As far west as we can go.

I guess this has become more of a quarterly this year than a blog, if even that. I’ve been so busy trying to take everything in and keep my head above water that this continues to be one of the things that falls through the cracks. I’m already looking back on some of my favorite parts of the year though, and that’s hard to believe, even though it shouldn’t be seeing as we’re already into May. The last month and a half has absolutely flown by, and while I’m not surprised in the slightest I do think that if I don’t start writing about it now all but the gleaming highlights are going to be forgotten. So, here we go.

We got to Phoenix on March 30th after an all-night drive from Albuquerque. Sadly the first half of the drive was in complete darkness, which was a shame because the mountains in that part of the country are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. We did get a taste of it the following morning when we drove into town, straight to the gig. The most notably different thing about Arizona this time around was the color – everything is SO green right now. All the cacti were in bloom and all the plants and trees were vibrant, a far cry from the completely arid desert that we saw this time last year. It was a privilege to see.

It’s a cool feeling to go from surrounded by strangers to surrounded by friends literally overnight. Our friends Savannah, Drew, and Colton are all based out of Phoenix. In our first two days in Arizona a combination of the five of us did the following: played a show together, got drinks, hung out at Savannah’s show, and had a barbecue at Colton’s beautiful house in Mesa. It’s always refreshing to feel part of a sort of community, especially when we spend so much time alone and isolated from any semblance of a regular life. Not to mention all of us are musicians and Savannah and Drew also live in a van, so we have a LOT to talk about whenever we get together.

But I’m always most excited to get to Arizona because of all the camping. Savannah and Drew really know the good spots in and around Phoenix, and they’ve yet to take us somewhere that I haven’t been absolutely blown away by. This visit was no exception – they took us just outside of the city into this gorgeous canyon, surrounded by towering saguaros and wandering Longhorns. I would have paid a pretty penny for the views we got for free on that public land. We cooked burgers and drank beers and sang songs for three days, and were even joined by some of Savannah’s friends who are also ex-vanlifers themselves. And as much as the rest of this post is going to be about where we’ve been and the things we’ve seen, I still find myself thinking back most fondly on the times when the most important factor was who we were with. It’s an entirely different experience when you get to share these unbelievable places and experiences with good company.

The first of many photo dumps:

For the second year in a row it felt like we truly did not get enough time in the Phoenix area . But there’s always a show to play in the next town over, it seems. So we packed up the van and shook off the red dirt and drove back up into the mountains of Arizona. We were returning to Flagstaff for a show, but we had some other business to attend to in the area first.

Our second visit to the Grand Canyon contained less jaw dropping shock and more anticipatory appreciation. Though truth be told, it has never failed to take my breath away each time I’ve laid eyes on it. I said it last year and I’ll say it again, with even more emphasis this time: everyone on earth should see the Grand Canyon. Everyone. Pictures will never do it justice. I’ll probably visit every single time that I pass through northern Arizona for the rest of my life, and God willing, that’ll be many more times.

We hiked below the rim for the second time this year. While camping with Savannah and Drew, they took us on a hike to a neat little cave set into the canyon walls near where we were camping. That hike, while not grueling, was most certainly a challenge for semi-experienced hikers like us (Savannah and Drew backpacked 40 miles in 4 days into the Grand Canyon earlier this year. They’re about as extreme as any hikers we’ve ever met. So when they say a hike is “not too bad”, we basically prepare for a marathon). So with that experience fresh in our minds, as well as the memory of climbing up the Bright Angel trail out of the Grand Canyon last year and quite literally thinking we might die, we thoroughly prepared ourselves for this year’s hike. We’ve acquired real hiking boots, hiking backpacks, camelbacks, bigger water bottles, and perhaps most importantly, over 6 months of regularly going to the gym. And as a result, the hike down and back up the Kaibab trail to Cedar Ridge was almost a cakewalk in comparison. Not quite a total breeze – while our actual trek below the rim was just a 3 mile round trip hike, there was a section of switchbacks near the top of the canyon that were most definitely unpleasant coming up. But upon reaching the top we had more than enough energy to walk the mile and a half trail back to where the van was parked, and with our earlier casual hikes around the rim that morning, we ended up with over 8 miles of hiking that day, which I think even to this day is still our furthest total distance. Next time, we hope to hike all the way to the bottom, which would be an overnight backpacking trip, and I think it would be the hike of a lifetime.

While we were still in the desert I came to a realization – our plans had lined us up to have about three consecutive free days for the entire time we’d be in California, and I had to make sort of a snap decision. As soon as we left Arizona, we’d go straight to Yosemite. It would be our only chance to go this year and I was intent on not missing out. In planning, the overnight 11 hour drive from Flagstaff to the bottom of Yosemite Valley seemed like no big deal. Upon packing up at our Flagstaff gig at 1am and realizing that we had our longest drive ever in front of us in the middle of the night, for a very brief moment I regretted my decision. But with a few Starbucks espresso shots in the fridge and each with our own set of podcasts and audio books to listen to, once we got into the rhythm of driving the time passed fairly quickly. We stopped for a single hour of sleep at a California rest stop just as the sun was coming up.

The drive into California was weirdly emotional for me. I spent 12 years living in Buffalo and 10 living in California. So despite the fact that I’ve physically spent more time in WNY, I still tend to say that I grew up in California, because it honestly feels like I did, even if you’re a long way from finished with your childhood at 11 years old. I didn’t handle the move to the east coast well, and as a quiet kid who was never quick to make friends I was fairly miserable for a few years and spent the better part of a decade wishing I was back on the west coast. I went to LA when I was 19 to do some recording, but anyone who’s been to California will tell you that Southern California can feel like a completely separate entity from the rest of the state, in the same way that NYC is not representative of upstate New York. So it quite literally felt like I hadn’t been back to the place I grew up in 14 years. I haven’t met many others who’ve had that kind of experience, and while Greg – who lived his entire life in one house until we got our apartment – could certainly sympathize, he certainly could not empathize. Even on our drive to Yosemite, which wasn’t particularly close to where I lived, just seeing the rolling, dusty California hills again kind of made me choke up. A lot of the memories I have from my early childhood seem so distant and faded, and seeing even the faintest reminder of these places and experiences made a lot of things come rushing back, and it was overwhelming.

But I had very little time to be consumed by my own thoughts, because once you get within a couple hours of Yosemite the scenery becomes more breathtaking with every bend in the mountain roads. Once you leave Fresno, everything turns lush and green, and the snow capped mountains are still way off in the distance. It has a vaguely European, Sound-of-Music-esque aesthetic. Slowly you climb the mountains, and the green meadows give way to pine trees and dense forests. Suddenly without warning you come around a single curve, and you’re thousands of feet up looking out on the most expansive valley you’ve ever seen, stretching for miles around. I truly did not believe I’d see anything as impressive as the Grand Canyon elsewhere in America, but looking out over Yosemite Valley I think I may have been wrong about that.

Our initial descent was tedious in the van, but uneventful. As you might imagine, over eight thousand pounds of rusty metal does not exactly handle mountain driving well. About three miles from our destination at the bottom of the valley, Greg turned to me and said “Do you smell that? Is something burning?” I immediately suspected our fridge or our slightly-broken car charger for our GPS, but unplugging both did nothing about the smell. We pulled over and, to our shock, found our brakes to be quite literally and visibly smoking. This was an entirely new development for the van, and something that had never happened to us before, despite crossing many a steep mountain, including the Rockies (and I’m now doubting the quality of the Midas brake job that we got back in March). Without cell phone service we did the best we could – wait for the smoke to stop, and slowly creep our way to our destination. (A later google search would reveal this to be not entirely uncommon with new brakes and heavy vehicles down steep roads, and we’ve since learned to embrace lower gears.)

Since we had but an hour of sleep between Sunday and Monday, the only thing we did the first night was shower and go to sleep at like 8:30pm. Monday morning we were up at nearly the crack of dawn, preparing to do what we came there to do, and that was to do about the most challenging hike we could handle. The first thing we did was consult a park employee, who gave us the disappointing news that almost all the trails we wanted to do were still closed due to snow – April is still considered winter in Yosemite. So we picked the hike up Yosemite Falls, which was supposedly mostly clear, and told ourselves we’d stop as soon as things got too dicey.

The first third of this 7.3 mile round trip hike is entirely in the woods, slowly winding up the side of a mountain. It’s tedious, back breaking hiking. Nothing but switchbacks for ages. Then you cross a few small streams and waterfalls, and trudge up some seemingly unending steep inclines, before you round a corner and reach an observation point that lets you see Yosemite valley in all of its glory, called Columbia Rock. And it is quite breathtaking from that spot. This was the place the park ranger had advised we might want to turn around. But the trail looked dry, and many less equipped hikers were pressing on, so on we went as well.

The next third of this hike involves a lot less tree cover, so that each turn in the trail yields an ever-more impressive view of the valley floor. The trail is still dirt for the most part, until you start to get close to the base of Upper Yosemite Falls. The falls are so massive, and there is so much water due to the snow melt, that the mist created by it has an incredibly wide radius. It feels like a light rain almost before you can even see the falls. But eventually you round another corner, and the falls are suddenly before you, and lucky for us, in full force on a chilly but crystal clear day. After stopping to marvel for a moment, we looked again at the trail ahead. This is where we got our first look at the snow. Now, there was no fresh snow in the park. All that was left was the slick, icy snowdrifts that remained from the concluding winter. So whenever there was snow on the trail, the trail was quite literally nothing but extremely densely packed slush and ice, easily over a foot thick in most places. And yet, we watched many hikers continue. Many in just tennis shoes and water bottles in hand. Looking at Greg and I, with our packs full of food and water, our heavy-duty hiking boots, and our many layers of clothes, I said “as long as it doesn’t get any worse than this, we can keep going.” Truth be told, I didn’t mean that – we encountered several people who made it to the top that day already, and I was dead set on being one of them.

The last third of the hike is borderline chaos, but almost exclusively because of the snow. The trail is steep and winding on its own, but every few feet when you put a giant icy snowdrift into the walking path, you’re taking a challenging hike and making it unpredictable. A wrong step sends your leg careening into the abyss beneath the snow, which was often terrifyingly hollow. The snow was so slick from all the foot traffic that it was almost too easy to lose your footing, even on the way up. And all the while, you’re climbing a mountain in the most literal sense of the word that there is. Every few minutes you have to force yourself to look up and see the absolute majesty that’s before you, and make note of the fact that the edge of the mountain gives way to a near vertical drop down to the valley floor, now over a thousand feet below you.

The last quarter of a mile is entirely in snow. It’s weird, because it’s far too warm to snow, and we were in jeans and t-shirts and perfectly comfortable, yet we were absolutely surrounded by snow in every direction. A real testament to the amount of snow they do get at the peak of winter. But eventually, you get to the top of the mountain. The change in elevation from the trail head to this point is 2700 feet. And you can see every single inch of that distance looking out over the valley. Much like the Grand Canyon, it doesn’t even look real. But this one is different, because you had to work for this view. This is a view that so very few are privy to, and that makes it even sweeter.

The very last section of this hike is to the falls overlook. Because to get to the apex of Upper Yosemite Falls, you actually have to climb down the face of the cliff that the water has carved just above the river. This is, in my opinion, the scariest part of the hike. There are stone steps carved into the cliff, but there is only a handrail on the inside of the trail. And the steps are about a foot and a half wide at the very biggest. In that moment, the distance between you and the abyss feels microscopic. But these terrifying stairs take you to the overlook that is surrounded by guard rails, and the fear is once again replaced by amazement. You’re standing on top of the tallest waterfall in North America, and it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.

This tour has been rewarding almost every day in one way or another. But there have been many days where I feel I’ve ended up playing a good show, or shooting a cool video, or whatever the musical activity of the day is, purely because of luck. And many days, that has been the truth. But nobody gets to the top of a mountain on accident. You have to take every single one of those steps yourself, and there isn’t a soul on earth who can do it for you. I earned every inch of the view at the top of the falls, and I didn’t owe it to anyone other than myself. That hike may very well have been the most rewarding thing that I have ever done.

The hike down is very similar to the hike up, except for the part where gravity is now pulling you down over the slick snowdrifts. So instead of jamming a foot in to get a leg up, you’re sliding down the tracks you made with almost no way to stop yourself. And the edge of the world is still just mere feet away from your slippery shoes. Collectively we fell less than a half dozen times total – Greg took a couple minor spills and I stepped into a hollow snowdrift and sank in up to my thigh while banging up my shin pretty badly – but given the terrain I feel like this was a victory for us.

The second best part was getting back to the bottom, and having another park visitor ask us if we had made it to the top. Getting to say “yes, it took us 8 hours total and it’s a hell of a hike but absolutely worth it” was thrilling all on its own.

I wouldn’t recommend Yosemite the same way I recommend the Grand Canyon. I still want everyone to go to the Grand Canyon, because with little to no effort you’ll be able to see a natural masterpiece that will blow you away, and it really gives you a greater appreciation for our planet and our National parks system. There are quite literally a number of places where you can see the Canyon from your car on the highway, it’s that accessible. At Yosemite, the views are amazing in so many ground-level locations, it’s true. And if you have the chance to go, by all means go. But the people who really need to go are the ones who want the challenge of nothing short of a journey, and the rewards that come with it. I don’t know too many people who could have followed us up that mountain, but anyone that could absolutely should. It’s not easy to get up there, but it’s worth every second you spend doing it. The view at the top is truly the best thing I’ve ever seen.

Our second day at the park was unquestionably less dramatic than our first, especially since we had to leave that afternoon. But we did drive over to Bridalveil Falls and get one more look at yet another breathtaking Yosemite waterfall (this one was as but damper than we were expecting, too). After a quick detour to the cafe and gift shop, just like that we were on our way up and out of the valley.

We didn’t have more than a moment to catch our breath at any point during our time in California. Immediately after leaving Yosemite we had to get all the way to Morro Bay for our first couple of California shows. These ones and the two that followed the weekend went well, in fact these were probably the best set of shows we had in California.

That week we had but a single day off, a Saturday. I had this day planned out as soon as I booked the show dates. On Friday we played in the town over from one of my favorite places ever – Monterey. This is a town that my parents took us to as kids quite a bit, and some of my fondest childhood memories take place here. So I booked us an RV park for the night after the gig, and Saturday morning we were up extremely early for yet another day of adventuring.

We went to Point Lobos first, and barely – the van was juuuuust within the maximum length requirements the park has in place. This is one of the first places that instilled a love of hiking and the outdoors in me, and I’m sure it would do the same to many others as it’s an absolutely beautiful nature preserve directly on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. There are miles and miles of tide pools that are absolutely teeming with life – in fact hunting for crabs and other small marine life in these was one of my favorite things to do as a kid there. And being back made it hard not to feel like a child again as we scrambled over rocky outlooks and up ocean weathered boulders just to look out at the surf slamming into the shoreline. I had a hard time tearing my eyes away as we left.

But this was immediately followed by a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. For the uninitiated, this is basically the best aquarium in the country, if not the world. It has every type of sea-dwelling creature that you can imagine, and hundreds more that you can’t. It was the weekend when we went, so the whole place was packed with people, but for me that hardly made it less enjoyable. Here was the most pronounced location where I experienced the strangest phenomena related to visiting all these childhood places – everything felt a LOT smaller than it used to. It makes sense that it would, of course, as I was almost certainly under five feet tall when we moved away. But looking at a lot of the exhibits, many seemed to be half as small as I remembered them, and that’s definitely not a feeling I was expecting. It made me feel a little more “grown up” than I wanted to while taking pictures of penguins and petting bat rays and the like.

We concluded this day with a trip to Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey. Clam chowder is a bit of a staple in this part of the country, despite the distance from New England, and eating it out of a sourdough bread bowl still remains one of my favorite comfort foods to this day. So naturally we had to find the best clam chowder on the Wharf and order as much of it as we possibly could. (Spoiler – it was too much clam chowder and we had almost too many leftovers to fit in the fridge).

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If it’s not in a bread bowl I don’t want it.

And just like that, we were on to the next place. The week of Easter we were to be joined by my sister Haley for a few days – she had a conference in San Diego and wanted to fly into San Francisco a few days early to hang out with us. In order to do this, we had to book a campground for the week, buy a tent for her to sleep in, and rent a car to drive us all around in – and this came with the added bonus of not having to drive the van anywhere near San Francisco as well, as well as giving us a safe, legal place to park the van, as there is little to no free camping in this part of California. Ironically, it turned out that the place that combined the right price with the right distance to the Bay area happened to be the first ever place that I went camping as a child – Mount Madonna County Park in Watsonville. And the closest town with an Enterprise to rent a car from was Gilroy, the town I grew up in. So on the day we picked up the rental car I got my first look at all the changes that took place over the last 14 years. Unsurprisingly, there were tons, and at first I was having a hard time recognizing anything at all. But the more I looked, the more I was able to pick out familiar signs and buildings – Mountain Mike’s Pizza, the Nob Hill grocery store, Las Animas Park, O’Henry’s Donuts. All names of places we used to go that I literally have not thought of in years, all brought back in an instant. It was a very strange mix of feeling out of place and feeling nostalgic – so much had changed, but so much had not.

That afternoon we had Super Taq for lunch. This was our family’s favorite Mexican place, comparable to Super Oscars in Phoenix that we have grown to love so much. When I was young I would only ever get a cheese quesadilla there, so I was excited to try the burritos and see how it stacked up to some of the other places we’ve been. In my opinion – as unbiased as possible – I prefer Super Taq to Super Oscars because their burritos have more “stuff”, more guac and beans and cheese and the like. Super Oscars is more than half meat, and that’s not the only thing I want out of a burrito (unsurprisingly, Greg feels the exact opposite and still prefers Super Oscars, carnivore that he is).

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The Super Burrito. I’m hungry just looking at it.

Between the pickup of the rental car and Haley’s arrival in California it felt like about an hour and a half had passed, while in reality it was almost four days. Between daily hour and a half drives to our multiple bay area shows and trying desperately to get cell phone service at our campground so we could work, the time passed unbelievably quickly. But once Haley arrived things quickly entered a sort of vacation-mode that we try to embrace whenever we have company. And I haven’t vacationed with my sister in quite a few years, and never without the rest of our family, so while it wasn’t much of a reprieve from the chaos, it was certainly much more entertaining.

We went up to San Francisco on the Saturday after Haley arrived, and attempted to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Upon arrival to the closest viewpoint we could find, we were immediately mobbed by about five hundred international tourists with zero regard for personal space or being conscious of other people’s photography. It took us about a half hour of driving around to find a better spot, but we did – and honestly, the bridge looked a whole lot better from where we ended up anyways.

After this it was time to revisit yet another favorite childhood activity of mine, and something that I wish WNY had very much – sushi boats. This is a restaurant where everyone sits around the sushi bar and sushi is served on small dishes, usually 2-4 pieces at a time, on little boats floating in water drifting in a track around the bar. I have always been a lover of sushi and unorthodox meals, so these restaurants have been a favorite for me since I was old enough to start appreciating raw fish (if memory serves, I was eight or nine years old). It’s fun, too – you watch the different types of rolls and fish come around to your seat and pick and choose the things you want to eat, and then you pay by the number of plates you’ve cleaned. It’s a really great way to try different types of fish preparations, plus you get a lot more variety than you would by just ordering a plate of sushi at a normal restaurant. We did some damage at the restaurant we found – I think the final number was around 22 plates.

We had a show that night and the next, one in Pacifica and one in a tiny town called Forest Knolls. Both of these went well enough – the first one suffered a bit due to the fact that we were on a bill with two other bands whose sound didn’t mesh with ours, and the second suffered solely because it was Easter Sunday; I think otherwise it would have been a great spot for us. I felt that way about a lot of our shows in California, which even now is still bumming me out a bit. It felt like a lot of the shows could have gone better than they did, but we kept catching off nights or weird circumstances that held us back. I still want to come back to the majority of these venues to cement either way whether it makes sense for us to be playing these areas. That is, after all, what this is all supposed to be about.

Monday we didn’t have a show, so we kept things a little more low-key and went down to Santa Cruz, yet another site of many childhood memories of mine. We spent the afternoon wandering around on the wharf and were treated to a really neat display of dozens of sea lions hanging out below us. I could have watched those things all day, they’re both amazing and incredibly goofy at the same time. This was followed by an evening at the campground where we had our first campfire of the year, which is always something I look forward to.

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Tuesday Haley left us to head for her conference, but not before we drove into Gilroy one last time to take a quick look at our old house. It makes me a little sad to write about, because the place that exists in my mind does not exist in the real world anymore. The house I grew up in was a bluish-grey color, the house at 550 Eden is currently painted dark brown. The front door is different, and they tore down the playground that my dad built from scratch for us when we moved in as the first owners of the house. I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because that’s just what you can see while you’re driving by. As much as I would kill to go stand inside it for a minute and just walk around, I’m sure the amount of differences and things that have been changed over the years would make me sadder than it would make me happy. I hope they kept the patio in the backyard, at least, it was beautiful and we moved out so fast after building it that our family never really got a chance to use it. And I hope they kept the orange tree. And the jasmine plant. And the little water fountain in the rock garden by the front door. In my mind, at least, all of these things will always be there.

550 Eden St.
550 Eden St. My old bedroom window is on the upper left.

But again, we left little time in our schedule to dwell on such things. We headed straight for northern California as soon as Haley left for the airport. NorCal is a beautiful place, unquestionably. We spent our time there camped at a casino outside of Eureka, which is certainly better than camping at rest stops with 8 hour parking limits like we did all through Central California. We had two gigs up this way, but they were probably the most frustrating of the tour so far – we were seriously underpaid and undervalued for the time we spent performing, and the audiences were extremely eclectic, but not exactly in a favorable way. Again, I’m hoping that we caught these places on off nights, but for all I know that’s just wishful thinking.

We did get to make one neat pit stop that week, and that was to the Avenue of the Giants. This is a 20-something mile highway that is lined with the biggest redwood trees that you have ever seen in your life. We’re talking like 20 feet in diameter trees. It’s really pretty unbelievable to see. They’re so big you have to use the panorama setting on your phone to get all of the tree in the shot. Greg in particular was pretty enamored with the redwoods, and if we come back through this way we’ll definitely be spending some time camping among them.

We got to Oregon last Sunday. I don’t know what it is about this place, but the whole state seemed to welcome us with open arms. But you know things are looking up when gas prices are down from the California average of like $4.15 a gallon to the Oregon average of $3.30 (our gas account is seriously hurting this month. We had our first ever fill up that broke $90 recently, and I think a piece of my soul died that evening). But from the minute we arrived things started working a little more smoothly – we found overnight parking with general ease, the weather was wonderful, the people were kind, and the gigs were phenomenal across the board. In fact I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more welcome as a musician than I did at our gig in Sisters, OR. Truly good people work and live in that town. We also played a killer show in Portland where we opened up for a record label showcase night and got to feel like real musicians for a minute, along with two fantastic nights at a tiny vineyard/winery in the small town of Terrebonne.

We did get to do a very brief couple nights of camping while in Oregon. As much as I wish we had time for more, I’m happy we were able to fit in anything at all. We found some nice public land about an hour north of Bend right next to a hiking trail that lead to a beautiful waterfall called Steelhead Falls. It was the tiniest taste of what the Oregon wilderness has to offer, and I can’t wait to go back to take a bigger bite of it. We spent a lot of time driving back and forth between the Bend area and the Portland area on the one winding highway that runs horizontally across the state, and each night I’d watch the towering pines turn into black, angular silhouettes against the twilight sky. The remoteness and beauty of those drives alone is enough reason for me to want to come back as soon as we can. But alas, that won’t be until 2020 at the soonest.

So, that just about catches us up, believe it or not. We drove into Washington state today and are camped out at a Walmart currently – it’s 2am, Greg is asleep and I am bound and determined to get this post out tonight. We’re also about 27 hours out from our flight out of the Seattle Airport to Hawaii. I’m turning 25 this week, and Haley is graduating from the University of Hawaii with her Master’s degree – what better reason to go to paradise than celebrating a couple life milestones? I can’t think of a better excuse. So the last day or so has been nothing but preparation – we’ve bought luggage and bathing suits, we (hopefully) found a parking lot for the van, and currently we’re working on defrosting the fridge so that we can leave it off for the duration of our trip, running this Wednesday to next. We’ll quite literally be as far west as we can go without passports.

I feel I am still much too young to be worried about birthdays, but that has yet to stop me. Turning 25 feels important, and it’s making me want to double my efforts of running headfirst into the fold of all the things I want to accomplish. We have an extremely busy summer ahead of us, and I have big plans for the coming year. But at this moment, I am utterly and completely worn out by all the chaos that has been the last six weeks. I am so very, very looking forward to taking a week off of any and all work – including music – for the first time in years. When we get back I’ll get back into the swing of things with a vengeance.  But right now I’ve got two tickets to paradise (first class tickets, Happy Birthday to myself), and that’s the only thing I care about.

Aloha. See you when we’re back on the main land.

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