I made it! Sitting by the dock of the bay in San Francisco. There have been times in the past two and a half months that I wondered if I would.
Since leaving Ecuador on March 10, it’s like my feet have never left the ground. It’s been a real whirlwind, so let me fill you in, in the sketchiest of details, on what I’ve been up to.
No sooner did Bridget and I get back to New Hampshire than her band, Northern Comfort, had a CD release party at a local place in North Jackson, New Hampshire. They were just waiting for Bridget to get back from Peru and Ecuador. Bridget’s violin playing is featured throughout the CD, and she sings with Steve Tremblay on a couple of the songs. I love it! It was a great party and a great launch of their CD.
Four days later, Bridget, her boyfriend Adam, and I climbed into Dexy and off we went on our big adventure: a 12-day road trip, destination New Orleans. South through Pennsylvania, where a snowfall was causing havoc on the road and we were stuck playing cards while we waited it out, and on into Virginia and the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley. We were taking a bit of a zigzag route that first had us staying the night in Johnson City, Tennessee, made famous for its mention in Wagon Wheel, that stalwart at open mic nights.
Continuing on the musical theme, next stop was Asheville, North Carolina … which has a reputation for good music and an all-around vibrant cultural community. We stayed for four days – which was plenty. The downtown is easily walkable, with plenty of restaurants and boutique stores, all out of my price range; but we did succumb a couple of times, including having lunch at the Tupelo Honey Cafe. How could I resist?
Wall art is all about town, and the sculptures that dot the downtown streets are quite cool. Turn a corner, and bam, there’s yet another novel piece of work that beckons you forward. I discovered when I got to town that Thomas Wolfe, of You Can’t Go Home Again fame, grew up in Asheville and made it the setting for Look Homeward, Angel. I got the crash course on his life at the small museum that’s set up next to his boyhood home. Sort of like Thomas Wolfe for Dummies – just the facts, ma’am.
From Asheville it was off to Savannah, Georgia, for a few days. Bridget and Adam’s friends had a gig in town while we were there, and while they went off to enjoy the music and sights, I focused on history, to see if something would jump out at me and I could fit Savannah into my book. The old town was founded in 1733, and it’s a novelist’s dream. The area is laid out in a grid of squares – mini parks – surrounded by grand mansions and goes from there. What I can’t cover on foot, I attempt by the free bus service that ferries folks to and fro.
With its cobbled streets, historic buildings on the squares, trees dripping with Spanish moss, the riverfront and the Pirates’ House (built in 1754 and made famous for its appearance in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island), Savannah has lots to offer in the way of history; and if I can make it work, maybe it will feature in my book too.
From Savannah, it was on to New Orleans, stopping for one night in Tallahassee, Florida, to visit Bridget’s college friend Max, before getting back on the road again. New Orleans – city of incredible food and even more incredible music. And we’re there for a whole month; the month of April dishes up a lot of music: the four-day French Quarter Festival followed by Jazz Fest at the end of the month, and lots and lots (and lots) of shows in between, on Frenchmen Street and all around town. We were in music heaven. I’ll do a separate post about NOLA later, but here are a few photos to whet the appetite …
Reluctant to leave at the end of our month, but we must. Gotta get back to New Hampshire, regroup, and then fly to Japan. We pulled out of NOLA on a Sunday, and by Wednesday we were on the plane to Tokyo, for a 10-day trip to Japan on the very special occasion of son Sean’s wedding to the lovely Mai.
Japan too deserves a post of its own, but for now, a glimpse of our spectacular trip to the land of the rising sun.
We arrived back in New Hampshire May 11 and spent the next few days struggling with jet lag, big time. Repack the suitcases, load up Dexy, and before the week was out, it was time to get on the road again for the big trip cross country – from New Hampshire to San Francisco – a 12-day trip with stops in Cleveland to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum with Dan Murray; Kansas City for a feed of ribs and to see the American Jazz Museum; Colorado, for a spectacular day at the National Monument; Las Vegas, to meet up with my friend, Wendy, who is joining me on the road for a trip up the northern Pacific coast; Ash Meadows Refuge on the Nevada-California border; Death Valley and Stanislaus National Forest in California; and on to San Francisco. I made it!
I’ve covered a lot of miles in the past two and a half months – what a revelation it is every day to see what the world has to offer. And here I am, in San Francisco – time to give Dexy a rest for a couple of weeks while I enjoy … you got it …
THE BEST CITY EVER!