Somewhere between Missoula and Butte I begin my first travel journal. I will chronicle the six-week, 7,000-mile tour I experience with my band, Patchy Sanders. Our trail will take us from southern Oregon to the Midwest, from Michigan to New York, from Maine to North Carolina, from Nashville to Colorado and back home. We will play at least 29 shows over 40 days. We will eat loaves of bread, handfuls of granola, and tubs of yogurt. We will see autumn all over this country, my first trip across the entire breadth of America.
After an evening spent trying to sleep in a room with cats playing with paper bags, I woke up tired in a young girl’s room who I have never met. I moved my sleeping bag into her room after I decided the cats would never stop. Her mother’s name is Elizabeth, one of Dan’s dearest friends in the Portland area. I sat outside watching the Portland clouds swirl by, shadowing and sunning her land. I love the Pacific Northwest.
I was tired but I drove first. We listened to The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. Dan became a local hero and called in to report a fire along the highway. We drove into the night before arriving at Gillian’s house in Missoula. I unpretzled myself from the back seat food crate tower, put my boots on, and hugged Gillian. Over tea we learned that her handsome cowboy (like, a real cowboy) boyfriend was at a writer’s award ceremony with Tom Robbins. Bryce might win an award over Tom. Perhaps at least he would get to drink a beer with TR, one of my strongest literary yearnings. We found in the morning neither Bryce nor Tom had won.
I slept by myself in a bed with no one else in the room. This is an incredible luxury on tour and balanced out the cat paper bag experience from the night before.
We had breakfast and coffee in Gillian’s garden before heading out. Jacqui bought chips, I inquired after bulk dried seaweed, and Dan wandered and eventually purchased only filtered water in his huge jug, overwhelmed. A standard grocery stop, then.
I’m knitting a shawl that is almost done as we hurtle through middle-of-nowhere eastern Montana. We are shooting for Rapid City, SD, a nearly 700-mile day.