Trail Magic

My mom always told me that the best place to network while you’re on the road is the laundromat. Many of my family’s sidetrips on our two-week-long rambles were the direct result of Mom striking up a conversation with some other moms who were in the laundromat. (And yes, it was overwhelmingly moms. It was the early 90s and dads had been taught to behave like babies.) 

So here we are at the Colonial Laundromat in Watkins Glen (the both of us because my mom raised me right). A man who was channeling the Jerry Garcia look asks if that’s my bus out there. I tell him it is. Then he asks some very specific questions about it—if it had electronic ignition, if the fuel injection was intact, if the heater boxes were hooked up. I, in turn, ask how many VWs he’s owned. Eighty. The man owns 80. He has what he calls a car farm. Right then and there I ask if I can interview him. 

“I’m doing my laundry,” he says. But maybe later. 

Then he was getting take out. We decide on the next day. Miracle and I will drive out to his car farm and do the interview. I just have to call him at 10 a.m.

I call at 10 a.m. He’s got grass to cut, but can talk after that. Then he had a guy coming to see about some car parts. Soon it’s 1 p.m. and I call him yet again. Miracle and I were down the road grabbing a sandwich at a cafe and I stepped outside to call. He has a bout of vertigo and feels terrible about it, but he can’t do the interview. I come back in and deliver the bad news and I’m pretty bummed because this guy was wicked interesting. 

When we walk out to the parking lot, the couple sitting at the table next to us (who left coincidentally at the same time) saw our bus. 

“I totaled one of these in Germany,” the man said. 

Boom! Instant interview. The four of us pile into the bus and record right there in the parking lot. The couple is Bo and Susanna; they will appear in Season 2 of our podcast. 

And their interview led to another interview—quite literally. Once we were done with our chat, they told us to follow them down the road. Another musician had a really cool bus and he’d probably be willing to gab about it for a while. 

I’ll be damned if that wasn’t a great interview too. This guy has a ‘58 panel van that has been in several movies (including the last production of Ken Kesey’s career and a porno). That interview will also be in Season 2. 

In episode one of Season 1, we spoke with a guy named Chris who extolled the virtues of what he calls, “trail magic”—the way things work out and fall into place. We’re learning that trail magic is indeed real and powerful, my friends.

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