Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
January 1991 – August 1994
It would be tedious to detail all the travels that Dayna and Sandy made in Home over the next three and a half years. It suffices to say that the green highlighter line in the Rand McNally Road Atlas eventually touched all forty-eight contiguous states, and several of the pages were crisscrossed with their green tracks. When possible, if they were going between two places they’d been before, they’d study the atlas and take a different route just for the sake of going a different way and seeing someplace new. They were rarely in a hurry, and often stopped in a likely place to play their guitars and busk, even if only for a few minutes.
They only piled on the miles when schedules demanded; sometimes they did. Occasionally they had jumps of a thousand or fifteen hundred miles between a renfaire ending on a Sunday and another one starting on the following Saturday – but covering that ground still only meant two or three hundred miles a day, with plenty of chances to stop and investigate things, or pull out their guitars, or whatever.
The renfaires remained at the heart of their schedule – sometimes big ones, sometimes little ones. Up until they did the renfaire in Arizona in January of 1991, they had mostly been a secondary act, playing smaller "stages" – sometimes with the audiences of fifty or less seated on a handful of bales of straw or wooden benches, which suited their acoustic guitars just fine. That had been fine with them; they had become used to a small, intimate crowd they could work with, and while their performances had a basic outline, they had the flexibility to interact with the crowd. They had already been aware that they were going to be a main stage act in Arizona, but they had been a little surprised to discover how big the main stage was – over five hundred seating. Though it seemed incongruous for a "renaissance" act, the only way they could perform before a crowd like that was amplification, through the stage’s speakers and sound system. So, they now became used to performing wearing microphones, with sound pickups in their guitars. Audiences that big demanded a different dynamic, a slightly less personal approach, but they also drew much fuller buckets.
As they had hoped, their success the first year at the renfaire in Arizona broke them into the western circuit, and they wound up playing the circuit up into June, often on large stages. Only after Memorial Day did they break away from the western circuit and point Home’s grill eastward, first for a stop for a few days in Bradford and a couple hours in Warren, before heading to Mackinaw City. Again they spent the summer working the street and the ferry, then on the weekends commuting south for the Maple Leaf, the only one of their original renfaires still on their schedule, and only there because of the involvement of Dayna’s parents. After Labor Day at Mackinaw City, it was time to head south again.
Mostly through fallout from the recording session in Memphis, partly the existence of the Genie in a Bottle CD, and partly a lead and a strong recommendation from Sam and Walker, they were picked up by a booking agency. That led to little in the beginning, but after a while it got them involved with regional booking agencies. Given a renfaire schedule set months in advance, they knew when they would be in an area, and they were able to base themselves out of the renfaire and do occasional local club gigs during the week.
When they’d been in school at Central, they’d talked about putting together an act aimed directly at elementary school kids, with the thought of marketing them to schools. In the end, they built not one, but two acts. One was based around their renfaire acts, cleaned up to the point of squeakiness, with more kid-level songs and lots of audience participation. The other was the "genie" theme from which they’d first developed the idea, utilizing readings, songs, and dramatizations mostly inspired by the Thousand and One Nights, and including a few simple but highly visible magic tricks thrown in to awe their young audiences. They really preferred doing the "genie" act, since they did a lot of renaissance stuff, anyway. They learned that printing up flyers announcing their availability and sending them around to schools in the region as soon as they knew they were going to be in an area during a school year was well worth it. They kept the prices of their school acts low, just to give the kids the live-music experience, and often they did half a dozen shows or more during the week between renfaire weekends, sometimes two a day.
With everything – busking, renfaires, club dates, and school shows – there was little chance for the calluses on their fingers to grow soft. A day rarely went by that they weren’t playing somewhere for someone, almost always for money.
That pattern continued through the next years – south in the fall, winter in the deep south or southwest, north in the spring, summer in Michigan, then back south in the fall. But the details often varied and rarely repeated themselves from one year to the next; sometimes, there were other adventures just to keep life interesting.
One story that got told again and again around late-evening renfaire camps was of the time the two of them were in central Florida along around Christmas and they saw a sign for a nudist village. They giggled a little at the thought of nude busking, and quickly teased each other into checking it out. They had to talk to a manager, who made a counter offer – how’d they like to do a show at the entertainment pavilion that evening? Of course; it didn’t take much more than the word "show" to get them fired up, even though it meant doing a show with very minimal costuming. Not knowing what to expect, but figuring with nude people and all they thought they could do one of the raunchier versions of their club acts. When they saw the number of kids in the crowd of naked figures filing into the pavilion, they made a flying switch to the "school" version of the renfaire act. The show was a big hit, and they got a good hat – although Lord knew where some of the people were carrying their money – and they got a standing offer to stop back any time. They did it again two years later, and wound up doing the genie show – slightly modified, because they lacked sleeves to hide props for magic tricks.
A couple different times they managed to get themselves booked onto week-or-two-long cruise-ship gigs. They did a lot of playing, running through much of their material, but they got to see several places in the Caribbean, and added significantly to their reputation as well-rounded travelers, but they were always glad to get back to Home and get on the road again, where they felt they belonged.
Their sex lives remained moderately active. They slept together in Home most nights, and occasionally made love with each other, but never often enough for it to become routine. Once in a while, and always on birthdays, they’d pull some sort of bondage gag on each other.
One night at a campfire at a renfaire, somehow the subject got around to rope bondage; there was a couple in attendance who was seriously into it. One thing led to another, and there ended up being a demonstration of some of the Japanese techniques of "shibari," the stylized eastern form. After two or three examples, Sandy offered to be the subject of a more complicated demonstration, and wound up with her arms tied behind her, her ankles tied to her thighs, and hanging in a horizontal position from a tree limb with several ropes around her body in a classic position called a "katori." Dayna thought it was visually awesome, and though extremely restrictive, Sandy said it was not as uncomfortable as it looked, and the feeling of helplessness from the bondage standpoint was astounding. Over the next several weeks of the run they learned a lot about shibari from the guy and his wife, both of whom were whizzes at tying as well as being tied, and the ropes got a lot of use in homework between lessons. The next time a birthday rolled around, it was Sandy’s turn to be "it" first, and she wound up wearing her bikini while tied in a tight katori, dangling from an Interstate highway exit sign in the middle of an afternoon. Neither of them quite understood afterward how they got through that with no cops and no accidents from some of the gawkers who flashed by. When it was her turn to retaliate nine days later, Sandy returned the favor to a bikini-clad Dayna at lunch hour in a small-town park, put a hat out and busked the gawkers for tips.
But their sex lives didn’t just extend to doing each other, bound in rope, wood, iron, or not at all. They still liked sex with guys, and got it fairly often, although irregularly. For example, they were busy virtually every night they were on the cruise ships, but on land, they’d only occasionally find a guy or a couple of guys they liked among the weekend campers at a renfaire. Sometimes those could turn into multiple weekends of sleeping out, and occasionally group sex. And once in a while, especially in bar dates, they’d find some guy who was really hot for them and willing to spend money on it. They almost always did those as threesomes, charging pretty steep, and always sharing the wealth, both physically and monetarily.
According to the journal they kept, the total number of guys they’d had sex with was nearing a hundred each by the end of their fourth straight year on the road. There was no telling an exact number, as not all had been noted, mostly due to some group experiences in the early years at Daytona Beach on spring break. Never were any of these relationships anything more than one-night stands, although there might be several one-nighters with the same guy or guys over a series of renfaire weekends. Never was there a breath of anything that might have the potential to turn serious, and both of the girls were glad of that, and happy with the way things were. While they didn’t exactly paint it on Home’s side, most places outside of Bradford or Mackinaw City they would admit to others to being bisexual, in love with each other, but liking to fool around with guys for fun and variety. To them, it was a perfectly satisfying solution to the problem, and they saw no reason to change anything in the foreseeable future, say, the next fifty years or so.
If they wanted to fool around or do something special, they had the money to do it. Though Home’s purchase and some of the extra expenses of the first summer kept them fairly frugal at first, they’d had plenty of money to make the first order of CDs, along with the related expenses. Once the sales got rolling along pretty good, the money kept flowing, considering everything else they were doing. Several times they reordered copies of the original two CDs; in the fall of 1992, they again booked time at Sun Records. With the help of Sam and Walker they brought in some session musicians – sadly, of course, Mr. Tom not among them – and cut a second blues/pop CD. Turn Me On was significantly more musically advanced. That one actually got picked up by a small distribution company, who sold several hundred copies of it here and there, although at less profit to them. But it gave them some very good reviews, if in some esoteric and obscure places. They were laying a good groundwork and were probably close to the point where they could have had a good start at a commercial recording career if they’d wanted to give up the footloose traveling, the busking, and the renfaires to concentrate on the promotion it would take.
It was not an easy question to answer, especially as committed to being on the road as the two were. It would be futile to try and summarize even one of the discussions, for they talked it around and talked it around from every possible angle and position for months. By early 1994 they were no nearer a resolution of the issue than they’d ever been, but had more or less decided to book studio time in the fall again and cut yet another album. Hopefully it would be even more advanced and commercially viable – but whether they wanted to commercialize it more than Turn Me On was an open question.
The reason for the uncertainty was that by the spring of 1994, they sometimes wondered if they hadn’t had enough road to hold them for a while – not that they wanted to give it up, but both felt it would be nice to hole up for a while in a place that didn’t move. They could recharge their batteries a little bit and just kick back, reassess their position, and contemplate options of where to go after this. Several times they gave consideration to buying a small house somewhere, probably in Bradford, just to give them their own home base, where they could spend a while every now and then, until getting bored enough to be able to get back on the road with enthusiasm. It never became enough of an issue in this period to do anything about it, but the option was there.
Bradford, and Dayna’s parents’ home, was pretty much their home base, anyway. They needed a permanent mailing address, and, more importantly, a permanent phone number where they could be contacted by schools and booking agencies; an answering machine on a second phone line at the Berkshire house, with Angie or Bruce often available to answer it, proved to be about the best that could be done.
There was occasional business to be done in Bradford, especially servicing those three bank accounts. The checking account was pretty much a flow-through thing, with a couple thousand kept in it for reserves, but the savings accounts and later investments kept on growing and growing. By the time they hit their fourth anniversary of being on the road, both accounts were well into five figures – an emergency fund if they needed it, or a fund to dip into when Home needed to be replaced with a bigger or more comfortable motor home, or possibly a reserve to dip into for that potential house, or a long vacation, or something. Those funds were the result of a lot of hard work, a lot of music played, a lot of salesmanship, and a lot of frugality and being careful with their money.
Dayna and Sandy tried to spend a little time each year in Bradford, anyway; every time they were there they’d drop by Emily Holst’s place for a while, to chew the fat, pass along some of their adventures, and catch up on Dayna’s classmates. In the spring of 1992, most of the class of ’88 kids who had gone on to college graduated, and several got married. Most of those scattered to the four winds; while they’d occasionally been home for a while in the summer, now their visits to the old home town became fleeting, and Emily had increasingly been feeling more cut off from her friends than before.
In June of 1992 Emily’s best friend, Vicky Varney, married a guy from the Detroit area named Augie Pabst, and both got jobs and bought a house in Troy, in the northern suburbs not far from Warren. Although Vicky got back to Bradford once in a while, it just meant that Emily’s feelings of isolation got even worse, so Dayna and Sandy’s visits bearing tales of adventures far and wide became especially welcome.
Other friends were increasingly gone as well. Scott Tyler married his long-time girlfriend, Sonja, the dark-skinned girl from the Detroit area, and they both got jobs in the Lansing area, where they’d gone to college. Those few members of the Class of ’88 who had met Sonja said that she was a beautiful, bright, intelligent, and charming girl, and they could see how Scott could fall for her, but there were still several hopes dashed when the wedding came down.
John Engler and Mandy Paxton got married, too, but they got jobs down in Florida, so they were rarely seen in Bradford. Others had their adventures; after a tour of duty in the Gulf War in 1990, Pat McDonald decided to make a career out of the Marine Corps, a little surprisingly. To no one’s surprise, Shelly Waltz got accepted to dental school and was still single, having had no desire to get hooked up with someone who might interfere with her studies. Andy Baker had a job in personnel management at a cabinetmaking factory in a southeast Michigan town, but was still single; and so on, and so on.
But of Jennlynn Swift – there was no word at all, nothing, not even a fresh rumor. Emily had gotten a call from her about six months after getting the Mustang Ranch bombshell, but nothing much was said about it to confirm or deny whether that for sure had happened, or whether it was still going on. Afterwards, it struck Emily that the real reason for the call was for Jennlynn to discover whether the rumors of her earlier phone call had reached her family. Emily was pretty sure they had, but couldn’t positively confirm it, other than to say that her name was still not safely used in their presence. To Emily’s knowledge – and she would have known if anyone did – no one had heard a word from or about Jennlynn since.
Visits by the traveling musicians to Sandy’s parents were few, brief, and always together, totaling only a handful or two of hours in four years. It was pretty clear that they were distressed by Sandy, for a number of reasons – dropping out of college, of course; once they’d made it on the road there had been little discussion and no positive action about doing winter terms some place, although it was still a possibility sometime if they felt they needed a break from the road. But Sandy’s parents had a lot of other concerns, mostly that she was out and around, rather than being under their supervision, and they kept pushing the idea of having a safe and settled home and job, a family, a husband – Robbie Buehler was still single and available, and they still would have liked to have fixed the two up. And, while the girls tried to downplay the lesbian aspect of their relationship, they were dead sure that her parents suspected it and didn’t think much of it. While the visits to Warren were always made with a sense of duty, and both the girls tried to make clear that they were both perfectly happy and successful with their lives and didn’t want to change, they were always glad to see the place in the rear view mirror and leave the negative aura behind.
By the spring of 1994, they’d pretty well decided to go ahead with the as-yet-unnamed new album. They had ideas for songs that they wanted to put on it, but none were yet finalized. When possible they worked on arrangements of the various music selections they were considering. While they always liked being on the road, they were weary enough of it to agree to not try to schedule recording on top of a renfaire, but instead take their time with the album, work with the session musicians more, and in general put out the most professional possible master, despite the extra costs, in case they decided to get more serious about a recording career. However, they hadn’t cancelled a booking at a renfaire in southern Missouri in the period they booked at Sun Records, just in case they didn’t feel they were ready to go ahead with the album yet.
Perhaps they were getting a little tired of being on the road, on the move continually, and perhaps they did think about the need to stop sometime and take a breather for a while. But, the thought of being without doing music for a while, no performing for a period of time – it was just too evil to contemplate. Maybe next winter, they thought, they’d set aside a month or two to sit back, relax, find a place to light and unwind and consider the next step. They often teased each other about holing up at that nudist camp in central Florida – that way they wouldn’t even have to worry about what clothes to wear. But both of them felt in their gut that when the time came to take a rest, the need to make music would win out.
Then everything went to hell.