This really feels like a case of how time flies. I am in an RV Park in Loveland, Colo. Since my last blog post I drove through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and into Colo. Arriving in Park City to visit an old friend of mine, I was seriously considering turning around. Driving Augie over the mountains and across Nevada was neat but also difficult. Arriving in Park city to visit and old friend was like a reward. It is really beautiful there and the road to town is wide and not steep. I stayed for a couple of days and the highlight was seeing Chubby Checker at the Egyptian Theatre. At 73, he was fabulous! After the show I got his autograph, told him that he was one of my brother’s favorites back in the 60s. Chubby reached out and gave me this amazing handshake. He’s really cool!!!!
After Park City, I drove on 80 towards Colo. 80 is a beautiful highway but notorious for wind. At one point I pulled off the road in hopes it would settle down and it did. I got to Lymon, Wyoming. There is a KOA there and it was about 5:00 pm so I decided to stay for the night. There were only a few campers there. The owner came over to the office and I checked in. I didn’t even think about it but I asked him if I could do a show for the campers that night. Hew said “sure”. That was fun. I got Augie all hooked up and settled in. Clint, the owner came over in his golf cart and helped me bring my PA over to the office/dining room. He went around the park and told people that there’d be a concert at 6:00.. It was cool, there were 4 of us.
I left the next morning. It turns out that a childhood/neighborhood friend, Kacy, lives near Fort Collins. She wasn’t going to be in town but she was and we were both excited to reconnect after many, many years. We grew up in Clayton and went to Our Lady of Lourdes church. Our neighborhoods were one street apart and her cousins lived a few houses down from mine. We decided it was 1961 when we became friends. My first memory of Kacy was one winter when a bunch of us were ice-skating around Brentmoor Park. In those days they didn’t plow or put salt down, I don’t know why but it just didn’t seem to matter and the snow would be packed really well and icy enough to skate on. Those were definitely the good old days. Well, Kacy was sitting at the end of our driveway that afternoon in 1961 struggling with her skate. I can still see her, blue over coat with a fur trimmed collar, long brown braids. We all gathered around and Anne, an older girl realized that Kacy’s laces were loose. So, she tightened them up for her and off we all went. How fun!!!
It’s slow going in Augie and even though Cheyenne is really close to Fort Collins, I stayed in the KOA there and arrived at Kacy’s the next morning. It was so fun. We had a great time retrieving our memories from those childhood days at Lourdes and running around or riding our bikes all over Clayton and University City. That night Kacy and her husband Lon invited a couple of friends over and we had a show. I played about 10 songs and we had a great time. That’s what this trip is about.
On Saturday I drove to Estes Park. That was one of my stops 10 years ago on the first leg of this “trip” with Augie. My cousins live there in the summer. I remembered driving up the pass the first time. I was terrified. It was raining and I really wanted to chicken out. But I of course clutched the steering wheel, bit my lip and did it. Half way up, a little rock hit my windshield, then the whole damn thing cracked. My heart sunk into my stomach and I told God that I promised to be a nicer person and I did not look to the right or the left which would have been straight down into the canyon. I kind of laugh at that that now but I still avoid scenic roads in Augie if I can. This time it was a piece of cake. It was a beautiful day and I felt confident.
I got to their house and my cousin George was there, so was Isabel and Punch. How fortunate I felt to have a big, wonderful family that I keep in touch with. Forgot to mention that there had been a little puddle of oil under Augie at Kacy’s house. I didn’t want to panic, thinking I could get it checked in Estes. I did and it was not serious but I got an oil change. There was no house-concert in Estes but a magical 3 days catching up with family and sightseeing in Rocky Mountain National Park. What a far cry from LA. Earth is so neat, it talks to us. I need to spend way more time listening and understanding it’s language.
We are almost up to date. Speaking of dates, I have one with a fabulous circus…The Zoppe Family Circus. They are performing in Colorado this month and I will join them next week. I hope they will let me perform my songs for them. I met the Zoppes through my brother in law, David Balding who was one of the founders of Circus Flora which is now based in St Louis. David and my sister Laura got married on a sweltering June day in 1994 in none other than the circus tent. It was such a neat wedding and Tino Wallenda performed the ceremony. Laura wore my mother’s wedding dress and she really did look like a fairy princess. So, we have had a circus in the family and I have had the privilege of meeting some incredible, talented, amazing people through the years. It makes me feel old when I think of the first year that the Russian Cossack riders performed in the circus. Oh my God!!! I was young and it was fun!!!! That’s possibly a whole other chapter. Those guys were sexy to say the least and I hung out with them after the shows. I didn’t drink any Vodka though, of course not! I did’t join in any Russian toasts with them or stay till dawn, no way, not me!
When I left Estes Park I really winged it as far as looking for an RV Park. I called a couple KOAs and they were booked. Of course they are. It’s the end of August and everyone is camping or vacationing because it’s the last chance before summer’s over. The very reason I gave Augie his name, August. I did find one that could take me through Labor Day. It’s just outside of Loveland, not too far from Estes I almost made it full circle. Perfect, sort of. That meant Id be there for 2 weeks until I meet the Zoppes in Winter Park. Well, I’m not complaining, just wondering what it will be like for the next 2 weeks. I’m done with driving Augie on mountain roads probably forever. I rented a car and drove to Winter Park just to check out what going over Berthoud Pass would be like. It didn’t take me long to decide. I’ll be there to see my friends the Zoppes but I’ll be staying at the Best Western. So, we are up to date. A lot more goes on with me on this trip. I do a lot of introspection, it’s impossible not to. I have to think it’s a positive experience. I have spent a lot of time alone in this adulthood of mine. This is something that I don’t recommend and I would like to find my way out of. I feel like I am more mature, more understanding and compassionate than I was 10 years ago on the first leg of this RV trip. I’ve made a few deals with God regarding these things. At times I have created situations for myself and realized I had no idea where to go or what to do. I only knew what I didn’t want to know and that was that I couldn’t turn around. Like driving Augie on the scariest road in Idaho. I couldn’t turn around, it was not even possible.
Thanks for joining my RV trip. I love having someone to write to. I hope this post wasn’t too long or drawn out.
Hi to everyone who has signed up for my blog. The evening before I left Santa Cruz I took a walk in the neighborhood. Past KSCO, the coolest radio station in the solar system. I love that Beach RV is just down the road.
KSCO is where I was introduced to The Alex Jones Show. I’m addicted! it’s something you’d just have to listen to to get it.
That night I packed up Augie and started to write a song. Beach RV has really become a part of my life. It’s been since Jan 2006. Pretty strange but perfect at the same time. There is a mobile home park in Chesterfield and we used to pass it all the time on the way to the Farm. One time it was just Mom and I, must have been about 1960. We drove by the mobile home park and I was just fascinated! It looked so cozy to me and I said to Mom that Id like to live there. Well, I will never forget her look. To this day it’s one of the most odd but funny interactions ever between us. She said, “you would?” ha ha but the tone of her voice was utter cluelessness. I never really thought it would happen.
Next morning, one last check up at Hayes European and we were off on the first day of the trip.
First stop was Carol and Bill Ueckert’s. Carol and I went to school together at Villa Duchesne for 8 years, or until I was expelled! That’s a long story, I still don’t know if it was better in the long run or not. Here I am to admit it though and the one thing I am sure about is that it was unfair but I’m not so sure there was anything fair about grade school. Carol invited about 30 of her neighbors and it was a really nice evening.
Augie’s breaks were feeling funny so the next day I took it in to Big O Tires. 3 hours later we had new break pads.Off we went towards Park City. It was a scary drive through the mountains mainly because Augie does not have much pick-up and I am climbing the hills in the slow lane with the gigantic trucks. Talk about focus, Jeez!
I stopped in Truckee close to the Nevada border to take a walk. My legs were shaking and I noticed Augie had lost a hubcap. It was hot and I was unnerved. The thought of a hubcap flying off God knows where was upsetting to me but, onward we went. I was rethinking this idea about taking an RV Trip to mark 10 years since I first drove it west on what was meant to be a summer adventure that turned into a huge, strange, all encompassing part of my life that I am trying to accept, understand and figure out how to hold onto.
It was a hot, desolate drive through Nevada. I don’t use the air conditioner because of what happened on the first leg of the trip in July 2005. It was a heat wave but I went anyway, leaving St Louis on July 18th, a couple of days after Aunt Adelaide’s 90th birthday party. I made it to Kansas City fine and stayed with my dear friends Patti and Danny Slosburg. Patti and I were close in high school and this is a friendship that I will always cherish. It was a great sendoff for the rest of the trip. Highway 70 was hot hot hot heading towards Colorado the next day. I had the air conditioner on low and kept turning it off until I couldn’t take it anymore, then on for a while, thinking that was the smart thing to do with a 1988 Chevy van. I headed up north on a small highway hoping to get into cooler weather but I was dripping in sweat and didn’t know where I was, only that I was in Colo going in basically the right direction. It was getting to be about 5:00 pm and I was getting just slightly nervous because there was nothing around but strange looking little farm places and the temp was still really hot, All of a sudden there was a little town. It was a Sunday and it seemed all closed up. That was not a comforting feeling. I was tired and hot. I kept driving and saw a really classic looking place, The Sunrise Motel, thinking “I am staying here come Hell or High-water. This is the place for me! So I turned right into the driveway and as I did, this sound straight out of a Stephen King movie howled from under the hood. It sounded like someone was being murdered! At that moment, I didn’t even care. I parked and walked into this tiny, dusty, also Stephen King looking office/house place. The Sun Rise Motel. It seemed like an honest place but wow…extremely “lived in”. A woman came out and I practically begged her for a room. I said, “there are showers right?” She showed me three rooms before I saw one I thought I could remotely handle spending the night in. The owner’s name was Fran and she was actually very sweet. I took a shower and went right to sleep, in my clothes on top of the sheets. I didn’t care. The next morning I realized I was one of two guests that night and the other guy had left. Fran was sitting outside at a picnic table and offered me some coffee. That was so sweet! We sat there all morning and talked. That’s something I never would have normally done but traveling alone is a completely alternate universe, and I’m so grateful for these times. Getting back to the reason I don’t use the air conditioner in Augie, Fran’s brother came over from somewhere and she asked him to look under Augie’s hood. The part of me who lives in a fantasy world where everything is easy was thinking, “oh great, he’ll fix it right up and I’ll be on my way”. He did do something, I have no idea what it was and I don’t think he did either but I thanked him and off I went. I called my cousin in Estes Park and said I’d be there sometime that afternoon. It was a beautiful morning, I was on a flat road and there was no traffic. Suddenly the steering wheel wasn’t catching and in that same second, the breaks weren’t catching either. I had just enough time to pull over. I’d call it my first Holy Guardian Angel moment. I called A.A.A. I had switched my membership to RV PLUS which I thought was very cool. The A.A.A. guy arrived pretty soon. He was looking under the hood and started handing me pieces of belts saying “here’s your problem”. I was speechless. “So, what are these?” I asked, feeling totally freaked out. He explained to me that the air conditioner belt had BROKEN and snapped he power steering/power breaks belt and BROKEN that belt as well. Stunned, I said “why is the power steering on the same belt as the power breaks? Isn’t that kind of dangerous?” No answer for that one, its just how they made it. He was a really nice guy and replaced the belts for me. That’s why I will never use the air conditioner in Augie again.
That’s a story from the first leg of my trip. This morning I am in Cheyenne, Wy.. It was a beautiful drive here and I lucked out on the weather and the wind. I am at a KOA. I need to leave by 11:00 AM. Tonight I’m playing a house-concert about an hour away at the home of Kacy Murray. Kacy and I have known each other since we were young kids. It’s so cool to catch up after all these years and I’m really looking forward to tonight. Right now, it’s time to pack up the RV and check out of this campground.
Have a great day and thanks for following me, keeping me company on this 10 year trip.
Here is a new song, Love Is A River. I wrote it last spring when I was at home in Mo. It’s not about anyone or anything in particular, just an inspiration I had.
There was only one musician I knew who could help me bring out the soul of the song. Marty Atkinson. I drove up to the beautiful northern coast of California to his new studio and there we recorded this track. I hope you all like it as much as I do.