“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Over the hills and far away… That’s what our destination seemed like on Sunday, April 6th when we packed up Clementine and said our goodbyes to our good friends in Santa Cruz. It wasn’t a bad feeling, but with all of the breakdowns we’ve had on the way, it was a feeling of impending… something. It was surreal. We had gotten comfortable in Santa Cruz, with a pretty good routine. Morning reading, coffee, a walk and a bus ride into town, busking in the afternoons and evenings, dinner, drinks and at last a bus ride home. As always, any comfortable routine is difficult to disrupt.
Bus stopping on the way into Santa Cruz, a daily ritual.
We said our farewells and goodbyes to the family at Bean Creek. We said farewell to some of the wonderful street friends we’ve met in town. We watched Brandon & Caitlin of The Shrugs leave for Vancouver early in the morning. We had breakfast with the Felton lads and took off up North. We’ll be back. Right?
In the five days it took us to get home, I did a lot of self-reflection and a lot of learning. It was pretty quiet as driving goes between Kasey and I – normally we’re having long conversations about anything and everything, but this time it was different. I think we were both reflecting on the trip, what we’ve learned, how far we’ve come, and perhaps the scariest thought, what comes next? Big lifestyle changes were coming our way, we just didn’t know what they would be.
Clementine sitting pretty during a stop in the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.
Clementine… Where do I begin? The sweet little stick of butter cruising down the highways of North America put all of her heart into this trip. She struggled, she waned, but she forged on thanks to huge help from the Tait, Graff and Puglia families… There was an abundance of support on the home front that made this trip possible, for which we will be forever grateful. Thank you.
Note:Clementine is running, however she’s cranky. She’s making a LOT of knocking noises. Don’t worry – we’ll figure it out.
Kasey and I during a house concert with the Tait family in Ottawa, Ontario.
As for Kasey and I, well I guess we were ready for whatever came next. Kasey - my little engine that could. She struggled occasionally on this trip, missing home and the friends and family we had left behind. Some days were difficult for us both, but Kasey had a couple of difficult times on the road so far away from home. Somewhere along the way (perhaps California) she really began to shine like the star she is. She was relaxed, smiling, and rolled with the punches that come with living on the road. She’s a strong individual, and I’m prouder than ever to be her partner in crime.
Scopin’ out the covered bridge in Wakefield, QC.
As for myself, I was ready, but unsure of what was coming. I was sure Eugene and Portland would bring us good fortune, but I was unsure of what was going to happen in Kelowna. Would it be home? Would I fall back into the old unhealthy cycles I used to? Or would it be different? Would I be as motivated as I have been on this trip? Would the music change? All of this was beginning to weigh pretty heavily on my mind.
Lake Okanagan from the top of Kelowna’s Knox Mountain.
All of the introspection I did along Highway 1, 101 and I-5 took me only deeper into the dark caverns of my mind. I began to reflect primarily on three things… Who was I? Who am I? and Where am I going? I have been able to divulge answers for the first two, but the third question is truly the most vexing.
SO MANY ANTICS.
I have been struggling with that third question for a long time now. On the road, the answer was obvious. “We’re going to Portland!” or, better yet, “We’re going back home!” Time stood still, and we had very few concerns and stresses along the way. If we weren’t making money, we would move on to the next town. If we were happy somewhere, we would stick around for another day. If Clementine broke down – there was nothing we could do other than figure it out. There were no pesky deadlines, guidelines or time restraints on anything. It was truly an easy-living situation.
Clementine on the racks at Volks Café, Santa Cruz, CA.
As we approached the border at 50 MPH, a comfortable speed Clementine putters at on flat interstate highways, my concerns about that third question grew and grew. I mulled it over in my mind for hours, awake and asleep. As I rested overnight, it still burned through my dreams, like a bed of hot coals waiting to be lit. Where am I going? The answers were elusive and fleeting… But I think I finally came to an answer on our last night on the road, parked on Highway 3 at 2am near Princeton, BC.
Like a shot in the dark, it came to me.
Not my traditional home town of Arnprior, Ontario, Canada… That will always be home to me, but ponder this. Home isn’t anywhere you have to be. It’s not somewhere you feel uncomfortable. It’s not near your job. It’s not near your family. It’s not where you grew up. Home isn’t by the fireside, and most definitely isn’t on the road.
Home is an all-encompassing feeling that you take with you. Home is where your body and your heart go together, hand in hand. Yes, there are elements we all associate with home, such as a partner or a spouse, family, familiar surroundings, or your past. But the only place that really makes it home is your presence – presence of body and of spirit.
At home in Nashville, Tennessee.
There was a time shortly after I transplanted out West when I really struggled. I couldn’t get a job, I couldn’t make things work, I was partying by night and not getting anything done by the day. I missed the East coast – the legendary friends and family that formed who I am today. But there was a separation between my body and spirit. My body was in the West, but my spirit refused to settle. It yearned for feelings and experiences that I thought were only possible back home in Ottawa. I tried to convince myself that my life had changed and I had to adapt. This isn’t totally wrong, but what I missed was right in front of me.
There are elements of our home in every one of us. We are born and raised by our parents/guardians/elders, and the fundamental traits and qualities that make us who we are become instilled in us. We learn these things and modify or relearn as necessary along the way. We then take all of it with us - our memories and experiences, our opinions, our desires and needs, our voices, our fire. When we uproot and move away from those fundamental places in our lives, it is those things that we carry with us, and it is those very things that give us the ability to make home anywhere.
We will always bring elements of where we’ve been to make us at home down the road.
With those desires, beliefs, traits, needs and qualities, we can create home anywhere we want. It becomes a world of possibility, where we can approach the world comfortably and confidently. It creates a utopia for our souls where we can be free to thrive and swell with gratitude, where we can feel and witness happiness on a daily basis. Every day is a new door with infinite reasons to open it.
Every day is a day of greatness and gratitude. We can approach the world on our own ground, comfortable strong.
Truly, home is where you park it.
Thank you for following our adventure. As our adventure continues, we will be posting to this site. The things we learn will be reflected on this wall. All of our gigs and events will be posted on our website right here. Our Facebook will always have all kinds of goofy things like that as well.
With hearts bursting with gratitude and a world of love,
Our pride and joy on the California Coast.
Clementine ain’t a young gun, and she ain’t a sports car. She ain’t a luxury vehicle, a whip, or a hooptie. She is however, our pride and joy, and our home. So when she gets into trouble, we get very concerned.
Much like a parent with a child who recently contracted chicken pox… We probably knew it was going to happen eventually, moreover we probably even knew we couldn’t do anything about it, but that doesn’t change how we stress about her, dote on her, and chat to her when we’re ready for bed. Yup… We chat to our van.
She had been doing alright after some minor maintenance in Palm Springs - one of the oil changers in the area had stripped our oil drain plug, and our valve cover gasket was leaking oil. We were literally a smoke-show driving around all the convertibles in Palm Springs… Much like The Mystery Machine.
Juuuust like the Mystery Machine, but the fumes were from leaking oil, honest…
But now we were in Santa Cruz with a blown transmission, and it felt like an exercise in futility for awhile. The transmission blew on the first weekend of March… March 1st to be exact. We had ordered a rebuilt transmission on March 4th, to be sent out to a UPS Store two weeks hence. After that, we would pick it up and get the work done.
Yet when I called two weeks hence to the day, March 17th, they had lost our invoice. They lost our order altogether. No - don’t worry, they didn’t charge anything - however, they had simply lost all record of our transmission order, address, etc. Therefore, no work had been done, and on March 17th, we were… Well… Back at step 1.
I appealed to the owner of Rancho Performance Transaxles, Sam, and laid out my case. To be fair - Sam had no idea what had happened. I had ordered with one of his staff, but seeing as that staff member had lost the order prior to production, there was no reasonable way for me to expect Sam to know about it. He understood my problem, and immediately set to rectifying it.
A new transmission would be built within the day, and shipped to us the next day. Shipping would be paid for, and the core-deposit cost was lowered. I was happy with that - and to Sam’s credit, he got it done.
Clementine on the lift at one of the world’s foremost VW repair shops, Volks Cafe. (Which is also Van Cafe)
At this point we contacted our friend at Volks Cafe, Orion, and he said he could get the work done. We took Clementine in for a little spa day, and to switch out the old transmission with the new… Until, well… Another little hiccup.
Orion was awesome - he got the old out and the new transmission in in record time, but when connecting the shifting rod to the gear selector, he found there was a serious problem.
The new transmission sent by Rancho had been knocked around in shipping (You will rue this day, UPS.) and the transmission was locked in 1st… Unfortunately, the transmission was already mounted. Annnd, it was Sunday. The mechanic shops, including Rancho, were all closed. SO, we parked our sick little van by Folks Cafe, and waited another day out. (VERY reminiscent of Selkirk, Thanksgiving in Sault Ste. Marie, and so on…)
Wanna see somethin’ gross? Our transmission drain plug.
As we waited outside the Volks Cafe, something a little different happened.
We got hit.
Clemmy’s ruffled feathers. She wasn’t happy.
Don’t worry - it wasn’t a big hit, and actually, the guy that hit us was pretty nice about everything. He was driving a big UHaul Box Truck, and was evidently getting used to it’s size… He was trying to park, and nearly took our mirror right off.
To be totally honest, I was less worried about the mirror and more worried about the safety of this poor man. As soon as Kasey saw it go down there was a stream of curses, and it was like she dropped the gloves in a hockey fight… She is going to murder this man, I thought. She stormed out of the van in a flurry of ferocity, walked a quick, deliberate circle and got back into the passenger seat - fuming.
But I stepped out and chatted with Keith, the gentleman, and we worked it out - he bought us a new mirror. We went and had a beer, and were tempted to get whiskey at The Crepe Place…
Oh whiskey oh whiskey please sing me a song…
I digress - we were waiting for Monday to come around so we could call Rancho, and then a mechanic. We called Sam early in the morning on Monday, and (again) to his credit, he got to work fixing the issue.
Enter Greg & Paula, a racing couple. Greg - a VW Guru, geologist, and racing fanatic. Paula - a passionate VW driver, Queen of The Mountain, and artichoke afficionado. They are an amazing couple doing what they want and when they want. Check out their collection here!
Sam had come up with a plan… Greg & Paula would pick us up, and tow our Clementine about an hour south to Sand City, California. There the work would be done in a day, and Clementine should be road ready the next day - Tuesday. Everything would be paid for, all we had to do was wait another hour or so.
It worked out perfectly. Greg & Paula picked us up, we stopped for some french-fried artichokes (AWESOME), and got to Sand City in an hour. We dropped Clementine off and they took us for a tour of Monterey - we saw the Monterey Cannery (where Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row is based), had a couple drinks and went for dinner. Aside from poor Paula & Greg getting into a minor car accident, it was really nice to meet them and hang out with them…
Monterey on a rainy day is better than Fort MacMurray on a sunny day…
It was a strange month, but we slept in our immobile van one more time - thoughts crossing our mind all night long. What if this doesn’t work?Or, What next? Even the thought of selling Clementine once she was running legitimately crossed my mind.
The next day went quick. Pierre, at Just Andy Repair Shop, had Clementine ready at 11am.
He worked magic. Clementine has been a breeze - a sweetheart. She still groans, complains and rattles - but like I said… She’s not a luxury car, she’s not a whip and she’s definitely not a young gun… She’s our home.
Our sweet, sweet home.
HEY EVERYONE IN SANTA CRUZ! NOTE!!
Unfortunately we’ve had to cancel our Saturday, April 5th show at Pono Hawaiian Grill which is heartbreaking. We love that place, and all the beautiful people that keep it such a positive place in Santa Cruz. We will be back to tour in Fall 2014, and Reef/Pono is on our ‘MUST STOP’ list.
In the meantime, catch our LAST TWO SHOWS!
Thursday, April 3rd [TONIGHT!] - The Poet & Patriot - 9PM
w/ The Shrugs - Free Admission - 21+
Friday, April 4th [FIRST FRIDAY] - The Art Bar & Café - 8PM
Free Admission - 21+
Kasey hangin’ on the porch on a rainy day at Bean Creek.
The rain had finally left us. Clemmie had thrown a tantrum and blew her transmission to pieces. We were moving into a beautiful little commune on a floodplain, just North of Santa Cruz. It‘s on the back-side of a horse farm, with organic gardens, free range ducks and chickens, composting toilets and solar showers, with a meandering creek running along the south face of the property. Much of the property is dominated by towering conifers, with freshly grafted apple trees around the main building. Green trim lines the white building, reminiscent of early-century farm-hand hovels, and it sits bedded amongst the trees, stream and caravans. Dream catchers hang from the limbs of the trees, and newly made clay pots, vessels and figures are scattered across the whole property.
Bean Creek, from the road. It’s a hidden little nook… Perfect.
We had to get the van down the Santa Cruz Mountains, and into Felton, so we could get a tow over to Bean Creek. We only had 1st, 2nd and Reverse… So Clementine couldn’t make the trip on her own, unfortunately. We drove her down, and our buddy Gary followed us along the winding roads. We caught a tow from Felton, and were dropped off right outside our destination. It wasn’t more than a couple of hours, and we were settled at Bean Creek, sharing stories with our brand new friends, the Creekers.
Gig at Art Bar & Café.
The next couple weeks that followed were extremely eventful… We learned a single rule to expect and respect in everyday life in Santa Cruz, and that is that everything - no, really - everything is an adventure. Whether we were bussing downtown, organizing gigs, meeting up with The Shrugs, going up the mountains into Felton, chasing friends around Santa Cruz, or even hanging out at Bean Creek, everything became an adventure. There is no travelling from Point A to Point B… The path of travel starts at A, but always has several stops to make on the way to point B. It seems like everyone in Santa Cruz improvises his or her way through life.
This past month has seen us play at 4 separate venues multiple times, visit farmers markets and take advantage of free food drops in the area, jams with several characters, several reading hours, +/- 8 songs written, hikes through Henry Cowell State Park, perpetual trouble with fixing our transmission, a broken driver-side mirror, our music played on the air in town, dozens of encounters with the homeless, hippies, transients, gypsies and tramps, and pulled over by the Scotts Valley Police in a 1978 Camaro Z28…
(Gordon, our driver after a gig at The Poet & Patriot, had switched the plates from his Chrysler to the Camaro – The Chrysler isn’t running. The police ran the plates, and found it was licensed for a Camaro, so they pulled us over, impounded poor Gordon’s car, and made us walk home down a dark, windy road.)
Henry Cowell Park with our buds Gary, Tuff, and Drew.
So again, I reiterate… Everything you do in Santa Cruz sparks a system of wheels and cogs in the world that will take you for an adventure – regardless of what you do. I believe our good travelling friends Karl & Crystal, as well as The Shrugs can attest to this.
That being said, with all of the good and all of the bad, we have had a truly extraordinary time here in Santa Cruz. The amount of Friends-For-Life we met here is overwhelming. Kasey and I have never felt like we’ve fit in so damn well as we have here in Santa Cruz.
Shots of Mishka, Dan, and Clear Conscience at Reef/Pono Hawaiian Grill.
So all of this - each and every experience here in Santa Cruz - has brought Kasey and I here, to the McDonalds in Seaside California on April 1st. Clementine is still in the shop. I spent long hours last night listening to the rain storm and reflecting on our stay, our new friends, all the experiences we’ve had… And this is what I’ve come up with:
A couple of lessons…
The only thing separating where we are and where we want to be in life is ourselves.
Granted, Kasey and I have been greeted by several serendipitous events that have twist-turned our path for the good and the bad. (We’ve even wondered if we’re cursed…) The thing that has kept us going and enjoying our stay has been positivity, and maintaining an attitude in which we can’t be overwhelmed or brought down. We learned to take the world we’ve crash-landed into for what it is, and not what it should or could be. As a direct result, more positive things were happening for us… We booked gigs, ate heartily (NO MORE DOLLAR MENU!!!), rendez-voused with our dear friends The Puglias again (ROUND 3!!!), and even opened up an amazing music avenue with fellow artist (and friend) Mishka.
Newton’s Third Law: For each and every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. When you’re living simply, eating meager meals, taking things as they come, and living presently – that is, day to day - it is really simple to see the causes and effects, the actions and corresponding reactions. With the addition of jobs, the glorification of wealth, fast-paced hi-tech counter-culture, the convolution of what most people call reality and everyday life obscures this fundamental law. With the myriad of those added distractions, it’s difficult (and occasionally) impossible to see through and feel the natural causes and effects of life. Simplicity has brought me peace, in truth. Things in every day life seem to balance now – the good with the bad. This is what I set out for back on September 29th, 2013, and six months later I believe I’m getting close.
Gary & Kasey at Henry Cowell.
So this is it. We’ve got one more week here in Santa Cruz, California - our new home away from home. It’s high time we tucked our tails and headed North - but that ain’t happening. We’re spending one more week with our new friends down here.
Santa Cruz is a bad eddy - it’s hard to get out. But it’s time to go. In the meantime, here’s our gig schedule for the weekend - please, come see us, and say farewell with us! We love all of you, Santa Cruz.
Thursday, April 3rd - The Poet & Patriot - TBA (w/ The Shrugs)
Friday, April 4th - The Art Bar & Café - 8pm
Saturday, April 5th - Reef Pono - TBA
See you soon Kelowna!
Next Issue: Meanwhile, At The Auto Shop…