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Well...nothing terribly exciting happened this week!

The Gold Unit loaded out to begin their run of holiday shows.

The building seems very empty without them. Break a leg guys, have a great tour :)

Read more... )
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After the Hershey shows, I took Melissa's car to my parents house to spend an extra day at home.
It was great to see my parents and my sister Kate and my brother Jonah.
I spent Monday with my mom and Kate; we made taco salad for my Aunt Nicole, Uncle Mike, Aunt Penny, and cousin Tony, all of whom came over for lunch. We had a great time catching up. Everyone seems to be doing pretty well!

After that I went to Kate's house to check out her vegetable garden and to visit with Jonah.
Kate and Jonah had salvaged some of our Mom's things...diaries, photos, books...and I got to glance through them briefly. I'm glad they were able to save this stuff. Next time I'm home there are photocopies to be made.
We joined Kate's fiancee Pat at The Inn at Turkey Hill (Brewery side) for dinner.
It's been ages since I've been there. Our Mom used to bake for the 'fancy restaurant' part of the building.
The new brewery is pretty nice.

Jonah will be going to Shippensburg University in the fall. He got a scholarship!!
He had his last day of school this week and will graduate in a few days.
I am SO proud of him! Now all of us kids have become 'adults' :)
I wonder what Jonah will decide to study? How exciting!!!

When I got back from Kate's I spent some time with my parents,
who were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary!
They went out for dinner together. When they got back,
Dad showed me how to tighten the parts on my new bike.
I was really touched that he had it all put together for me when I came home. <3
He and mom also got me a bunch of goodies...mini bungees for the bike,
magnets for my room, a non-stick pan, some local honey...and a larger version of the hex sign on my door :D
I got spoiled :)

I had to leave early the next day. As always, I wished for more time. Being with family is wonderful.

I drove the same route that I had taken back in 2010, when I'd driven cross country to live with my sister in Cali.

I was even able to stay at the same hotel in Iowa!
Hotels are great. Mostly because they have real beds and bathtubs :D

After a great night's rest I left the hotel and finished the trip to Council Bluffs where the train was spotted.
First I stopped at a local bike shop to make a minor repair to my bike.
Then I got much needed groceries!
Then I got to the train, unpacked everything, and tried out the new bike!!

No pics of me riding it yet, sorry :P
For those who don't know, I got this bike via craigslist
from a gentleman in South FL who enjoys biking and DIY.
The 'road' next to the train is paved, so I rode up and down for a bit, adjusting the seat/handlebar heights as needed. I practiced folding the bike and lifting it on/off the train.
I went to the far end of the train and practiced turning.
Almost wiped out a few times, but that's ok, it's been like 15 years since I rode a bike and I'm bound to fall!

Here it is 'stored' in my room:

Some people use the crew's workshop to store bikes, and others use the possum belly or the top bunk in their room. I'd considered using my top bunk, but this bike has a steel frame and probably weighs 30-35lbs.
Getting it up there would be tough for me.
Anyway if I really wanted a more conveniently compact bike, I'd have gotten one like Jameson's!

His is cute! But mine is more 'my style'. (vintage)
I will be using the bike mostly to get groceries, and for leisure :)

Read more... )
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Day 30

A long day, but not as long as we thought it would be!

There were photo shoots all day today.
We weren't involved in that, but we did get fitted for our costumes!

Yes, you're seeing that right: sparkly orange construction vest. And a caution tape tie!
Wardrobe has been working hard. It's so FABULOUS!~<3

On one hand, it's similar to what we had last year, and that's nice :)
We'll be wearing white shirts/black pants with the vests again.
And I can make that tie sexy ;D

On the other hand...the first thing that popped into my head was a construction-themed wing bar or something.
"Our lunch specials today are the CARP-enter's cedar plank,
and the Construction Burger with our signature 2 x 4 Fries.
Have a seat, we'll be with you in a moment!"  LOL!!

Brett's vest is different than ours. It's yellow with black stripes.
He's the Queen Bee!!
(he insists he's a very manly King Bee, but we all know there's no King Bee :P)

There will be pictures.

There was a PR for the band, and although I think only the Music Director got to speak,
the rest of us played a bit in the background for the cameras.

We did a run through of the whole show.

Russian acrobat leaping over an elephant's back:

(photo courtesy Nicole Feld's Twitter)

Most things went well.
One person was injured by a show vehicle, but fortunately not badly.
Additional safety precautions were added immediately after her injury.
The performers did very well, as did floor crew.

We (the band) have been getting more music over the past two days than we've gotten throughout all of winter quarters. Some parts are revisions of pieces we already have, and some are new.
We may have to play the preview show without some parts.
The band members who have been here for 5+ years say that we've never gotten music this late before.
This is my first winter quarters, so all I can do is speculate.
All I can really say is that hopefully we will be awesome. By tomorrow.

Read more... )
taz_39: (elephant)

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 )
taz_39: (elephant)

Here in Bridgeport, we were fortunate to have a "dark day",
i.e. a day of no shows and a day off for most circus peeps.
Most people took advantage of the break to visit NYC, only a short drive/Amtrak/Metro ride away.
As for me, I'm embarrassed to say I didn't realize how close we were to the city,
and so didn't make any plans to drop in :(    #FAIL.
Gotta pay more attention. Fortunately we're spending a significant amount of time in the tri-state next year.

I was all hyped to visit the P.T. Barnum Museum (he was born in Bridgeport),
but it was closed due to tornado damage.
I spent the dark day doing some Christmas window shopping, and working on building a shelf to add to the existing bookshelf in my room. We were parked directly behind a Home Depot in a shopping plaza with a Target, TJ Maxx, DSW, and more, so I spent a lot of time walking and looking. I kept an eye out for date nails in the train yard as the tracks were old and rotted, but didn't find any.

Kyle, one of the newer train crew members here, kindly offered to help me build my shelf. My measurements were inaccurate (surprise surprise) so he's still working on getting it to the correct size. In the meantime, I'm installing supports for the shelf.

A crazy week )
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It's about 10pm and I'm on the train waiting for loading to begin.
Loading is when our equipment is loaded onto the flats, and the flats are attached to the rest of the train.
That should begin happening any minute, if we're on schedule.
This will hardly qualify as a train run; we're leaving Worcester around 3am and shooting for Boston by 7am.

Worcester is not exactly a city for sightseeing (i.e. I have no pictures for you :P). That's ok though, we had a light schedule here and it was nice to have some quiet time.
The star performers have also been VERY busy with chari vari rehearsals this week.
The big excitement for us was a new Wal-Mart within walking distance of the train :)
It's the little things, people!

It was a good time to catch up on chores, make travel plans for the upcoming break, or focus on non-circus work and hobbies. I spent the week doing all of the above, and also remembering my mother, who passed away 11 years ago around this time. She died of pancreatic cancer, within about 4 months of being diagnosed.

I'm trying not to think of those four months, though. I'm trying to remember and savor all the years that I was blessed to spend with her. And all the little passing moments. The walks we took when I was very little; singing with her and my sisters in the car on the way to somewhere; having 'coffee time' together on the weekends; walking to the corner gas station for frozen fruit pops; digging up sand crabs and body surfing each summer in Ocean City. At the time I took these moments for granted, and now they are my most precious treasures.
I carry the candle of my mother's memory, and see by its light, and am warmed by its glow.

So that was this week. Sorry I don't have any exciting circus updates or explorations to share...but this next week should make up for it...we're going to Boston!
I hope to walk the Freedom Trail and visit the North End. There are tons of other things to do but in all honesty I've been slow to do my usual next-city research this week. I might just end up tagging along with the crowd to see the sights for once! My friends Erika and Ranjan live in Boston as well, and I can't wait to see them!

Oh, and last week's bread:

Read more... )
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Yesterday we had our last show in Texas!!

I like TX and all, but...I'm so glad! Haha. It's been VERY hot.
You know how much I love to walk. The heat often made it difficult to be outside for more than an hour at a time.

Of all the cities in TX, Austin was the most appealing to me. Maybe it's got that 'hipster' vibe that I like...maybe it's that there's so much weird stuff that I haven't seen anywhere else...who knows!
But I'd love to come back and do a better job of seeing all there is to see...maybe when it's not so stinkin' hot out.
Or when I've got a bike :P

I'm excited to go back north, and to be on a REAL train run again!
Since we've been moving from city to city in TX, the runs have been short and jerky affairs with little change in scenery. This run to Moline, IL will take about 3 days and cover some 1100 miles. You can bet there will be pics!
Once again it's just Rebecca and I on car 39...everyone else has opted for mini-vacations.

Last night I wanted to hit 6th street one more time; there are lots of cool little bars and shops over there, and though I saw much of the west half apparently the majority of the unique stuff is on the east side. I decided to stay in in the hopes of poking around a bit this morning before the train moves. At the very least I wanted to take a walk. But now it's almost noon, and I haven't left yet, and we're asked to be on the train by 2pm :/

The reason I'm off to such a late start? I was poking around in my neighbor's room. He's accepted a teaching gig in Vermont, and yesterday was his last day with us.
His name's Jason, and... )
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We're leaving Houston! Yaaay!

...or, we were supposed to leave Houston about two hours ago. Train ain't moving. Off to a late start!

That's ok, gives me more time to write :)

I didn't end up exploring Houston nearly as much as other cities. This was mainly due to weather; it rained constantly for the first week and surprise T-storms would appear after that. As a person who walks almost everywhere, this made it very difficult to plan my day :P It's only fair to note that Houston has fantastic public transportation, and there was a lightrail right next to our venue. Unfortunately I didn't take advantage of this soon enough!

Still, I had an enjoyable time here doing other things! I got twelve people to come to our shows: my friend Chloe and her friend; a group of 4 of my grandparents' friends, and a family of 4 who 'rescued' me and my groceries during an unexpected downpour :D Everyone had fun at the shows, and I was glad to meet new people and share the experience with them.

Because I'm both a member of the band and a girl, I am fortunate to be able to choose which dressing room to use: the band's, or the 'production women's'. This time around I was with the band (there was more space), and this gave me a chance to get to know my coworkers a little better :)

Best of all, I got a picture with Asia, our star elephant! (see profile pic)

Houston was a great opportunity to enjoy the company of my peers. Bohemian Circus Bus (nothing's happening in the video, just enjoy the audio!)

...and my personal favorite: Oogielove!! (follow link)

Well finally! Train just started moving at noon, that's 3 hours late :P

taz_39: (Default)
*warning, this is a long post.*

We're in the trainyard waiting to go. The train was broken into 7 pieces to fit into this yard, so it's going to take a while to reassemble it. When the train is being put together/taken apart, the power goes on and off several times probably because it needs to be shut off to add other cars.

I can't wait to get back to the US, mostly because I miss digital conveniences :)
It's been so long since I've had a phone conversation! I'll probably spend a day just calling everyone. That and catching up on facebook!

This weekend was difficult for everyone...nine shows! Compared to a regular job, it's only 18 hours. But imagine being a strongman and having to lift a telephone pole with two people sitting on it, and spin it around, for five minutes three times a day for three days. Or the animal trainers, who have to make their animals perform the same tricks even though the animals may be tired or aggravated. (You could tell the horses were over it this weekend...there was a lot more kicking than usual.) Or the floor crew, who has to scrape elephant poop off the floor and move heavy set pieces around pretty much constantly. That's a lot of work! As for the band, we really did get 18 hours of playing in the past three days (now I know why circus musicians are called 'windjammers' haha).
Even if people don't get physically tired from the job, it can be psychologically tough to do the same show that many times in a row without time for R&R in between!

In other words, I'm totally impressed with everyone who works here and am awfully proud to be among people like this who buckle down and do their jobs with minimal complaints. We're pretty epic. :D

Read more... )
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We arrived in Charleston yesterday. There's no internet in the train yard, so I'm at a mall near the venue typing this.

Tomorrow or the next day, I'll bring my computer so I can post pictures from the train ride out here. I took them with the camera that Jeremy and Charlie got me, so they have to be uploaded differently.

I can't wait for the next train run!!!

Today we have rehearsal starting around 2:30pm, and a show at 7:30pm. Tomorrow we have a 'split'; that is, an early show at 10:30am and another at 7 or 7:30pm. I'll use that time in between to post the pics and make some more updates.

Also going to start looking into what needs to be done to prepare for Mexico. I got a Brita tap filter yesterday, a few gallon jugs of water (for the fish), and should probably start collecting water for myself too.

April 19, 2012 13:10
Pictures from the last several days on the train:

check it out )

April 21, 2012 3:12pm
We've got kind of a tight schedule today. It's quarter after 2 and our next show is at 3, then we have another at 7. The preshow has already started.

I've had a lot of fun these last two days! We had splits both days, meaning there was an early show and a later show and a big chunk of time in between for exploring!

The first day, I chose a main street near the venue and walked in a zigzag pattern across several blocks. I found lots of cool places...a big independently-owned bookstore, a homemade ice cream shop, a thrift store (with too much winter clothing, didn't buy anything). At a local bakery, I got some cinnamon rolls for the guys and a loaf of sourdough bread made fresh that morning.

It's pretty awfully amazing to have a job that lets you come and go as you please!!!

Yesterday I went to the Charleston Market and got some postcards. Considered getting another plant for my room, but most of what they had had flowers or was a vegetable plant, so thought I'd hold off until we get back from Mexico.

Well, I should go get ready. Next stop, Ohio!

April 22, 2012

Today is our last day in WV. It's been fun!

Tomorrow the train moves to Dayton, OH. I don't know how long it will take to get there, but we don't have shows again until Thursday so it looks like a good chunk of relaxation time :)

The train will be moved today...actually it's probably moving right now! Before moving the train, a notice is posted on our doors to let us know we should secure our belongings, take down any satellite dishes we had up, and store our bikes. This morning I made sure all my cupboard doors were latched, and the fish tank was as secure as I could make it. I've also bought a sink plug and am eager to try it out (I have this theory that the plumbing running under the train amplifies sound from the tracks into my room via the sink. Plugging it might help reduce the noise. Or I'm just nuts lol).

Looking forward to another train run tomorrow!

After the show today, the crew will stay behind for up to 8 hours to pack stuff up. There's a member of the band who helps with the load out...I think you have to get some kind of clearance to help...I'm looking into it...

Two days ago I got a chicken salad at the pie car...it was HUGE and has lasted me 3 days lol!!


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