Off and On the Road Again

First, the off the road story:

Shortly after the last post about riding my bike to work, I did something stupid. About a week and a half ago, I was fixin’ to head home on a Friday afternoon on my bike. I wanted to pump up my tires before starting my homeward trek, so I unlocked my bike and took it to the door that leads from the parking lot directly to my office. Here I pumped up my tires using an electric pump, then took the pump back inside. I changed clothes to my riding attire, packed up my things, and walked back outside to my bike.

Only it wasn’t there.

My bike had been stolen.

I think I know who did it, but I haven’t been able to spot them or my bike since. I still have a little hope.

We’re now back on the road. Jessie and I are currently in the camper in a park outside of Lincoln, Nebraska. Last night, we made it to Monroe City, Missouri, with our friend and drummer Cam. We spent Independence Day driving to Monroe City, then headed down to the park marina for dinner and to do a little people watching. Monroe City didn’t disappoint! It was a warm and muggy night, but we made it all right!

The camp site was beautiful; the bathrooms were not. As hot and sticky as we were, we opted that the showers were too nasty to get us clean. We got a night’s rest and packed up in the morning for hopes of better facilities.

Today we drove to Lincoln. We arrived at the camp site, and Jessie decided to first check the bathrooms and showers in hope we had found something better than what we had just left behind. What she found was an outhouse – a glorified hole in the ground. This was not how we thought it would go.

She knew there had to be more, so she went searching while Cam and I got started setting up the camper. Several minutes later, Jessie came back with a smile on her face – she had found better bathrooms and clean showers!

Jessie gathered up her things and headed to the showers to get ready for tonight’s show. She discovered a problem – these showers required quarters to operate. The rate was 75¢ for the first three minutes, then another 25¢ for each additional minute and a half. That was going to cause a problem. I went through the car and found quarters for a 9-minute shower for Jessie. She was determined to make that work. I luckily found a dollar that I could feed into the machine to get four more quarters. I was able to get a shower before the show as well, and Cam had braved the “prison showers,” as we called them, at the previous camp site and would wait until later for his turn.

Now that we were clean, we headed to the venue in Lincoln to scope it out and find some dinner.

We had found out before we left Nashville that they had accidentally double-booked the night, and there was already a poetry slam happening. They graciously said we could take the stage when they were done at eight, and they would stay open an extra hour for us – all so kind!

After seeing the room, Jessie, Cam, and I found a great Greek restaurant called Sultan’s Kite. With our bellies full of Mediterranean baklava, we headed back to the venue. The slam was going a little long, so we decided to break out the guitars and play a couple of songs with the girl who was opening for us right out on the patio as we waited. As soon at the slam ended, we quickly took our places.

As Grace, the girl performing before us, sang to the crowd in Mo Java, Cam and I played along. It was fun to help this 14-year-old feel like a star with a band. She is very talented, and we were happy to help!

Jessie took the stage next and absolutely blew away the crowd! They were hanging onto every note that fell off her lips, and they were already trying to get us to play their hometown of Omaha on our way back from Wyoming this weekend!

We had a great time playing at Mo Java, and our new friend Rex, who ran sound for us, even helped suggest a new name for our camper – Jim! “Jim the Camper” has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?! Well, maybe not.

Anyways, we were so excited to make some new friends this evening, and we are thankful for clean showers. Now it’s time for a little shut-eye before we head to Wyoming in the morning for our show on Saturday. It’s going to be long days from here on out to make it back to Nashville for work on Monday, but we’re up for the adventure.

It’s always an adventure in the camper, but it makes touring possible. Cam has his own bunk, and he’s got the hang of camper life already! We’ve got the A/C on full blast, and it’s feeling quite nice in here tonight. Tomorrow is another day with another song to sing; we have to give it all we have and put on a show for the people. Until then….

Saving Money + Healthy Living

I’ve always been pretty active. My wife will tell you I can’t sit still, which isn’t far from the truth. I completed my first half-marathon this April. On Saturdays, I’m always working in the yard, on the house, or on the pop up camper. I started thinking and then talking to a few coworkers about commuting to the office on a bicycle.

When I was a kid, I biked every day to school. It was about four blocks of freedom. I knew every crack in the sidewalk that created a mini ramp and every curb that would jolt me through the bike frame. I’ve always loved bicycles. I searched online for several days and found a good road bike in good shape for a good price.

Last Saturday, I took a test ride from home to the office. I wanted to make sure I could do it, and I needed to know just how long the commute would be. It took me just over an hour – only 20 minutes longer than it takes to drive. I couldn’t wait for Monday.

Monday I made it to the office, and I felt great! It was a long, hot, sweaty ride, but I felt great that I did it. On the way home, my chain popped loose, but that was an easy fix. It delayed me only a minute or so, and I was back on the road.

Tuesday came around, and I had to stop by the jewelry store to pick up my wife’s ring that had been repaired. The store is only just off my route to work, so I biked again. As I left the store, I decided to take a shortcut through the local college campus. As I turned into the parking lot of campus, I couldn’t hit the curb head-on. This popped the tube in my back tire. Luckily, the first thing I did when I got my bike was to purchase a helmet and a repair kit for my tubes. A couple minutes later, I had a new tube installed, and I was once again back on the road.

Today I drove to the office since an early meeting would have had me waking up too early to make the trek via bicycle. It has also been a welcomed day of rest. Tomorrow I’ll be back on the bike.

Doing some math, I save almost $7 per day that I ride my bike. I also get a killer workout. I’m hoping to keep biking about three days a week. I want to the bike to pay for itself, then start saving for A/C for my truck. I get some savings, I get my workout, and I save on my carbon footprint. Hopefully I can keep it up for a while.

July + Parking Lot + Middle Georgia = Sweaty

Well, that was…hot.

We played an hour set for the City of Centerville Fourth of July celebration last night. Our set started between 6 and 6:30 (I still don’t know what time we were supposed to start). It was fun, but boy, was it hot!

My wife said, “Why don’t you play in shorts?” I come from the school of thought that musicians always perform in pants unless the specific dress code calls for shorts. My wife had a good idea – playing in shorts was so much better than playing in jeans would have been last night.

We were up on a big trailer in an asphalt parking lot, playing in front of a crowd of people who were in line for face painting, corn dogs, and cold sodie-waters. I think they liked the music – Jessie signed hundreds of autographs (or at least 9), and they all had such nice things to say!

We made sure to dress festivally, wearing our red, white, and blue! Even Nana showed up in the cutest outfit!

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I’m sure I drank 3 gallons of water, but nothing seemed like enough. I think we survived, though, and it was a fun event. Hopefully we get to do it again next year! It’s alway fun playing any chance we get, especially when there’s a crowd willing to listen!

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