Friday, July 17, 2009

13,000 miles, and two blinks later...

Are any of you are experiencing this? 
We turned around (and around and around) and it was July, of all months! 
Cool and pleasant here in N/E U/L Michigan, where we'll be 'til the first couple of weeks
in September, when we head south, stopping first in Indiana.
We successfully booked our way to Eugene, OR for our daughter Rachel's wedding,
a long and meandering route that included Hutchingson, KS, Lubbock, TX, Las Cruces, NM, and Tucson, AZ.  We saw friends and family we had not seen in 15 or 20 years!
Then we shot (or plodded) straight up to Eugene (as lush and beautiful as everyone says), and then straight across the northernmost tier of states, entering MI via the UP.
What an incredible country we happened to be born in--rich with resources and scenery...
DO NOT miss Yellowstone Park if you're up that way!
Madras, OR.  our last big stop, was host to the Oregon's Sam's Club State Samboree--as wild a group of RVers as you'd hope to find! Loads of fun and a great audience. Our thanks to Uncle Sam ( State director Wayne Swanson) and Betsey Ross ( Co-director Mary Swanson)  for making us feel completely at home...(still not sure if we had to do the dishes and vaccuum, but it's great to be part of a tradition.)
We could  say the same thing for Hutchinson, KS! Every state has it's own flavor, and there was nothing flat about the Kansas Good Sammers! State Directors Nancy & Sonny Crook, took us right in (we love being taken in)! And a riotous time was had by all, which included multiple Paul Bunyan's, Babe the Blue Oxes (Oxen?) including a shovel of "Babe's" droppings tied to a string so it could be scooped up over and over! Oh yes they DID!
In Lubbock, TX we met up with fellow musician and old friend Ron Huntley, whom we hadn't seen in 20 years, and who treated us like royalty...Let's just say we ate waaay too much of the finest Mexican food Texas has to offer!.

When we got to Tucson to play the only gig we had booked (a wedding-timing problem) waaay up in the foothills, the guard at the big gate said "Name?"  When he heard, "Whitt McKinney" he did one of those slow sitcom takes as he raised his head and said, "Whitt McKinney?!" Whitt then immediately recognized him as "Frank,"  the brother of Ron, whom we had bade farewell the week before in Lubbock.
"But wait...there's more!"
As we were setting up to play, a familiar face appeared in front of us.
Having traversed the country, and met hundred of folks, sometimes it's hard to immediately recognize faces out of their context.  When dawn burst upon the brain, we recognized that Sally Sulfaro, her son & talented musician Josh, and friend Judith from back in N. Michgan (and Noreast'r Festival fame) had come to see us & say "Hi." (Turned out the guard knew us so he let them in!) The more we travel the smaller the planet gets! Of course, Tucson (our hometown) has some of the finest Mexican food anywhere, and we did our part to help the economy and reduce the supply.
The kicker to that last story is that when we arrived up north Whitt went into a little hole-in-the-wall place, in a tiny town to order a pizza, he turns around and there stands Sally again. She may be following us...she may even be the first Tubhead! (We love ya Sally!)
Las Cruces, NM, home to Banjo Bob and Melody, is one of our favorite places.--just the best of the southwest. We played the Railroad Museum as guests of Bob and Melody, following their RR set with a few of our own and then, as a quartet, polishing off probably every noteworthy RR song ever written. We enjoyed the local model train club's amazing displays and then,
well, we were forced by peer pressure and hospitality to eat waaaay too much wonderful Mexican food.  Travel has proved very broadening for us.
In West Palm Beach, FL, looking for a spot for our rig so we could go to a beach (for once, after months in FL), we followed some "public parking" signs that soon found us very out of place among swanky shops and automobiles the price of homes in Mt. Misbegot.  A cop began to follow us, turn after turn, and then pulled us over. 
Were we lost? 
Yessir, we are.
Where in MI are you from? 
Turns out the officer was a very nice young man from Lewiston, a small town half an hour from the small town where we had lived in Northern Michigan! 
He was very friendly and polite, and clued us in to a free local parking spot that put us right
next to a very fine beach! Yee-Haw and Hallelu-Jah!  Thanks to Officer Morine for aid and comfort in an intimidating environment...He is a credit to his department, and to small town upbringing.
We have some Michigan gigs coming up, and hope to see and catch up with all the rest of our old friends. Seems most of our friends are old...what's up with that?  Except YOU, of course, and we hope to see you, too!

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