Sunday, November 2, 2014
twice this year i have cursed the impending snow fall, and asserted that i was too goddamn tough to let the elements get the better of me.
twice i have failed in epic fashion and had to cancel shows.
today, sadly i took poor Corinna down with me in my battle against the storm gods.
We were scheduled to play in Presque Isle, ME. a place so far north that people in Bangor are afraid to travel there in the fairest of weather....a place where hearty folk live happy lives, despite the fact that 1 in 3 residents get carried off and eaten by wolves...a place where people love live music. it is the only way they find out about the outside world, due to the fact that newspaper, cable, and telephone companies refuse to operate there.
this is where corinna and i were headed today to play an acoustic duo performance.
storms were predicted, and while we were given the option to cancel yesterday, we knew that this folk concert would be the biggest thing to hit Presque Isle since Miss Teen Orono traveled there in 2003, carrying a vat of the very finest from the infamous Carrabassett Valley Spicy Chili Cook-Off.
my point is, Corinna and i knew that this concert was bigger than both of us, and we were not going to let our people down.
we awoke early, shaking off the aftermath of a ridiculously fun concert in Waterville, topped by a late night unplugged session with concert goers in our hotel after the show. we showered, ate breaky, chugged coffee, and washed the jameson stains from our clothes.
we were ready.
it was already snowing.
it was already absurdly cold.
we offered up a quick prayer to the gods of rock n roll, and hopped in my 2002 honda accord. (the rest of the band headed back to boston in the van...a cracked windshield the only casualty on the day for them, thankfully)
technically Presque Isle was only 4.5 hours away, but we knew right away we were in for a long journey. traffic was rolling at about 40mph, and the roads were pretty nasty.
we checked the weather between Waterville, and Presque Isle, and while it was predicted to storm everywhere, it clearly looked like conditions were better as one traveled north.
that was wrong.
things got worse.
30 minutes later we found ourselves rollin at about 20mph behind a string of cars. the leader of our caravan apparently decided the side of the highway was a good place to stop and change drivers...string of brake lights filing toward us.
i eased on the brakes.
my honda decided to ignore that.
i eased off the brakes.
curious sideways motion.
as a good driver’s ed graduate i cut into the skid, while gently and lovingly pumping the brakes...then decided to ignore brakes all together...didn’t seem to make much of a difference as in slow motion, we skidded off the highway and onto a 45 degree embankment.
AAA came, winched us out, and sent us on our way with only a mild look of disgust.
the good people of Presque Isle, at this point, began to worry about us. they called and told us they had moved the show 2 hours later, and initiated a town-wide effort to melt all the snow within a 2 mile radius of the concert so as to make us feel more like we were back in our tropical home of Boston, MA. (they consider Boston very close to the equator)
they told us there was no shame in turning back...but they had just baked a batch of their famous winter spice cake, made from the meat of a real yeti.
Corinna and i could read between the lines.
we rolled on, encouraged by reports that the worst was behind us.
at a certain point. things became too ridiculous...even for us. we decided to take a little break at the next exit.
problem is, once you hit a certain latitude in Maine, exits only come once every 50 or so miles. at 15mph that can take a while.
finally an exit.
bleary eyed and emotionally taxed, we hit the off ramp only to realize, (too late i might add), that this was the one exit that the Maine Highway Authorities don’t consider important enough to plow. not only that, but the road that the off ramp connects to is really only suitable for plows and tractors to drive on.
...and you guessed it:
no ramp back onto the highway.
having gently navigated the honda into a snow drift next to the nearest barn, i was in the process of digging us out, when local legend and all around good guy, Reed, pulled up in his plow. unfortunately, it wasn’t until his friend Mark arrived with his bigger plow and sand spreader that we could actually get ourselves back on the road.
back on track, Reed suggested we head to his house to drink hot cocoa until the heavy stuff stopped dumping.
at this point we broke the news to the good people of Presque Isle that we were not, in fact, going to make the concert. they were very sweet about it, although clearly disappointed that they would have to recall their county-wide candle-light vigil.
traveling right behind Reed and his plow now, it didn’t take us more than a half mile before we got stuck again...on a hill this time.
Reed said he was gonna stop at his nephew, Robbie’s house, (next to where we were stuck), who would come out with his big, badass truck to pull us up the hill.
Robbie came with his big badass truck, and it too got stuck on the hill.
Finally, our old friend Mark had to come back with his plow and spreader to literally chaperone us to the motel in Sherman, ME, where after shoveling out a spot for the honda, i write to you now.
10 hours on the road, and we’re still nowhere even close to Presque Isle.
before signing off, i just want to give a shout out to all of the amazing folks in the great state of Maine. you all took incredibly good care of us soft, southerners today.
For those of you reading this around the country, take a trip sometime...anywhere in Maine will do.