We both went to work on Tuesday, wishing we could have stayed at home and been jumpy there instead. No real reason to be, the train was right on time.
The first night was a little rough. The tracks between Osceola and Denver are not the best. I would sleep wonderfully for awhile, and then be shaken awake.
We woke up not too far outside of Denver. I took a look outside and got a bit of the beginning of the serious scenery. Lizzie was in the top bunk. I quietly said "Lizzie, you might want to look out the window." I don't know if I have ever seen her move that fast. Lizzie loves mountains, and we were surrounded by them, although, even being up as far as we were, the big peaks were still quite a ways away. That would be taken care of soon enough.
A quick aside about food on the train. All meals are part of the room but eating them can be daunting. The train is only still when it's not going anywhere. The rest of the time, no matter how smooth the track, things are moving. As is your food and drink.
It's after the train leaves Denver that things get really interesting. Over the next couple of hours the train climbs to 9,239 feet going through the Moffat Tunnel.
The view back to Denver is spectacular. The view in all directions is spectacular. You are surrounded by massive peaks, before the tunnel the tracks went up close to 12,000 feet.
This trip was the first time that I had a bit of altitude sickness. The altitude at Moffat made my head pound. Lizzie, on the other hand, did pretty well both ways. This after it being the other way around going out to Seattle a couple years ago.
The trip along the Colorado River was breathtaking, figuratively and in reality (I had problems the entire trip). There are miles and miles of just the train and the river. I love that there are picnic tables out in the middle of nowhere for people going down the river.
We slept through most of Utah and woke up heading into the Sierra Nevadas. They are a very different sort of mountains.
Gorgeous and green, unlike the rockies which are gorgeous and grey and brown.
There is one area that was a teensy bit grim. Along a few miles there are the remains of several cars that have gone off the road. Slightly scary, thinking we may be driving that road next year.
Donner lake is astonishingly beautiful. Maybe the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The train passes quite aways above it, and the view of the lake is astonishing. I am sad to say that we didn't go through Donner Pass during mealtime either way.
Going into Emeryville, the train passes by several large waterways. So many large ships. We got a brief look at one of the mothball fleets.
And then we were there. Christina M. O'Halloran picked us up from the station. We got in in time to get a shower (well needed after two days on the train, I don't fit the showers terribly well), and then off to dinner with folks from the Con.
I hardly remember who was there, I was still in kind of a blank mental state after two days on a moving train and altitude sickness. I ended up sitting outside for awhile, which felt wonderful after two days in a small room, and after a hard winter here.
We got up early to head out with Kathy Mar and Shawna Jacques to see some of the sites. Redwoods … really … that is all I need to say. I have seen redwoods. One was right on the path, so I was able to touch a redwood. Theses were the tiny trees. Only 15-20 feet wide at the base … that's all. I have wanted to see redwoods my entire life.
We went across the bridge in the fog. We saw Golden Gate Park.
We had lunch next to the ocean (it was too rough of a day to walk down to it though). We saw a bit of the famous streets. We needed so much more time, more time without me being so burned out.
The con really began Friday night. We went down to a meet and greet which was actually a thank you party for Dr Jim, who was retiring from helping running the con. It was lovely meeting him, I have heard so much, heard so many of his songs.
And I looked across the room, and there was Judi Miller. "Lizzie". "What?" It's Judi. She was assaulted by GOHs.
The concerts that night were Blind Lemming Chiffon and Tim Griffin. I've seen Lemm so many times, and he did not disappoint. His filk of The Girl That's Never Been, as always, brought about genuine laughter, nervous laughter, and finally tears. It is one of the most powerful pieces in filk.
I had not seen Tim Griffin before, but I had heard a lot about him. His songs veer from serious to funny to kids songs and back again. Lucy On The Line is as great of a song as I have ever heard. I'm listening to it now on You Tube. I may have to stop writing for awhile.
We hosted one of the song circles that night. Oddly enough, it was mostly people we already knew.
We had a panel/workshop about getting ready for your first stage performance. Well attended and generally well received. I went back to the room for a bit to get some more rest, we had a busy day in front of us.
I saw some of Kathleen Sloan's performance. I have seen her many times and she never disappoints. Engaging, evocative, charming, she is one of our best.
Then Jela Schmidt. One of those folks who, as soon as you meet them, you know they are an old friend. Nobody made me laugh as hard, and then tear me apart, that weekend. Her songs, her stage patter, are very dark. She had me in tears on at least one song. One of the best songwriters and performers I have seen in the last year or two. Someone we have to spend more time with.
I went back to the room to relax before our show. Lizzie and Shawna went out to dinner.
We played a long show, about an hour twenty. Shawna sang harmony on a couple of songs. Judi was over there stage right signing. I made the mistake of looking once. Fortunately it was a song I didn't have to think about too much, so I didn't get completely lost in what she was doing. Judi, thank you for being part of our show, as I have said many times, anytime we are on a stage, there is room for you there too.
We had our first encore.
Oh, and this was show #100. We looked at the schedule late last year, and realized with things as they were planned, it worked out perfectly. 100 shows as Cheshire Moon.
We hung out into the evening, but didn't play anymore that night.
We slept late, went over for middle eastern food and Lizzie went to be crafty!
I wandered around a bit, caught some of the 2X10 sets. Several great performers.
At 2 was Jeff & Maya Bohnhoff's CD release concert. I am a fan, have been for years. I prefer their originals to their parodies. This CD is all original. I have had a chance to listen to it since and it's stunning. The concert was stunning. Jeff continues to amaze me as a guitar player. Maya, as always, was in gorgeous, powerful voice. Their daughter, well, everyone says that she sounds just like her Mom and I disagree. There are similarities, but she is her own voice, and I think will prove to be one to be reckoned with as time goes along.
The rock jam was silly, as these things are inclined to be. Tim covered the Georgia Satellites, and I had to step up with the Toyboat version of Banned From Argo, seeing as how I based it on Keep your Hands To Yourself.
Lynn Gold took us to dinner at an Afghan place. I'm still recovering from eating too much.
We came back for the Dead Dog circle, and stayed up as long as we could.
A large part of the weekend for us was hearing a lot of voices we had not heard before. There were a lot of songs that I knew, but had never heard the folks who wrote them perform them.
Friday night we knew most of the folks in circle, we didn't stay long Saturday, after doing a show. The Sunday circle was amazing. We're planning on coming back out summer of 2017, and we have to play a show with several people who were there.
We got up darn early to get to the train station. Thank you Christina for taking such good care of us.
We had upgraded our room, so we were on the bottom level in the family room. SO much more room than anything we had been in before. Very comfortable, and windows on each side.
It's a pleasant trip up into the mountains, it didn't get really spectacular until we went through the tunnel into the Donner Lake area. We came out into a gorgeous snowstorm. Not a lot, just enough to make everything soft focus and lovely. Once again, the altitude bugged me, but less so overall than on the trip there.
We woke up heading towards the Colorado River. It's odd, there are two different landscapes on either side of the train. One is large bluffs, and the other side the beginnings of the serious mountains.
Once again a lot of wildlife, but my favorite was a bald eagle sitting on a rock in the middle of the river. Just sitting there. I'm thinking he was scoping out the fish for lunch later.
One of the themes of the trip was improvisation on the train. We didn't play a lot, but we came up with great stuff, and definitely a couple of future songs due to these improvs. I even picked up Lizzie's mandola at one point. And we got some applause from our neighbors.
By the time we got to Winter Park, the altitude started getting to me again. 9000ish feet is a bit much. But, once again we came out of a tunnel, this time the Moffat, into snow.
The descent into Denver was gorgeous. A very different view now that the sense of discovery was gone. There are a few places where we backed away from the windows and looked out rather than down.
We repacked everything that needed it that night, knowing we would have little time to do that in the morning.
And so the trip came to a close. We pulled into the station right on time, after a really rough night. The tracks between Denver and Osceola are rough, as I said above. Neither of us slept well.
There are so many to thank.
First, even though they won't read this, Roland and Ralph, the two sleeping car attendents, who did so much for us.
Christina O'Halloran - For picking us up at the train station and driving us to and from the hotel ... in rush hour both times. You should get hazard pay (for us, not the rush hour)
Lynn Gold - For dinner, instrument search and wonderful company.
Jeff Bohnhoff - For the loan of one of his glorious Taylor Jumbo Guitars!
Kristoph Klover - For wonderful live sound, and for being the amazing performer that he is!
Tim Griffin, for some of the kindest words ever said about us. For being an amazing Toastmaster, an incredible songwriter and for bringing his Uncle Larry
Kathy Mar - For taking us around Friday, and just for her warm, supporting presence the entire weekend. You mean so much to so many of us.
Alan Thiesen - For meeting up with us at OVFF and letting us know what was going on, and for your support at the con!
John O'Halloran - For the wit and silliness
Jela Schmidt - For being fabulous!
Shawna Jacques - For being such a dear friend, and for getting up and singing with us!
Judi Miller - Like we have to give any reasons, everyone who may read this will know already.
Bill & Carole - For being so sweet, and for coming so far with their art.
Scott Snyder - For the Mando envy
Kathleen Bode - For being the Interfilk Goddess! And for her skill on a stage.
Blind Lemming Chiffon - I've ranted about your filk of the Vixy song, I will again. You are one of our best.
And to everyone who greeted us with smiles, laughter, applause, and who came into our odd little world for a little while Saturday night. Thank you, thank you so much.
p.s. If I forgot to mention you, comment here and make fun of me, it's still all kind of a blur.
This was originally posted on Dreamwidth, after which it wandered out to various other sites. Feel free to reply where ever you want. I should still see it.