One of my themes in life is to “Enjoy the Ride.” This is how I live my life, but it is especially true when it comes to my wanderlust and desire to travel the back roads of America.
The thrill that I get as I get on the open road with the windows rolled down and the music playing while looking at the trees and fence posts and telephone poles flying by me is amazing. I enjoy the ride every single trip!
To “Enjoy the Ride” means to look at the trees and the clouds on the horizon, to see the sunsets and the sunrises and to witness animals prancing in the fields. It means to see the birds overhead and sitting on fenceposts along the way.
To “Enjoy the Ride” means to witness the grandeur and majesty of the lovely mountains in the west or the rush of the waves in the Atlantic or the Pacific or the Gulf of Mexico.
Some people get bored driving through the desert and seeing all of the tumbleweeds. What they miss out on is the life that is out there in the desert and the scenery. The giant red rocks or the cactus or even the tumbleweeds. To see these is to Enjoy the Ride.
To me, the destination is not the reason for the trip. It is all in the trip itself. That is the true defining point of enjoying the ride.
What a fitting occasion…it has been a busy month since I got back from California and Woodflock. But, today is National Pink Flamingo Day…shouldn’t it be a great time to write my final California report…all about the famed Woodflock event in Red Bluff, CA.
The Memorial Day weekend event celebrated its 6th year in 2015. Known to Antsy McClain fans (aka Flamingoheads) as a Summer Camp for Flamingoheads, Woodflock has grown from 60 participants in its first year to well over 300. It is held at the Red Bluff Recreation Area on the Sacramento River in an enclosed area, all under Flamingohead control!!
The event includes evening concerts around a campfire, music workshops, games, guided meditations, crafts, etc. Lots of good food, prepared for and eaten by a variety of Antsy McClain fans from all over the country was also a given.
My trip to California culminated in a three day adventure at Woodflock. In fact, the entire purpose of my end of May trip was to attend Woodflock and to schmooze with my Pine View Heights cousins.
Some people reading this may be wondering “What in the world is a Flamingohead?” or where the heck is “Pine View Heights?” All of these and more are borne out of Antsy McClain music over the past two decades. Antsy began his adventure with the Trailer Park Troubadours back in 1993 and has continued to inspire and humor audiences all over the U.S., Canada and even in Europe. Pine View Heights is a fictional small trailer park in a holler in Kentucky. Everybody lives in aluminum, has big hair and collects pink flamingos. And Woodflock brings it all to life in a unique natural setting, right down to the skeeters and chigger bites.
Many of the “cuzzins” as all are affectionately called, are dressed up in their “Trailer Park Best” for the celebrations. There is big hair, pink hair, and sometimes no hair…but nobody cares as they are all there to enjoy the camaraderie that has grown out of a love of Antsy McClain’s unusual and meaningful lyrics and songs (not to mention his amazing artwork, poetry, storytelling and more).
My days were spent with friends and my nights were spent with IRV…short nickname for Ione’s RV. Ione Snyder made sure I had a place to sleep while at Woodflock. It had a good large bed in a conversion van. And thank goodness the nights were cool.
Like Carla Lockwood, Ione Snyder is a gem. She has probably been to more Antsy McClain shows than any other person I know of…well over 100 and counting. She is the resident Trailer Park Princess and most certainly deserves the crown!!
Though Antsy and the Troubs and their music was the cause for the gathering, once all were there, all the “adults” were like kids again, frolicking around in dress up, blowing bubbles, making tie dye t-shirts, and having a Way Cool World fun time. Following are a few shots of the fun…
And then there were the arts and crafts. Yes, just like camp when were kids…here are a few samples
There was a trailer/cabin decorating contest too. And somebody even won!! Lots of fun stuff…and did I mention that TODAY (June 23, 2015) is Pink Flamingo Day?
I enjoyed mingling with the Flamingohead family and seeing all of the fun t-shirts.
Over the years Antsy has designed dozens of t-shirts and many were to be seen at Woodflock among the followers. Here are a few fun ones.
And there are a goodly variety of wonderful folk….
I don’t want to neglect Hilary and Bruce, who did a wonderful job of morning meditation each morning. What a nice relaxing way to start the day… Bruce Wandmeyer, of course, is the sax player and slide guitar artist of Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours. Hilary, his lovely wife, provided the meditation and soothed our souls.
And, finally, we enjoyed the music of Antsy McClain, the Troubs and a menagerie of others who brought their t-bones, mouth harps, ukeleles, stringed thingies and more.
This was why we were all here. We all share a love for Antsy, his music and his antics. And each of the band members in attendance were also a delight.
We sat around the amphitheater one evening to hear the stories behind Antsy’s upcoming new album, we requested songs, we sang along, we danced. It was time to be happy and relaxed. And we were.
And here are just a few more fun shots from my three days at Woodflock…I enjoyed the ride and now I have fond memories….
The trip to California was amazing. I loved every minute of it. I want to make sure to once again thank Carla and Ione for their kindness, generosity and amazing flamingo hospitality. Thanks to Ed…my partner in Men with Hats and good friend and photographer. Thanks to the other Flamingoheads for their familial friendship. Thanks to the Troubs for being the best musicians in the world. And biggest thanks to my dear friend, long time pal and practically a brother…that sweet guy known as Antsy McClain…without him, Woodflock wouldn’t be.
This is the last in my 3 part series on “Creating the Wanderlust” through family travel adventures. (see the other two Part 1Part 2 )
After three weddings in 2005 I was fried…and, to top things off I had knee surgery later in the year, so there was no travel the rest of that year. In fact, I didn’t take any trips until 2007 when I had a couple of big ones. These were with Solomon as Seth was off serving a Mormon mission in Utah. Then, since that time many of the trips from 2008 thru 2013 have included grandchildren in one way or another. It is wonderful to share these precious moments with my grandchildren as well as my now adult children….
In June 2007 my sister in Texas had an old car she wanted to give to my son Solomon as a reward for his obtaining an Eagle Scout (which my son Seth also completed). So, we took a ride down to Keller to pick up the car and then the two of us drove back to Lexington. Both ways we found fun on the backroads of America with the following route:
This would be a quick trip down and back, but we were determined to have a fun time. We made our way to Memphis and into Arkansas and continued the drive all the way to Keller, about 1100 miles one way via the route we took. Along the way we saw a few fun things…
After an evening in Keller we joined my sister and her family for a day trip to Dublin, Granbury and Forth Worth for fun.
After our trips we then headed back home via Paris, Texas and then through Arkansas, Missouri and home.
The Texas trip was a fun short trip, but later in the year we took a second trip together. This would be perhaps the biggest trip I had ever taken and it was going to be a fun with Solomon, who was 18 at the time. My daughter Amaree had her second child, my grandson Charlie. As well, my good friend and musician Antsy McClain had shows in southeastern Washington state and I was heading out there to manage those as well. Overall, the trip would take Solomon and me over about 6000 miles through fourteen states and three Canadian provinces and dozens of sites. We used almost 500 gallons of gasoline and I took over 2000 photos during the trip. (See entire trip post here)
The main purpose of this trip was to get to Montana to see my new grandson, but it was also a great opportunity to travel with my youngest son and truly Enjoy the Ride. We started off early for the Chicago area with the first goal to see the famed “Spindle” sculpture by Dustin Shuler, better known as Cars on a Spike. This was at the retro Cermak Shopping Plaza in Berwyn, IL. It is a good thing we visited and got it captured on both photo and video. In May 2008 it was demolished so a new drug store could go in.
From Chicago we headed north into Wisconsin and then on to Minnesota. We found lots of quirky offbeat things along the way!!
Speaking of BIG FISH – we found the world’s largest Walleye in Baudette, MN
From Minnesota we ventured into Canada and dove along the Trans-Canada Highway westward towards Alberta. It continued to be a fun adventure for both of us….
I had friends in Alberta and we got to spend a night with Crafty Jack, a guitar maker and joint friend with Antsy McClain. We got to look at his custom-made trailer shaped guitars…
We also spent some time with Crafty Jack visiting some of the more “unique” sites in Alberta…venturing to go where no man has gone before…
We proceeded to make our way down to Great Falls to see my daughter Amaree and her family, including the newest grandchild Charlie. During our visit we made our way into the mountains southeast of Great Falls to Kings Hill Pass. We got a nice family photo high up in the mountains…
We also made our way north on US 89 to a nice waterfalls called Memorial Falls. Solomon climbed way up on a cliff…
During the time in Great Falls we also visited museums and other fun places with Amaree, Aaron, their two boys and Julianne (who flew out). But soon Solomon were continuing west to Idaho and Washington. Along the way we stopped in Couer D’Alene to visit with legendary rock music radio pioneer John Rook. John was a close family friend of rock guitarist Bobby Cochran (Steppenwolf, Flying Burrito Brothers, Trailer Park Troubadours, Bobby and the Midnites), who was also the nephew of the famous Eddie Cochran (The Summertime Blues and C’mon Everybody). Bobby is a close friend of mine as well. John Rook was practically family with Eddie. So, on the encouragement of Bobby we stopped by to say hello to John, see much of his rock and roll memorabilia, including photos with the Rolling Stones and Beatles (see article about his work with the Beatles), groups that he had a major influence in bringing to the U.S. in the 1960s while the Program Director at KQV in Pittsburgh. It should be noted that Rush Limbaugh and David Letterman count John Rook as a mentor in their careers.
This was a fun and interesting experience for rock afficianados like Solomon and me. We ventured further westward to Washington to carry out my work for Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours, which included some road management and logistics management. After four days of performances in the Tri-Cities and Dayton, Solomon and I headed south into Oregon and a visit to the amazing Hell’s Canyon.
From there we went south to Salt Lake City to drop in on my son Seth who was serving a Mormon mission there (yes, there are even Mormon missionaries called to Salt Lake City!!). It was a great chance for us to visit and have a quick lunch with “Elder Kravetz.”
We then finally made our way home through Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and finally into Kentucky. More unique stops were made along the way…
After a long trip, we finally made it home. This was to be the last of my trips with just my children. All trips with family (other than with my wife), typically included grandchildren and I even had a few opportunities to be with the grandchildren on solo Grampz/Grandkidz trips. I now had (and continue to have) the blessing of Creating the Wanderlust in the next generation of my posterity.
Following are a few shots of my grandchildren as they accompanied me and, in most cases, their parents, on road trips over the last six years…places and dates included…
In August 2012 I joined my daughter Chelsea and my oldest grandchild Autumn on a quick three day trip to Wisconsin. We planned out the trip for a number of fun adventures in Illinois and Wisconsin. (see my Trip Journal posts beginning here)
On that trip we also visited the famed Jurustic Park, a chainsaw totem pole forest, the birthplace of the hamburger, Egg Harbor and the peninsula, and more. See more here.
We have also taken Autumn to the Cincinnati Zoo, on a riverboat ride down the Kentucky River and to the Louisville Children’s Museum.
I have four grandchildren living in Shelby, Montana and have not had as many opportunities to travel much with them. However, their parents (my daughter Amaree and her husband Aaron) have taken my liking to travel and have introduce the wanderlust to their children through visits to California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Nevada, Idaho and even across the country on visits to Kentucky to see us. I have visited Shelby on three occasions and each time take the kids collectively or individually on small road trips. Here are a few scenes…
My little granddaughter Joselyn is really quite the traveler and, even at age 6 she is always up for another long drive adventure, especially with Grampz, who she thinks is “funny.” This little girl has probably traveled more in this United States than most kids do by the time they are 18. Jos has been to Niagara Falls in Canada, Tucson, Omaha, Hilton Head and a gazillion places in between. Her little brother Landen has accompanied on a couple of trips as well. Here are a few shots from the last couple of years, including some recent ones.
Of course, Landen is not totally exempt from all of this either…he is catching the bug!!
Jos and Landen have a little sister Lyla who has also turned out to be a good traveler having gone to South Carolina and Georgia on one trip and then on a trip to Nebraska in September.
Only one grandchild has not really traveled much with us though he has traveled with his father Seth and his mother Holly. That is little Rockwell, our blonde cutie….
Of course, as time goes on I will continue to Enjoy the Ride on trips on the backroads and will do it, not just as a good father, but also as a helluva grandfather!!