What happens when 20 or so musician, artist, free-spirit types climb aboard a limo bus and head to the mountains? Well, in mid-July, I was able to find out.
We met up at the Boat & Ski Club to get our pre-bus drinking started. I may have mentioned this before, but the drinks at the B&S are cheap and boozy. Han & I also thought to bring our own stuff to drink discreetly on the bus. The group was made up mostly of couples, but there were a few singles here and there. The whole thing was organized by the lovely local music maven, Cathryn. She had managed to book a San Diego acoustic invasion at a local Idyllwild cafe, where 4 or 5 acts would play on Sunday afternoon. Her band would play on Saturday with the rest of the performers making guest appearances to help promote the following day’s performance. For the rest of us (non-musicians), we got to tag along for the fun.
On the way up, we played games, chatted and listened to music. I sipped on my drink without much notice and before I knew it, most of it was gone. Not a good sign. We arrived to our huge rental rather late on Friday and noisily unloaded all our stuff from the limo bus. We got familiar with the place, picking our rooms (reminiscent of scenes on “The Real World”) and settled in for some more partying. One couple had arrived earlier having driven themselves since they were coming from another camping trip. That was a great thing because they’d gone to the store and bought food and more liquor. And so we drank. And we talked. And the musicians played. There were jam sessions in the living room and out on the back deck.
There were conversations in the dining room and in the kitchen. And some folks went on to bed, retiring to their tents outside, to their air mattresses in the living room or for the select few, to their bedrooms. (To get a bedroom, you had to pay a little extra). As a whole, everyone in the group knew each other and would probably call anyone else in the group a friend. But it was that beautiful kind of adventure where sharing the experience created a closer bond for almost everyone.
I’m sad to say that I did not monitor my alcohol intake too well and I found myself in the bathroom for a good part of the time that I should have been asleep. : (
In the morning, a group effort was put into breakfast. I think I ate a little bit but I was also nursing a hangover and was just trying to take it easy. Before long, the ‘shuttle’ was starting to take folks down to the cafe. One of Cathryn’s band members lives up there, so he volunteered his big SUV to help transport all of us. Cathryn’s boyfriend was the driver. They were so great about hauling all of us freaks.
Once down at the cafe, we listened to Cathryn, ordered food and more drinks. It was a gorgeous afternoon. The weather was perfect. The food was delicious, the company unbeatable and the music a perfect soundtrack for the setting. The cafe was great (I wish I could remember the name right now!). The kind of place that serves bread with oil and vinegar. Han & I had champagne. I ordered something that I can’t remember because it was overshadowed by what I ordered the next day.
Everyone performed. Cathryn & her band played the most, but everyone else did a couple songs as well. The vibe was just great.
Somehow along the way, we figured out what we would want to have for dinner that night, and decided who would go to the store. We also managed to get ourselves back to the house thanks to the shuttle. Back at the house, the back deck became the place to be. But we had to keep ourselves in check. We had learned that our noisy arrival and late night carousing had caused quite a bit of upset from the neighbors. So we had to set some rules for ourselves. But for the late afternoon, we had more leeway and we took advantage. There were song circles, different folks taking the spotlight while the others played or sang back-up. I wish I could bottle the sense of community, mutual admiration, fun and pure enjoyment that filled that back deck that afternoon.
While music and general merriment was going on, there were other conversations in the kitchen, napping, reading, basic relaxing. That’s another great thing about the whole weekend. Everyone was cool to let each other just do what they needed or wanted to do.
There were a couple or more folks who didn’t realize there would be so much drinking and rabble-rousing, and they were kind of bummed about that, but for the most part, everyone was cool with whatever was going on. As the evening wore on and darkness fell, the group separated into two camps: outdoor and indoor. The outdoor group at first had to be repeatedly policed for the noise level, but soon it was under control. Inside, there was some card game and some other newly invented game of throwing limes into a collander on top of the fridge. Sometimes an errant toss would hurtle the lime against the back window with a loud thud which was hilarious if you were sitting outside and not paying attention. By all accounts, it was also hilarious if you were inside. For my part, I went back & forth just to see what was happening. I had maintained a good amount of moderation so I was just riding the wave. I went to bed relatively early (for the group), tired from the day & night before and needing some sleep.
Sunday morning was a lot like Saturday, although we had to be ready a little sooner since everyone was performing that day rather than just showing up for a couple songs. I spent my morning time cleaning up the kitchen since I was feeling guilty for not having done much of anything to contribute. I washed the dishes and cleaned the counter. I was glad to do it and felt like I had earned my keep so to speak. Then we caught our ride down to the cafe and I found a spot for the day. Han & I again ordered champagne and feasted on the bread. It was another great day, full of music and good cheer. This time it was Han who imbibed a little much. But it was all good. When it was his turn to perform, he went up and did a great job, ending by calling up all the folks from the cabin and having them join him on one of his songs. This was a re-creation of what had happened on the deck the afternoon before. A moment that he calls one of the best of his life, having all of these people sincerely and serenely singing along with one of his songs. It really was a special moment, and they were able to do it again for all the patrons at the cafe. I even was able to get into the act as Cathryn invited me to perform my part on one of her songs. When she recorded her record, she asked me to be part of it, so I wrote an original piece of spoken word and recorded it. Han produced the whole thing and weaved it in so well. So every now and then she asks me to join them on stage to do my spoken word part in her song. It’s always cool and I appreciate when she has me up. (Speaking of poetry and as an aside, another reason this cafe was so cool was that in one of its bathrooms, all of the walls were covered in poetry – mostly Rumi from what I could see.) To eat that day, I had the ravioli and it was extremely delicious, rich but also light, just a perfect combination of flavor. So yummy. I also ordered it for Han who ate it after his set.
At the end of the performance, we made our back to the house and began the clean-up and packing. There was time for some lounging, too, so there was napping and reading and basic kicking back. And of course, there was still some partying going on. With this group, it’s nearly a constant party. Finally, the bus arrived and we loaded our stuff and blew kisses to the neighbors. We did make a stop to take a group photo which was a great idea.
The ride home was pretty mellow, most just talking amongst themselves, reading or sleeping. We stopped along the way for some food and then made our way back to San Diego. Some folks chose to stay at the Boat & Ski for some post-trip celebration, but Han & I decided to head home and call it good.
After we got back, there was some photo sharing, and then everyone (or every couple) got a DVD of the trip that Marcia put together, complete with music. It was so touching and really made a perfect souvenir of the experience. Han & I even teared up a little when we watched it. The whole trip really strengthened the bond between most of us. And now when we see anyone from the trip, there is a little extra excitement, a little more love. And there’s nothing wrong with that.