of the night. Maybe it was the beer, maybe is was Kristina, she did have that kind of effect on me. It was just a terrible job on my part coupled with a lot of anxiety and I drank too much, simple as that. when the show ended, we walked back to the car where Halley was content in the car while Nitrous was popping up all around us. (This was the territory of the Philly Nitrous Mafia of course) Halley got out, we went for a short walk to let her go to the bathroom and I swear Kristina and I kissed again near the woods. Or some trees. After I had puked. I don't know if that's factual but I vaguely recall that. Granted, I had drank water and chewed gum by now, but still. Kristina drove us back to her dad's place in West Caldwell.

The downside to all of this, as if there wasn't one already, was that the initial plan was for me to sleep in Kristina's room. Being naive, I figured that meant the floor, and little else. But now I was relegated to the back porch with Halley. Ouch and ouch again.

Ok, so I slept on the back porch and wasn't feeling great. Such ended any chance I had with Kristina

July 30

           Naturally, I awoke with a blistering hangover. I hated myself for blowing such an awesome chance with such a great girl. Kristina had to go to work at 8am which meant I had to get up and leave. I would have liked to have stayed since I wouldn't be a burden and I could show myself out, but yeah, I had to go.

           I got in my car and headed as quickly as possible to the first place I could get some food and gas. There was a Friendly's where I parked in the back and took a few hour nap, long enough to hear the Yankees pre-game. I drank a lot of water while I rested. Jesus I was exhausted. Too much booze and I wasn't drinking this much on this tour again. I went in and had some food at Friendly's and shared the rest with Halley, who was being a good sport about all of this craziness.

            Next stop was Jersey City to stay with my friend Kim from Syracuse. She wasn't home yet and I couldn't even find a spot to go to the bathroom for Halley or myself. I lucked out with some amazing parking in her back lot, took Halley and myself out and kept the car in the nice shade. With a cool day and overcast skies, I headed to the movies. (In retrospect, I really shouldn't have been leaving Halley alone in the car this much, but for the long car rides we would take in the future, it helped) I headed over to a big mall and saw the only movie that fit my schedule, Legally Blonde. Say what you will, it was a solid film.

            I came back just as Kim was getting home. We ate some food at her place, played with Halley and went out for some drinks in Hoboken while her friend Lisa watched Halley. I spent the night at Kim's but being so close to home, I was thinking about driving back up to Albany.

July 31
          Today I hung out in Jersey City again but without having much of anything else to do there, I was bored. I cleaned the car a bit, walked Halley around but otherwise, this day was forgettable. It was a fun night and Kim and I went out again at night, meeting up with friends at a bar in Hoboken. Fun times

August 1

            Rather than hang out in Jersey the next day and with 3 more days before the next Trey show, I opted to go back up to Albany.I left Kim's when she left for work and headed north to Albany. I wanted a couple days at home to rest and relax. Plus I needed to drop Halley off since she couldn't go with me to Long Island and stay at Z's place. Bummer but we were going to be running around a lot the last few days of the trip and I couldn't put the burden on her of two more shows in the car.
         When I got home, I hung out with my brother Chris and recapped the weekend. Our parents were in Florida with my brother Matt and sister Caitlin so Chris and I enjoyed the house to ourselves, grilled up some food, swam and had friends over.

August 2

         A day of rest. Nothing more. Friends stopped by but all I could do was rest. The next three days would be an intense end to the cross country trip with three shows in three days. I took a nice and leisurely 4+ hour drive to Long Island that night to get to Mike Z's for the night. I got in around 10pm, we each had a beer and he headed to bed since he had to put in a 1/2 day in the morning before we departed for the Trey show at Jones Beach.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Leg 12: Cincinnati to Washington DC and Trey show #6 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD

July 26

            I awoke slowly, hoping to drag out the sad goodbyes that awaited. Hill's mom said goodbye to me and suggested I take 71N to 70E then state routes to get to Washington DC, my next stop. I had no intention of driving out of my way to take a highway. My intention was to drive on the one road that linked Cincy and DC - Route 50, a road I had been taking since St. Louis and done me right so far. She wasn't thrilled with me but I didn't care. Her daughter was my bigger concern, since I wouldn't be seeing her for some time to come. This was the effective end of our relationship, since I didn't think she would be moving to Syracuse and I would not have asked that of her.

Leg 12: 502 miles

           I had only a little time with Hill since she needed to go to work. We talked, kissed, got emotional and then drove off. I headed out on Route 50 for DC across the farmland of southern Ohio. It was quite nice actually, getting to Athens, Ohio and then heading into West Virginia. Halley and I took it very leisurely on this drive, although we should not have with our major part of the drive being through the hills of West Virginia, winding left and right. Darkness set in fast as I head east and I had no idea that for two hours I would be driving in mist, fog, and rain, plus darkness as Halley and I made it into the mountains. When we finally started to descend it was a sigh of relief. An hour later we were hitting DC and drove to my my friend Chris' place. I have known him since 7th grade and we were going to enjoy the town for a couple days, with a TAB show at Merriweather Post Pavilion mixed in.

          Upon arrival, we sat on his porch smoking and having a beer, discussing where things were in DC and what it was like living and working there. Chris loved it, as it was a break from finishing his degree at Northeastern. Halley sat on the porch on look out. A few people walked by but she was chill and didn't bark at them, which was a nice change. We called it a night around 2:30am and I headed for the couch with Halley.

July 27

When Halley got up in the morning, she and Chris went for a walk to near the Vice President’s house and then came home to wake me up. We ate breakfast, hung around the house, played with Halley to get her some much needed exercise and relaxed. We walked to get some lunch down the street but with no dogs allowed, Halley was left outside without me and barked up a fucking storm. We left, went back to Chris' and hung out for the day. I have little recollection of the course of events of this day, which is probably subconsciously intentional. That night though, I wanted to meet up with my friend Danielle who I knew from Syracuse and bartending days at Hungry Charlie's. She invited us to a party at her friend's house, which was awkward since we knew no one and I smelled Georgetown douchebags around us. We found Danielle and headed with her up to the Adams Morgan area for some drinks.

Chris and I at some bar in Adams Morgan. I still have this flannel shirt
Me, Danielle, her friend and some random Asian dude
Scott and I - went to Syracuse for Poli Sci, great dude
 I don’t remember much more of the night than Chris making out with Danielle, getting back to Chris' place and waking up with Halley on the couch and me on the floor. An interesting point of view to wake up to your dog looking down at you wagging her tail, as if to say 'Now you get what its like down there' 

July 28

We woke up at a decent hour, Halley and I, and started to get ready to head to the show. Chris got up a bit later and helped us to figure out where to get beers and what to do pre-show. Packing Halley and our gear into the car, we headed up to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland for yet another night of Trey Anastasio Band. We pulled into a parking garage near the mall as suggested by friends Mark and Z. While we waited to catch up with them, we took Halley for a walk for a bit to stretch, pee and roll in the grass before a few hours in the cool car. Halley got to finally meet some of my friends from college who had graduated, in this case Mike Z and his good friend Mark from Long Island.  We caught up with my friend Rachel who lived in Reston, VA and graduated in 1998. I spent a few minutes setting up the car and got Halley in the car. By now she knew the routine and was good enough to go in and oblige me, something that would work in her favor pretty well that night.

Set 1: Burlap Sack and Pumps, Acting the Devil, Cayman Review, Last Tube, Drifting
Set 2: Mozambique, Moesha, Sidewalks of San Francisco > Plasma, In the Wee Wee Hours, First Tube, Nothing But a G Thing, Money Love and Change, At the Gazebo, Mr. Completely, Push On Til the Day
Encore: Ether Sunday

As shows go, this was one of the best of the summer. I hung out on the lower left lawn for most of the show with Rachel and Chris while Z and Mark were inside the pavilion. I knew the tunes by now but with Rachel there, I sort of had the nervous feeling of 'Hey, you're gonna watch me dance and I'll be embarassed regardless of how great it feels', so I focused on drinking and talking to Rachel while Chris spoke to some random dude. When Cayman Review came on, I couldn't help but get up since this was one of my favorite tunes, and to be followed up by Last Tube, I was happy as hell. (Six for Six on Last Tubes now). Drifting was bittersweet with Rachel there, as we had dated for a few months and me being an idiot, I still hadn't moved on. 

Setbreak meant $7 Yuenglings at MPP, and how tasty they were. I was getting down in my budget for travels but couldn't help drinking with friends and getting amped up for the second set. Yet again Mozambique opened up a set that picked up more with Moesha. I had fun explaining the whole band-line-solos thing to Chris and Rachel, even though it was likely in one ear and out the next. I was finally learning names of band members too, which helped a bit for a little cred. Sidewalks of SF and Plasma were dark and dopey but In the Wee Wee Hours brought us all, crowd included, to our feet for an upbeat number that Chris knew was early ska/reggae. First Tube was the loudest song of the night and most well received due to sheer popularity. I have no recollection of Nothin But a G Thing and likely took a piss. Money Love and Change was funky and a solid rocker yet again but At the Gazebo was ill-placed to slow things down. Mr. Completely destroyed all memory of At the Gazebo with hard hitting punches. At this point, I was certain the set was ending, as each tune ended in such a crescendo that the set seemed to be nearing. Finally the closer of Push on Til the day featured the typical solos from multiple band members. Bittersweet was Ether Sunday as Rachel took off to head home for work the next day. 

As soon as the show was over, I headed back, a little drunk but not too shabby and made a beeline for Halley. I went up to the parking garage's 3rd level, opened the door and she jumped out to 'shake the car’ off. We walked around outside near the street so she could poop before going into uncharted territory for Halley - a hotel! She had never been in a hotel before and was very excited and curious at the same time. She didn't rush off, stuck close to me  and kept her head low to the ground, very quiet and well behaved, since this was not a hotel for dogs. Once we got to Mark and Z's room, she sniffed every single inch of the place, leaving no spot unsniffed. Relaxing in the room for a bit, all seemed well till there was a knock at the door and Halley's instincts decided she should bark a few times. I snapped at her and kept her quiet while Z paid the pizza guy. Halley loves these guys, simply because they bring food with them and leave it.  It took longer than normal for Halley to get her share of the crusts but she was rewarded with her patience.

This whole time, Mark still hadn't made it back to the hotel and was having trouble finding it, for reasons that are easy to discern post-concert. We happened to eat Mark's pizza (sorry Mark) but tried to guide him back. He was calling the room and my cellphone to guide him back to the hotel. This was a Sisyphean struggle. He seemed to be getting closer, closer, then nothing. Not even close. He was clear on the other side of the mall and was wandering farther away. This was before cellphones were as good as they are today so it was tough to communicate or figure out how to get to the hotel with ease. No GPS, no Google Maps, nothing. Mark showed up just as we were ready to head out. Chris and I bid Z and Mark farewell before heading back to D.C. for the night.

The drive back to DC was slow and steady. Chris and I made it in one piece, focusing on the road. It was more exhilaration from the show than anything, but there were a fuckton of cops out on the road and this wasn't a time to tempt fate, again. We made it to Chris' and I headed straight for the couch and sleep. The next day I was very excited to see a girl and didn't want to miss a moment. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July 21-25: A few days in Cincinnati and Trey Anastasio Band Show #5 at Deer Creek, Noblesville, Indiana

July 21

            So I had arrived in Cincinnati at Hillary's and promptly went to sleep. When I awoke around 4pm, I was a sweaty, stinky mess and promptly went outside for a cigarette. I was battle worn and bruised with a fresh outlook on things. I started to unpack my car and get clothes together so I could take my first shower in almost 4 days.

              The car was surprisingly neat based on my half-drunk organizing in St. Louis so I grabbed my clothes and scooped up the trash that had accumulated throughout. On the passenger side, near the door but slightly under the seat, I found a small wooden box that did not belong to me. I looked inside of it and my heart stopped and brain took pause at what was inside the container - 3 hits of Spiderman acid, a few pills and some powder residue from the pills. I leaned on the hood of my car and collected myself while I realized what I had in my possession. Aside from drugs, this could have been a huge factor when I was pulled over the night before in Southern Illinois. What if the cop had cited me for a DWI and decided I couldn't drive? Animal control would have been called, the car would have been searched and I would have been fucked for years to come. Immediately I thought of Shawn, wondering if he would have admitted to it being his stash, which it was. I didn't bring anything like this with me anywhere and didn't want to lose everything, including Halley, because it fell out of Shawn's pocket. For reasons I'm still uncertain, I tucked it in the deepest recesses of my car planning to give it back to Shawn in exchange for the rest of the money he owed me. That was IF I saw him on the road or back in Syracuse. I put it behind me and took the best shower ever before heading to dinner with Hillary and her sister, mom and step dad. Sandwiches at the place she worked were in order and delicious, although I looked like hell from the trip and exhausted but at this point, appearances mattered little to me. I was with Hill for a few days and I could sleep in a bed, or at least a couch and take time to account for the past few weeks of life.

              Hill's well meaning mom didn't love the idea of Halley being at the house and informed me she would have to stay in the basement. However, Halley doesn't like being in the basement and that's just cruel. I let Halley do all the convincing in this case, whining and barking her brains out when she was put into the dark basement (yes, the light HAD to be kept off I was told). Finally, her mom relented and allowed Halley to walk freely around the house and stay with me on the couch/bed where I was sleeping. Halley's cuteness and ability to not stop barking were the factors and thank god, because how could you keep a dog in the basement for 4 days? She had outside to explore too, but I wasn't relegating her to outside on a permanent basis either.

July 22

             We slept that night and got some rest with a slow day Sunday in preparation for heading to Deer Creek for the Trey show that night in Noblesville, Indiana. We packed up what we needed to - food and a cooler really, since the car had the tent and everything else. I was making yet another pilgrimage to a classic amphitheater Phish and The Grateful Dead, among many others, had frequented in the past few decades. Hillary wanted to bring her step-brother so we stopped to get him at his girlfriends. He brought out a bottle of wine that would turn out to be extra clutch.

             It was only a two hour drive to Noblesville but we needed to get some food and beer on the way. The date of this show was 7/22/01, a Sunday. What's important about that is Indiana has blue laws and no alcohol can be sold on Sundays. We did not know this and Hill, living so close to the border, didn't have us get beer in Ohio where there are no blue laws. I tried anyways. I went into a large supermarket, got some stuff and a 30 pack of beer and went to the register with the youngest kid at it. He scanned the beer, checked my ID and put the orange 'paid' sticker on the case. We finished up the order when Buzzkill Bill the Manager walked by, told the young cashier where he went wrong and took the case away. We were SO CLOSE and now we were dry for the night.

            We checked into the campgrounds at Deer Creek, the main official ones run by Verizon Wireless as they were starting their corporate naming rights grab-a-thon at venues across the country. A few bucks to camp wasn't bad, so we set up the site and admired the warm evening, corn fields and such and strolled around looking for beers and food. Hill's step-brother took off to look for a ticket, with the bottle of red wine.  Hill and I found some burritos and Coronas while walking Halley around the maze of cars and corn. Finally, when step-brother returned without a ticket, we decided to get ready to head in. He seemed OK to watch Halley for a few hours, handed over the spare car key to him and instructions for taking care of her which he seemed to understand. Hill and I walked into the show up the hill at the back of the lawn, without hearing Halley whine at all. This was a good thing.....

7/22/01, Verizon Wireless Music Center, Noblesville , IN

Set 1: Acting the Devil, Push On Til the Day, Come On Baby Lets Go Downtown, Last Tube, Small Axe, Alive Again
Set 2: Burlap Sack and Pumps, At the Barbeque, Sand, Mr. Completely, Windora Bug, Plasma, Simple Twist Up Dave
Encore: Mozambique
Entire show with John Medeski on keyboards

          Of note this show were the solid Come on Baby Lets Go Downtown by Neil Young; the incredibly developing Last Tube that I had now seen at all five shows this tour; Small Axe, a personal favorite for Hill who loved Bob Marley; At the BBQ which was semi-new to me; Sand, known via Phish and filthy dirty with funk and Trey on keys, along with Medeski and Ray, making for triple key action; Mozambique was fun and the crowd loved the line the horns played out of from center stage. Overall, a great show. My trip was 3/4 over but the tour was only 1/2 over, meaning more shows close to home - I could enjoy the music I had learned over the past few weeks with friends to end the tour.

          We got back to the campsite and again, I saw Halley wandering around without her leash on. She saw me and stopped, nervously putting her tail between her legs. This type of fear was rarely seen from her, unless she did something wrong. Presuming she hadn't killed Hill's step-brother, all was forgiven. But he was nowhere to be seen. I got Halley's leash on her and took her for a stroll into the corn field. Bad idea. Halley was running from the nitrous and couldn't stand to be around it. She bolted all around the corn until we found our way out of there and back to the car. The goal was to get her in the tent and calm her down, going to bed extra early for the sake of my pup.

          Just like at Red Rocks, this wasn't happening. Halley was panicking and not calming down. The nitrous tanks all around us didn't help. Just like at Red Rocks, we couldn't see them, but we could hear them and that was all we needed. I took Halley for a walk and tried to calm her down, going farther and farther away from the site. She got calmer and her tail resumed wagging. Then the sky lit up and a loud POP startled her back into submission - fireworks, a new thing on Halley's list of things she could do without. We walked back in vain, not knowing where to go from here. She had a look on her face that said 'I'm sorry this is happening' but it wasn't her fault. Dogs don't belong on Phish or any tour lot, period.

          Getting to the car, I weighed my options as balloons popped all around, tanks hissed and fireworks gave Halley yet another case of the shakes. By this point she was on top of the car, as being in the car was not good for her. She was climbing out of the car with windows cracked just to escape the sounds. Finally I said 'Fuck it' and we packed up the tent and headed back to Cincinnati on a two hour drive that left me pissed off and bitter. It wasn't Halley, but I hadn't dealt with this aspect of the Phish community before, or at least, this community before. We may not have camped in the best spot but there was no other choice for us so we headed home. We got to Hill's around 2am, dropping off her step-brother on the way. I was a bit calmer when we arrived, as was Halley who was ready to fall asleep after so much excitement for one night, let alone almost a month now. Hill suggested we relax in the hot tub, which I had neglected to notice since we got there. It was the only cure for such a long day of travel, dancing and drama. Halley was safe and I was back to whatever normal was for me at that time.

July 23

Based on my notes from this day, it seems I spent the day relaxing before heading to dinner at Hillary's fathers place. We brought Halley along since he had two dogs, but they were yappy and kept barking at Halley non-stop, terrorizing her across the outdoor patio. The dinner was uneventful and we went back to Hills place to relax in the hot tub again. Finally, a vacation from vacation

July 24th

            Today was a very important day because the 11 year old immaturity inside me was finally going to be appeased on this trip. We were headed across the Ohio River to BIG BONE LICK STATE PARK. It didn't matter that there were giant dinosaur bones and huge salt licks at this archaeological site. What mattered is that it was named Big Bone Lick. I had to do two things - take a picture of the sign (below) and find a shirt that said 'Big Bone Lick'. Done and Done. We walked around with Halley but I couldn't help but laugh at this one the whole way home.
               The alternative to going there was to go to the TAB show in Columbus, but I had sold my tickets to the show while at Red Rocks for just under face. It was worth it, getting to spend time with Hill and Halley and venture into yet another state. We got home, took a nap and went out for Fuddruckers, a new restaurant to me, but it was closed so we went to Don Pablos and got way too much food for two people.

July 25
              Today Hill wanted to cook so I went with her shopping for food. I got to use one of the self-checkout scanners for the first time, pretty cool. We stopped by a Coconuts record store since I knew the recent Phish tribute album was out, created by Mockingbird Foundation. Sharin' in the Groove was a key purchase and was listened to non-stop while I was in the state of Ohio. Hill made a delicious lunch for us, I took a nap and then she woke me up to drive me all around so we could just talk and hang out. We stopped for ice cream at her favorite place and shared a sundae. This would be the last night I would see Hill until late September when she returned to Syracuse for job interviews, and eventually, to move back up there.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Leg 11: Red Rocks to St. Louis and Trey Anastasio Band show #4 Riverport Amphitheater, Maryland Heights, MO

July 19-20

I awoke in my car after as good of a night of sleep as I was going to get in a '92 Saturn, took Halley out for a walk and ran into the guy who smoked PCP a few days prior. He was surprisingly calm. I was beginning to think he wasn't on PCP. I wrote a paper on it in 6th grade and more so, had seen this video that forever scared me from taking PCP. I opted against a shower, just in the interest of time, packed up our stuff, got Shawn and Siobhan ready to head out and we were all on our way to St. Louis!

Leg 11: 895 Miles
           On the way though, I HAD  to do some touristy stuff. It had been far too long without me going to the nearest landmark to check out whatever was important in the area and buy some crap. So we went to William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody's gravesite, just up the road from Chief Hosa on the way out of town. It was a cool stop off, and on the way, we got to see the bison preserve, seen below.

Bison, not buffalo

             The light brown little one in the middle got up when we parked the car to admire them from the fence and she immediately saw Halley, head popping out of the car and wagging her tail furiously as we walked to the fence. She let out a few quick barks which the entire herd ignored, except for the smallest member. It came towards the fence in a slow pimp strut that had me get Halley back in the car and keep us from preventing a stampede. We drove up to the grave, took pictures and got on the road. It was going to be a long drive to St. Louis and it was getting humid out. 

            The drive to St. Louis was far, 14 hours in total and it was hot. I mean really truly, HOT and humid and sticky and uncomfortable. If you recall, there are three 20-somethings in a car as well as a 1 and a half year old dog with all their gear and no air conditioning whatsoever. This wasn’t good. And to top it all off, we were driving through intense humidity at night - 95% with a nighttime temperature of 89 degrees in central Kansas. Even the dark of night didn't cut us any slack in our travels across the country.

            The drive through the night was miserable but alleviated only because it was a straight drive and we could go upwards of 75 mph to make up some time. That time was lost at a rest stop where we tried, along with many other travelers both on and off tour, to cool down at a rest stop, somewhere just west of Abilene. There was no respite and we were marinating in the humidity. I was so exhausted I passed out in the drivers seat - not fell asleep - passed out. I came to dizzy and groggy with the first sign of morning, drank a half gallon of water and then some, popped a few Advil and took over driving. There was a stop to be made soon.

American Jazz Museum and Negro League Hall of Fame, Kansas City, Missouri
           Being a fan of baseball and music combines in only one place aside from Damn Yankees and that is 18th and Vine in Kansas City, Missouri, where the American Jazz Museum and the Negro League Hall of Fame reside side by side on the most famous jazz corner not in New Orleans. I parked the car in a lot just across the street under some shade where it was cooler, asked Shawn to give Halley some water while I went into the museum. In the interest of time, I sped through the museum, saw what I came to see and kept myself wanting enough to see it all again at a later date, with more time to myself. Rube Foster, Buck O'Neil, Cool Papa Bell, Satchel Paige and other great baseball players who were in most cases relegated to a 'separate but equal' league amid the racism of the first half of the 20th century. I had read 'Only the Ball was White' by Robert Peterson in bits and pieces previously and it was enough to convince me to see this dedicated area for those who were every bit as good as their contemporaries in the American and National Leagues, but were merely the predecessors of Jackie Robinson and others who crossed the color-barrier in the 1950s. 

           Pumped up and wide awake, we stopped for some food and sped along to St. Louis. Ten hours down and four more to go. I drove the whole thing hoping for a breeze to come in and cool us down, but no such luck. We melted the entire way to the Mississippi River, which was the first and only destination I wanted to make. We parked the car and started to head towards the Big River when I turned my head down a street and saw something that was both puzzling and mildly appalling. A group was picketing a conference of US Bishops (presumably Catholic) with vile signs saying 'Fags die god laughs' and 'Repent or perish', among others. I didn't know what the hell this was, but I figured it was some regional thing and headed to the Mississippi with Halley so she could cool down in its waters. 

            (Years later, I learned this is part of Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church, based in Kansas. A sad group of non-Christians purporting to be Christians. It was a regional thing.)

Douchebag protesters in St. Louis 
           Getting to the river, we noticed it to be a bit muddier than expected but this didn't bother Halley, or me for that matter. She hopped in and out, cooling down on the banks while I took my mocassins off and cooled down as well. Behind us was the St. Louis Arch, a marvel of architecture and bigger than I pictured it. We couldn't take the elevator to the top since Halley was with us but we weren't much interested in that. Cooling down near the water or at least getting something to eat was needed. Whatever we ate, it wasn't memorable. Instead, we got back to the car, found a crack pipe underneath our car that we use to take this picture with Halley (notice the half smile as in 'yeah, this is cute') and ditched it to head out on the road to Riverport Amphitheater. This is where the day got a little foggy. 
A good idea at the time
            There was nothing written in between the car and the concert when I referred to my 2001 notes but later recalled a fun drive to the venue, parking as one of the first cars and friendly neighbors who were showering Halley with food and water, despite her otherwise happy and healthy appearance. She spent most of the day in the car relaxing in the shade of a newly cool day. This was good because I needed a nap, which I got until around 6pm when the lots got louder and I had to wake up, tend to Halley and myself and get  ready for the show. This was the same deal as Red Rocks - I would go in when they started playing or when Halley was comfortable, whichever came first. However, Shawn and Siobhan were both there and not going into the show so I could go in a bit early. I splurged on some solid food and a beer and chatted with neighbors here and there. I don't recall a single thing about this show. A complete blank is drawn, even the sit-in with Medeski. And there's a good reason for that. 

            I got drunk. Piss drunk and tried in vain to sober up, with limited success. That summer, Camel Cigarettes were promoting their cancer sticks at music venues with these giant Turkish tents called 'Camel Casbah Lounge'. Since my name was on file (or I put it on file there) I was able to enter, get free smokes and enjoy underpriced cocktails that normally would pose a major problem. Instead, I had myself a few delicious Grand Marniers (I have no idea why I drank that, likely bartender's choice) and watched the show from this comfy yet desolate area. The show was going on and it was now late in Set 1. I was enjoying the fans above that kept the room cool. I all but passed out in the cool climate of this wonderful tent. I made my way to the private porto when I felt sick and puked up at least half the Grand Marnier and much of dinner. I still don't remember what it was, but it tasted terrible. I meandered out to the rest of the venue in time to crash a meeting of The Phellowship, the sober group of fans that meet at setbreak and provide a safe environment for those who choose not to do drugs or drink. And this was my introduction to them. Good timing. I stopped drinking for the rest of the night and drank copious amounts of water. I knew I didn't make the wisest call, but  I saw what I was doing and got my shit together, quick. 

           And that's why I always throw The Phellowship folks some love at any given show. 

7/20/01 • Riverport Amphitheatre • Maryland Heights , MO

Set 1: Last Tube, Cayman Review, Burlap Sack and Pumps, Moesha, First Tube, Come On Baby Lets Go Downtown, Alive Again
Set 2: Money Love and Change, When, Quantegy > Sand > Nothing But a G Thing, Push On Til the Day
Encore: Will It Go Round In Circles
(John Medeski sat in on keyboards the entire show)

Just a terrible picture. Don't use disposable cameras from the lawn. 
           I drank water and rested in the Casbah Lounge the rest of the show except for the encore, but made a beeline out to the car since I was missing Halley and needed to see her to sober up. Plus the car needed rearranging and Shawn and Siobhan had to help drive me to Cincinnati to Hillary's place. But when I got there
Shawn and Siobhan started cleaning out the car with their stuff as they had found a ride back to Syracuse courtesy of the group we met at Red Rocks. It was probably for the better: things got tense in the car at times despite best intentions all around and we could all use a break. Plus I was going to Hillary's for 4 days or so and didn't want to have them hanging around. So I welcomed this change in plans. 

            My arrival to the car however was a bit scary as I saw the two of them were packing up the other car with their stuff while Halley was walking around in the lots, loose with her collar and leash on. She ran towards me when she saw me, which was a split second after I saw her, just in time to keep her from running into the lanes of cars leaving the show. This wasn't good, sober or drunk and I snapped at Shawn 'What the fuck?' He apologized, said they were in a hurry and got ready to leave. Shawn and Siobhan bid farewell, threw me half of what they owed me ($100 of $200) and since we worked together in Syracuse, I could get the rest later this summer or on tour. And just like that, it was Halley and I together alone for the first time of the entire trip.

             But this change in plans came at a cost - I was drunk and had to get my shit together fast and drive east towards Cincinnati alone with Halley. I took my time, there were tons of cars in the lot and I had to get some food and drinks for us before getting on the road, as well as a route to take. Food and water was easy, as was cleaning the car. Finding a route was a bit difficult since I still couldn't see in only line of vision. I figured out that driving on route 50 east would take me direct to Cincy and I could call Hillary when I got there to be guided into town. Otherwise, it was a straightshot. So I was all set to go - food, water, Halley, a map, my phone charged, cigarettes. The only thing missing was my sobriety. And the patience of the security guard who told me to leave or I would be arrested for trespassing. I was in no shape to drive but I was in REALLY no shape to sit in jail while Halley was left alone or sent to animal control, so I took my chances. 

            Note: This was the dumbest decision I ever made and I'm not sure how I got through it. Alot of sugar, caffeine and water helped, as did the drive and the music but somehow, I made it from St. Louis to Cincinnati, roughly 350 miles overnight on a US Route that was two lanes for most of the ride, depending where we were. Once into Illinois, I recalled from 'National Lampoons Vacation' not to stop in East St. Louis, Il and drove past it as fast as possible. I drove fast for a little while actually. Too long, because I really truly had to go to the bathroom and needed a break from the driving. And then, out of nowhere, the lights lit up in my rearview mirror.

            Rather than panic, I pulled over to the side of the road, noting a sleeping Halley who was unflinched from the shoulder of the highway leaning her seat lower to the ground. I gained my composure, chewed up a mint quickly and kept my hands on the wheel. The officer approached the car as I wondered if i swerved or was speeding or was clearly incapable of being on the road in this state. But I never saw the face of the officer. She clearly had blonde hair as I recall shoulder length hair that was not put up but we never made eye contact. If that had happened, game over. Within moments, license and registration were given to the officer, she went to her car, wrote up a ticket quickly and came back, giving me instructions on how to handle the ticket. I barely had spoken a word before she was gone. Off and flying into the night down the road towards a gas station that appeared like a mirage. I set the ticket aside and bolted for the bathrooms that had eluded me since the venue. Surprisingly, I didn't piss myself in the car while she pulled me over, I simply lost the urge to go. And now it was back with vengeance.

            Making it to the gas station, I filled up the tank, emptied my tank and took a break to recapture what it was that just happened. I was pulled over, drunk but given a ticket for 50 in a 35? That was it? This moment was sobering in many ways. I had my first ticket after nearly 8000 miles of travel and eluded a fate that was even worse. I was quite literally sober at this moment in time, took it to pray and thank whoever it was that looked over me there and got back on the road after a 20 minute break. 

            The next seven hours were spent listening to music, comedy albums and talk radio, all in the interest of keeping me awake, alert and focused on the road. I smoked cigarettes relentlessly and chugged this new drink 'Red Bull' as well as water that kept me awake with a twice an hour need to pee. Around 4am I had my first long talk of the road with Halley, going over a myriad of topics, reflecting on the trip, talking aloud with her responding in stares and glares, barks and whines. I got through Illinois easily but Indiana took forever. By the time I was nearing Ohio, it was 7am, light out and I was fading fast. I started calling Hill's cell phone left and right when I was getting close and she picked up around 7:40am, just in time to guide me off the highway and into her neck of the woods. Where she lived I have no idea, I never wrote it down and when we broke up, it didn't really matter. It was a nice area of Cincy though, suburban and a good ten minutes or so to get to downtown from there. I was guided into her driveway, pulled the car up outside the garage, got out and gave her a long sweaty hug, as I was now unshowered for nearly three days, having been to two concerts and ridden in a car 22 hours since my last shower, over a timezone ago. We were happy to see each other but I was happier to see a bed. I crashed on the bed downstairs in the basement and passed out before Hill could get me a glass of water or I could shut my car doors. Halley got on the bed with me and followed Hill's every move, a little protective I think since I was exhausted and needed rest, as did she. And I slept for a solid eight hours before I was woken up to go to dinner with Hillary and her family......

              I fell asleep realizing what I had done to get to see Hillary, driven halfway across the country in an intense heat, got drunk, drove and got a ticket in the process before driving the remainder straight through. Little did I know that ticket could have been much worse. Much, much worse.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Trey Anastasio Band Shows #2 and #3: Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, CO

July 17-18

We arrived at 6am to the famed Chief Hosa Campground, right outside of Red Rocks. Immediately we were asked at the gate if we wanted any 'pharmies'. Being younger and still new to this, I passed as I had no clue what this guy was offering. I got my bracelet via reservation that was held and drove in to find a nice cozy spot on a flat area of a hill overlooking Shakedown Street, but far enough away that we weren't in the middle of it. I set up the tent and Halley and I took a nap for a little while before heading to the Trey Anastasio Band concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater.

            After our nap we went for a walk around the campgrounds and found it to be pretty cool, although a bit steep at some points for Halley. She was running all over, keeping an eye on me, running around then plopping down tired on the ground. We had to head to the lots early since Shawn and Siobhan wanted to vend beer in a prelude to Shawn's 21st birthday at midnight that night. I got Halley ready to go for the ride over to Red Rocks. On the way we got two styrofoam coolers full of beers for Shawn and Siobhan to sell, while I had prints of Hill's painting she made for me to vend. We made our way up the hill to the top parking lot of Red Rocks and found the security to be almost non-existent and the weather to be beautiful.

           I now discovered that with Halley at the show, I didnt know what to do with her. She was curious and wanted to walk around, so we strolled over to the giant rock formations on the side of the upper parking lot across from the steps leading up to the amphitheater. I didn’t want to leave the car alone for too long so we made a series of short walks to the rocks so we could wander around and Halley could go to the bathroom.  When we were at the car Halley didn't much like the heat as it was too warm in the car, even with the windows open and the breeze blowing. Thankfully, Halley did what she had learned from that dog in Utah – she made some space under the car by scratching out a sort of hole and laid down under the car. At first I didn't like the idea because it seemed dangerous so I pulled her out but she went right back under the car so I let her stay and fed her some water. As long as I was near the car, she was content in the cool gravel. 

            After too long, fans started trekking up the hill to our lot to head into the show. I took Halley for a stroll with the fans while Shawn and Siobhan packed up their stuff, so that Halley could stretch one last time and get ready for the inevitable wait in the car while I was inside the show. I dreaded this then and I dread it now, a show is no place for a dog, let alone a lot or a car of any temperature. Thankfully, the weather was getting cooler so I felt a bit more comfortable with her staying in the car. I prepped the car with a bowl of water, treats, her blanket on the passenger seat, cracked windows and some food in case she wanted to eat. I wasn't thrilled with this but it was nearing start time and although I could stand to miss a song or two, I didn't want to be outside with Halley waiting to make my move. Halley watched me as I walked away and I headed in. She was good enough in the car already and I made sure to bolt out of the gate as soon as the encore started.

7/17/01 • Red Rocks Amphitheatre • Morrison , CO

Set 1: Burlap Sack and Pumps, Acting the Devil, Last Tube, Quantegy, Moesha, Alive Again,Come On Baby Lets Go Downtown, First Tube

Set 2: Simple Twist Up Dave, Money Love and Change, Every Story Ends in Stone, Noodle Rave Daddyo, Flock of Words, Mr. Completely, Drifting, Push On Till the Day 

Encore: At the Gazebo

          The show was a great start to two nights at Red Rocks but the flow of things was disjointed. Last Tube was quickly becoming a great song, a regular for every show that summer it seemed. Dropping down into Quantegy's ethereal verses brought the energy to a halt, despite it being a rare song. Then back up with Moesha, and coasting through the rest of the set with four rockers, including the TAB original First Tube.

          Set two started with two songs that were new for me, Simple Twist up Dave and Money Love and Change, great songs with energy and playful lyrics. Every Story Ends in Stone was another low-energy number, but Noodle-Rave Daddyo changed that. Flock of Words made me reminisce for Hillary, already I was missing her but we'd be together in another 5 days or so. Mr. Completely was a shitshow of dancing in the middle left area of the seating, with a few early-spunions staggering/slam-dancing to the jam. Good song, terrible version to deal with though. Drifting mellowed things out and had me thinking of getting back to the car a bit early, so I headed to the top of the seats and waited for the show to end. Push on Till the Day came on and changed my mind so I went back down to where I was dancing and enjoyed the one original I recalled from back in February in Syracuse. When I saw the opening ensemble prepare for At the Gazebo, I bolted and headed back to the car to check on Halley. If the usual encore was this, I could take some stress off the guilt of leaving Halley in the car.

           I snagged a veggie burrito on the way out and learned a valuable lesson on first bite - dont buy from the first person selling them: they're likely made before or during the show and not fresh. Not as tasty and definitely not as warm, so Halley had a snack when I got to the car. I got to the car and Halley was sound asleep, cuddled up into a ball and groggy to get up before finding her energy and jumping out of the car in excitement to see me. We went for a little walk so she and I could both use the bathroom and then waited at the car for the traffic to die down so we could get to the campground. We were both tired and needed sleep.

            When we got to the campground, Shawn jumped out of the car to avoid having to pay for the bracelet for staying at the venue, so when I drove up, they checked Siobhan's wrist and found nothing. Since she was passed out cold, I paid for her before driving through a TON of people who were on Shakedown, which was situated on a winding one-way road that took us to our campsite.  Halley saw some other dogs outside and started to bark but we kept her quiet as these were not the kind of dogs she needed to be around. Our campsite was right where we left it, although some other people had put their tents there near ours as the place filled in. We headed up to the tent, climbed in and got ready for bed. Halley was returning to the new trick of making her den, albeit on my sleeping bag. Then, as we laid down to sleep, exhausted and dirty from 3 days of driving and not a shower since Vegas, the hissing started. Not a snake but instead, Nitrous.  I hated the sound at the time and paid attention to Halley. She started to shake nervously in the sleeping bag and despite me trying to calm her down or entice her with treats, she started scratching at the edge of the tent. She started to whine and bark, which normally isn't good for 2 a.m. but it actually seemed to help. The commotion in the tent moved the Nitrous guys away from our tent and further down the hill, almost out of ear-shot. Once she was calm enough to eat a treat and stop shaking, I fell asleep, more than halfway done with my trip but still three weeks left of adventure. 

            July 18th

            As dawn approached, Halley started to wake up and did what she still does today: stands over me staring at me waiting for my eyes to open and get up to take her out. Upon opening my eyes, I was greeted to wet dog kisses and excitement, so I got up and meandered out of the tent to take Halley out. A leash wasn't necessary at this hour so we did without it. Halley wound up leaving a freshie near another campsite so I scrambled to the tent for my keys and the car for a baggie. We walked down to Shakedown where some were still going strong but most were dropping or had already dropped like flies. I got a coffee and  a bagel for us to share before heading back to the car to straighten stuff out and prepare for a shower and the rest of the day.

            Today was Shawn's 21st birthday and he was excited from the moment he woke up. He cracked a beer and rolled one up in anticipation of a long day of partying. He made nice with the neighbors, one of which informed us he smoked a joint dipped in PCP and he had no intention, or ability, of sleeping. This was the most interesting man on lot.

           It was finally time to take a shower after a few days so Halley stayed with Shawn and Siobhan while I went to the shower stalls and cleaned the funk off of me. They decided against washing their dreads and taking light showers, part of Shawn's birthday present I presume. We hung out long enough, got some food in town and followed the same plan was the same today as yesterday – go to Red Rocks early, hang out, walk around, and see friends. Pete T, a friend from Syracuse who was out for the shows, met up with us that day in the lots and we spent time hanging out with his friends from home and school. Halley was a bit more tired today and as it was cooler, she lay down inside the car for part of the day, with the windows down of course. The breeze felt good for us in the lots and provided for the occasion hippie girl's skirt to blow up. We followed the same plan in the lots, taking short walks when Halley was up for it and drinking lightly in anticipation of the show. I went into the show once it was cool enough for Halley to be left alone.

A double threat: Two Petes

7/18/01 • Red Rocks Amphitheatre • Morrison , CO

Set 1: Mozambique, Cayman Review, Happy Coffee Song, Last Tube, Windora Bug, Burlap Sack and Pumps, Money Love and Change

Set 2: Sand, When, Mr. Completely, Gotta Jibboo, Nothing But a G Thing, Radon Balloon, Bathtub Gin 

Encore: Moesha

          Being able to go into the show a bit earlier and with friends from college, as well as a needed break from Shawn and Siobhan (closeness can breed contempt), I was excited and even elated for this show. It turned out to be one of the best of the tour. The opener Mozambique featured a dancing line of horns who one-by-one took their solo amid a rocking instrumental package Trey had developed. Phish played this in 1999 but TAB was taking it to a higher level. Cayman Review was funky and Calypso-y, while the Happy Coffee song was cool. Then the repeats started up with Last Tube, my third in 3 shows but fast becoming a VERY danceable song, despite having lyrics that were completely impossible to understand, regardless of what state I was in. During this song I ventured down to the bathrooms on the side of the stage, picked up a poster from the table for the Berkeley show I missed, but the poster was too cool to pass up. As I headed up to our spot, I saw a guy painting on the side of the walkway, mixing paint together and shining a light on his art as he stared at the band for a moment, painted some and danced all the while. This was my first meeting with Scramble Campbell, he pointed me towards one of his business cards and I set off back to my seat. I was amazed at the art. I may have stood there for 10 minutes or so just marveling in what he was creating. Years later, he was a major contributor to my book  PhanArt: The Art of the Fans of Phish and part of the reason I got into the Phish fan and official art community.

            Windora Bug was awesome to hear, with Tony Markellis singing the verses Mike Gordon once did in Albany on 9/8/00 when the song was debuted by Phish. With a tuba and much more instrumentation to the song, I again preferred the TAB version. Burlap Sack and Pumps, which I had seen in LA and Syracuse was cool, and nice because I missed it the night before while tending to Halley. Money Love and Change was much tighter this night as well. By now Pete and I were on the right side of the stage down low watching the band up close as Pete shouted to Trey as they headed into the backstage area for setbreak. That was cool.

          Second set started out with a long and deep Sand that had a touch of rain as a storm blew over us. It didn't last very long and eventually hit Denver, which we had a great view of in the distance beyond the stage. As the lightning struck Denver, the band descended into a creepy tune, When. The alternate title to this song is 'Storm Drawing Near' and it was incredible to hear that line uttered as lightning struck in the distance. I was glad we didn't get wet and equally glad we got a cool memento like this song. A scorching Mr. Completely brought the house to their feet and pounded through an extended version of a rocking song with potential seeping all over. Then a treat for me: Gotta Jibboo! I love this song and definitely credit it for getting me further into Phish during the Summer of 2000.

         In the excitement of the Jibboo, combined with my nervous habit of playing with a claddagh I got for my 21st birthday, I lost the ring as I threw my hands up into the air, excited for the song but immediately dreading what I had done. I put it out of my mind and danced a bit but had to search for it. Knowing it had probably bounced far, fallen into someone's bag or beer, or gotten stepped on, it was a lost cause. After the show Pete and his friend Marty helped me look for it around the area it would have been thrown, but it was no use, the ring was gone. Lesson learned - don't wear a ring to a concert.

          I missed Nothing But a G Thing (not that song, an instrumental by Trey) while I searched for my ring but stopped when the band left the stage, all but Trey that is. We got a brief story time from Trey about playing Red Rocks, an upcoming collaboration with Les Claypool called Oysterhead and a sampling of their work together with a new song, Radon Balloon. The lyrics were amazing and the first thing I listened to when I got home from tour:
"From an island, to the Tetons

To the day that came before
Drifting is a simple thing to do
To dance across the treetops with
Reflections in a spoon
In black and white or color
A step toward the craters on
The surface of the moon
Radon Balloon

In dreams he flies a tiny raft in a broken sky

Radon Balloon
Saw the sun in a chase to be
With the chosen one
Radon Balloon
Swung through town on a piece of twine
Radon Balloon
Disappeared a thousand times
Radon Balloon."

           If this wasn't good enough, Trey moved into Bathtub Gin, all acoustic and alone, an amazing version to hear and take part in. The crowd took over the lyrics when we got to the 'Doooooo do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do" harmonies. Trey was laughing and played along, strumming the guitar in rhythm to our participation in the collective song. Trey left the stage and returned with the full band for an encore of Moesha, played the day before but this time with different lyrics at the end, with Trey singing "Moesha me Jerry, Moesha me Trey", much to the laughter and chagrin of the audience. We did a final sweep of the area for my ring and headed out to the car, a smile beaming across my face. 

           Halley was safe and sound in the car, sitting up and looking at the people who walked by until I caught her gaze and her ears went back and she barked in excitement of my arrival. We went out, had a bite to eat and waited out for the traffic. Shawn and Siobhan made it back to the car before too long and hugged to celebrate a great 21st birthday show for Shawn. Truly memorable.

      Leaving the venue and arriving back at Chief Hosa, we had the same cast of characters as the night before, including PCP-joint guy who was still awake, in a generic state and basically waiting for it all to wear off. I got up to the tent and saw a Nitrous tank ready to be tapped for all to enjoy/hear. I walked Halley around as far as I could until I was exhausted and returned to our campsite. There was still plenty of Nitrous around our site so I decided that Halley and I would be best in the car for the night. It was a bit colder that usual so I had the comfort of heat and music to go with it, which aided in drowning out the hissing for both Halley and I. Stretched out in the passenger seat with Halley in the drivers seat curled up in a ball, we slept surprisingly well and were refreshed for the ride the next day.

           If tour was like this, I could get used to it.