Sunday, November 29, 2009

Last Tour Drive

Breakfast was better than I thought it would be. Well, coffee is really what it takes— and they had that by the bucket, so good. Now we're out on the last big run of this Tour, Bow Island, Alberta to Winnipeg, Manitoba. I've got to return the truck to the dealer in the morning, file an insurance claim to cover the damage done by Grill Bill. It looks to me that the whole, one piece front end of the truck will need to be replaced. Who would of thought that a bird could do that kind of damage? We didn't think the grill or the hood was actually broken. It'll be a mess for the body shop guys who end up fixing it. I'm glad I spent the extra $16 to upgrade my insurance coverage for rental vehicles. But here we go... the Caravan is pointed east.

So many roads. This trans-Canada Highway has many faces. Mostly pretty, and sometimes dangerous. For the most part we drive pretty cautiously. Over three months of driving we've only made a few really long hauls like the one we are making today. We set the cruise control, watch our mirrors, check our tires. It's all about arriving alive.

I don't have to wonder how much we've spent on gasoline on this Tour. The spreadsheets spell it out pretty clearly. At least we're doing better than we were last year when gas reached $1.40 per litre. I've been reading Jeff Rubin's book about oil and economy— and I'm largely convinced by his arguments. For sure, it's going to get much more expensive to do this road thing. It's a little scary as my working life depends upon national— if not global— mobility. As it is, I'm going to refine Tour revenue structure to more accurately reflect oil prices. Overall the Tour has suffered from an increasing difference between gross and net. In other words, the percentage of our income that we lose to non-discretionary expenses is growing. Most of this jump is directly related to transportation levies. I've managed this somewhat by increasing the number of Tour stops to maximize return on the distances. But clearly the bleeding continues and must be mitigated.

Not much talking on this run. The cd collection was left in Winnipeg along with Dave's suit— you did notice he wasn't wearing a suit on the last show? Dave and I sit, lost in our own thoughts. I know this feeling. It's the same at the end of each of these Tours. This life becomes so routine that it is hard to leave it. But we are tired. Very tired now. It is time.

The blog is way behind. I've promised to try to bring it up to date as soon as possible, but this is going to take a while. The whole legal drama with the person who shall not be named just sucked so much pleasure and energy out of the Tour. I spent a lot of time dealing with that, and not updating the blog. As our lawyer, Paul Sanderson said, at least we have enough profile now that people notice us. I am not going to discuss specifics, as this matter has been settled, but our right to perform under our own, legal names was questioned, and a legal action was launched to try and shut down the Tour. Obviously, we persevered— with the expert assistance of Paul Sanderson and Richard Flohil— but I can't begin to describe how draining the whole experience was. Thank goodness for all the really wonderful, thoroughly decent and outstanding human beings we met each day on the Tour.

Doing 104 shows pretty much means that we've met 104 presenters, enjoyed their hospitality, and have worked with them to make the shows a success. Nearly all the presenters were great to work with, and indeed Dave and I have come to regard many of these as personal friends. A lot of times presenters are the unsung heros of the music business. They take chances, work their tails off to bring in shows, but don't take the applause at the end of the night. Mind you, some of them take in a good pile of money by the end of the night— but most are ordinary, music loving folks, who also have expenses to pay when all is said and done. And how about all the other friends up and down the line who have helped us along? Folks who took us to their homes, treated us to meals and coffee at their tables. Folks who packed us lunches, gave us cds, helped us in airports, gave us tours of their communities... Folks who went out to their way to help us bring a show to their town, and who did their best to make us comfortable during our stay... I bet I owe about 150 people thank you notes. We don't expect such hospitality, but it really makes Tours like this one possible. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You know who you are, and so do I. Merci. Thank you.

This long, prairie drive will come to a close in another hour or two. As it happens I'll be on a flight to Calgary in the morning. From there it will be a bus to Enderby, BC. Yup, I'll be picking up my new Lincoln and driving it back across these same roads! Crazy, eh? I was hoping to drive east via Chicago, but I don't think I can take the car over the border with its temporary, transit sticker. It will be an interesting ride anyway. I'm flying my 12 year old son, Alasdair, to Kelowna. He's going to ride home with me, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing him.

I drop Dave at his home in Winnipeg. Big hug. Handshake. I'm off to my hotel at the airport.

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