High Side of the Left Lane

JFK and the BAC. DCX Museum exhibit.

August 16, 2022 – Mill Brook Road, Waitsfield, Vermont

Do not underestimate the power of drum corps’ persuasion. The 2022 DCI season has left an indelible impression on my mind. Riffs and revelations from the last two weeks were constant companions while I cruised home for two days on the high side of the left lane. I did not need the radio. Memories and musical phrases still bounce around in my head, often coming out audibly as I settle back into my simple everyday life in Vermont. Sitting comfortably along Mill Brook, I can complete my summertime blog series with this reflection on my 2022 tour.

Right Here! Right Now!

I arrived home around 9:00 am yesterday. Daughter #3 was housesitting. Her laundry clogged up my gear room, but the company was welcome. Abby has been to several DCI shows with me, so she gets a clue. Sharing my adventures with her was fun as I downloaded all my content onto the desktop computer. Overwhelmed with the joy of arriving home from a highly successful tour and watching some videos, my eyes glossed heavily. She is familiar with my trait of being overwhelmed by the power of youth music, mainly since she performed in high school and I took up my drum corps obsession ten years ago.

BAC medical staff keeping vigil on the park.

The drive home was just under 1,000 miles and 15 hours. I continued at a good pace through Ohio, Pennsylvania, and most of southern New York as the Sunday traffic was lighter. 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 looked like my report card fifty years ago, and they are all respectable drum corps scores. My only complaint was the novice interstate motorists who think the left-hand lane is for cruise-control passing or their lane to hang out. Taking the high side of the left lane requires 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 dangerous. Oh, how much I appreciated Volvo’s safety features, including the warning light on the mirror if someone lurks in the danger zone that I cannot see. I still make a habit of rubbernecking to see for myself.

Two top drum corps supporters.

The trip was made possible by the magnanimous gesture and generous offer by Almartin Volvo, my local dealer in Vermont. They provided me with a brand-new loaner to make my tour while they repaired the Silver Bullet, my 2016 Volvo XC70. You may have noticed that I am a brand warrior. I love supporting brands I believe in that are good on all levels. I support Cabot Creamery Cooperative because their Seriously Sharp Cheddar is delicious and a part of my daily diet. And they help hundreds of farmers who manage our working landscape as they feed us. I choose Patagonia for my active outdoor wear because of its unparalleled quality, functionality, and durability. And their outstanding commitment to the environment and social change. I drive Volvo cars for safety, comfort, reliability, and proven integrity as a company.

The Kilties.

As it was getting late on Sunday and having no reservation to stay but needing some shuteye after 12-plus hours of driving, I chose an alternative lodging arrangement – the old Richmondville Cemetery. Stealthily, I entered the grounds on the narrow uphill road constructed hundreds of years ago. I found a site with 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 the Millers rocked me gently to sleep to the piano music I recorded in Indy last week on my phone. It was a perfect night to sleep 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. I constantly had to check my speed for the remaining three hours to my humble abode, now on two-lane roads for the first time in 850 miles.

Paradise Lost in the parking lot.

On finals night, I wore my Troopers’ VorAcious tour shirt and gave many members high fives in the stadium’s outer courtyard following their performance. It is so fun to tell them how much I enjoyed the show and how they brought it right to us to the end. Their championship night performance was well-earned after 13 years of missing out on Saturday nights where only the top twelve performed. The Colts also performed a breakthrough show – The Silk Road, taking eleventh place. This midwestern corps is another fine example of the history and legacy of DCI. So good to see them as a vital part of the entire 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 worked hard all summer and performed an entertaining show, better each of the seven times I saw it. Running into Beth and Russell Tanakaya, a colleague and photographer for Drum Corps World, was another good moment to share. Our meeting in San Diego at the first DCI show of the summer is now bookended. The Tanakaya family is a firm supporter of Pacific Crest. They were excellent hosts for me at the Rose Bowl back in June.


To witness the second-place finish of the Boston Crusaders, albeit a tie, was a definite highlight. It is hard not to acknowledge that this corps has made the most significant impression on me since Ron Lambert’s speech at community night in spring training in 2017.  Drum corps’ power of persuasion at its best. That was the impetus for me to volunteer and go on tour with them for 23 days. I was on the pit crew on the field at the World Championships when they launched to 6th place with Wicked Games. Since that pivotal year, I have gotten to know many of the BAC family of board members, staff, volunteers, alums, and fans. But, as you know, I love all the corps.


I know I will have many other fond memories and interesting tidbits to share that may require a final DCI perspective on the 2022 season, but I should leave it here for now. It is time to focus on coaching the high school golf team and much-deferred maintenance at the Russell Ranch. I’m looking forward to a nice session on my Steinway that I missed for the past two weeks and hiking the Green Mountains before school starts at the end of the month. Oh, what a wonderful world.


Peace, for now.

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