Barkley's Dog Blog Travelogue!

Tuesday March 14, 2006

Hello! Heather, Benjy & I are sending love from Sedona, land of multiple New Age vortices and some of the most amazing olfactory experiences on the planet!

The larger of the dogs in our group (whose name is Benjy, not to be confused with the smaller screen idol blond), wanted me to tell all of you about what he calls “the weirdest Mercury retrograde in memory.” So here’s how he tells it…

On the day Mercury went retrograde, the friend who was recording our friend’s kirtan CD in Tucson accidentally lost about 2/3 of the tracks I had recorded, and ALL of the tracks David Trasoff had recorded on sarode, from a Macintosh Digital Performer system (it’s still not clear if any of these can be recovered).

Then we made out way up to Scottsdale for a kirtan. We had a great show, but then our van got broken into early last Saturday morning in a wonderful (and, we all supposed, safe) upscale residential neighborhood. Somebody smashed in the rear hatch window. I guess a van with a roof rack and out-of-state plates sitting in a driveway is sort of an advertisement, especially since our faithful watchdog Barkley (hmmm … did he mention how petrified potential thieves are that they might get doggy-kissed into submission by yours truly?) wasn’t in the vehicle at the time.

The good news is: All those thieves got was a briefcase with about $200 in cash and checks (unfortunately some credit card slips too) and a canvas bag with all of our shoes, sandals, coats, and hiking boots for the entire nationwide 2-month tour (Note from Barkley: I wish the others in my pack would learn from this and just go everywhere barefoot like I do). I guess I should hope that whoever finds that bag has big feet … BUT NOT ONE INSTRUMENT WAS TAKEN, EVEN THOUGH THE GUITARS WERE RIGHT NEXT TO THESE 2 BAGS!! So, given that we were hit, we got off really easy… except for the fact that we had to drive around for several days with a plastic-and-duct-tape rear window. (Note from Barkley: And we should ALL be thankful that they didn’t steal my dog food stash either!)

Because we had to make a police report, we wound up leaving Scottsdale several hours later than planned for our Sedona gig. Our friend had offered us a reduced rate on a place she has in Sedona, so we went there to unload our stuff into the downstairs part of a 2-story studio structure she own. We found the keys just where they were supposed to be, and hoped to unload our luggage here before heading out to Future Studios for our gig. We also had to gain entry into the downstairs to turn on the circuit breakers for the on-demand hot water system for the place. When we tried to open the lock on the door, it would not budge. After swearing and trying a few different approaches to it, it finally appeared to turn … except that the key was actually breaking off and got stuck in the lock (we called a locksmith to fix it the next day). We had to rush off to the venue with all of our gear for an EXTREMELY abridged sound check. During our gig, Heather’s guitar cord kept shorting out … until the sound techs brought us a replacement cord after we decided we couldn’t play any more with the guitar cutting in and out … but actually the gig went quite well, especially given that many of the people there weren’t quite sure what to do with a kirtan, which normally is, of course, a participatory rather than a spectator event.

We contacted our insurance about the break-in during our drive from Scottsdale to Sedona, and they arranged for an auto glass company to come by and replace the window. But day before yesterday, when they were supposed to come by, we instead got a very early-morning phone call telling us that the new window that had been shipped here was cracked!!! We had planned to drive up to Flagstaff to get an alarm system installed (since the factory one didn’t work unless a door was actually opened), but then found out (only because of the delay) that the Nissan dealer couldn’t actually install a better alarm system after all!! So we hunted around here to find an auto alarm/audio outfit that could install a spiffy 2-way FM shock-detection alarm, and made a 1 p.m. appointment in Cottonwood to have it installed yesterday afternoon.

The guy from the glass company came by with the replacement rear window yesterday morning, and then proceeded to demand full payment from us for about $550, when the initial estimate from our insurance company had been $230! We got in touch with the insurance company again and paid him only our deductible of $250, so all seemed well. That is, until he told us that he had broken the air-shock tube on our hatch that holds the hatch open … which means that one person has to hold the hatch open while the other loads/unloads the van. Not to worry, he said … he’d get a replacement part and come back to repair it today. Except, we found out later yesterday, they couldn’t get the part before we had to leave town!!

Well, we thought, at least we can now get the alarm installed 20 miles down the road in Cottonwood, which turns out to be one of the West’s great methamphetamine capitals. We drove on down for our 1 p.m. appointment. The place was locked up tight, and nobody was answering the phone. Fortunately for us, a very inebriated fellow who had clearly finished 3/4 of his quart of hard liquor in a red Pontiac Firebird in the parking lot told us, “Ish OK … they’re out to lunsh ….” So we waited for about 40 minutes, and then realized that there was an oil change place right next door (it was time to change the oil), so we drove the van into the oil change place just as the two guys from the car audio shop showed up. They basically ignored the fact that we were there, or had been waiting 45 minutes past the appointed time for them to install the alarm, which was presumably a 3-to-4-hour task. They went inside and the guy from the oil change place brought them their UPS shipment for the day (which the alarm guys had probably spaced out on as well) that was supposed to contain the parts for our new alarm. But they got sent all kinds of junk that they didn’t need, and didn’t receive the parts for our alarm!!

It was probably all for the best, since we honestly didn’t trust them to do a good job of installing the alarm anyway, and who knows what or how much they had been drinking. So we went off to visit our friends Gary and Marn, the owners of Bheka Yoga props, who had just moved to Cottonwood from Ashland, OR. Marn, Heather, Barkley & I went out for a walk on the Verde River, which was the one of the few things that seemed to go right all week! We then went to an Office Max store to replace the office stuff that had been stolen, and of course they didn’t have much of the stuff we needed. But we got enough stuff to limp by on for now …

So this morning we’re packing up to move on to the next part of our tour, through Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Pueblo, and Salida. We sure hope that things start moving a lot more smoothly, or, at the very least, we can keep a sense of humor about it all. Barkley is such an inspiration to us, with every rest area on the interstate being a new adventure …

Heather, Benjy, & I are sending you a lot of love from Sedona! That’s all for now! Hope you’re having a better Mercury retrograde experience than we are!