August 16, 2022 – Mill Brook Road, Waitsfield, Vermont
It is well overtime for me to complete my summertime blog series with this perspective on my DCI tour. I arrived home around 9:00am yesterday. Daughter number 3 was housesitting and her laundry clogged up my gear room, but the company was welcome. Abby has been to a couple of shows, so she gets a clue. It was so fun to share with her my adventures as I downloaded all my content onto the iMac. Overwhelmed with the sheer joy of arriving home from a highly successful tour and watching some of the videos, my eyes glossed heavily. My near 22-year-old daughter is familiar with this trait of her near 68-year-old father, especially since she performed in school, and I took up my drum corps obsession 10 years ago.
The drive home was just under 1,000 miles and 15 hours. I chose to continue through Ohio, Pennsylvania and most of souther New York as the Sunday traffic was lighter, though in some stretches, it was congested and made for difficult driving. This was mostly due to the novice interstate drivers who think the left-hand lane is for cruise-control passing, or their personal lane just to hang out. Taking the high side of the left lane requires an occasional acceleration while passing large trucks, and unpredictable cars. Hanging out in anyone’s blind spot, just behind the rear quarter either left or right, is a dangerous place. Oh, how much I appreciated the Volvo’s safety features including the warning light on the mirror if someone lurks in the danger zone that I cannot otherwise see. I still make the habit of rubbernecking to see for myself. I chose the Eisenhower interstate system to take me most of the way to Vermont in this numerical order, I70, 71, 90, 86, 88, 90, and 87. These numbers look like my report card fifty years ago, and they are all respectable drum corps scores. These routes had rest areas paced just right for some bio adjustments and walks around the perimeter (on the soft soils) to rejuvenate me for the next leg. My absolute favorite route is I86, the Southern Tier Expressway. This wends through the Allegany State Park, Seneca Nation Territory, and the beautiful hilly terrain of the NYS southern tier. The sparce traffic, limited trucks, and good roads not under construction made for a very enjoyable stretch between Erie, PA and Binghamton, NY. Adding an additional hour onto the total time was inconsequential compared to the peace of mind and low stress.
What made the trip possible was the very magnanimous gesture and generous offer by Almartin Volvo, my local dealer in Vermont. They provided me with a a brand-new loaner to make my tour. I appealed to their better judgement to honor their mission statement in a very positive way: “Being an Almartin Volvo Cars customer is more than just buying a vehicle it’s about becoming part of the family and, you should know, this family will always be at your side.” Working hard to advocate for the repair to be covered by Volvo and offering up the loaner in the meantime for me to complete my mission, they lived up to it. You may have noticed that I am sort of a brand warrior. I love to support brands that I believe in, that prove to be good on all levels. I support Cabot Creamery Cooperative because their product is delicious and a part of my daily diet. And they support hundreds of farmers who manage our working landscape as they feed us. I choose Patagonia because of their unparalleled quality, functionality, and durability for all my outdoor active wear. And their unparalleled commitment to the environment and social change. I drive Volvo cars for their safety, comfort, and reliability, And their proven integrity.
Not having a place to stay but in need of some shut eye around 8:30pm after 12 plus hours of driving, I chose an alternative lodging arrangement in the old Richmondville cemetery. Stealthily, I entered the grounds on the narrow uphill road built hundreds of years ago. I found a site of four cedar trees guarding the burial of the Millers. Each tree had a marker for the four children with the headstone for the parents in the middle. The trees were spaced just right for me to hang my hammock on the west side in the near dark. I soon was ensconced in my hanging cocoon, and there the Millers rocked me gently to sleep to my piano music that I recorded in Indy last week. It was a perfect night to sleep out under the moon just passed full and waxing in the gibbous. Arising at early dawn, I scooped up my portable abode, tossed it in the car and resumed the drive along the southern New York State countryside. The sun was coloring the eastern sky, highlighting the mix of clouds in pinks and oranges, blending into the purple and dark blue night sky. I watched for deer, not wanting to ruin this fine automobile on loan. Traffic being light, I made good time to Albany. The remaining three hours was very familiar, having commuted to Vermont every week for years before moving there in 1995. Yes, I am a NY Stater by birth and early development.
Finally arriving in Vermont, in its fine early morning glory on a bluebird day, I was once again overwhelmed about how lucky I am to have gone away to such wonderful experiences. But coming home is even more precious, squeezing the trigger in my eyes. Our motto where I live is “We’re so lucky!” As I cruised the curvy two-lane roads home through glossy lenses, I was thinking of all the people that I met, old and new, the parents, teachers, fans, colleagues, and downright great summertime friends. My DCI family has grown each year, validating my writing and the value of telling a good story about a great American activity. Being there in the lot and in the stands to give as much cheer and encouragement to the young student members. On finals night, I wore my Troopers’ VorAcious tour shirt and gave many of the kids high fives in the stadium’s outer court yard. It is so fun to tell them how much I enjoyed the show and how they really brought it right to the end. There championship night performance was well-earned after 13 years of missing out on Saturday night where only the top-twelve performed. The Colts also performed a breakthrough show – The Silk Road, taking 11th place. This midwestern corps is another fine example of the history and legacy of DCI. So good to see them a vital part of the whole week’s performances. They really looked sharp. I also enjoyed running into some kids from Pacific Crest. Though this corps was not on Saturday, they performed a very fun show and worked hard all summer to make it better each time I saw it, a total of seven times. Running into Beth and Russell Tanakaya, a colleague and photographer for Drum Corps World was another fine moment to share. Our meeting in San Diego at the first DCI show of the summer, now bookended. The Tanakaya family is a very strong supporter of Pacific Crest, and they where my awesome hosts for me at the Rose Bowl.
I know that I will have many other fond memories and interesting tidbits to share that will perhaps require a final DCI perspective on the 2022 season, but for now I think I should leave it here. It is time to focus on the Harwood Union Golf Team and much differed maintenance around here at the Russell Ranch. And a little piano and hiking the Green Mountains before school starts at the end of the month.
Peace, for now.