An Epic Ending

I’m going to start this one with a brief explanation for those who might not know me very well about just why the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio was such a spiritual experience for me.

I was raised on music. My most vivid memories from childhood are my first album (B*witched) and how bashed up my Spice Girls one got. I heard Lighthouse Family croon as we drove the Yorkshire countryside in search of adventure. I heard Papi singing Paul Weller to perfection at the top of his lungs. Mumma loved Simply Red and Style Council, Sade and real soulful RnB. Papi put Eminem’s Encore album in the car and I cheekily learnt all the lyrics in my room at night while I drew and Mumma questioned the language. My sister bopped in her walker to Will Smith and my Nan taught me about the incredible Tina Turner and Elvis Presley. Papi heard about England’s next big thing, Arctic Monkeys. That album is part of my life story, man. As well as everyone one that followed.

I love music. When I lost myself music found me. I fell in love with the Beatles, INXS, the Stones, Plan B, Steely Dan, Prince, Bowie, Sticky Fingers, Johnny Cash, Elton John, The Specials. Too many more to mention.

I found my bands and learned what it’s all about to live and breathe it. I connected with people who showed me even more new magic and let me share in the love of theirs.

My favourite guitar solo of all time is Prince during While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Paul’s speech for John, again for Ringo. Mick’s for the Beatles. Epic Clapton declaring ‘Music is all you really need. Love and music is all we need’.

I love travel, but music is the love of my life.

And this is the home of music.

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Johnny Cash was the featured artist. His old tour bus was sitting outside. It made me long for days I never spent on tours I never witnessed. I must have been a GTO in a past life… there’s just something in this soul longing for it all and I can’t explain it.

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I could have spent days there but I was emotionally vulnerable and feeling incredibly overwhelmed with love when I walked out (20 minutes late, but I did navigate the gift shop at record speed.)

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Cleveland was a beautiful city, and to top off my best day I got to go see one of the best films I’ve seen in years. The last time a movie I watched jumped instantly in to my top five it was Lost in Translation.

Baby Driver was a musically driven, beautifully written and actioned packed dream from start to finish, taking place in a world I wish I belonged. The gentle dialog and tune connection between Baby and Deborah is the stuff of my wildest fantasies. I could curl up and live in this film. Watch it, please.

Moving far away from my whimsical reminiscences let’s jump right in to next destination.

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We stopped briefly at an Amish village for lunch on the way to Chicago which honestly creeped me out. It’s just so isolated. It hurts my heart every time someone looks in my eyes with longing when I tell them I’m from Australia. I know I am beyond lucky, but I made a choice to dedicate my life to travel. To me, to travel is to live. I really hope some of these lovely people get to explore my home one day the way I am with theirs.

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Happy 4th!

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We spent the day the most perfect way, at the baseball! The beers went down too smoothly, and everyone was in the highest of spirits. Especially our Contiki team.

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It was like walking around with minor celebrities.

That evening we all relaxed in a park by the beach with chilly bins (hah) and lots of American apparel. We danced and drank and laughed as we waited for the fireworks. It was a very memorable experience.

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Our drive from Chicago to Madison was one of my favourite drive days. We went to a fresh food market, and I found my future husband.

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That afternoon we got merry at the Coopers brewery which had the most fantastically camp and fun presentation. I’ve switched beer loyalty purely based on it.

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I dug Maddison. I was super unwell while we were there but the dinner spot had one of my main men on the wall, a fabulous play list, and there was a Beatles themed bar there! I am returning when I come back to cover the middle states, that’s for sure.

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The next night we spent in a cute little spot called Sioux Falls. This began the beautiful run of mellow country towns.

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Apparently corn worship is a thing in this place.

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One of the coolest places we checked out was Badlands national park. This was the first of many incredible natural wonders we were about to explore.

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Mount Rushmore was next on the agenda. The town we stayed in was so picturesque. I loved it. Night one was spend curled up in the spa.

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Mount Rushmore is just as spectacular as you’d imagine. It really took my breathe away seeing it in real life.

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The highlight of the day for me though was witnessing to the gradual progress of the Crazy Horse memorial. It’s a gigantic tribute to a hugely important Native American war leader and historical figure. A multigenerational family have dedicated their lives to carving him in to the rock face on native land. It’s no small feat and who knows if it’ll be finished in our life time, but they accept no government funding. Tourism is the main income for this project, and they also run a school for local native kids on site. It’s all pretty incredible.

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That afternoon we had a family picnic by the lake. It’s so special to be out in nature and relaxing with friends.

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That night was movie night! Spot batman pants.

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Next we headed to the cowboy town of Cody. I gracefully bowed out of the rodeo this time but the next day was without a doubt one of the best of my life. Yellowstone National Park.

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The pictures speak for themselves. Certain spots smelled like Rotorua but the natural beauty of these formations was unparalleled. This is my favourite National Park.

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We even saw a bear!

The next day was a treat and a lot like popping over to Switzerland, Teton National Park!

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We had lunch at the tiniest brewery ever.

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That afternoon I made a bold choice and went for a trail ride. My horse was called Toughie and was a total gentleman.

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This was followed by an epic cook out and some interesting party games.

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It was a truly stunning place.

A brief city stop brought us to Salt Lake City, and we got to check out how the Mormons do things. Most of the state of Utah are Mormon!

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Kanab was our next stop and along the way we checked out Bryce National Park. We wandered the rim and wondered at her beauty. Each park is so unique.

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I loved the next. This was my third time at the Grand Canyon in just over a year but first time at the North Rim. I spent most of the day with my tunes on relaxing and absorbing the serenity. It’s way more chilled on the North end so it was perfect for just being for a while.

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The next day was wild. Zion National Park blew my mind. We did a few little hikes to pretty running rocks and drank in the fresh water. This was our final day with nature so we enjoyed her fully.

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Finally, here we were. Almost two months down and well and truly ready to go out with a bang. Hello Vegas!

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I absolutely love Las Vegas. Every time I’ve been (which is now four times) I have a different and brilliant experience. I love the happy people on holiday, the bright and vibrant casinos, the shows that leave you on the edge of your seat, the next level night life. Night one we played on Fremont street as we were staying downtown.

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I was in groupie heaven as we discovered two excellent 80s tribute bands, one for the pop hits and one for the spandex boys with long curls and rocker voices. Oh my.

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Safe to say the free day was a rest day. We checked out a few bars but it was aaaaall about day three for me.

We started with the Neon Museum, a collection of old Vegas neon signs. They all had a story and the place was magical.

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Next it was my favourite things, Bubba Gumps and fried chicken before a second viewing of the greatest show of all time… Love by Cirque Du Soleil. Rin and I toe tapped and gasped and swayed to the best songs remixed to perfection and yet again I danced giddily out with some merch.

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Our final night on Contiki involved party buses and the one and only Ghost Bar. I even ran in to one of my gorgeous NSW agents from my Brissie days. Only in Vegas.

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We danced and cuddled and tried not to get emotional about the end of our epic journey. Ten of us started this together. It’s a long time and there’s a lot of love there.

Our last day was hungover and sad, but it’s okay. I’ll be seeing you.

My flights home were entirely uneventful, unlike the ones there, so that was a relief.

I’m in heaven being at home with my family. I missed them, as I always do. Especially my little man.

~

So now we begin my transformation year. I have worked my bum off and now I’m allowed to work from home. This means I can smash the savings and get back to Brissie as soon as possible (one year is the goal). Until then, it’s me time.

I’m going to read, play my instruments, write my stories and enjoy my family. Most of all I’m going to focus on my health and happiness. When I figure out a miracle cure for a fucked up relationship with food I’ll let you know! 24 and 25 were magical exploration years, now at 26 I’ll cocoon before the butterfly returns.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of my adventure.

An important message I want to put out there is that if you want to travel, explore and live a nomad life, just do it! Don’t succumb to the pressure of getting on the property market or buying expensive things you don’t need if that’s not where your heart is. You don’t have to study something you aren’t passionate about. You don’t have to have a brand new car or expensive clothes.

Make a choice, and then go after it with everything you have. It’s the only way to live. Never do anything by half.

I’m not doing anything that you can’t. 

Remember, our stories are only just beginning…

Harleigh Q

Xo

 

 

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Outcast At Last

It’s been an emotional week in my little band aid world.

Having finally caught Sticky Fingers in the flesh a few weeks ago I was well and truly still riding the high when the news broke this week of their impending hiatus.

The official statement goes as follows:

For some time we’ve been dealing with some internal issues in the band. They’ve heightened to the point where it’s not fair to anyone involved for us not to do something. We have looked for help to try to get through this and will continue to do so. As a result we’re going to try to finish the shows we have booked over New Years to the best of our ability – then the band will be going on an indefinite hiatus.

We would like to apologise to anyone that has been affected by this.

~

It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say I worship these boys. My heart dropped and my eyes filled with tears. Between calls I mustered a no, no, no, no before immediately sending the news to fellow Sticky lover Kate.

We spent the afternoon in shock, messaging back and forth and googling furiously for any evidence as to why this was happening, and in particular, why now?

That’s when this happened:

In recent times my behaviour for a large part has been unacceptable – I’m writing here and now with a heavy heart admitting this, and wish I had faced my issues earlier.

I am realising now a lot of people around me have been hurt by my behaviour and for that I am incredibly sorry. I have not sought to target individuals or groups. All people around me have been affected by my behaviour during these episodes.

I have been dealing with alcohol addiction and mental health issues. Last year I was diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia and have struggled to deal with that. This is not an excuse, but it hopefully means I can get better.

To try and work through this I am seeking help and will be attending rehabilitation and therapy in the coming weeks. I am truly sorry to the people that have been affected by my behaviour. Many thanks to my friends and family for helping me through this. I hope to one day make amends for my actions.

Yours sincerely,
Dylan Frost

~

Diz, the sweet, swaggering gentleman we met at 1am on a brisk Perth night in the car park, had made his decision. With an aching heart, I bow my head in understanding and pride in his strength.

Then the other side of the story came out:

~

In her now deleted post this person has made some pretty serious accusations. Where is the evidence? Were the police called? Are charged being laid?

But guess what? As angry as I am at her methods, it doesn’t matter.

Those of us who follow the boys have heard stories about their wild behaviour. They’ve been evicted from hotels and venues for destructive and anti-social behaviour. Diz in particular is known for his lack of regard for property and equipment.

Gone are the days when we are allowed to excuse it as ‘rock n roll’ because we’re more aware now. We think about the implications of our actions, how they affect others. I’m a bit prone to hero worship and I must admit I easily excuse this stuff because it’s what my heroes of yesteryear did, and I get it. Everyone wants to feel like they’re above it at some point; how wonderful it would be to do and say what we want with no implications. Thankfully, though, there are consequences. It’s all well and good until you’re on the receiving end.

The receiving end:

I am a feminist, I will back women until the day I die, but I am really, really frustrated by this.

My issue is the fact that this was posted on Facebook, when if her accusations are accurate, it should have been reported to the police.

I take issue with her casual throw in of violence again women. I know what that does to people. I know the affect it has on people. Drunken arcing up yes, but definitely not that.

I have also followed Sticky closely for years, and I have never heard of a charge or even an article with allegations to that effect. That is an earth-shattering, life-altering thing that she has now put in writing for the world to see and judge him based on. She didn’t just express her version of that night, she brought up past unfounded accusations.

Hang on a second…

Don’t. Don’t try to ruin someone’s career because you had a run in with them. None of us were there, and it’s clear by their knee-jerk reaction that something did go down, but that doesn’t mean that her statement is word for word accurate. That’s what I take issue with. It’s a passionate post with a lot of anger behind it, and that doesn’t make it fact. God my generation sucks.

I wish people wouldn’t believe everything that they read, but they do. I wish people would do their own research (like I have, extensively), but they don’t. The fact is, the man’s going to have to crawl back from this, and my heart breaks for him. She will be more notable than ever.

Personal opinions aside, Facebook Court needs to calm it’s farm. People on both sides of the fence are lashing out. It’s not right to abuse anyone, and though I completely agree that she was wrong in posting what she did, because people are not entitled to free speech when it comes at the expense of someone else’s livelihood, that doesn’t warrant harassment. Obviously he was in the wrong that night.

Diz is a young man with mental health issues and addictions. I’m not making excuses for his behaviour, it’s obviously appalling and really not acceptable. However, personal opinion in full effect, I love him. I think he is wondrously talented, he was an absolute gentleman with so much time for us when I met him, and all of my well wishes go to him and the boys. I hope after some recovery time out of the limelight they can make a comeback, or at the very least Dylan can strike out on his own.

The best artists often have their demons. I know with love and support he’ll be back to us. When you’re a true muso, that passion runs through your veins.

Get well soon, Dizza.

Harleigh Q

xo