The sun was long gone over the Blue Ridge, though it was not officially sunset. In the shadows cast by the range, a pair of headlights came up Concord Drive and turned into our driveway. An old hatchback wagon, so full of gear that I could not make out the occupants, drove up and parked behind my car. Chris and Cristof eased themselves out and stood a moment. Christof was a head taller that Chris. Both had ready smiles and outstretched hands as they met me coming out of the house. Soon, I was showing them the bunkroom downstairs, so they could move in whatever they needed.
The Wilhelm Brothers are not really brothers, though they both have sandy hair. Chris Wilhelm, from North Carolina, is the composer of almost all their music, a folk-rock fusion. Cristof, from Germany, is a cellist, and provides what is arguably their unique sound.
They had just come from a music festival at Barboursville Vineyards, and had a gig in downtown Charlottesville that night. The next day would find them driving to Farmville for another festival. Then back to homebase in North Carolina.
I gave them a spare key, showed them how to get in by the side door, and left them to organize themselves.
The next morning, Daniel and I were up early for church. We all had breakfast together, then I watched as they packed the cello and the rest of their gear into the little car, and added a pair of speakers that I gave them.
Such is the life of touring musicians, combined with that wonderful social medium for hospitality, Couchsurfing.org. While one may argue that musicians have homes, touring musicians touch home base even less often than I do. There is a musician in Boston whose act moves entirely by bicycle, but most drive from one gig to the next. The stars have big buses or recreational vehicles, and take their road crew with them. Soloists find themselves in airports more than anywhere else. Anyway you look at it. performing musicians live on the road.
You can learn about the Wilhelm Brothers here: http://www.thewilhelmbrothers.com/
You can learn about Couchsurfing here: www.couchsurfing.org.
Trip update: After visiting friends in Newcastle, Delaware, I rode to Philadelphia last weekend, checking into the Apple Hostel near the Italian Consulate. It felt good to shop at Whole Foods Market at 10th and South Street, and plan on not eating out every day. Sunday, I joined my colleagues from the Delaware Valley Translators Association, who were closing their two-day workshop with a dinner at Tierra Colombiana. Monday, I rode out to Phoenixville on the beautiful and scenic Schuylkill River Trail. Along the way, I overtook Dustin Heriot, who recently sold everything, loaded up his bicycle (a Specialized AWOL), and headed out to cross the country. His is more than a Transamerica adventure in the wrong direction. He is headed south, then west, and is prepared to pause and work along the way. You have to admire an elementary science teacher, who drops it all to follow his dream, knowing that opportunity will still be there along the way. It was a nice 100-km ride to Phoenixville and back.
Tuesday, I rode to Camden, New Jersey, turned in my EZ-Pass transponder and closed my 20-year old account with the original toll debit system in the USA. Without a car, I just won’t need it. Then I visited my friend Ann Connor and rode back to the hostel.
Wednesday, the appointment at the Consulate went very well. This time, I did have everything needed, and the Visa Officer remembered me. In the afternoon, I treated myself to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which the weather had denied me last time. I was lucky that the stupendous Kano Collection from Japan was still on. The PMA outclasses the other museums in North America in my opinion, for its beautiful structure, and the size and variety of its collections. It has two bridges at Giverny, one of which is never seen on postcards and prints.
Thursday, I started back to Charlottesville, this time in a training mode for Europe 2015. I am riding at least 120 km each day, and will be spending the night in Haymarket tonight. It has already been a very scenic and pleasant ride to Lancaster (131 km), then Cacoctin Mountain Park (140 km). I have enjoyed smooth roads and tailwinds the whole way so far. The climb up Cacoctin Mountain with a fully loaded bicycle was a cardiac challenge, and I used my granny gear for the first time ever on this bicycle. I can still climb steep mountains without getting off to walk.
On Thursday, the Consulate emailed me to ask for a new shipping label, which I sent from the campground in Lancaster. They had processed my application the same day, and my passport with the visa is on its way.
Much to do this month, now that I know that I will be setting up a new home base in Italy.
Next week, another sea story. Until then,
Smooth roads and tailwinds,