Red Echo

August 4, 2008

Saturday was an adventure

Setting: Ava’s friends Kat & Jessica are getting married at her dad’s place outside Lake Chelan. Ava is the groom’s attendant. I am bringing DJ gear. The wedding is Saturday afternoon, and a rehearsal is scheduled for 9 AM. We find out on Friday that all the beds in the ranch house are spoken for; the nearest accomodation is an hour and a half away. We decide that instead of driving to Wenatchee, getting in late, sleeping for a few hours, getting up early, and driving to Chelan, we’ll just sleep in Seattle and get up very early for the drive.

Saturday morning, begin: The alarm fails to go off. It is still ridiculously early, but now we are an hour late. The highways are as empty as only an early-morning Saturday can make them, and I set the cruise control at 90 mph. The miles roar by and we steadily make up the time. We have directions from Google Maps. The roads diminish; the pavement ends. We have fifteen minutes to get there. I am down to 30 mph, which still feels plenty fast. The road gets wilder. Who would live out here? Where do they buy groceries? The road goes on, just a pair of ruts in the dirt. Up, up, up; the directions swear we have a few more miles left. There are deer in the road. The horizon stretches wider. We crest the ridge at 14.6 miles…

It is a beautiful view. Of course there is nothing like a ranch here. The altitude gives us just enough of a cell signal. “You are WHERE?” A moment to share a kiss and breathe the mountain air, then we fishtail gleefully down around gravel turns as I sing the glories of the Rover’s traction control. We roar in, covered in dust, and tumble out of the car, only 35 minutes late for the rehearsal… which everyone has forgotten about. Most are still in bed. Ah, well, we had a good time getting there!

As Brian W. and I set up the sound system, I learn that both of the DJs have cancelled. Now I am a musician, and know my way around a mixer, but I am not a DJ. I have never tried to mix tracks, and all I have to work with are a bunch of random iPods. But when the bride is about to burst into tears because her wedding will have no music – well, you do what you can.

I scroll through the ipods’ track lists, looking for anything that might fit the mood, and mix from one to the next. After a couple of hours and a couple glasses of sangria, I feel like I kind of have the hang of it, at least well enough not to bother people who will have been through a few champagne refills and won’t really be listening anyway.

A couple more hours go by. The wedding finally begins. The voices are quiet from back by the DJ table, but the ritual is familiar, and the body language tells the deeper story. This is love, this is partnership, this is a family.

I half miss my cue for the recessional music but I don’t think anyone notices. The reception starts. I lose track of time. Brian takes a turn at the mixer. We leave it running on shuffled playlists for an hour or two. People bring their iPods over and ask me to play things. Tosche takes a turn. Eventually it is dark and time to dance – I put on a two-hour trance mix that happened to be on my iPod and leave the PA to mind itself. It kicks out the beat with a satisfying roar and we dance, dance, dance on the grass with no light but the stars and a scattering of torches.

It is late. The party will go on for a while longer, but Ava and I have had a long day and we decide to leave. We’ll go find a motel and come back tomorrow for the DJ gear. One of Jessica’s friends assures me that there’s no need to drive back to Wenatchee, there’s a hotel in Chelan which has space. Off we go, tired but happy and looking forward to rest. Of course we get there and every room in town is booked.

A shrug of the shoulders and we head back to Wenatchee. I get pulled over along the way. “You should keep your speed down, Mr. Saxman – 76 mph is an expensive ticket.” A ticket I’m sure I will get some other time, but apparently not tonight. We roll into Wenatchee, slower, and stop at the first motel we see: all full – and the clerk informs me that all the other motels in town are full, too. She has a list, and offers to call around – there is no vacancy nearer than Snoqualmie Pass.

It’s after midnight. We look at each other, and laugh. A quick stop for espresso and off we go, all the way back home to Seattle. We’ll get in at 3 AM, a 22-hour round trip.

I pull over for some fresh air just before we reach the Blewett Pass. The air is quiet. There are no lights. The sky is a haze of stars.