Thursday, June 26th was our longest day. We had a twelve-hour drive ahead of us, from Reno to a tiny town in Utah called Torrey.

I was the first one up, at 5:45 in the morning. I took a shower, got dressed, and then took some pictures of the hazy morning street scene of Reno. The haze is actually the smoke from the California wildfires. It didn’t clear up until we were well into Utah, by the way. Incidentally, all of these thumbnail pictures expand to full size if you click on them.

While I was packing up my suitcase, Kate woke up. We talked for a while, she in her makeshift bed in the windowsill and I on her papasan chair. I took pictures of the cats, and of her place, and out the window, and even some of her. The best ones were of her, waking up and snuggling with her cat Samantha.

From there, it was time for breakfast and various morning activities, which on that particular day meant more picture opportunities. Here we all are.

The water-drinking one actually has a little video too, as if by technology.

I would be remiss if I didn’t post a picture of Kate’s other cat, Secret. She and I became instant friends, and she actually slept on my sleeping bag for a while during the night.

Suddenly it was time to say our goodbyes, give hugs all around, and hit the road. The scenery in the rest of Nevada was uneventful. If you haven’t driven through it, it basically consists of many hours of rolling hills covered with sagebrush. There are only a couple of sections where it’s beautifully desolate in a good way, and the rest of the time it’s pretty much God-forsaken wasteland, broken up only by the occasional bit of run-down machinery or mining equipment, or even a power station out in the middle of nowhere. At one point there are even a couple of tunnels. Wowee! Breanna and I both took pictures of the tunnels, in fact. That’s how exciting it was. Nevada is a very strange place. Luckily, we had an especially deep (and private) conversation that day, with which to while away the hours.

Oh yeah, I just remembered. We stopped at the same rest area that Stephanie and I were so horrified by when she and I played in Elko last summer. This time was not nearly so eventful, but I should mention that each of the rest areas we stopped at in Nevada had neither soap nor running water, so we weren’t able wash to our hands. Pretty sexy, huh?

Incidentally, and apropos of nothing, the lasting inside joke from this day was when I told Justin, “I’m gonna punch your mouth right in the face.” That would have been the name of this entry, if I didn’t have the more plebeian title so firmly established already.

This trip, for all its amazing qualities, was not without tragedy. Justin realized at some point along the way that he had left his pillow behind in Reno. This was not just any pillow, either, but a super-special pillow that was bluish gray in color, weighed a ton, and was apparently the most comfortable pillow in the history of pillows. He was seriously distraught about it. I imagine that he’s gotten it back by now, because he offered to pay Kate a bunch of money to ship it overnight that same day.

Utah is as beautiful as Nevada is barren. Almost from the minute we crossed the state line, the landscape became more interesting. We drove through the Bonneville Salt Flats, which are gigantic, and a bit eerie too. We kept expecting the weather to be cold, because we were seeing what looked like snow on the ground everywhere. Very strange.

After that, the landscape became more green, the hills became more steep, and everything seemed more inviting somehow. In the immortal words of the Lewis and Clark journals, ‘we continued on.’

As we got closer and closer to our destination of Torrey, the landscape just kept getting more and more beautiful. The hills turned red, and the sun started getting lower and lower in the sky. The Picture of the Day Award definitely goes to Breanna for this lovely, cinematic shot. My pictures I had to touch up a bit with Photoshop, but this one is perfectly fine without any so-called enhancements.

We arrived at the venue and met Wendy, who was very sweet. She opened for us, and also took pictures for us during our set. At first we thought we’d play unplugged and unmic’ed, which ended up being too quiet, even for the smallish space we were playing in. So we mic’ed everything and played a normal show.

Can I just take a minute to say that while Reno was definitely the place I had the most fun, the gig in Torrey was by far my favorite venue we played. I mean, here’s this tiny little venue in the middle of nowhere, with these amazing red cliffs all around. And I’ve never seen as many stars as I did that night. We kept looking off into our surroundings the entire time. It’s a miracle that we didn’t play any wrong notes. Here’s what I’m talking about. Justin was singing, and Breanna and I were totally staring off into the distance. And yes, Justin and I did the same thing on Breanna’s songs too.

Between the cliffs and the stars, and the interesting people, we had a total blast. Afterwards, Wendy put us up at her place. We all stayed up for a little while, and then Justin and Breanna went to bed. Wendy and I stayed up talking, and she asked if I played with any other groups. I told her about the people I play with, and the various instruments that I play, and when I mentioned the accordion, she said, “Oh, really? I have two accordions. Maybe you could show me some things.” I agreed to do that, and we pulled them out. So after getting up at 5:45, driving twelve hours, and playing a gig, I stayed up until about 1:30 giving an impromptu accordion lesson. After a while, exhaustion got the better of me, and I had to give in and go to bed. The room I stayed in was very warm, so I opened the window and the blinds, which meant that I fell asleep staring at the huge canopy of bright stars, in which the band of the Milky Way Galaxy was clearly visible. That’s a nice way to fall asleep, by the way. I totally recommend it.

More to come in the next installment of. . .ON TOUR.