Near midnight on January 22nd, Joel and I quietly drove out of Los Angeles, headed north for several hours, and around 3 a.m. parked at a nondescript rest area somewhere along the coast of central California.
Our plan as to where we would sleep that night, as well as most other nights for the next two months, was in our sleeping bag in the back of the minivan. Now a month into the tour, the feel of this has become quite familiar to me, but that first night I quite suddenly became well acquainted with what it would really be like, and I was, a bit unexpectedly, struck by just how vulnerable to the elements I felt and just how much more difficult it was than just sleeping indoors. Suddenly my worn-out mattress and junky studio apartment back in warm and mild southern California seemed like some faraway haven of comfort and relaxation.
That night the rain poured down in a relentless torrent even before we stopped for the evening and didn’t let up until well into the morning. A chill wind whipped the rain every which way and made any attempt at staying dry quite impossible. This was less than ideal, because before we could crawl into our sleeping area under the wooden equipment bay Joel had installed in the van, our gear and supplies needed to be nearly completely rearranged from driving mode into sleeping mode, and that had to be done in the pouring rain. The bathrooms were nearby, but unfortunately they were not heated and were open to the gusts of cold, wet wind. Thus washing up for the night and trips to the bathroom were something to get over with as quickly as possible and could not be done without getting quite cold.
Since that night, and as we have traveled further north through Wyoming, Colorado and the like, and rain storms have turned to blizzards, we’ve made a few additions to our supplies to make things more comfortable, including two more high-tech sleeping bags and some hiking-gear base layers. Also, much to our relief and extreme delight, rest stops in areas where it gets below freezing in the winter are heated! And some actually have hot water, too. So, since then we’ve been able to stay quite warm at night, with the only really cold part being when we need to be out of the van.
Standing in stark contrast to the cold weather, however, and even more delightful than heat vents in rest stop lobbies, has been the reception from the fans at our shows. There hasn’t been a single city we’ve played on our tour where we haven’t encountered fans excited about our music, people eager to tell us how much they enjoyed our show, or complete strangers who generously shower us with encouragement to continue on. And continue on we will.