It’s rare, but once in a while when I’m on the road I get to see something cool. One instance I recall was in June 2007 when we were doing a show in Rothbury, Mich. A runner had picked up the crew to take us from the hotel to the venue for load-in, and we were talking baseball during the ride. The driver mentioned that their friend—also a big baseball fan—had a “little” baseball museum in their house, which happened to be on the way to the venue. Next thing you know, we were invited to their home to see a baseball museum that rivaled Cooperstown.
We were a little late for load-in, but I made no apologies.
Other highlights include visits to Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower (thanks Chris), and the Crazy Horse Memorial—which, by the way, absolutely dwarfs Rushmore.
We’ve played Alaska more than a few times, (most recently in 2014), and this past weekend we went there again, for a show at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. It was a one-off. Ouch. Elapsed time from when I left home until we arrived at the hotel was something like 18 hours, which included two flights and a four-hour layover. Sometimes airline schedules really stink.
Show day was quite leisurely compared to our usual breakneck schedule: 11:00 AM load-in, 3:30 PM soundcheck, and show at 6:00 PM. We had a great show. The place was packed, the crowd was enthusiastic, and even the weather cooperated, sparing us the rain consistent with the local forecast of the past weeks and allowing the sun to make an appearance right around show time. By 8:15 PM the crew was ready to head back to the hotel in Anchorage. It made more sense to stay near the airport because the next morning our flight was at 6:00 AM and we’d need to be at the airport around 4:15 AM. Did I already say “ouch”?
After our gear was packed into a van, the driver asked if we’d be interested in taking the scenic route back to Anchorage. It was still early and there was plenty of daylight remaining, so we thought it’d be nice to get a better view of the surroundings. As we drove south along the Old Glenn Highway, we saw some beautiful scenery, the likes of which I don’t typically see in Brooklyn (or anywhere else, for that matter).
Eventually the driver took us to an area called Eklutna Tailrace, an artificial fishery about 30 miles north of Anchorage. The fishery is stocked with Coho and Chinook salmon, so it’s a prime fishing spot for the locals.
I’d later learn that a “tailrace” is a channel that carries water away from a hydroelectric plant, in this case the Eklutna Hydroelectric Plant. Originally designed in 1955 to produce electricity for the Anchorage/Palmer area using runoff from melting glaciers, the water flowing through Eklutna Hydro shares characteristics of the water that forms glacial lakes. The glacier grinds away the rock over which it passes, producing a powdery silt that causes the water to appear a striking turquoise color. It appears totally artificial, combining on this particular evening with a low-lying mist on the water that looked like something out of a Stephen King movie.
It was such a peaceful place that I could easily have popped open a lawn chair and sat watching for hours as the fishermen cast their flies. Maybe even miss that flight home. Put this on your list of sites to visit when you get to touring off the beaten path.