August 9, 2022 – Mounds State Park, Indiana
It was my father that taught me the power of thinking positively, and always relating with other in a positive manner. This technique has once again proven itself with respect to the Silver Bullet, my 6-year-old Volvo. Sitting forlornly in the lot at Almartin Volvo, the car will soon be getting a new lease on life, thanks to the hard effort by the Almartin team to negotiate a reasonable settlement on the repairs. The poor machine had suffered a critical failure and Volvo has decided to replace the engine with a nominal contribution from me for the labor, as the issue fell within a gray area because the warranty had expired at the time of the diagnosis. Meanwhile, very grateful for the outstanding privilege of the wonderful loaner to continuing my tour. I did not realize how much I would like the lane-assist function and I will miss it. There are many new safety features that I have become accustomed to and will miss. I am a firm believer that my friendly, positive attitude prevailed, and it inspired other to go to bat for me. I had plenty of reason to be upset, but I learned a long time ago that being a jerk about things, even if you believe you are in the right, never gets one to the right place. That same sage father also said, “Even if you are right, you can handle it wrong.” Thank you, Steven at Almartin for stepping up to be my advocate.
It is time to stop fretting about my wheels and focus exclusively on the purpose of my tour, Drum Corps International competitions. Last night was the big night of the season for me at the University of Akron at the Bluecoats home show, a tour of champions’ event. Unfortunately, mother nature intervened after the first two corps performances. A massive thunderstorm slowly advanced toward us, sending us all inside the stadium under the seats. I donned my mask and headed to the souvenir area and huddled under the Boston Crusaders tent out in the courtyard, helping hold down the side flaps as the wind whirled with intensity, and poked off the rain water building up rapidly above each corner. It was great to hang with Jim and his souvie team, and the Woodall bothers, BAC’s most ardent fans.
Before the interruption, the Pacific Crest performed another fine show with the Void. This show is one that I have seen the most all year beginning in California back in June. Oh, how much better these kids have gotten, and how much more they have added on the field. Following that, Phantom Regiment ripped another great show. The horn volume was much louder as they performed the very powerful repertoire to depict their program – No Walk Too Far. This is a real Phantom Regiment with their recognizable, though more revealing uniform of white with black accents and silver accoutrements. And the music is perfectly triumphant for this corps, closing with Mahler’s Symphony #5.
It was another sore disappointment to miss the several other corps that were scheduled to perform, including three of the top four corps, in order of performance by draw: Boston Crusaders, Carolina Crown, and the Bluecoats. This is reverse of their standings. A great consolation was the Bluecoats standstill performance, preceded by both horn line and drum line warming up on each end zone after the rain. This was followed by the Bluecoats alumni corps taking the field. What an awesome sight to witness so many of them. A final tribute to the fiftieth anniversary was the junior corps joining in for a 440 member horn line rendition of Autumn Leaves.
The Blue Devils, who were not in attendance at this show continue to be ranked at the top. The final regular season shows on Monday can set the tone for the finals later in the week. This year, bronze and silver are anybody’s guess. The only thing that I am confident about predicting is that the medals will go to the corps with the best power of positive thinking because they are all wicked talented, and the shows are all incredibly designed. There are two days of pure rehearsal and no competitions for the final tweaking of the music and drills, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Percussion batteries (the marching drums: snares, toms, basses, and sometimes marching cymbals) continue to sharpen and form a singular sound among the many as they attack the heads with alacrity. They are achieving a refined clarity of sound. No more mush. The BAC battery is garnering quite a following in the lot durning warm-ups. By this time, horn lines have lived and played together intensively all summer. They think and breath as a singular soul with a pureness of tone achieved only through the long and hard road of dozens of shows with almost 100 days of arcs on asphalt in the hot sun. Color guard members are never idle and these days they are even less idle. As are the designers, who are always changing, tweaking, and creating new moves to represent the theme and showcase their physical talent. These talented members are always striving for a higher tolerance of precision and togetherness. These kids will be ready.
For me, today was another travel day. Leaving the comfort of the hotel in Akron, I drove cross-country style, eschewing the interstates as much as possible, to Mounds State Park north of Indianapolis, Indiana. The Grey Ghost II, my temporary steed, did yeoman’s service to transport me here. I did not realize how much I would appreciate the lane-assist function, especially in the urban tangles of lanes that shift between the concrete-barriered channels. Of course, one hundred years ago, it would not have been possible to travel that distance in one day. I chose to drive the Lincoln Highway for about fifty miles over the flat terrain of the mid-west. This was the original east/west cross-country route across America, conceived in Indiana, and fully connected by 1922 from Times Square, New York to Lincoln Park, San Francisco, 3389 miles. This original section is limited to local trucks only and a pleasure to drive along. Since the road does not bypass the towns, it requires some patience and build in a little more time in your travel schedule. I had no real schedule.
I chose Mounds State Park as my campground for the evening instead of a hotel. I will raise my hammock for a great night sleep, cuddled caccoon-like in the open are of Indiana. I stayed at this park in 2019 and enjoyed the trails and visiting the ancient earthen mounds created by Paleoindians 2,600 years ago. The land was later occupied by the pre-Columbian Hopewell tribe (name applied by a European -settler and explorer in 1891). Over 100 mounds, including the Great Mound, have relation to the brightest stars, visible planets, sun, and moon. It is a large circular mound, approximately ¼ mile of circumference, creating a bowl with a high ground in the center. These were celebration grounds, the gathering place for the early people. I celebrated in their honor in the center of the Great Mound in honor of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, August 9.
Tomorrow, I will head to Indianapolis to hang out with my adopted tribe, the Boston Crusaders family, at the Holiday Inn directly next to Lucas Oil Stadium. The “Oil Can” is a large oval-shape cavernous structure where the tribes of today come to celebrate, dance, play, drum, and march. Drum Corps International Championships begin on Thursday with some nail-biting competition at all rungs along the later of the top 20 world-class corps. Even those at the lower rungs are truly amazing and champions in their own right. All I know is that I am right here, right now for an awesome week in Indy. I am positively certain we will have a good time.
Time for some urban walking and a personal piano concert later at track 10 in the Crown Plaza Hotel on the cute little Kawai. I’ll keep you posted.