13 tucked in a 15-pass

Woke up all of us in the Albuquerque Days Inn in good spirits, realizing we were in the midst of the balloon festival, the one that clouds the skies multi-colored once a year. We couldn’t stop and behold, though. We’re passing through too many captivating corners of this strange and vast country to get stuck in every moment.

As I mentioned in our first stream cast, the Stern Maid of the Partridge Family must be active. The role morphs hourly. Sometimes it’s Nick, which his Big Picture epic ideas about where the horizon is taking us, sometimes it’s Brian, our tour coordinator, who’s already handled some wicked late night driving weather, sometimes it’s John Kolar, Sunset’s drummer, with the commanding and very effective shouts: “Alright! Everybody load up!” Sometimes it’s me, like today, when I realized our route was potentially taking us directly into the Rockies – long, harsh inclines, switchbacks, and bone-narrow roads. It would’ve been bad. So we skimmed it at the last second and cut across the desert.

It’s all going surprisingly well. With so many creative people stuffed into van, one might think it could be like herding cats. At the moment, it feels like a laptop village, many people buried in their projects. Bill Baird worked for literally 13 hours straight yesterday on the mixing of some of his new tunes. It’s an inspiring atmosphere.

Our last-minute alternate route spit us directly into the Navajo Nation, where we happened upon the aftermath of a big,messy parade.

Nick said, “Third World America” and, lord, it was true. The streets were impoverished.

It jolted me to the conditions I’ve seen in Mexico and Morocco for a moment. Truly a marginalized people. It weighed heavy on our souls.

We found our way out, skirting Monument Valley and the Four Corners, as Neil Young/s After the Gold Rush embraced the melancholy open space. It was heavy.

We bear northbound now towards Salt Lake, then Washington, as we get closer daily to THE RUMBLE.