• Jennifer

How long is too long - 32 Days on the road


32 days on the road. The irony is that we ended up dragging our tired bodies and dirty laundry home late on day 31 this last run. Which is another story, altogether. But 32 days begs the question, "How long is too long"? There is not a one size fits all answer. Being on stage 6 times a week might improve your chops and stamina but staying on the road for a long stretch doesn't make you better than anyone else. In some cases its not bright. For many troubadours there are responsibilities at home. Mix in a blur of hotel rooms, rest stops, not-so-green rooms, beautiful vistas, friends that become family and the highs and lows; it can make for a bi-polar experience. Is it possible to be exhausted and energized at the same time? To long for home and not be sure where it is? Is teleportation a viable option? Is this healthy?

When you live in Detroit but standing on this corner becomes routine, you might have a road addiction.

It is understandable how many road warriors become de facto addicts - to travel and substance. We have stood at the corner in Winslow, Arizona enough times in a year that we could be considered loiterers. It is discombobulating. Once we are home, it is not unusual for us to get in the van and forget we are not headed across the country, or to drive a few hours for a change of scenery as we re-acclimate. There's a voice in my head telling me we are supposed to be somewhere and a hotel room hasn't been booked. Dylan is ready to roll out and get us to the gig on time. Anxiety sets in for both of us in the first days back home after a long run and it is sometimes followed by depression.

Which way is home? Your guess is as good as mine.

How long is too long? It is laughable to me, looking back, at the number of people that discouraged me from road dogging at the onset (its soooo hard and uncomfortable and I am a delicate flower). I will say I'd rather not do 6 weeks again (our longest run to date) without a visit home unless the opportunity really merited it. But 6 weeks at home is long enough, too. I want to feed my gypsy soul. I miss friends around the country, the view outside the window and performing outside of my hometown in places where no one has a preconceived idea about who I am and what we are about. I often come home feeling like an outsider, but having a place to park the van, for me anyways, it keeps me grounded.

Its a hoot hanging with the locals on Route 66

Creating and sticking to routine at home doesn't sound very rock and roll but it'll keep the wheels greased and sanity intact. I admit, I fail short often here. My prime objective once home is usually to keep the bills paid (adulting), book the next tour and get ahead. Mix in post tour anxiety; unchecked I will use up 16+ hours plus of my day working at a computer, no matter what I plan - a recipe for depression and Hermitville. The routine of a side job (and the income it provides) can be a welcome reprieve. Cooking at home and visits with friends and family stops the world from spinning so fast. Setting goals for the next 6-18 months and deciding on a plan keeps things focused - nobody else is going to tell us what to do or give us a magic answer pill. I take a clue from friends who have achieved much greater success. Across the board they dedicate time to improving themselves almost everyday. Habits are contagious. Its a challenge wearing many hats and doing the DIY, but a road map keeps me from driving off a cliff and looking forward to the next adventure.

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Miami to New Orleans

We last left off heading out of Miami where I fell temptation to crispy fried treats on the drive north to Melbourne. And after a long day, its pretty nice to be in bed by 2am. I was looking forward to leisurely morning but it was one of those days that everything had to be done now. I begrudgingly (OK - I was in a bad mood) spend a couple hours on my lap top taking care of business and then we drove to Orlando Wetlands Park with Dylan's brother for a hike and to see some alligators up close and personal. it was a welcome alternative to the regular beach excursion - lots of wildlife, beautiful views and a chance to move around. Whooo it was hot. No complaints here!

Orlando Wetlands - Who'da thought? The cool stuff you get to see not too far off the beaten path.

Early evening we piled in the van to break up the drive to New Orleans where we were booked on Tuesday (the next day). An uneventful 5 hour drive just north of Tallahassee. There is no shortage of beautiful views in the panhandle but we are on a mission. At this point I'm tired and not as enthusiastic as usual about the view out the window until we get closer to our hotel in small town Georgia. By then it is dark and I'm happy to check in our hotel; looking forward to our show in New Orleans and just being there again. Happy Dance!

Headed to our show in New Orleans at sunset

New Orleans is such a wonderful city, there are few bad reasons to drop everything and go any day of the week. I highly recommend spending the majority of your time away form Bourbon Street. No offense to bourbon. There are just too many great neighborhoods to see and musicians to hear.

With a couple hours to spare I walked from our hotel for a pre-gig meal of Bahn-Mi. Not gumbo or étouffée. And it was the most magnificent Bahn-Mi i've ever had, enough to share. But I digress.... We last played at the House of Blues here. This time we were at the Hi-Ho Lounge with local support from super talented Lynn Drury. Its a great small room with plenty of patina, a nice stage and sound. We hung around late and chatted with the bar staff afterwards, feeling at home. I'm not cocky enough to take a premature victory with lap but ready to loosen up knowing everything has gone as planned, if not perfect, and there are 3 more dates for the full band.

Lynn Drury at the Hi-Ho

We have all Wednesday to drive to the DFW. So of course, I want to get up early and soak up some New Orleans mojo before driving. I had great breakfast at the hotel so a coffee and beignets are the order of the day, followed by a walk through Jackson Square, the market and the Marigny neighborhood while most of the revelers were still in recovery. On our way out we drove through the Garden District and fantasize, once again, about living in the Big Easy.

A morning walk in NOLA a couple times a year is a big perk of the job.

#32daysontheroad #Route66 #TourLife

© 2015 BY Jennifer Westwood and The Handsome Devils.