Day 23- Laytonville, CA - Healdsburg, CA * Day 24- Healdsburg, CA - Squaw Valley, CA
Once again, we have the bittersweet feeling of waking up knowing we are leaving our friends who we have enjoyed meeting up with multiple times along this journey. The rest of our trip is flexible after tonight’s show in Healdsburg, so who knows where we may meet again. Marc, Katie, and Mat, if you are reading this, thank you for showing us the beauty of Laytonville. From the second we pulled our camper on to the farm, we felt the love and kindness from each person we encountered. The magic of the Eel River has me writing down the highway number that led us to our special spot so that if I’m ever there without you, I can find it and reminisce on the time we shared there. And to each and every one of you on the farm- Thank you. You are all a true reflection of the love that I believe makes this world go ‘round.
We took our time popping down this morning. One, because I may or may not have had a slight hangover and two, I made the mistake of getting in the hammock immediately after waking up. We eventually hooked up the camper to our Outback, who just turned 5,000 miles older, said our goodbyes, and set our gps for Sonoma County.
We arrived around 3pm and my long time friend, Rob, showed me up the hill to the beautifully level pad behind his house where we would be popping up. It was almost as if it was set up for this very occasion. After I backed in the camper off of a steep hill ( I’m getting really good at backing this thing in and saw an opportunity to brag) Rob and I quickly caught up over a beer. Maggie and I both had showers and we were off to Rob’s restaurant, The Parish Cafe, in downtown Healdsburg for the private show I’d be performing.
Rob and his wife, Karla, set up to entertain a few handpicked socially distant guests as Maggie and I set up the stage, merch table, and live stream. I was feeling tired at first, but after a few songs and some positive reactions from the guests, I started to get into a groove. I developed a good report with the audience through song and story, and we shared laughs mostly, though some spoke of their tears after my cover of John Prine’s “Hello In There.” It was hard to follow August’s version of “Crawdad Hole,” but i managed to keep the crowd’s interest for a while longer. It was a fabulous evening and I was able to greet most of those in attendance after the show.
We returned to Rob and Karla’s for late night burgers and cocktails as well as an impromptu jam session that brought us back to our high school years. August was in heaven as he finally got to play some video games and hang out with some kids. One of the highlights of the evening was playing a ‘72 reissue telecaster through a custom 1956 Magnatone amplifier adorned with a small blue plaque with the initials J.G. In gold. It’s rumored to be one of Jerry Garcia’s amps from his early days with The Warlocks. It sounded amazing regardless of its history, but I will say that I’m a believer.
We ended the night with my new favorite cocktail, The Fitzgerald, and said our goodnights. We both had travel plans for the next morning, and we were well on our way to ruining them. I returned to the camper to find August snuggled up next to Maggie, so I took his bunk for the evening. It was nice to spread out.
Healdsburg is the first place that we’ve felt real heat on this trip with temps topping 100°. It still gets chilly at night, so our AC was off when the 8am morning sun beat down on the canvas slide outs of the camper. There was no getting back to sleep at that point.
I stumbled out of the camper feeling slightly better than I imagined I would, and I made my way to the laundry room fridge for a Coke. I surveyed the deck and found the shaded outdoor couch which would be my place to lay down while I waited for everyone else to rouse. The smell of fresh coffee in the air told me that somebody in the house was moving and shortly after, Rob made his appearance.
We spoke of his family’s travel plans for the day, and I started to map out ours. You see, we have 6 days before we have to land in Placitas, NM (it looks like we’ll be able to salvage the gig!) and multiple options for places to stop in between.
It took a while to say our goodbyes, as it always does, and we loaded in the car. The hospitality we continue to get shown gives us the energy to continue on with our journey.
We ultimately decided that Yosemite would be our next stop, but the universe had other plans for us. We drove through San Francisco for August to travel the Golden Gate Bridge, see Alcatraz, and see the Black Magic Voodoo Lounge, where Maggie and I got engaged. We were about halfway to Yosemite when we realized that entry to Yosemite is now by limited reservation only, and there are no reservations available until August 11! We immediately looked up and found no entry requirements other than our National Parks annual pass for Sequoia National Park as well as King’s Canyon and took the next left off of the highway to start heading south.
On top of being new to the camper world and navigating all the normal stuff, Covid regulations are throwing an even bigger wrench in things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that there are certain protective measures in place, but still after all this time, I’m not always thinking about restrictions unique to certain areas. Just like every other stage of my life, I’m learning the hard way.
We found an RV park just outside of King’s Canyon for a couple nights, popped up and grilled up some delicious venison burgers that Rob had sent with us. We topped them with sliced, grilled beets that August harvested on the vineyard farm, goat cheese, and a mustard dill sauce as I polished off some leftover rosé.
We all turned in early so we can get in a full day of exploring the National Parks around us. It’s exciting to have just the three of us here. It’s the first time we’ve been alone since our night in Carson County, WA well over a week ago.
Well, my eyes are closing as I type this and phone is starting fall out of my hands. Good night and remember- be good to yourselves and each other.