The Last Day of the Tour

” … and if we can’t put her down in Halifax we’ll have to go to … uh … our alternate.”

The landing gear came down, but the dense grey fog prevailed, with no land in sight below us. At the very last minute of our descent, the nose pulled up sharply. The flight attendant answered her phone, listened and then announced:

” … we’re going to try again on the other runway, and if we’re unable to land there, we’ll go on to Moncton.” She smiled coyly. “Although the weather’s not that great in Moncton either …”

I was drifting in and out of a fitful upright unconsciousness. When my alarm woke me at 5:00 am, I’d had two hours sleep. Our second pass at the Halifax airport was no more successful than the first. Moncton was twenty minutes away.

Our show in Triton, Newfoundland was our third sold-out performance in our favourite province. Like both Gander and Port Aux Basques, the lively and loving crowd joined us in a fun-filled, large-scale, kick out the jams kitchen party. Although Triton is full of die hard Trooper fans, it lacks a hotel, so we didn’t arrive at our Deer Lake rooms till 3:00 am. Our flight boarded at 6:30.

Conditions over Moncton were identical to those at Halifax. We began our third descent through socked-in fog, trying not to consider what our options would be if we again failed to touch down. We peered into the unchanging grey until grass came into view. As we taxied to the terminal we had new issues to consider.

For reasons still unclear to me, our friend Jack Livingston, the promoter of the three Newfoundland shows, had booked our flights out of Newfoundland into Halifax, Nova Scotia despite the fact that we needed to get to a place called Neguac, New Brunswick - two hours out of Moncton. Four days earlier, in order to accommodate this far from perfect itinerary, we had left our two rental vehicles and some luggage behind at the Halifax airport. Now we were sitting on the runway in Moncton, much closer to where we needed to be, listening to the flight attendant discuss the possibility of flying back to Halifax, or, if Halifax remained unreachable, Montreal, Quebec.

Our crew had not slept at all. Dave, Randy and Richard had struck the stage and dead-headed to the Deer Lake airport. Pulling himself together, Dave began trying to convince the Air Canada ground crew to let us disembark the Halifax flight in Moncton while Smitty discussed options with the National car rental people. We left the plane twenty minutes later with a rough plan that involved Dave and Richard taking an Air Canada financed cab ride to Halifax to pick up the two vans while we drove on to the gig with Randy and the gear in two additional rented vehicles.

Before we left, Smitty and I picked up our complimentary Air Canada toiletry kits. The suitcases we had checked in Deer Lake were not on the plane.