Anatomy of a tour – side trips
We love to play music to live audiences. Really, we could not dream of a better job. But to a casual observer the amount of driving we do must seem insane. It’s all about the side trips.
Aidan likes the road less traveled and natural wonders. I have taught him to love man-made wonders, or “outsider art.” I am not fond of that phrase, but it is what the formal art world calls works by unschooled artists who are not trying to impress the masses. I call it “really cool stuff.”
This particular tour has been filled with side trips to cool stuff both man-made and natural. So first, I give you natural wonders. Arches. Yosemite. Grand Canyon.
Aidan studied geology in college. This trip has been like grad school. After our first round of shows we took a slight left and headed to Arches National Park outside Moab Utah. We were pulling off to the side of the road before we ever made it into the park. Seriously unbelievable. The park is designed for accessibility, you can drive through, park and stroll to amazing vistas. But if you are even slightly more adventurous you will be greatly rewarded. Sedimentary layers in fluid formations change with the light. There were petroglyphs. We camped alongside the Colorado River, sharing a spot with a couple of tent campers from Belgium. We went to sleep under thousands of millions of stars and woke up to the sound of the river and a view of a sheer rock face.
After a couple of concerts we rewarded ourselves with a side trip to Yosemite. Aidan had been before, I had not. I was a bit concerned that it would not live up to expectation. There are lots of campsites, lots of lodges and restaurants and gift shops. But again, all it took was a few steps off the beaten path. By the way, I love that some of trails are accessible to people with a variety of mobility issues allowing them to enjoy spectacular views. Further along most trails the crowds thin dramatically. On day one we hiked up Vernal Falls and part way to Nevada Falls. Above vernal falls we mostly had the trail to ourselves. They were the only two with running water as it had not rained for three and a half months. Bridal veil falls and the iconic Yosemite falls were dry.
The Yosemite falls site was still worthwhile for us. On our way there – no one else was bothering to go – a pair of mule deer bucks were snacking as they walked. We tried to get out if their way but they walked right by us. Near the base of the falls we saw a bobcat. First ever for both of us.
We’ve been rainmakers on this tour. Literally. That night was no exception. A slow steady rain in the dark hours of the early morning continuing after sunrise brought Bridal Veil Falls back to life.
Half Dome and El Capitan are even better than in pictures. It’s hard to really sense a four thousand foot cliff.
The final chapter in this trilogy is at The Grand Canyon. Again a little rain cleared the dust and the crowds. We hiked the west end of the south rim nearly alone. There is a bus that runs the rim, stopping at lookouts. Some riders walked to the next bus stop, most took pictures and boarded again. Surprisingly most of the real hikers were over 50 (I’m guessing) and many quite a bit older.
Every turn was a different perspective of the past million years. No guard rails down the abyss. Elk. Fossil of a fern. More verdant than I expected.
I took a million pictures none of them captures what I saw or what I felt. Here are a few. (Yeah, obviously I don’t know how to post pictures here. Sorry for the mess.)
Vernal falls, sideways can’t seem to rotate these.