My band arrived home in San Diego very late on Tuesday night, well into Wednesday morning. Last night we received an incredibly warm (in temperature and emotion) welcome at a homecoming show at the Habitat House, in whose attic we filmed a performance of one of our songs a few months ago.

We had an amazing trip, beginning mid-July. When I last wrote, my band was in Portland, headed north on our summer tour of the Northwest (and southwest Canada) with several more shows on the books.

I love that part of the world. I love the anticipation of turning a corner and finding out whether you can see the mountains that day — Mt. Hood and St. Helens and Rainier and Baker and the Olympics. I adore the trees and the way the ocean looks there, too.

From Portland, we stopped in at my friend’s front yard in the Green Lake area of Seattle to play a summer evening set. My friend told me it was the best night, weather-wise, they’ve had in nine (!) months. (He’s plotting his return to sunny San Diego, he grumbled.)

We left for Canada the next day, playing in Kitsilano in Vancouver for a bunch of my childhood friends who now live there. We camped that night, then took an early morning ferry over to Victoria, where my mom greeted us with a family staple, a cookie called oatcakes. We played that night in Victoria at a cool subterranean spot that is trying to serve all local ingredients and beers. The woman who taught me violin lessons from age 6 to age 18 showed up right as I played a short solo part in a song. My bandmates noticed me gulp.

The next day we woke up at the crack of dawn to go fishing off of Beecher Bay in Sooke, a little ways from my house on the island. My dad and his fishing buddy showed us the ropes. The Tree Ring turned out to be not bad at fishing, hauling 12 salmon into the boat on a gorgeous, clear day on the water. That night we grilled up two of the fish we’d caught, sealed the meal with berries and ice cream, and headed to the university to look through a telescope at Saturn and its rings. A dream, right?

If you haven’t noticed, our trip took a decidedly different tone than the stereotypical picture of a haggard, urban, unwashed band on tour. We were delighted. Playing for our families was an amazing treat, since most of them don’t live here in San Diego and can’t get a sense for what we do. And between camping and staying with grandparents, parents and friends, we could mostly avoid those hotel rooms bands are commonly presumed to thrash on the road.

Next we ferried to Doe Bay Resort on Orcas Island for two nights, hiking Mount Constitution and playing on an outdoor stage by the resort’s delicious restaurant overlooking the water. Here’s the view from stage: 

We hit a long road day leaving there, waking up at 5 a.m. to catch the first ferry out and not arriving at our next stop, near Mount Shasta, until 2:30 a.m. the next day.

Our California leg was a whirlwind: We played Sunday in Santa Cruz, Monday in our dear friend’s living room in Oakland, Tuesday at the Hotel Café in Hollywood and last night at the Habitat.

That’s the tour. Of course anyone from San Diego visiting any place is apt to run into the Anchorman references, the Zoo recollections and the cracks about being weather wimps now. But we were totally welcomed and supported in the places we visited. We offset much of our travel costs with the bits of money we got for some of our shows, and selling t-shirts and records.

Thank you to all of you who wrote me with suggestions of things to do, and with kind notes about the music we make. If you’re interested, the next time we play in San Diego is at the end of August, part of the San Diego Museum of Art’s summer salon series, which I’ve mentioned here before.

I enjoyed the quick taste of life on the road, though I’m spoiled. Even if we didn’t have bowls full of berries and hugs from one of our moms greeting us at every stop, I got to travel for a few weeks with some of my best friends. That I get to play music with these people is a gift I don’t take lightly.

I’m Kelly Bennett, the arts editor for VOSD. What’d I miss while I was out of town? You can reach me directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531.

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Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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