With only 3 or so hours to go to Stevensville, Montana’s “First settlement in 1841”, and not having to play until 6, we woke up with the sun, grabbed some peaches at a local fruit stand, and merrily we rolled along!
About 30 min outside “Stevi” (pronounced “Steve eye”, which is what the locals call it), I saw an ad for the “World’s Largest Indoor Trampoline Park”! Um, yes please! Flying Squirrel, here we come!!
We had 5 hours to kill, so we payed for two hours of bouncy fun. Wavers signed, sticky-bottom socks purchased, stuff put in lockers, we all ran to the springy goodness to indulge our inner children and our “still-is child”! I saw a foam pit and with all the grace of Nadia Comaneci, I dove into it! The best!! Trampoline dodge ball, rope swings, tight rope walking, slo-mo videos, sweating profusely, and a million jumps in! Wow! This place is amazing and we are absolutely exhausted. How much time do we have left? An HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES??? How have we ONLY been jumping for 45 min? We’re gonna die here. You’ll find me buried in foam, Jared stuck to a wall from too high of a jump, and Rudy pummeled with dodge balls. Yep. Here lie the Fredeens. They gave it all they had. But in the end, two hours proved too much. We’re all dead. Ok. Too dramatic?? Well, *spoiler alert* we didn’t die. But I came close.
As I silently judged the other moms for not really getting in there and being on their kiddos’ levels, sitting safely on couches, engaging in pleasant adult conversations, I also silently envied them. I’m sure none of them smelled like an old gym sock (oh yes…I had forgotten deodorant) and they probably all had dry underwear (oh yes, I peed myself more times than I could count, pausing every ten min to go to the bathroom and make sure I wasn’t embarrassing my young son or husband) and I’m SURE they were all going to walk out of the World’s Largest Indoor Trampoline Park with their dignity AND ankles intact. I, however, wasn’t. What I WAS going to do was, on my LAST jump, on the LAST trampoline on our LAST second there, I came down hard, right in front of the row of fragrant, dry, uninjured mothers, and planted on my left ankle, and, like the tearing apart of velcro, I heard everything split apart in my poor foot. I immediately felt the urge to vomit from pain and giant embarrassment, but mostly pain, and within seconds, my knight in shining armor (shorts and a T-shirt) was there to help. I think I got up as quickly as I landed to play it cool, laugh a bit, and get down the stairs to the bathroom, where I collapsed on the floor crying and writhing in pain. Jared and Rudy got me some ice to put on it immediately and, after they were sure I was okay, I sat like a scolded puppy in the corner while the boys played some video games until our two hours was finally and mercifully up. I did a totally different “walk of shame” to the truck and all I wanted was fries. Ugh, I can barely step on this thing. How is the show gonna go??
Whenever we mentioned that our last stop was in Stevensville, before we ever got to tell people where we were playing, they all said the same thing: “Oh! You have to go to Blacksmith Brewing! It’s the best place!!” Getting there in plenty of time to set up (especially now with “Gimpy McGee” in the band) was so nice because we were able to take our time and meet some regulars and not feel rushed. I was super grumpy because I felt like a total klutz loser and it was really hot again and we had to get ready in what was essentially an ally. Ugh. Jared went and got us coffee because, even injury aside, it was a really physical couple hours and we were feeling more siesta, than fiesta.
WiFi permitting, I set up our FB live stream and we got ready to go. I had 4 Tylenol and 3 shots of caffeine, my sneakers on and I was ready to rock. This was our last gig on tour and there was no way I was gonna sit on a stool for it. I’d deal with the pain tomorrow. Tonight, I’m singing with my friends! And friends they became.
Every single person in the bar LOVED the music. A full-on cowboy named Keith, jumped up after “10 Best Dressed” and shouted “That’s gotta be our state anthem!” Another man named Brad, made a point of putting money in our tip jar every time he got up. Tina posted about us on FB and Kat bought a bunch of merch while joking with Jared about how LSD should be a college requirement. Jess came late to the party, not even wanting to go out, and was super moved and had a total mood change. Edgar made sure we knew just how special we were because we “Actually had every person in the bar in the palm of our hands!”. Peter’s warm and kind request for an autographed poster and his sage advice to get as much sleep as possible and protect our strong voices. Also, an employee/fellow musician at Blacksmith, Anne Alise, raved over us and threw her arms around me exclaiming, “I have to hug you!” Charlie in the Crocodile Dundee hat invited us to an afterparty with the best small town directions of, “Go to the CJ’s and turn left. We’re at the end.” Mason and his wife welcomed us into their home, feeding us and providing salve for my ankle, all before they had to leave the next morning for Colorado. Rudy made fast friends with Isabelle, aka “Izzy”, and cried real, heavy tears when he hugged her goodbye. We found out that almost each person we met in “Stevi” had CHOSEN to reside there, preferring the small town life and tight-knit community living to most everywhere else. Edgar had such a beautiful sentiment to share with me.
“I was a lawyer in New Jersey for years. At every party or gathering I attended there was always the same greeting. ‘Hi. I’m so-n-so. What do you do?’ The importance of your occupation and status far outweighed who you were as a human being. What your soul was. I found that habit the hardest to break when I moved here. But, now, I never even ask what people do. You just naturally find out. When someone is in need, say someone needs a dentist or a repair done to their house, then, and only then, do you find out who actually DOES those things. It’s really beautiful.”
No business cards passed out. Just handshakes and hugs. Pretty hard to want to leave a place like this. As the night cooled off significantly and everyone went home and to bed, Jared and I had a couple of tortilla-wrapped bratwursts off the hood of the truck (compliments of Mason and Co.) while Rudy softly cried himself to sleep for his summer love lost, and we didn’t even crack the last two beers gifted to us. We were sort of overwhelmed by it all, already drunk off this spirit of acceptance and love that had been shown to us. An incredible way to end the tour, but an even better way to begin our next adventure. They asked us back anytime we want. Yeah, Stevi, you may be a great place to start next time!