So, Michael finished up with the swearing in Washington and drove westward, back to Ohio. Thursday night, I went out to Long Island where I played piano for The Life Church, which had its first worship service (which I would link you to if only they had a website). Then, on Friday, I flew to Dayton, by way of Detroit. And you're asking. "Who even knew that Dayton had an airport?" I know, right? Since then, several people have told me that Dayton obviously has an airport, since the Wright brothers were from there--but I think they were from Akron. In either case, I know they aren't from North Carolina. (All first-in-flight claims to the contrary.)
So, we drove to the YMCA Camp, in Oregonia, OH. The SOSLYO was going on, and they allowed us to play a couple of songs here and there during their event. Of course, the first thing one has to do at a youth gathering is decorate the room. In this case, the organizers handed decorations to the youth and asked them to have at it, which they certainly did.
Also, while at the camp, Michael showed-off his unique ability to capture the sun and hold it in his hand.
Of course, just like Harry Caray, Michael's favorite planet is the sun. But I don't know how he can take all that heat on his hand, personally. All that heat would have served us well after leaving our time in Oregonia, since we were headed north. And I do mean north. Dakota north, in fact, as in North Dakota. But I am getting ahead of myself.
So we drove north, as I say, and stopped off in Maumee, my former place of residence. I went to a Vestry meeting, and Michael went to the gym. (I always take the easy way out.) Then we drove to Chicago, to get some sleep. The next day we drove to Minneapolis, which was like our base camp for the final ascent into the tundra. Troy invited us to stay at his grandmother's house since she was out of town--you know, like when we recorded our cd, Pronto. In the morning, we headed out across Minnesota.
Since it was Troy's birthday, we really splurged and bought him a coffee mug. I know, we are really some nice guys, huh?
Also, since it was Troy's birthday, when we stopped to switch places in the van, he decided to run over to a nearby snowdrift.
Unfortunately, that first step's a doozy.
That's Troy's head sticking up over the edge of the road there. I didn't get the descent into the glacier, but I was able to capture Troy's victorious finish of having climbed out to safety. We traveled on to Bismarck, where we were pleased to play with our friends, Tangled Blue, who sound better than ever. Though we would have loved to hang around, we had to head back to Fargo, since there were no rooms at the inns of Bismarck. (If you're thinking that makes us like Jesus, it really makes us more like Mary and Joseph, except neither of is pregnant, though there is a census coming up next year.) Anyway, the drive back to Fargo was seriously slow and dangerous, since blowing snow does not take the night off.
Arriving in Fargo, we checked into our hotel and slept soundly. The next day, we drove the short distance up to Grand Forks. You know you're out in it when you see signs like these:
At some point, looking at the map, I realized that Bismarck is closer to LA than to NYC. Which probably surprises no one except me. But back to Grand Forks. The room we played is something called the Chester Fritz Auditorium. As you can see, you could fit a person or two in this room.
I went up to the very top balcony and took a picture of Michael down on the stage.
It makes me laugh to think how many people it would take to make this room seem crowded. So, though we were playing for about 800 confirmands, they didn't even fill the first floor. As I say, big room. Of course, confirmands are typically smaller than adults, so maybe that has something to do with it.
We had a great time, and the crew at the venue were among the nicest we've worked with--and we've worked with some nice crews. After the load out, it was time to begin the seriously long night's journey into day, if I may paraphrase Eugene. In order to make our crack of dawn flights, we drove from Grand Forks to Minneapolis, where we spent a couple hours at Troy's house until he kindly drove us to the airport. I was asleep before the plane took off, and when I woke up I found myself at 10,000 feet with my seatbelt off, and my cell phone on. Thanks Delta. I switched the status of both things and settled in.
Michael and I met-up in New Orleans, and two nice guys from Charlotte gave us a ride to the hotel. We had to spend a little time adjusting to the change in our environment. After our nordic plunge, New Orleans seemed quite toasty and urban.
We were in New Orleans to play at the annual Extravaganza (which is a spare vaganza, I think). We've played in New Orleans many times over the years, but you never know what you're going to see on your random walk outside your hotel. For instance, the second night, two buses pulled up in fornt of hotel, and a full-size marching band unloaded onto the sidewalk, where they warmed up before coming into the hotel and filing up the escalator, like so many business travelers.
We had lots of fun at the Extravaganza, and ran into all sorts of folks we've known for years. Among the highlights of our time there was watching our friend, Agape' (Dave Scherer) receive the Hunstad Award for his ministry among youth.
In response, Dave did his signature beat-box-singing combo, which is always impressive.
Later that night, Michael and I were sitting in the lobby when a bunch of clowns came in and stood around chatting, like so many business travelers.
Michael went over to get a better look, and I couldn't help but notice there was something oddly familiar about the whole scene . . .
The next morning, we played a few songs before worship, and then Erin was kind enough to whisk me off to the airport, since Delta had told me I could get an earlier flight. Of course, once I got to the counter, they had no seats on any earlier flights. Psych! So now I sit around the New Orleans airport for 5 hours, and will be flying during the entirety of the Superbowl. Thanks Delta. I want my little Northwest Airlines back now, please. At least they didn't lose my luggage yet. Of course, that's because they won't let me check in until 3 hours before the flight.
For now, Michael and I have a few weeks off, so I probably won't be writing again until March. Rock on, you people you.