Colorado Drive-Thru Blues Jam

Since we were coming through the Boulder/Denver area, I got in touch with a couple of my Blues Guitar Unleashed friends who live nearby. Sue and I had a great afternoon with Chris and Frank. Chris generously hosted us all, providing both lunch and jam space. We played through a bunch of blues standards, switched around on various instruments, and tried a few things out in preparation for “The Show” (that’s my name for it), the annual BGU Live gathering which we will all be attending in Memphis in early October.

Blues Jam
Chris, Doug, Frank. Sue is behind the camera.

Continue reading “Colorado Drive-Thru Blues Jam”

Is all my life really a circle?

Yes! In fact, Harry Chapin pretty much nailed it right there. Here’s what we’re talking about:

A day or two ago, Rod & Tanya were at their desks at home in Egan, SD reading a new post on Technomadia about their friends Chris & Cherie’s stay in our driveway back home in Vermont. At that very moment outside in Rod and Tanya’s driveway were The Destinators (aka Doug & Sue), enjoying a cup of coffee in their rig, catching up on the news and a few select blogs – and reading the same Technomadia post. See what I mean?

RTSD2048
Rod & Tanya & Sue & Doug

Continue reading “Is all my life really a circle?”

Bayfront Blues

The blues community in Duluth, Minnesota has been putting on a blues festival right there on Lake Superior every August for 28 years. (I never knew!) When we found out about this year’s festival and noticed how it coincided closely with our evolved and updated route and timing, and how they have overnight RV parking in the adjacent Duluth Entertainment Conference Center (DECC) parking lots for festival-goers, well, there was really no decision left to be made. The only dicey part was that RV parking was first come-first served, but we showed up early in the afternoon on Thursday and we got The Destinator a spot for the weekend.

Blues Parking Continue reading “Bayfront Blues”

NW Michigan, aka Jula’s Corner

Recall from a previous post, we put friends’ recommendations for places to visit in MI on a map and tried to visit most of them. Jula, a friend from VT, suggested several, including 3 in NW MI – amazingly varied, totally cool places to visit. Thanks Jula, you nailed it!

jula's corner

Continue reading “NW Michigan, aka Jula’s Corner”

Bingeing on the Blues

Doug is a member of the Blues Guitar Unleashed (BGU) forum, an on-line guitar community dedicated to learning blues guitar.  Periodically, BGU members host (and we attend) live events in different places around the country, which is where we met our friends Tom and Laurel. For the past few days, they’ve been our hosts and fun finders extraordinaire and Tom our lead guitar for an incredible blues binge.

As with any BGU meet-up, warm greetings were quickly followed by instruments coming out and an impromptu jam session, this one in Tom’s music room on Friday evening. Tom and Doug traded off on rhythm and lead guitar and bass, while I got to accompany them on the RV drum kit ’til way past our bedtimes. There’s no better way to start a blues binge!

Continue reading “Bingeing on the Blues”

RV Travel Perk

Dead & Company

In Clarkston, Michigan, west of Detroit, we stumbled onto the best way to arrive at a Dead concert:

As an aside, the Westies got to park together, too, though they were relegated to one of the “regular” lots:Westies

The venue was cool – DTE Energy Theater – if you imagine the lawn at Tanglewood tipped up 20 or 30 degrees (so you can see the stage! From The Lawn!) it’s kind of like that. Also, Sugarbush friends, there’s a ski area right outside:

We had inside seats, though, and the concert was AMAZING! Continue reading “RV Travel Perk”

Cleveland, Lake Erie, Kelleys Island

About twenty-five years ago I joined a research project to develop a computational methodology for predicting the metallurgical phase changes, dimensional changes, and stresses that occur during the heat treatment of steel. This was a joint project, coordinated by the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences in Ann Arbor, MI, with about 10 partners including the bearing manufacturer I worked for, a couple of the big auto manufacturers, a handful of national laboratories and university research labs, and a small consulting firm located near Cleveland. A core group of us worked together closely for the next several years developing a computer-aided engineering tool that has now evolved into a software package for heat treatment simulation called Dante.

Members of this core group got to know each other pretty well and formed some close friendships that lasted well past the culmination of the project. I continued to work with Dante and my Cleveland friends after I left my corporate job and started out on my own. Although we’ve stayed in touch since then, I hadn’t seen my friend Lynn in more than 12 years. Happily, we were able to fix that last week. In fact, when Lynn called me back to let me know this get-together could work, and I heard his voice saying, “Hi Doug, it’s Lynn calling” (exactly the same greeting as every phone call I ever had from him), those 12 years just kind of fell away.

Lynn and his wife Ethnea showed Sue and me some of the amazing county parks they have near their house (the Cleveland Metroparks), and a national park, too – the Cuyahoga Valley NP (I was a little disappointed that there was no entry fee, because otherwise my Senior Pass would’ve let us all in for free). We also got a tour of downtown Cleveland and dinner in the Tremont neighborhood at a classic, off-the-beaten-path pub called the Prosperity Social Club (certainly one of the coolest names for a pub that I’ve ever heard), with great food and (of course) excellent beer.

From Cleveland, we headed to a state park campground in Lakeside-Marblehead, OH. They had a few walk-in sites set aside for the weekend and we were able to snag one of those. This was undoubtedly the densest campground we’ve been in, and because it was a sunny, hot weekend the place was pretty full. But it’s in a beautiful area, with great views of the Great Lake (that’s Lake Erie, for my New Englander friends) so it turned out to be a great place to wander from. We found a bike ride that would take us to the ferry to Kelleys Island, a destination which was highly recommended by Lynn and Ethnea.

27917911415_972725d7ee_k
Measured in feet?

That recommendation turned out to be completely justified. There’s not much traffic on Kelleys Island since the only access is by boat – mostly golf carts and bicycles among the few automobiles – so we did a little walking and a little riding. We hung out at the Kelleys Island Brewery for a while (great beer, great sandwiches), wandered back into the center of town where there was a music festival going on (really good music, and a little more beer), and biked up to the north side of the island where there is a geological feature called Glacial Grooves, said to be the best known example of the scored and scraped granite made by the advancing glaciers that formed the Great Lakes, the Appalachians, and all the rest.

Special bonus feature, this post only – TWO sunset photos (both by Sue):

27908301485_90c718e1b2_k
Sunset over Lake Erie from ferry dock
27927768235_8d8fcc2c04_k
Sunset over Lake Erie from East Harbor

Three weeks in

We’re now through the third of our scheduled stops and our third week on the road.

From Lewiston, ME we headed over to West Gardiner for a drive-by jam session with my friend Wilbur (aka “Cowboy”) from Blues Guitar Unleashed. This was the inaugural music stop on the trip and the first field test of the suitcase drum kit. We’re calling it an unmitigated success. Wilbur and Naomi are also RV’ers, so we had a lot of (non-musical) notes to compare, as well. We all had a great time, and Sue and I very much enjoyed getting to know Naomi and Wilbur in a closer and quieter setting than the big jam sessions where we’ve met before.

We didn’t get any photos (still working on developing effective travel-blogging routines and habits!), but Wilbur got a couple of us:

The Load Out

Maybe the hardest part of packing up and hitting the road is what we’ll leave behind. One of these is this band. Doug and I have been the rhythm section in an ensemble we call the Ira Friedman Project, a group of amateur musicians ‘with a collective obsession for music making’ (piano-man Rob’s words) who have been playing music together twice a week for 6 months. Sure, it’s allowed us to improve our musicianship and expand our repertoire, but it’s also been outrageous great fun and has led to a magical bond among new friends.

As we head out looking for jams around the country, we’ll be missing playing with Rob, John, David, Charlotte, Sally – and of course ensemble organizer, band director and musical coach Ira Friedman.

Guys, we promise to keep playing and learning and jamming while we’re ‘on the road again,’ and the West Hill Sessions can resume in November. Thanks so much!

Continue reading “The Load Out”