Genghis Tron, channeling the electric to the kids at Bard.

That hill I've been complaining about. Doesn't look so bad from the top, in the daylight, does it?

Sunday, February 23, 2008
Room 8, Hearthstone Motel, Red Hook, NY

Morning time here in the suburbs of Bard College. I'm typing this from the bed (the one on the left side) of Room 8, [ Hearthstone Motel ]. Thad's snoozing away on the bed closest to the fake fireplace. Naturally, we have that fake fireplace switched on and are basking in its 5 watt bulb goodness.

Good times last night up at the college. The venue was the performing arts part of the college student center and had the feel of a really nice gymnasium. Taking our cues from the Knitting Factory show, we opted to go first. Our concerns about our performance have really receded - this must be what happens to bands that play night after night. So we did just fine and the nice students at Bard (the pierced and tattooed ones) liked it and that was that. Steve Moore played with a disco ball rocking the room - a disco ball that no one told us about. Genghis Tron were 3 times better than they'd been on previous nights - a total electric nightmare and boy I want to tell you that Bard College just ate that business on up.

So everyone's all smiles. We enjoyed a leisurely load out, taking small sneaks off the bottle of bourbon that we'd brought along to ward off diphtheria and the like. GT moseyed on over to some campus party but we decided to call it a night. Little did we know, though, that there was adventure ahead for us still.

We slowly drove the three or four miles to the motel, burning off excess energy from the night by listening to Capadonna handle it on "Winter Warz". Any rap song where the guy gives out his beeper number gets two stars just for that, and the rest of the crazy shit he goes on and on and on about (hair bushy like a porcupine, every other day his whole dress code switching, tacked on black nationalism) ... well you can see that it is a stone classic. We pulled up near the motel and took a deep breath. And here's why:

The motel here sits a little bit up an incline. Maybe someday I'll draw a picture and post it here, but you need to know that there's about 50 yards from the road to the parking lot and it hadn't been plowed that well from Thursday night. The driveway takes a 90 degree curve heading up to the hotel and has a sloping, snowy lawn on either side of it. It hadn't been too big a deal when we'd come to check in earlier in the night- the empty trailer had bounced around a bit but we'd made it without any real effort. Now that trailer was about half a ton heavier. Going off the driveway would be very bad news - the car and/or trailer would be well into 6 inch deep snow and gravity would be fighting against us. We'd have to balance our speed: too fast and we might lose traction on the curve (and head into that snow I was just telling you about); too slow and the trailer would prevent us from getting up the incline.

So we started. Got moving about 10 miles an hour and that got us about 3/4 of the way up the incline before we ran out of momentum. I tried gunning the wheels a few times but it was obvious we'd have to try again. The trailer made backing down the hill (and around that curve) really tricky. I took it real slow and sensible-like and we inched our way safely back to the road. But although we didn't know about it, a new friend had shown up. And that friend's name was overconfidence.

We rolled back to a bit of an approach and started up the hill a second time, this time going closer to 15 miles an hour. But again we'd erred too far on the side of caution and were stopped before the parking lot. And at this point, our new friend decided to back the car up. Gone was the patient caution of inching it down. Gone and replaced by "shit I can do this I'm a g-- d--- pro at this yes I am". And the whole thing started to quietly unravel like a ball of yard made from overcooked spaghetti. As we moved backwards the trailer started to slowly jackknife. We were on too much of an incline to correct this by pulling forward - the wheels just patched out. As I listened to the burning sound of the tires slipping against the snow a slow feeling of sick dread perched in my stomach. The pull of gravity down the hill, lack of friction on the wheels and the unfavorable physics pivoting the trailer were a nauseating cocktail of trouble.

It began to dawn on me that we might have a real problem here. A trailer stuck in the snow might - MIGHT - be able to be pulled out IF we unloaded all of the gear out of it. Or it might not and we'd have to get a towtruck to come and pull it out. Of course, what would happen to us between 2:30 and whatever time later in the morning the truck would arrive is anyone's guess. Or - more specifically - what would happen to all of our gear sitting unsheltered on the driveway. We put the car in park and got out to see where things really stood.

Fortunately, we'd made it most of the way back to the road. If we could reorient the car and the trailer to be in a straight line, we were still on the driveway enough (and through the curve) that going straight back would probably get us on the road. So the first step was to try and straightened the car out. We unhooked the trailer (gulp, leaving an unbraked, unattached trailer full of music gear sitting on an incline) and tried moving the car forward. The wheels skidded in the snow impotently. I couldn't really rock the car because the trailer attachment would slam against the car and scratch/dent the hell out of the back. So I did what every good boy from the midwest knows never to do - I just gunned the wheels and prayed that they'd somehow catch.

And amazingly, they did. The car scooched forward and was back in control. This was immediately followed by our second miracle. We'd unwittingly done a really great job loading the trailer in a balanced fashion. Between the two of us we could actually lift the front of it and pivot it to face the car. Within two minutes we had the trailer reattached and both the car and trailer were straight as an arrow, pointing directly away from the road. We eased back down to the firm, plowed asphalt of the state highway. Good.

We pulled down the road for a longer, faster approach. Things looked to go south for a moment as the trailer unhitched from the car and screeched to a grinding stop (OOOPS) but I reattached it firmly with no harm done. We gave ourselves about a 250 yard approach and were going a measured 20 when we hit the driveway. I had four different parts of me clenched tight, but our concern was unfounded. The tires held easily and we just glided right into that parking lot. Bingo.

Now we were wanting for that bourbon we'd foolishly shared with friends. Or at least a beer or something. But it was 2:30 in the morning at a lonely motel and we had to settle for the simple intoxication of plain relief. I took a warm, long shower and hit the sack. The plan was to sleep and sleep and sleep - something neither of us can do with kids in the home. It would almost feel like a marital infidelity - decadent slumber in a cheap motel room while my wife ran after our energetic toddler hours away. But, pathetically, my eyes shot open at about 8:30 and the hour I spent trying to will myself back to sleep was fruitless.

Today's got not much to it other than getting to Boston ("The city you'll get lost in") and loading in nice and early. Because my super sleep didn't get done I'm going to get one of those gigantic breakfasts with a stupid name - pancakes and eggs and french toast and a belly full of happiness. Ooh, I'm smiling just thinking about it.

[ Day 2 ]
[ Day 4 ]

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