After Margie's, the drive today feels like it takes no time at all. Either that or we go through some kind of time warp by the Winchester Mystery House and the drive literally takes no time at all.
Oh San Francisco, oh you city of swells and smells. Everything is on top of itself here, buildings and freeways and people all piled up into incredible piles, and my memories seem to pile up the same way, jumbled. More meat than I've eaten in years—an incredible sausage in Lower Haight and later, home-made wild boar tacos. A shot of whiskey, then tequila. Amazing dark beers, a hand-pulled porter. Meeting old friends and new. The best show we've played in ever maybe, we kill it. A grizzled man leaning on a stool, a bike messenger still, I'm told, because what else can he do? He shits himself at some point after we play and the whole bar suddenly smells like sewage and everyone empties into the street. Dancing harder than I have in ages with a beautiful woman I know I have no shot with. Late night burrito and a six pack in Dolores Park with a breathtaking view.
Three of us sit there, on the wet bench sipping High Lifes, and talk about the places we live. Watch the bridge breathe. Listening to the Radiolab episode about cities has me contemplative and philosophical. My friend Aaron is so solid, he answers his phone, and opens his door to me, at 3:40 in the morning so I can crash on his luxurious couch.
After breakfast the next day, we pile into Babe (the Blue Ox) and are bound for Eugene. There was a moment, northbound outside of Santa Barbara, Red River blasting on Judah's stereo, where I felt a joyous and real connection to the California coast. I got it. I understood suddenly what makes millions of people willing to put up with the traffic and high cost of living and asshole drivers and sales tax. But this drive is making me forget. Especially when we get a few miles past Redding and see the sign "Road Closed Ahead" with no explanation.
We have chains, but they won't do us any good, apparently, because we can't even TRY to get over the pass. Years ago, in another band, on another tour, the same thing happened and we ended up calling our drummer's parents to have them get us a hotel room in Redding. I've hated the town ever since. So when the man in yellow and hard hat
advises we head back there for a few hours, I am less than one hundred percent stoked. Fortunately, Chelsea and Noah have a dear old friend, Jessie, whose parents live in town. She calls them up for us, and we are welcomed into their home with open arms (and pizza and ice cream). There's a warm gas fireplace, and comfy couch and movies. This isn't so bad I suppose. Still, we're all anxious to get back, so when Patrick wakes me up at 6 am I only spend a second or two being mega-pissed, before I call the Cal Trans info line to find out if the pass is open. It is! We're on the way!
The pass is hairy, but Noah does one of the most amazing bits of driving I've ever seen and gets us over quickly and safely back into Oregon. We're right now 3 hours out and getting closer all the time. Portland, we've had some incredible times out here, but we've missed you so. It's going to be amazing to see you again.