Day 9: Kalamazoo to Ann Arbor
My sister met up with Molly, JJ, and me at hotel #2 (Holiday Inn Express) for continental breakfast. Though we had not slept long, we had slept well, and were optimistic about the day ahead. I was particularly looking forward to seeing friends and school teachers from my hometown of Ann Arbor, though it came with an underlying dread wondering whether anyone would show up for the concert seven years after I had left town. Sam and I took the requisite Slottow sibling look-alike photographs before she brought us to hotel #1 (Baymont by Wyndham) to meet Megan and the Captain. They and the Captain's dog had also had a restful sleep! We loaded the gear back into the SUV and allowed ourselves a few minutes of socializing and laughing about the events of the last few days in the parking lot before heading to Ann Arbor.
The journey was short and uneventful. En route, we spent some time planning tasks that would need to be accomplished before tonight's performance: depositing the paper currency we have accumulated selling merchandise, and obtaining the correct type of bills to facilitate ticket sales at the door in the evening. We arrived at my aunt Aleli Alcala's house in Ann Arbor at 1130 hours.
We introduced the Captain's dog carefully to Auntie's dog Kaia, and they soon acclimated to each other. It helped that they were of similar stature - Kaia the cockapoo and Ginger the ambiguous tiny street dog might have been the same size, if it weren't for Kaia's elegantly long poodle legs. Auntie had prepared a feast to grill over charcoal, which put the Captain in familiar territory. He looked right at home and relaxed for the first time in days as he tended the teriyaki chicken, sausages, and vegetables on the grill. We grazed on tortilla chips and salsa and cherries, and Megan napped in a large, comfortable tailgating chair in the shade of the trees in the backyard. JJ arranged to fly ahead of the rest of the crew as an advanced scout to Rochester, which is his hometown. He would rest and recover from the intense emotions of the Chicago Fiasco in the company of family and friends there, and hopefully meet us upon our arrival in a refreshed state to continue the tour.
Around 1300 hours, my high school flute teacher and mentor Nancy Waring arrived with her husband Jay Devries, who I also spent a fair amount of time with in that period of life. We had not seen each other in person in several years, so it was a very welcome reunion. Auntie and JJ watched the Wimbledon finals with rapt attention in the kitchen while I visited with Nancy and Jay the living room. I had invited some other Ann Arbor friends to the house prior to the concert in case they could not attend the show itself, but was not expecting any more visitors based on our communications. Imagine my surprise when two more flautists and high school friends rang the doorbell! Melissa and Cara arrived smiling with adorable baby Elijah in tow. Melissa had married another Ann Arbor native (from the rival high school), who could not come along. It was a serendipitous surprise to have all of these wonderful people together in the same room. Elijah found endless amusement in the curiosity of Auntie's dog, the box of dog toys, and the sensation of sliding empty coasters off the coffee table.
A few more close family friends, Anne-marie Kim and her young son Harrison, joined the festivities before it was time to prepare for the performance.
At 1330, the FlecHaus crew took our leave of Auntie and friends, and made a stop at the grocery in order to obtain paper currency for our casual box office. We were unable to deposit the additional currency we had accumulated thus far on the journey, due to the particular financial institution, Wells Fargo, not existing in this territory of the country. This was good learning for our crew - from now on, we will map where we might deposit this currency for safe-keeping ahead of time.
We began unloading at our venue, Kerrytown Concert House, at 1600 hours. By this point, we operate in a mostly seamless manner, with Molly preparing the merchandise while Megan, JJ, and the Captain set up the bass rig, microphones and cables, guitar and ukelele, flute stands, and the Public Address (PA) system. I was free to put together an improvised ticket stand at the door, and organize a last minute remote mission in Chicago. Katie, one of the heroes from the Chicago Fiasco, agreed to tape a new parking pass to the Tour Loaf in the McCormick Place marshaling lot so that the crew could get a good night's sleep in Ann Arbor, rather than driving back to Chicago in the night. I purchased the pass and sent it to Katie instantly via electronic mail, and she confirmed receipt and that she could complete the mission.
Audience members began to arrive promptly at 1630 hours. They included three neighbors from my childhood, one with their significant other; my ex-boyfriend's father; my high school band director; the parents of my closest middle school friend; family friends and their children; a friend from high school who still resided in the area. I had a personal connection to each of the 20 or so people in the audience. I had secured this venue at the last minute, two weeks before the performance, due to some family and personal priorities over the months I was tasked with booking. The support of my Ann Arbor friends and acquaintances, even seven years after I had left my hometown, warmed my heart.
We played well for these generous, supportive listeners, marking our third show since the Chicago Fiasco.
Following the performance, socializing and selling our wares, we loaded up like a well-oiled machine and went back to Auntie's house. I invited my high school classmate Caitlin to join us with her boyfriend. They helped us finish off the food grilled in the early afternoon, while we shared stories and enjoyed the balmy evening in the backyard.
As the night drew to a close, Caitlin and her boyfriend headed home, and Auntie invited the crew to Blank Slate creamery, where we savored gourmet ice cream flavors such as Browned Butter Cookie Dough and Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet. The Captain and JJ opted for flights of four flavors each, so as not to miss anything extraordinary.
This day was a wonderful respite from the RV problems. I remain optimistic that after just such a day and finally a full night's sleep, the crew will be ready for what may come our way tomorrow. In the morning we plan to head back to Chicago to tow the RV to a shop in Illinois, where we will await its repair and then continue on our way. Next Captain's Log Previous Captain's Log