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I’ve been zigzagging all over the map this week. It’s exciting to visit unfamiliar and new places. It’s inspiring to see the lay of the land, to see more of what the glaciers did, and then to experience what we humans have erected in the valleys and hills in their wake.

Last weekend was my second (and Shawn’s first) NERFA conference in Kerhonkson, New York. In a sentence? It’s a four-day-long, folk-music-filled sleep deprivation experiment. All eight hundred of us in attendance sang, played, listened, ate, laughed, talked and connected with one another.

So many moments:

There was Alan who remembered me from last year and couldn’t wait to hear my version of Norwegian Wood on the hotel lobby’s piano again.

I discovered the incredible poetry of a folk singer named Ian Fitzgerald. The line I can’t shake: “A dollar ain’t worth nothing ’cause it can’t buy any time.”

Spontaneous jam sessions with so many musicians, including with a cellist and flautist to create a beautiful rendition of Autumn Leaves.

Hearing a six-string violin sing beautifully like a humpback whale.

Lots of hugs and smiles from equally overtired attendees.

Sharing my bag of clementines with a fellow singer who felt herself coming down with a cold.

From there, we loaded up and hit the road for Nashville for our very first visit. One of my best friends from childhood lives just north of Music City and I finally took her up on her offer of her spare bedroom for a few nights.

More moments:

Waiting in line for nearly two hours with over a hundred others to get into The Bluebird Cafe for open mic, only to not make the cut. (I did get a stamp for next time though, and we got to see a gorgeous sunset while we waited.)

Overcoming my lifelong fear of horses and going for a horseback ride on Megan and Matt’s farm.  Jake (the horse) was truly awesome.

Jawbreakers at Savannah’s Candy Kitchen the size of pool cues. (No I didn’t eat one!)

Seeing Johnny Cash’s guitars and his trademark black suit at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Singing two songs at Douglas Corner Cafe and hearing a hush fall over the bar.

Teaching Megan’s daughter Chloe how to play the C major scale on the piano.

Three year old Carly asking us to play “Roll Off Your Back” and hearing her little voice singing along.

I’m back home now, staring at a to-do list about a mile long: follow up phone calls and emails, laundry, new song ideas percolating.

My favorite moment from this adventure?  It’s hard to choose, but among the most moving – receiving this text from Megan yesterday morning: “We already miss you guys. Chloe and I are going to buy a yamaha keyboard this morning.”