January Buzz – The Great Northwest: part 2

Here is the rest of the tale of my northwestern adventure with Kim Barlow and Raghu Lokanathan, continued from the December Buzz.
The second part of our trip, from Whitehorse to Vancouver, started out with a bang – literally. An explosion to be exact. I’ve always imagined the worst happening on airplanes, since I was a kid and I would close my eyes and pray for dear life. This time something actually happened as we were lifting off the tarmac – the engine I was sitting next to exploded and caught fire. Thankfully it happened while we were still on the ground, but nonetheless we were all a bit shaken up.
They towed our plane back to the terminal while we texted and tweeted our ordeal to the world, and they sent us inside to wait for our next plane, a much scarier looking version of the first one. While we waited, Kim pulled out her travel Scrabble set and eventually took a gigantic lead with a triple letter score on “copulate.”
As we walked down the aisle of our second plane, faith was not exactly restored in the passengers as parts of the cabin interior fell down upon us. The pilots swiftly and smartly ordered us all a free drink, strangely welcome at ten in the morning.
Our safe arrival in Vancouver was a very happy event, and just as welcome was the green grass and the t-shirt wearing citizens of the lovely coastal city. Kim, Raghu and I picked up our rental car that was to be our home for the next ten days and began the ritual of packing the trunk with all our gear.
After our Vancouver show, I split up briefly from our little family to play a gig in Armstrong with my P.E.I. comrade, John Connolly. He was heading slowly home from his tour in northern B.C. and had been away from the East for over a month at this point. It was really nice to share a show with John, both of us so far from home. To show up in a totally unfamiliar place and find a good friend waiting with a beer in hand is a very sweet thing.
The next morning, after a brief visit to the Armstrong cheese factory, I waved goodbye to John and headed to the town of Ashcroft. There, on the outskirts of town, I found Kim and Raghu at a beautiful ranch house where we would be spending the night. After that, we began traveling even farther north, and it seemed we were going as far as the road would take us, through snow and ice but always ending each day in an interesting town with fine folks and a show to play.
Once we hit Smithers, we started coming down again, back through Prince George, towards Calgary and Edmonton. I’ve been through the mountains many times now, but they never cease to amaze me, and this time from Valemount to Calgary, we were forced to drive through the mountain pass in the midst of a snowstorm. It seemed like endless hours passed before we made it to level ground and clear roads.
The bitter cold of Calgary and Edmonton at the end of November was shocking, but there’s something in that kind of cold that brings things into focus, as well as making you move swiftly through the icy streets. This was the end of a tour that was unlike any I had been on before. Playing bass and singing on Kim and Raghu’s songs, being part of a family with these people I had barely known before – it’s something I’ll never forget. Now Raghu is settling in with his wife Sophia and their newborn baby, Kim is hiding herself away in the darkness of the Whitehorse winter and I am waiting, as always, for the next thing.

(Originally published in the December edition of PEI’s entertainment monthly, The Buzz.)

From the plane…. not the one that blew up.