Travel Journal 7.16 thru 7.21
We traveled 1400 miles from NYC to Alpine, Valley. 8 states along the way. 15 total this trip so far.
Javier dubbed Alpine Valley, Wisconsin… “the middle of nowhere.” Only Phish would bring random freaks out to the middle of nowhere. Farm land and cows and the land of cheese heads and funny accents… the normalcy of Wisconsin life collided with the Phish tour for a few days, and despite sub par shows (due to my unrealistic high expectations of the shows) I still had one of the best times I ever had on tour. Fun was a key word. I had a fun time both nights, before and after the shows, and of course during the shows. The venue was very nice. A slightly severe incline on the lawn, but there was no bad spot. We sat on Page side both nights. And the second night (first set specifically) was the better of the two shows. Despite Javier almost beating up a racist, homophobic, anti-semtic frat boy... things were awesome in dairyland.
Random Incidents… Stopped off near Kalamazoo to hit a couple of baseballs in the batting cages at the coolest place to be in Western Michigan… none other than Captain Mike’s Fun Park! Located just minutes off of I-94, I did very well at the cages. I hit more fast balls than slow ones! My timing was off. We happened to drive through Ann Arbor during the Michigan Summer Arts Festival and most of the streets were blocked off and parking was $10 in some places. Traffic was awful from Gary, Indiana all the way through Chicago! Michigan girls are cute and they talk funny. Wisconsin girls are hotter and have hilarious accents. I met a cutie named Alea and she thought I had a weird accent. Call me and I’ll do my best impersonation. The entire weekend, Javier and I would talk to each other in Wisconsin and Chicago accents. “Oh geez, you came from a far away place!” and “Oh gosh, I never been to New York before. You must be bored being in Wisk-cannnnnnnnn-son!!” Wisconsin people party hard. They drink a lot of beer for sure and they set off fireworks like crazy after the Phish shows in the parking lots. The post-show scene afterwards was barrels of fun. The traffic was awful so everyone pretty much stayed behind, drank, and set off fireworks. On the second day, one guy came up to me and said, “Geez, you forgot to tell me about the fireworks last night! Must have been something!”, he said with the widest eyes. I laughed hysterically. Fireworks. It’s a big thing around there. Usually on a Friday night in the middle of Wisconsin, people are drinking in the fields and playing music, but the post Phish fireworks was the biggest thing to come out to the middle of nowhere since cable TV dishes. Javier gained immortality among Wisocnsin frat boys after the guys parked next to us watched Javier chug down a couple of shots of Jim Beam out of the bottle before we went into the show. “Dude, he was drinking for like eight seconds! Wait more like ten!” For decades to come, there will be urban myths and stories about that dude who drank an entire fifth of Beam before he saw a Phish show, then he drove all the way back to Connecticut that night! Javier started yelling at this one girl during the show because her friend was passed out on the lawn and no one was taking care of her. The food court at Alpine Valley sold Grilled Cheese for $5 and beers were $7. I hear the funniest things wandering through the parking lots at Phish shows. My favorite this time was: “Dude if you give me another hit, I swear I won’t tell anyone.” Javier recorded a personal record of driving 368 straight miles without stopping once! I was there. We had to piss badly nearly 280 miles, but we kept pushing the limits! I met random people all over the tour that wanted to read Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. After I let on that I’m a writer, I often get asked what JTSMD is about. After I tell them and stare at the unhinged jaws for a few seconds, their next immediate response is “Can I read it?” I should have printed up copies and brought them on tour with me! Next time for sure. The coolest people we met in Wisconsin were from Iowa. And I’ll never forget my favorite Wisconsin phishead Alea, the blonde girl from Kenosha with the sea shell eyes!
I don’t have enough time to tell you more about my random adventures. Next time for sure.
Detroit Sucks City… Without a doubt, Detroit was the lowlight of our trip. It was a huge mistake for me even to suggest checking it out. It’s the gambler in me. I heard about the MGM Grand Casino in Detroit and how it’s popularity grew after 9.11 when Americans wanting to gamble scoffed at the idea of two and three hour long waits at the border crossing into Windsor, Canada to play at their prestigious casino. I wanted to play poker there, but again the border and security hassles weren’t worth it. Upon walking into the Detroit MGM Grand, Javier got a bad feeling and decided that he didn’t want to stay. I too felt an odd vibe and we bailed fairly quickly. Somehow we ended up at Wheat & Rye, the Detroit airport bar and grill. It seemed harmless with $5 pitchers of Budweiser. The burgers were great and the clientele was peppered with beer guzzling locals and middle aged people drinking after work, primarily cliques from the local airline and related businesses in the area; staunch check-in counter people, greasy aero-mechanics and overly friendly front desk workers. Our waitress was Canadian and she had eyes for Javier.
Chicago… Bob a friend of mine for almost 13 years, was a great host. Love his neighborhood called Lincoln Park. I forgot how many good looking women live there. “As soon as it’s 78 degrees, then they all come out. It’s great in the summer,” Bob explained. We ate dinner in Wrigleyville at Bar Louie just a block from the infamous Wrigley Field. We almost made a run for the Indiana casinos, or the riverboats down in Joliet. The poker tables were packed when we called ahead. It would be all night before we got to sit in at a game, so we decided to play No Limit Texas Hold ‘em at the Bob Casino in Chicago. It was great and I caught some hot cards including beating Javier’s pocket Aces (A-A) after I was dealt lovely ladies (Q-Q). After the Flop and Turn of A-8-Q-6, Javier went all in with his money and raised me nearly $20, all of his chips. I called (foolishly) and got lucky after a Queen fell on the River and I beat Javier’s full house with 4 Queens. It was a classic showdown and I had less than 4% of winning. Alas, I did. Late night, Bob drove us around downtown Chicago and we saw the newly renovated Wrigley Field and all the security in front of the Sears Tower.
I found a couple of Truckin stories along the way. I hope to work on them later this week.