I write you this morning from Gold Bluffs Beach in Northern California.. I’m not quite sure what town we are actually in; I just know that we are about fifty miles north of Eureka, CA and that this location is stunningly beautiful and remote. About a mile up the gravel road is Fern Canyon, the "crown jewel of Gold Bluffs Beach," where they filmed a great deal of “Jurassic Park.” It’s so breathtaking here.. At the same time we are well aware that we are entrenched deep in the wilderness. The Bear and Mountain Lion warnings that surround the area are a constant reminder that we are merely visitors here. The wild animals own this land and could re-claim it at a moment’s notice. So, our excitement is tempered by a natural amount of fear!
But really, isn’t an excess of fear the most damaging thing to a human being? I believe it is. I was pretty paralyzed by fear for a while.. It took my travels to pound the fear out of me. And falling in love helped a lot.. just finally experiencing absolute trust.
Jess, Jackson and I left NYC in early September and made our first cross-country drive.. I wish I remembered more about that drive! It definitely wasn’t my favorite part of the tour.. I grew up in the Northeast and was pretty stunned by the open spaces of the mid-west.
I guess there is a small part of me that would like to live a completely simple life.. live in a farmhouse built in the 1800’s with my wife, kids and dogs..
Somewhere near Cameron, Missouri (in the middle of nowhere) we blew our second tire of the tour and I missed the first gig of my life.. Jess assured me that we weren’t supposed to be on that road any longer.. So we put a donut on the car and stayed in a terrible Econolodge!!
After much driving and tire-searching (apparently I’m one of the few poor souls left in Cameron without a pick-up truck!) we were back on the road.
We made it to Denver, CO on time to embark on a twelve day tour with my dear friend Megan Burtt.. Megan sounds to me like a mix of Bonnie Raitt, Grace Potter, Kathleen Edwards and Susan Tedeschi.. a great talent.
Megs and I played some great shows and covered some serious miles.. In those two weeks we performed in Colorado (Denver, Steamboat and Salida), Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.. As an east coast boy I’m completely overwhelmed by the vastness of the west.. just unreal.
We performed at a beautiful log cabin (a house concert series.. my favorite kind of shows right now) way out in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana.. They had a massive wildfire out in this valley ten years ago and the trees are just starting to reappear on the landscape.
We trekked up to the top of Montana (north of Whitefish) to play at Stillwater Landing, a mythical stop for all kinds of musicians and songwriters..
It’s really more of a hippie commune than a traditional venue.. There are bunks, beds, cabins and lofts everywhere.. along with seaplanes and cayaks.. It’s a magical vibe there and probably the most beautiful place I’ve seen in my life.
This hippie “Laurel” in this picture performed Raiki on my pup Jackson after the show.. I don’t have a photograph of that moment but it was probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
Can’t wait to get back to Stillwater next year..
Megan had to run and do a benefit concert in Denver so Jess and I drove down to Yellowstone for the day..
We stayed in a cabin here and took off at 6 in the morning to explore.
If America has done anything right, it’s definitely the National Park system.. Yellowstone is so awesome, I almost considered going back to school to become a park ranger! What a cool gig huh? At least they can carry firearms to protect themselves from the Bears, Mountain Lions, Elk, Bobcats and Bison. All we can do to protect ourselves from a Black Bear attack is to “stand your ground, make loud noises and wave your arms.” The only thing we can do to protect ourselves in the case of a Grizzly attack is to PRAY!!
Speaking of Grizzly Bears, we spotted this big boy taking a late afternoon stroll in Yellowstone!!
This was maybe the most riveting moment of my life.. Jess, who is terrified of all Bears and aggressive wildlife streaked out of the car with her Canon like she was a photographer for freakin’ National Geographic!! I guess when you see something that magnificent the adrenaline takes over. She was shooting video of the bear as the park ranger was yelling, “STAY BACK!!.. we’ve had issues with THIS particular Bear.”
I’m just glad we lived to tell the tale:)
Immediately after we saw the Grizzly we ran into a Moose nonchalantly crossing the road..
And then a Bison came out of nowhere!
It was so much cooler than any zoo experience.. so much more exciting. After all of this action I decided to let Jess drive while I caught some much needed shut-eye. BAD IDEA JEANS!! I woke up from a peaceful slumber to a huge bang.. Apparently Jess was on “Bear Watch” while driving the narrow roads of Yellowstone and “might have run off the edge a bit.” Haha.. So there we were, in the heart of Grizzly country, staring at yet ANOTHER flat tire, this one the result of an unfortunate bent aluminum tire rim. The scene was a bit intense at this point and I was not in the picture taking mood.. My father taught me how to play guitar, not how to change tires. Luckily we were rescued by a kind passerby and were back on our trusted donut in no time. We had to drive on that donut from Yellowstone to Butte, Montana. Quite the drive..
We reunited with Megan and finished our tour.. We played a real gem of a venue in beautiful Salida, CO (Salida Café)..
Great place run by some great people.. If you ever get to Salida, CO make sure to leave a day open to raft the rapids there.. world class.
Getting back to fear.. Jess, Jackson, my good friend Laura and I hiked up a nice mountain in Boulder, CO.. We felt a little queasy on the way up, probably due to the elevation and sleep deprivation, but it was such an accomplishment to be all the way on the top.. Just another goal on this tour/trip accomplished. I'm so grateful for this adventure..
There is so much fear that can arise in our lives. I’m making a conscious decision to not let it poison our lives and our dreams.. I have to always be aware of it. I know if I let that fear in we wouldn’t have a chance. I certainly wouldn’t have a chance as a singer/songwriter in today’s market. I have to fight for it, like so many of my friends and peers. It’s a worthwhile fight though.. Music heals.
We are just about to head back to the east coast.. We have a bunch of shows there before my Connecticut wedding in December!! And then on Dec. 10th, after almost a year of non-stop performing, traveling and touring, I will again have a permanent address in Nashville, TN. Pretty cool.. Jess and I are excited to pick out a coffee maker and build our own little paradise together.
We’ve been in Arizona and California for the last month and I will write all about that in my next blog. Tomorrow we are waking up early and driving through Yosemite.. REALLY hoping to see a Black Bear.. Fingers crossed.
All good things,
Gold Bluffs Beach, California
October, 27th 2010