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|Date:||4/20/2007 5:14:23 PM|
|Subject:||Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles|
Yes I’m home safe and semi-sound. I managed to pack so much into the past two weeks I hardly know where to begin… but I’ll try.
Chapter One--- Greyhound from Florida to Gnashville (or “How to make an 8 hour drive last for 13”)
After nearly 30 years of traveling to G-town, it occurred to me I’d never arrived by bus… so it had to be done… just to satisfy the writer in me I guess. Along the way I watched a marriage breakup, witnessed several drug deals, and heard many hair raising erotic tales from spring breakers returning to all points north. (One guy was beginning a 4 day trip to Reno to start a new life. I kept my hard won opinion of Reno to myself.) I learned to regulate my water intake and never turn down the chance to go to the men’s room. Yes, there are facilities on the buses… but take my word for it, you don’t want to go there.
Vic picked me up at the station at 11:30pm. Thankfully, he brought Mickey’s pistol. I’ve never been so happy to see anyone. He and I decided against visiting any of the “Gentlemen’s Clubs” in that part of town, and instead went directly home to Toni and the safety of home and hearth. As always, being with the Clay’s is as comfortable as slipping on an old pair of Nike’s. And they’ll never know how much I appreciate their hospitality.
Easter lunch with Joanne and Earl was a very special break and it was wonderful to see them. They are well and caring as always. My deepest apologies to all the dear friends and family I didn’t get to see while there. We did little but work and sleep for the next 5 days solid. I could just as well been in Cleveland for all I saw of Nashville this trip. We recorded a small string section on 4 tunes and polished the mixes on all the rest. We slaved away right up to an hour before I was due at the airport. X Lincoln called just as I was headed off to the shower, regaling me with tales of the birthday bash for Waylon I’d missed. X sounds strong and it was good to hear his voice. Off to the airport and I know Vic was glad to see the task-master on his way. He probably went home and crashed for 12 hours. Aside from the arctic blast that swept through middle Tennessee during my stay, it was a heartwarming and fruitful time spent with people I love dearly.
Flying west just ahead of the sun, I munched on a five dollar bag of peanuts I bought at the Nashville terminal, and chuckled to myself at comments overheard concerning the sorry state of air travel. After the bus adventure, it all seemed rather posh to me. Making our way across the Rockies at 39,000 feet, I was able to look down on my former home, and remember fondly my life and friends there. A two hour layover in Salt Lake City afforded just enough time to make my way from the “A” to the “Z” terminal’s, swallow an eight dollar sandwich, and watch the sun set over the beautiful snow capped mountains that surrounded the airport. At long last came the boarding announcement for Eugene.
Everyone here knows I love to fly, and this last leg was a real treat cruising through the crystal clear night, alternating my view from the blanket of stars above to the blanket of manmade stars below. As San Francisco passed off the left wing, my thoughts turned to Ron and the years we had lived so close and had yet to meet. Life is funny that way and I know regret is not productive, but I can’t help but feel a sense of loss at the time of friendship we missed. When the announcement came of our decent into Eugene, it occurred to me that, in at least one way, I was too late. As my bloodshot eyes welled up, I heard myself apologize out loud to Mickey. The 300 pound woman sitting next to me pretended not to hear.
After a flight into Houston last fall, I fully expected my checked bag to be lost. Even prepared for it by slipping my toothbrush and a clean pair of undies in my carry-on. Oh yea of little faith… there it was, pretty as you please revolving on the carousel. I took it as a good omen and headed out the door straight into the embrace of our friend Marty Hall. Like so many in my life, Marty is there because of Mickey. Marty knew Mickey for nearly the same amount of years as I, and, among other kindness’, lovingly helped nurse "The Long Road Home” and “Blue To This Day” albums to fruition. We met face to face for the first time at the Gathering in Perdido, 1999. His caring and generosity has been the driving force behind my current CD project and I will be grateful to him for many life times to come.
Due to the small town nature of Ron’s residence in Gold Beach, Eugene was the logical airline destination in Oregon. But it left a four hour drive ahead so Marty and I cut the conversation short around 1am and got some sleep to prepare for an early start the next morning. We were showered, coffeed, packed, and on our way by 7am. Before heading southwest to Gold Beach, we made our way to Springfield and the beautiful spot where Mickey is laid to rest. I know for some, cemetery visitation is unpleasant. For me it’s a necessary process of completion. Let me simply say, for all those who loved Mickey and have never had to opportunity to visit the site, it couldn't be a more perfectly beautiful and peaceful spot. A small country plot with majestic redwoods and the sound of the McKenzie river in the background… and I’m told, a golf course near by. Flowers were laid, years of memories flashed, and a silent prayer offered. I could still spend hours arguing with Mick that “all is as it should be”. But ultimately, “all is as it is” and I think I finally laid the debate it to rest.
We passed by the old farm house on our way out of Springfield… the infamous motorhome still parked in it’s place next to the barn. Long about then I asked Marty for a coffee stop. He laughed as he took an immediate hard left into the parking lot of a small gas station/market explaining to me that was exactly where Mickey always made the same request, and the brew at this station was just to Mickey’s liking… dark and thick… and so it was.
At Ron’s insistence, Marty and I made our way to Gold Beach via the scenic route. Following the Umpqua River through the mountains and connecting with 101 on the pacific coast southward. It was a typical rainy Oregon day which only added to the stark beauty of the terrain. Our conversation and experimentation with all the many buttons, bells, and whistles to be found in Marty’s new Lexus, made the trip breeze by. (I carefully avoided the “eject” switch on the dash.) I fell in love with the pacific coast many years ago and it was wonderful to see it again. I never fail to identify with Meriwether Lewis’ journal entry upon first sighting… “Oh the joy!”.
Just a couple of miles past the Gold Beach city limits sign, a left is made on Tom Cat Road. A winding narrow lane leading to Ron and Lana’s house nestled at the top of a hill overlooking the pacific and the inlet to the Rogue river. Breathtaking. Though we weren’t late, Ron seemed to have been waiting for us all morning. He was standing at the sliding glass door as we pulled into the drive. The reunion that had prompted this journey was moving. Yes he’s bald and shows some tell tale signs of the battle he is fighting, but he’s sharp as a tack and standing tall with Lana by his side and I was instantly at home. Marty stayed for a while before making the long trek back home. And Ron and I began a three day conversation interrupted only by sleep.
I had a “Driving Miss Daisy” experience when Ron got sick in December. It took that event for me to discover that, aside from my wife, Ron had quietly become my best friend. Being with him again was deeply fulfilling and impossible to fully describe.
The next morning Ron and I got into the car and headed down the coast, stopping at scenic turn-outs, small towns, and winding up in Crescent City California. We had lunch in a café before heading back up 101 for home... and I got my first taste of the Oregon filling station law that requires your gas to be pumped by an attendant. It’s been so many years since I’d seen that service, I almost asked for “high test”.
Back at Tom Cat Road only briefly, we were in the car, Lana at the wheel, headed for Port Orford and a diner named “The Crazy Norwegian's Fish & Chips”… the absolute best fish and chips I’ve ever had… certainly not on Ron’s diet… but what the heck, we only live once.
Ron’s stamina is low and I know the day was long for him, but he seemed energized. By the time we hit the hay that night, we both slept like babies. The next day we took it a bit easier. More conversation, listened to Egbert’s wonderful album, and took a scenic drive up the Rogue river into the surrounding hills. After dinner at home, Ron and I descended down to his studio where we recorded a spot for our radio adventure the next morning. As most of you know, Ron had not been “retired” but a few months before he took on on-air chores at the small local Gold Beach radio station, KGBR. After Ron became sick, his son Sean took over his time slots. Ron is now feeling up to sitting in with Sean for a couple of hours, one day a week… and the next day was to be the kick off.
We pre-recorded a message of thanks Ron had written to the community, his voice strong, and once again, we headed off for some much needed rest.
Walking into the KGBR studio the next morning took me back to my childhood. A favorite uncle of mine owned and operated an AM radio station in South Carolina when I was a child and I spent many hours there. It was a magical place for a kid and KGBR represents the era well. All that was missing was the ever present haze of cigarette smoke so much a part of disc jockey nourishment in those days. Sean was already pulling a shift in front of the mic as we arrived and took our places in the booth. Sean is his fathers son, both in depth of heart and on-air professionalism. And Ron looks on with deep pride as Sean cuts to the top of the hour news feed.
With Ron’s thank you message played, and some discussion between he and Sean about the cancer battle they’ve been waging as a family, they proceeded to play cuts from my album and interview me, with oldies thrown in between the conversation to fill our 2 hour time slot. I watched in awe the master at work.
“KGBR Gold Beach and you’re listening to the Ron Lyons program”. After 52 years of experience, he could do it in his sleep, but it was a joy to witness and be a part of Ron’s return to the airwaves.
‘Nuff said, it was a magical experience.
We ate that evening at a local Mexican café… once again, not exactly in Ron’s diet. The fact that my trip was coming to an end began to tug at the backside of my thoughts. Ron and Lana had an appointment the next morning in Eureka, a 3 hour drive, and would be leaving out before I was. The three of us sat up and crammed in as much visiting that night as we practically could. While Lana and I have not had quite as much time together as Ron and I through the years, she is truly a part of my extended family and I can report that she is facing up to the situation as well as Ron. And I always enjoy my time and straight-forward conversation’s with her. We all laughed a lot on this visit and will hold on to that through whatever is to come.
So, how is Ron you might ask at this point in the story? Well, he’s enjoying a good period. In spite of the fact that there is a battle being waged in his body, one that current medical treatment cannot fight in a meaningful way, he has been given a rare gift. He’s pain free, surrounded by an exceedingly loving family, and mentally able to take advantage of the opportunity this period brings. Hard to ask for more under the circumstances.
“So long’s” were said early the next morning and I was left alone in the home at the top of the hill to ponder the visit until my ride was expected around noon. I’ll admit I was falling into a somber mood as I stared out from their kitchen at the incredible “million dollar view” it affords of the pacific coast. Circumstance couldn’t have provided a better antidote I was to discover, when the car carrying the Newbury girls arrived to pick me up and ferry me back up north.
The trip to Eugene can be done in 3 and a half to 4 hours. We took just over 6 that beautiful day. Being around Laura and Leah is a witness to the quality of their raising. They are sisters and best friends and completely full of life. We had ourselves a true blue adventure driving up the coast that day. We laughed, listened to music, shared memories about their dad and ended up hiking up to the Heceta Head Lighthouse. I cannot express the joy I feel having these two in my life, nor the honor I feel having been welcomed into their world.
There is a wonderful mix of both their dad and their mom in each of them. In this instance I can truly believe, “all is as it should be”. They delivered me back to Marty’s care just in time for dinner that night. We shared a glass of wine and spoke of the Lyon’s… and my excellent adventure… but it wasn’t over yet.
The next day was spent with Marty, his wonderful lady Kathy, and friend Michael McDonald, seeing the sights of Eugene. Michael is a sound engineer and was involved in many of Mickey’s recordings… and has stories of his own to share. He’s also one of the most gentle and kindhearted men you’ll ever have the privilege of meeting. Marty had an open house to attend involving a property he has helped develop, so we all tagged along… feeling duly qualified as the avid HGTV watchers we all were. Michael and I sat in the back of the Lexus, playing with a whole new set of buttons, chatting away like kindred spirits about music, engineering and aviation. We all ended up in Marty’s back yard, a little slice of nature, watching the squirrels, ducks, raccoons, and Koi feed until around 7pm when Laura came to fetch me once again. Off we went back to Springfield and the Hunsaker household.
Sunday is a long day for the faithful. Still, Susie and Jim went out of their way to make time in their day to come visit. I can’t tell you what that means to me. I won’t belabor the point, but it’s always a special time to get to be with Susie. And what a treat to get to see Karen Runk as well. We munched on pizza and veggies and caught up on the time past since the last Gathering.
Stephen was there briefly and once again I was left with the feeling that there is a deep well there I need to tap someday. After Susan, Jim and Karen said their good-byes, Laura, Ryan and I spent some quality time swapping licks in their spare bedroom/recording studio. Let me tell you, Ryan, as they say in the Carolinas, has been “wood-sheddin’ “ like mad on Mickey’s songs and playing style. And Laura Shayne is definitely ready for an album project of her own.
Mick would be so pleased.
I was also reunited with Mickey’s carved guitar and we had a good long chat together. Having it in my lap again, memories flooded back to times and adventures past. By the time Laura returned me back to home plate, I collapsed into a coma… which was a good thing as it was the last bed I’d see for two solid days.
Nursing a cup of coffee the next morning, Marty told me matter of factly, he had some loose ends to tie up at the office for an hour, after which we were going to drive up to McMinnville Oregon to visit the “Spruce Goose” aviation museum before I was to fly out that evening. Just a perfect example of how thoughtful and accommodating he is. He had overheard a conversation Michael and I had on the subject in the back seat the day before, and had decided just that morning to surprise me with one last Oregon adventure. I might add he has absolutely no interest in the subject and while I tried to be an informative docent, he nodded off a bit in the I-Max theater… but never once complained. What a guy.
My flight out of Eugene was a “red eye”… beginning with a short hop to Portland, a long hop to Atlanta where I made the final connecting flight, putting me into Nashville at 8am. Toni met me there and pushed aside all the many things on her plate that day to help me stay awake and pass the time until my bus left the station at 4:15 that afternoon. (Thanks Tone… I owe you.)
A “red eye” bus trip has a distinctly different flavor than a flight… especially back to back. When night falls, don’t find your self in the back of the bus. A couple decided to start a family in the seat behind me which sent me scrambling to the front to find an empty seat to nod off in peace. Otherwise the 16 hour ride home was much like the ride up with a notable exception for Newbury lovers. I found myself at 2am with two and a half hours to kill in the Mobile Alabama Greyhound station.
“Put me on that dog and take me away”… indeed.
A fitting end to my adventure I guess.
| Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles by Jonmark at 4/20/2007 5:14:23 PM|
| Re: Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles by Karen R at 4/20/2007 6:13:19 PM|
| Re: Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles by Joey L. at 4/20/2007 6:34:19 PM|
| Re: Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles by Lib at 4/20/2007 6:37:23 PM|
| Re: Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles by MrBeve at 4/20/2007 6:38:26 PM|
| Re: Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles by Doug at 4/20/2007 7:57:46 PM|
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| Re: Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles by San Diego at 4/20/2007 7:58:34 PM|
| Re: Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles by BarbraG at 4/20/2007 9:26:11 PM|
| Re: Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles by Jackie at 4/20/2007 9:54:45 PM|
| Re: Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles by andrew p at 4/21/2007 6:46:05 AM|
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| Re: Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles by DIana Jones at 4/22/2007 9:08:38 AM|
| Re: Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles by Ginny G. at 4/22/2007 10:27:09 AM|
| Re: Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles by Lee F. at 4/22/2007 3:05:38 PM|
| Re: Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles by Jonmark at 4/22/2007 4:55:13 PM|
| Re: Planes, Greyhounds & Automobiles by margaret miller at 4/23/2007 11:15:44 AM|