America's Finest City
PHC staffer Kate Swee is on the Radio Romance Tour with Garrison, Fred Newman, Aoife O'Donovan, Sara Watkins, and The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band and will update us periodically from the road.
As I awoke from a refreshing night's sleep and peeked out my tiny bus bunk window, I saw seagulls flying low over dozens of palm trees; the blue waters of a bay extending for miles in either direction. I watched some sort of Navy cruiser pass right in front of my eyes and couples riding down the scenic highway on beach cruisers, and my heart became full with excitement — we were in San Diego!
At Humphreys Inn, it felt as if we were on some remote tropical island, each building designed with "Copa Cabana" in mind; the rooms were grouped together in sets of 3 or 4, with wooden, vaulted ceilings and pictures of palm trees on the walls (as if we hadn't seen enough outside.) Large-leaved banana trees, palms, and white birds-of-paradise covered the grounds, surrounded by radiant pops of color from the many hibiscus and hydrangea bushes. Thin stalks of bamboo shaded koi ponds — with some fish small enough to be mistaken for goldfish and some so fat it looked as if they'd made it their mission to eat all the others! Baby ducklings, turtles, and a few macaws frolicked nearby, with seagulls calling to each other in their high-pitched tone... or maybe that was just Fred Newman in a practice room?
Our venue (located no further than 60 seconds from each of our rooms) was named "Humphrey's By the Bay," though it might as well have been called "Humphrey's Literally On the Bay" — the harbor to the right of the stage was chock full of boats of all sizes, some with mini bars and comfortable leather seats, others just paddle boats. Though deserted during our warm-up, the canal beside the stage was crowded with lively audience members by the time the show began, all watching from the comfort of their own kayaks, canoes and rowboats.
We were thrilled to shake things up a bit for San Diego's flip flop-wearing, beach-volleyball-playing residents! Aoife's voice was on fire that night, while Fred and Garrison's "Cowboys" improvisations left us all roaring with laughter. As the show came to a close, so did my first week with these crazy Prairie Home Companions, and I found myself "Waiting at the End of the Road" while they set off for a long night's drive to Salt Lake City. I wished them good luck, safe travels and a nice day off, and began to rest up for my arrival the following week in Danbury, Connecticut. So, for now, that's all, folks! I'll hand it over to Ella...