· By Mike Lewis
6 Days, 5 Vehicles, 1 Band
In early June, we were getting ready to go on tour (yes, Emery still tours). Two days before the tour, the shop where our bus was being worked on found a cracked head gasket. For those who know nothing of automobiles...that ain’t good. So with no fifteen passenger vans available to rent, we decided to take our old fifteen passenger van, which had close to 300K miles on it. Toby took it to a local shop to get it worked on the day before we were supposed to leave. After a routine checkup, they said I wouldn’t trust it to go twenty miles. The tranny is gonna go. Toby said a big eff you, and squealed out.
Being the badasses that we are, we decided to go for it. I mean, surely the van could make it about 2K miles, over the rocky mountains, all the way from Nashville to Seattle without any significant issues, right?
We were looking good until about halfway between Lawrence, Kansas and Denver, Colorado when the van decided to stop changing gears. We pulled off an exit and barely made it into a Love’s parking lot. We hopped out and saw all of the transmission fluid pouring out. That. Was. That. Being about two hundred miles from our show that night created a bit of a dilemma. There was no car rental locations anywhere near us, we had no ride, our pets heads were falling off. It was just bad. We make a few calls with no resolution, so we start asking people at the truck stop if they are headed in our direction. No luck. There was one guy who seemed willing, but his girlfriend apparently didn’t want a bunch of strange, old dudes riding with them for a couple hundred miles. We finally managed to track down a Uhaul rental service about thirty miles back. The tow company offered to give us a ride there, so a couple of us headed there while the rest unloaded the van. About an hour later, the Uhaul pulled up to the truck stop. We tossed everything into the back of the truck, said goodbye to our old friend Martin Van Buren, and hit the road. Oh yeah, did I mention that three of us were in the back of the Uhaul? That’s one little detail we won't forget.
We pulled up to the venue a few hours later, and about ten minutes until our VIP acoustic set was supposed to start. Somehow, we managed to load in and get started about twenty minutes later. The show was awesome. Denver rocks. The next morning, Toby went to get a rental minivan about 6:30 am. We returned the Uhaul and set out on our way. Six grown men in a Toyota Sienna packed to the gills. Splendor.
The next day, we decided to take a look at a new bus we found on Craigslist. Luckily, it was just outside Boise, Idaho where we were playing that night. After we set up for the show, four of us rode up to the middle of nowhere Idaho to take her for a test drive and look it over. A mennonite family owned the bus and had planned to convert it into an RV, but they changed their minds and decided to sell. Once we confirmed the bus was worth purchasing, we made an offer. They accepted. They also asked us where we would spend eternity. Luckily, we were on the same team...sorta.
So, off we go. Two people in the new bus, and the others in the minivan. We decided to keep the van until our last show, just in case our bus wasn’t quite as dependable over the Snoqualmie pass leading into Seattle. But, we made it. Both vehicles in one piece.
We were tired, worn out, slightly more jaded, and even more grizzled. I tell you this story for one reason...it’s easy to give up. It’s easy to miss a show. It’s easy to quit. But it’s hard to succeed. It’s hard to make it through sometimes. But when you do, you learn from it. You’re stronger than you were before. Touring isn’t often glamorous, it can be downright shitty. But once you’re not afraid to sort through the shit, you will be better for it.