Live and Electric Revisited: A Socially Distanced Concert Series

Tulsa, Oklahoma

October 8 – 11, 2020

Eight months ago, I thought that by now this blog would be full of posts about Hanson’s new album, Against The World, and the subsequent world tour by the same name. Just like everyone else this year, Hanson’s plans were effected by a global pandemic. There were a lot of new directions they could have gone, but the one they settled on was to put the new album on the back-burner, wait until it’s safe to go on a world tour and release the album then.

In the meantime, they’ve kept us all occupied in many ways: in the early spring Isaac hosted solo “Quaranstreams” on Instagram from his home, Taylor hosted a few “Home Jams” with some of his other musician friends, they added two extra tracks to this year’s fan club EP, they did a complete overhaul on their website, and they started a fan club podcast in which members, picked at random, had the chance to interview the band on a given topic. I got the chance to be one of those interviewers, and my topic was “Good Days”, both in reference to the song on the newest EP and the broader, general idea of good days. I never thought interviewing my favorite band via Zoom would be a thing, but it was so much fun, and the guys had a natural way of helping it all seem somewhat normal.

As we all adjusted to a new way of living in 2020, I assumed Hanson would eventually do some sort of official live stream concert with all three members, as opposed to just Taylor or Isaac doing their own things on Instagram. I did not, however, expect a live audience to be involved. So imagine my surprise when they announced they would be doing four live stream concert series from Cain’s Ballroom with a limited, socially distanced, in-person audience!

Deciding to attend any sort of in-person, non-virtual event these days takes a lot of consideration. I had to think through what risks I was willing to take, how those risks would effect other people in my life, what precautions would be set in place at the event, and what extra precautions I would need to take myself in order to feel safe. The event announcement said there would be 45 tables, placed 8 feet apart, with 4 chairs per table. I quickly did the math, which comes to a max total of 180 fans (10% of the 1,800 capacity venue) in the room, plus the band, their crew, the band’s family, and venue staff. The tables were sold whole; I had to buy all 4 seats at the table, and then it was up to me to control who I felt comfortable sharing the other 3 seats with. The announcement also stated that masks would be required while not seated at the tables, bathrooms would be at 50% capacity, hand sanitizing stations would be available around the venue, and social distancing would be enforced at bar and merchandise lines.

After talking amongst my friends, we all agreed we would feel comfortable attending while taking our own extra precautions. We kept our masks on for the entire duration of the shows, we kept our tables to the same people we were sharing a hotel room with (plus one local Tulsa friend), and took our temperatures before each show. I ended up splitting a hotel room with two friends: one slept on the pull-out couch, the other and I shared a king size bed with extra pillows placed between our heads. We also opted to rent a car for the weekend to avoid taking shuttles and Ubers. Two days before our trip I got a precautionary COVID test and got my negative results 24 hours before leaving for Tulsa. We brought Clorox wipes and sanitized everything in our hotel room, plus our table and chairs at the shows, just as I sanitized everything in and around my seat on my flights. After the first show, I realized how much my voice was not used to be used for two hours straight. So, on Saturday, I decided not to sing along at all during the two shows, which I also realized doubled as a safety precaution I was taking for everyone else. You better believe I was still lip-synching behind my mask, though. Five days after returning to Nashville, I got another precautionary COVID test, again with negative results.

Before the first show on Friday night, my friends and I had the chance to visit the Philbrook Museum of Art. They currently have an exhibit featuring Native women artists. There were a lot of really beautiful, moving pieces, and this is coming from someone who really isn’t that into visual art. We also spent some time walking around the botanical gardens even thought it was ridiculously hot outside. Then we drove up the street and visited Ida Red, which has become a tradition for me when in Tulsa. I stocked up on Zotz candy, a few fun sodas, and bought a 1990s collage puzzle which, of course, includes a small image of Hanson.

After recently splitting from their record label and going independent, the old label saw the success of Hanson’s first independent album, Underneath, and decided to release a “best of” album. Hanson heard they were planning to do this, so in turn, they released their own, and released it first. Thus, 2005’s “The Best of Hanson: Live & Electric”, a recording from Hanson’s Underneath Tour show in Melbourne, Australia. When Hanson announced that the theme for the October streaming series would be Live & Electric: Revisited to honor the 15th anniversary of the album, I was underwhelmed. Hanson has released a lot of material over the past 23 years, and with a lot of material comes a lot of anniversaries, so there has been quite the fair share of anniversary shows recently. But, given the lack of any event in the year 2020, I was still excited to be able to see something.

I have to say though, after the first show on Friday night, I was pleasantly surprised, and the two shows on Saturday were even better. Throughout the course of the three concerts, not one song was performed that was released after 2005, and there were a total of 39 unique songs performed, which is far fewer repeated songs than an average group of shows on a normal tour. (Friday Setlist, Saturday Setlist 1, Saturday Setlist 2.) This meant leaving out a lot more recent favorites that have been, in my opinion, over-played as of late, and pulling out some album deep cuts that have become more elusive in Hanson’s recent set lists. We were also surprised with a brand new cover of The Isley Brother’s “It’s Your Thing”, which proved to be a perfect fit for these brothers, too.

I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d feel at that first show on Friday night after such a long (for me) time since my last show – 249 days. Part of me thought maybe I’d end up with happy tears, and I was kind of surprised when that didn’t happen. It felt so good to be there though. Hanson concerts have always felt like a second home to me, even if I’m in a brand new city. (Not a new city this time, more on that below.) There’s something about these shows where for those 2 hours, I have no worries… and it turns out that’s true even if there’s a pandemic literally all around me. My church started back up in person last month (social distanced and masks required). After that first Sunday back, a friend asked me if it was weird. I told her it was definitely not a normal church experience, but when there’s been a year of nothing being normal, weird doesn’t really hold much meaning or effect anymore, and I’d say that holds true for this set of concerts as well. The least-normal part of the show was, for once, not wanting to get closer to the stage, or not wanting to squeeze in and dance between some of my friends.

Overall, I’m glad I went despite the risks that came with it. I had a great time with my friends visiting a city we all love (which at this point feels like a home away from home), and experiencing the energy of live music after an eight-month drought was good for my soul. Some added benefits of the socially distanced set-up for the shows meant there was actually room to dance (I was able to actually salsa to “Can’t Stop” for the first time ever), I never once felt claustrophobic, and when there are three two-hour long concerts back-to-back in the span of 28 hours, it is essential to have a chair to sit in during the slow songs. TL;DR: “You’re all so civilized… it’s freaking me out.” – Taylor Hanson.

Wintry Mix Tour: Austin, Dallas, New Orleans

December 6-11, 2019

Back in May, Hanson announced they were going to record two new albums this year, (for release in 2020 and 2021), and they hinted at the idea of debuting some of the new music this year. When all these one-off casino shows started popping up this summer and fall, with no new music in sight, I started to think the plan of previewing these new songs fell through.

But then, finally! In mid-September, Hanson announced a tour, aptly named The Wintry Mix Tour, that would include old favorites, Christmas songs, and NEW MUSIC! A quick look at the tour dates, and the decision of which stops I’d go to was easily made: I had never been to Austin, it fell on a weekend, I could catch a ride from there to Dallas and then down to New Orleans with a friend, and New Orleans has some of the best food in the world. I also knew I wanted to avoid anything in the north for fear that flights (or worse, shows) would be cancelled due to, well, actual wintry mixes.

The Travel

One of the perks of choosing Austin was that I got to catch up with a good friend who moved to Texas a couple years ago. We met for BBQ at Salt Lick, and the food was good, but our conversation was nourishing. She’s one of those friends where we can pick back up right where we left off a month ago. I’m already looking forward to my next trip to Austin for some more one-on-one Alison time.

After lunch, we went to see the state capitol building. As one should expect from Texas, it’s the biggest capitol in the country, including the nation’s capitol building. The grounds were beautiful, the temperature outside was perfect, and the views inside were dizzying. A break for caffeine was next on our list, with the plan to walk around South Congress for some shopping after. However, we had a so-tired-you-spit-your-coffee-out-laughing mishap, and ended up back in the hotel room to change clothes, and at that point decided to take the rest of the day slow.

If you follow me or any of my friends on social media, you might have seen that Yelena broke her wrist four hours before her flight to Austin. Thankfully the doctor gave her the go-ahead to continue the trip, but it’s a shame it didn’t happen early enough for her to buy a Zaccidents Happen sling for tour. Now that she was one-handed, she had to leave a few things back home since she wouldn’t be able to carry everything by herself through the airport. This meant we needed a quick run to WalMart while in Austin, and sure enough they were playing Hanson over the speakers.

We were really only in Dallas long enough to get in line and see the show, and we decided to show up right at show time in New Orleans so we could get some good cajun food. We went to The Gumbo Shop where I had a plate of shrimp creole, jambalaya, and my favorite, crawfish etouffee. We also, of course, had some post-show beignets from Cafe Du Mondte, and then I got a 2 hour nap before catching a 4am Uber to the airport, then it was back in Nashville and straight to work.

The Music

Sunday in Austin was the first show day, and I had successfully avoided spoilers. The first song up was “Finally, It’s Christmas”, which was a fitting start to a winter tour. The second song was a brand new one, “Don’t Ever Change” and I really hope this makes it to an album. It was catchy, but I couldn’t quite make out all the lyrics, but the ones I picked up on sound like this song will be quoted for years.

The fourth song in the set was one that in the past decade-ish has been reserved for encores, so there was some sort of Pavlovian “wait, are we already done?” response that was quite confusing. But the change-up was refreshing, and then we were back into some more Christmas tunes.

The acoustic set included new songs “Annalie”, reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Cecilia”, and “One”, a beautiful Zac piano ballad about sticking up for your partner and staying on the same side of the battle. (Or at least, that was my interpretation after one listen without being able to go back and digest the lyrics.) In Dallas and New Orleans, we had a different Zac solo called “Better Man”, which I enjoyed, but I think I liked “One” better. Only time will tell.

Without giving away the whole set list, or details of all the new songs, let me just say this: these shows were a blast, it was so great to have the mix of old, new, and Christmas, and the new songs have me anxiously awaiting Against The World and Black Mesa, and I’ll be really sad if none of these songs make the final cut.

The Memories

I’ve probably said this before, but while the music and the shows are what takes me on these trips, what I bring back with me is all the special little moments along the way that I’ll never forget. Whether laughing at the ridiculous drunk girl next to me, a conversation with the band about a song that got me through a tough time, or those post-show beignets with a side of serendipity, a part of the open road will always stay in my heart.

Anderson, IN

November 15-16, 2019

When I heard Hanson was going to be playing a show in Anderson, Indiana, my immediate reaction was “What the heck? That’s where I went to college! It’s a… nothing town!” I’m talking we would drive through the corn fields and get lost on purpose because there was nothing else to do type of town. I still don’t understand why their schedule took them there, but I was excited for the excuse to go back and be nostalgic.

We got into town Friday afternoon and I forced my friends to have lunch at a hole-in-the-wall diner called The Lemon Drop. It has about 4½ booths, a handful of barstools, and a little train that goes around the ceiling. I always loved their toasted cheeseburger, but I have to admit it didn’t taste quite as great this time around (yeah, Hanson pun intended). Maybe that’s the difference of having a bank account with more than one zero to the left of the decimal.

We spent a little time in the casino before the show (because, honestly, what else were we to do?) and I decided to go ahead and gamble a bit. I bet a total of $11 and ended with $0.03… now that’s how I remember life in Anderson. (You know… the whole broke college kid thing… mom, dad, I promise I didn’t gamble in college. They didn’t even have a casino back then.)

The concert was held in a room that is typically used to view horse races, so this was one of the stranger places I’ve seen Hanson perform (and yet somehow also my second time seeing them on a horse track this year). Here’s hoping that in 2020 we go back to some normal concert venues. The concert itself was high-energy, and no matter how many times I do this, I will never get over how nothing else in the world feels quite like being in the crowd with my friends, dancing away to our favorite songs. Zac is still not quite ready to be back on drums following his motorcycle accident, and toward the end of the show he walked right by my row playing his heart out on the cowbell. I’m ready for him to be healed and back on drums, but he makes for a great frontman and I’m curious to see if this has any impact on future Hanson shows and songs… will we end up seeing more Taylor on drums because of this? Who knows.

After the show, we went to grab some late-night dinner and drinks and, well, apparently Isaac and Taylor (and Dash & crew) had the same idea. I suppose when there’s no backstage and only one restaurant that’s open late, it ends up not being much of a coincidence. There were a couple other fans there as well, and we were all playing it cool… until MMMBop started playing over the TouchTunes jukebox. I have to admit, I immediately started judging the other fans. But, I owe them an apology as we later found out it was the restaurant manager that decided to play it. I guess when you’re in a small enough town, even a celebrity you never liked and barely remember is exciting enough to not know how to be chill. We weren’t going to ask them for photos, but as they were leaving, the staff started asking for pictures, and then so did the other fans, so we decided to go ahead as they didn’t seem to mind. So, here’s a special thanks to Isaac Tangent Man and Taylor Don Music for putting up with the ridiculousness that was Friday night.

Saturday morning, I had only one destination in mind: Deluxe Donuts. This was one of my go-to places back in college, and I knew even before leaving Nashville that this was one of the places where I had to go back. We just grabbed a couple donuts to go, and then I gave Katie and Katie (you read that right) a driving tour of campus. Five minutes later when that was done, I took them to the next (bigger) town over, Muncie. I was first introduced to Thai food in Muncie and they still have my favorite cashew nut chicken.

We then went back to campus, because the other Number One Place To Revisit on my list was Mocha Joe’s, the campus coffee shop. But, college students are lazy on the weekends, so it didn’t open until 1pm, so we had to wait until after lunch. I grabbed an (overly sweet, too-many-flavors combined) latte called I’m Dating Jesus (like… seriously) and wandered through the student center. It’s gotten quite the overhaul since I graduated in 2006, so at least now I know what I’ve been paying for all these years.

The absolute most meaningful place to me in all of Anderson, Indiana is a house I lived in for two months in the summer of 2005. In order to keep this blog a little shorter and not rehash it all, I’ll just direct you to my Instagram post here, if you’re curious enough to read about it. Anderson was always a pretty run-down town: a handful of chain restaurants and hotels near the interstate, a couple thousand college students (if that), faculty, and lower class factory workers. Going back for the first time since the Great Recession, it’s sad to see just how much worse it has gotten. I can dish out jokes about there being nothing to do there, but my heart will always go out to the people who live there and how they helped shape my early adulthood.

I’ll end this post with one more Anderson factoid: musician Jon McLaughlin grew up in Anderson, attended AU the same time I did, and now also lives in Nashville. If you’ve been following my blog, you may recall that I saw him play a show during my last night in Hawaii back in September, so now these random Hanson one-off shows have come full circle. It also feels appropriate to end with a college collage.

Minneapolis, MN

AKA: The One That Was F***ing Weird

Back on the Middle of Everywhere tour, I decided last minute to make the haul from the Grand Rapids, MI show to the next one in Minneapolis. One of my good Hanson friends lives there, and I knew other friends would be going, too. I ended up getting in town just long enough to go to the show, so I’ve been itching to go back and actually see the twin cities and properly cross Minnesota off my list of states I’ve visited. So when Hanson announced they were playing at Mystic Lake, I knew it was time to go back.

Just as I was leaving work on Thursday, Yelena told me she had a surprise: she got hooked up with front row tickets! We already had decent seats in the tiered back section, but I never expected this! I flew up after work and Yelena took me straight to Matt’s Bar for their famous Jucy Lucy: a burger with a cheese-stuffed patty, which turned out to be an absolutely delicious start to the trip.

On Friday, she took me out to the Sculpture Garden for the obligatory Cherry & Spoon photo, and then over to the Guthrie Theater which had great views of the city through some blue and yellow windows. After a trip to St. Paul for some fancy coffee at Cafe Astoria, we went back to Yelena’s to get ready for the show.

I always say Hanson concerts are weird, because you never know what might happen. Whether a tractor driving down the beach in the middle of the night, a child eat french fries in the front row, or Hanson’s offspring dressed as elves playing guitar tech for the night, crazy stuff just happens at these things.

So, here’s where things start to get weird this time. The dating app Hinge has a prompt you can put on your profile that says “Try to guess this about me…” and Yelena filled hers out with “which band have I seen live almost 100 times?” That morning, a guy commented on it and eerily said “as long as it’s not Hanson, we’re good.” So of course they started chatting, and it turns out he had been working at their concert at the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis this summer and had a bad experience with a fan who was there. (Plot twist: Yelena volunteers with BBP and had worked there with this guy a few years back!) 

After chatting with him for awhile, she told him she had an extra ticket to the show (thanks to our new front row spots) and that he should come… and he did! While they didn’t sit together for the show, the other girls and I ended up semi-“chaperoning” them on some sort of first date post-show at the casino food court. You really can’t make this stuff up.

People always ask me why I travel to see “the same concert” over and over, and I always tell them it’s never the same show. This is true, however, the one-off shows like these when they aren’t technically touring tend to all have a very similar set list. I have no problem with this, as it makes for its own sense of excitement for the familiar the same way other people travel to the same beach or family cabin every summer.  But this time they surprised us all by pulling out a song from their first album that doesn’t get played live much anymore, appropriately titled “Weird”. But this turned into a new version of the song when Taylor decided to drop the F-Bomb at the end: after all, “we all get a little bit f***ing weird sometimes”. So there are weird things number two and three.

If you aren’t a fan, or haven’t been keeping up with recent Hanson news, a few weeks back Zac had a motorcycle accident and broke three ribs, his collar bone, and his scapula. Banned from drumming, he’s been at the last few shows with his arm in a sling and his trusty cowbell. Just before this show, he was doctor-approved to be out of the sling, however he’s still not ready to drum, so we had one last chance to catch him up front and center instead of at the back of the stage behind his drum set. A unique experience for Zac and fans alike makes for weird thing number four.

Usually at a Hanson concert, the first few rows of fans are full of the high-energy “die-hards”. But this time, some of the people who own the land and some casino employees had tickets in the seats around us… people who may have never see Hanson before and probably barely remember who they even are. With several people sitting during the show while we were dancing up front, and a row of chairs behind us instead of fans trying to squeeze in, I present to you weird thing number five. This almost felt more like a private show for the cluster of friends around me. There was also a section of carpet between the stage and our seats, but security wouldn’t let us off the tile part of the floor, (apparently the carpet is hot lava after all), so we had to stand back a couple feet away from the stage. Weird Thing #6.

If you’ve ever been to a concert in your life, you know it’s pretty common for bands and artists to “end the show” and the come back out for an encore. Hanson encores typically consist of one or two of their more rock songs, but for some reason this time they ended on a ballad (weird thing #7), and a rare one at that (weird thing #8): “Song To Sing”. Isaac was in his feels that night and introduced the song by saying something along the lines of how music brings us all together and there will always be a “song to sing” for whatever life throws our way. This song actually has an extra verse that did not make the recorded version, but rather was only printed inside the back cover of the This Time Around album. As rare as hearing this song live has become, getting to hear this extra verse live is even more rare, but they chose to sing it this time (weird thing #9). This might be one of my favorite Hanson verses of all time:

“Don’t wander through this glassy surface expecting to find more than me, ‘cause what am I without a purpose but a lone mirage to see?”

Saturday morning we said goodbye to our friends who had to head back to Wisconsin, and Yelena and I went back to her place to sleep off what had turned into a very long night. We then met up with our friend Lindsey for dinner (pho) and then drinks at a cidery called Sociable. I’m not huge on beers, but I do love ciders. I couldn’t make a decision (no one who knows me should be surprised by this) so I ended up with a flight and it turns out I made the right choice.

Lindsey and her husband work at a youth ice center in town and had early shifts on Sunday morning. They graciously offered for us to meet them down there for some rides on the Zamboni. #WhenInMinnesota, I guess. We had talked about doing this for a couple months and I had been telling everyone I was more exited about the Zamboni than I was Hanson, and it did not disappoint! Then, as punishment (jk) for making me take her to the butterfly wing mural in Nashville, I made Yelena take me to the Mall of America. 

This summer, I was diagnosed with an inner-ear disorder called Ménière’s Disease, which causes episodes of tinnitus and hearing loss in one ear, dizziness, and vertigo. Between my head cold, the crazy patterns of the casino ceilings and floors, and the lights from the concert, I had been feeling off the whole weekend and even the Zamboni left me feeling a little dizzy. So I decided to play it safe and opted out of the amusement rides in the mall. But, I still wanted to go because it felt like the obligatory thing to say I did in Minneapolis. 

As we walked by a set of doors, I noticed it had started snowing. The exact words that came out of my mouth were, “It’s snowing! Why are we inside?” and I ran out the doors like a small child. I’d like to thank the city of Minneapolis for ending my trip with such a magical experience.

Just like those few flakes of snow, sometimes the most special memories on these trips are the small moments that won’t mean much of anything to anyone who wasn’t there, whether that’s a sincere thank you when you least expect it, or the “nights up late by the fireplace”. After all, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and maybe that applies to casinos in Minnesota, too.

I see you seeing me seeing you…

Hawaii

You may know by now that I’m trying to see all 50 states before I turn 50*. I always figured Hawaii would be one of the last states I’d visit because it’s so far away and expensive and therefore relatively unattainable. When Hanson announced they were playing their first ever show in Hawaii, a group of my friends all jumped on the chance to go. I decided to look up flights so I could talk myself out of going; surely I wouldn’t be able to afford them. Imagine my surprise when they were about 30% cheaper than I expected AND I had enough credit card points to book the flights for free. But surely hotels would be too pricey, right? Well, turns out not so much when you split an AirBNB with 5 of your friends. So at this point the only thing standing between me and paradise was my PTO approval… but my boss was on his own vacation, so I didn’t have the green light until a mere 6 weeks before our departure. Not the most spontaneous trip** I’ve ever done, but definitely the most last minute in relation to the distance traveled.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

After about 12 hours of travel, I landed in Honolulu a little after 2pm Hawaii time. Our first stop was Costco to pick up some snacks and bottled water for our AirBNB (and a hot dog because there were no meals served on my flights). Costco + jet lag + delirium = not the best combo, but we survived. I had hoped to squeeze in a little bit of beach time on day one, but at the sake of keeping a long, frustrating story short, a parking garage fiasco had different plans for us that day; we got to our building around 4:45pm and made it our room by 6:30pm. After freshening up and unwinding for a bit, we went to a nearby ABC store for some pineapple wine and a hole in the wall place for sushi and loco moco and brought it all back to the AirBNB. And yes, that included spam sushi.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Our first real day in Hawaii was a rainy one. We had booked reservations to a luau that night, and all day we were watching to see if the rain would clear up or if the luau would be cancelled. We had also made reservations to see the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor that morning, but that was rain or shine. On the way to Pearl Harbor, we stopped for some malasadas – Portuguese donuts – that we had been told to try while we were there. After a cream filling mishap and a subsequent wardrobe change, we still made it to Pearl Harbor in time for the boat ride. The rain helped create an appropriate somber mood at the memorial. I was amazed to learn the Arizona is still leaking fuel even almost 80 years later, which could be smelled as soon as we got off the boat.

The rain finally cleared and we were able to make it to our luau. For the most part, it was what I expected: leis, frozen cocktails, a pig roast, and hula dancers. But there were also more activities you could choose to participate in, such as canoe rides and javelin throwing. It’s for sure a touristy thing, but it wasn’t as hokey as I thought it would be, and I would go to another one if I ever make it back to Hawaii.

Thursday, September 26, 2019: The Hanson Concert

For me, this trip was more about getting to see Hawaii than it was about getting to see Hanson – they were just the excuse for the trip. I figured we would get the typical festival/one-off setlist, and I wasn’t wrong. However, there was an energy during the show that I haven’t seen in awhile now. It was one of the smaller venues I’ve seen Hanson in recently, and that always makes it more special. To top it all off, Zac gave my friend his drumsticks at the end of the show! Taylor had a DJ set afterwards, and, well, it was a Taylor DJ set. During our Costco run, we had the foresight to buy a box of pizza rolls, and we had an After Party after party in our AirBNB. Honestly this was one of the best post-Hanson concert food choices I’ve made.

Friday, September 27, 2019

While everyone else in our group followed Hanson off to snowy Lake Tahoe on Friday, my friend Yelena and I stayed behind to see more of Oahu. We took our time driving up the east coast of the island to the North Shore, stopping for photo ops and a shrimp truck along the way. There are three things I geek out on: Hanson, Harry Potter, and LOST. So, of course I made it a point to find the beach where they filmed LOST. We walked along the beach, had a heart to heart, and stuck around for the sunset. And I would say we crashed a wedding, but we got there first; I may or may not be wearing a swimsuit in the background of some strangers’ wedding photos.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Ahh, Saturday – the one day on this trip I got to sleep in. And when I say I got to sleep in, I mean jet lag finally let me sleep until 7am rather than 4am local time. We had talked about hiking Diamond Head or Makapu’u but ended up doing Manoa Falls instead, and I think we made the right choice. It was neat to be inland for awhile and see the rainforest and mountains. The hike was very muddy and I thought for sure we’d slip and fall on the way down, but we made it out alive. After hiking, we grabbed lunch then went to Lanikai Beach – supposedly the #1 beach in America and the #8 beach in the world. It was a small beach, with absolutely gorgeous water, clean sand, and a beautiful view of Na Mokulua. We also made friends with a dog named Max who would stand on the beach and bark at strangers until someone would throw his frisbee in the water for him. I’m pretty sure Max is my spirit animal.

On our way back to Honolulu, we stopped to see the Halona Blowhole – a rock formation where water sprays up through a hole in the rocks. Next to it was a neat cove where people were swimming and jumping off rocks. I wish we had had a little more time to go swimming there, but at this point it was nearing dusk, and we had plans back in Honolulu… very “it’s a small world” plans. I went to college with a musician named Jon McLaughlin. He doesn’t know me, I never knew him, but it was a small Christian college and he was there studying music. He lives in Nashville now, and the week before our trip, my friend at work was asking about my Hawaii plans. He’s friends with Jon and told me he had a show while we were there. He texted Jon and got us on the guest list, and turns out, the venue was just a couple blocks away from our hotel. He’s a phenomenal pianist (can he give Taylor some lessons, please?) and I suggest you check him out if you haven’t. (Also, if anyone reading this happens to have the power to make this happen, Jon would be an excellent BTTI guest.)

For being such a small island, Oahu had a lot to do and see! If I make another trip to Hawaii, I’d like to go to Maui and Kauai, but I wouldn’t mind another day on Oahu to spend some time at Halona Cove and another day at Lanikai Beach. But, in the meantime, I’ll be here at home enjoying the fact that Nashville finally decided to stop being 90 and embrace fall.

*11 states, 14 years to go.

**That award is held by the time a friend I decided at 9pm to drive 8+ hours through the night from Nashville to Kansas City to go to a show the following day. We were packed up and in the car by 9:30pm.