Posts Tagged ‘stars’

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Travel Blog 10-14-10

October 14, 2010

I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Des Moines, IA and they are sprinkling in Christmas music in between Celine Dion and Enya. I imagine that the humor I feel right now is similar to the initial camaraderie I would get when seeing most of my friends in Hell before reality sets in. Other than that, it’s the best coffee shop we’ve worked in a long time. How does that equate? Well, it’s big, has a variety of comfy chairs and tables, and the only customer traffic consists of middle America 30-somethings, who by default have no power to exacerbate the traditional productivity pitfall that is people watching. That’s not mean.

We’re only a few days into this little month-long tour. We had a show the other night at the Redstone Room in Davenport, IA, where we split the bill with a Fort Collins-based bluegrass band called Head for the Hills. They were super-talented, and a lot of fun to hang out with. After the show, we headed west for Des Moines to find a place to sleep for the night.

Through all of the touring this past summer, we spent a lot of our nights in hotels. But we usually spend more of our nights sleeping out under the stars. “Out under the stars” is the subjective, romanticized setting I use to describe those nights. There’s a big difference between throwing up a tent and just lying on your back with the rest of the universe staring you in the face. And then opening your eyes in the morning to see tiny planes silently disappearing behind clouds can make you realize how often you used to enjoy that view when you were just a kid, and maybe that version of you had some things more figured out than the version of you does now.

I usually sleep on top of the van with one or two others, while two are usually on the ground, and yet another handful always sleep inside the van on the benches. We rotate locations based on what we feel like. Sometimes, rest areas will have a great selection of “picnic beds” (tables). Other locations will offer the “softest ground,” according to our drummer, only to have his comfort mocked by the morning light that illuminated the “Pet Area” sign above him which directed bygone dog owners where to have their best friend cushion the ground by taking a shit. We still get laughs out of asking him how he slept that night, to his response of, “Kinda shitty.”

It’s a wild line of work to be in, and your degree of happiness is so dependent on the perspective from which you choose to view your current situation. The homeless sleep at the mercy of the elements. Nomads and Gypsies sleep wherever they can lay their head. We sleep out under the stars. There’s not much separation between us some days, but we’ve got our intent, and the freezing Iowa night on Tuesday reminded me that we’ve got the safety of our van and hotel stays. What’s more is the humor that graces your sleepy face as you childishly try to hide it from the sun by burying it in your sleeping bag to buy a few more minutes of sleep. And that humor stays with you when you shower the morning dew off of that same face in a 4-star hotel room the same day. Because you know that the stars that rate the room you are in are a joke in comparison to the ones that watched over you as you slept the night before.

—Phil