Monday 11 November 2013

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Life Lessons via Maroon 5

As much as I'd looked forward to it happening, I can honestly say the moment didn't unfold as I'd envisioned it. Of course I'd never really settled on a singular vision of what this event would look like. Some things I was fairly sure about. Being on the road was a given. Things not going according to plan always seemed like a likely occurrence. The fact that we were outdoors came as a bit of a surprise, although not as much as the fact that we were standing in the middle of a driving rain storm and not bothering to seek shelter.

Adam Levine standing at the bottom of a hill and telling us it was time to go home.....That part was new.

Waiting for Maroon 5 at the Gorge amphitheater in Washington State
Happy, waiting for the show to start

In hindsight, buying tickets for an outdoor concert by Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson for late September was probably not my best idea. The fall weather in the Pacific Northwest lends itself more towards splashing in puddles than sitting on lawn blankets, and we're not exactly known as a family of outdoor enthusiasts at the best of times. Still, the combination of two artists that I really enjoy with a chance to finally see the Gorge Amphitheater at a really good price (under $40) was too much to resist. 

My kids on the other hand, probably could have resisted. Perhaps demonstrating that they understand weather forecasts better than I do, there was definitely some hesitation on their part after the words "High winds and driving rain" kept getting repeated on the radio. One of them was even bold enough to ask whether or not this trip was a "good idea", forcing me to take the time to explain that "Weather forecasts are usually exaggerated and it'll probably clear up by showtime. Besides, what's a little rain when it comes to seeing a concert? You know back when I was your age...", but I never got to finish that thought. You'd think that eye-rolling would be a silent activity, but I assure you that teenagers can do it at a volume that drowns out whatever lesson you're trying to convey. 

The route to the Gorge amphitheater in Washington State
Looks like a great day for a concert!

So when we arrived at the Gorge and there was no rain falling, I was feeling rather pleased with myself. Sure it was a little breezy, but in the 25 year history of concerts at the Gorge they've never had to cancel a show for weather and the fact that it was a little difficult to maintain a fancy hairdo didn't seem like it was going to be enough to stop that streak. I allowed myself to relax just a little, figuring that this evening was going to go off as planned. 

Wind at the Gorge before concert
Just a little breezy in the parking lot

You see, when I make all these travel plans I do my very best to make sure that everything goes smoothly. It's not because I want to enjoy myself and don't tell, her but it's not because I want Lori to be happy either. I spend hour after hour making and revamping plans because I want my kids to enjoy traveling. It's one of those three golden rules I try and leave them with. Love thy neighbor, honor thy mother and father, and thou shalt not stay home on long weekends. I'm pretty sure it's biblical even if there's some reading between the lines required.

Our arrival at the Gorge was perfectly timed, just as the first singer who I didn't recognize was finishing her set. This left us time to make the hike up to the empty areas at the top of the amphitheater to find a place to set up before Kelly Clarkson hit the stage. It's quite a long walk up to the top of the Gorge, and as we approached the empty areas up at the top it became apparent that the parking lot had been in a sheltered location. The wind and rain blowing over the top of the amphitheater were really quite strong and standing at the top of the hill was something akin to trying to stay upright in a wind tunnel. Coincidentally, the top of the hill was also where all the Porta Pottys were. You want a real travel experience, try using one of those things in the pitch black with 35 mph winds blowing you around. Very, very funny to watch as long as it's not you who needs to go to the bathroom.

We set up in as sheltered a location as we could find near the top of the hill and waited for the show to start. There was plenty of entertainment watching people chasing things around the amphitheater that they weren't hanging onto quite tight enough. A few people were even brave enough to go right to the top of the Gorge and stand against the wind for as long as they could, although more than a couple of them ended up getting blown head over heels down the hillside. It was great to watch, but after a while you couldn't help but notice that the time between sets was stretching really long.

Hillside seats for the Gorge amphitheater
Getting a little tired of waiting...

I guess we all knew it was coming. After the Sugarland incident there's no messing around with concert stages and wind anymore. The first sign was about an hour into the delay when you suddenly saw all the concessions begin to close down. The next indicator was when the roadies started removing band equipment from the stage, and then about ten minutes after that Adam Levine came out on stage with Kelly Clarkson to tell us that the show was cancelled.

Maroon 5 concert cancelled at the Gorge amphitheater in Washington State
3 of us look sad the show is cancelled. One just looks confused.

This left me standing on a hillside in the driving rain, apologizing to my children for dragging them out here on a night like this. I tried to explain that I'd done my research and spent the time making the plans right, but I guess it just wasn't meant to be. In the midst of my apology however my kids stopped me and said "Dad...don't worry about it. This was better than a concert. It was an adventure. It was great!"

That was the moment that made my whole year. Knowing that your kids can enjoy the journey even if the destination is a complete bust takes all the pressure off. Travel isn't always smooth. It's filled with broken down buses and uncomfortable nights spent sleeping on the floor of airports, but if you can consider it all an adventure then you've probably learned all I can teach you about travel. Congratulations kids.

Now let's work on that whole "Honor thy Mother and Father" thing.

Written by Steve Pratt