Day Three of the trip started with a surprise knock on the door around 7:00 a.m. from Breanna. “We gotta bounce. We have eleven minutes.” We thought we had plenty of time to sleep in and take our time, but Karlee’s parents were leaving, so that meant we had to leave too. I took a quick shower and packed my stuff in record time. We said our goodbyes and headed out to Country Kitchen for breakfast. After so much ice cream and stuff the night before, we were ready for some real food, which came in the form of eggs, biscuits, and potatoes in various forms. Good stuff.

As we were getting ready to leave, one of the other waitresses stopped to tell us, “You guys look like rock stars.” We all laughed and said, “Well, we’re musicians, actually, and we’re on tour from Portland. We’re on our way to Reno right now.” The waitress chatted with us for a second, wished us good luck on our trip, and then walked away, but we talked about it among ourselves for a while longer. Justin said, “I guess you look like what you do.” I replied, “Yeah, she didn’t say, ‘you guys look like bankers’ or anything else. She went straight for ‘rock stars.’ ” It was a funny and nice moment.

On our way out of town, we stopped at a Safeway gas station. This was the first time I’d ever seen a Safeway gas station, so I commented on that fact, and got out of the van to take a picture of it. Breanna and Justin both piped up, “Oh yeah, they have them all over. There’s even one in EasternPortlandSuburb,” so it suddenly lost its appeal as a novelty. Sure made for a good story, though, no?

Incidentally, there was a closed business that we drove by in Redding called Smart & Final. We all thought that was a strange name for a business of any kind, and we wondered what it was. I just now looked it up, and it appears to be sort of a grocery close-out warehouse.

So finally we headed out of town. The acrid smoke continued with us for the entire trip, as we had to drive through the mountains, where there were countless wildfires. Some were even burning along the side of the road, and we heard when we stopped at a little convenience store (where gas was five dollars per gallon!) that the Department of Transportation was considering closing the highway.

Our rental van had a GPS unit that we absolutely lived by. It could calculate our route for us, and then it would speak various commands when it was time to turn or whatever. Our favorite thing it said, if we got off course to go to a rest area or a gas station, was, “When possible, make a legal U-turn.”

In the late afternoon, we finally arrived in Sparks, Nevada.  The three of us split up and went our separate ways for a while. Justin and Breanna went to find a wi-fi hotspot, and I made a couple of phone calls. My brother and I talked about funny childhood memories, and somehow started talking about steampunk too. We thought it would be funny if I dressed in that Victorian style and wore a monocle and marketed myself as the Accordionist With The Monocle. I don’t know how that conversation started, but we were cracking each other up with that.

Across from our venue was the historic and cultural hub of the city of Sparks. There was the old train station, an old locomotive and cabin cars, an old schoolhouse (not in its original location), and a good-sized modern amphitheater right next to each other. Across the street were the modern library and the spruced-up old buildings, and that’s where we played.

We spent a bunch of time taking pictures and screwing around in the amphitheater.  It was really hard to choose which pictures to share, because there were so many good ones, but here are a few.

I started doing a stand-up comedy routine, telling a heightened version of one of the stories that I’d told in the van already, but telling it as if the audience was there, and ‘working the crowd’ and all that.   It was very funny.  Breanna took a million pictures of that.  Suddenly, it was time for us to head across the street to eat dinner and get set up for the gig.

We played with Kate and her band, and we were completely blown away by them. Kate’s songs were beautiful, and GuitaristEd and BassistGia were great as well. Here are some pictures from the show. There will be many more from this night in my upcoming ‘best pics of the tour’ blog entry. Again, it was hard to choose from so many great pictures, of both groups.

Afterwards, Kate put us up in her apartment.   This could be a whole gigantic entry by itself.   Kate was an extremely generous, friendly, and accommodating person, great in every way, and her apartment was absolutely stellar, located right on Reno’s main street.  Justin and Breanna were anxious to listen to the mixes of the songs for Justin’s upcoming CD, so they stayed in and listened on Kate’s computer while I went for a walk to take pictures.

Reno looks like a regular city during the day, but it completely comes alive at night. I walked around for over an hour, until well after midnight, and took almost three hundred pictures.   Here are some of my favorites.

When I returned, Bre and Justin were still sitting in front of the computer with the music cranked up, listening intently, and Kate was lying in the windowsill.

After they were done listening, Justin and Breanna turned off the computer and the lights and went to bed, and Kate and I sat in the dark and talked for an hour and a half. We talked about music, and what it’s like living and being a musician in our respective cities, and about life in general.  I also took a few more pictures. Here’s the view from her window.

This is the day I remember most fondly from the tour, and it’s days like this that make it so exciting to be a musician on the road.   I wish every day could be like this one was.  I feel incredibly lucky to have had even one day like it in my life, and this is only Day Three of the tour.