Tag Archives: camping

Dead & Co. The Gorge Amphitheatre Friday, June 29th 2018

Dead & Co The Gorge 2018

The Gorge Amphitheatre has been on my bucket list for years. Like over 20 year it has been on my list. I remember seeing pictures from the lawn and it just looked amazing. The back of the stage opens up to the Columbia River and the sun sets to the west. It is wide open spaces and a beautiful sight to see. I read that original it was going to be a winery. Glad they decided to make it a music venue instead.

From my house The Gorge is a four hour drive. It is very close to Yakima and Spokane with the larger cities of Seattle and Portland as outliers. Now the great thing about this place is you can camp which makes perfect sense because it is in the middle of no where. How else do you expect to get that view.

The Dead & Co. show was a Friday night so I took the whole day off to travel, setup camp, and chill out a little before the show. I took my time getting up and getting packed which was great to just relax during a weekday. After the four hour drive I got onsite and setup camp. By the late afternoon I was tired from the heat and took a nap. Nothing like a nap in the middle of the day.

I really kept getting lost just looking at the surounding landscape. Such a great place to see a live concert.

The crowd and people here were pretty cool. It was a great seeing all these like minded people camping and getting ready for the show. Lots of older people like I would expect, many around my age and even some “young” folks as well. My camp neighbors looked to be in their early 20’s. The lot was also a happening place with your traditional vendors and shakedown street setup. People everywhere just hanging out.

As night wore on I started making my way to the venue. I had a lawn seat and to be honest I didn’t know what to expect when I got there. The lawn is a really weird one. You are so high and there is no direct access to the seating area below which is probably 50′ or more down. Then in front of that they have a large orchestra pit area. Dead & Co. offered all sorts of ticket packages. I was cheap and just went with the lawn seat which was already pretty expensive.

I actually arrived late to the lawn. It was easily 80% filled when I got there and that was with 30 minutes to lights out. I managed to find a decent spot and then got lost by the landscape. Despite it being warm out it was an amazing view from the lawn. As the sun set over the gorge the light played some amazing tricks on the canyon walls.

Dead & Co. started just before 7:30 and played for rather short set. I have been watching Bob Weir over the last few years and this night was another example of him showing his age. At times things seamed force and awkward  in his playing. At other times he would have moment of brilliance. It was awesome to see John Mayer as well. Always thought he was a great addition to the group and can really get into some guitar solos.

By the second set the sun was really getting low on the horizon till it was finally slipped below the horizon. Even with the sun gone the full moon really lite up the valley. I was texting a friend back and forth during the entire show and I remember saying at one point it was so peaceful. I really found myself getting lost just watching nature all around me and the crowd on the lawn.

Second set was ok. I thought they really killed the mode with Comes a Time and they never really recovered. I was talking with my other camp neighbors and one of them strongly disagreed with me on that last point. He loved the Jerry stuff and couldn’t get enough of it. One thing that never lost my attention, the scenery.

After the show the party kept going. I got back to my campsite and cooked some food while I watched several fireworks displays in the lot. Highly illegal and dangerous considering the the dry conditions but still fun to watch. I wasn’t for certain seeing fireworks on the fourth so this was a welcome sight. That night I slept well despite the party raging for hours deep into the night.

The next morning I planned to camp at Pine Flats Campground a little further north and east of west. I just wasn’t feeling well and decided to cut my losses spending another long day in the heat and felling like shit. It was a lazy morning packing and getting out of the campsite. I did take the time to make some coffee and have a cigar which was awesome. After four hours I was back home. I was up long enough to have some food and then take another well deserved nap.

Dead & Co. Friday, June 29th 2018
The Gorge Amphitheatre – Quincy, WA

Set 1 starts at 7:23pm

  1. Mississippi Half-Step
  2. Bertha
  3. Tennessee Jed
  4. Mr. Charlie*
  5. Loser
  6. Crazy Fingers >
  7. Cumberland Blues
    Set 1 over at 8:26pm

Set 2 starts at 9:07pm

  1. Playing in the Band >
  2. Eyes of the World
  3. Comes a Time (really kills the mode)
  4. Terrapin Station >
  5. drums >
  6. space >
  7. New Speedway Boogie >
  8. Black Peter >
  9. Playing in the Band reprise
    Set over at 10:53pm

    Encore starts at 10:54pm
  10. U.S. Blues
    House lights at 11:01pm

* live debut by Dead & Co.

Birthday Weekend at Kelly’s Ford

Wednesday was Nancy’s birthday and during our celebrations that night we formulated a plan over the weekend to visit the Inn at Kelly’s Ford for a family get together.  My dad and Pat have been their twice before and said it is a great bed and breakfast in Remington, VA.  We gather the troops and headed out on Saturday for a short weekend escape.

pre-game at Morais Vineyards
pre-game at Morais Vineyards

The day started off with a trip to Morais Vineyards in Bealeton.  It has only been open for a year and the place is pretty impressive.  Nichole came to our house and we drove out to meet Greg and Maggie who already had wine poured for everyone and another bottle breathing.  In typical Greg style, the table was decorated and a spread of food out.  Pat, Matt and my Dad showed up here for a quick drink before heading to the inn.  We stayed here for a couple hours to drink some really good wines and smoke some cigars before heading to Kelly’s Ford.

My dad and Pat rented an entire house for the family to gather at for the night and a campsite for Matt and I.  We didn’t spend much time here other than eating dinner.  Most of the time we spent down at the camp site around a fire.  Bobby and Tracy couldn’t stay the night but did join us for most of the evening.  If the weather was not going to be so cold they would have camped out with Matt and I.  We spent a few hours around a small camp fire before heading back to the house for a family meal.

sunrise at the campsite
sunrise at the campsite

With bellies full everyone headed to the Inn while Bobby, Matt and I headed to the camp site.  The plan was to have a few drinks and enjoy some live music then everyone would join us at the campfire.  The three of us just started to get the fire going when all of a sudden, I see headlights coming through the forest.  The bar was a bust as it was beyond capacity with little hope of anyone getting a drink.  Instead of fighting the crowds everyone headed to the campsite for free drinks and conversation.

We must have spent 4 hours sitting around that camp fire in near freezing weather having a great time.  I know it doesn’t sound exciting but it was really great just sitting around the fire with the family.  We laughed and told stories all night, cooked a crap load of hotdogs and marshmallows too.  By midnight Nichole was already asleep with everyone else getting drowse.  Everyone headed back to the house while Matt and I settled in for a great nights sleep outside.  By 4am it was a little below freezing but in my nice 15 degree North Face sleeping bag, I was toasty warm.  I need to get a new sleeping matte but other than that I was fine.

I woke up the next more a little after dawn to see the sun rise across the field we were sleeping in, it was pretty cool.  Greg and Maggie came down to take us to breakfast at the Inn.  The breakfast was unimpressive but the view from the house across the field was spectacular.

inn_at_kellys_ford_2013-04Once the house was picked up and Matt and I broke down our campsite and everyone parted ways.  Bobby and Tracy left the night before and Greg and Maggie boogied just after breakfast. The rest of us went to Marterella Winery for a tasting.  We got there as they opened and the ladies did a tasting of red wines.  Nancy, Nichole and I continued the wine tour and headed across the street to Mediterranean Cellars for another tasting and to sit back and enjoy a glass.  It was not until 3pm that afternoon before we got home and I could finally take a shower.

It was a great weekend spent with the family to celebrate Nancy’s birthday.  Gifts are always appreciated but I have found in my old age that just getting together with family and friends beats getting a nice gift any day.  I hope in the future to back to the Inn at Kelly’s Ford for some more camping with the family or just to get away for a romantic weekend with Nancy.  Maybe next year we will come back to relieve the glory days of this trip.

Newport Jazz Festival Day 1 2009

the crowd at Newport

Photo Gallery

What an adventure this past weekend was.  I decided at the last minute to catch the Newport Jazz Festival over the weekend, actually bought my ticket on Friday and that night I began my journey at 10pm.  I drove as far as I could make it before I needed to pull off at a rest stop to get some sleep.  My goal was to make it to the Melville Ponds Campground and then head over to Fort Adams State Park.  When I called to get a reservation for camping I was informed it was first-come-first-serve.  They had 10 or so camp sites left and I wanted one badly.  The camp site was only a few miles from the festival grounds and it was cheap.  I would have to pay for two nights because of the festival, but $50 was a lot cheaper than any hotel I was going to find.

After a few stops for cat naps I made it to the camp grounds and got my spot around noon.  I wanted to catch Christian McBride Trio at 12:50 so that was the target time I was shooting for.  I got a spot in the back of the camp grounds deep in the woods and it was great.  After setting up my tent it was off to the bathhouse for a much needed hot shower.  I wanted so badly to see Christian McBride, but I wanted a hot shower even more.  After I was refreshed and more awake I was off to the festival through some crazy traffic in downtown Newport.

When I arrived the place was exactly as I remember from my previous two visits.  Whats more is the place was packed with festival goers.  This years production almost didn’t happen from what I heard.  The old company, Festival Networks, bought the rights from George Wein a two years ago, the man who started it all in 1954.  With the recent financial crisis they were caught in the middle and were not going to put on this years Folk or Jazz festivals.  Fortunately George wouldn’t allow his baby to go to the way side so he stepped in and bought the rights back from Festival Networks.  George, with his clought, was going to put on the festivals with or without a major sponsor.  He was able to get an impressive lineup of acts for both festivals and more importantly was able to secure a license for Fort Adams, Festival Networks lost theirs.  Short story is the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals were going to take place this year with or without corporate sponsorship at their rightful home in Newport!

Joshua Redman Double Trio
Joshua Redman Double Trio

I strolled down the vendor booths on my way to the lawn to secure my spot.  I recognized many of the same vendors as in the past which was nice to see with several new ones thrown in for good measure.  As I approached the lawn I started to realize how late I actually was.  There was not much space for new arrivals so I had to sandwich myself into a pretty tight spot.  The first place I broke camp for was behind a large tent and over the crest of the hill.  From here I could only see the monitor and not the actual stage.  But I didn’t really care.  I had finally made it after a long trip and I was enjoying myself.  The sun was shinning and the weather was cooperating very nicely.  It couldn’t have been above 75 degrees and with the constant breeze it was absolutely perfect.  So I broke out my chair and some food to enjoy the last few songs of Esperanza Spalding.  Later I moved further to the right and closer to the stage for a much better view.

so close
so close

There was a 30 minute set break so I took the time to walk around some more and mingled with others at the show.  Again hitting the vendor booths, this time on the other side of the aisle and lazily made my way over to the Harbor stage to see what was going on over there.  One thing that I love about this venue are all the boats that show up.  Each year the harbor gets filled with all manor of boats with people enjoying the concert.  You can’t hear much that far from the stage, but it is a great party atmosphere and a spectacle to behold.

As I walked back to my spot I noticed I was running late and Joshua Redman Double Trio was already on stage, damn!  The closer I got to my seat I remembered you could take pictures right in front of the stage for a few minutes at the start of each performance, so I took a little detour.  A quick sidebar about the Double Trio name, it confused me when I first saw it, I didn’t understand what it meant.  When I walked to the stage and saw the full band know I understood.  There was Joshua Redman on sax and then two drummers and two upright bassists.  This type of arrangement I had never seen before and as crazy as it was, it worked out really well.  Each member complimented their counter part and the band came together really well.  Joshua near the end of the set said this was the first live performance of this band.  We got treated to a new act before anyone else.  This is why I love coming to Newport, you see bands and collaborations you wouldn’t see any where else.

Justin Faulkner from Branford Marsalis Quartet
Justin Faulkner from Branford Marsalis Quartet

After this energetic performance Branford Marsalis Quartet was up next.  They have featured the same cast of characters for the last ten years, in the jazz world this is a rarity.  Having said that, Jeff “Tain” Watts was busy with his own band so Justin Faulkner, an 18 year old high school senior, stepped in to replace him.  When I was taking pictures he had such a look of intensity on his face, he was in the zone and feeling the groove.  I was drawn in by him and hearing him with the rest of the band just made the performance.  His playing was very avant-garde, not much rhythm, constantly changing the beat and using every aspect of the drum kit to produce a fire of sound, simply amazing.  I can’t say enough good things about him or the performance of the band, it was some great stuff.

Closing out Saturday was Mos Def and the Watermelon Syndicate.  This I thought was a strange addition to the festival but one I was certainly looking forward to.  Mod Def is not know for his jazz performances but I liked the leap of faith that George Wein took by adding Mos Def to the bill.  As I waited for them to take the stage I see the Syndicate walk out and was astonished.  There was a full horn section, full string section, grand piano with a bassist and drummer thrown in for good measure.  This was going to be exciting.

relaxing on the lawn
relaxing on the lawn

Unfortunately a large number of the audience missed his performance.  I guess they were not to thrilled with a hip/hop artist closing out Saturday night.  They took an early leave of absense and made a run for the restaurants.  I for one was excited to hear what he was going to play with such a large band.  When the set was finally finished I was impressed with their performance.  You could see on Mos Def’s face he was nervous and was probably put off by the constant stream of people leaving while he was on stage, but he still did a decent job.  The addition of strings and horns was a nice touch that fit better with the festival as a whole.  He did his thing but looked and sounded very stiff.  Even just walking around the stage he never loosened up.  He never really got into the performance if you ask me.  All things considered it was great and definatelly something different.

Mos Def
Mos Def

After Mos Def ended his set it was time to pack up and head to my camp site for a well deserved nights rest.  The weather was going to be cool, perfect weather for sleeping outside.  But first I wanted to stop by King Park to relax, do a little writing, and take some pictures of the setting sun across the harbor.  The park is located right on the water and is the perfect spot to catch a sunset.  The sun painted the sky purple, blue, and pink as it set over the bridge and harbor.  The boats in the harbor lite up with perfect light as did the buildings along the water.  It was very peaceful and allowed me to do a write up in my travel journal.  In fact it was the perfect setting sun to get married under, which I witnessed a young couple do at the gazebo.  I was hoping to get a couple more shots of the setting sun and a final shot of the harbor at night.  I had this picture in my head of the sky being black with only the safely lights on the boats and the realive bright lights off the buildings reflecting across the water.  There was a church steeple that would have made for a nice shot at night as well.  But the masquittos were out in force making it to unconfortable to stay any longer.

So I settled for the shots I had and headed to the campground for a night of rest.  I was way to tired anyhow so it worked out.  I would need a good nights rest because on Sunday I was going to do some hiking before my 8 hour drive back home.

a beautiful setting sun over Newport harbor
a beautiful setting sun over Newport harbor