As my band sets off on a northern B.C. tour, I am thankful we are flying to our destinations. When we were younger we didn’t have that luxury and would usually drive all night between shows.
After one of our first gigs in Vancouver we were returning to our hometown of Kelowna on an all night drive. We were having a laugh at the “beware of deer” signs, joking that the deer on the signs looked like they were dancing and were wearing leg warmers.
Usually at some point on long drives we would get what I called the no-sleep giggles. Almost drunk due to being so exhausted. “Beware of the dancing deer! Ha ha ha!” I was driving at this point.
It must have been midnight and we were just past Penticton. The Okanagan lake was a sheer drop to our right and to our left were towering cliffs of clay. I was tired and in a daze when all of a sudden Kevin screamed, “look out!” Right in front of us in the middle of the road was a whole herd of deer – and they weren’t dancing.
I instinctively jammed on the brakes (supposedly the wrong thing to do) and we started sliding on the icy road. Soon we started veering right, towards the drop off of the cliff, and the moonlit lake below. And then we veered towards the cliff on the left. We were completely out of control.
We spun around until we finally stopped with the car facing the opposite direction in the middle of the highway. We were all very quiet. I got out of the driver’s seat and Kevin took over and we slowly made our way home.
Most times back then we didn’t get hotel rooms after shows. Our budget wouldn’t allow it, so we would drive to the next gig and as most Canadian bands know, usually it was at least six hours. I remember touring Europe with a Scottish band. They were all upset because they had to do a four hour drive between gigs. We started bragging about what Canadian bands had to do ... four hours is a commute for Christ’s sake!
- Tom Hooper, Grapes of Wrath