When most people think of summer vacation, they probably think of the beach. They imagine cold cocktails served with tiny umbrellas, consumed under much larger umbrellas to keep off the sun. They might think of getting tanned/burned while hobnobbing with sexy co-eds. They envision themselves visiting the sights of whatever seaside retirement community, Midwestern lake town, or tropical third world destination they’ve chosen. They imagine napping outside with the wind gently tousling their hair (or mocking their baldness).
When you go on a summer tour, you may get to do some of these things, but you will spend the bulk of your time in cars and in bars. So while you will meet some very nice, fun, and/or insane people, and you might visit some beautiful places, you can very quickly start to feel like your travels lack enough of those “brag about it later” moments.
The best cure for this feeling is to treat every cheap novelty as if it were astonishing. That goes for side-of-the-road restaurants and shops with funny names (e.g. “Pastabilities,” and “Hair it is!”). It also goes for strange items on restaurant menus. If there’s a skillet that they claim only a REAL trucker could finish, why not bet one of your traveling partners that he doesn’t have the guts?
Then there’s my personal favorite: bar bathroom graffiti. What better substitute could there be for actual local flavor, than to plumb the depths of the local drunk male psyche? “Robot’s been f*cking with me all night!” What could that possibly mean? I don’t know, but some guy in Carbondale thought that it was important enough to write down.
I already have a fine photo collection of that kind of contextless nonsense, but I see every band trip as an opportunity to collect more. If any of my shots from this trip are good enough (and relatively PG-rated), perhaps they’ll get posted on this blog. Or not. But that’s the idea.