Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Sauna Part 283

Tico joined the four of us for dinner as we mused over the various options and possibilities for adventure during our stay here. Tico wanted to check out a nearby golf resort once Hugh had joined us and was anxious for Eva to arrive tomorrow afternoon. Thursday was Valentine’s Day and we all agreed we’d have dinner together before retiring to our own private celebrations. I felt bad for Richie and Jim when I realized they’d be alone on a day made for couples.

“S’okay, Trish. Dave and Hughey will be here by then and maybe we can try bungee jumping or something equally foolish” he grinned, but his smile didn’t hide the sadness I saw in his eyes.

“What about Heike? Your friend from Germany? And maybe Cherie…” I asked, wishing they could at least have some female companionship.

“I already called her, but she has college exams and can’t make it. And it’s not quite the same, really. She’s more like my daughter, you know” Richie replied sadly.

“Cherie won’t fly, Trish, remember? Besides, she’s not much for being spontaneous” Jim added with disappointment.

“I know, I just thought maybe …” I began.

“Trish, we’ll be okay. Really. Me and Jim can manage as bachelors. Besides, it’ll be like the four musketeers, or some shit like that, with me and Jim, Davey and Hughey” he reassured me.

“More like the Four Stooges, if you ask me” Tico quipped, nudging Richie who scowled back good-naturedly.

After dinner, we moved inside to the living room and Jon started a fire in the enormous stone fireplace and we cracked open another bottle of a prized local vintage. Richie pulled out his acoustic guitar and played us a preview of a melody he’d been working on and sang a few choruses he’d been toying with.

I bet it's warm in California
I think it's time to hit the road
I just might call that band of gypsies
Go searching for our pot of gold
Seems like lately there's a whole lotta leaving goin' on

I close my eyes and picture your hand in mine
I still hear your voice, it takes me back to that time
Well I can find a reason to be strong
Seems like lately there's a whole lot of leavin' goin' on

Jon began humming the melody and appeared lost in thought as Richie explained that the song wasn’t finished and still needed some work. Jon nodded and prompted Richie to play it again, this time adding his own verse at the end.

Close the window, draw the curtains
You ain't the only one here hurtin
No one's right, no one's wrong
Lately there's a whole lot of leavin' goin' on

Tico grinned and Richie smiled back, acknowledging Jon’s contribution. I wondered at the ease at which the lyrics came and I was curious about the second line Jon had composed. Neither Richie or Tico seemed offended and I guessed it had a particular meaning between them that I didn’t completely understand until Tico spoke up. Jim looked equally baffled.

“I remember those times, man. It seemed like we all crashed and burned together back then. Richie, you reminded us that we weren’t alone, we had each other and when one hurt, we all hurt. To the Brotherhood, man, to the Brotherhood” Tico announced, raising his glass for a toast.

“The Brotherhood” Jon and Richie echoed as they clinked their glasses together and high-fived each other.

“We’re always here for ya, Rich. Don’t ever forget that, bro” Jon reminded Richie.

“Thanks, guys… and you too, Trish, Jim” Richie said with tears in his eyes as he hugged me and looked up at Jim.


The next day dawned bright and clear without a trace of clouds in the sky. Jon and I were having breakfast out in the courtyard by ourselves as Tico had headed off early to meet Eva at the airport in Queenstown and Richie and Jim were sleeping in late. He and Jim were heading out to go fly fishing, leaving me and Jon to our own devices.We’d decided to take the helicopter tour of Fiordland National Park with a picnic lunch on the shores of Lake Lochnagar as an additional way to experience the countryside.

As we were getting ready to leave, David called from hospital to say that they were discharging Hugh and that they’d be arriving just after lunch time this afternoon. Jon breathed a sigh of relief as we headed off to the heliport. The whole crew should be here by the time we got back.

Jon helped me up as I stepped into the luxury helicopter, running my fingers across the butter soft leather that covered the seats. Our pilot greeted us warmly and reviewed the itinerary as we settled down for what was to be one of the most memorable experiences in my life.

Our first destination was Milford Sound, referred to by Rudyard Kipling as the eighth Wonder of the World and with good reason. One view after another was more breathtaking than the last, and I was grateful to Jon for snapping the photos as I was too stunned to even remember that we’d brought the camera. The helicopter darted and wove its way through the landscape, affording spectacular views of forested cliffs, replete with sparkling waterfalls that dotted the lush landscape. Snow-capped mountains provided an inspiring backdrop to the rich, velvety greens of the sheer, rocky cliffs and the brilliant blue waters stretching in from the Tasman Sea.

“We’ve got to try the boat ride through here” Jon whispered, pointing down towards the tiny speck in the water.

“Over there is Sutherland Falls, the second highest waterfall in the southern hemisphere” our pilot announced as he turned the craft in for a closer look.

We dipped lower as the helicopter skimmed down the face of the cliff, pulling back farther to offer perspective on the incredible waterfall. It felt like a glimpse into a primordial world, the land before time began, as we watched the wild, foaming water cascading ever downwards on it’s jouney towards the sea.

“Ready to go visit the glaciers?” the pilot grinned, never tiring to see the reactions of his passengers.

Jon and I nodded speechlessly as the craft veered away, embarking towards our next destination-Mt. Tutoko, the highest peak in the Fiordlands. I caught my breath as we cleared the side of the slope and the pilot prepared to land on top of the mountain. I was shaking with wonder and excitement as I stepped out of the craft and Jon held my hand as we surveyed the primitive land. The wind whipped at my face at this altitude and I shivered at the sudden cold after the warmth of the helicopter, but the biting fresh air was a welcome reward. Surely we were at the top of the world.

I heard the cry of an unknown seabird and looked off to follow its flight, feeling envious of the sights it must see everyday. Jon handed the camera to the pilot who snapped a few photos while we soaked in the atmosphere. Words would have seemed out of place in such majestic surroundings and I was entirely too dumfounded to speak. Gripped by the raw beauty around us, Jon touched my cheek and I turned, and our eyes locked in mutual understanding and awe.

We reluctantly climbed back into the helicopter to continue on towards the glaciers, our last stop before lunch on the shore. We were able to actually set foot on Mount Jura, literally touching the blue ice of the ancient glacier with reverence. Mt. Tutoko, which we had just left, loomed in the distance, shoulder to shoulder with Mount Aspiring. It could only be “aspiring” towards heaven, I thought with a laugh.

We touched down on a desolate beach, and climbed out onto the sandy shore. It was just after noon and the weather was milder here, yet not what I would have called truly warm. The pilot handed us a picnic basket and a bottle of red wine and an opener and we walked for a bit before dropping down on the ground with our lunch. The fresh air had made us both hungry and we tore into the basket with gusto.

“Let’s we what we’ve got-I’m starving!” Jon said enthusiastically as he plucked out a couple of sandwich wraps and a platter of fruit and cheese.

I popped open the wine and poured us each a glass as we relaxed in the sunshine and shared our thoughts on the wonders we’d just witnessed. I pulled out the camera and hit the review button as Jon leaned over to see how well he’d captured our day.

“This is a gorgeous shot” I sighed, taking a bite of my chicken salad sandwich.

“I can see why they shot ‘The Lord of the Rings here’ Jon mumbled through a mouthful of food.

The photos were good, but they couldn’t compare to the feeling of awe that so much of the rugged landscape inspired. This was truly a home for the Gods, both because of the majesty as well as the gigantic proportions of everything we had seen. The waterfall itself was too high to capture in only one photo and the mountain vistas and cliffs made us feel small in comparison. Jon had managed to get a shot of the boat in Milford Sound and from the height we were at when he took it, it was barely visible. We both agreed that we wanted to try the boat ride before we left.

We finished our lunch and took a leisurely stroll down the beach, inhaling the scent of the salty sea air. The beaches of Jon’s native New Jersey had a charm of their own, but they buzzed and hummed with the frenetic energy of the people who inhabited the boardwalks. Here, however, all was serene and peaceful and the power we felt was a natural force that came from the bowels of the earth and the sea itself. Yes, it was a much different vibe, but it suffused us with energy all the same.

“We should head back” Jon finally said, checking his watch.

It was just after two-thirty and Eva would be there by now and David and Hugh should be arriving shortly. Jon took me in his arms and we kissed on the shores of Lake Lochnagar before rejoining our pilot and returning to Blanket Bay.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Sauna Part 282

We woke to the sound of thunder and lightening as a rainstorm blew in from the south. Our flight to Blanket Bay would be delayed by a few hours due the storm, so we settled down to a leisurely breakfast and I called Alice to fill her in on her Uncle Hugh’s progress.

“Lord have mercy! The poor man! How long do they expect to keep him in the hospital?” Alice exclaimed after I shared the news.

“Just a few days, provided there are no complications. We’re headed off to Queenstown for some planned R & R, but Hugh will be joining us as soon as he’s released and he’ll have time to recuperate before the next show” I explained. “How are my boys?” I inquired.

“Missing their Momma! That Edward! He’s quite a darling-you know he’s been sleeping under the covers with me every night?” she chortled.

“That sounds like my baby. I sure miss my kids. Give him a hug for me, Alice, and tell him I’ll be home soon” I said wistfully.

“Tell him yourself-he’s right here on my lap” she giggled and held out the phone.

I could hear the soft sounds of a perfectly contented cat purring loudly over the phone as I cooed lovingly into the receiver. I missed my babies and I longed to hold my sweet little Edward and nuzzle my face in his fur. It wouldn’t be long now as I’d decided to skip the gigs in Japan and fly home in less than a week. We’d spend a few days in Blanket Bay before the final New Zealand show in Auckland and I would head home when the guys left for Japan. Jon would be home by his birthday and there were things I wanted to do in preparation.

“Oh boy, you’ve done it now! He knows your voice, Trish, and he’s marching on my lap to beat the band! Ow!” Alice laughed as Eddie dug his claws into her thigh.

“Everyone’s okay then, I take it?” I asked just to make certain.

“Yep, no worries here. So you’ll be back Sunday?” she asked, checking the calendar.

“Sunday” I confirmed. “Call me if anything comes up between now and then” I added before thanking her again for taking care of my precious darlings.

“I take it that all the furballs are doing okay?” Jon asked, raising his eyebrows.

“The children are fine, but they’re missing their parents” I replied indignantly.

“I kinda miss the little buggers myself, but not half as much as I’m gonna miss you” he sighed, pulling me onto his lap.

“It won’t be that long and you’ll be home for your birthday” I clucked provocatively in his ear.

“Mhhmmnn, hhmmmnn” he purred as he carried me off to the bed.


We’d just finished taking a shower when Richie knocked on the door. The storm had let up and our flight had been rescheduled, but we’d decided to take a later one anyway as we wanted to stop by the hospital and see Hugh before heading off to Blanket Bay. David and Tico had already gone over, but Richie and Jim were waiting for us.

“David volunteered to stay here with Hugh until he’s released, but ya know he’s thinking more about makin’ time with that hot little nurse” Richie laughed as we hurried to get dressed.

“Yeah, very noble of him, eh?” Jon snickered.

“I think they’re releasing Hugh tomorrow, so Dave’s gonna have to work fast” Jim commented, confident that he’d rise to the occasion.

“That’s why they went on ahead-Dave wanted an early start without competition from me” Richie winked.

“I don’t think he’ll have to work all that hard” I smiled, remembering the twinkle I’d seen in her eyes.

When we arrived at the hospital, Hugh was sitting up in bed, eating his lunch with Tico sitting by his side. David had apparently managed to convince Elena, the saucy little nurse who’d tossed us out of the room yesterday, to have lunch with him in the hospital cafeteria. The younger nurse who’d remained on the floor didn’t feel as inclined as her superior to impose the rules, so we all crowded into Hugh’s room for a visit.

“How are you feeling? Is there anything that you need?” I asked.

“I’m feeling a lot better than I did when they brought me in here, that’s for sure. My stomach’s still tender, but the Doc said I could probably be released tomorrow” Hugh replied.

“Yeah, Dave was pretty disappointed to hear that” Tico chuckled and we all laughed.

“Elena’s been subtle, but I think Dave may have an edge. She never even mentioned you two clowns” Hugh grinned as he nodded towards Jon and Richie.

“Hmmphh” Jon said indignantly and Richie just rolled his eyes while Jim laughed.

“I’ve heard some women prefer blondes, but looks like you lose, buddy” Richie smirked with satisfaction.

“Like I said, there’s no accounting for taste” Jon retorted just as the object of discussion swept into the room.

“Are you people all deaf? I SAID two visitors allowed at a time!” Elena announced as she moved towards Jon in a threatening manner.

“Okay, okay, calm down, little lady! We’re going” Jon protested, protecting his ears as he made a beeline for the door. “See ya later, buddy!” he called to Hugh as she shooed us out for the second time while David stood there grinning.

“You too, Goldilocks!” Elena bellowed at David as Hugh caught my hand.

“I’ll be fine Trish, don’t worry. But David, on the other hand…” Hugh grinned, raising his eyebrows.

I bent down and kissed Hugh goodbye as I whispered “Call me if there’s anything that you need.”

And with that we made our way toward the elevator, leaving David to try and soothe Elena’s ruffled feathers. Tico caught up with us just as we overheard David trying to sweet-talk his way back into her good graces.

“Okay, baby, they’re all gone. Now about later, after your shift…” we heard as the elevator door closed shut.

“She’s a spitfire, that one” Tico observed.

“Dayum! Dave’s got his work cut out for him” Jim agreed.

“But the sassy ones are always worth the effort” Jon winked as he squeezed my ass and planted a kiss on my cheek.

We headed off for the airport and soon we were arriving in Blanket Bay-the playground of the rich and famous. I could immediately see why it was such a popular vacation spot as the limo approached. It was quite secluded and the main lodge was nestled in one of the most picturesque places I’d ever seen and I thought I had seen quite a few at this point.

The five of us checked in and explained that Hugh and David would be arriving in another day or two after Hugh was released from the hospital. The resort staff proceeded to take us on a short tour of the facilities while they explained the various services they provided. We would be sharing a Chalet Suite with Richie and Jim which afforded us a common living room area while Tico, Hugh and David would have suites in the main lodge. Cocktails, we learned, were served every evening at six-thirty.

Blanket Bay was a traveler’s paradise and Jon, Richie, Jim and I stood there mesmerized as we gazed out the window of our living room. The view was astounding, from the crystal blue water of Lake Wakatipu to the majesty of the Humboldt Mountain Range in the background. Our bags lay on the floor where the staff had deposited them and all thoughts of unpacking quickly vanished as we were drawn to the door leading into the courtyard. It was still early evening and the sun shimmering on the still waters was beckoning.

“Would you like to dine on the deck this evening?” the staff asked with a smile.

“Yes!” we all said in unison and the man slipped away quietly to make the arrangements.

“This place is magickal! How did you find it?” I asked as Jon slipped his arm around my waist, drawing me close.

“We’ve never been here, but I remembered Keith telling me once we should try it when we came to New Zealand” Jon said, remembering a conversation long ago.

“Keith? Who’s Keith?” Jim asked, looking from Jon to Richie to me.

“Keith Urban. He was born here and regaled Richie and me with tales of all the amazing places to see in New Zealand” Jon explained.

“He really wasn’t embellishing his description when he told us about it” Richie added, shaking his head and remembering the conversation with Keith when they’d been in the studio recording the first cut of the duet version of ‘Who Says You Can’t Go Home’.

“No wonder he and Nicole love coming back here” Jon nodded. “I’m glad we took his advice.”

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Sauna Part 281

I smiled at Hugh as he reasurred his wife that he was doing just fine. I’d dialed her number and handed him the phone as soon as they allowed me to see him as I knew that nothing short of his voice would put her at ease. I’d have felt the same way myself. The show would be over soon and the guys were on their way, so I was glad that they had a few moments of privacy without all the hoopla that followed the band.

The show had gone exceptionally well despite all the challenges and Jon looked triumphant when he marched into the room. The excitement he felt from Jim, Willie, Dickie and Jeremy had been contagious as he remembered the rush he’d felt at performing his first stadium gig. The guys all crowded into Hugh’s room and I smiled rather ruefully as I wondered what bribe Jon had used to get past the nurses who were supposed to make sure that there were only two visitors at a time. Hugh was still weak and he looked rather tired, but he was obviously glad to see all the guys and he did his best to appear nonchalant.

“What, no flowers? How soon they forget” he lamented to me.

“Damn gift shop is closed, but I bet Rick’s got extra autographed copies of the CD” Richie winked.

“Sorry, man. I ain’t got none left; there were an awful lot of nurses on this floor” Rick laughed as he turned over empty hands.

“Yeah, well, you know how it is when there’s a hot, sexy rock star flat on his back” Hugh smirked.

“No!!!!!!!! Tell me!!!!!!!!!!” David teased back and we all broke down and laughed.

“Aaaww, damn, don’t make me laugh!” Hugh begged them, as he held his arm over his stomach.

“Shit, sorry, dude” David replied.

“So how’d the show go? You gonna join the band?” Hugh smiled, directing his attention to Jim who was standing a little aside.

“It all went pretty well, but I’m no replacement. It’s a good thing the fans are so forgiving…” Jim began.

“Hey, man, you did alright. And we pulled those guys from last night up on stage for a few songs and the crowd really liked it” Richie added.

“Those kids from the bar?” Hugh asked and Richie nodded.

“Yep, they were a little bit nervous, but not half as green as Jim’s face before Jon agreed to give it a shot” Richie cackled and Jim nodded his head vigorously.

“Leave it to Jon to make ’em pay for those tickets” Hugh smiled and Jon grinned.

I heard someone clearing their throat and a voice I didn’t recognize as a strikingly attractive nurse swooped into the room and immediately took command. This petite little woman was obviously a force to be reckoned with and the look on her face told us all that she meant business. She grabbed David’s ear and barked at the rest of us.

“Blimey, who let all you ragamuffins in here? Let the poor fellow get some rest!” she bellowed, dragging David along by his ear as she herded us out.

I gave Hugh a quick kiss on the cheek and followed the guys as it was obvious this nurse wasn’t impressed by the shaggy locks of a rock star.

“Hey! Careful there, I need that piece of equipment! But you’re more than welcome to run your fingers through my hair, darlin’” David flirted shamelessly.

“You could most likely hear better if you cut off that mop!” she replied sternly, apparently unmoved by his offer.

“Whoa, little lady, we’re going. We just wanted to cheer up our buddy” Jon said sweetly as he flashed her his megawatt smile.

“Don’t you ‘little lady’ me, Mister Rock Star. Move it along!” she commanded as she released David’s ear and hustled Jon out of the room with a swat on his ass.

I couldn’t help laughing at Jon’s startled expression. There weren’t many people, especially women, who didn’t swoon when he turned on the charm, but this particular nurse was having none of him and I suspected it was actually David who had caught her fancy. Hugh called out a goodbye and chuckled in spite of the discomfort it caused him as the nurse closed his door and rounded us up.

“Okay, now that I have your attention, let’s get a few things straight. This is a hospital and these are the rules! Two at a time for visits, except family and kin, and visiting hours are between nine and nine. Have I made myself clear?” she announced, surveying the guys.

“Yes, ma’am” David said, rubbing his ear.

“Well then, what are you all still doing here? Shoo!” she said with authority as she shot him a look, but her eyes were sparkling with mirth.

“Damn! Poor Hughey! She’s a Nazi!” David surmised.

“She likes you” I smirked. “Didn’t you catch the way she looked at you? I think you’ve got a fan” I laughed.

“Yeah, I saw that too. She wants you, dude!” Tico observed with a wry smile.

“Oh, stop it you two! That’s not funny!” David protested. “She attacked me!”

“Yeah, man, and just think what the foreplay will be like” Richie cackled.

“No accounting for taste, is there?” Jon interjected.

“None whatsoever” Richie agreed.

“Hey! Seriously, ya think she liked me?” David asked wistfully.

“Absolutely, my man, absolutely” Tico confirmed.

We boarded the elevator while David considered the possibilities and we stopped at admissions on the way out, leaving Rick’s last CD for the young intern who’d been helpful to me. We piled into the waiting limo and the guys filled me in on the details from this evening’s show. Richie had given Willie the guitar he had used at the show as a gift and Jon had encouraged the kids to contact him in the future if they had enough songs they were ready to record. We arrived at the hotel just before one o’clock in the morning and the guys headed off for the bar while Jon and I said goodnight and went up to our room.

“So how did things really go tonight?” I asked, slanting my eyes up at Jon.

“Actually, pretty well, all considered. Jim messed up a few parts, but truthfully no one noticed and the crowd was fantastic. The kids played really well and they’ve got some potential. That lead singer is quite an arse. He reminds me of me” he grinned, his eyes twinkling.

“So he’s got enough arrogance to hold his own with the likes of you, eh?” I smiled back.

“Yeah, the kids got some balls. You know, I was thinking. Maybe on the next tour I’ll try showcasing some local talent for the opening acts. The crowd really loved it and it felt pretty good to give struggling new acts a chance to be heard …and seen” Jon said thoughfully.

“Sounds like a good idea, love” I yawned as Jon pushed open the door to our suite.

“Tired, babe?” he asked as I leaned my head on his chest and he kissed the top of my head.

It’s been a long day, I thought as I nodded. Now that we knew Hugh would be alright after a few days in the hospital, I felt drained. The adrenalin rush I’d experienced when he was in danger and an evening of being on pins and needles had left me relieved, but thoroughly exhausted. I wanted nothing more than to slip into bed and fall asleep in the comfort of Jon’s arms. We slowly undressed and crawled into bed, snuggling close as our minds pondered the remains of the day.