Hey friends,

As you may have guessed a lot has happened this week. That is the one thing that remains the same this road trip. We can rely on every day being different and full of new experiences. I will take this moment to apologize for any outrageously poor writing (even worse than usual), I have a fever and head cold, but not to worry. You cannot get it from here and anyone in contact with me is already sick. Go figure, when you’re with the same two people every day, staying in a different home every night, and getting less sleep than during university exam week, the body gives up a little. Anyways, now that I’ve apologized (like a proper Canadian I’m told), let me tell you about our time in New York City! 

Rolling into Brooklyn, NY in the afternoon we had plenty of time before the next show. The neighbourhoods we drove through looked like the scenes from “You’ve Got Mail” with the Brownstone buildings and mature trees lining the streets. We pulled up to a garage door that said “Black Sheep Brooklyn” on it. I’d been googling tattoo shops ever since I’d been in Montreal and was unsuccessful in booking any appointments there, but I found one with good ratings and that took walk-ins in Brooklyn. The owner and tattoo artist were pretty interested in my design and told me I could get in that afternoon. This is my first tattoo unless you count the stick and poke my brother did this past spring, and I was feeling pretty excited and nervous; even more so knowing that the guys would be leaving for the show pretty soon, and I was doing this alone. The shop made me feel really comfortable, and quite honestly it felt very home-like, playing my own music and making sure I was always comfortable. After texting some friends and fam, I felt a lot more reassured and right when I wasn’t sure I could sit any longer (three hours later) it was over and I had a beautiful, bright yellow, tour tat from a tiny shop in New York City. The owners of the shop knew I was late for the show and didn’t want me to walk through Brooklyn alone at night, so they walked over with me. They were really kind people and I could tell they had a heart for the people in their community. I have heard mixed reviews about Brooklyn from my friends, but the majority has told me it is an intimidating place. Despite these reports, everywhere I walked, whether it was through the neighbourhoods or restaurants, I was greeted by locals lounging in their front yards or leaning over their gates or sitting on their Brownstone steps. Most individuals I passed by smiled, waved or started conversation with me. On the second day there, I went for a walk to find some eats. Eating food in certain cities has been challenging due to my gluten and dairy intolerance, but the neighbourhood restaurant Tama was so delicious and reassuring for so many reasons. One reason is that I went from eating delicious, minimalist food in Japan last month to eating American gas station snacks within a couple weeks, and Tama served an Asian - African fusion that had a home made quality. The people there were also very friendly, and knowing I didn't fit in at all, made it that much more meaningful. One very tall African-American woman from Manhattan called me over from the other side of the restaurant asking “did you get a new tattoo hunny? Let me get a look at it!”. I took off my make shift bandage to show my day old tattoo. She asked me all about my experience and offered me some care-taking advice, which included fresh aloe vera plant. She wrapped up my arm again without any hesitation and asked me where I was from before getting back to lunch with her son who had been watching the exchange with a smile. Many friends have told me I have had uncharacteristically good experiences with people when I travel, as I hardly ever meet unpleasant people. I sometimes wonder if it’s because I tend to see only the good side of people or attempt to understand the culture of the people I’m surrounded by, but I may just be very fortunate. Either way, the people of Brooklyn made my time there special and I look forward to returning. Josh also got a tattoo the next day and after it was done, we took the metro from Brooklyn to Manhattan. We saw a view of the city we wouldn’t have had otherwise, so I was glad for the trip. At one point on our journey, we exited at the World Trade Centre site where they have been rebuilding for years and walked down Wall Street at which time I realized where we were and had a little freak out moment. The buildings are SO tall! 

The show that evening was a little different than the usual, as it was at a venue downtown called The Secret Loft. There were two opening acts before Sheldon closed the set, and both were really lovely. I especially appreciated Justin Cole, go check out his music if you like folk/rock. Personally, I’ve heard few artists with that kind of gift for song writing and story telling in such a raw way, and I felt very grateful to be there witnessing these artists pour themselves out. This was the day all of us started to get sick, so I was more than ready to go to sleep, but we were in the city that never sleeps, and we hadn't eaten dinner yet. Josh had connected with an old classmate from his high-school who now lived in NY, and we enjoyed buffalo wings and fries before heading upstairs to where he lived. More often than not, we eat dinner at midnight and “having a midnight snack” has taken new meaning. Once again, we are collectively very grateful for the people that let us crash at their place and welcome us so warmly. On the road again! 

Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania has a pretty established house show scene and there was a FULL house of participants and a full set of artists awaiting us. It was an intense and emotional experience and I was blown away that pockets of people like this existed. These people were all gifted creatives and so supportive of each other and eager to see individual and group growth happen, and it was a unique experience to say the least. Thanks Matt and Zach for hosting us and making us feel so welcome! 

Next we drove to Richmond, Virginia where a very well-seasoned house show host resides. Micah is part of the group called Eaves and they’re on their own tour at the moment! All of us were full blown sick then, and I wasn’t feeling especially social or friendly. However, it did not take long before Micah had us all enjoying ourselves, from the way he served home made, authentic milkshakes for everyone, to taking us out to Cook Out (an all-American fast food restaurant where you can eat a chicken and fries meal for $3!!), to asking us dozens of questions about Canada and our tour experiences, to feeding me gluten free cereal in the morning, and showing me his incredible tea collection, we couldn’t help feeling part of the home. This is all the night before his own tour! Thank you, Micah, for your hospitality, it was a memorable time bonding over homeschool childhoods, weird Canadian lyrics, and house shows. If you’re ever in Vancouver, let us know, we’d very gladly host you! Onto North Carolina! 

The days begin to blend together, but I always seem to remember faces and conversations, not really names and times. I was in a pretty grumpy mood all day, as we drove to Charlotte, North Carolina,  trying to cope with all the flu symptoms in the confines of a very packed van, in the heat, and on little sleep. I’m hoping all these memories will fade and no one else on this tour will remember my death glares and inability to function during these next few days. Either way though, I think we will remember the kindness of the strangers that gave us shelter and fed us. Carter was one of those people, and we met him on couchsurfing.com! He is a flight attendant and had just arrived on a red eye flight that day, just in time to host us. We ended up having a chill time together, and it was exactly what all of us needed. Thanks Carter for the tutorials on how to play the hang and didgeridoo, and making our stay so comfortable and chill! 

We made our way to Pasadena, Maryland, an Atlantic ocean town just outside of Baltimore where one of Sheldon's good friends from Newberg, Oregon lives. We were all pumped to be in one place for more than twelve hours, but also really excited to connect with people Sheldon had history with. Charlotte and her husband Devon made us feel like part of the family, besides the two cats that battled us for priority seating time to time. I played tour mom for a couple days, making sure everyone drank kombucha, ate chicken soup, while doing laundry, overseeing the medicine distribution/portions and running errands. However, I still got some fun in; kayaking the cove and out past where we should have gone probably. Josh and I found this little floating house in the middle nowhere and also some falcon nests with a diameter of six feet! The falcon dive bombed us as we went by, protecting her young no doubt, which made a situation where we had to paddle quickly away from that spot. We became so engrossed in the sights and reaching different points of interest that when it came time to go back, we kayaked into the wrong inlet. Josh and I were pretty tired by this point, and it was nearing dusk. We ended up asking some boatmen for directions and we made it back in one piece, even if the mosquitos got pieces of me. After our adventure, we got to the house only to find we’d been locked out because Sheldon was at the clinic getting blood tests and a diagnosis for his swollen glands and our new friends had stepped out. I am ashamed to say that I lost it a little at the end, saving face the whole time we were lost only to get eaten alive by the ‘squiters. Those who know me, know that I react pretty terribly to bug bites, so when I say it wasn’t a pleasant experience it really wasn’t. They hurt more than my new tattoo, if that tells you anything. So while I’m losing it, madly swatting the air and my skin, Josh is talking about climbing through a window. Thankfully, the neighbour was able to help us out and we survived that whole experience. Sorry for being dramatic. Actually, I’m not it was terrible. The bites were medicated and I forgot about them momentarily because Charlotte and Devon are awesome! A few things I’ve noticed about Baltimore and Pasadena are that there are a lot of lightning storms, people are very pleasant, it’s iconically American looking and it boasts a beautiful countryside. Before heading out on our journey to Nashville, I took a quick trip to Annapolis (a Navy Station) while the guys slept in, and enjoyed the quay, market, and sunshine. 

Some things we learned this week: Canadian debit cards suck in the U.S. (practically useless), the over priced lobster sandwich at Macdonald’s is a mistake, we don’t share drinks or food anymore (ever), and homesickness takes a deeper meaning when you’re actually sick. Shout out to all our Mums and Dads that make that last sentence more meaningful, and for being there for us during this grand adventure! Much love! 

If you’re enjoying this tour blog, get more details and pictures and videos, on Sheldoncole’s Instagram(_sheldoncole_) and Facebook where I will be posting shorter updates every day. The gratitude and joy we all feel being welcomed into these homes and for all the support from all our friends and family is huge. Stay tuned for new music videos, photos, stories and updates next week! Much love!

With joy, 

Hannah