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22C, 22B Anonymous seat designations unless, of course, this plane goes down in flames. A child screams in terror. But not one of mine. United Flight 1422 (operated by USAir) LAX to Charlotte. To my right, a well groomed southern man with anxious pale blue eyes reads the latest spy novel on his new iPad. Just in front, a heavy southern woman wears all black, brushes her dyed blond hair, drinks diet coke, wedges herself into her creaking seat, To my left, Paul Lacques reads a biography of Napoleon while snacking on Traders Joe’s trail mix: almonds, pistachios, dried cranberries, and dark chocolate. We’re feeling good because we gamed the system again, loaded extra crap into a large $3 yard sale suitcase after it was weighed at the ticket counter and before we dropped it off at TSA. Emboldened by our cleverness, PL breezed past the gate agent and slid his soft-bagged guitar into the overhead bin on this full flight. It’s tough to pull one over on the airlines in the post-9/11 era but we’ve done it this morning. Hawks 1, Airlines 0. But we don’t want to get over-confident. We know all too well that the airlines could smack us down with one fell swoop, or one stomach churning drop in altitude. For the moment, we’ll toast our victory with sparkling water.

Today marks the genuine start of our summer travels. Our trip with Old Californio up to Auburn and beyond was a prelude, an introduction, a foreshadowing. This is now the real Summer of 2012. The papers have been graded, the kids kissed goodbye, the bills paid. We must now hit the festival circuit. Airports, motels, and porta-potty adjacent stages await our unique brand of country rock freedom. And oh, how we long for them.

But don’t think it’s all Bloody Mary’s and bong hits, dear reader. Being a touring Country Rocker on the road in 2012 takes a great deal of preproduction work. Booking the gigs, routing the tours, buying the plane tickets, renting to vehicles and the rooms, the endless emails. It takes the kind of genuine clerical skills we all got in this business to avoid in the first place. So we make our compromises, shuffle our papers, curse our keyboards, and practice our guitars so at this moment we can Sikh and Discover the Freedom of the Road.

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