Thursday, May 20, 2010

The city wore us out. We felt like marathon runners after a race. Our feet were blistered, our legs were aching, and we left with the satisfaction of having dominated Manhattan. We gave ourselves an hour buffer of time to spend in traffic on our way out because we knew this was a great possibility. Little did we know that we’d be stuck in traffic, going five miles per hour for almost two and a half hours straight. This wouldn’t have mattered much had we not needed to be somewhere that night, but as a matter of fact we did. There was one last concert scheduled for the “Pounds and Sights” tour and it would be taking place in Ballston Spa, NY, just outside of Albany. Adam had booked this show through the infamous Josh and Jill, so we were pumped to be working with them again.
We were sad that this would be our last show with Adam Cappa, and it also marked the end of our traveling east. The show was the first of its kind to happen in Ballston Spa. We were told that no local churches had invited bands to perform in their sanctuaries before, so we were honored to be one of the first to come in. The church we played in was built in the early 1800’s and boasted one of the largest, wall-mounted pipe organs I’ve ever seen. It was a privilege to have our music fill the room of such a beautiful building.
We drove through the night from the Albany area en route to Richmond, IN. I couldn’t make it the entire 700 or so miles, so we ended up sleeping in a nasty motel outside of Rochester. We trekked the rest of the way to Indiana the next day with a stop at Lake Erie’s shore near Mayville for a fried cod burger from “Jack’s Place”. This area of New York is famous for its grapes, of the Concord variety, which they use to make Welch’s grape fruit juice, as well as some darn good cherry pie.
We celebrated Mexico’s independence as well as our arrival back in Richmond with fireworks in that cornfield near Adam’s church. The state of Indiana allows for fireworks to be sold and detonated any time of the year. Nick and Adam purchased a couple packages full of mortars for less than $20. In the spirit of “cinco de mayo” we made a great display of light and fire in the sky and also had the exciting opportunity of lighting the cornfield on fire with a rogue mortar. One feels incredibly alive when stomping out fire in flip flops.

New York; the city and the state

Before continuing to pack on pounds of food and observing the sights of our “Tour 2.0” we had some business to attend to in Springville, New York. Adam had booked a show there through a woman who he’d worked with before. This particular woman’s name is Jill, her husband’s name is Josh and they are both incredible. They run a camp called “Camp Vick” in the middle of nowhere in upstate western New York. Josh and Jill welcomed us into Springville with hearty slabs of pork steak and good conversation. Aimee and I opened up the concert that night and were followed by Adam Cappa. A message was shared and then Aimee, Adam, and I reunited to close out the night with some worship. Overall it was an encouraging night for us as bands to be so welcomed and blessed by Josh, Jill and their posse. The theme flowing throughout the night challenged people to live Christian lives that reflect an understanding of their being loved by God. Adam brought this theme to the forefront of the night by saying, “we say we love God with our mouths, but then we turn around and do the dumbest things we possibly can. So let’s not just say we love him with our mouths, but lets prove we love Him by the way we live our lives.” We understand that we can only live a life of love once we’ve received and begun to grasp the great love that He first had for us. We were blessed to have been a part of such an encouraging night in Springville. After spending the night in summer camp cabins at “Camp Vick” we shoved off for a long drive to New York City.
We only had one full day available in New York City, so we were eager to get at it. I know that there’s a lot to see there, and we didn’t get to see all of it, but I feel like we put a dent in it at least. Terrorists keep trying to blow the place up, which is really upsetting since it’s such an incredible city. We arrived a day after a car bomb failed to explode in Times Square, so naturally our curiosity led us straight to this advertising Mecca. No terrorist scare could keep tourists from pouring onto this chaotic square. We popped above ground at the Rockefeller subway stop and were streamlined into a sea of people. We didn’t know where to look first. Our eyes went up to the points of the buildings, horizontally to the endless shops and stalls, and then down to our pockets to ensure our wallets were still in place.
Adam Cappa transformed into the likeness of his sheriff father and acted as the enforcer of justice and preserver of all that is good and decent in this world. While we were in the city his head was on a swivel looking out for potential terrorist plots unfolding. He wore a stoic expression across his face throughout our entire first night there. It was amusing for us to see this fun-loving, outgoing person turn into Papa Cappa. We love you Adam.
We didn’t want to waste any time in NY, so after getting off at the Rockefeller station we put our legs to work and booked it all over Manhattan. We walked from Times Square all the way down to the Staten Island Ferry port. We wandered through Soho, the East Village, Little Italy, Chinatown, the Financial District, the World Trade Center site, and eventually ended our determined stroll at Battery Park. From this park we peered out over the Hudson River and were drawn to the faint glow of Miss Liberty’s torch. With our camera’s zoom we had a better look at her, and marveled at all of the history that had taken place under her constant gaze.
After we walked all that we could walk that night we headed back to our hotel in Queens off Jamaica Ave. This neighborhood felt more like Ensenada, or Tijuana than the U.S. We were the minority in this part of New York, and from every street came smells of Dominican, Caribbean, and eastern foods. We took advantage of the delicious offerings of the local food cart serving Halal gyros. There’s nothing more satisfying than a chicken/lamb gyro combo with extra sauce. Delicious.
Day two in NY began in Central Park. My imagination quickly strayed to the pigeon lady from “Home Alone” after seeing a bridge that may very well have been the sight of filming the scene where she saves Kevin from the burglars. I thought about what it might be like to hang out there at night and didn’t feel very good about it. This park put a huge green rectangle on the city’s map, and I was excited to trade in the city’s concrete for a leisurely stroll through some form of nature. Laurieann and I walked the entire length of central park and then popped out only to stumble upon Madison Ave. As we strolled the street our stomachs led us to “Famous Famiglia’s Pizza”. The pizza was awesome, but the entertainment among the employees was even better. We ate our pizza and nervously watched two fellow employees verbally brawl about some disagreement they had over pizza management and protocol. The accuser kept yelling “I’m calling Tony…you son of a b%#$ I’m calling Tony!” Laurieann wanted to stay and watch to see what would happen, but I was nervous that Tony might come packing heat, so we escaped the argument and continued down Madison Ave.
The highlight of my day came when I bumped into Matt Lauer from “Good Morning America”. I did a doubletake, became star struck, stared at him and then continued walking down the sidewalk. I nudged Laurieann and said, “holy crap that’s Matt Lauer!” I had her stand and pose for a picture, which was a cover up for my paparazzi zoom in on the man himself. I feel really lame for being such a pansy and not talking to him, but I’m glad that I at least got a decent picture as evidence that I saw him. Next time I see a celebrity type I’m going to be much more diplomatic, like “Oh hello there, might I commend on your excellence in broadcast journalism. Your dedication to delivering the news day after day has made this world a better place. I am grateful.” At this perhaps he’d let me come in to the studio, or say something like, “hey kid I like your spirit, we need more people like yourself in the industry.” I’d bashfully mumble an “ah shucks” and then carry on. Instead I secretively snapped a shot of him as he was picking his kids up from school. I’m a coward, I know.
There were apparently some other celebrity sightings within our group. Nick and Adam swear they saw Steven Spielberg setting up some camera equipment with his workers in Central Park. They also saw a film crew working on a scene starring Katy Perry in the new “Smurfs” movie. Oh yeah and some “New Balance” running shoe commercial was being filmed as well in Central Park. All in all we had a day full of entertainment and sights. We packed on the pounds later that night in Little Italy with plates of pasta. Plan “BETA” has been working out splendidly.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Obama's House and stuff...

We gathered our gear from Adam’s trailer, which was parked in an old wooden barn near a cornfield. After all that we needed for the journey east had been gathered we eagerly set off west so that we could get our fill of Amish snacks; priorities. Backtracking on this trip was never to be looked down upon if it was for the sake of devouring delicious and unique foods. The Amish had an outpost near Richmond so we thought it fitting to satisfy our curiosity of this hyper-quaint people group while simultaneously eliminating our hunger pangs. Their store was full of cheeses, candies, preservatives, herbal remedies, honey, and other concoctions that would quickly sell among wealthy and health conscious circles in California. The girl behind the deli counter generously served us up samples of her favorite cheeses. And after trying most of them we decided on a variety pack to meet the different demands of our unique sets of taste buds.
Before reaching D.C. we stopped in Pittsburgh, PA. It was on the way to D.C. so we said to ourselves, “hey we’ve never been there, let’s check it out.” Much of our itinerary-related decisions were based on a desire to see places we’ve never seen and the east coast was up for grabs. Pittsburgh offered us “Primanti’s Bros.” sandwiches and a conversation with a homeless man with three different names. Driving through Pennsylvania impressed us once again with its “old school” American beauty. The landscape is still very wide-open, hilly, green (in the spring at least), and has towns that can boast of real nation-shaping history (i.e. Gettysburgh, ever heard of it?).
We drive late into the night most nights until whoever’s driving at the time swerves something fierce enough to scare us passengers. It’s after this jerking motion that we decide to stop for the night and lay our heads to rest. Most nights have involved us cramming five people into one hotel room. We purposely look for the shadiest, most dilapidated excuse for lodging and that way also find a really cheap place to sleep for the night. We aren’t vacationing after all. We’re on a journey.
Our nation’s capital was looking good in spite of our economic situation. The lawns were mowed, the hedge was trimmed, and the White House was in tip-top shape. D.C. was filled with throngs of students absorbing the history of our country into their brains as far as their attention-deficiencies would allow. Most of what I saw were kids being herded from museum to museum bored for the most part at what they were forced to observe. We, however, were not students anymore, and this trip was not a forced academic exercise. We hiked across D.C. from site to museum to monument with a curious fervor eager to understand our country’s origins just a little bit more. Adam and I (Dane) are both huge history channel fans, so we were in heaven. Nick and Aimee are always fascinated by cultures, and Laurieann added to her knowledge of the holocaust at the Holocaust Memorial. The awesome thing about D.C. is that all of the museums are free, so you can absorb history until your brain swells. It’s also a very pedestrian-friendly place so we walked until our legs ached and our feet blistered. We saw the capital building, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, The White House, The FDR Memorial, The Eastern Market, The Museum of Natural History, The Museum of Native Americans, The Museum of Modern Art, The Holocaust Memorial, The Botanical Gardens, etc.
When our feet ached and our heads hurt we took breaks at frozen yogurt stands and went on the hunt for good food. We happened to be downtown by the Verizon Center on the same night that the Capitals (NHL team) were playing a dire playoff game. They lost the game that night and riots broke out in the street. Fortunately we’d left the craziness before being swallowed up in the mayhem caused by these belligerent hockey fans. Our two days there were spent well, and we left feeling satisfied in our ability to take so much in with such little time at our disposal.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

We had a little hiccup in our tour… and by hiccup…I mean a long open-mouthed belch. Our tour leader Steven had been toying with the idea of ending the “Sounds and Lights Tour” early. Meanwhile The Music Room was forced to return home due to a death in the family. The unofficial end of the tour was announced as we packed our bags for an early flight. So we left the RV, Lyrycyst, Adam Cappa, Sarah Rasmussen, Jerome Love, Chelsea Cooper, and our curly-haired Uncle Jesse back in Cincinnati, with non-refundable round trip tickets in hand. Due to the sudden unexpected announcement of the tour’s termination we were unable to organize getting all of our musical equipment and tour family home with us.
We boarded our flight not knowing if we’d return to Cincinnati and so many questions were looming. How would we retrieve our gear? ... How would Jesse get home? ... How would the bus get back to Colorado? ... Despite the logistical unknowns of the cancelled tour we remained focused on spending quality time with family during this time of loss. For 6 days we exchanged the craziness of tour for Auburn’s outdoor beauty, mom’s cooking, and the peace of family.
In the midst of a luxurious 6 days with showers, home-cooked meals, and an excess of square-footage to spread our limbs a plan was brewing. We had tasted the watered down compromise of an incomplete tour, and our tongues were yearning for something bold with a smooth finish. Since Nick had been enlisted to return the RV and, get everyone’s gear home we decided to make good of a sad situation. Remember those non-refundable tickets? Nick, Dane, and Aimee would fly back to Cincy, OH along with our good friend Laurieann Cunningham and retrieve the RV; henceforth plan “BETA” was launched. Our new plan would be less of a plan and more of a completely revamped tour. Sounds and Lights Tour 2.0 more appropriately dubbed “The Pounds and Sights Tour”. This tour would have to involve seeing the East Coast as well as stopping at every promising looking eatery along the way. Another great thing about this new tour is that it would reunite TMR with our friends Adam Cappa and later Sarah Rasmussen.
The RV mother met us at the airport smelling of wastewater tank and old cheese. Somewhere beneath its foul odor we breathed deeply a scent reminiscent of home. Remember that this RV had been our house on wheels just a week before. We hopped on and immediately started scouting out dump stop locations where we could drop the scent and get on our merry way. We jump-roped on the Kentucky and Ohio state line before heading into Indiana to gather up our long, lost brother Adam. Before crossing into the Hoosier state we found an old trailer park to dump the urine, and wastewater of tour’s past. We would venture on with a gas tank full of diesel and a wastewater tank full of air, just as mommy likes.
Daddy Cappa was waiting for us in Richmond, IN with arms wide open, just like our favorite Creed song depicts. He embraced us all and we made a smooth transition from our RV to his cruiser van. This van, which we’ll call Mr. Hughes would take us to a couple more shows in New York state and then on towards sightseeing destinations such as D.C. and the Big Apple… more to come, so sit tight.