Day 8: Chicago, Illinois to Kalamazoo, Michigan The crew awoke in different parts of Chicago. The Captain and Megan retrieved our rental SUV while JJ and Molly spent some time on their own on the north side. I met up with Katie and Danny at Eleven City Diner and had my first challah french toast (delicious!) as we discussed the whereabouts and lives of our high school classmates, and of friends we had in common from CAS ballet studio in Ann Arbor, which we had attended at different points in time.
Rachel and I chatted a bit upon my return, and I researched places for the band to lodge in Kalamazoo after our show for the evening, since we would have no RV to sleep in. I made some progress before it was time for Rachel to take her leave, which she did proudly sporting her new FlecHaus tee. I found a hotel that accepted pets and presented it to Megan via text message, but as she had found some more affordable options, I handed off the hotel booking to her. I then ventured to the north side to meet a former coworker, Amelia, at Smack Dab Chicago, a vegan donut shop and cafe. Smack Dab offers a free donut to first time visitors! Their confidence in the product is well-placed, as I will certainly be going back for another if I find myself in Rogers Park again. After my visit with Amelia, I made my way back to Karen's house for the 1400 hour rendezvous with the crew.
Our plan was to load out by 1430 hours and make it to Kalamazoo, Michigan in time to find something to eat and prepare for our performance. Karen, however, was preparing a lovely lunch for us that we could not resist: Chicago style hot dogs, grilled corn, quinoa salad, and fresh cut watermelon. We had an enjoyable and productive conversation about the previous night's production, as well as other musical projects.
It wasn't until 1600 that we finished loading into the new vehicle for the Michigan shows. It was a much tighter fit than in the Tour Loaf, but we made it work. Watering the Captain's dog was more difficult in the cramped space, and Megan coped with her exhaustion by laughing deliriously at everything Molly said on the ride.
We managed to arrive at our Kalamazoo venue by 2000 hours, right on schedule. My sister Sam met us at the venue. After loading in, Megan and the Captain went to check in to our hotel for the evening while we waited for more of the evening's clientele to arrive. It was Cannabis Club night at Rupert's Brewhouse: we were looking forward to the audience response from a very relaxed and good-natured crowd, and simply needed to wait until a good number were present to begin playing. The owner, Mark Rupert, estimated that ideal time to be around 2230 hours. At the designated time, Megan and the Captain still had not returned from the hotel. I received a partially comprehensible phone call from Megan, from which I understood only that she was under duress and would return to the venue soon. We were at critical mass at the venue, so Molly, JJ, and I decided to start the show on our own. Molly sang two of her original songs while JJ and I improvised an accompaniment, to a very positive reception from the crowd. The Captain entered during our first song, with Megan trailing behind, in tears, and heading straight for the bar. She soon had a tearful smile on her face, and sat on the side of the stage collecting herself while we played a second tune. She said later that it was our trio playing that saved her, and gave her the strength to get up and start singing, after another unexpected setback at the hotel. We played our set for the most engaged crowd of fifteen people we've ever met. The only people we knew in the audience were my wonderful sister and a theater cast mate she had invited, but each of the other groups hanging around enjoying Cannabis night supported us enthusiastically, and came up to congratulate and talk to us following our performance!
We finished our set at 2230 hours, sold several CDs and a t-shirt, and then turned to the next problem to be solved. Megan's duress was due to the hotel room being far too small to house all five band members. Some mistake had been made in the reservation. My sister Sam jumped into action, suggesting several possibilities. My brain became hazy from the decision fatigue induced over the past two days. Should we continue the hour and a half to Ann Arbor and forfeit the hotel reservation money, or find a way to reserve more rooms? Sam, with a clearer head more objective to the situation, saved the day. Although her apartment was a shambles from three consecutive bed bug treatments, she drove me to there while the rest of the crew packed up our equipment, to make use of the IHG Rewards points she had at her disposal to book us two more hotel rooms. She was glad to be able to help us, stating that it is often easier to solve other people's problems than one's own, and that this ability to help made her feel good despite other challenges she was facing. As the clock struck midnight, we suddenly lost the ability to book online, but were able to book with an IHG representative over the phone. The additional rooms were in a hotel ten minutes across town from our existing reservation, so we checked into the second hotel at 0100 hours, met the others at the first hotel, unload our gear, then Sam shuttled three of us to the second hotel. Molly and I rode up and down the elevators four times in a comical pursuit of working room keys, during which our exhaustion led to aphorisms such as "Sometimes, things get messed up," and "When you're this tired, regular stuff gets harder." We ultimately ended up in a very comfortable room with two queen beds, and were asleep by 0200 hours. Next Captain's Log Previous Captain's Log