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First thing on Monday morning, Jameson had a follow-up interview with a company looking to hire music teachers. It was a Skype interview taking place in our hotel room, so I got to be there and listen to almost the whole thing. It went really well. I think he will soon have a job for after the circus.

To celebrate, we went to Tupelo Honey Cafe in downtown Greenville (Jameson said it was still to celebrate my birthday, but I think otherwise!). I had this really awesome sweet potato pancake with a piece of fried chicken and pecans. Yum! Jameson had the fried chicken alone with creamy gravy, and a side of roasted brussels sprouts that were REALLY good! I didn't take pictures...was not in the mood.

While I am genuinely happy and excited for Jameson, I am also reminded that I still do not have anything lined up. It's not for lack of trying, but that doesn't keep me from feeling a desperate sort of urgency on a daily basis. What can I do today? Where should I apply today? What haven't I done, that I should be doing? Many people here are asking these questions and feeling this sort of pressure. The one thing that I really need to figure out is where I can start practicing my large bore trombone while on tour. Arenas provide a great deal of space, but not a great deal of privacy or soundproofing.

While all of these thoughts were bouncing around in my head, I got to see Jameson finally RELAX a little bit! He's been so tense and worried, just like me. But he is a good person, a hard worker, and a very determined and positive person. Things will work out all right, and I think his hard work is paying off, and he's finally getting closer to some job/life security, just a month after we all got canned. It's a wonderful thing.

We visited a 2nd & Charles just for fun. I found the next installment of the Saga series and bought it, excited to read it. We then drove to Greensboro to meet the train. It was a little late, so we killed time with dinner and a trip to the grocery store. We found out that on this particular trip, the Blue and Red trains had passed each other! Many people took videos and photos of this event, which was rare to begin with and now will never happen again.



I heard that some people in their excitement tried to high five each other as the trains passed. "It hurt but it was worth it," haha. Every vestibule was full of people trying to capture the moment. These photos were taken by Richard Stringer (very impressive as the Blue train was moving at high speed!) Looks like a cool moment :)





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Jameson and I spent Monday in Orlando. We were both feeling crummy, so didn't do a lot, just errands and resting. I slept for most of the day. Didn't realize how exhausted I was.

On Tuesday we had one last wonderful breakfast at Keke's. Then we packed our things and said farewell to Florida. I wonder if I'll be coming back, or not.

We drove all day and arrived in Greenville around 9:30pm. The train made good time and was spotted when we arrived. Railfan Joe Dougherty was on hand for our arrival, and took lots of great pictures of Nikki and other members of train crew unloading the flatcars. The Greenville yard is one of few accessible, paved yards, and one where the flats are stored with the coaches (passenger cars).





Some of the cars are hand-painted.


On Wednesday morning Jameson had a job interview, which went very well. Afterward we went to Publix to stock up on groceries for the week. I bought several prepared meals, because it's going to be a busy week and I don't expect to have time to cook. Then it was back to the train. I spend most of the day applying for more jobs and resting, as I hadn't slept well.

We have a pretty weird schedule here in Greenville. There were 10am shows scheduled for both Thursday and Friday, so we all had to be up early and there was no time for a rehearsal. Plus our bandmaster Brett had to fly home for a family emergency, so we had a sub on trumpet and Tim will be conducting for the entire week.

I like Greenville, a lot. I've probably mentioned this before...it has a special place in my heart, being one of the first cities that I ever visited on tour as a trombonist. It is a beautiful city with a thriving economy, but it's HOW it got to be beautiful and successful that I find really wonderful. The town found itself struggling during the 70s, with WWII-era industries failing and commerce moving to the suburbs where shopping plazas and malls were being built. Both the private citizens and the city government officials decided that they would not sit by and watch their city decline. They formed an ambitious plan involving both private and public sectors, and began a total redesign of the entire town. From the structure of the buildings to the landscaping to the businesses and economic foundations, they laid the groundwork for their hopes, and worked hard to achieve it. And the result is a beautiful city growing at an incredible rate.

Every time I come here, I am amazed at the leaps and bounds being made. This time, the area near our train has gone from being a row of empty shop fronts to an active market area, with local grocers, art studios, bike shops, and more coming soon. On the drive to the arena, a once-empty stretch of land now houses a massive housing boom...new apartments under construction as far as the eye can see.

Anyway! Opening day was a little rough, because of the early start and Brett's absence and a union meeting scheduled for the afternoon. But it was made better by a visit from our sister unit, the Blue show, currently performing Out of this World in Charlotte NC. They were seated in the section closest to the band, which was really nice because we had a loud rowdy bunch cheering us on!



After the show they immediately came down onto the floor and started socializing and checking out all of our stuff. People were climbing all over the portal, playing with props, taking photos, laughing, talking. It was a lot of fun. I got to see some members of the Blue unit band, including Landon, the union steward on that show (we'd never met!). A large group photo was organized...I had already left by the time it was taken so I'm not in it, but I'm glad so many people stuck around for it. It'll be a nice memory for us to look back on, that day when Red and Blue circus families got together :)

(photo courtesy Steve B.)

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During the break we returned to Jameson's apartment. The next day, Jameson had a meeting with someone working with Disney's entertainment management sector. I think we both hoped that it would turn out to be some type of job offer for him, or at least consideration for future work. Why else would they schedule an in-person meeting?

Turns out, he drove out there for nothing. They had him arrive at their offices in person just to tell him that nothing was available, and that he wouldn't be considered for management until he'd worked at entry level for a while (he's already worked for Disney for seven years). It was a huge disappointment. I felt terrible for him. I'm sure you can imagine how crushing it is to have a company that you care about and spent seven years of your life with reject you so coldly. We spent the rest of the day working on video edits and trying not to get seriously depressed.



We had planned to get to the train that night...it was only an hour or so from Jacksonville to Tampa. But for some reason the train was delayed, like SERIOUSLY delayed, and didn't get moving until nighttime.

The next morning we headed back to the train, stopping at Brocato's for one of their amazing sandwiches. The rest of the band was there enjoying the food and fine weather, but we decided to just get ours to go as we were both feeling down and not very social. I was piggy and got both an 8" Cuban and a "devil crab". The Cuban was delicious, salty and savory goodness! And the sandwich was huge so I got to have it for both lunch and dinner!



The devil crab I saved for the next day's lunch. It's a potato-sized croquette filled with lump crab, veggies, hot sauce, and seasonings. It was REALLY good, I'd definitely get one again! The next time I'm in Tampa. Whenever that is.



The opening day rehearsal went well. There was notably nothing to report from Feld HQ, other than that they will keep us updated on any news. We were also warned that shows may be added to our existing schedule, so I guess it might be hard to make plans on show days from now on. It was mentioned that any parents who will need to enroll their kids in a public school will have help from Feld in doing so.

After rehearsal Jameson and I found a local taco joint for dinner. We ate and talked about all our worries, and what we should do and could do, who to contact, when to take this or that next step. Nothing's easy right now, but I'm glad we have each other.

The show that evening was packed, and went very well.


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We ended up hitting some pretty miserable traffic once crossing the FL state line, causing us to be nearly two hours late getting home. At some point we left the highway to get dinner, very hungry and tired. We managed to pick probably one of the worst restaurants that either of us has ever been to. It's called Cody's. Don't go to Cody's in Florida.

Still hungry, we got back on the road and after a grand total of 20 hours in the car, finally made it to Jameson's apartment. Whew!

The next day was a busy one, so we got started with a tasty breakfast at Keke's. I decided to be piggy and got coconut pineapple stuffed french toast. It was so stinkin' good! But I forgot my phone so no pictures for you :P After that we went to Home Depot for paint and painting supplies. For today is the day we paint the kitchen!



That's a shot of Jameson's kitchen. The cabinets are a sort of purplish-red, and the walls are yellow (they had been minty green but Jameson painted them when he moved in). The kitchen has been this way for over a decade, so it's time for an upgrade! I did the walls while Jameson did the cabinets. We removed all of the cabinet doors and painted them separately, but made the mistake of keeping them on the drop plastic, causing problems later on :/ Oh well...live and learn! We painted for 4-5 hours, then called it a day. The next morning we finished the remaining cabinet doors and reinstalled them. Project complete!



And what better way to break in the new kitchen than by cooking a meal in it!


Jameson got a cookbook from him Mom for his birthday, and put it to good use! He made sesame-orange chicken. I loved the sauce! We were both pretty tired after all of the painting, cooking, and cleanup, so spent much of our day being total couch potatoes. As I type this I'm watching Jameson play Lego Star Wars.

The next day was pretty slow. We had planned to go to the gym, but Jameson wasn't feeling great so we skipped it. Instead we ran errands. We took some DVD cases to FedEx to be shipped to a recycling plant, then hit the grocery for some ingredients we'd forgotten. Back at home we ate lunch and worked on some music we'd brought along to study on vacation. I did bring a trombone to practice with, but with new music and especially audition stuff I like to play "air trombone" until I get the muscle memory down.

For dinner Jameson made burrito bowls!! It was adobo-seasoned chicken with a ton of veggies...beans and peppers and onions and sweet corn. We put it over rice and topped it with lettuce, cheese, guac, salsa, and sour cream. Delicious!



Since Jameson had done all the cooking, I did all the cleaning. I absolutely hate cooking, and he absolutely hates cleaning, so it's a nice balance we've got going. Teamwork! Later on Jameson played Overwatch with some friends. I like watching him play, but I'm a total motionsick wuss, so can only watch for about 30 minutes at a time. Anyway, I watched as much as I could and enjoyed it :)

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On Monday Jameson and I began the drive to Chicago. We had already driven two hours the night before, so expected only a few more hours of driving. But partway through the drive we saw something ominous in the distance: a small dark cloud hovering on the horizon.

At first, we speculated that it was from a factory or someone's private burn pile. But the closer we got, the darker the smoke looked, and it soon became apparent that something was wrong. Jameson pointed out that he hadn't seen any cars traveling in the opposite direction for some time.



We rounded a corner and came upon a horrible scene. Something was burning on the highway median. Thick black smoke and fireballs curled into the sky. All we could do was sit and wait as emergency vehicles arrived.


Eventually it became clear that the fire was not going out any time soon. We were redirected back the way we came, where we found an alternative route. As we turned around I snapped a picture, hoping to see what had happened, but all I saw was a damaged truck and an indistinguishable black mass of metal.


It turns out that there had been a three-trailer accident. One of the trailers was a tanker, and it had burst into flame. The driver was killed. Not knowing this yet, we spent the rest of our drive quietly worrying for those involved, and selfishly grateful that we ourselves were OK.

We arrived in Chicago without incident, and enjoyed a nice evening with Jameson's parents.

The next day we got up a little early for a nice breakfast at Little Goat. We were lucky...owner Stephanie Izard was there to taste-test some proposed specials. Very cool to see the boss herself doing some hands-on sampling and giving instruction to her crew! This time I decided to try the "bullseye" french toast: home-baked chive brioche with soft-friend egg hidden in the middle, topped with crispy chicken, strawberry slices, and bbq maple syrup. As always, Little Goat hits the spot!



After breakfast it was time to hit the grocery. Mrs. Boyce needed lots of ingredients for Thanksgiving! She'd also preordered a turkey from Local Foods, a grocery specializing in local sustainable farming and foods. I saw lots of things in there that I'd like to eat! Back at the condo we relaxed, watched some Cubs recaps that Jameson had missed (we don't have tv on the train), and enjoyed an awesome curry lentil soup made by Mrs. Boyce. After dinner I was able to premiere a project that Landon (Blue Unit drummer) and I had been working on: social media sites for the Ringling bands! We now have a page on facebook and a twitter account. These are just to share the awesomeness that is the Ringling circus band...and yes, let's be honest, to remind people that there IS a Ringling circus band! Live music + circus = magic :)
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We drove a long ways this overland...probably about 10-11 hours to get to Albany. The fastest way was by cutting through a section of Canada, so we brought our passports. Canada's pretty nice-looking! And with a Tim Horton's at every exit too! We had a pleasant safe drive and crossed into and out of Canada without issue.


We drove straight through; others stopped to enjoy Niagara Falls!

(photo courtesy Anna D.)

The train actually beat us to Albany, which was a pleasant surprise. We were able to get groceries and get on the train Tuesday night. On Wednesday I borrowed Jameson's car to pick up supplies for my venus flytrap's winter dormancy...because getting run over didn't quite kill them, so I will try my best to give them a shot at a better life next year. To stay dormant the plants need to be kept cold, and there's no way I can keep them cold if I have to bring them into a heated train car every time we move. So I'm going to have to try refrigerator dormancy. I got a bottle of antifungal, and a brick of sphagnum moss. I also picked up some groceries I'd forgotten the day before. Exciting stuff.

Thursday was opening day. We found out that the train will be in a different yard in Boston, much farther outside the city. What a bummer! We really had it good in the MIT yard, with shops and restaurants within walking distance. Oh well. Word has it we'll at least be close to some public transit! Thursday's show went well, but crowds were pretty poor and our Human Cannon was out due to a wrenched shoulder.

Friday, one show. I spent the day working on things for our upcoming contract negotiations and doing general writing. The evening show went well, though again, underattended compared to the past several cities.

Saturday, three shows. I felt a little down. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was just that smaller audiences are kind of discouraging. But still, shows went well. We had visits from some awesome former circus musicians, and that really brightened the band's day :)

On Sunday we only had one show. I am choosing to end this post before our show because I don't feel like bringing my computer overland (if anything exciting happens between Sunday afternoon and midnight you'll find out in the next post :P). This was just kind of a 'meh' week. But it's good, because it helped to get me back into the swing of work. I enjoyed playing the Williams trombone all week, and am getting more used to it. I love to see my circus friends every day :) Next week we are in Boston. Boston in the fall! It's usually a wonderful visit, I'm looking forward to it!


Other stuff:

Rebecca (head of wardrobe) loves to decorate our car for Halloween! This year's decorations are AWESOME. We have the coolest car. Thanks Rebecca! CLICK HERE for a tour!

While in Albany, Chaz (drummer) made some friends at Akira Albany, a Japanese restaurant. The whole staff came out to see our show! And they invited us to a special Hibachi meal just for us! I didn't go, but about twenty circus folks did, and they were treated to an amazing lunch (CLICK HERE to watch the Hibachi go down). Thank you so much to everyone at Akira Albany for your generosity and hospitality! We'll be back!!!


(photo courtesy Chaz)

The animal setup this week. I've no idea where the tigers were though. Hiding!

(photo courtesy Robert S.)

Congrats to the Blue Unit on performing a milestone 100 shows!!! You rock!!!

(photo courtesy Landon B.)
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Before leaving Louisiana Jameson and I got to eat lunch at a Blue Dog Cafe! We both had shrimp, his was fried and mine was grilled. Absolutely delicious. We are both wondering what that white sauce was for the shrimp. It tasted like nothing else I've ever had and was very good!



The train was supposed to arrive around 3am so we got another hotel in Houston. After a nice dinner we went to see Secret Life of Pets. It's a very cute movie! Definitely for a younger crowd, but there are some moments in there for the adults too. And the evil villain is a cute bunny rabbit whose viewpoint parallels that of another real-life evil bunny :P Funny stuff!

The next day we got groceries and got to the train. Jameson is still reeling from the bad news he got last week and was looking forward to having some alone time, however his car needs servicing and the best times to take care of that are on these days off. While he was taking care of that, I got to relax at the train for the rest of the day.

Strangely we both had trouble remembering this train yard until we were in it...but once we were here, we both remembered the weird entrance and the bumpy road, under an overpass and across from a church :)


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We drove to New Orleans!

We found a random seafood place for dinner. It was delicious and too dark for photos :P After our meal we relaxed at our hotel for a bit. The hotel was right on Canal St. The view was....



Hahaha. So, then we went on a haunted tour of New Orleans!
Our tour guide took us through some less-populated areas and gave us some history about hauntings, murders, deaths, etc. that had taken place in various buildings. The stories may or may not have been true, who knows! But our tour guide was a great storyteller so it didn't much matter. We had a really awesome time!

A creepy building where parts of Interview with a Vampire were supposedly filmed:



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We had a looooong drive from Phoenix to San Antonio!

There were several mishaps along the way. Poor Applesauce (head of lighting) ended up with a cracked windshield :(


(photo courtesy Applesauce)

Mr. Štipka (camel trainer) had some trailer trouble, and although he was able to get assistance quickly, he was delayed. Kudos to him and all of animal crew for putting the animals' needs first and getting them safely to Texas!!

Even the train had problems: a collision with an 18-wheeler who thought he'd crossed the tracks but his back end was hanging over the rails. He was very, very lucky. This could have been much, much worse. Since the train had to make an emergency stop for several hours while the authorities arrived, Lindsey (clown) had time to get this photo of the back of the truck. Safety first y'all. Stop, Look, and Listen. Trains cannot stop for you.


(photo courtesy Lindsey)

Jameson and I were fortunate to have a problem-free overland. We actually arrived in San Antonio around the same time as the train. We knew this thanks to a neat app on the iPhone called Find My Friends. We've been using it to follow Rebecca (wardrobe) who often rides the train.


Of course it takes much longer for the train to be parked than our car ;) So we got a hotel for the evening and went to the train the next day.

The yard here is not very hospitable...there's a gas station near one entrance, but you have to cross a lot of live track to get to it. The arena is similarly solitary. When I first joined the circus, they were playing at the Alamodome which is right downtown, but since then we've switched to the AT&T arena a bit on the outskirts.


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**BLOG UPDATE: From now on, you can reach my blog by visiting or sharing the address trombonemegan.com. My name's Megan and I play the trombone. Easy to remember, right? I figure it's easier to remember than taz-39.livejournal.com.**

The drive to Phoenix didn't take too long, although it was very hot with temperatures reaching up to 120F in some areas. We took it slow so the car wouldn't overheat (we saw many unfortunate folks broken down along the way).

We arrived in Phoenix a day before the train, plus the train was late, so we had time to kill. For breakfast Jameson took me to Lolo's Chicken and Waffles. I love chicken and waffles!! And now that we've been to several such places across the country, I get to compare! Unlike Roscoe's or Home of Chicken and Waffles, Lolo's chicken is very lightly battered resulting in a nice crispy skin. It's also more salty and heavier on the seasoning, which makes a nice contrast with the sweet waffle. I couldn't say that any of these restaurants have a "better" chicken and waffles. They're all delicious! And Lolo's hit the spot this morning!



After our meal we killed time at a local mall. We visited the Microsoft store to check out the Surface Pro and Surface Book, both of which Jameson might be interested for programming work. We were surprised to find a virtual reality setup near the store entrance. Jameson decided to check it out!


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It was a short drive to reach Hershey from Trenton, but the train was a bit late so we needed to kill time. We visited a 2nd & Charles at the Harrisburg Mall, got Jameson some new pillows, then went to Troegs Brewery for some really fantastic beer and eats! I'm not a beer fan but once in a while an IPA is all right...especially when it's Troeg's Perpetual IPA being brewed right there! For food I went with the beet-cured salmon with (house-made?) bagel chips, smoked cream cheese, shaved asparagus, and a pickled egg topped in black caviar. It was absolutely amazing both in taste and presentation!


After that rockin' meal we decided to go see the new Avengers movie. It was really good, but neither of us had seen The Winter Soldier or other related movies such as Ant Man, so I think we were slightly out of the loop on some things. Still, a fun way to kill time!

Literally as soon as the credits started rolling, Jerome (bass) sent us a message that the train was spotted. Perfect! We hit a grocery store, then got to the train yard.

This train yard is new for us...usually we're parked pretty far away on the other side of Harrisburg. This time we're only about 10-15 minutes from the park, which is awfully nice! There's also a shopping plaza with several groceries nearby, not the most easily walkable but still convenient. I borrowed Jameson's car and took some clothes to the dry cleaners, then spent the rest of the day preparing ticket requests, cooking, and doing laundry. Partway through the day I got word that my sister was hospitalized with abdominal pain and would require surgery. She's doing ok, but I'm still worried.

Our week got off to a rough start when we woke to an unexpected power failure. Two hours later it was clear that the power would not be coming back on, so I ate some cereal and gathered stuff to do my hair to bring to the arena. I saw many others doing the same. It happens sometimes and it's inconvenient for everyone, but that's life on a moving vehicle.

It turns out that train crew was already swamped with having some wheels replaced in addition to the unexpected outage.



Train crew currently consists of about ten people, who have to cover repairs, maintenance, and cleaning for all 200-some passengers on the mile-long train. That is a LOT of work for ten people. Yes, we were all annoyed that we couldn't brew coffee that morning and were all worried about our food in the fridge. But we are also very grateful when train crew works so hard to fix these problems when they come up. By the end of the night we had a rental generator. Train crew continued to work on the generator for most of the week so that we could have power, climate control and water. Thank you.

(photo of Tim and Susan, courtesy Cindy)

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We had originally planned to visit a nearby asylum for a tour, but turns out they only give tours on special occasions :P So to console ourselves we visited Fruit Bowl instead!

(photo courtesy Gary H. on Yelp)

As you can see, it's a store full of candy with some fruits and veggies around the edges to make you feel bad for buying nothing but candy. They have other goods too, including canned jams and pickled fruits/veggies, locally baked bread, and a large variety of professional baking supplies including flavored oils, unique cookie cutters, and notably a 10lb bar of chocolate!

We filled a big plastic bag with candy ($4.95/lb!) and picked up a few other specialties as well (I can never resist locally-made apple butter!) then hit the road with our loot. I'm going to be eating that for weeks!

We found a hotel nestled in the WV mountains, with virtually no wifi or phone service. Otherwise a good hotel though. The next morning after a nice breakfast we drove out to Wilkes-Barre (pronounced "Berry" you guys). But we didn't stay in town. A few minutes outside Wilkes-Barre is Scranton. This is the town where I was born. It's a depressed coal/steel town, not much to look at, and most people know it as "the place where The Office takes place". But there is a lot of great history here. We pulled up to our hotel.


(photo courtesy Sanden M., TripAdvisor)

This is the Lackawanna Train Station, now a Radisson hotel, and it has special significance to me and my family. Back when Scranton had mined most of its steel and was turning to coal as its next major export, my great grandfather got a job working in the coal mines. The miners had just unionized and conditions in the mines were incredibly bad. I'm told my great grandpa had a mule to help him carry the coal out and not much else. When DL&W Railroad decided to build a new train station in Scranton, offering better pay and conditions, my great granddad got on board. He started out as a coal shoveler, feeding the engines and such. But he worked his way up the ranks and eventually became a dispatcher in the station. My grandfather, too, worked at the station, although his primary job was still in the mines.

In other words, this town and this station are where my family got its start in America. So when I walked through the doors of the station-turned-hotel as a guest, the significance was not lost on me. It made me feel humble, and proud.

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In the morning Jameson and I went to the Mosaic District for lunch. We found awesome eats at True Food Kitchen (we've eaten there before with Jameson's mom). I had a buffalo burger with mushrooms and shaved parm on a very seedy bun! Sides were sweet potato hash and kale salad. Very tasty!


After that we went to Arlington National Cemetery. It was my first time there.
What a sobering and beautiful experience.




Jameson's grandparents are buried here. His grandfather served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. I was honored to be able to visit him and his wife Gloria.


I was awed by the sheer number of headstones, and considering that most stones bear at least two names, the number of people buried here is mind-boggling.


After paying our respects and visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we decided to hit the road. I will never forget this experience, and hope that I will have another opportunity to visit Jameson's grandparents soon.

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Jameson and I stayed in Columbia overnight. The next morning we went to Mr. Friendly's New Southern Cafe for shrimp & grits! Or rather, he got salmon croquettes with his grits, and I got the traditional shrimp :)


It was delicious and creamy and savory. I'm jealous of people who can cook grits like this! The red stuff in the middle is a sort of salsa with sausage in it, it was really good. There were lots of other awesome things on the menu that looked equally delicious. If you're ever in Columbia stop in here!

After our meal we went to 2nd and Charles. If you are into thrift stores, pawn shops, used electronics stores, or used book and gaming stores, this is a great place for you! I could have spent hours digging through all the piles of lightly used books and games. There was even a section full of 70s-80s toys! The nostalgia!


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After the Miami shows Jameson and I drove to Orlando for one more night at his apartment. The next day we drove six hours to reach Columbia, SC. There we found an amazing dinner at Pawley's Front Porch!

Pawley's is a burger joint that's been featured on various food shows, including Diners Drive-ins and Dives. Jameson got the Fripp Island burger, featuring souther salsa, boursin cheese, and fried green tomatoes on a pretzel roll. I got the Sullivan's a burger topped with grilled pineapple, guac, jalapeno citrus mayo, and pepper jack cheese on brioche. Both burgers were fantastic. The meat is ground in-house, it's very fresh and delicious. We both had alcoholic sodas with our meals :)



The next day we had a lovely lunch at a little Italian place called DeLucca's. The food was very good, although we were both a little disappointed in the pasta, which was straight-up out-of-a-box angel hair. But still, good eats!


The train was very late arriving...somewhere between 12-15 hours late. We killed time by walking around a local mall and getting Jameson a haircut. Eventually we were able to get groceries and go home.

Opening day went pretty well, though the crowd was not very good. This is the first city where we're repeating the same show we did last year, and sometimes that doesn't go over well.

Friday we had a split. We had planned to have lunch with Jameson's grandparents, but the weather was miserable and they were unable to make it out. I was catching another cold again (arrrrgh) so just took a nap during the break.

Saturday, three shows. While the northeast was getting hammered with snow, Columbia escaped largely unscathed by winter weather. There were a few flurries in the morning and it was cold all day, but nothing major weather-wise. The shows went pretty well, though crowds were not as into it as they had been in Miami.

Sunday, two shows. Jameson and I ASSumed that the shows were at 1pm and 5pm. Wrong! We were surprised when we got to the arena and hardly anyone was around. The shows were 1/2 hour later than we'd thought. Oops! But better early than late!

After the shows we went to a hotel, went to Walmart for some nighttime snacks, and enjoyed watching tv with the lovely feeling that can only come from knowing you get to sleep in tomorrow :) We will be driving to Charlotte, NC next.


Other stuff:

From Johnathan Lee Iverson, the Ringmaster on the Blue Unit:

"Tonight a mother and her two children were sitting in the front row having a blast. They were all decked out as well. Mom donned a colorful wig, with removable circus tattoos on her cheeks, while her children were attired, one as a clown and the other a ringmaster. I had to meet them. So during an opportune time in the show I made my way over. They were more than elated. They suffocated me with hugs, particularly the one in the ringmaster costume. So of course, I felt like I did my "good deed" for the day. Little did I know my heart was about to melt.

The Mother: "We absolutely love your show! We come every year."
Me: "Thank you so much."
The Mother: "My son is autistic (the ringmaster). He didn't even speak until he came to his very first circus. That's why this show means so much to us."
Me: (Stunned)

You can have your gold statues, I'll take making an indelible mark on someone's life any day."


This week was a little slow. Here is Monjok on a chicken.

(photo courtesy Monjok)
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Visiting with Jeremy and Charlie was nice. We didn't do a whole lot because I was just passing through, they had work, and it was freezing out. So we just ate out and chilled out!

It's been about two years since I was last at their house. They've been flipping it, and much amazing progress has been made. Here are some before & after photos, with the "before" on the left or top and the "after" on the right or bottom.





I also got to see another house they've bought a few blocks away that's being totally gutted and remodeled. Don't know how these guys do it, but the results are always fabulous :)

I decided to begin driving that evening to make some headway, rather than drive for 9-10 hours straight the next day. I stayed at a little highway hotel, then continued on my journey the next day. I reached Orlando late afternoon and returned my rental car. Little did I know that I didn't have unlimited miles on this trip. What an unpleasant surprise...ouch.

But I was happy to see Jameson finally after a month apart!!! He took me to his apartment to drop off my stuff, then we went out for sushi!



Then we went home, relaxed, played Guitar Hero, and caught up on all our doings over the holiday break. Gosh I've missed my sweetie!!!

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After Sunday's last show we drove the four hours to Chicago, parked at the airport, and hopped the train to Jameson's parent's condo. It never fails, I always feel like a princess when we walk in the door and are greeted by this view. Girlfriend priveleges indeed.


The next morning...well, I warned you there'd be food pictures. Brace yourself.

Breakfast was Chicago Waffles (formerly Waffle Cafe). Jameson knew right away that they were under new ownership after looking at the menu, but I had no clue. Anyway, we both decided on the waffle flight to get a sample of the new mini waffles! The flavors were chocolate with strawberries, Liege, banana Nutella, and...red velvet? Strawberry? I couldn't tell.



As you can see it's still a fantastic place to eat!

We played Ingress on the streets of Chicago for a while after that. Jameson leveled up! Congratulations!!
When our phones died we returned to the condo for some recharging and relaxation. Then, you know, dinner time. At Giordano's. I don't think I have to tell you that this tasted awesome.



Back at the condo we relaxed and watched Chopped. Because, you know, food :)

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Another long train run! Day one, another day of fixing my blog and indoor chillin'. Day two, pictures!




We had lovely weather as you can see. We arrived sometime on Wednesday morning. As soon as I looked out my window I remembered the yard, and the Stop & Shop two miles away. Time to stock up for the week! Jameson and I walked there an back...and on the way back three different circus friends with cars stopped to offer us a lift. Have I mentioned how wonderful my coworkers are? <3

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I'd like to apologize--again--to anyone who's tried to read past entries in this blog. By the time I got working internet, the photos had once again been moved by facebook. I'm happy to announce that I spent the entire first day of the train run repairing all posts from 2012. Just the photos, not links or anything else. I'll go back for that once all the photos are back. Thanks for reading!

So yeah, the internet was working wonderfully. I spent all of Monday online fixing the blog. I didn't go outside for photos but I'm not above hijacking other peoples' great shots!


(photo courtesy David Shipman)

(photo courtesy Lindsey)

On Tuesday I did spend time outside, and happened to be out while we were crossing a series of bridges along the border of WV/KY/OH.


This bridge was very high up. People looked tiny.



Here we are going around a yard somewhere in WV.


Grass growing up between the ties makes this look like a green path of sorts :)


Near the end of our trip we passed a junkyard using buses as a fence:


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After the last show on Sunday I drove a few hours to my Aunt Chris's house. It was late at night so I went straight to bed in her guest room, but the next day we shared a cup of coffee and talked for almost two hours, catching up on as much as possible :) A lot has happened this year already, only four months in. It felt great to sit together and talk about everything. I've missed her company.

After a tasty omelette breakfast we went for a walk in a nearby park. We continued to chat while enjoying the lovely weather and natural surroundings. We walked for nearly three miles!! Felt so athletic :P Then she took me to Great Harvest Bread Co. for some amazing bread! Although Great Harvest is a chain, each of their stores mills their own flour from whole wheat berries. They do this because when flour is milled, the nutrients in the wheat begin to deteriorate immediately. Grinding the flour fresh ensures the maximum nutritional content and also gives the bread a flavor and quality not found in other brands. My Aunt treated me to a loaf of honey wheat and a peach oatmeal square. Yum!!

Then we visited LaFarm Bakery, an authentic French bakery run by Master Baker Lionel Vatinet. In addition to the amazing baked goods, the cafe also sells sandwiches that vary depending on what's available locally. We got a poulet tartine to go and shared it back at the house. Chicken, spinach, brie and havarti on LaFarm's sourdough bread smothered in pear slices, petite tomatoes, onions, a bit of salad, and some honey mustard. You can't see the bread and cheese in this photo, but believe me, they were there and delicious!



When she's not working, my Aunt has been participating in many "extracurricular" activities, including painting! After seeing a tutorial about painting a pear in acrylic, she wanted to give it a try. I was reluctant given my last fiasco with the watercolor leaf...but what the heck! We ran to the art store for supplies, then got right to work. We had to stop partway through to prepare dinner (chorizo-infused yellow rice and chicken thighs!) but were able to continue afterward. It seemed to take hours, but we were both pretty satisfied with the results. Here they are, our first acrylic paintings!


Finally finished, I spent a little time cleaning up and catching up with my Uncle Andy before heading off to bed.


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