The Casper Mountain Getaway

“Oh crap!” says Pony.

I was perched on one of the dining chairs, working on an arrangement of “Lark of the Morning” (an Irish jig) combined with a Saltarello composed by Galileo’s father, while Pony was sitting on the nearby couch, gazing at her smart phone. 

“What’s up?” I inquired.

It turns out that the weather app on her smart phone had a winter storm warning.  Another arctic blast is due to hit central Wyoming on Friday.  Starting Friday night and continuing into Saturday, Casper is expected to get some 8 inches (or more) of snow, while Casper Mountain is predicted to get as much as two feet of new snow. 

Mind you, Friday is when the RV is supposed to be de-winterized, and Saturday is when we planned to load up the RV, with the further plans to drive down to Denver on Sunday. 

On the plus side (so far!), there is only a 20% chance of snow on Sunday.  But the weather app cannot say anything as yet regarding temperatures or winds on Sunday (I worry about wind just a bit more than the snow, although they are both hazardous enough when navigating an RV and towing a car). 

Contingency plans start with Thursday.  We are loading as much as we can into the RV early (the folks at Sonny’s RV are already expecting us to do something like this, so they won’t be taken by surprise on that score).  Saturday will still be a final load in of guitars and pets, and we will keep fingers crossed that come Sunday we can make our way south (an early start is definitely planned). 

Pony was getting genuinely nervous in contemplating the possible hazards over the next few days.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate the potential hardship.  It’s just that I don’t see anything good to come from panic (or anything that even approaches panic).  Buddha said suffering comes from desiring something other than what is.  To the extent that you can accept things as they are and deal with them, therein lies the possibility of minimizing suffering.

Yeah.  That’s the notion, alright. 

Rufus In A Winter Wonderland

We had another five inches or so of snow over the weekend.  Rufus and I emerged from the cabin this morning to find a nice layer of powder over all.  The winds had died down to a polite breeze and the sun was out in all its glory, the snows shining in reply. 

To look at him, you would not necessarily consider my dog a snow dog.  Although he’s not a small, yippy sort of dog, he is also not so tall or broad as a retriever or a husky.  And he is more a short hair sort of dog than those other breeds.  Still, for all that, it is a wonder to watch him run up and down the hill and go plowing through the drifts.  There is a bank of snow that runs along a stretch of the cabin’s path to the main road where the snow is nearly as tall as me.  It has been Rufus’ crowning achievement (as it were) to leap upon that particular drift without sinking into its depths.  All the while, there is such a pure joy in his manic wanderings through the snow that is wonderful to observe. 

We are in the last week of our sojourn on Casper Mountain.  Come Friday, and the folks at Sonny’s RV will be pulling our Cecilia out of storage and de-winterizing her.  They will fill her with propane, make sure all the tanks and lines are clean and ready, and generally make her ready once again to hit the road.  Throughout the week, whenever weather is most friendly, we will be hauling two or three boxes of supplies out of the cabin and back into town, back into the RV.  By Saturday, we look to be all loaded back in.  The plan is to spend Saturday night in Sonny’s RV park, then to head out first thing on Sunday, back to Denver. 

It has been a good stay on Casper Mountain.  The cabin has its own personality, a reflection of the man who built it.  It is a little like Hogwarts, in that you can turn around and suddenly find another room or compartment that you had not noticed before.  And nearly every room has at least one bookshelf or more.  The books are an eclectic mix, although they lean heavily on issues of philosophy, religion, spirituality and mysticism.  But there are scientific books of all manner as well, and histories and mysteries.  One could spend a good year or more trying to wander through Warren Weaver’s library. 

Getting back on the road, I will remember building fires every day (I finally got the trick of the pot belly stove in the main hall, and even managed one day of reviving the fire from the live coals left from the night before, and did not have to use one stick of wood the whole day; something of an accomplishment and a measure of how far I’d come in learning the finer points of that stove).  I wonder if I will ever get the coal dust out of the lines of my hands.  I will remember having great chunks of time to play the guitar, work on my novel, organize the next leg of our tour, and spend some delicious spans of time sitting in one of the stuffed chairs reading. 

We will leave behind several new friends that we will look forward to seeing again in a few months’ time.  And we are seriously considering doing something like this again next winter.  I’ve got a feeling Rufus would be up for it. 

Wally’s picks of the week.

So now that you know who I am, I’m now going to share my  picks of music for this week.My instrumental choice is “Spinning on a Blue Planet” – written for an injured friend as a promise for recovery and a bright future

and my singer/songwriter choice is “The Land of Remembering When”  – a beautiful tribute to age, anyone with a grandparent will identify with this one.

They’re both HERE at the bottom of the Welcome page too.  I’ll update this every week and you can listen to something new and see what you think.

Cheers Everyone – please enjoy

Who is Wally?

Just in case any of you were confused by posts by Wally appearing in the mix, I thought I should introduce myself.  I am Michael’s number one fan.  I travel with him and send you tidbits that tell you what’s going on.  In America, I am known as Waldo – as in “Where’s Waldo?”  so look for the hidden one with the striped shirt and the glasses and you’ll always find me.   :)

Living for the Weekend

“I’ll have to admit, I was leery of the whole live music thing,” said Lisa.  “But you showed us how good it can be.”

 Lisa and Stefan are the owners of the Trailhead Lodge, where I played last Friday and Saturday night.  Both nights were packed (Friday night had reservations throughout the evening, and I ended up playing for an extra twenty minutes, in honor of a party of eight that had arrived towards the end of the evening for the express purpose of coming to see me). 

It is gigs like this that remind me in a beautiful, vivid way why I love my job.  I played a wide range of stuff: everything from Bach to Hank Williams, with lots in between.  I sold nearly a dozen CD’s over the two nights, met several new fans and friends (including a couple who apparently are determined that I should play for the Art Museum in Casper, come this summer), and, to top it off, got fed some mighty fine fare both nights, as well. 

At the end of Saturday night, Lisa and Stefan talked to us about setting up some future gigs; some in early August (when next we expect to pass through) and again for next winter (because we are thinking that winter on the mountain is, all in all, a pretty good thing).  Given the gypsy lifestyle we have adopted, calling Casper our official home base is as good as anywhere, and I have to say that folks here have made us feel very welcome.

I woke Sunday morning, and the sun was bright and beautiful.  I felt fair to bursting with good, positive energy.  The wind was slow and friendly.  We enjoyed half a dozen days or so of relatively warm weather.  Our room-mate, Trey, had his wife (Pam) and dog (Siska) up for the weekend, so the cabin was full of good conversation, and company (human and canine).  All in all the last few days have  been healing and energizing, leaving me more than ready for the barrage of emails and phone calls I look to unleash upon the world, as I continue to carve out the next leg of our grand tour. 

Two weeks from today, and I will be giving a guest lecture at Arapahoe Community College, where I will be sharing some of the experiences we have had on the road, and many of the lessons learned.  However, that also means that there is much to do between now and then.  It’s busy.  It can be really busy.  But it’s a good form of busy. 

Valentines and Mountain Passes

The Trailhead Lodge is a café on Casper Mountain Road, close to where the road forks.  The right fork proceeds another half mile or so to the path that then leads to the cabin we’ve been calling home for a little over a month, and farther on to the Hogadon Ski Run.  My understanding is that the Trailhead has been known by various names over the years, but the current incarnation is owned and run by a lovely couple from Casper, Lisa and Stefan (with the help of a few family members).  I have visited the Trailhead a few times over the last few weeks (I can particularly vouch for the chicken quesadillas), and have even taken one of the guitars with me a couple of times to pick a tune or two.  As a consequence, I will be performing in a slightly more formal way on Valentine’s Day weekend (Friday and Saturday, the 14th and 15th, from 4:30 to 7:30pm). 

We’ve printed up a few posters.  Our room-mate, Trey, has taken some of them down to town, and also put the word out to various folk he knows.  Although we are still pretty new to the community of Casper, we have also let some folks know.  While we have been treating our sojourn on the mountain as mostly an artist’s retreat of sorts (booking the next leg of the tour, making amendments and improvements to Many Hats Music, Inc., practicing and rehearsing and such), I always look forward to a chance to get out and share tunes. 

The last few weeks have been a healing, rejuvenating experience, with hardly a trace of cabin fever.  It probably helps that we do have room-mates: Trey, plus Rufus and the kitties.  And we manage to get down to town about every 9 or 10 days to replenish supplies and such.  And there is the Trailhead, where I have had the chance to meet other residents of the mountain. 

We communicate with friends via phone and internet (from all over the U.S. and parts of Australia, of course).  They are all asking if I am writing any new stuff.  And I have a few snippets for songs, here and there: a chorus for one, a verse for another, a few titles or working ideas, and the occasional melody or chord progression.   Also, I am taking what I have written in the way of a novel over the last year or so, and transferring it onto the notebook computer (up to now, it has been a growing volume of long-hand script in a ringbinder that also contains several of my lyrics and other ideas waiting to develop).  Pony has introduced me to a writing program called Scrivener, so I am going to see how that may affect my writing efforts. 

The upshot of all of this is that we have talked about the possibility of repeating this experience next year, and it seems that both of us are open to that notion.  Yes, I know plenty of friends and family who might consider this evidence of insanity (on both our parts), but it has been a good season of contemplation and creativity, mixed with just enough winter hardship to give us a little physical challenge. 

In the spirit of the original St. Valentine, I send well-wishes and fond thoughts out to all of our good friends and family.  We look to cross paths with all of you over the months to come.