Travel notes: music, drought, and graduation

As my parents’ internet connection is a bit of a challenge (neither cable nor DSL is an option here), I’ve not had it in me to post while I’ve been here. But tonight I thought I’d brave it, and catch up a little so you all have a little something to read while I make the drive back tomorrow.

Last Thursday night, while procrastinating packing, I caught my friend Doug’s acoustic show at the Kirkland Cafe. “Banging Amanda” and “Dabney Coleman Loves Me” were as good as advertised. He also played a couple of Hyphens songs with his bandmate Dave. Also notable were the act that followed them, whose name I forget, but it’s Double-something. They smelled like Harvard kids to me (but Doug probably more accurately guessed Berklee), and they really had a ton of energy, and no qualms about just going over the top. They were probably more fun than any of the medium-name bands I’ve seen open for Interpol in the past year. Doug talked to them briefly, and indeed, they are going on hiatus because two of them are going back to school.

Friday morning I dragged myself out of bed as early as I could, which turned out to be just in time to hit rush hour at the Mass Pike and 495 junction. But all in all, I made it to my folks place in about 11 real hours, and about 10 driving hours, so I made up a little time in the middle. Luckily, there wasn’t as much Pennsylvania construction as usual. There was pizza (etc.) from Central Pizza waiting for me when I got there.

Dismantling Hager's farm supply storeThe one notable thing about this visit was the inconvenient lack of water. In past years, when there’s been a summer dry enough to make the spring that’s their primary water source dry up, the most convenient secondary source has been to put the large plastic water tank that my grandfather bought many years ago onto a truck, and buy it at a nearby agricultural supply store. That store finally went out of business, so this year, they’ve just had to be ultra-strict about conserving the water that is trickling in, and by getting water for the sheep and cows by filling up big containers of water at my aunt and uncle’s place a few miles away.

margaret and bridge on bike trailSaturday morning, my cousin Margaret came over for a ride on the nearby bike trail. Being a fellow coffee lover and being swell as ever, she brought me a bunch of coffee from her favorite coffee place in Pittsburgh. It was pretty hot on the trail. We went about 10 miles each way. The trail actually passes by the agricultural store I mentioned above. The bike trail opened about 10 years ago; before that, it was a railroad, and the store was outfitted with grain bins that could load rail cars. The railroad had closed long before it was made into a bike trail, and really, there aren’t as many farms around here as there once were, so it’s actually amazing that the store had hung on as long as it did. As we rode by, we saw a bunch of guys dismantling the big grain bins and loading them onto trucks. My dad stopped and talked to them a bit, asking if the bins were going to good use, and if they knew of any place we might be able to buy water (turns out, none that are really practical).

Impending stormLater that afternoon, we went over to my aunt and uncle’s place for Shannon’s high school graduation party. I hadn’t seen a lot of the relatives who are related to me through my uncle in easily 10 years. It was good to see them all. A thunderstorm came up slowly while we were there. Though it was pretty violent, with lightning flashing every few seconds, with the severe lack of water back on the farm and all the brown lawns we saw on the way to the party, it was definitely welcome.