Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Things I've Learned from Tour

For 68 days, beginning on March 2nd, I was on the road - driving down the east coast and around through the midwest (as far west as Tulsa, Oklahoma) up to Chicago and back through Ohio to good ol' PA. I kept a log of each day here on my blog (scroll down) and took video as well. Some days I got better video footage than others.
I traveled 6,347.3 miles, according to the mileage I wrote down on my receipts when I filled up my tank in whatever place I happened to be. Some other data from those receipts (for you data-gatherers): the average price of gas during those two months was $2 per gallon, my car used 181 gallons of fuel and I averaged 35 miles per gallon. Not bad for a 1985 Toyota Tercel.
So what did I learn from the experience? Here's a few bullet points:
1. The United States is a big place. I never TRULY realized this until I started driving around on my own - the land itself is incredibly varied. Soil and land/elevation differences cause flora and fauna to change as you go south from PA through the hills of VA to the clay soil of North and South Carolina to the sandy and more tropical Georgia and FL. Tennessee is halfway tropical and then Arkansas starts into the plains and open spaces, which is what Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and most of Ohio is like - only when I crossed back into PA did I start getting back into mountain areas.
2. GPS is the way to go. I have to say that for this trip it was awesome to have a GPS to navigate for me - took a lot of the guesswork out of getting from one place to another. You do have to keep your wits and an eye on the road though - it's not a perfect system and there's lots of change in names of roads, etc... that still happens in the US.
3. Originality was not a strong suit for many of the early settlers. Everywhere I went I kept finding names repeated - of towns, cities, roads, etc.. I guess settlers were more concerned about having a name than that the name be unique. It makes me realize that our value of uniqueness may be a rather recent phenomenon.
4. NJ drivers are not the only bad drivers. Wherever I went this was pretty similar - there are always a few people on the road who are either completely oblivious to what's going on around them, or they aren't paying attention. There were a couple pretty hairy spots that I managed to escape from intact simply because I was paying attention to other drivers who obviously weren't paying attention and maybe didn't even care that they almost caused an accident.
5. People are friendly wherever you go. This was definitely true in every place I stopped, even when I was the only white person around - be friendly and direct, and people will return the favor. Probably my favorite part of the trip was spending time with friends and family along the way - sleeping over, sharing meals, helping out around the house, building community. It makes me realize how important it is to stay interested in people and to invest in each others lives, and that community only exists (and can even exist on the road) when you invest in it.
All in all, the trip was a great experience. I got some really positive feedback, played about 25 shows, sold about 250 CDs (10 per show on average, though some places I sold a lot more and some I sold a lot less). The average crowd was 20 people, which means I sold CDs to about half the people that came to my shows. It was extremely encouraging to me as a musician to have that kind of response, and it makes me think that I'm writing and performing music that really connects with people, which is exactly where I want to be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

:) Great wrap-up to a great series of blogs, Hiram. Again, welcome home!!