Monday, February 28, 2011

Heading to Island life...

And so, Monday morning (well, musicians' morning!), we bid adieu to our hosts in Victoria and headed back up Vancouver Island towards Nanaimo.  Yet another beautiful day for driving!  Don had bought the new Lynn Miles CD over the weekend, and that was our soundtrack for the journey.

The Downtown/Ferry rental car drop-off was not exactly at the ferry -- or even, frankly, downtown -- which was a bit of a surprise, especially with an SUV full of gear!  But we managed to clear off one of the back seats, so the staff member could fit in and drive us and all our stuff to the ferry terminal.

Ah, the fine art of tour packing!

Alyssa = cello as backpack, purse and carry-on bag over one shoulder, Don's Hawaiian King over the other shoulder.

Don = backpack, satchel slung across chest, guitar over shoulder, both of our (oversized) suitcases strapped together and wheeling behind.

Yup, we managed to carry all our tour and travel stuff between the two of us!

At least, while we were upright...  Down at the docks, it was INCREDIBLY windy, and we each had a lot of surface area to blow around!  Good thing there were rails up, because we could have easily ended up in the freezing cold straight with a couple of those gusts.

Foot passengers are allowed on first, then they fill the centre part of the ship with cars.  Unfortunately, the cabins for the foot passengers all have giant steps into them -- we left our suitcases on deck, and felt great sympathy for the wheelchair-bound man who was left on deck with the cars in the now-wind-and-rain.  BC Ferries might wish to examine their accessibility one of these days!

Foot passengers are also allowed to get off first -- however, neither the man in the wheelchair nor us with our instruments could fit around the cars waiting to get off!  So we had to wait until the cars had cleared, then make our lonely way over the gangplank (and try to not get run over by the eager folks getting on in Gabriola!).  By the time we made our way to the parking lot, the shuttle bus to The Haven had figured all foot passengers were off, so we had to call them and get them to come back for us.  Not such a bad thing, since there probably wouldn't have been room for anyone else on it, what with all our gear!

And so, we arrived at The Haven in our "private limo", slightly cranky and sore.  This mood wore off pretty darned quickly, though, as we chatted with the receptionist, Roxanne, and took in the gorgeous surroundings (FaceBook users can see some photos on our Page -- we're going to try and upload pics to our website soon, just having trouble catching up!).  The Haven is right on the water in a little bay, surrounded by woods.  The main lodge has the dining room, a small bar and lounge.  Guest rooms, meeting rooms, and a theatre are spread throughout the property.

We did a bit of wandering to get our bearings, and then headed into the Lodge for dinner.  OH MY GOODNESS!!!  The meals there are incredible -- locally sourced food wherever possible, served buffet-style with tons of options for vegetarians like Alyssa.  In case you get thirsty or nibble-y at any time they aren't serving food, there's always a big pot of ginger tea or coffee available, plus bread and spreads out for you to make a sandwich (neither one of us got hungry between meals, but the ginger tea was certainly delicious!).  Looking around at our fellow diners, we saw quite a mix of young and old, Haven "alumni" and newcomers, with people enrolled from as far away as Texas and even Germany.

After dinner, we all headed up the hill to our first session with Victor Wooten -- kind of an introduction of what we could expect in the week, his ways of thinking about music and life, and him getting a feel of what the group was like, where we were at, and what we were hoping to get out of the workshop.

We were asked to write down (both for ourselves and for him) what we hoped to accomplish or learn in the week.  Like many, I (Alyssa), mentioned feeling stuck in a rut or plateau and wanting to find ways to break out of it.  His response was well worth the entire week's tuition for me, and allowed me to let go of my frustrations with myself almost instantly: a roadblock or plateau is just the world giving you an ENFORCED resting period.


Yes, it seems the world has been trying to give me MANY of those recently.  Maybe I should stop being mad at myself and just enjoy the rest?  Yeah, Maybe!  Baby steps...

Also introduced this evening was the concept of music and nature being the same thing, really.  Not just birdsong and banging on sticks (although those are important too), but the ways in which we react to / walk amidst both, and what is expected from us if we wish to support / be supported by either.

Musically, naturally.  Music-ally.  Nature-ally.  We're all in this together, and need to be allies if anything good is going to come of it.

Evening session over, the floor opened up to a jam session.  Well, that's what they called it... but the number of eager young bass players cranked up to eleven and hoping to impress Victor and each other with how many notes and how much noise they could cram in to every bit of space they could... a little cacophonous for us.  Kudos to Victor for sticking around and using it as another teaching opportunity -- the jam sessions in subsequent days got progressively more quiet and musical, so the lessons obviously started to sink in, eventually.  This first night, though, our poor ears couldn't take the din, so we opted to head back to our room for some wine (forgot to write it down, sorry! -- a nice BC one, though) and our beauty sleep.  After all, we had to be at breakfast for 8:00 the next morning, and we're not used to being up that early!  :-)  Even from the first couple of hours of the workshop, though, we already had lots to talk about and much to ponder and percolate.

And this was just the beginning...


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