Each time we hop into our newly acquired jalopy, Vanna White, for a regional gig, a feeling of excitement and accomplishment comes over us. She's the proof that we're a working band with a tour van!!! Having a handful of lengthy trips already under our belts, Vanna has consistently shown us that she's as road-worthy as she is rusty! I won't say we took her for granted, but It was starting to feel as though we were invincible when we were strapped into the safety of her bosom and she was flying all of us down the highway... until Saturday night.
We had finished a lively acoustic show in Mason City, Iowa and were experiencing the post-gig high after a very warm welcome from the locals. We had opted to save a few bucks and forego a hotel room in exchange for sleeping in the comfort of our own beds, knowing that choice came at the expense of a pretty late night on the road. Mary Mayhem's brother and his gal were in town and had joined us for the gig, so the 7 of us piled into the van and headed Northbound- screaming down the highway at 70 mph. We were tired but we were laughing & joking, and Vanna was making great time. We were slotted to roll back into Minneapolis around 1:45 a.m.
I was looking out one of the side windows, so what happened exactly is kind of a blur to me- but I remember the impact. I heard the squealing tires and the fear in all of our voices as Vanna White struggled to balance her weight as she veered and tipped onto her two diver's side wheels, nearly careening into the ditch sideways. I pictured the van tipping over, the window breaking against my face while being crushed to death by Davey Hazard, who was seated next to me in the very back... Instead, Vanna righted herself, slammed back onto the blacktop, did some clumsy pirouettes, and finished her Dukes of Hazard style performance by facing the wrong direction in the middle of I35 in a cloud of tire smoke and dust. Vanna White is a badass bitch. We shared a grateful moment of silence and then disembarked to assess the damages that the big doe had caused our poor van. Her grill was cracked, her blinker light completely gone- a sole connection wire flapping in the breeze, and her fender had been crushed inward, causing the flattest tire I daresay I've ever seen. Although she looked a bit defeated, in the grand scope, her damages were minimal.
Now, I have to believe that although this certainly dampened our moods, the fates were smiling on us. We hadn't tipped over. We weren't in the ditch. The deer we hit I have to assume had unfortunately lost it's life- but we hadn't lost ours... and we had a spare tire ready to slap on our old girl. Luckily, Lenny Renagade had even had the foresight to throw a toolbox in with our gear, so we had everything we needed to try to remedy our situation. But thunder clouds were starting to roll in and a lightening storm was indicating that we didn't have a lot of time to get this done. Mary Mayhem's brother, Mike came to the rescue. A rough and tumble farm boy with a mechanical tenacity, he got to work- and despite the jack handle snapping in two as he was hoisting our trusty rig high enough to make the tire switch, he had the task completed before AAA even answered the phone.
Vanna had just been put through the ringer and we needed to air up her new tire and get gas, so we stopped at a service station to bandage the last of her wounds. Danny Rampage had just stepped out of the vehicle to fill her up when the sky turned orange, the winds started to whip, and a torrential downpour left us sitting next to the pump, shaking from the forceful gusts of a roadside gale. I was convinced we were caught in a tornado and this time had visions of us being sucked into a cyclone, "Wizard of Oz" style, and getting decapitated by my own guitar case. Davey Hazard tried to console me as I shuddered and sobbed in the back seat, wondering why God hated me so much.
We rolled into Minneapolis around 4 a.m. emotionally drained, but grateful for everyone who played a part in getting us home safely. This week I'll be doing my best to restore Vanna's good looks- but she may have some permanent bruises from this escapade. I call it character.