This is by far the longest I’ve ever let this thing sit here alone, without words.
I suppose many things have kept me away from writing..
I am back, and I am here, and I am going to give you a little preview of this trip I have set loose on.
I have to start with today, because its too cool for me not to share right away. Well, I’ll start with last night..
I left Winnipeg around 4pm, after finishing a swim and run at the YMCA pool (my new place of showering), they also let me in for free, first timers get a complimentary day pass I found out.
I made it across the border, for the first time in my life it was painless, only took a couple minutes, the border guard was half friendly, and even gave a chuckle when I told him I was a full-time musician. Usually I have the worst luck with these things!
My plan was to hit the pavement until I made it to Minneapolis, about a 7 hour drive. Then I stopped at a Mcdonalds halfway, since I dont have any data/wifi while in the states, I stole some from the worlds largest fast food Industry, Mcdickkkss.
Bob Dylan is from Minnesota, he spent his youth in a town called Duluth and his teenage years in a small county town called Hibbing.
I grabbed a map, and went online to look how far away I was from this place, it was about a 6 hour detour total, I left the land of fries and had some hesitation as I was driving down the highway.
I wanted to check out Minneapolis, as its mentioned in some of my favorite tunes, including Waits’s “Christmas card from a hooker in Minneapolis”. One of the saddest and best Christmas songs ever written.. Plus Minneapolis was on route to Toronto.
But I had a flash of something calling me and telling me to steer towards Hibbing, so I did.
I drove over night, arriving In Hibbing, Minnesota at around 4am, Located Dylans old stomping grounds and his home, 2425 7 Ave E, where he lived from 1947-1959 (his high school years).
I slept on the street, in the back of my van and woke up in the morning to a scary, aggressive, barking dog, tied to a lengthy chain on the front steps of Bobs house.. haha.. I tried to calm him down but he was relentless, and I thought, fuck what a drag, this dog is here for a reason. To keep people like me away. So I went around back and knocked on the back door, a man pulled the curtain free from one of the windows inside, I asked him if this was Dylans old house and he shook his head in acknowledgement, and I asked if I could have a moment then he dropped the curtain and never answered. Then all of the sudden the barking dog returned, this guy let his dog loose from the chain and sent him on me! The dog got close and then I screamed at it with my foot in the air as it was a bout to rip a chunk of flesh out of my thigh, and it cowered away, knowing I gained my territory. I like dogs, but hate dogs like that man.
I went up to the front door this time and knocked a couple times, Stood there a while, then finally the door creaked open. It was an old grumpy man who was not very excited to see me. I told him that I was from Canada, that I am a huge Dylan fan, and asked him if I could just spend a moment looking around. His attitude changed to a more gentle nature, but he said Its a private home now, and there are no exceptions, and that he gets people from all over the world stopping by and he just doesn’t have the time of day anymore. He wanted to be at peace, and I respected that. I said thank you, and asked if he minded if i took a couple photos and if it was ok if I hung outside for a while. He said hang as long as you want man, and then closed the door, with the dog staying inside. I stood in the front lawn for longer than I expected and was in awe, and blessed with my feet in the dirty grass. Then i got back into my van and left town.
Duluth, Bob’s other childhood home was only 75 miles away, 519 3rd Ave E. So I headed that way, halfway through the drive I saw one of the biggest and most pure Bald Eagles I think Ive ever witnessed. It was on the other side of the highway, i thought it was one of those fake ones that people put up in trees sometimes. I had to make a u-turn. I got out and walked towards this dead coniferous he was perched in. Sure enough it wasnt a fake, his head turned, looked at me and then flew away. What a wing span, I like to think he’s still following me right now!
I pulled into Duluth, this house was a little harder to find, I asked a woman in the neighbourhood, she directed me. Did lots of walking around the hilly town and found the place. Bob spent his first 7 years on earth here, It was a tiny upstairs pad of an old duplex style home, mustard yellow. I rang the bell and knocked, waited ten minutes then tried again, no answer. So I went for a drive, bought some socks and carrots from Walmart and went back an hour later. Knocked again and still no one home. Or maybe there was and maybe it was the same case as Hibbing, where they didn’t want any visitors. Anyways i sat on the front steps with my guitar and just played for a while until I was ready to make a move out of town again.
I am so glad I did this today, it was worth the extra hours and almost getting whatever kind of rabies that dog carried haha. Its the closest Ive felt to being one with one of my favourite musical ancestors of all time. Feeling pretty thankful for having the opportunity to have the time and freedom to have done that.
Wow, ok, that was just today. I will try and summarize the rest of whats going on here in a more brief fashion, as Im in another Mcdonalds, this time in a town called Marquette, Michigan. Its closing in 15 minutes which means Im out of wifi again, which means I wont be able to post this till probably tomorrow afternoon.
As I walked in here, Crimson and Clover was blasting though the speakers, I’m now the only one in here, its nice. Tommy and The Shondells kill me in times like these.
Im breeching upon Sault Ste. Marie and then will be inching closer to getting back inside of Canada. Ill be able to use my phone again.
Ive zippered up and around Lake Superior and made my way through the Northern beauty of Minnesota country.. Ive learned this is the best way ever (for myself at least) to really learn the geography of this area and these places, and find direction in them. The wildlife has been sparse, I have seen two deer, just flirting with the highway from the ditches but not poking out far enough thankfully. I Have also seen two foxes, sporting there beautiful autumn fur, so so pretty. And of course, the Eagle today.
My shows leading up to this point have all been kind to me. Lloydminster, well I just love The Root and what they do for community and art and that town and all the travellers coming through. Saskatoon was fun, made some new fans and got to hear Michael Rault for the first time in a while, his sound is fuzzy and thick and bluesy and his band sure kicks ass. Winnipeg, of course you cant go wrong at Times Changed, though next time Id like to bring a band, that room can be hard to win, as comrade Scott Cook told me when we met in a Regina parking lot earlier that morning of the show. My friend Stu Reid was generous enough to host a House concert in Winnipeg the next night which was a highlight and thrill and helped me put some gas in the tank.
I didn’t mention yet, but I bought a 2005 blue grand caravan, I have slept in the back of it every night. I think this is night 7 or 8 for me as I tested it in Edmonton as well. Plan to do so for as long as I can before it gets too cold out here. Tonight is definitely the coldest night so far, I think its at least zero out. brrrr, gotta buy some long johns next maybe. I realized I forgot my winter jacket at home, of course I would..
They’re kicking me out of here. Ill put some photos of these houses on my FB music page.
I will be doing my best to put something up here on the regular as well.
Im doing lots of thinking, writing, down these open roads, thinking of home, hope the Oilers won tonight, Hope this finds you well. Goodnight