When we came back from our Europe trip I still had two weeks off from work. I had assumed all along that I would use some of that time for a hiking trip. After two weeks of hiking in the Alps I figured that I would be in shape for some heavy duty hiking here in the US. I really wanted to go to the North Cascades in Washington, beautiful mountains that I just haven't explored enough.
But there was a complication. I also wanted to go see Rush again. They were doing their fortieth anniversary tour and everyone assumes that it will be their last. Yes, I had seen them in May in Tampa with Mickey, but I am a Rush fanatic (actually, all Rush fans are fanatics). I wanted one more last chance to see them in concert. Unfortunately all of their nearby concerts, Salt Lake City, Portland and Seattle, coincided with our Europe trip, which was planned long before the tour was announced. There was still a chance though as they had a few last concert dates after we got back. I considered going to Las Vegas, a mad dash there for the concert and then right back. Eventually though I had the idea of combining a Rush concert with my hiking trip. Either of their last two dates, which were both in the Los Angeles area, would work well with hiking In California in the Sierra Nevada. So I decided that the North Cascades could wait till next year.
Now I just had to get tickets. It didn't look easy for their last show, at the Forum. Even the next-to-last show, at Irvine Meadows Ampitheatre, was sold out. For that concert at least there were some resale tickets available although they were pricey.
It might seem silly to go to so much trouble to see the concert but one thing had really been impressed on me this year - take advantage of the time that you have. So it would have been easy to say, "Nah, it's too expensive" or "It's too far to drive". But this was my last chance, so I took it, even if it was lot of effort. And a lot of expense. I'm not going to admit what I paid for the ticket. Ok, ok, you twisted my arm. Almost $400. But it was well worth it.
The hiking part of the trip went very well. I did three great hikes: Cathedral Lakes in Yosemite National Park, Thousand Island Lake in the Ansel Adams Wilderness and Big Pine Lakes in the John Muir Wilderness. Now the hiking was over and it was time to head for Orange County for the Rush concert.
The concert was in the evening but I didn't really want to drive all the way through LA during rush hour (or should I say Rush hour?). Since I only had a five hour drive from Bishop, I was able to sleep in, at least compared to the past few days, and leave about 8:30. With a stop for lunch, I got to Irvine about two oclock. I drove to the ampitheatre just to make sure I knew where I was going, where the entrance was, where parking was, etc. Then I drove to the Irvine Center, a huge mall that was only half a mile away. I figured I could kill the afternoon there, grab dinner, and then get to the concert easily.
It turns out that there's a Barnes and Noble bookstore there. I didn't have any problem filling the time.
About two thirty I saw my first old, fat guy wearing a Rush tshirt. Now I knew for sure that I was in the right place. By five people wearing Rush shirts were everywhere. Obviously everyone had the same idea that I did. Come early to beat the traffic and hang out at the mall till the concert.
About five thirty I grabbed a pizza and then drove to the concert. Even this much before the concert started traffic was a mess. I saw that some people were just walking from the mall and I began to wonder if I should have done the same. It took about twenty minutes to go half a mile but eventually I got there and parked my car. At least parking was free. That was a pleasant surprise but probably the least that they could do considering what I had paid for my ticket.
It was still over an hour before the concert started but people were pouring in. As the crowd slowly shuffled through the entrance I was talking to the guy next to me. He was telling me that he really wanted to see this concert, since it was probably the last chance to see Rush. All he could get were resale tickets, and even in the back row he had to pay $120 for them. He claimed that it was outrageous but he still just had to buy them.
Yeah, tell me about it buddy.
I did have a good seat. I was closer than in past concerts. Not front row, but I could see the stage really well. The Irvine Meadows Ampitheatre is a nice venue and it was a beautiful evening. The guy next to me looked to be in his mid forties - a pretty typical Rush fan. He was with his son who was about ten. Both were wearing Rush tshirts. He told me that since it was probably the last chance, he wanted to make sure that his son got to see Rush live.
It made me think of a story that Mickey had told me. He got a Rush tshirt at the concert that the two of us went to in May. A week later he was wearing it and a guy came up to him and remarked that it was good to see a younger Rush fan. Mickey explained "Yeah, I inherited being a Rush fan from my dad." It's a pretty common phenomenon. It must be on the Y chromosome.
The concert was awesome. Even though I had seen it two months before in Tampa it was still great. Now I even knew exactly the right places to yell "Hey!" during the 2112 Overture. Almost the last Rush concert of all time and I was just getting the hang of it.
I really enjoyed it and was very glad that I had come. Even if it was a long drive. Even if it cost a lot. I had a fantastic time. I was glad that I hadn't missed it.
After the traffic jam getting in I thought it would take forever to get out but it wasn't that bad. I even stopped to buy a Rush tshirt from a guy selling them in the parking lot for only $10. Normally they are about $50 at the show. I guess at the next to last concert they were unloading their stock. It was a nice tshirt. I should have bought a couple of them.
Once on the freeway I drove until I was out of the Los Angeles area. I didn't want to deal with traffic the next day. I stopped for the night in Victorville about midnight. The next day I had a long but straightforward drive home. Needless to say, I played Rush CD's all the way.
Around the half way point I stopped at the McDonalds in Ely, Nevada for a late lunch/early dinner. There were three young guys there and one noticed my bargain Rush tshirt from the night before and asked if I had gone to the concert. It turned out that they were musicians and had been playing in Las Vegas when Rush was there. They wanted to go but had their own gig that night. They asked a lot of questions about the show and we talked for quite a while. Unfortunately, for the life of me, although they told me the name of their band, I can't remember it. I'm sure it will come back to me when they become famous.
When I got home my month off was over and it was time to go back to work. I think that I had used the time very well.