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Two whole days off! Yay!!

After a slow morning I decided to walk to the Kroger about 2 miles away. Yes, I could have borrowed Jameson's car, but for a few pieces of fruit and a loaf of bread it didn't seem worth it. Plus the weather was warm, even if a bit wet.



I made it more than halfway there before hearing manic honking behind me. Roselli, one of our company bus drivers, had pulled up behind me in the animal crew's van. He was on his way to pick up our bus, which was in the shop on the days off for some tuning up. He gave me a lift. Thanks Roselli! You're a champ :)

I putzed around the grocery for a while and ate lunch, then it started to rain. I ducked into the ACE Hardware to ask about an insulated pot for my new flytrap. They didn't have any, but I picked up a spray bottle and a plug-in timer, figuring these may come in handy for all of this plant life. And...I bought another flytrap. Because they're fairly cheap, and I don't see them very often, so figured I may as well have two! You know, in case I kill one off :P

I again made it partway back to the train before Roselli hailed me from a nearby gas station. It was raining pretty hard at this point so I once again accepted his offer of a ride. So much for getting exercise today! Back at the train I put my groceries away, found a worm in the dirt, and cut it up to feed to the traps.
Interestingly, there's a way to cut worms to ensure that they have a chance of surviving the damage. I was careful to do this before releasing the rest of the worm.

That night some of the band guys went golfing! There's a place called Topgolf nearby, a tiered driving range with drinks, food, and games! The golf balls have microchips inside and are assigned to unique players, so that you can keep score. There are distance games, target games, accuracy games...it sounded like fun, but at the end of the day I've got zero golfing experience and wasn't about to spend six hours flailing around with a club. It looks like the menfolk had fun :)


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Our three days of chill started off with a delicious brunch at Eleven City Diner :)

I decided to try the lox with the latke this time, and Jameson got their signature french toast topped with strawberries, bananas, and toasted coconut. Mmmmmm.



Then we hit Menard's for the groceries we'd need for the work week. Back at the apartment, we relaxed and watched TV. Sometimes it's the little things...enjoying a larger living space, a real TV, a real shower, a real bed.

For dinner we found Southcoast Sushi only a few blocks away. We've been here before and it's absolutely delicious. The lighting was too dim for a food photoshoot so believe me when I say everything looked great :) One of the specials of the day was an uni shooter: sea urchin with sake, quail egg, roe, ponzu sauce, and chives. It was very similar to an oyster shooter, and very good. Cheers!



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Monday was a fairly normal day. After the show, Jameson and I drove a few hours to a hotel. Around the time we arrived, the Cubs were finishing up their 9th inning against the St. Louis Cardinals. They won! Jameson and his whole family are avid Cubs fans, so his reaction is hardly surprising! **PROFANITY WARNING**


To celebrate the win (and just to eat because we were starving by that time) we hit the highly-rated Kome Sushi where we shared some specialty rolls and sake :)


Read more... )
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We woke up in time for the complementary breakfast in Hotel 32's lounge. Joel was at the front desk, so we were able to say hello and thank him for generously upgrading our room. He regaled us with stories from when he was in the circus as a clown during the 80s-90s, and showed us one of the Penthouse Suites typically rented out for parties (holy CRAP). We gave him some elephant hairs courtesy Brett :) It was great to meet Joel, and I hope next time we'll have time to actually hang out!!

Now it was time for an adventure! We drove an hour to the Hoover Dam. After parking and signing up for the next available tour, we explored the memorials and viewpoints surrounding this amazing structure. Deco architecture could be seen all over the place. This memorial commemorates the completion of the dam, and features two winged figures seated on a diorite platform above a celestial calendar of the dam's dedication date.




Nearby we found memorials to those who died building the dam (96 workers, of various causes, none of whom are entombed in the dam) and the grave of a dog that workers had adopted as a mascot but who was run over by a truck :/

Photo of the dam from the parking garage:


From the observation deck (bowling, anyone?):



A panorama of the dam, memorial bridge, and visitor's center:


Read more... )
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A short one-day train run from Providence to Hartford. I relaxed, worked on the blog, and had a nice smoked salmon lunch at Pie Car.


As in 2013, the train is conveniently parked about a mile from the arena. On Tuesday I walked to the nearest grocery, a Save-a-Lot nearly two miles from the train, before remembering that their grocery selection is worse than that of most convenience stores :/ So from there I walked to the arena and got most of my groceries from a convenience store across the street.

That evening Jameson and I went to Agave, a "modern Mexican" restaurant right next to the building. It was Cinco de Drinko and the place was PACKED. We could barely hear each other to hold a conversation! But we had a nice dinner and enjoyed some drink specials, and the weather was perfect for a lovely walk back to the train :)

In this train yard we are surrounded by live track, so you have to look both ways before crossing, like, anything. It's also extremely dusty.



For those who are curious as to our water supply, we usually get it from the nearest fire hydrant. In this case, that's under several sets of parallel tracks and across a massive empty lot.



Also on Tuesday, we welcomed our new drummer, Chris Galaviz. He'll be here for three weeks before actually starting the gig on his own, sitting in the drum booth with Aaron and learning the ropes.
He seems like a cool guy. Welcome!


Read more... )
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The train run was really nice :)
I didn't take all that many pictures...tried to stay off the vestibule this time to help my sinus issues wind down, and I think it might've worked...? But on the first day we had a lovely sunset.



Late on Tuesday we arrived in Cincinnati. Internet signal is pretty strong there, so I was finally able to watch a preview clip from the upcoming season of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire! For those who don't know, my sister Raven is in an episode! She's the youngest contestant that's ever been on the show!!! She appears in the preview at about 00:18.


Yeah, this has nothing to do with circus. I am just so proud of her!!! I don't know how much money she won and it doesn't matter. She got on the show and had a blast. SO AWESOME :D

Anyway, we were pretty much a day late getting into town. Thursday was supposed to be a dark day but ended up being load in. Once again we are parked in the RJ Corman yard. I remember it well because the yard is literally in the parking lot of the building, and it is immaculate...no broken glass or rusty nails here! I was happy to see that the RJ Corman "museum" is complete; two years ago it was just a framework. Now it's a weird building in the middle of a parking lot...but hey, it's the unique things that attract us :)



Jameson and I went to a Kroger that we remembered; the walk was a bit further than I remembered but maybe that's just because it was very hot out. We were dripping by the time we got back to the train!

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Before getting started this week, a note:

I've added tags "CLOWNS", "ELEPHANTS" and "TIGERS" to the tags list.
These tags are for any posts that contain photos of one or more of those three things :)

Also, please note that for many of my posts I "borrow" photos from friends, colleagues, and the company.
If those folks decide to delete or move those photos, I may not be able to re-include them in this blog.
So Enjoy them while they last :)

*end of note*

The train run was so short it's hardly worth mentioning, other than to say that for once we arrived on time!!!



On Tuesday I took a stroll downtown to run some errands. Not downtown proper, but closer to the University. There are lots of cool little shops nearby. Austin has a rep for great food and interesting street art.


The train yard is near a strange little side street. It took me a bit to remember what was around, but soon I recalled a really great Goodwill a few blocks away and took a walk over.
On the way there was this truck with a pig...randomly sitting on top....okkkkk.....?



I found two nice shirts at the Goodwill. This was not one of them. Keep Austin Weird, indeed.


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taz_39: (woody2)







On Monday we had a blissful day off. No moving, driving, etc.
I woke up with a nasty cold, so spent the day puttering around and watching Frozen and fetching groceries.

On Tuesday Jameson and I went to the National Aquarium. It was awesome! Four floors of fish, sharks, crustaceans, turtles, alligators, birds, and even monkeys! We learned that box turtles have a hinge on the underside of their shells so that they can close up like a box, and that electric eels can put out as much as 800 volts of electricity depending on how long they are!

Apr2-2014-1
Apr2-2014-2

We saw the aquarium's rescued sea turtle, who is missing a front flipper. When she was rescued she was only 50lbs...now she's 520lbs!!

(photo courtesy nationalaquarium.wordpress.com)
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Our venue in Toledo, OH was cancelled this week,
so most of us here on the Red Unit got to enjoy an entire week off!!!

I chose to stay in Chicago, because Jameson's parents have a condo downtown,
and Chicago is a pretty rockin' place. Jameson introduced me to his mom, who is awesome.
She came to our last show on Monday and loved it. Then she took us to the condo.
I was stunned...both by the view, and by her fantastic homemade chicken enchiladas!



Over the course of several days, she took us to some AMAZING restaurants!
The Little Goat, where I got to experience Fat Elvis Waffles
(waffles with bacon maple syrup, peanut butter butter, and sliced bananas).



The Scout, where we shared a 12" grilled cheese sandwich!
(other peoples' photos HERE)

Eleven City Diner, where Jameson got his favorite Bloody Mary.



Burger Point, where you can get 6 or 10oz of grass-fed chemical-free beef with a slew of fantastic toppings. They also have chicken, turkey, and veggie burgers. (photo of some burgers HERE)

Last but not least, Waffles, where we enjoyed a seriously fantastic breakfast on Jameson's birthday!
Jameson's mom got chocolate waffles with ice cream, and he and I got a Flight of Waffles!

There were four mini-waffles in the Flight:
Red Velvet w/cream cheese whip, strawberries and walnuts,
Green Tea w/lemon whip, ginger & pistachio,
Mexican Chocolate w/orange whip, candied orange and spicy cocoa,
and Leige, a more dense waffle with pearl sugar, white cream and blackberries.



Anyone who knows me knows that I try to eat healthy most of the time. I just want to say, even if you're a health nut, if you're ever in Chicago, don't pass these places by! All the food was fresh and made with REAL ingredients. Every menu had healthier options such as salads, gluten-free, vegan, etc. So no matter what foods you're into, there's something delicious for you here!

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It was a nice relaxing train run from Colorado to Missouri.
I saw a buffalo farm, lots of sheep, and lots of farmland :)



The elephant walk was supposed to be at 8:30am, but it was cancelled so I slept for another hour, then got up and cooked/cleaned. Elliana (human cannon) is FINALLY back from recovering from an injury!! AND she has a car! She graciously offered to drive me to a grocery and I accepted. She's from St. Louis, so she drove the long way to show me the State Museum, Library, Symphony, Hall, etc. We also made a stop at Pappy's Smokehouse...featured on Man vs Food and Discovery Channel, also voted one of the 101 best places to eat by the Travel Channel! Elliana picked up some food for the guys doing load in. I got a brisket salad (look at that, trying to make it sound healthy) and a bottle of Fitz's root beer, made locally.

On opening night Circus Harmony performed during preshow. Those kids are very talented!


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Appologies for posting this so late.
I took a mini vacation this week, and was unable to post on the usual day.
Thanks for reading!

Though the run to Bakersfield was short, it was nice to be moving again :)

On Wednesday many people explored the downtown area.
We're only about a mile from the arena, so I get to use my bike all week. Yay!

On 19th Street there are many antique malls, including a Five and Dime inside an old Woolworth's building.

After you're done looking at antiques, you can get an old fashioned burger and shake in the Diner.

For Thursday's rehearsal my boss let me sit out for the end of the 2nd half while he played trombone.
That was fun! I haven't heard the music in the house since winter quarters!



Our Animal Open House was in the Convention Center next door. A strange setup!

(photo courtesy Ryan)

Nothing much else happened in Bakersfield...another laid-back city :)

Next we go to Sacramento, where I'm told there's nothing to do around the train.
So expect a short post :P

San Francisco )

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The train was parked behind the Secaucus train station this week.
It'll be there when we're in Brooklyn, too.
Nice easy access to NYC :)

I wanted to go into the city on Monday, but got called for the elephant walk so did that instead.
It was nice and sunny but with a pretty strong chilly breeze.
The walk itself took very little time, but we weren't back at the train until about 4:30.

On Tuesday I had a little time to explore NYC again.
First tried looking for a music store with trombone duet books,
and after having no luck at three different stores, gave up the hunt. I'll try again in Brooklyn.

Instead I went down to see the new 9/11 Memorial.
The last time I was in New York, the fountains were almost completed
and the tower was pretty much nonexistent.



They're up to the 104th floor!

I was lucky to get in at all. You're supposed to pre-order passes.
Fortunately it was late in the day and they had some at the door.
There are many rules for viewing the Memorial, too.



Security was similar to an airport...empty your pockets and whatnot into a tray and go through a scanner.
Once you are in the courtyard, you can get close to both fountains, view the Freedom Tower a little closer, and see the ongoing construction of the 9/11 Museum.




There are many better pictures of the Memorial out there. Just wanted to share what I saw that day.
The courtyard is done in gray granite, with maple trees spaced throughout.
The spacing of benches and trees does make one think of a graveyard.


I'm glad to have seen it in person.

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I wasn't on the train run this week...instead, I opted to drive from Greensboro to my hometown to spend time with my parents. Even though I only got to spend a day with them, I'm very grateful for that time. Working in the entertainment industry and especially for a touring show means that time with family and friends becomes more rare and more precious.

My Mom and Dad pretty much spoiled me while I was home. We went out to eat, and they bought me a warm winter coat, rain boots, and other goodies. But the best part of the visit was simply spending time with them. Watching TV at the end of their workday...chopping up veggies for a salad with Mom...talking with Dad about politics or whatever else. I was able to relax, and take a much-needed break from the circus for a day.

My parents' love and support is something I wouldn't trade for the world.
I'm blessed to be able to call them my Mom and Dad.

Returning to the train was actually kind of hard.

Sometimes living on a train feels like living on the moon...like you're cut off from the outside world.
I wanted just a little more time.
But you know, every time I wear my rain boots or my winter coat,
I will feel warm, knowing that we love each other no matter where we are.



As you can see, our train yard this week was pretty messy, so the rain boots came in super handy.
Temperatures also fell as low as 15 degrees, so the winter coat was much appreciated as well.


We had a tight show schedule, so there wasn't much time for exploring.
I did go with Skippy (trumpet sub) to see the Liberty Bell!



Haven't seen it since I was little!
For lunch we went to Cuba Libre. It was VERY good! I got to try yucca for the first time!

Skippy asked the wait staff to bring an uncut yucca for me to see, as I had no idea what it was.

It tasted like a potato, only creamier somehow.

Anyway, that was about the only adventure I had in Philly.
We were busy with shows. Some weeks are like that!

Next week's schedule in Richmond is not much better :/
But if anything interesting happens I will write about it :)

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We missed our window en route to Rochester, so the train was sitting still for nearly 15 hours.


Despite that, most people kept a positive attitude. I went to the Pie Car for dinner, where lots of people were gathered to eat and trade rumors and keep each other from going insane :P
Some of the rumors heard that day:

"I heard the flats have derailed!"
"Maybe the engineer got angry and drove off!"
"The arena in Rochester didn't know we had a Wednesday show, and booked someone else!"
"Someone got hurt!"

That last one had me texting some train crew peeps to ask if everything was 'ok'.
The answer: "Yep. We missed our window and the next one isn't until nighttime."

So it was our usual reason for being late, but we had missed the ONLY window available that morning.

The circus train uses commercial rail lines, and often must yield to freight and passenger trains.
I don't know exactly how it works, but the "window" is the span of time where our train would be allowed to travel down the main line. It's kind of like how planes must be cleared for takeoffs and landings, and sometimes must sit on the runway for hours for repairs, delays, etc. Blechy. But here on the train, at least we have all the conveniences of home while we wait :D

We got to Rochester on Tuesday evening.
Our incredibly dedicated crew had to do load-in with a 15 hour delay,
but they got the job done because they're just that bada$$. Major kudos!
In addition, they're currently doing load-out in the midst of hurricane weather.
THAT'S incredible work ethic.

The yard this week is near the airport, and a plaza with a Walmart and various other stores.
I walked over to get groceries with several clowns, who were shopping for Haunted Clown Car accessories.
That's right...every Halloween, the clowns turn their train car into a HAUNTED CLOWN CAR. #AWESOMESAUCE


It was great!!! Considering they've only got one train car to work with and a limited time to prepare, they did a really excellent job. Each room was different and scarier than the last! :D There were like a zillion different kinds of creepy lighting, all the textured stuff hanging from the ceiling was great, and the scarers stayed in character and did a fantastic job. As I was typing this paragraph, I could hear people screaming their heads off in car 38 (I'm in car 39 after all). People going through the haunted car exited via our car, so it was pretty noisy for about an hour...but I don't mind. It was REALLY fun listening to everyone's reactions! :D

Anyway it was very cool. I wonder what it's like, being a clown. Probably one of the toughest--and potentially one of the most rewarding--jobs in the circus.

There were other Halloween events this week too: a costume party/pot luck,
and a trick-or-treat adventure for the kids :)
I didn't stick around for the costume party (didn't make a costume & didn't bring food),
but here are some fabulous pictures:

The Three Kings. (Left to right: Tom (keys), Jameson (keys), Brian 'Slick' (trumpet))



Faceless Undead Monk (Brett, Bandmaster/trumpet)


I didn't get to see this happen, but I heard about it...

When the costume contest started, the Three Kings were shoe-ins for the win...but just as the votes were about to be cast, Claudia (legendary circus entertainer) came running in wearing cymbals on her head, chest, and butt, and hitting them all with a drumstick! LMAO!!!
So of course she won. Way to go Claudia!!!


(photo courtesy Rebecca, Wardrobe)

What can I say. The circus is an awesome family/work/home :D

Explorations )
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Kansas City has been a lot of fun!
Definitely another place I'd consider living in.



We were parked within 3 miles of the arena, under a huge overpass.


Right next to four huge haunted houses!
It was their opening weekend. Lots of people went and were scared :D
I did not go. Maybe next time :P

The area around the haunted houses had a lot of old factory buildings, almost all of which have been converted into either apartments or businesses. There were LOTS of antique shops here. Most were open on only the 1st Friday of each month. Missed 'em by a week, ARGH!


On Wednesday, my friend and former NCSA band director Mark Norman came to see the show along with eight of his students!
They came to the bandstand during preshow, and I showed them the music and answered a few questions. It was fun but kind of strange...made me feel old! Just a few years ago, that would have been me...



After the show we went for drinks at Gordon Biersch in the Power & Light district. None of the students stuck around, but it was great catching up with Mark and meeting Kate, an oboe professor who also attended the show. Mark seems to enjoy his new job at Washburn University, but misses NCSA. I don't blame him! That school has a unique environment that you just can't find anywhere else :)

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Quick note, I've edited the privacy settings here so that viewers can comment on posts if they like.

Today was our first day in Austin the capital of Texas!
Technically we got in last night, but it was pretty late and I was already in train run mode so didn't explore :P

Today however, I got up nice and early, ate breakfast and got right down to it!

Untitled

This is more or less the route I took.."A" is our venue.
LOTS of pictures! )

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