Everyone who traveled knew Aldo. He was on every street corner in every city in the world. His parents forced him to learn to play the violin in hopes of getting a court position. Aldo instead of pursuing his parent's dreams of stately dinners, he ran off with a passing tribe of Gypsies. Now he made his living playing for coins, bells strapped to his ankle, and dressed in every color.
"Aldo!" exclaimed Sir Kent and Jack. They began searching their pockets for a coin to buy a song.
"Hold you money tonight Gentle Sirs. The Galt Line approaches."
Aldo swept off his hat in address to the room. "How do I know?" He asked everyone. "Because I saw them last night."
"What!" Shouted Jack.
"Oh yes! And they played... for hours... and destroyed another tavern."
"How extraordinary." Jack whispered.
"They are a menace Good Men. But they mustn't be stopped. For they may destroy this very tea house, but may all be richer for it."
The Spokane show had gone really well, which meant we woke up very slowly. By 11 we were in the car with the city in the rearview. Our next stop was a little resort town by a mountain lake called Chelan. We were booked to play The Vogue Lounge, a popular coffee shop and wine bar. First we had a long drive across eastern Washington ahead of us.
Most of this portion of the state is sprawling plains, dotted with little, dense pine forests. Frost and icy fog clung to the grasses, giving an otherworldly halo to the whole scene. We passed through little western towns centered around grain mills and railroad depots. Soon mountains crept over the horizon, snowy peaks first, followed by miles of rolling foothills.
As we approached the mountains, the road became more remote. Only a few farmhouses dotted the ethereal landscape. When the road began to wind downhill to meet the first of the rocky foothills, enormous volcanic boulders began to pop up, hulking suddenly over our path when we would turn a tight corner. Against a steely sky, a great black rock can be an impending sight.
Winding between mountains and crossing old steel bridges brought us suddenly to the wide main street of Chelan. Boutiques line either side. The road meandered to a blue painted steel bridge, punctuated with antique street lamps. We parked the Yeti and had a lunch of salad and baked spaghetti at a local diner. After a mighty cup of delicious (though slightly motor oil like) coffee, we wandered the tiny lakeside town. A local park provided an easy path along the mountain lake. While strolling, a gigantic husky joined us, trotting happily around the park, apparently unconcerned about the local leash laws.
When the path led us back into town, we spotted some local artists building ice sculptures with fevered intensity. Crowds had gathered to watch these men athletically manipulate huge blocks of ice. Several tourists sat on a great ice throne for pictures, invariably rubbing their freezing backsides after descending.
When the sun sank behind the looming mountains, we stepped into The Vogue. We introduced ourselves to Mike, the owner, and Danielle the barista on duty. They made us very comfortable while we worked on the computers. When the time came, we loaded onto the small stage and got ready to play. A few patrons filtered in, ordering glasses of wine and lounging comfortably at the bar. We played a laid back show for them, totaling about 2 ½ hours. Everyone seemed to have a pretty good time. A few people dropped us tips and we sold a bunch of shirts and CDs.
When we were loading out, a little snow had started to fall, and an icy frost was beginning to cling to everything. We figured we should get out of town before we got stuck in the mountains. Our lodgings for this chilly evening were in Wenatchee, a town filled with fruit packing factories and cheap motels.
The night went by fast. Morning came greyly through the grimy window. We were on the highway quickly, winding through the cascades, and finding our way to Bremerton. This town’s main distinction is having the honor of being home to a naval repair yard. Having just recently toured the Norfolk VA naval harbor, it was interesting to see the same situation mirrored on the West coast. The Town is perched on a hill on a peninsula guarding the Puget Sound. It has the rusty look of a Midwestern industrial town, but with a touch of charming Western kookiness.
We found the Hi Fidelity Lounge poking out of a tight little alley. We heaved the wooden door open and were greeted with a drunken song. The bar was crowded to the gills with merry makers from the local Hash club, which has something to do with imbibing and running in the woods. We were greeted somewhat coldly by Gentry, one of the owners, and by Kelly, the other owner and birthday girl. Both were thoroughly engaged with the club, who had somehow invaded before the bar had officially opened. We ducked out, hoping to grab some food and let the bar owners get a handle on the drunken runners.
At a grocery store we munched on sandwiches and made predictions for the evening while watching the town filter through the checkout lines with their dinners and libations. When the time came, we marched back to the venue, threw open the door and demanded attention. The owners were much more helpful now, and soon we were loaded in with drinks in hand. We also met our bill mates, Pearl and Chris, The Driftwood Singers. Once the sound guy arrived, we were ready to start. The Driftwood Singers began with a set of haunting country ballads, complete with floating harmonies and raggy chord changes.
We jumped up next and played an energetic set. A few drunken dancers stomped in from the front room and turned the whole thing into a real live party. When we were done, we chatted with some of the crowd and had a few beverages. Near the end we talked to two Navy types who were enjoying their night off together. They were from Delaware and Philly, so we jawed about the Mid-Atlantic while they got seriously drunk.
When the party was over and the bar was shutting down, owner Gentry invited us to stay for the night. Soon we were stretched out on the floor of his house while his dogs ran circles around the room. We passed out.
Two men from the village came in up the stairs and brushed roughly past Aldo. They were villagers who I had seen around. I had never thought they would come in here, as they didn't speak English, and didn't care for the English. But down they sat, and began to fish coins from their clothes.
When I approached the table, one of the men looked up and grunted. "Galt Line? Here".
"Well it seems so Gents." Sir Kent offered.
They conferred rapidly in their native Hindi. "Two Teas." the one said gruffly. As I turned to fill his order he grabbed my arms and gave me a conspiratorial wink. As the only liquor officially available here is made from fermented goat's milk, I assumed he wanted a discreet drop of brandy. I slapped down two tea and brandys.
"Its on me tonight you two kind men. The Galt Line is coming and we must prepare." I pulled the bottles from under the counter. "Come on, Drinks half price for everyone, all night!"