Notes from the Road – The Gas Hog Tour 2008 – Day 25 – Homeward Bound Sunday, August 3rd The trouble with staying up so late for me is that I can’t sleep that late. By 8:30 am I was up and wandering. Lis had set out the French press for coffee, but I was not at all confident in my competence with the device. So, though my every pore cried out for caffeine, I sat on the back deck and began these notes. Lovely moring, humid but comfortable, and my body soaked up the awareness of being back on native soil. Before long Lon was up to let the Labs out (two big beautiful black Labradors) and he’s an expert at the French press, so my coffee jonesing was soon quelled. Shortly thereafter the queen of the manse arose and, with refilled mugs in hand we went out to Lis’ “magical mystery garden” to the left of the driveway out front. Lon brought seed for the bird feeder and Lis instructed as to how to arrange it in the manner the birds liked best. Soon we had plenty of feathered company to entertain us as we sipped coffee and enjoyed the morning. Next I was treated to a tour of Lon’s workshop where he builds the finest mandolins you are ever likely to see (Lis refers to the workshop as the boy’s club and stayed behind at the house to attend to other matters). We looked at the various woods he has on hand and talked about his plans for certain pieces. Lon is building ukuleles too and has a couple of orders waiting. Plus he still does some guitar repair work – busy boy! By this time it was already afternoon – time does fly when you are so in the moment, enjoying the company of good friends and soaking up life. But, I had the last leg to drive and get home to Orlando and Judy. So, reluctantly, I loaded my minimal gear, gave and got my goodbye hugs and, for the last time this trip pointed the behemoth toward the open road. Lon and Lis had advised on an alternate route home away from the interstate, through the Ocala National Forest and I anxiously took their advice. Fisrt, I filled up the tank one last time ($3.73). Then I wound through Keystone Heights, dropped down past Interlachen and hit SR 19 right at the bridge over the Oklawaha / The Cross Florida Barge Canal. It was the ideal way to end the journey rolling along through MY FLORIDA, listening to Grant Peeples new CD “It’s Later Than You Think” (quick plug – BUY THIS CD, it’s outstanding!! Lon and Lis produced it, played and sang on it, etc. and Grant is a rare talent as a songwriter. If you want it straight from the gut, honest and true you’re going to love this album.). I cruised past Salt Springs, Juniper Run, through the forests, some of which remained black from fires of the past year and some of which had the brilliant green of new growth rising around the blacked trunks of the long leaf pines and scrub oaks. I ultimately emerged at Eustis on my true home turf in Lake county and then took 441 through Apopka into Orlando and home. Judy had stayed over on the coast with our grandsons last night and I beat her back to the house, but our dog Aulie was there to greet me and Judy soon followed. I could have gone another week or two on the road, at least, but still there is no place like home. And, so it ends, much like it started. As I drove the last hour back into Orlando my mind was, again, in quiet thought remembering places I had been, new friends and the treasured friends I’d been blessed to spend time with. I thought again of those I’ve lost, wishing I could share these experiences with them, but at the same time knowing they were there with me the whole time. Gas prices are a bit lower than when I left, but still in the upper middle range of those I saw in this three week journey. I sold a lot of CD’s, (nearly 100 but I didn’t keep an exact count) and we’ll have to see how the books balance. I somewhat doubt I broke even, but I may have come closer than I think. It was a tremendous tour and I am so blessed to have the chance to do what I love, travel and share our Florida folk music with those not as fortunate as we that live here in the “Land of Sunshine and the State of Dreams.” If you have missed any of these “notes from the road” postings (and are a glutton for punishment) they appear on my main website at www.dougspearsmusic.com under the “Updates” tab, in my MySpace blog which you can access even if you are not a MySpace member through my profile page at www.myspace.com/dougspears, and they are also posted on my Yahoo Group board at http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/dougspearsmusic/. Hope to see you soon!