A weekend or two a year had become insufficient stimulation, so I got excited when I saw his itinerary the next year included a half dozen northwest towns with eight shows in six nights. Without asking, I immediately informed my spouse we were going to all of them. Being a fan herself, I was met without resistance. Somehow, I discovered a phone number for the first show which was scheduled in Corvallis. The person I spoke to was shocked that somebody would be requesting tickets for a show when the contract ink had yet to dry. Promotions and ticket printing were months away. The promoter took my name, but refused to allow me to pay for them and said two tickets would be waiting at “Will Call”. This person later described me as some nut from Seattle. We have since become great friends. With all the other tickets in hand and hotels lined up, we handed our kids off to friends so they could avoid missing school and headed south. The kids had already had their fill of Greg concerts, so they were happy to see us leave without them.
This was our first 230 mile one-way trip to Corvallis, but would be far from the last over the next four years. I did quickly find an alternative route to the white knuckle, sweaty palm bridge across the Willamette in Portland. Standard procedure when we pulled into a new town was to locate the venue and then find our lodging. The desk clerk told us where the nearest grocery store was so we could procure provisions and libations. When we parked at the Safeway, my mate stepped out into a pile of vomit. Welcome to a college town, the home of the Oregon State Beavers. She cleaned herself and sandal off as best she could, while I went in to the get supplies. We headed back to the motel for some serious foot washing. I was afraid this was a bad omen about the tickets I had requested months ago and never received. Did the person I spoke to think it was a prank call? Would there be tickets for us when we got there?
When the hour came, we walked to the venue unsure what the evening would bring. My wife watched her every step. When we arrived, an attendant outside was standing there and I asked to speak to the promoter and told her my name. She promptly went in and came back with the promoter who had our tickets in hand. In my universe, that caused an uncontrollable reflex to hug. We were welcomed into the lobby. I believe I told the list that I would wear red rimmed shades if anybody was brave enough to introduce themselves to me. Sure enough, I met a few more. Maybe the staff at the appropriately named Majestic Theatre treated everyone the same way, but I felt like royalty being escorted to our seats by an usher. As we walked in, I noticed the sound person was preparing to record the show. I was going to want a copy somehow, someway. During the stellar performance, Greg sang an impromptu birthday song to someone in the audience named Louise as only he can. Now, I absolutely had to get a copy of the recording and was unafraid to express my deep desire with gratitude to the promoter before I exited the theater. Sometime during the evening, the Director of In Harmony made a little speech about her vision to create a neighborhood of stable homes for foster kids living with professionally trained parents and surrounded by affordable housing for the elderly. As a parent of two adopted children, this concept resonated with me. This was only day one with seven more shows to go in the next five nights.
Packed up in the morning and loading the car, we see Greg doing the same thing in our motel parking lot. We all had to drive to Hood River which is located along the banks of the Columbia. With Greg tunes playing in the car, little conversation transpired as we headed there. I formulated my own little speech in case I got to talk to Greg at the next destination. That wish came true after an incredibly raucous show. My attempts to get this show recorded were foiled and one I would have loved to have preserved. After the show, I had my chance to talk to Greg, Karen and Pete. My carefully structured words turned to audible mush, although the sentiment was received. Greg said “Get over it!” I took his words to heart and from that day forward treated him as a guy with an amazing talent with language and the human condition. To lighten things up, my wife presented him with a fishing hat. He put it on and went into an impersonation of Woody Allen. Never saw him wear that hat again and he never saw me treat him like deity again either.
I was able to capture and share four of the next six shows that trip. Who needs palm trees and white sand to find a vacation paradise?