“But wait!” say the two or three people who actually ever read my blog. “Didn’t you post earlier this year about turning 30 in Cuba?” Why yes Cathy, Robin and sometimes Melissa. I did. This one, however, is about my wife Brittany, who just joined me in the tricenarian club. And as we did for my birthday, we fled again from the chill of a Northern winter to someplace hot: this time it was Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
When I was a child too young to keep a lasting memory, I lived on what was then the Queen Charlotte Islands, more recently reassigned its true name of Haida Gwaii as part of reconciliation with a native people largely decimated during the colonial period of the 1700s. Throughout my life I have learned much about the place’s history, culture, and natural beauty, but all of that has been secondhand despite my former residence there (and not being of Haida descent myself I was in a sense an outsider to start with). I longed to revisit its remote location as an adult old enough to experience and recall it fully, but time and accessibility restraints had thus far postponed my doing so. As summer reached its final days this year, my wife and I finally made that trip.
It was a decade ago when, while hotboxing the car of a high school acquaintance, that I was told of a magical place filled with music and love, where every stranger is your friend and you can spend the days in costumes climbing tree forts or lounging in hammocks, and the glowing nights engaged in perpetual dance. The sliver of an image conjured in my mind of such a place intrigued me, but became forgotten as days and weeks and months passed and I never saw that person again.
The notion remained latent within me, however, and re-emerged years later when a close friend of mine returned from an adventure in the Kootenays, extolling the beauty and harmony of Shambhala music festival. For him, the journey to the electronic festival became a recurring pilgrimage, and he continuously urged me to join him.
“That’s not really my scene,” I would foolishly say (being at that time a chronic patron of any punk or metal show I could afford to attend), though I did in fact feel quite enticed.
“It’s everyone’s scene,” he assured me.
So finally I went there for a single day, partly thinking if I just went once he’d stop harassing me to go, but also excited at the prospect of attaching personal sensation to what thus far seemed to me a space belonging to a dream. Without getting into detail about that first time (it’s already been written in my past blog post: “Happy Shambs!”), I found the experience to be wondrous, and I went back on another day pass the following year. The next, the same thing, with my wife now coming with me. And this summer, for the festival’s 20th year, she and I scored our first set of tickets for the entire weekend. Having progressed from charmed but tentative newbie into Shambhala enthusiast, I could not wait to properly experience the place that now endlessly calls out to my soul.
When I left for Cuba I was 29, and now I’m in my 30s. Really, I don’t feel very old. The milestone is no big deal to me, and I would have been content enough to mark it at a pub in Kamloops. But Brittany (my wife) thought fit to arrange a much grander celebration, and I sure am glad she did. With much help from my brother-in-law, she gathered a 15-person group of family and friends for a week of tropical weather, breathtaking sights, and a vibrant culture steeped in centuries of momentous history.
First of all, let me specify that not all bands featured as answers in this game are actually from New York. They do, however, all in some way relate to a week-long trip my wife and I recently took to the city. (My wife’s name is Brittany. I also have a friend named Melissa who is pretty cool and who I promised a shout out in my blog, so here’s shouting out to her!)
Anyways, the idea is for you to follow the course of our journey in the paragraphs that follow, and to fill in any blanks with the appropriate musical ensemble. The first person to correctly guess them all in the comment section at the bottom will win a shitty prize. Let the game begin!
Boy, I’m runnin’ from the law.
First of all, if you haven’t listened to the song Firearm by Casey Baker and the Buffalo Sinners, please do so now and enjoy what I consider lyrically one of the best tunes ever composed (you’ll also understand the reference above).
We were actually headed southeast towards it, but Yellowstone Park was the ultimate destination of our 10 day road trip, with plenty of stops before and after. As our busy summer now continues I have no time to post extensively about each place we saw along the way back, so let me break it down into brief daily summaries.
“Red sky at night…” my wife spoke of the rust-coloured shades permeating the evening horizon. If the nautical saying could be applied to land then this was an omen of good weather for our next day’s camping trip.
Instead it rained, all day and through the night.
We had faced such weather in our tent before. Like in Halifax when bursts of rain billowed under the fly to dampen our slumber, or during a foggy stay in St. John’s when we saw our breaths as mist and doubled up on blankets in the night. But this time we didn’t bring out tent. For the first time as a camping couple, we would be kept safe and dry in the comfort of a little teardrop trailer of our own.