Touring, c. 2004

I was cleaning out the garage a bit, when I came across a box that has literally been in storage in some way or another since 2004. It was a box of touring stuff, cleared out of a van or trailer or rehearsal space at some point during our lives. These items, circa 2003-2004, are extremely culturally significant for several reasons.

In 2004, things like digital cameras, portable DVD players and a GPS would set you back at least $700 for the crappiest one out there. Now they give these things away when you open a bank account. Back then, to tour we absolutely needed:

Maps of America’s more complicated cities (note that one map is of JFK airport).

Guide book. How else would we find a decent restaurant? Or a museum? Remember, this is pre-WiFi and they hadn’t even invented the iPod yet, let alone the iPhone. There was no app to make a decision for you. You had to use your brain.

We were touring in an RV with trailer (a photo of our rig in Kamloops, BC). It was really a huge step up from a van with trailer. We had a kitchen, a pisser, and we could all sleep in the thing and therefore not have to spend hundreds of dollars every night on hotel rooms. It was like a tour bus you drive yourself.

I have a million of these in our house. These are the electrical clips you need to attach the trailer’s lighting system to the RV/van’s running and brake lights. U-Haul or wherever made us buy a new set of these every time we rented a trailer (of course because we’d forgotten to bring our old ones or quite simply, left the clips on the previous rental when we returned it). I have a ton of these and also trailer locks of varying security levels.

We used to occasionally stay in bonafide trailer parks on some of our North American tours. Yes: actual trailer parks where we often feared for our lives. But it was cheap. Also, in a RV we would need to fill the water tank and empty the toilet, which was gross, but this book, The Next Exit, was a life saver. It told us where to go, where to stay, which truck-stops would accommodate us, where the next Cracker Barrel was, etc. Now, GPS can tell us all these things. But back then, you had to know how to read and use common sense. For example, pulling up to a trailer park in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night and wondering: “Will we be attacked by dogs in the morning? Let’s try the next one.” Or waking up and seeing Confederate flags everywhere. We got driven out of a trailer park in Memphis, TN by a old man riding an ATV and wearing a Confederate flag hat. But we saw Elvis that day so it was OK.

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