Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday, June 29, 2013, 10:02 p.m.
I had fun today. Tidioute is a charming little town hard by the Allegheny River, too small for my atlas but big enough to have a nice clientele filing in and out of the Hummingbird Café to watch me play songs and do a little reading from my novel, The Audacity of Dope.
I think I’m just going to make the long drive home tomorrow. I thought about knocking around Morgantown, W.Va. I thought about catching a minor-league baseball game in Salem, Va., but it would be tough and a bit out of the way to get there in time. Right now I think I’m going to take little Alex, my unofficial grandson, to see the Greenville Drive later this week.
If I had it do over, I would have caught the Pittsburgh Pirates’ eighth consecutive victory – it just ended about 10 minutes ago – but I played music until there wasn’t anyone left to listen and would have had a hard time making it to the game at PNC Park on time. It was sold out, but I’m fairly sure I could’ve found a single ticket somewhere. Also, it was raining fiercely north of Pittsburgh. I checked into a motel south of the city and attempted to watch the NASCAR race, which, naturally, was rained out.
Some gotta win, some gotta lose (Goodtime Charlie’s got the blues).
Now I expect I’ll be rumbling across wild, wonderful West Virginia tomorrow, trying to keep my bearings straight with Siri’s assistance and trying to tune the race on AM radio. My truck has Sirius XM, but my truck is in the garage at my house, where my nephew is house-sitting.
It still was a good day. I got up this morning in Warren, Pa., and managed to do a good bit of rehearsing in the room before I set out for Tidioute. I wasn’t scheduled to play until 2 p.m., but I got there by noon and played some covers for the people who were there for lunch. Then I stopped and had lunch (a reuben and fries) before playing.
I apologize for not knowing last names. Grady runs the place. He’s a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, N.C. Pat is a fine, elderly gentleman who shares my love of the Boston Red Sox. Gail looked me up on Youtube before coming. I played a little Robert Earl Keen and Jerry Jeff Walker just for her, but I didn’t know she was a Parrothead until I saw the license plate on her van out front. I’d have played some Buffett. They all were there at the beginning and stuck with me till I finally packed up and left at about 4. The Hummingbird is a small place, but there was a good crowd for the whole time. Most everyone seemed to like my country/folk repertoire. I even played a gospel song I wrote, mainly because one lady kept scowling at me and I noticed she and her apparently significant other locked hands and prayed before they ate. I figured a gospel song might make her perk up … and I was right.
I sold some books, received some tips, ate lunch for free and hit the road, which wound up being the most complicated part of the day. About five miles out of Tidioute, a lady with a bright-yellow vest flagged me down and told me there was a wreck up ahead and the road was impassable. I spent the next 15 minutes on dirt roads, all the while driving Siri crazy. I didn’t think I was ever going to reach I-80, which I was only on for about 20 minutes. Then it was down I-79 to yet another thunderous rainstorm and scant visibility.
I’ve been gone since June 21. I went to Winchester and Chantilly, Va., Baltimore, Md., and I’m still in Pennsylvania after stops in West Chester, New Hope, Langhorne, Harrisburg, Somerset, State College, Warren, Tidioute and (presently) Pittsburgh. I’d have liked to spend more time stopping off at little bookstores, but the trip was pretty hectic as it was.
Now I want to get home, where there’s certainly grass to cut, bills to pay and some kind of sensor to be installed in my weary Honda, which has gotten 34, 33, 30 and 32 miles per gallon in fill-ups to date. The trip is going to top 2,000 miles by the time I roll back into the garage and give my beleaguered blue Accord a long-overdue rest.
I hope the Honda sticks with me like Grady, Pat and Gail did.