In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, the indie rock artist, Haley Johnsen, tells you about one of her crazy stories from being on the road. You can check out the story, after the break.
I had been on the road with an Austin, Texas band called The Wind and the Wave all of July and was finally making my way home to Portland, OR after our 20th show in Austin. From driving through Texas thunderstorms and LA traffic, my road manager, Ashley, and I had managed to get through the tour without a single accident. I had my brand new Honda Insight that I purchased a few months prior, and we packed that thing so tight we couldn’t see out the back window. It was a beautiful sunny day with not a cloud in the sky as we drove down a rural Texas highway on our way to see The Grand Canyon. One of the reasons we felt so inclined to see it before heading home was because a lyric from The Wind and the Wave says “You Haven’t lived till you’ve been to the Grand Canyon”.
With a calm and focused gaze, Ashley took the wheel. There was no music on and I was peacefully reading Moby’s memoir “Porcelain”, while at the same time reminiscing on the amazing experience I had just had. Suddenly, with no warning, everything changed. It was as if time slipped into slow motion as I heard a loud crash, my friend screaming and felt our car spinning 3 or 4 times before we ran into a fence on the side of the freeway. We had just collided with an 18 wheel semi while going 80mph. I looked over to my screaming friend to see her blood splattered all over the pink airbags that had saved our lives. All I could feel was the sting of the airbag’s dusty chemicals on my feet and racing of my heartbeat. A few men pulled over and helped us get an ambulance for our shaken and battered bodies. The entire side of my car was ripped off, and there was no driving it The Grand Canyon, let alone home to Portland.
When we arrived at the hospital in the town of Abilene, Texas (where the only phone network that worked was AT&T), we were greeted with less than friendly staff. We were alone in the middle of rural Texas, and they didn’t seem to think twice about how shook two city girls were. Luckily, a woman whose son happened to see the accident called her and told her to check us. She was a sweet Christian lady, but she did not appreciate my friend’s profanity as she got stitches in her left hand to mend the gaping wound from the crash. We rolled our eyes at each other and tried to be as respectful to this stranger as we possibly could.
After a diner burger and milkshake, we were taken to a nearby hotel where we sat, shaking and crying, thanking God that we were alive. Ashley’s husband flew out the next day and rented a car so we could fly all my gear out of the nearest airport 3 hours away. As the pilot spoke of weather and turbulence, all I could think of was how we were probably flying right above the Grand Canyon.