Friday, January 18, 2019, 2:00 PM
I hate touring in the winter. A projected Snowpocalypse has the media in a frenzy. I’m worried about getting people from four different locations around the country to a gig in Marietta, Ohio, which is about two hours from Columbus. I’m hoping that we won’t get stranded on either end.
One of my crew texts to tell me that his flight from Ft. Myers to Columbus has been canceled. Can you believe that we actually had been able to book him on a direct flight for that route? I get on the phone with St. Roy The Travel Agent to see what we can do.
Roy is a wizard. In minutes he has an alternative itinerary, though it will require a connection in Atlanta. The airport in Atlanta can sometimes shut down due to weather that wouldn’t faze other locales that are better prepared for winter. Roy and I agree that we’ll watch the other flights and touch base later that night.
My phone rings and it’s Roy. As of now all is going as planned, though we both know that can go sideways in a heartbeat. We hope not to speak until Sunday afternoon—at which time everyone should be home.
Saturday, January 19, 1:00 PM
The Gods of Travel are with us and everyone arrives in Columbus without a hitch. We make the two-hour drive to Marietta, which puts us at the theater at 3:00 PM. That’s way too late for my taste, but we’re at the mercy of airline schedules. My crew hauls ass like they always do, and we’re ready for soundcheck by 5:30 PM. Doors at 7:00, support act at 8:00, BOC at 8:45.
Despite the weather forecast, People’s Bank Theatre is sold out and our first show of 2019 is a success. These are serious music fans. The audience is great, the band plays their butts off, and my mix wasn’t too shabby.
Half my stress is over. Now I’m praying to get everyone home safely and sometime before June. I talk with the drivers and we agree that we should make our leave time earlier. They suggest 3:30 instead of 4:45—AM, of course. Ouch. My guys don’t hang around any longer than necessary when it comes to getting home. We agree on a 4:00 AM departure from the hotel. It’s now 11:30 PM, so with a bit of luck I’ll finish my paperwork at the hotel and get to sleep by around 12:30. My alarm is set for 3:30 AM. Business as usual.
Sunday, January 20, 4:02 AM
We depart the hotel in Marietta. The app on my phone says ETA to Columbus airport is 6:01 AM. Most of the road is covered with a hard, icy layer and it’s difficult to tell if there’s black ice. Slow going. We’re rolling at 25 MPH, about 200 yards behind a salt spreader. There’s no point in going any faster.
I’m learning way more about the weather patterns in Ohio than any East Coaster should ever need to know. Here in Marietta it’s 31 degrees, but two hours away in Columbus it’s 17 degrees and the temperature is dropping like a rock. Apparently, Columbus lies along a weather line that divides the area and can be very unpredictable. As we inch our way to Columbus I can feel the wind whipping up, blowing our Sprinter van around like a wind sail. There’s not a soul on the road. The concept of snow plows and salt spreaders in Ohio is nothing like it is in the New York area. When New York deploys heavy equipment, it’s three plows, one in each lane and they simultaneously spread salt. In Ohio it’s a single truck in the center lane. I’m worried that we might not make it to the airport in time for our flights.
Twenty-plus minutes from the airport. It’s still black as night due to cloud cover and there are now some people on the road. Two of my guys take off at 8:10 AM so I’m actually hoping that their flight is delayed a few minutes because I’m not sure they’ll otherwise make it. The guys flying with gear have more time, so we should be okay, even with time allowed for checking bags.
We arrive at the airport and it looks like a morgue. Astonishingly, the guys on the 8:10 departure make their flight. I think I hear the aircraft door hit one of them in the rear end. The rest of us will be okay for the 8:55. Also astonishing: the board shows “On Time” for the entire schedule of flights. Fingers crossed till we’re up in the air.
Our flight is supposed to start descent but there are high winds in the New York area and LGA suspends all landing. We start circling. After about an hour we head down for the runway and we’re on the ground at 11:50 AM. An hour late during the Snowpocalypse?
We dodged a bullet. I’ll take it.