December on the Colorado front range

We left our Thanksgiving winter wonderland of Wisconsin a day after six inches of snow fell. The roads weren’t exactly inviting to the Cloud King, but westerly we must trudge on for the lovely month of Denver in December.  Or as it’s known to us silly folk, Denvember.

Oh the weather outside is only moderately treacherous and therefore not as frightful as it could be.

Oh the weather outside is only moderately treacherous and therefore not as frightful as it could be.

Nail-biter weather!

Cruisin' slow, so everybody sees...uh, hello?

Cruisin’ slow, so everybody sees…uh, hello?

By evening time, Iowa was offering a lovely sunset to gaze at from the highway.

Iowish Sunsetter.

Iowish Sunsetter.

19 hours later, we arrived in Colorado for some front range frolicking!  Everyone in the rockies gallivants around like a band of willow-wisps, you know.  It’s like having a second job, without the income.

Foothills reservoir.  That's pronounced "vwah" at the end, ok?

Foothills reservoir. That’s pronounced “vwah” at the end, ok?

We got to see our pal Mo Valdez of Lastleaf Printing down in Pueblo!  Always such a pleasure to hang for even a little bit with this stellar human.

O'Death.  O'Lastleaf.

O’Death. O’Lastleaf.

Into a Denver of lions we go!

Cap Hill rooftop view.

Cap Hill rooftop view.

Traffic.  Not just a musical group.

Traffic. Not just a musical group.

Somewhere in there we found time to record a song with our friends The Haunted Windchimes!

Layin' track, bud!

Layin’ track, bud!  “Wyoming” recording at Sugar Sounds Studio in Colorado Springs.

The sting of Chooch's belt.  On our souls.

The sting of Chooch’s belt. On our souls.

Later, back in Puebs, we got to spend quality time with Inaiah and Desi from the ‘Chimes.

Stripes!

Stripes!

OK.  Eastern Colorado, that sure was fun!  How about we wait for the blizzard to hit, and head over two massive mountain passes while the storm is in full swing?  That sound good?

Visability is infinite today!

Visability is infinite today!  La Veta pass, southern Colorado.

Five hours of 30mph driving through this.  We got over Wolf Creek Pass to the western slope and were greeted by far more favorable conditions…

Was it ever even snowing? Wolf Creek Pass.

Was it ever even snowing? Wolf Creek Pass.

And on to Durango to wrestle with the kids!

Wrastlin' with Ella & Nils

Wrastlin’ with Ella & Nils

In the blink of an eye, we were already leaving Durango, gone, and in Arches National Park.

Breath of fresh air.

Breath of fresh air.

But more on the return trip in the next post!

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November in the Northwoods

行く春や
鳥啼き魚の
目は泪

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”   – Matsuo Basho c. 1674

Hullo friendly internet faces,

For shame!  How could I’ve let the blog go for an entire month!  What with shows and thanksgivings feastings, two hour blocks on the internet have been fewer and farther between than I’d’ve facebook liked.  Nevertheless, onward we go into the great wide open space of the future.

Halloween of 2012 took place for us in Platteville, Wisconnie.  Two sickly apparitions floated in from Maine with terrible head colds, achy bones, and weak whip o wills to stay outside for any length of time.

Purple sprite faerie queen.

Slow cowpoke cookin’.

Road-weary and eyes still bleary with cough syruped inquiry, we traveled up to Fargo, North Dakota for a show at the Spirit Room.  See below for details.

Warming up for the show…

Physical discomfort aside, we had a great show, packed the house, and made many new friends.  The Listening Room is wonderful!  Back, back to Minnesota we trudged.  One Cloud King in hand is worth two…um, yep.

 

And sew the sunset the table again and again.

Menomonie, DePere, Sturgeon Bay, Manitowoc… all in a dream of shows and new places to shower.  Occasionally we’d punctuate an appearance with radio performances.

WORT fm radio in Madison with Jim Schwall.

The road is more hilly than perception would normally lead you to believe.  Along the way, we’ve experienced places considered by most to be outta the way.  Would ya just look at those rocks!  Look at them!

Whitefish Dunes State Park near Sturgeon Bay, WI.

Chooch looked at the rocks, and then out onto the Lake Michigan she loves.

Well hello again.

Plenty to see folks here, please don’t move.  Buffleheads and Snow Buntings, mostly.

Ft. Atkinson, Madison, Milwaukee, it’s all the same street, right Mr. Garcia?

Just keep truckin’ ooooooooooooooooon.

We’re headed back west to Colorado for five shows in early December, everybody!  A return to Portland, Oregon is imminent however!  We’ll be on the west coast by December 15th, Cloud King abiding…

Maine, the way life oughta have been

Friends, fiends, foiblefolks,

When traveling from Portland, Oregon, it seems to us lower 48thians that Portland, Maine is about as far as it gets, continentally and longitudinally speaking.  Our drive from Cleveland, OH to Winthrop, ME was full of fall’s splendor.

Fallallallalla
The bekshiz (Berkshires)

And with the speed of a scrolling laptop mouse ball, we’re in Maine!  Ah, wondrous internets.

The Cloud King rests in front of Basho’s Mom’s place. (not a single family dwelling)

Lake Maranacook, about a block away…

Ah yes.

Our radio interview with WERU-fm went swimmingly well.

WE-R-U!

After WERU, we ventured to Acadia National Park for a little sight-seeing in the dense fog.
Cadillac Mtn never looked so mysterious!

Is he? No, they wouldn’t post that…

One blustery but clear day, we decided to take a little hike and go-seek an old abandoned firetower.

Hold me for warmth, dear heart!

What a pleasant stay!  We played a couple really nice packed-house shows, both in great settings.  Below is the art gallery show setting in Gardiner, Maine, at Karen Adrienne’s lovely space, about an hour before the concert started.

Circling the Square Art Print & Press
View within a room.

Galena, Lancaster, Chicago, St. Louis!

Well friends, it’s been another two weeks since last we caught up together, and seriously, what a two weeks it’s been!  So much awesome has occurred that I’ve had Chooch pinch me daily to make sure we’re not just dreaming this together in a sensory deprivation chamber on the set of the last “Matrix” movie.   In short, “Whoa, Neo.  Whoa.”

Hooey doggies in a blanket, let’s get started, shall we?  How about Galena, IL.?  Okay then.

Quit horsin’ around and get on with it!

Galena is a quaint little burg with serious charm.  I believe some wealthierish (distant relations of the Welsh) Chicagoans have been calling it their home away from home since the 1850s.  It’s little wonder why!

We stumbled upon Rootbeer Revelry downtown.  Lady oh lady was this place like some valhalla on earth.

Disco inferno! With Erica Wulff

Next day we went to Madison for an interview/performance on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Simply Folk” show with Stephanie Elkins.

Early morning music in Madison!

Back to the Lancaster Barn!  Love this place (can you tell?)!

The antithesis of excruciating pain here, folks.
Look at those perty mics! Look at that perty laydeedeedee!

Saturday afternoon launched the Cloud King in a Chicago-like direction.  We had a great show at The Musical Offering in Evanston, IL, followed by some recording on Andrew Calhoun’s upcoming album in Glen Ellyn.  Tuesday, we caught the 8:30am Metra train into downtown Chicago for a wonderful behind-the-scenes tour of The Field Museum with Dr. Larry Heaney.

First stop was the ornithology department of research upstairs.  Bird bones!

Where the real magic of taxidermy happens. More like pungently artistic sorcery.

How to get clean bones in a hurry, you might be asking yourself.  Fair enough.  Dermatids!  Beetle colonies of hyper-efficient carrion-consumption.

Ah, the sweet smell of rotting flesh at 9:30 in the mornin’…

Larry brought us into the catalog room where every species of animal since the beginning of the museum has been meticulously entered upon reception.  120 years worth, to be exact.

“Here we have the most amazing collection of handwriting known to humankind.”

Fruit-bats.  Kinda like Flying Foxes.  A three-pound mammal with wings.

Moth-balls and a magnificent smile.

OK already, we get it.  You had a good time.  Can we moveon.org yet?

I said “Enough already.”
The rest of the museum was pretty cool too, I guess… (!!!)

We gotta get outta here. Jenn and I walked the city streets until dusk.

Too cool for the school of rock.

And off we went.  To St. Louis, and the City Museum!  Could the week possibly get any better?!?  No, I think not.

The prison of your mind…on moderate hallucinogens.
Whale whale whale, what have we here…

Rooftop beauty at its finest.

Gorgeosity. That’sa happy leetie right there.
Slip slidin’ away…
Is there even such a thing as the light side of the corn dog?

Top of the world.

Climbing and climbing…there’s no ceiling here.
Adults compete with the kids for “Most fun had” award here…

Crikey.  We need to wrap this up soon, huh?

In summary, this is the Waterbug showcase room at Folk Alliance Regional Midwest this year.  This is power group here.  No kidding.  We LOVE this crew to pieces, but not quite to death.  In fact, please, no one die, ever.

Pictured here, from left to right, top row first: Basho Parks, Steven Bacon, Jenn Rawling, Kari Bedford, Ben Bedford. Bottom row: Casey Calhoun, Andrew Calhoun, Louis Ledford. Photo courtesy of the lovely and fantastic Heather Styka!

Cleveland, New York, Maine, hear the rumble of our imminent approach (and stomachs)!!

Boats & Bluegrass!

We had a fantastic time playing and hanging out on the Mississippi River last weekend at the 11th annual Boats & Bluegrass Festival in Winona, Minnesota!  Here are some pictures from the weekend’s adventures.

Right before the set…

A little pat pat for good luck…

Our campsite was filled with friends the whole weekend through.

Kumbaya dudes. Kumbaya.

We took a canoe ride across river, down several channels to a remote beach.  Felt like a Mark Twain novel!!  Chooch’s paddle broke within the first 30 seconds of being on the water, so Bash muscled that sucker the whole way.  Tickets to that gunshow…were free.

Look ma, no paddle!

Pretty near the sandstone there.  😉

Beauteous bluffths!

We rounded the corner, and came upon a sweet surprise show by the Boyz In The Barrels!  Boats and Bluegrass, indeed.

Beach Boyz in the Barrels!

Lazy afternoon enjoyment at its best.

I got sand in ma undies!!

Exhausted and hap-hap-happy.  End of the weekend weakened warrior.

Dozing next to Mitch’s big orange awesomeness.

Sunday afternoon found us back at Pagoda Springs Farm, lounging with friends and playing some disc golf…

Chela, this is our howwwwm!

Good weekend!

Ebert gave this movie one thumbs up.

We’re off to Chicago, St. Louis, and Cleveland over the next ten days!  Stay tuned, friends!

Cable, Oh! Claire, and other short stories…

Well, it’s been another week of adventure and intrigue here at Cloud King central.  We’ve had no fewer than five hundred sweet moments since last updating the ol’ blogaroo, so I’ll try to post the best ones to catch everyone up!  Did you know that sasquatch roams the hills of South Eastern Minnesota?  After hearing tales of tail-less bipedal creatures and their death-like stench from eye/nose-witnesses, it’s clear some more investigation will be needed.  True story…for another time.

We traveled from Duluth down to the charming town of Cable, Wisconsin for a relaxing night at the Cable Nature Lodge and the Rookery Cafe.  Special thanks to Bill Brakken, proprietor and welcoming committee at lodge, for his most gracious hostmanship!  This ain’t equine science, people; the place is fantastic.

Oh give me a home, where the bison tenderloin roams…

Rainy weather followed us out the door of the lodge on Monday morn.  Fortunately, the foliage was turning deeper shades of awesome before our very ayes, captain.

And the eyes have it…

Why the turkey crossed the logging highway doesn’t seem to have been such an issue for our ancestors.

On the road again…but why?

Ah, the internet’s ability to teleport one from a quaint roadside scene to the epic canoe shot below.

Must…go…toward…the…light.

Mystical Minocqua melts my meart…er, heart.  Below, we see the ever elusive Chooch Rawling as she glides through the waters of Sunday Lake.

This lady has the upper body strength of ten adult T-Rex’s.

Water so clear you’d think twice about peeing in it.

Restrain yourself. I just waded through a warm spot.

Libby, a very sweet little feline, kept us warm during the LOTR marathon that ensued later in the evening.

“More cat purring on legs photos, please,” said no one.

From Minocqua we meandered down to Lake Wisotta (a combination of the words Minnesota and Wisconsin as far as we could tell) for an afternoon of jumping jacks.

You shall not pass!!

Unexpectedly, the sun set again that evening.  Awful, huh?

I’ve had just about enough of these, thank you very much.

After our Eau Claire stop, it was back to the Farm of Dreams in Rushford, MN.  For anyone not in the know just yet, we are head over heels for this region.

I second that motion.

  Ok.  This next segment of our program really deserves an entry all its own, and eventually that will be the case!  Just down the road a bit from Tarantula Arms Farm is Pagoda Springs Farm, owned and operated by a couple of real keepers: Sarah and Danny.

Our new friends!

This farm is situated just off highway 16 outside of Rushford, MN, on 260 acres.  Good golly it’s simply phenomenal.

Walkin’ man walks.

Danny hitches a ride from Sarah over some particularly nasty thistle patches.

“I think I need to be going that way.”

Sensory overload.

Right. We’ll just fix that little place up and stay for a couple-few decades. How’s that sound?

Dylan!

This dog is fearless…fearless I tell you!

What more can be said?  We can’t wait to perform at Boats and Bluegrass later this week!

Northwoods and Lake Superior!

The road is blessed with a plethora of good people along the way, and we’re so happy to be meeting all of you!  This last week saw us play in Duluth, Minnesota as well as Ashland and Cable, Wisconsin.  Between shows we were able to explore a bit of the Apostle National Lakeshore on Lake Superior.  What a beautiful and (primarily) clean body of water!  But lest we get ahead of ourselves here…

Cloud King sits stoic amongst the pines.

 

A tiny baby snake carcass, about the size of a small worm.

Grath Thnake!

 

Quality reading time by the shore…

This looks suspiciously similar to a harlequin romance novel… “Fabio and Cassandra eloped that night on a pirate ship bound for the most beautiful place you’ve never been.”

 
WHAM!  All of a sudden we were in a birch-laden photo shoot.  It’s like that, happenstance.

Did that bird just try to poop on us?

 

Next we camped at Amnicon Falls State Park.  What a lovely dream that was!

“What’re you doing?”

 

Oooooooooo.

Pretty Lights.

 

Northward!  To Ashland, Washburn, and Cornucopia we went.  Got to sea the sand stone lakeshore caves of Apostle National Park just yesterday!

 

Careful near the edge…

Cosmic bongo drums can be heard in the distance.

Eh…I’ve seen bett…Wait. No I haven’t.

Kissyou I’m Irish!

I forgot what I was about to say.

Do you ear what I ear?

And the Cloud King rolls on, Ladies and Gents.  We’re headed down to Eau Claire, Rushford and Winona next week, so stay cartoon’d!

Oh you sexy beast, you!