September has come and gone! After a month on the road, and in many ways one of the most strenuous tour runs to date, we are back in the Mitten for cider mills, corn mazes, and the colors of fall in the Great Lakes.
For those that follow us we do our best to chronicle our journeys including the highs, the lows and the adventures. #32DaysOnTheRoad is the name of the blog series. We also like to offer insights on our approach to cracking the code for DIY bands to survive and thrive on the road - through our successes and failures. This last run had us driving a 10,500 miles over the course of a month (over 11,000 including our Michigan dates the few days after our return). That is a haul by anyone's standards.
Dylan and I left Michigan early on August 27th and started off a string of duo dates between Lafayette, IN and to Seligman, AZ over the course of 6 days, then a day off before picking up our rhythm section at the airport in Las Vegas on September 2nd. Touring as a duo is not something we've done much. We've been picking it more up to do better, enable us to visit new towns, more towns, discover new places and extend our tours with less overhead concerns and the intention of returning with the full band.
The first couple days were pretty easy driving. An early show on Tuesday in Lafayette, IN and a 2 hour drive to a sweet town in rural Illinois for a brewery show the next day with time to explore a little state park. Our third day is where things got interesting.
We had a 6 hour drive to our next show in Lawrence, KS - a great college town. We left really early with the intention of stopping in Kansas City for exercise and a chance to see more of the town. And we did! We walked along the riverwalk past some historical sights and into downtown around the River Market. Its such a pretty town, I can't wait to book the band there again.
Lover's Locks on the Missouri River in Kansas City - on the Town of Kansas pedestrian bridge
What's a Girl To DO?
It was really hot and humid out, and we got a fair share of exercise, causing the issue of sweat. Although we were only performing about 40 minutes down the road in Lawrence, our hotel for the night was 3 hours west of there in Hays, KS - in order to break up the long drive to Trinidad, CO. I had a plan in motion, an experiment to solve the puzzle of finding ways to maintain healthy habits and not show up stinky and sweaty at a gig.
With an average of 6 hours sitting in the van each day, stops to forage for leafy greens, and the rest of the day/night busy with load ins, shows, etc. it takes a lot of creativity to maintain a moderately healthy lifestyle. Sometimes we are at a hotel for only 7 hours - even less, just enough time to sleep, shower and make a Super 8 waffle....wash, rinse, repeat... mind and butt numbing! I've tried to use rest stop areas to exercise but the problem arises again; if we are going straight to a load in I don't want to risk being stinky with a bad hair day. And wearing a hat is becoming old hat.
At the advice of a few friends that do the van/rv life, I decided to opt for the truck stop shower! Much to my chagrin, I didn't use the best of timing and my choices were very "truck stoppy". Undeterred, I forked over $10 for all the hot water I could handle at a Love's Truck Stop just outside the city.
As Dylan waited beside me watching a monitor to tell me it was my turn to shower, I thought about germs and diseases and wondered what the hourly wage was for the guy that cleans the showers. Is anybody peeking? I saw a person walking around with a giant sprayer of sanitizer that put me at ease a bit. Then I thought about some of the less attractive budget hotels I've stayed in. What is their standard concerning germs? I've seen some questionable moulding in my time. It can't be worse than that, anyway.
Once my number was called, this is what I walked into:
The shower area was the size of a studio apartment in NYC. Sparkly, clean towels on a bench with room to put my belongings, a toilet, nice sink and counter area with a huge mirror, a fan and plenty of outlets for hair appliances. The shower rivaled the one at the Hotel Indigo we've been lucky to once be lodged at -- aside the plastic shower curtain. All that hot water had me forget about my concerns and about 30 minutes later I left with smooth legs and bouncy hair.
30 Minutes after that, However.....
All good stories have a little drama, supposedly. I could do without it. But, cruising along 15 miles from our destination in the early evening we heard a pop and a sputter. The van suddenly was running rough. With 2 hours til gig time, and repair shops closing for the day we weighed our options. Call AAA? (BTW - no band should be on the road without roadside assistance. Its not expensive!) If we did we would likely be late for our gig, stuck in Lawrence until a mechanic could look at it the next day. Its too late to cancel our hotel in Hays. Where do we have it towed? Who will fix it? Where will we stay? What about our gear? Will we make it on time to Trinidad tomorrow? What will this cost? After assessing things and considering what might be wrong, we decided to drive to Lawrence and call in the troops.
We texted and called everyone we could think of in Kansas that might have a referral to a mechanic in Lawrence as we headed towards an Auto Zone. I plead our case - "out of town band on the move with van woes". First guy didn't have an opening for a week. Second guy stayed on the phone with us while we got error codes at Auto Zone and stayed at work after close. He sent for a part he hoped was the issue as we drove to his shop a half a mile from our venue.
After we pulled into the shop Big Bill put Dylan to work, told him what to do and he repaired the van. He charged us $100 and we were off to our gig with 40 minutes to spare. Sweet baby Jesus, sweet relief, thank you Big Bill's Automotive Repair! The van has been humming along since. I only arrived to the gig mildly sweaty after waiting in the August heat.
The drama.... Thank you Big Bill... We will not forget you! Next up is the journey to Trinidad. In the meantime, enjoy this picture of Slash after our gig in Lafayette.
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