Travel

Mom says she had me on a plane before I was born, which may explain my penchant for travel. It may also have been spurred on by the hot-air balloon excursion we took around my tenth birthday. However, I wasn't in the air again until my first job out of college funded my first business trip. This took me to Chicago, where I'd visit a few times and make the most of it by taking in multiple Buddy Guy performances at his famous blues club Legends, meeting him, and even gracing the stage myself.

On one particular business trip to Nashville, I persuaded my boss to take all of his convention staffers out to see guitarist Jonny Lang at the Ryman Auditorium. There wasn't a bad seat in the house, and I loved Nashville from that moment on. Over the summer of 2008, I entertained the thought of moving into town to become a starving musician, but I abandoned this notion only after seeing how many of the people tending bar were extremely talented musicians hoping for a break. Nashville, I decided, was "a nice place to visit." I've been making it back just about every year.

A self-guided road trip in July 2010 took me for the first time to the soul, funk and blues capitals in and around Memphis. Exploring more of Tennessee wasn't all that was on the agenda. I also visited Clarksdale, Mississippi, then went to Little Rock, Arkansas, and quickly returned to Clarksdale, drawn by the local music, which I found utterly life-changing. Intoxicated, I effectively shunned working toward any career opportunities that didn't involve music.
Treating myself to another, longer road trip the following year helped me realize what all would be necessary to accomplish my goals. Between February and May 2011, I visited seven states, chasing my muse from Virginia to Texas and back. Every day presented decisions about whether I should stick to my planned itinerary or be open to spontaneous experiences. There were a lot of the latter, which is providing the groundwork for a series of short stories I'll someday publish. The trip afforded me long stays in Tennessee (Nashville and Memphis), Arkansas (Little Rock and Clinton), Mississippi (Clarksdale and Cleveland), Texas (Austin and Jewett), Louisiana (New Orleans), Virginia (Charlottesville and Bristol), and a few quick visits to Tulsa and the Atlanta area. (For a round-up of this travel in early 2011, check out this brief summary.)

Before 2011 came to a close, I topped the year off with a visit to Israel with my dad and a couple dozen pilgrims mostly from his church. We toured biblical villages and modern-day religious sites, dipped in rivers and seas, sampled hotels and restaurants, traversed mountains and deserts, passed checkpoints and toured museums.

The years since then have seen me occasionally touring with Get the Led Out as their substitute keyboardist. My first tour with them was in 2012, taking me to four cities in the Midwest. They used me on two more tours in 2013, in Ohio and New England. I played with them again on the Jersey shore in 2014 and two more times in New England in 2015. The most crucial road trip saw me drive from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma and back, all for the Southern woman who became my darling wife.
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