This is the story of how I almost died driving home from Ft. Kent, Maine. Where is Ft. Kent you ask? It is the northernmost part of Maine, minutes away from the Canadian border. Why was I there? My former rock band was scheduled to perform at an outdoor music festival. And so the story begins…
Let’s start on the day of the show. Nothing too exciting going on at 7 am. Except for firing off some weapons at a shooting range with members of the Big Shooterist Test Facility. The band I was involved with was in the conservative political market of the early 2010’s, so filming these kinds of events made our fans very happy.
Firing the grenade launcher, pistol, rifle, and shotgun was a humbling experience while also raising my adrenaline levels. Feeling the power of the weapons was a rush, and it made me appreciate the power and danger of misusing these tools. For me, this may have been a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am glad I tried something new.
What felt like the equivalent of 6 cups of coffee pushed me into high gear for the rest of the day. Lord knows I needed it, because there was a lot of standing around after I arrived with the band to the festival grounds. We set up our gear and had hours to kill until show time. I remember talking to some people who were at the show, some of the event organizers, even someone running for local government. Then, about 3 hours after we had arrived, the headlining band showed up. It was the guy from American Pie the movie, Thomas Ian Nicholas. He had his own band, maybe he still does. It was surreal meeting him. We talked for a little bit, and now I can say I met the guy who played Kevin. I guess what I really want to say is that it was underwhelming. I wasn’t expecting anything, but it was still underwhelming. A lesson I learned even before that encounter, is that regardless of how “larger than life” actors and celebrities may appear, they are people like you and me, with their personality quirks and all. It’s great to remember that and to know it!
After the concert, I found myself back at the rustic log cabin rental with my band mates. It was 1:40 a.m. the singer (Dave) and guitarist (AJ) were drunk. All of a sudden a commotion breaks out. Dave and AJ were convinced that someone was trying to kill us and/or kidnap us. Why did they think this? There was a door at the back of our room that did not lock. Behind this door was a stairwell that led…somewhere. None of us wanted to see where it led, and it did feel a bit weird that this back door to our room had no lock on it. We were becoming a bit notorious given our political associations and rising popularity. After about 10 minutes of minor freaking out from Dave and AJ, and after saying that we should start driving home, I stepped up to the plate and said I could drive. The destination was NJ, only 16 hours from where we were. No biggie, right? We were road tested by this point, and I had many hours of driving experience. I did about 70 percent of the driving throughout the touring days.
Now the thing about driving in northern Maine is that there are moose up there, a lot of them. Driving at night is not safe. Yet, here I was, navigating down a 2 lane road lined with trees on each side at 2:00 am. We were all keeping an eye out for moose, but I had remembered that one of the organizers said you can’t see them at night until you are very close, due to the fact that their eyes do not reflect light. I knew this, but Dave and AJ thought it was funny to continuously joke about being on the watch for any moose. I gave them a pass for being intoxicated. After a few more minutes everyone settled down and it was just me and the road in peace. My guess is it was around 2:20 am when the following sequence happened: As if a magician summoned it, a moose appeared out of the darkness 20 ft. in front of the conversion van, probably even closer than that. I hit the brakes hard enough so as not to come to a complete stop, but enough to swerve to the left and cut back to the right to wrap around the moose’s ass. I must have sensed that the moose was trotting across the road, so swerving left gave me just enough space to work with to avoid any contact with the animal and any trees on the side of the road. It was pure reaction time, and thank God I reacted properly. We surely could have died. I remember yelling many expletives, cursing over and over even minutes after I saved all of our lives. We were in shock, except for Dave, who slept through the whole thing. He woke up 10 minutes later, shouted watch out for the moose, and then fell back asleep. Ah yes, life on tour.
16 hours later and we made it back to NJ. How did I do it? How did I drive the entire way back? My go to at the time was Red Bull, and top 40 radio. It got me in the zone and I was fired up to get us to where we needed to go. I’m thankful to live to see another day…