Thursday, September 11, 2008

Smith River Road is a must and Coos Bay is amazing

We are writing from beautiful Coos Bay, back in the verizon coverage area and ready to lay down a long post. We left Eugene Monday afternoon, after a long morning of packing and eating carrot cake that Emily's dad bought. The band pushed even their standards of a late start, leaving Ryan's parents house in Springfield to hit Trader Joe's and an REI on the way out of town at around 2:30. While we prepared to meet up with them at Trader Joe's, Max got a call from Ian, who plays vibes with Blind Pilot (and Team Evil) in Portland. It seems he got laid off from his job and was planning on making a trailer for the vibes- an instrument that weighs about as much as a person- and joining the bike tour in a week or so.

We left the house to bring the news to the band at Trader Joe's. Once there, we spotted the band and Max jumped out with the camera to film their reaction to the news. Emily parked the car, cracked the windows, and went in to stock up on cheap organic foodstuffs for our night in the Oregon wilderness.

Twenty minutes later the band had called Ian to make sure Max was not playing a joke on them, reacted to the news and gone on their way. When we returned to the car, the cat was not there. One of Emily's biggest fears is that some 'good samaritan' will see Buzz in the car on a hot day and decide to liberate her. With that fear in mind Max found the number for the nearest humane society and gave a description in case anyone managed to wrangle her away. Apparently the Buzzer managed to squeeze through the 4" openings in the windows and walk across a very busy parking lot to take a nap behind the Bed, Bath and Beyond's shopping cart area. We spent about an hour searching, Emily cried, and Max called every animal hospital in town before Randy, the really nice security guard, found her there. It was pretty terrifying and we didn't hit the road to start following them until about 5pm.

Ryan and Israel had taken a route to Reedsport on their last bike tour that we found again, not using Google maps as we usually do, but instead on a 1973 map of Oregon parks that Emily had bought in a Clatskanie, OR antique shop (to which Max jeered "did you also get a flux capacitor," and hadn't really stopped making fun of Emily for until that day when it proved its timelessness.) A Bureau of Land Management map that Emily's dad tracked down at the Eugene headquarters helped give a name to the road and it's context. The road was amazing. Connecting Eugene and Reedsport, it is a deserted stretch of county road and BLM road referred to as Wolf Creek Road and Smith River Road respectively. They follow their namesakes' twists and turns through beautiful forests and stream valleys and over some serious hills, while carrying almost no traffic. Max missed his motorcycle deeply.

As night began to fall we passed the Lane county Inmate Forest Work Camp, and with visions of Johnny Cash, the band decided to double back and see if they could play there. Unfortunately, the camp had closed down, but the one guy who was there was very friendly. The luckiest band ever pushed on and we soon arrived at the edge of the BLM land and found a great area to dispersed camp, made dinner, and then enjoyed a Blind Pilot practice session in the woods. In the morning, we (us and Luke and Kati) discovered that apparently the area is popular with hunters, and used the empty shotgun shells and bullet casings to create a beautiful display of found object art on top of our car.

The road continued to be beautiful, as we made our way to Reedsport and onto Umpqua Lighthouse State Park where we were to stay the night. Although the road was windy and pretty narrow, we had it pretty much all to ourselves, which made stopping to get shots of the band so much easier than on busy highways. Although they had a another leisurely start, they were able to make it to the campsite just after dark and prepare for the short ride to Coos Bay the next day.

As the title of this post declares: Coos Bay is amazing. It's a pretty town, on the Bay, with lots of logging trucks and a great downtown area that feels like it is quickly becoming an arts area. But, it's the people that really blew us away. We and the band were welcomed with open arms from the start. Brian and Lia, the owners of the Broadway Theater (and the rest of the building, including Waxers Surf & Skate Shop and Shark Bites restaurant) had worked hard to get publicity for the show prior to their arrival, offered us dinner and along with Sam, the manager, a place to stay upstairs. The travel and tourism bureau had the welcome to Coos Bay sign flash "Welcome Blind Pilots" and then footed the bill for a room at the Red Lion up the street for the band to stay in after the show. The audience, while smaller than the shows in Portland, warmed up to the band immediately, especially when the band decided to go acoustic and come down to the main area. We met a lovely couple from Reedsport that has been following the tour and came down to watch the band because they love the music and the idea of the tour.

All in all, it felt like the shows that we first saw when we visited in May- an intimate setting with a small crowd feeding off and returning the energy of the band's songs. Watching this band share their love of music with others who respond like this is the immersive feeling we hoped to convey with a documentary. Their music moves people - almost regardless of what genre or style they call their own and not because of anything but the sounds and energy that fill the room. It remains elusive, but we have to believe that the more shows like this there are the closer we will be to getting that feeling on film.


angie said...

Whew!!! I'm so glad you found Buzz! She's a sneaky one. *a

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