Quinn’s Extraordinary Travel Ramblings:

`On Tuesday we left the William’s house and started driving towards Bellville, Texas and the Spring Creek Bluegrass Festival. We drove all day and I got progressively sicker as the day went on. It was a very nice, sunny day. We drove by several trains. Or should I say that they drove by us? Well whatever the case was we saw several trains. One thing that I happened to notice that they all had in common was that they were all very highly graffiti-ified. We were just rolling into Bellville as the sun slipped beneath the horizon. I was all of the way in back of the bus but I could still hear my Dad yelling at Irene (the gps navigator.) Apparently she had pulled another fast one on us. Well we were in the right area but we weren’t in the right spot. The roads upon which we were driving looked somewhat like one of my 10 foot mazes so as you might guess it took us a bit of a little while to find the campground.

Wednesday I was still sick so I didn’t really do anything but my dad went off exploring the campground, looking for the laundry mat and other such things. Laura was generally obnoxious; meaning she was bugging me while I was doing my school work. Then she went outside and walked around the park looking at all of the other RV’s. Abby did her school work, practiced and ran around meeting people. Mom practiced violin and her voice warm ups. Which by the way are a good thing to be absent for. Maria Muldaur voice warm ups – compliments of Homespun Tapes and CD‘s. First mom closes all the windows, doors, and hatches in a futile attempt to screen the neighboring RV’s from the wild and disturbing sounds which are soon to ensue. Then she starts off with a few harmless stretches, deep breaths and A – E – I – O – U’s in the bottom register of her voice. As the following forty five minutes progress the vowels sustained in pitch which can hardly be described as melodic grow increasingly louder, higher and most alarming. Of course along the way there are numerable cracked tones as her voice gains fluidity……She usually yells at any one who hasn’t fled the scene and happens to be standing around that they need to get on the stick and join in or they will be sorry when they stand in front of the microphone. This is accompanied with the typical lactose interrogation and the evils thereof in which each person has to confess whether they have imbibed in ice cream, milk, yogurt, cheese or the like. Laura is usually absent; Abby, intent on doing what is right and good, most often comes clean; and I of course am the guilty offender trying my hardest to look innocent. Confession most recently: Klondike Heath Nut Ice Cream Bars which I enthusiastically endorse. Dad is actually the most guilty of us all but he lets my mom’s warnings drip off like water from a mallard duck…….When mom’s wails have reached their most startling and feverish-ed pitch she slowly backs off with a few less demanding scales and the final trill exercises.

To every ones relief she decided to air her head and following the voice exercises went for a long country walk on which she saw horses, donkeys, cows, farms, birds, a fox – and a good dried up creek bottom to duck into should a tornado happen by. Have I mentioned that she spends lots of time looking for potential shelters in the event of natural disasters? She also imagines what it would be like to be stuck in elevators, on a freeway twister in L.A. during an earthquake, standing on the shore of Padre Island along the Gulf of Mexico watching a fast approaching tidal wave and stuff like that. Go figure.

That evening they had the annual potluck dinner which consisted of Hobo stew and a lot of other exciting things. During the day we were able to watch the Hobo stew being cooked. It started with someone washing out a great big clothes basin then they added potatoes, carrots, onion, beef and other things of that sort. They cooked it over an open fire and stirred it with a holy canoe paddle. This operation involved about ten elderly gentlemen sitting around in folding chairs chewing the fat for the greater portion of the day. The stew was actually TERRIFIC and the cooks generously bestowed a big bucket of leftover stew to the Alaska String Band since I struck them as a strapping young man and we were parked next to the stew pot.

Thursday I wasn’t sick. Laura had met someone who sold tortoise shell picks that morning so she bought two of them in the afternoon.

Mom and dad had arranged to catch a ride to town in the early morning with Tom and his wife whom we had made acquaintance with at Turkey Track Bluegrass Festival in Waldron, Arkansas the month previous. They left us kids in the bus with orders to clean it (or else), and get started with school assignments. Then they went out for coffee and doughnuts at an awesome small town bakery. Happily they brought some back for us too. Tom also stopped at a meat market which showcased Texas beef steak, and other amazing foods. He generously bought us a big stick of Texas beef sausage which is delicious. Then mom wanted to stop at a grocery store to pick up apple cider, votive candles and three pumpkins for us to carve seeing as it was soon to be Halloween eve.

Due to inclement weather the first night of music was held indoors. The room was packed and we ended up selling CD’s at a table with another band. Buffalo Nickel started the evening off. The other bands playing that evening were Polk Bros and Lone Mountain Boys, The Greer Family, Gammagrass Ramblers and us. We listened to as many of them as possible.

I especially enjoyed the Greer Family Band which consisted of Lawrence Greer (the dad) on bass; Lisa (the mom) on rhythm guitar; Jordan (19) on fiddle, mandolin and dobro; Adam (16) on banjo and guitar; Mandy (13) on mandolin and occasional twin fiddle with Jordan; Steven (12) on guitar and Stephanie (10) who sings.

After our performance Laura and I got to know Jordan and Adam some. Abby and my parents manned the table. It appeared to me that Jordan and Adam both were two gregarious characters and we struck off immediately. Later after we were done visiting Laura and I went off in search of a jam. We found one and joined it, Jordan and Adam showed up soon after. We stayed up till around 1:00 a.m., tired but having had a lot of fun.

Friday was a much nicer day – weather wise that is. The music started early on and the line up included: Glen Bonham and Southern Tradition, White Dove, Saltgrass, The Franz Family, The Bluegrass Brothers and Lonestar Bluegrass. We listened to several of the bands that day. During the day Adam Greer and I went running around exploring the swing sets and other exciting places. While we were over at the swing sets we found several fascinating dead bug shells. Adam collected them all, named them and then said that he was going to give them to his mother. We never did get around to giving them to his mother but that is probably a rather good thing. One exceptional find was a large, hairy, green caterpillar. Adam immediately christened it Huppert the Fuzzy Green Pickle of Death. The name suited him perfectly. I just so happened to have a plastic water bottle so we captured him and took him adventuring. We carried him around showing him to random people who we knew. We took him over to our cd tables and showed him to Adam’s dad and my big sis, Laura. And then we took him to the most terrifying place for Huppert to be. We took him first into our bus and let him crawl around on the counter tops and then into Adam’s camper. Later we took him back to his home by the swing set where we hoped he would be happy.

Around 3:00 p.m. my mom supplied my sisters and I with three pumpkins and carving knives. We sat at the small green picnic tables outside our bus and went to work. That evening we had the happiest twinkling pumpkin moonshines you ever did see sitting right out side our bus.

When we performed again that evening on the outdoor stage it was very nice. Abby soon made friends with Mandy Greer. After the evening performances Laura, Jordan and I joined up with a jam session. Abby and Mandy Greer showed up along with both sets of parents. Eventually the session petered out and Abby got her Ripstick and she and Mandy rode it around for a while. My parents disappeared. Laura joined a different jam and I followed along and listened. At about 11:30ish Adam came over with a mischievous glint in his eye. He addressed me and said “I have the most amazing idea ever.” I asked him what it was and he explained. He said that we should perform at the open stage the next day. Of course I agreed, so it was settled. He went back to jamming and I started to try to convince Laura to join our band. At about 12:30ish a.m. Adam came back and stated that we should get Jordan to join us. We did so swiftly and then at about one o’clock a.m. we all gathered together. First we had to come up with a band name. The two runner-ups were Terminal Velocity and Pickle Pie. Later one of Adam’s musician friends showed up and joined our band, he had just arrived at the festival. We found a common interest immediately which was Veggie Tale songs so Brady Bynum and I were friends before 2:00 a.m. Laura and I were supposed to have gone to bed by 1:30 so at about 2:30 we decided to head to bed. Before we did so though we decided where and when our newly formed band would meet later that morning.
Saturday Laura and I woke up rather early and headed over to meet Adam, Jordan and Brady. I had picked out a few of my wigs and a hat or two that we would be wearing on stage. No one was over where we were going to meet so Laura and I pulled out our instruments and started tuning up. Jordan and Adam showed up fashionably late and we commenced to practicing. Adam ended up with my Black Afro, Jordan took my Biker hat which included long silver tresses, Laura wore the Kazakhstan hat and I chose my redhaired wig. Brady didn’t show up for practice but that was ok. Eventually Brady showed up and we headed backstage and pulled instruments out of their cases. The band that was on stage before us did not fill their allotted time slot. So when we walked out on stage the MC and stage crew had gone missing. We stood around for about 10 minutes before we actually started. When we did start all went well, somewhat. We discovered that our name was Pickle Pie while on stage also. The songs that we played were Blackberry Blossom and Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. We were supposed to play for half an hour but we only had about nine minutes of music worked out so after that we asked the audience for requests. The rest of the set was very exciting from then on. After we were done we were talking to our parents and Jordan’s dad told us that he hadn’t recognized Jordan at first due to his styling biker’s hat.

The rest of that day was spent running around on the Greer’s golf cart, listening to music, performing, selling cd’s and visiting with people. That evening the Greer’s left but before they did Abby and Mandy decided to go trick or treating. Abby went as a pirate and Mandy dressed up in some of our Huki Lau hula costume stuff. They both knocked at the doors of a couple of dozen or so RV’s and were greatly relieved to discover that all of the bluegrass residents were in good humor and were happy to drop a treat into their sacks. They even received a few dollar bills from unsuspecting campers. After a bit Abby and Mandy decided to visit the food vendor booths. None of the vendors had any candy so instead they were severed various food items on the house such as corn dogs, lemonade and the like.

That night there was a haunted hay ride so I went off in search of Brady before it started. I found him and we scramble up over the rails of the hay wagon along with Laura, Abby, my Mom and a bunch of other merry makers. The big old hay wagon was strewn with deeply piled sweet smelling hay and a tractor was hooked to the front in order to pull us out into the beautiful moon lit night. We rumbled down the dusty camp road and through a gated fence opening, then out into a large pasture. Our wagon bumped along for quite a long while until we reached the edge of a dark and foreboding wood. As we left the clearing of pasture behind and slowly descended into the thick of the forest we could see distant fires glowing through the trees. Abby kept her head buried in my mom’s lap and trembled from head to foot in terror of what might be up ahead of us. Our hay wagon driver in subdued tones had begun to relate spooky tales of mysterious occurrences in the surrounding country side when a chain saw screamed into action just to the left of our wagon. Everybody jumped. As we were pulled deeper and deeper into the forest, ghouls and goblins of all sorts ran towards us and then limped away into the shadows. Eventually we cleared the forest and headed back through the open pasture. Then came the climax of the whole wonderful ride. The wagon plunged right through a heard of cows which were lying peacefully about in the moon light. The cows raised up and stared at us with their huge brown blinking eyes. We could reach out and brush their sleek coats as we rolled by. Up through the pasture, out of the gate and back into the campground we lurched. Back at the festival we scrambled out of the wagon, ran around to the other side and scramble back in. It was so much fun we had to do it again. The second time Abby sat up and watched as we assured her it wasn’t really so spooky after all. One fellow hay ride passenger came armed with cans of silly string and plastered the monsters which dared to approach our wagon in the depths of the forest. The second time around was just as much fun as the first.

That was the last night of the festival so after the music was over we started to pack up and we went to bed. The Alaska String Band has been invited to return to Spring Creek Bluegrass Festival again next year and if we do get to return I most definitely hope to resurrect Pickle Pie.