Fishin’ in the dark at Oregon concert

Wendy and I have been fairly cautious about resuming a normal life as the COVID-19 pandemic winds down. So, in order to squeeze in a little fun before we go all-in on the pending Monkeypox protocols, we decided to go to a live concert last week. We chose Nitty Gritty Dirt Band at the Yamhill County Fair in McMinnville, OR.

We have been Dirt Band fans for over 50 years now, and have attended at least 50 of their concerts, so a mere 237-mile, 4½-hour drive didn’t deter us from attending the concert. To be completely accurate, I should say the long drive didn’t deter Wendy, and, as is my lot in life, I tagged along for the ride and the promise of a corndog.

We got off to an early start, which was good since we had to make a stop on BI to drop off Islay the Dog at the house of friends Andy and Susan. We love that they watch her when we travel, but Islay so enjoys staying with them that it can be difficult to get her to come home.

We also made a stop at Les Schwab in Poulsbo to drop off our daughter’s pickup truck for a little front-end work and then another stop to pick up a cup of coffee followed very soon by a fourth stop to adjust the personal hydration levels of one of the occupants of the car.

We finally made it to a highway and had a lovely drive to Oregon, including a delightful and unplanned tour of the wine country of the Willamette Valley brought to us by our GPS system, which seemed determined to show us most of the roads and sights within 20 miles of our destination, the historic Oregon Hotel in downtown McMinnville.

The Oregon Hotel, owned by the McMenamin’s hotel chain, has been operating since 1905 and has a great deal of historical charm. One of those is that adjoining rooms share a bathroom, a feature that my lovely wife neglected to mention to me. But the hotel also had a charming rooftop bar, which balanced out the shared bathroom scales for me. As it turned out, the room adjacent to ours was not occupied, so I was able to remove the dresser I had moved in front of the bathroom door as a safety caution, although that sentiment was not unanimously shared by the occupants of our room.

We got to the fair five hours before the 9 p.m. start of the concert. We were rewarded by being able to sit in the front row and listen to the sound check. And the sound check of the opening act. I may have failed to mention that Wendy likes to get to concerts early. I may have also failed to mention that it was hovering near 90 degrees in the shade, and there was no shade.

So while Wendy saved our seats, I wandered into the fair to check out the livestock and get something to drink. On my way to check out the cows and pigs, I stumbled across a vendor selling both straw hats and Tibetan bedspreads. For a mere $10 I purchased a straw hat that was about the size, and had about the same amount of style, as a manhole cover. But the hat provided blissful shade to my face, neck, shoulders, and torso as well as some bonus shade to anyone sitting next to or behind me. I offered to buy Wendy a similar hat, an offer she inexplicably declined.

The concert turned out to be well worth the drive. The band was in fine form, and the audience was engaged. I won’t bore you with a description about the music. Comic Steve Martin once said that talking about music is like dancing about architecture.

I will mention the current Dirt Band doesn’t include a banjo player, which was disappointing to Wendy but not to me. Coincidentally, John McEuen, a founding member of the Dirt Band, once told Wendy that as a boy he had informed his mom that when he grew up he wanted to be a banjo player. His mom had replied, “Sorry, you can’t do both son.”

Our drive home the next day was uneventful, by which I mean we didn’t have an accident, didn’t run out of gas, didn’t get lost, and only made a half dozen or so stops along the way. We’re already looking ahead for next concert outing. I hear the corndogs in Montana are particularly tasty this year, and I already have my straw hat.