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.
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,
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
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.
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
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.
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.