Olympic Shuffleboard

Hello, friends! Rob here.

I made eye contact with a wild bear last week. The Revivalists closed out our last run of shows with an entirely-too-brief and overwhelmingly pleasant visit to Sioux City, Iowa two Saturdays ago, and the rest of the band flew home the following day.  I chose to spend my America Week with my wife and some friends in a house wedged between the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the wilds outside of Bryson City, North Carolina. Two notes from my travel day: 1) It is not easy to get from Sioux City, Iowa to Bryson City, North Carolina in the span of a single day. 2) The Sioux City airport has the greatest airport code not to be immortalized in a Rush song, and they are wise enough to embrace it:

Anyway, the bear. Fortunately, our encounter wasn't nearly as interesting as the other bear-related story making the rounds this week. We turned a corner on a hiking trail, and there it was, probably fifty to a hundred yards ahead, just chilling in the middle of the trail. We backed away calmly, and once we had established a safe distance immediately began kicking ourselves for not attempting to snap a photograph, even though "mauled by wild animal while attempting to take selfieā€ would have made for a pretty emBEARassing epitaph.

But it kind of got me thinking. We encountered our bear on a little cutoff trail within half a mile of a river full of families on inner tubes. My phone had like three bars. Despite the fact that a run-in with a black bear can absolutely ruin your day, they're fairly timid animals- humans half their size can usually chase them off just by yelling at them. We didn't expect to cross paths with one in such a heavily-trafficked area. I thought humanity owned this section of the world. I was wrong.

I wonder how many places like this exist? Rabbits grazing under the shrubberies outside of a Holiday Inn, birds building nests in the rafters inside an airport concourse, average-looking homes with massive colonies of insects writhing in the spaces between the walls (relax, I'm not talking about your walls.  That would never happen to you). Come to think of it, I wonder if anywhere isn't like this? Can we ever really get away from nature? We can build on top of it, but eventually the ground shifts, the pavement splits, and weeds grow in the cracks. We like to think we own this world, but I'm not sure that's even possible. I swear to God I'm not high.

Speaking of nature kicking our asses, I've been absolutely roasting lately. We made a short trip up to Boston for Levitate Music and Arts Festival last weekend, which was a lovely event in a charming, rustic setting, but come on. Boston is like twelve thousand miles north of New Orleans. Surely, it won't be incredibly hot and- oh, no, it is? Okay.  TIME TO SWEAT FOREVER. Good thing I had an extra t-shirt. Always bring an extra t-shirt. That's a solid band-guy protip right there.

This is going to be a great week. It's weird, if I look at the band's calendar, it looks busy, but we're really only doing three things, and one of them is at a winery, so it can't possibly be considered work.  After that, we'll get to cross off a new city in Vancouver and a new TV show in Kimmel (how awesome is it that we're collecting those now?).  Good stuff. Anyway, I gotta go pack, so bye.