This crazy story from the road was written by the indie rock band, The Deep North. You can check out the band’s story, after the break.
A few years back I had been invited to play at The Halifax Pop Explosion in Halifax, Nova Scotia. So, we threw our stuff in the van and set off for Canada. [Side note: In order to get the time off from work for this one-off gig, I promptly quit my bartending job. I’ve made some questionable decisions in life.] We didn’t have enough money to take the ferry, so we took the long way. Ten hours, with four more being held at the border for whatever reason.
As I recall, the show went well, and we met some really nice people. At the end of the night we loaded up the van and corralled the band from various venues that had also been taking part in the festival. With all accounted for, and the old Chevy Gladiator packed with gear and straining to warm us from the BRUTAL cold of Halifax in November… we started for home, with myself behind the wheel.
About three hours into the trip, I noticed that my band mates were fast asleep in the back. Our manager (at the time) was riding shotgun, and his end of our conversation had slowed to a monosyllabic grunt. Hour four found my co-pilot passed out. I nudged him, letting him know that I was starting to fade and that I might need him to take over. He nodded, and asked me to make it to the next exit.
Now, there’s a stretch of road up in New Brunswick [Trans-Canada Highway] that seems to go on forever without exits. It’s absolutely beautiful country, but in the dark after FAR too long without sleep, it’s terrifying. The reason that I mention the importance of having a co-pilot in our Tour Tips segment on this very website is because of what happened next.
What happened, of course, is that I didn’t just “blink”. When I opened my eyes, we had gone from the right side of a two lane road (both lanes going the same direction) to the very left edge of the left lane. No guard rail. I slammed the wheel to the right, momentarily lifting the van from its center of gravity and what felt like wheels coming off the ground into mid-air.
I regained control of the van as the wheels slammed back down. At that point I could hear an assortment of muffled, “…huh?” and “…what the hell?” emanating from the back of the van as the motion had jostled both my sleeping band mates and most of our gear.
I’m WIDE awake at that point. I make it to the next exit. Pull into a gas station with a giant Maple leaf logo, and run inside to grab a Red Bull. After getting back into the van, I throw it at my manager and inform him, “it’s the next exit, dude.” I promptly pass out in the back of the van.
I woke up the next morning and we were in the same gas station lot.
Moral of the story: Always have a co-pilot. Don’t drive tired.