« Pondering Along

Picture from Sioux Falls Interstate Pile-Up Brings Back Memories

by Mark Cartwright

If a picture paints a thousand words, this one paints a million miles.

This is a picture of a 22 car pileup on the Interstate outside of Sioux Falls.  How many times in my 30+ years of traveling with my bands, have I been caught in white knuckle driving snow and ice?  More than I can count.  I consider myself very lucky, because in all those years, We've only had to cancel three or four shows due to weather conditions, but that doesn't necessarily mean we were smart about our travel decisions en route, or home from the show.  Whoever coined the phrase "The Show Must Go On" obviously didn't live in South Dakota.  White out conditions are scary, especially on the Interstates, but when you're hundreds of miles from home, it's worse.  There's an intense feeling of isolation.  In the 80s, our bus slid in the ditch by International Falls, MN one time, and there was nobody, I mean NOBODY on that highway except us.  That meant five guys in thin leather jackets had to get out in sub-zero temperatures and push for all they were worth to get us back up on the highway.  I'm still not sure how we managed that.  Another time, our equipment truck suffered a broken drive shaft in Bismarck, ND, and I volunteered to stay behind until it was repaired, and drive home with one of our crew members.  We fixed the broken drive shaft, however we neglected to fix the heater, and of course we ran into a blizzard.  We drove from Bismarck to Sioux Falls in blowing show, with no heat, scraping the windshield on the inside in order to see.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  We were totally frozen when we got home.  On yet another road trip in the 80s, the heater in our band van quit, on an overnight drive from Minneapolis to Fargo.  We were so cold in that van, that we were stopping at rest areas and warming our hands on the fluorescent light bulbs!   In any one of these instances, I could have easily perished, and it's only by sheer luck that I'm still here to blog about it.  I could have easily been in the middle of this picture.  Thankfully, as I've gotten older, I've become more wise about my travel choices, and I'm more willing to cancel shows if the roads are bad.  Seeing this picture reminds me how lucky I've been.