Kate here … Steve would write but he’s too busy getting the van ready to drive in SNOW!  Wait a minute, we booked this tour to be in the northeast just in time for fall foliage and BEFORE the snows of winter.  What happened?!  Here we are on Day 16 just outside of Harrisburg and the weatherman is saying the northeast is getting hit with the biggest snow and cold weather they’ve seen in 108 years.  Oh no.  Gulp.  Okay, we will just do what we’ve always done and put one foot in front of the other and figure out the best way to navigate from here to there.  Now that we’ve finally arrived to the real beginning of our reason to be here, we’ll just move forward into it.  Tonight we play for the Unitarians in Harrisburg.  Tomorrow we play for friends I haven’t seen since I was a kid folksinger first starting out in the ’60s.  Sunday is Beacon, the Pumpkin Festival and Pete Seeger, the one who spurred us from the beginning to do what we’re here to do.  Snow?   We will hope for the best and carry on to begin what we set out to do.  Harmonizing community comes in all weather.  Maybe it’ll be a richer sound in bad weather.  We hope the audience shows up.  We’ll be there.

Here are a few days …. more to come as time allows … it’s time to pack up and head to Harrisburg for our show….

Day 1 – Portland, Oregon to Cabbage Hill on Meacham Pass, Oregon  (posted in Day 1)

Day 2 – Cabbage Hill to Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho … We woke up in the rest stop on top of the world, or at least overlooking the gorgeous panorama of Pendleton beneath Cabbage Hill.  A high point that produces views of more than a hundred miles on a clear day, this morning held a little fog on the low ground until the sun drank it up and turned the morning into a fine, clear day.  We headed east and by Baker City needed gas.  The rear tank holds 16 gallons and the second tank holds 12.  We decided as a general rule we would stop when the rear tank tapped out.  This way we wouldn’t get stuck if we didn’t find a station.  We gassed up and made a couple of stops in Baker City to a couple of little independent music stores.

The nice guy in the first shop, Direct Music Source on Main Street liked the book and bought a few.  It feels good to go into music shops, knowing what we know about being behind that counter, and talking to them about who we are and showing them the book.  Some people are less interested than others but when we’re able to engage, there is a camaraderie that belongs to the people who have held these music stores together and understand what it takes to keep the doors open.  I was grateful for the acknowledgement and the sale.

We went around the corner to the next music shop and though she was intrigued, she didn’t buy.  I left her one to ponder and told her how to order the Ukalaliens Songbook online at our website at Quality Folk.  She was happy to explore it but no money to buy today.

So off we went.  The strident beauty of eastern Oregon held us captive as we funneled through and across the border to Idaho.  Our friend had told us about a sweet campground in Glenn’s Ferry and we aimed to get there before dark.  We found the place but it was full so we backtracked a short mile to an RV camp called Calmera.  We were greeted by a friendly face and good welcome by Stan.   Glad to get in and registered before they closed for the night, Steve let Stan know that we were new at this and this was our “first RV Camp experience”.  Well, Stan just loved that and called his companion, Virginia, to come over in her golf cart and showed us to our space.  Stan explained everything in patient detail about hooking up to the electricity and water and then how to dump the water on the way out.  Black water, grey water.  Good water, filtered water.  Water has taken on a new level of importance as we drive.  Not only for our thirst but for cooking and washing and flushing and showering.  Water maintenance has new meaning in our new context and we’re paying attention.  It makes me thirsty thinking about it!

We settled in, hooked up and had a pleasant night’s sleep in Calmera.  Next morning we got ready to go and took in a meal across the street at the nice restaurant lining the golf course.  Friendly people in that little corner of Idaho.  We make a mental note that this is a stop we would come back to next time we’re in the area.  Feeling good, we embark on the day’s drive ahead.

Day 3 – Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho to Rawlins, Wyoming – The terrain really began to climb in elevation and mountain range as we made our way to a rest stop in Rawlins, Wyoming where we finally stopped for the night.   The weather was good but cooling.

The van is started to feel familiar.  It feels like living in a boat on wheels.  The solid oak cupboards and bow across the overhang contain us like a little elevated room.  We have both misjudged the distance coming in and out of the front seats and bonked our heads at different times on the curved oaken beam that lines the overhang.  Oak is hard but thankfully our heads are harder.   The sound of bone to wood is getting a little too regular and we try to figure out a soft way to cush the line.  It’s usually as we back out of the front seat area and coming up a little too quick until the back of the head stops short on the beam.  Well, we’ll either adapt and stop before the hit or we’ll arrive a bit more stupid and stunned than we started.  I’m hoping we’ll adapt!

It’s dark as we pull the curtains and turn on the camp light.  I make dinner of pasta florentine and a spinach salad.  We dine by candlelight and smile at each other in our wee living room that is beginning to feel like home.  Music of two sisters from Barcelona singing harmony in Catalan graces the air.  We are ready to call it a night.

Day 4 – Rawlins, Wyoming to Colby, Kansas –  We awaken to a fierce gray sky full of cranky clouds and short on light.  We get out of the van to visit the loo and check out the weather.  A hunter and his family walk past, all three in orange and camo.   I feel like a softy next to the set of the father’s jaw and decide not to say hello for fear of some unexposed weapon in response.  Good to stay sensitive and positive.  Don’t trip any wires this early in the day.  I wash my hands and head back to the van to brush my teeth and tie up my hair after throwing on clean and warmer clothes.  I rustle up blueberry buckwheat pancakes on the stove and make a strong batch of coffee to greet Steve from his morning rounds with the van.  He’s astute and keeping a keen eye on the many angles and facets of van-readiness.  I’m glad he does this.  I’m on the clueless side though trying to learn where all the buttons are and what they’re for.  I give him ample chance to laugh at my moron side as we move on.  At least I can cook and that helps warm up the van and our bellies.  That’s a routine I’m getting down.  Light the stove, turn on the fan, open the vent.  It’ll always be noisy when I’m cooking but the noise of the fan means that food is coming.

We drive out of the rest area and the rain starts.  Small, cold drops contemplating their sleet side as the wipers go on and wash them off the glass between us strapped in our seats and the raw, cold day.  Our ears know we are up high on the range.  Antelope look back at us from the right side of the road.  “Where the deer and the antelope play…!” sounds from our throats simultaneously and we break off the song laughing.  We’re still just a couple of folksingers and here we are driving a seriously physical vehicle through seriously rugged terrain and weather growing more serious by the minute.  We look at each other with dubious grins and exhale.  Okay, here we go.  Into another day.  Day 4.

The weather holds at half-mast all day.  Cold, almost sleeting rain, no sun breaks like home.  Home in Portland is starting to feel like another place in the distance, a place we know well but cannot grab from here.  We are past home and moving further.  A grain of homesickness sticks on the fringe and we begin talking about our kids, our friends, the new tenants and the place that we call home as we roll through the high rocky terrain of Wyoming and down into Colorado.

We stop for a short nap in a rest area just north of Ft. Collins.  When we wake up we resume our seats and aim for town to find a GPS and a meal.   Even though we have mobilized our tech side – we have a wireless modem for the laptop and the blackberry and cellphone – we still grab for the printed Atlas to see where we’re going.  Google Maps is great but the battery in the laptop is growing weaker and not holding a charge as long.  The blackberry went through a reconfiguration before we left town that makes it impossible to delete old info that’s hogging up my memory there and it’s battery is on the short side because of it.  The reality is that this equipment isn’t going to be available 100% of the time and we need to be able to navigate.  It will also make us friendlier.  The tension from not knowing where you’re going can get pretty strong without the tools you need to get answers.

By now, it’s pouring rain.  Not just rain but cold raw gray rain.  Not the fickle kind with sun breaks in between.  It’s a dark wet day.  It’s the kind of Sunday most people would snuggle in with movies for the day and forget about stepping outside.  We’re not only driving outside but we’re living in our van outside.  This is a new reality for us.  We’re the kind of people who light the fire the minute the weather turns at home.  No fireplace in our little traveling room on wheels.  A good heater though.  It’s on.

I google to find the closest Best Buy in Ft. Collins.  Our GPS-savvy friend, David Present, said this is the place to get the best GPS (can you say marriage-saver?) at the best price.  We’ve never been in this box store before and feel a little queasy as we pull up our hoods and leave our warm van to cross the parking lot.  We go through the automatic doors into a honeycomb of lights, gear and buzzing staff handling an overflow of shoppers looking for the answer to their tech needs en masse.  Every section of the enormous floor is dedicated to select bits of gear: cell phones, computers, hi-res tvs, you name it.  Every staffer has earbuds in both ears, eyes watching and semi-engaging with customers while they triage moving units via wireless.  It’s annoying to watch and wait to actually talk to somebody.  It’s a good thing we know what we’re looking for.  This could overwhelm even the stalwart on a rainy Sunday.  We get in, get the GPS, and get out.

Back to the van, we plunk it on top of the little dash console and turn it on.  I figure out how to give our GPS a British-American voice (her name is Serena) and punch in the buttons to find the closest Mexican food. It works!  Hurrah!  We’re saved.  We can depend on Serena from here.  The horizon opens just a tad as we let go a sigh of relief.  Information is everything.  :o)

Day 5 – Colby, Kansas to Clinton State Park, Missouri

Day 6 – Lawrence Kansas to Parkville, Missouri

Day 7 – Parkville, Missouri to Rocheport, Missouri

Day 8 – Rocheport, Missouri

Day 9 – Rocheport, Missouri

Day 10 – Rocheport, Missouri to St. Louis, Missouri

Day 11 – St. Louis, Missouri

Day 12 – St Louis, Missouri to Greenville, Indiana

Day 13 –  Greenville, Indiana to Columbus, Ohio to Zanesville, Ohio

Day 14 – Zanesville, Ohio to Polly Hollow in Ryerson State Park, Pennsylvania

Day 15 – Ryerson State Park, Pennsylvania to Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Day 16 – Carlisle, Pennsylvania to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania