Updated: Jul 21, 2019
Day 14: Wyandot Service Plaza, Ohio to Rochester, New York
We rose at first light, at 0530 hours. Knowing the Captain does not normally awake at that hour, I gave periodic updates to our departure time to motivate him to wake. "Estimated time of Departure: 30 minutes," and so on. I decided early on that I would not give any of the crew, and especially not the Captain, any special treatment when it came to successfully meeting our schedules. I would give the necessary information, and it would be each individual's responsibility to do their part to make it happen. I believe this manner of sharing the responsibility has helped us avoid feelings or projections of guilt and blame during the journey so far. We succeeded in refueling and leaving the area by 0620 hours, only twenty minutes behind schedule. We soon realized that none of us had remembered to let the Ugly Bear out to relieve herself, and added this to the pre-departure checklist.
Molhy and Magoon rested on the couches while I navigated the Captain toward and through downtown Cleveland, where we encountered a surprisingly low amount of traffic at 8am on a Monday. Once we cleared the city and its suburbs, there were no more directions to be given for over two hundred miles as we followed I-90 East toward Rochester. I cross-referenced our route into downtown Rochester to our venue with the TruckMap application I had obtained in Chicago to avoid low-clearance bridges. After confirming that we were on a safe route, I switched navigational duties with Magoon and rested for the remaining few hours of the drive. While I did not fully awaken until we arrived at the venue, Magoon later informed me that despite my assurance of clearing any bridges we might encounter, entry into Rochester gave her and the Captain some anxiety as the bridges appeared quite low. We learned after arriving that unmarked bridges in the state of New York are all over 14 feet high. Also while I slumbered, Megan restrained Ugly Bear from begging for food as the Captain ate a sandwich. As the sandwich diminished in size, so Ugly Bear's insistent squirming and whining increased in intensity, to Magoon's great amusement.
By the time we arrived for the Spectrum TV interview at Abilene Bar & Lounge (Rochester's original honky tonk), the gasoline tank had precious little fuel in it. We were on time, however, and this was also our venue for the evening. We had one hour to load in our equipment and freshen ourselves up. McRage, who had flown ahead to Rochester several days prior, reunited with us upon our arrival. We happily greeted each other and were introduced to his mother, who was overjoyed to have us in town and experience our performance.
Bill, an extremely generous gentleman who had known Megan since she was a child, had brought sandwiches to the venue so that we would not have to perform hungry. Bill was also Magoon's de facto manager in the Rochester area - he was responsible for arranging our Happy Hour show for the evening at Abilene Bar & Lounge, along with the Spectrum TV spot. Magoon and I changed clothes and I used dry shampoo for the first time in the large personal restroom on the second story, the Captain and Molhy changed in the Tour Loaf, and McRage handled most of the stage setup since he was already fresh.
The TV interview consisted of some questions for Magoon, and a song played by the band. It was quickly and expertly run by the Spectrum TV cameraperson, Mike. Next, the Captain, Molhy, Magoon and I drove the RV to its home for the next several days: the driveway of Claire, childhood friend of Magoon. McRage broke off from the group to spend more time with his mother - they planned to meet us back at the venue at the appointed time. We had learned after St. Louis to avoid driving the Tour Loaf in the dark, especially in cities, and more especially after performances. At Claire's home, we met up with Bill and had several hours of rest before returning to the venue. I sequestered myself in a bedroom to catch up on correspondence that I had delayed over the past week: my composition instructor, Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner, a partner and inspiration for an upcoming composition, and a former coworker who I intended to meet up with during our Rochester stay.
At 1600 hours, we left the house with Bill to return to the Abilene Bar & Lounge. In order to leave the Tour Loaf at its station while we went to our performance, Bill had volunteered to shuttle us to the venue, and Claire to bring us back to the house afterwards, with the gear going into McRage's vehicle. On the way to the venue, we stopped by High Falls in downtown Rochester to witness the unusual vision of nature and city so closely intertwined. We arrived back at Abilene with plenty of time to socialize with Magoon and McRage's family and friends as they arrived for the Happy Hour performance.
We played from 1730 to 2015 hours, taking a break halfway through to socialize and regroup. The audience response was extremely enthusiastic, with concertgoers purchasing our music and t-shirts even before the show had begun. McRage's audience faction was particularly ardent, cheering rowdily whenever he was mentioned in Magoon's comments from the stage, and leading a chant of "JJ! JJ! JJ!" after our final number. It was a joy to witness McRage and Magoon with their old friends and family. Among those present was Claire's husband Zach, to whom Molhy, the Captain and I were promptly introduced.
By a near miss, the next activity could have been axe throwing. McRage and his friends knew of a place to partake in such an activity just around the corner from the venue, but balked at the price ($20 for an hour of axe throwing). I was sorely disappointed at this missed opportunity, but neither did I look forward to throwing axes alone for an hour, so I resigned myself to the unanimously decided alternative activity: post-show frozen custard and ice cream at Lugia's. Magoon had been mentioning Lugia's since Day 1. Her fervent recommendations were not unfounded! The frozen custard, mysteriously similar in looks to regular soft serve ice cream, was creamier and more delicious than any I have tasted. The Captain agrees. Claire has a large white dog named Xena. Her instructions for greeting Xena were very particular, and very important since the crew planned to share Xena's home for the next several days. We were not to look at her or acknowledge her presence for the first twenty-four hours. We were to allow her to sniff us, but we were not to show any interest in her, nor look her in the eye. If we did so, Claire assured us that Xena would gradually gain confidence around us and become comfortable approaching. This proved difficult, as Xena is a gorgeous animal. We did our best to avert our eyes and feign disinterest when she approached us, though, and so far it seems to be effective. At least, she is not shying away from us. Claire wisely paired Xena's introduction to a group of new humans with one of the dog's favorite treats: ice cream. She wolfed down the custard at lightning speed. The Ugly Bear eyed the bigger dog warily and stayed near or on top of the Captain. She stood her ground when Xena approached to sniff her, and made her displeasure apparent with low growls if Xena lingered more than strictly necessary.
We said goodbye to McRage for the evening and headed back to Claire's residence, where Xena attempted to play with Ugly Bear and Ugly Bear continued her intermittent low growl and occasional high bark. Neither dog knows what to make of each other yet, but I feel confident that they will reach a kind of indifference if not congeniality with each other in the coming days. Claire fed us hearty vegetable pizza for a late evening meal, and after chuckling at the dogs and socializing a bit with Zach and Claire, we slept.