Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sweet Freedom

For quite a few years, Craig has had this random fascination with Michael McDonald.  Who?  Yeah, the singer...the guy who was part of the Doobie Brothers, then had a pretty solid solo career in the 80s.  He's got that really unique and very soulful voice, and even if you don't know who he is, you've probably heard him and marveled a bit that that voice can come from a white guy.  Two years ago we went to Pittsburgh with Craig's dad for a baseball game, and in looking through stuff at the hotel, I discovered that Michael McDonald was in Pittsburgh that night performing at a casino.  I guess prior to that I never really realized he was still actively touring, so from that moment on I kept my eyes and ears open in case he came nearby.

Earlier this year he came to Rochester as part of our jazz festival, but the minimum $60/ticket price tag seemed a little steep for a random fascination.  Fortunately, not long after I saw that he was coming to Artpark in Lewiston (near Niagara Falls) for their summer concert series, and the tickets were only $12!  Jackpot!  I hatched a plan to take two half days off of work, leave in the afternoon, drop the kids at my parents', go to the concert, and get an overnight date out of the deal.  And guess what?  It actually happened.

This past Tuesday was the day.  We've been on the road for various things so many weekends in a row, and the suitcases have barely been put away over the past month, but we had to do it again.  We haven't had a night away in ages (possibly as far back as May 2013), so it had to happen.  It took me until the night before to find a hotel room I was satisfied with, but it was worth it to have a night away and a morning without pint-sized human alarm clocks.  We picked up the kids early and headed off to Buffalo, stopping only briefly at my parents' to drop them off and give a few instructions.  We had to get there as soon as we could to claim our general admission seats.

I haven't been to Artpark since my high school graduation, and probably at least half a dozen years before that for their summer activities for kids.  It used to be a favorite summer spot for my grandma, aunts, cousins, and me, as we'd go there once in a while with a picnic lunch, then head off to watch the performers, paint pictures, and do crafts.  They had pottery wheels and clay, random craft projects, and a line of boards to put up paper and paint.  It was glorious.  I graduated in the indoor theater there, and nowadays the giant wooden decks where most of the crafts were are gone and in that area is a giant outdoor amphitheater, home of their Tuesday concert series.  It was cool to go back, but I wish we would have had more time to wander to see the random pieces of art scattered around the grounds.  We found a good spot for our lawn chairs, and headed off to find dinner from the many vendors.  Among all of the cooler days we've had, that night happened to be a hot one.  We sweated through our dinners (cheeseburger for Craig, pork noodles for me), and tried to appreciate the fact that it wasn't raining or cold.

The opening act was Toto, a band from the 70s and 80s that you may remember for hits like "Africa", "Rosanna", "Hold the Line", and "I'll Be Over You".  Considering they're aging 60-something rockers, we weren't sure what to expect, but they were awesome!  There were at least four old guys with some newer folks sprinkled in, but the old guys could still rock and it was great!  I loved hearing the classics live!

During the intermission, we wandered over to the far side of the amphitheater to look out at the Niagara Gorge...

Not a bad view, eh?  The bridge in the distance is the Lewiston-Queenston bridge to Canada.  It looks so impressive from down here!
 This view looks a little the left from there, back toward the stage and the crowd.  We were sitting at the far side of this crowd, right about in the middle, not far from that large illuminated screen.

It was such a nice evening.  It never got very cool, but I never needed a sweater, either.

Michael McDonald's voice hasn't preserved quite as well as the Toto guys, but it was still a great show.  I loved hearing his classics live, too.
The video screens were helpful!
We loved hearing "Takin' it to the Streets", "Minute by Minute", and the song the title of this post is based on, among others.  He looks sort of like an overweight old dude in a black t-shirt these days, but he's still got a ton of soul in that voice and it was nice to hear him live.  We just enjoyed the evening and appreciated not having to attend to every little thing that the kids need.  When you're so preoccupied with getting them to eat or sleep or just stop invading your personal space, it's nice to get a break.  We enjoyed every second.

We headed out from the concert and crossed over the border in Niagara Falls pretty easily before heading to our hotel.  The nightly fireworks started just as we hit the customs booth, so we missed that show, but once we dropped off our stuff, we headed out to Clifton Hill.  We stopped at DQ for Blizzards and wandered down and up, stopping a few stores and looking at all of the other parents dealing with their overtired, out-too-late, over-sugared kids.  As much as I wanted to kiss our kids good night, at that moment I was relieved they were not with us!

We headed back to our room, which was a giant suite-type room that I got for the same price as a normal one.  There was a cute couch, a tiny kitchen space, and just a lot of space in general.  We weren't there for long, but it was really nice.  I slept pretty good considering we were in a hotel room, and while we couldn't sleep too late because we had to make it back to Rochester by lunch time, it was nice to wake up on my own and not have to get up and attend to the kids.  It was a nice change of pace, for sure!

We headed back to reality, grabbed a quick breakfast, and picked up the kids before heading back to Rochester.  I fed the kids lunch and dropped them at daycare, then went back to work, which has been non-stop craziness since I got back from vacation.  I'm still buried by a mountain of work--some of which came in while I was gone, some of which involved time-consuming urgent projects, and some of which piled up while I was stuck doing those time-consuming urgent projects.  It's been exhausting and seems like a hole I will never climb out of, but I have no choice but to keep chipping away.  It's not easy...and it's part of the reason this blog has been pretty quiet lately.

So, another weekend is upon us.  A baseball game in Rochester with Craig's family, complete with a bobblehead giveaway, ushered in the weekend.  As of today a new digital camera has been purchased, and three parties and one fun outing (and a work thing for Craig in Canada) have lured us back to Western New York for yet another weekend.  Next weekend we WILL stay home...but we have a guest!  And the weekend after that I'm in Syracuse (alone!).  The fun never stops...which is bad for my productivity, but good for our fun level!  School starts late this week, Carter moves up at daycare, and I officially enter my mid-to-late thirties in approximately 45 minutes.  Whew.  Time to get a good night's sleep to prepare for all of this stuff!

No comments: