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Papa Joe  ~  Travel Notes

PJ's Travel Notes

To: Storytell group

Date: Sunday, July 19, 1998 7:05 PM

Subject: Week Four - Southern Idaho


Trying to decide which stories to share is one of the hardest decisions I make out here on the road. Writing up these tour notes is no different. Every day is a new story, sometimes several.

I left Moscow Mountain the day after a wonderful Pot Luck under the stars. Too many tales to give justice, but if you ever get the chance to hear Batsy tell her versions of 'Periwinkle' or 'Lutey & the Mermaid, don't miss it. It was great doing dueling stories with you, Batsy.

I spent my first night of many in the Boise National Forest. The Southern Idaho tour was mainly preschools and libraries during the day and the Forest at night. But the problems with the Vardo continued to fill up much of my free time. Six and a half thousand miles in four weeks were taking their toll.

June 23rd & 24th

After a wonderful evening program at the Caldwell Public Library, my headlights began to dim. By the time I reached the outskirts of Boise, I could barely see the road. Rather than take my chances in the forest, I drove directly to the preschool where my morning show would be held. It was late so I parked on the street in front of the school. The turn signals weren't working and what I could see of my dashboard show that even the gages had stopped responding. The engine was beginning to misfire from the lack of power to the spark plug. As I turn off the key, I knew the Vardo would not be starting in the morning.

The next morning, my host asked (with a grin) how my night had been. I explained about the trouble and told her I needed to find a mechanic. She said, "My father came to visit. He's a mechanic. I'll ask him to look at your truck while you are doing your show."

By the end of the show, her father had removed the faulty alternator. It was completely burned out. Her husband took me to get a rebuilt replacement. Her father installed it and I was on my way to the Ada County Library in plenty of time for the next show, labor free! Parts? Less than the cost of a tow out of the National Forest. Never question the value of the low priced filler performances. That one show saved me five times more than it paid. ;) More than a full paying show would have brought in.

That night, I did a program for the Boise Public Library. The shows around the city had been so well attended that the librarians were afraid they wouldn't be able to accommodate the crowds. So they had moved the location to the Center Court of the only Mall in Idaho. I know many tellers dislike doing Mall programs. Working for most malls is rather ungratifying, but the management at this Mall were very co-operative. They even shut off the background music. The folks who came for the show might have filled up the original space, but we pulled in many more folks who were just out shopping. I imagine it was a big plug for the Summer Reading Program.

June 25th

My exhaust system is getting loud. Did I beat it up too much on Moscow Mountain? I stopped at a Muffler Shop yesterday. They told me the flange holding the pipe to the manifold was stripped, that there was only one bolt left holding it on, and that it would take two days in the shop to repair. I told them I didn't have two days. They suggested I buy a 'C' clamp to tighten it up until I could afford the down time. I bought the clamp after today's Burley Library Show, not even 300 miles later.

The Burley librarian was also concerned about accommodating the crowds. Seems word travels fast. Her plan was to move me to a neighborhood school gym. Then she sent personal invitations to all the preschools and day camps in the area. She had chosen that particular school because it housed the Summer School for the migrant worker's children. It was wonderful. Nearly 400 folks came for the show. What I really loved was watching the directors go up to the librarian to thank her for inviting them. It's always great to reach the migrant children.

Heading back for a workshop in Jerome, the exhaust pipe separated from the manifold in the middle of an incredible Thunder & Hail Storm. The Vardo was louder than the storm. Oh well! At least I can make it to the workshop.

The Friends of the Library are hoping this workshop will help the community in learning to value storytelling. Most of the folks were parents, teachers, and (of course) librarians. The Friends gave me an autographed copy of "Snake Stew" by Patti Cakes. It's a cute picture book put out by Cozy Books Publishing. A sweet story about a snake who nearly gets cooked up in a stew. What does this have to do with anything? I don't know, but it beats thinking about how I'm going to quiet down the Vardo. Thank goodness for the thunder storms. With all their noise no one is going to notice the Vardo roaring back to Boise.

June 26th

K~ is in Idaho visiting her sister at the Mountain Home Air Force Base. Her sister gave me the phone number for a mechanic, who gave me the phone number for a local muffler shop in Mountain Home. The place was right off the Highway so I don't think I disturbed too many folks in getting there. It took them 20 minutes to fix the Vardo and it cost me $20.

The moral of this story is that if you are in Southern Idaho and if you have a need for exhaust or welding work, go to Custom Muffler at1600 Sunset Strip, Mountain Home, Idaho (208-587-4832). Dave Sr. will take very good care of you. Just tell him the Storyteller Papa Joe sent you. It was rather fun at the shop. I told some tales to Dave's youngest son and gave him one of my Clapbooks. Goodwill is priceless. The saga continues.

June 27th

It's Riverfest in Boise and the local Story Group invited me to tell with them on their stage today. They asked me to do their closing. The group was a bit discouraged when I arrived and it was easy to see why.

Riverfest is a big event in the Boise area. The festival even hires Nationally known tellers for the main stage. For the local tellers who volunteer their time? They get to use the Keebler Cookie Oak Tree Float for a stage. The float was parked in the full sun. It was covered with Keebler Elves and assorted distractions. I'm sure someone thought it would be cute for the storytellers. The tellers moved off the float and worked on the ground, but most of the audience were sitting in the shade found on the sidelines. So the tellers, while standing in the sun, needed to address the two shaded groups, first on stage left, then on stage right, always with their backs to half of their listeners.

The main entrance to the festival was behind the stage, the next place over was a food stand playing rock&roll. It was awful. When it was my turn at the mic, I started playing with the crowd and drawing the children into the middle ground. It was hot, but they came and with some rather loud tales we began to draw from the folks passing behind the stage. It was rewarded in the end though. Some of the children asked to tell stories. We had a great time and brought dozens of more folks into the joys of storytelling.

After the festival, we gathered at the home of Fritz Fredrick, one of the local tellers for a potluck dinner. They had invited the feature tellers of Riverfest also. I was the first to arrive and heard Judith Black comment, "Hey! That's Papa Joe's. He's one of ours." So funny. I'm always meeting New England tellers in my travels.

We talked about Riverfest and how to make it work better next year. We talked about all the woes and joys of telling. We ate some great food and I found a wonderful spot to camp at the edge of the City. Two houses down from Fritz, the city ends and a beautiful sage desert begins. It's public lands and I can drive out and park where ever I want with wide open skies and a view of the mountains all around me.

Pax & Amicitia,

Papa Joe

In the Vardo, On the Road

Papa Joe  ~  Travel Notes

PJ's Travel Notes

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