5250 Miles, The Damp South, and the true story of the left-right brain battle / by Heidi Geist

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One month, in a nutshell.

(minus the fun stuff…that’s next…)

November and December were a rollercoaster ride of bus breakdowns, anxiety, financial drain, family emergency, schedule chaos//amazing interactions, great beer, exploration, sight seeing, diverse creative collaborating, kindness and hospitality.

To date, I have put 5250k miles on the bus.

A couple weeks into getting Ashley adjusted to the road life, we adopted a dog-Churro-from a shelter in Miami. Why, you ask? Well, a couple reasons… Ashley certainly doesn’t wan’t to be my shadow 24-7. She has had some depressive struggles and this pup is excellent therapy. Also, protection!

While I post pictures on social media of all the fun things we get to do and see, there is a very intense behind the scenes…scene. Getting in a creative head space can be challenging for any artist in any medium. This has proved especially difficult, working in poor weather conditions, in a cramped art studio on a short school bus!

We just endured a good 2+ straight weeks of rain…which meant no power to run the fridge part of the time…which meant a defrosted fridge…which meant a pool of water under my mattress! The dog tracked in plenty of Georgia mud, and the humidity was causing the composting toilet to become a bit unpleasant.

Churro the dog is a 2-3 year old rescue, that came with little known history and no name. Her breed is fantastic, but requires a massive energy expenditure, and is an impulsive squirrel hunter! She has now escaped a handful of times, which is quite stressful, since she doesn’t yet know her name and doesn’t seem to know any basic commands, aside from “sit” (when there are treats to be had). She has no concept of busy roads or prickly bushes, no concern for sludge, used condoms, or street food—-and I don’t mean from a truck.

Thankfully, she always comes back when tired.

We are not religious, but like most Americans, can still party on the major holidays. This year, Ashley and I spent Christmas in the bus, in a public park in Athens, GA. It was cold as a witches tit (fist to chest, two kissed fingers to the air, whispers “for you, Dad”)…but low key and enjoyable. We ate homemade chicken tacos under a 15” tree, and marathoned “Fuller House” on Netflix.

Repairs on the bus, and costs to get the bus prepared for two humans (more solar, revamped storage, etc.) have depleted my bank account. We are pretty good with living minimally, cooking hot cereal and other affordable, but healthy meals on the bus as often as possible, refilling our water jugs at drinking fountains and brewery stops, walking as much as possible to avoid extra wear and tear on the bus, and hitting the laundromats only as needed.

After having dropped $1100 in one week on engine repairs, we now have a warped brake rotor, I’m assuming due to the brake issue we had fixed in the beginning of December.

For various reasons, I have been backed up on work and slower to send notes of gratitude to breweries, sponsors, and supporters.

Needless to say….contrary to how it may appear, the project life is not all vacation and beer!! Everything requires a little extra time and effort. I am, essentially trying to fulfill my commitment to 47 breweries to create good label art, on time, while keeping up with creating content on the level I will need for a book/documentary, staying engaged with my industry relationships, friends, family and fans. Also, and foremost, I am a mother, and am trying my best to create a positive space and opportunity for my youngest, and keep communication as often as possible with my oldest. I am the maintenance woman, the nurse, the therapist, the artist, the bookkeeper, the driver, the builder, the PR. I carry the weight of knowing that I’m not doing enough for my awesome sponsors, that I haven’t been doing enough video content for this.

But, here is the thing...

I’m human. I’ve loaded my plate to beyond overflowing, and I did it willingly. Life, is, from my perspective, synonymous with opportunity. I am so extremely happy to be doing this trip. Through all the struggle and stress comes achievement. I get to meet endless strangers with whom I become fast friends. I get to share stories and listen to others. The breweries I have worked with have been nothing short of wonderful, in their effort to make me comfortable, as passionate people with solid business values…I have learned so much. Everyone has been so hospitable. My daughter, Ashley has been included in all of this, for which I am, also grateful. The kindest that has been showed us fuels kindness…being payed forward a mile at a time.

I look at what I have built…the bus! The relationships, within and outside of the beer industry.

Fearless isn’t an example of having no fear, but having fear and using it as a tool of empowerment.

The art I have created. These labels aren’t, by any stretch, masterpieces, but they each hold their own very unique place! Each label and artwork made for this project has been inspired by the people and places along the way.

We rescued a dog that was in desperate need of a good home.

We experience darkness, and hope to spread light.

I am a lot of different people… I’m kind and I’m rude, I’m metal and I’m classical…I’m hippie and I’m dark. I laugh and I yell. I am straight but I’m warped. I am abstract to a fault, but my lines intersect with perfect angles. My left and right brain are in constant support and opposition to one another.

I have some catching up to do with all this blogging. This morning, however, I have said enough, and with the sun rising over the colorful town of Asheville, NC, I best go exploring!