7/14- Eugene and Sacramento
The adventure begins: 50 shows crammed into two months and six people crammed into a less than reliable touring van. I'm sure at some point our fly by night, pay-as-you go tour situations will lose their romanticism and we will yearn for more stable environs, but for now the lack of air conditioning and click-clack of our van's (Dolly) engine only add to the adventure. Our first day got off to relatively uneventful start, venturing south only as far as Eugene for an early set at Sam Bond's Garage with our good friends Science Heroes. The calm of the first day was accentuated by Eugene's generally laid back vibe and Sam Bond's “come as you are” beer garden, where you can sip your icy pear cider from a mason jar and give in to the urge to go barefoot.
The change in ambiance after the post-show pleasantries cease and the van hits the road, never ceases to amaze me. Each night we get to make new friends, sample great local beers and generally have a good time, only to be followed by the all-together daunting task of making it to the next stop. Conversation switches from music and adventure to budgets and gas mileage in a matter of minutes and while laughter and small talk are certainly not absent in the van, the topic of basic survival seems to find its way into every other sentence.
We made the drive from Eugene to Sacramento from 10 pm to 5:30 am to avoid the van-hating heat of Northern California only to fully embrace it as soon as the sun flooded onto our Wal-Mart parking lot campsite. Camping (if that's what you would call sleeping in a van in a Wal-Mart parking lot) in California always brings out a certain level of industriousness since the sun prevents sleeping in past 9. This time was no exception and after a few moments of sleep we were off for the delightfully predictable brews (and air conditioning) of a Starbucks. From there we were able to ascertain the location of favorite local swimming hole (on the American River) but as we were leaving were notified that our show may be cancelled since the headliner's van broke down in L.A. Frantically, we spent the next three hours checking with all of our Sacramento contacts, and thanks to those kind folks, were able to put together a substantial last-minute bill. The show went off without a hitch (despite quite a few before it started) and reminded us exactly why we come to Central California.