Friday, August 29, 2008

The road back home and how do the filmmakers in "when bears attack" do it?

The band departed from Astoria on Tuesday morning to begin the two-day ride back to Portland for their show at the Doug Fir lounge on Saturday, August 30. It was nice to get back on the road. Although it felt good to have a few days of downtime while we were in Gearhart for the Concert for Big Red, it was hard for us to relax. Max was working on the most recent video we have posted, and Emily is still trying to learn about sound.

So far on the journey, we have been pretty astounded at how well the biking part of the tour has been going. There have been a few flat tires and some other mishaps along the way, but no injuries or major delays. In fact, their incredibly good luck has made following them even more difficult for us, as anticipating luck striking is not the easiest task.

About 10 miles into their trip back to Portland, Israel noticed that his hand painted flag (which he had already lost and found once) had fallen off of his trailer at some point along their ride. He decided to go back to look for it and left his trailer and backpack (still holding our wireless microphone, which he now requests in the morning) in some bushes. He then got a flat at about the same time that the rest of the group arrived at a Shell station in Westport and began enjoying some make-your-own burgers. Finally! we thought, some drama on this trip. We filmed the trio at the gas station as they discussed Israel's predicament and then headed up the road to find Israel to see how he was doing. It was really hard to watch him struggle with a ripped tube, trying to inflate it, as it got darker and darker and then began to drizzle. We finally left Israel to walk along the road and eventually get picked up by a kind person who also helped him collect his trailer.

Being objective observers and documenters of people you consider to be good friends is harder than one might think. We have always said that we would put down the camera and help them if they found themselves in a dangerous situation or if someone was hurt. But what about these minor errors in preparation? It would have been simple for us to go get a new tube for Israel, but we were instructed to remain separate and not "cheat." The band is dead set on handling thse situations as if we are not there. Still, a problem solver by nature, Max found it hard to not suggest ideas, and Emily could not help herself from offering Israel water. We just hope that our documentation of this tour will make up for any impact that may come along with our presence.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Strange Sounds on the Waterfront: Blind Pilot plays the Concert for Big Red in Astoria, OR

We left the show in Elma, WA at about midnight and arrived in Gearhart, OR two hours later at the house where the band was staying for the three days of the Concert for Big Red festival. One of Israel's parent's friends had donated their beautiful house for the band to stay in for the weekend. Blind Pilot was scheduled to play both on Friday and on Sunday, and it felt luxurious to spend four days in one location and be able to use a kitchen to make awesome breakfasts together.

The Concert for Big Red was a benefit to help restore the historic net loft in Astoria, OR, a building that Israel's father, Royal Nebeker, purchased in 1997 and transformed into artist studios and living spaces.

Ryan and Israel spent the winter of 2005-2006 living in Big Red, painting, writing the songs for their current album, Three Rounds and a Sound, and planning their first bike tour that they took in the summer of 2006. During the Great Gale in December 2007, the building suffered major damage and the third floor was torn off. Royal has been rebuilding since the storm, but the project is beyond what anyone can do on their own. The concert was a benefit to raise funds and awareness for the effort to rebuild the space even better than before and help cement a home base for the Astoria arts community. The event was organized by Gordon "Gordo" Styler, with the help of a lot of great folks and truly inspirational musicians.

It was an honor to be invited to be there and to film Blind Pilot's set. This video is our way of saying thanks, as well as the reason it took us this long to post about the concert.

Strange Sounds on the Waterfront: Blind Pilot plays the concert for Big Red.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blind Pilot Conquers Washington State

Our first tour video is now complete. Sound and video gathering on the road are coming together, and we are pleased to present the state of our progress here. We are also trying out as the host for this short as opposed to vimeo, which always seems to be maintaining itself when we want to upload.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Camping with waterfalls and rocking Elma, WA

Israel did arrive at 8am as promised, but we lingered around Britta's apartment for a few hours finishing laundry and eating breakfast. We all began to head towards Pier 52 in Seattle to catch our third ferry so far. The ferry ride to Bremerton would begin the ride to Astoria.

We drove onto the ferry, sure that the band would be making the earliest ferry possible in hopes of covering some real ground that day. We were wrong and ended up arriving to a hard rain in Bremerton two hours before they were destined to show up.

The rain let up for a brief time as soon as they arrived, and we all started moving towards Twanoh State Park for the night. Twanoh has separate campsites for hiker/bikers and motorized travelers. We arrived and found a semi-remote campsite near a waterfall, thanks to the helpful advice of Robin, the park ranger.

Following them in a car has been frustrating. Can we be unobtrusive and also expect to be there for the good stuff? Will their experience be drastically altered by the presence of us and our car? These questions and more led us to believe separate campsites would do us some good. The band was thinking the same thing, but the same rush hour traffic we hit slowed them down a lot and they set sites on a closer park than the one we camped at. We got the call as we were settling in and thanked them for giving us the time off. We thought it might be better to let them do their thing and have something to tell us about next time we rolled up in the car. It poured that night, and we, safe under our tarp, worried about their precarious rain flies and if they had set up before the rain and dark settled in.

When we caught up with them the next morning we found that they did indeed have a great story to tell us. About a mile from their campsite, in the pouring rain, they happened upon a tavern with a sign out front that read simply "songwriters." They described venturing in to see what this meant and finding a great band playing country songs from the 50s and 60s. The guitarist was apparently enormous, his gigantic hands somehow touching only the right places on the fretboard to produce beautiful music. The bass player was painted as an intriguing man with a mustache that curled round in a fantastic way. When the band was done playing, our intrepid travellers asked if they could set up and play, and were welcomed warmly. This allowed their perfect streak of playing a show every night, no matter where they ended up, to continue.

Lady luck would grin widely once more that night when one of the patrons recognized them from the ferry to Port Townsend, introduced himself, and invited them to sleep at his house- a warm dry place complete with surplus hospital mattresses. We will never worry about these folks again.

The next morning it was decided that the best they could hope to do was make it to a rendezvous point in Elma, WA, where Israel's father would meet them in his car, U-Haul trailer attached for their instruments. The band hit Highway 101 for the first time and made it to Elma before dark.

As we were packing up their bikes with Israel's dad Royal outside Shujacks, one of four bars in Elma (the locals informed us that only three were worth our time, though), we were approached by the owner. Although they weren't expecting to play that night, almost immediately a deal was struck to have the band play a show before they hit the road again.

The carpeted room provided awful acoustics, and a wireless microphone was rigged up halfway through the set for the vocals. They set up by the pool table and the crowd soon warmed up to them, and began making references to Nirvana, which had originated in that area. It seemed that every person had a personal connection to Krist Novaselic. Elma, WA was impressed, and the streak continued. Six shows in six days, not bad.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Another ferry ride, this time to the big city

The one downside to sleeping over at a coffee house would be having to get up at 5:30am so that they could start selling coffee, right? Well it would, if the coffeehouse wasn't run by teenagers. In fact, the only pressure to get up early came from the fact, learned late the night before, that the Port Townsend to Seattle ferry no longer runs, and the band would need to ride 40 extra miles to catch the one at Bainbridge. Still there was time enough for Kati to demonstrate her espresso making abilities and make us all lattes. A real master of the craft (She and Ryan met while working at Common Grounds) it was quite the treat after a few days of gas station coffee. After a leisurely breakfast, we hit the road by noon and promptly lost them. Max had written down what appeared to be their route for the day, but turned out to be only the second half of their directions, and Emily had missed Ryan's call alerting us to their route. We ended up finding them at a gas station where they were engaging in a corn dog eating contest. They had a show that night at the High Dive in Seattle, and were planning on meeting up with members of the .83 bicycle group, who Ryan and Israel had met two summers ago on their first bike tour, at 7pm for a group bike ride. They made it by seven, but as we approached Seattle, the rain that had been following us so far began again. The bike ride was put off, but the .83 bikers still showed up at the High Dive anyway to encourage their favorite biking band.

The Seattle Weekly had a nice blurb and picture about their concert, and a sizable crowd braved the rain to see them play. Although we are not on bicycles, we are still able to experience the wonderful slowness of a bike tour. Seattle was the first major city that we had visited since starting the tour 5 days prior, which would be unheard of in a typical tour. Although the band was fully miked, they still managed to create an intimate sound in the noisy venue. We were able to plug into a board for the first time to record sound (thanks, Robert!) We then spent a much appreciated dry night at Luke's friend from Astoria, Britta's, apartment, which was only 6 blocks away, albeit the steepest 6 blocks you ever did see. The plan was to meet Israel, who stayed with some other friends, at pier 52 at 8am, where the ferry would take them from Seattle to Bremerton. The ferry would begin the long ride to Astoria to make it to their next show at the Concert for Big Red. Due to some scheduling issues, they had to arrive for their first set Friday morning instead of Sunday, and the 180 miles that separated them loomed large.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Boiler Room

The name led us to imagine a basement dive bar, perhaps full of gruff sea dogs quietly mulling over their beers. Instead we found a nonprofit, volunteer run, drug, alcohol, and jerk free youth-oriented coffeeshop. The all-ages crowd was a great audience, and pretty jazzed on espresso.

Over the door in the Boiler Room was the following quote: "Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise." We and the band had not figured out where we would stay that night, and as the day's drizzling rain continued into the night, camping did not seem like a great option. After the show, they asked the manager, Jason, if it might be alright if we crashed on the floor so they wouldn't have to bike and camp in the rain. Not only did he welcome all of us with open arms, but he made tea, handed out cookies and generally increased our love of the Boiler Room and Port Townsend to a glowing level. Kati, Luke and Israel worked on harmonies in one corner while Ryan and I worked on our respective blogs. It was warm and dry and wonderfully hospitable.

Since coming out west, we have been working on shaking off some of the East coast cynicism and general mistrust of strangers. Our night in Port Townsend was a great step in the right direction.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Through Deception Pass and into the Boiler Room

One of the challenges of documenting this tour is sound, not only recording shows at a wide variety of venues from campsites to coffee shops to large clubs, but capturing their conversations about the journey and the band's interactions with strangers that they meet along the way. We want to be as unobtrusive as possible, and holding a directional microphone a few feet away from them as they have casual conversations on the side of the road doesn't seem like the best tactic.

We had briefly discussed at dinner the night before the idea of Israel wearing the wireless lavalier microphone so we could capture sound while still maintaining some distance, which he was into. In Anacortes, the rest of the group headed out away from camp to start the ride towards Port Townsend and left Israel to finish packing up his trailer. We took this opportunity to ask him to wear the lav- more because he was not talking to anyone else and we had his full attention than to keep it a secret from the other members.

The process had an undercover informant feel to it nonetheless and we joked about it. Adding to the mob movie feel of the whole operation was how perfectly Israel's Camelback concealed the wire. It provided a mesh pocket on the shoulder strap to both filter out some wind noise and hide the mic.

Besides being a less obtrusive way to gather sound, the wireless mic also provided a way for us to know when they are close. This is invaluable when we have gone ahead to find a shot and once we are set up have no idea how long it will be before they pass through it.

Even with our covert operative / makeshift tracking system in the form of Israel and the bug, we ended up losing them shortly after they passed through ironically named Deception Pass. We knew they where headed to the Keystone-Port Townsend ferry later that afternoon so we headed there monitoring for signal through the car stereo.

When they rolled up to where the car was we where no longer sitting in it, and our eyes saw them before the receiver picked them up. Not thinking to unplug the car audio hookup, the jig soon became up when the whole band heard Israel's usually soft voice booming out of the speakers. Before this it hadn't occurred to us that there was any real jig, but as the rain was closing in and the skies turned grey, the ominous clouds added to our realization that perhaps the bug was a violation of the band's trust.

The other members where taken aback that we had done this secretly, more that Israel had not told them about it, but after we talked about our intentions things seemed to smooth over, and we all sailed to Port Townsend for their show that evening at the Boiler Room. Communication on all levels is not to be underestimated here. It is the backbone of covering their story as well as maintaining the mutual trust and understanding that will lead to a great documentary.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Do we need David Attenborough to narrate this documentary?

After more last minute bike preparations, including fixing Kati's brakes and putting the finishing decorating touches on Luke's trailer, the intrepid quartet headed off to their first stop on the bike tour in Anacortes, WA.

We had a vague sense of their route that they would take for the day, and kept doubling back to try to catch good shots of them as they rode their first 40 miles of their journey. Ryan later joked that he expected Max to be hiding in the bushes wearing full camo gear, or up against a red building, wearing all red. We did lose them for a few miles, when we diverted ourselves onto a parallel road to route. Purchasing a copy of their bicycle route map is on the to do list.

There was no planned show in Anacortes, so the band members began asking at the restaurants and venues along the main route in town if they would let them play. After some persistance and encouraging the bar manager to check out their songs (Israel gave him an iPod, but he found them on Myspace), it was agreed that they could play a set that night at the Brown Lantern Ale House. Although they were competing with a plasma TV playing the Olympics coverage of men's gymnastics, the dinner crowd quickly ended their conversations and began paying attention to the music. Somehow, their energy level seemed even higher than the night before, despite having spent the better part of the afternoon riding bikes.

Around 10pm, Max and Emily headed to the nearby Washington Park to set up a large tarp to ward off the forecasts of hail and get Buzz settled in for the night after her evening spent patiently sitting in the car. Despite some noisy neighbors and drama that apparently goes with camping overnight in a city owned park, it was nice to set up camp and feel satisfied with competing a full day of tracking, filming at a venue and successfully finding a place to sleep. Only 59 days to go.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The adventure begins...

After enjoying a champagne toast and a delicious quiche provided by Ryan's friend Sarah, we made it out of Portland with just enough time to make it to Bellingham, WA for their first show at The Hub Community Bike Shop. Just enough time didn't account for the Saturday rush hour traffic jam we encountered in Seattle on I-5, so we arrived halfway through Kati's other band, The Mighty Ghosts of Heaven's set.

Under the full moon, Blind Pilot began their tour playing to a small crowd of bike enthusiasts in the lovely backyard garden of The Hub. It was quite beautiful, but made us realize that we may need to set up two lights in the near future for similarly light (i.e., no light) shows. Jared, from The Hub, stayed late and volunteered to give tune-ups to all of them. Tired and anticipating a big next day of riding for them, and our first experience with attempting to film them on the road, we headed back to Kati's bandmate Linnea's family's house on the shores of Lake Samish. We set up our tent by the edge of the lake and fell asleep gazing at the full moon. A good start.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

And we're off!

The car is all packed up, and the bikes and trailers are awaiting to be loaded into Ryan's minivan for the journey to Bellingham, WA for their first show at The Hub this evening. Ryan's friend Sarah has been texting with updates about a delicious quiche that she is making for us to enjoy before the journey. We completed most of our to do list yesterday (including waking up early enough to film the sunrise over Portland from the top of Mt. Tabor and getting an oil change and tune up for the Subaru). We still have not purchased a can opener, which will make enjoying the chili and tuna we have difficult. It's all terribly exciting.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Flags, Studio and Mighty Ghosts

We and the band are busily preparing for departing for Bellingham, WA on Saturday. Although we already packed up the car once to make the cross country trip, we are modifying the set up to make it easier for Max to transfer footage to the computer and are planning on tinting out the back windows to make it less hot for Buzz.

Monday night Ryan, Israel, Luke and Kati gathered for "arts and crafts night" where each band member painted their flag for their trailers and discussed the nitty gritty of the trip. A four sided toothbrush and towel were longed for, and Kati put her foot down about communal deodorant. It is still undecided if single drip or if a french press will be the preferred coffee maker. Cliffhangers abound with only a couple days left before go time.

What would you do if you had two days to pack it up and hit the road? Record a new song? No? Well, that's what Blind Pilot did today. All nine Portland based members of the band gathered throughout the day to lay down "We Are The Tide", which happens to be the primary song featured in our recently posted video. Jake Portrait expertly mastered the track at Audible Alchemy in North Portland, which is superbly nearby to Por Que No? Taqueria (have wementioned the importance of blood sugar enough?).

Ryan's friend Sarah treated us to a lovely evening tour of Portland after our time at the studio, taking us to Mt. Tabor to film the sunset and eat an exorbitant amount of Thai food from Pad Thai Kitchen on Belmont. We then caught the last half of Kati's band, The Mighty Ghosts of Heaven, at the Laurelthirst. Kati gave us a CD when we came out in May, and it is an impressive recording, but their live show blew us away. They have been playing together for eight years, and it was obvious in their mastery of the material and the rapport they had as a band on stage. They will also be playing on Saturday with Blind Pilot as they begin their bike tour and we can't wait to see them again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bike Trailer

Blind Pilot performs "We Are the Tide" at the Providence Bridge Pedal in Portland, OR

We finally had a morning of downtime yesterday. Emily worked on the blog and Max edited a five minute trailer with some of the footage we have been gathering.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Musical Sunday in Portland

Blind Pilot's last show in Portland before their tour begins was at the finish line of the 13th annual Providence Bike Pedal, a great bike friendly event where most of the bridges spanning the Willamette River are closed to motorized traffic and open to over 17,000 bikers and walkers for most of the morning and early afternoon. Kati and her husband Aaron showed up at Ryan's gallery at 8am, with Kati's bike trailer filled with her banjo, mountain dulcimer, and ukulele. Israel and Ryan soon followed (Luke was meeting us at the stage) and they set off for their first show traveled to by bike. The crowd loved their two sets, and Max loved shooting a show in the daylight.

Later that evening, we went to see Gabe Rozzell & The Decency (Ryan's friend Sarah is the drummer) play at the Alberta St. Public House in NE Portland. It was a pleasure to see a show and not have to think about lighting, sound quality and filming. The Decency plays a great set of country music, something we became quite fond of during our drive out to Oregon.

Prior to The Decency playing, we caught the last half The Crying Shame's set, a Seattle-based band that was in town for the night. The lead singer's Leonard Cohen-esque vocals draped themselves beautifully over a blistering string duo and the singer's own aggressive acoustic guitsr strumming. Sarah referred to it as "face-melting." Yes, indeed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ode to Luke's trailer

We have loved traveling to Astoria, OR during the last week to capture the final stages of construction on Luke's upright bass trailer. It's a beautiful coastal town with cute shops, delicious bakeries and a much slower speed than Portland. Watching Luke build and work through design issues, while maintaining the most positive attitude we have experienced in a long time, has also helped us work through some of the issues and difficulties that we have come upon in the past week.

Here is Luke in the epoxy tent in Astoria, OR:

(left) Bass case at Luke's home in Astoria, waiting to be transported back to Portland.

(right) Case inspiring awe at the Portland bridge pedal show, where it made it's debut. It is an aluminum frame, with wooden pillow blocks and a handmade case with epoxy coating. It weighs about 80 lbs. when loaded.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

New working title?

We have been joking over the past week that our new working title should be "logistical nightmare," and we haven't even hit the road yet! We are trying to gather a baseline on the band members to show them in their day-to-day lives here in Portland as well as what they are doing to prepare for the tour which is only complicated by the fact that with only a week to go, they are busy, and, all in different locations. We are actually looking forward to when they will be no more than a mile apart at all times...

Over the course of the last week we have:
  • Met up and staged initial interviews with all four members, both at home and at work,
  • Traveled to Astoria, OR (80 miles away) three times to catch up with Luke as he finished construction on the awesome bass bike trailer that he designed and built,
  • Filmed Israel rerecording vocals at Miracle Lake Studios with Skylar Norwood, the producer of 3 Rounds and a Sound
  • Caught Luke's interview by Liam Dunne on KMUN coastal radio in Astoria,
  • Discovered that food is our best friend in fighting of exhaustion, low-blood sugar induced stress, and moments where we ask ourselves why we are trying to do something this difficult. Our favorite place in Portland for a shot of enthusiasm is Potato Champion!, a wonderful late night fry stand at the corner of 12th and Hawthorne in SE Portland.
Speaking of logistics, we also have decided that we need a second camera, which we have been referring to as the "band cam." Our primary camera, a Panasonic HVX200A, produces beautiful crisp images during daylight hours, but the low-light capabilities leave much to be desired. We do have a light kit and the ability to light venues, and the guests at the birthday party on Sauvie Island on Friday night were kind enough to not mind the 200-watt paper lantern that we hung in order to augment the candles and string of Christmas tree lights. Cosy lighting is lovely, but not film friendly. Now we are searching for the ideal second camera: great in low-light, easy to use auto functions so the band members can pick it up at campsites or backstage, and with a price that fits our already stretched budget. Any and all suggestions are welcome!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Preparing in Portland, more shows, more interviews

We (us and Buzz, she was pleased to get out of the car but actually seemed like she could have kept going) settled in at Ryan's gallery/living space in the Pearl District of Portland. On Saturday, Ryan's friend Sarah came over and showed Emily where the Trader Joe's in the area is, very important for cheap living. We'd love to eat out every meal at Portland's fine restaurants, but we might not make it to October with the band.

Blind Pilot had their second of three shows that weekend on Saturday at the "How Oregon Are You?" party, a fundraiser for the nonprofit p:ear, which mentors homeless youth in Portland. Emily easily passed through the "border patrol" and received a green sticker for being born in Oregon. Max's 24 hours in Portland earned him the dreaded orange sticker. Although we did not know any of the answers to the Oregon trivia questions, we did get to sample some tasty Oregon microbrews and discuss lighting for future shows. Although the band looks cool being backlit by porch lights, we are glad we brought a DIY lighting kit for future shows.

After waking up Sunday, we recuperated from the night before with some yummy breakfast sandwiches courtesy of Sarah and her roommate Ethan in their apartment overlooking the the Portland's Union Station. Blind Pilot's third and final show of the weekend was at Ron Tom's on E. Burnside. A bit before 6pm, Ryan and Israel headed out to the show and we jumped into the Subaru to follow them but discovered that our car battery was dead. Perhaps having the power inverter plugged in while we weren't using the car was not a smart move. We managed to jump start the car, park near where we thought the venue was, relized we were three blocks away and returned to move the car and found that the short drive was not enough to charge up the battery. We called AAA (the best investment one can buy before a long road trip) and a we were soon visited by AAA's version of Car Talk's Click and Clack, or as they soon proved to be: the most helpful battery truck team ever. They gave us the sad news that we needed a new battery for the car but then proceeded to tell us where we could buy one that would be cheaper than AAA. We made a stop at a nearby Fred Meyer where Max navigated the customer service lines three times in order to return our dead battery, buy a new one and then return the tools that he purchased as we had left our tool set at Ryan's. We made it back in time to Ron Tom's to see some of the opening band and made a quick detour to the B-side next door for a PBR and a microwave corndog. Yum. The crowd at Ron Tom's was at capacity, so Max had to be extra careful to not trip over any excited fans as he tested out the low light capabilities of the camera. Although dark, the footage still looked good, and the band concurred that the lighting was particularly low at that venue.

After the show, we returned to Ryan's to prep for the next day. The band members were all going to be working at their day jobs for the next few days and Luke was heading down to Astoria to finish building the bike trailer for his upright bass. We have lots on interviews ahead of us and plenty of work to do.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Saved by an angel...

No hot spring action at Lolo, but with the help of a guardian angel, we made it to Portland unscathed by Friday night. We spent Thursday night at Lolo Hot Springs in Lolo, MT, but arrived too late to have a soak in their springs, which close at 9:30. On our way there, the 75 mph speed limit eventually led to Max pushing it a bit too far and cruising at around 90 to help us try to make it by closing time.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the red and blues flashed behind us and we calmly pulled over despite the teenage nostalgia that image inspired in our driver. A very friendly Montana Highway Patrol officer informed us that we "picked the worst possible day to speed through Montana." Why was this day more speed conscious than any other? He went on to explain that it was due to the fact that not only were the Hells Angels were rallying in Missoula, MT that weekend, but the Testicle Festival was also about to go down in nearby Clinton. It was hard to keep a straight face when the officer said 'Testicle Festival,' but we did, and as Max looked around for the registration, our faithful MHP-man got a blip on his radio and said he had to go. It seems we were saved by an Angel that night as we saw our man giving some perfectly nice looking motorcycle enthusiasts the business about a mile later.

We slowed it down, and arrived too late to soak it up at Lolo. Instead we played some pool and shared some stories with Derek and Ryan, two brothers on their yearly motorcycle/camping trip. With a GPS and internet to guide us, it is easy to avoid talking to strangers. They reminded us of the importance of talking to other humans as you travel. We stayed up way too late and don't regret it at all.

After finding out in the morning that the hot springs were not part of the admission fee for our campsite, we turned the car towards Portland, OR and ended our quest to sit in hot water on this journey. There have to be hot springs along the west coast, right?

The last 500 miles of our journey were quite uneventful. Ryan texted us during the drive that Blind Pilot had a show at Portland State University at 9:30pm, an arrival time that would have been very achievable if we did not get sidetracked by Cabela's in Post Falls, ID. Max bought a cool retractable fishing pole as he had begun to regret leaving his back east. Emily really wanted to buy a 12-volt coffee maker for the car but was persuaded otherwise.

We pulled into Portland at 9:55pm, ate our first McDonalds of our entire journey (we didn't want to, but nothing else was open and we were in a hurry) and found our way to the basement show at Portland State University. The show had just started and we could hear "One Red Thread" as we walked down the stairs. We got our first taste of being on the guest list for a band and walked in to listen to the set. This was our first time hearing the entire ensemble live as the three shows we attended on the Coast in May were played by the biking quartet of Isreal, Ryan, Kati and Luke. After the show, we returned to Ryan's gallery and apartment in the Pearl District and we learned that there were two more shows that weekend. Maybe we'll rest next week.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Max awoke after a night sleeping at the base of the Grand Tetons, made some coffee and befriended the horses that had been grazing next to our tent during the previous night.

We got on the road by 8:30am, which was the earliest we had started a day of driving yet. After deciding that Thermopolis was too out of the way, and that surely we would find another hot spring in Wyoming, we drove due West to Grand Teton National Park, and then headed north. We stopped to ask at the ranger station about a more remote spring that we could partake in. Ranger Dan was very helpful, drew us a map showing a short one-mile hike to Huckleberry Springs, which he described as undeveloped but encouraged us to go explore. We set off down a dirt path with our swimsuits and a towel ready for a quick 45 minute detour. We forded a quickly moving stream, continued down the path swatting at horse flies and finally found Huckleberry Springs. The quaint name evoked a peaceful pool of bubbling warm water surrounded by flowers and berry bushes. We found a foot of murky, algae-filled, hot water. Thanks Ranger Dan. It took two hours in total and the one saving grace was that it let us see how Buzz would react to being left in the car for two hours in the middle of the day. We found her happy, cool, and asleep by the gas pedal.

We continued our drive into Yellowstone National Park, which was filled with cars of tourists gawking at the sites. After being amazed by the variety of the previous day's drive through southern Wyoming, Yellowstone was both grand and somehow uninspiring. Old faithful had a six flags vibe to it, but gave us a nice place to sit and write post cards to friends back home. Yellowstone emptied us out into Montana, which we soon realized is what happens when you add water to Wyoming. Like an expanding foam dinosaur Montana unfurled in front of us, dwarfing the beauty of Wyoming which had impressed us so much. The Mountains got bigger and greener, rivers and lakes emerged, and we were glad that we were traveling west and had seen Wyoming first, making it a primer for Montana's sublime landscape rather than a disappointment.

We decided to try and make it to Lolo Hot Springs, MT to camp. Surely there would be a hot spring in our future there.