Day 79: Interstate Tour 2018

Mass Central Rail Trail in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Mass Central Rail Trail in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Pioneer Valley was like some kind of Twilight Zone that sucked me in for a few days and wouldn't let go.  It was incredibly beautiful and peaceful, which made me want to stick around.  Glad I stuck it out for one more morning, because weather was good and I needed to work off some New England seafood.

A verdant cathedral.

A verdant cathedral.

After the morning admin, I drove Imua over to a trailhead and struck out in a westerly direction along the Norwottuck Rail Trail which led to some absolutely stunning canopies of trees with the Mill River snaking alongside towards the end, where the trail goes from being concrete to a wide dirt path that suddenly terminates into a housing development.

I doubled back, stopping at Imua to get some water (my bottle-holder suddenly doesn't want to hold a bottle anymore and there wasn't room in my handle-bar bag for the bottle - next Walmart, I'll pick one up) and then headed the opposite direction, towards town proper and the Mass Central Rail Trail.

A few too many highway crossings for my taste, but a fascinating change of scenery as the trail wound through various sections of the city.  Got so caught up in the discovery that I didn't even notice when almost two hours had gone by.

Northampton is a neat little town and I swear that I've never even heard of it before.  Calvin Coolidge was mayor here from 1910 to 1911, shortly before he went on to become President of the United States.  It's a counter-culture hotspot, flourishing in the arts and awareness of social equality and it's got a pulse that's different than other New England towns that I've been to.

And, here, bicyclists are treated with utmost equality - just about every crossing I came to, I just rolled to a stop, and so did whatever vehicle was approaching.  Some even chirped their tires to come to a stop for me.  I did the hand thing, you know, wave and say 'thank you' while pumping the pedals to hurry and get out of the way, and was shocked every time.  Any other place and you'd be waiting for a conga line of cars, none of which even realizes that you're there.

Yeah, very different. I liked it a lot. Got lost in observing it as I sped down the path.


I ended up riding 18.99 miles, according to Fitbit and got an hour and 25 minutes in the cardio heart rate zone - I was reliving those clam bellies and lobster rolls the whole time and must've mined some extra protein from the memories.  It was fabulous the second time around, too.

Back to McDonald's for an uploading session and then I was northbound for West Dover, Vermont and my second year in a row at August Dulcimer Daze, run by George Haggerty.  As the last festival of the summer tour, this is a nice one to go out on - from the summer ski resort vibe to the laid-back pace of things.  Lotsa good friends at the event this year, so it'll be extra good fun.

Timing is everything as I rolled up about 1 hour before workshops, set up my vending, said a quick hello to everyone and then parked down the street and up the mountain at Mount Snow Ski Resort (where the WiFi is hawt!) before walking back to The Mountaineer Inn, where everything is taking place, and teaching "The Rhythm Machine" workshop.

This is a good group - I got them through the break-down of the various rhythm durations and then had them flat-picking "The Road To Lisdoonvarna" in unison as a class, then had them unleash the drone. Often times, when presenting theories and concepts of music to different groups, my light bulbs start going off, too.  Maybe new connections between elements of music theory, or another way of explaining something to the students.  These have lately been producing little gasps and utterances like, "a-ha!", which rolls into even more, higher pitched utterances as I go even deeper and even more layers of complexity are revealed.

The Rhythm Machine in action.

The Rhythm Machine in action.

I do this to show how I keep the rhythmic drive of "Lisdoonvarna" going by simply adding three eighth notes to the end of phrases while accenting beats 1 and 4.  The delight that rippled through the room was tangible.  And then everyone just slayed it the next time through, which was too awesome.  Great group.  Small room, great group.

Got a chance to hang out with some of the folks before dinner, then hiked back to Imua, made chicken, rice and asparagus for dinner, had a watermelon shandy, answered some e-mail and then headed back to The Mountaineer for the open mic.

Lots of great talent and moments tonight from old classics to original tunes.  It makes me very happy to see an open stage filled up (even if no-one wanted to go first) and I don't understand why, at some festivals, you have to beg people to go up and do just one song.  You can't get a much safer environment in which to make your big debut than a dulcimer festival.  There are worse places.

Friday night open mic at August Dulcimer Daze - West Dover, Vermont.

Friday night open mic at August Dulcimer Daze - West Dover, Vermont.

Storms were starting to roll in from the southwest, so I ghosted towards the end of the open mic, hiked back to Imua (it's a good little trek up and down the mountain - but there's no room at the inn for a motorhome), and planned to set up for recording another Improv Files track for Patreon.

Had my umbrella with me, though the only moisture dropping from the sky came from the recently drenched trees that flanked the roadside. Just as I stepped inside Imua, the rain jackpot went off and opened up, full throttle downpour.

Really?  Okay, patience.

After a while, the rain ceased again and the cannon booms of rolling thunder echoed throughout the valley at the foot of Snow Mountain.  Perfect backdrop for this track.  I didn't know which dulcimer I'd use, so I pledged to use the first one that I grabbed from the stack of about six cases of Folkcraft Instruments dulcimers.  It was the bass.

I got set-up with a table and chair outside, Zoom H4n recorder on stand-by, bass dulcimer on my lap - got it all down, went back inside just as I felt some moisture from the naked sky above my head and, there was a new track.  I did a quick edit in Logic Pro X and uploaded it to my Turquoise Level ($12) and up patrons on Patreon.

That's a pretty full day, Jack!  

Just PART of the chow line!

Just PART of the chow line!

And now, I'm writing this blog and preparing to wind it down.  My "2 Crooked Fiddle Tunes" workshop is at 9:45 am and I'll want to be over there early. Before bed, though, I was planning on catching at least the premiere of "Disenchanted", the new animated series from Matt Groening that debuted on Netflix today.  It's not every day that you get to enjoy something new from someone whose work has been a part of your life for so long.  I used to read Groening's "Life In Hell" strip in The L.A. Weekly back in high school, so I've been digging this dude for a long time.  Looking forward to seeing what he's up to now.

In other news, Movie Pass is turning into a drama almost as big as the one in The White House. I'm glad I cancelled and, yeah, I know I have to make sure that I stay canceled, as they've sneakily found a way to re-subscribe you.  If that ain't shady, tell me what is. 

Day 80

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