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We arrived in Salem on Monday morning, unprepared for the Columbus Day crowds that would greet us. Wow! There were so many people! We went to Red Line Cafe for lunch. Having been there last time, we knew it would be good food! The line was out the door, and the restaurant actually had bathroom bouncers to keep non-customers from using the toilets! First time I've ever had to get a hand stamp in order to pee! Haha! In any case the crepes were amazing. I got a Nutella crepe with strawberries and bananas.

After our meal we simply wandered. There was a lot more going on than the last time we'd been through. Street performers, tons of people in costumes, ghost tours, and some sort of sidewalk sale/faire with stalls selling homemade goods. Some of the goods we like most were candles laser-cut to look like crystals and skulls, mounted "trophy heads" of narwhals, elephants and dinosaurs handmade by a local artist, and awesome t-shirt designs and art by a local church raising funds for its LGBT outreach.

In our wanderings, we stumbled upon an Escape Room Salem challenge! These things are popping up everywhere lately! The owner was running the place himself that day...he hadn't planned to be open, but I think the Columbus Day crowds might have prompted him to do some business! He was able to fit us in around 3:30 with another group of four, which turned out to be two parents and two young ladies. It was a three-generation superteam!!!

This was the first escape challenge I've done with multiple rooms, and I have to say it was pretty fun! The rooms were decorated in awesome fashion, like a lab with lots of lit-up dials and mysterious equipment. The goal was to prevent a zombie apocalypse. We were given a walkie-talkie so that the owner could provide clues when we got hung up (which we did right off the bat haha). In my opinion what made this challenge more difficult than others we've done was the fact that we had to find clues in a certain order. This meant that we often ended up with all six of us surrounding one clue, all of us trying to be involved in solving it at once. It took some serious self-control to step back and allow others to manipulate a puzzle. Everyone wants to have a hand in the victory! But we took turns and helped each other, and ended up escaping with an impressive eleven minutes to spare! WOW!

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On the way to Lexington we stopped in Nashville. It seems like every time we play Nashville, it's February and two degrees outside and raining. I've been through the city several times, but have never been down the main drag. This time I finally got to see Nashville!

Oh wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Before exploring the strip, we had a wonderful dinner at Whiskey Kitchen! We'd been here earlier this year and the food was AMAZING. Today it was just as good! We started off with calamari. This isn't freezer squid, it's squid steaks cut into thick slices, hand-battered, and fried alongside spicy pickles. Tender and delicious. Best fried calamari ever.

Jameson got seared tuna (I should have taken a pic because it was beautiful) while I went the unhealthy route and got hot chicken and chipotle mac n cheese! The chicken was tender and hot enough to make me sweat. The mac n cheese killed the flames nicely. Thanks again Whiskey Kitchen for the above-and-beyond eats!

THEN we went to the strip, to walk our dinner off. One of our first stops was a record store that had been full of all kinds of vintage vinyl the last time Jameson had been there. Unfortunately now it's been cleaned out, and mostly houses country CDs and vinyl box sets. What a shame. As we continued down the street we noticed that although there weren't a lot of people out, there was a LOT of live music, so much that in the street it just sounded like a wash of sound. Pretty much every bar had a live band. In some ways that's awesome, and in other ways it might show how competitive it is to be a musician in Nashville.

Before going to our hotel, Jameson drove me down the REAL "music row", where all of the recording studio offices are. We saw the offices of RCA, Warner, BMG, and many others. But many of the buildings were for lease or sale, and new condos were springing up in this historic place where musicians used to go to be made or broken. It was amazing to see, and kind of sad, because the music industry just doesn't work that way any more.

Anyway, I was very happy to finally see Nashville :)
That night we stayed at Hotel Preston, a unique hotel that Jameson found outside the city. The decor was really cool! It was a funky change from the normal chain hotels. We had a great stay here...look for this hotel if you're in the area!

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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 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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This week was, like, the opposite of last week. So much happened!

On Monday Jameson and I got up bright and early, got to Union Station, and rode an Amtrak into Penn Station. From there we walked to a hotel that Jameson's Dad graciously reserved for us, right in Times Square!! It's a little fancier than I'm used to.

The view wasn't bad either!

After settling in we found pizza for lunch, then took an hour to chill before the David Gilmour concert. When we got to Madison Square Garden we stumbled upon a floor tile dedicated to Gunther Gebel-Williams:

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It was a short drive from Richmond to Baltimore, but the train takes much longer to arrive. We ended up with two nights in hotels. Before leaving Richmond we ate lunch at Asado Wing and Taco Co. Jameson's burrito was HUGE.

We drove to the outskirts of Baltimore and after finding dinner, decided to go see 10 Cloverfield Lane. No I will NOT tell you what it's about :P If you never saw Cloverfield, that's ok, I hadn't seen it either and this movie still made sense to me. It was very engaging, scary, funny, dramatic...just really good. We had a great time!

The next day we wanted groceries, but the nearest Walmart was a disappointment with no produce and limited fridge offerings. Luckily there was a Wegmans nearby! I haven't been to Wegmans since I was little. It's a pretty awesome grocery! I found a few treats for the upcoming two weeks in Baltimore, and stocked up on the basics as well.

Opening day started with a long rehearsal as we prepare for a show without elephants. The modifications aren't that big a deal, but it's important to make sure everyone knows where they're going. The show featured a pretty great crowd.

Thursday was a split. After the poorly-attended morning show, Jameson and I walked over to Lexington Market. We'd heard that it had gone downhill since the last time we were through (2 years ago), but it looked the same to me...tons of great food, crowds and long lines, bustling storefronts, hecklers. We picked up the Best Cookies Ever, and headed over to Faidley's for some of their famous crab cakes, but the line was wrapped almost halfway around the food court. We settled instead on a small Italian stand selling the biggest hunks of lasagna I'd ever seen at that price. I'll be back for crab cakes next week ;)

After our meal we decided to stay at the arena, he to work on refinancing his mortgage, and I to play online, eat cookies and take a nap :)

Over the weekend we had a visit from one of the Disney on Ice shows. It was great to have a cheering section!! Several peeps from the Blue Unit also came by (they're on a break right now) to say hello and watch the show. Mike Brown, bassist with the Blue band, came backstage to spend some time with us. Great to see you, Mike :)

Sunday was a day full of surprises. Our ringmaster, David Shipman, came down with a nasty stomach bug, so his understudy Dean (clown) took his place for the first time! Dean's charisma and stage presence were a perfect fit for the role! He did an amazing job.

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We drove to Chattanooga and spent the night. The next day we went to Bluewater Grille for lunch (we remembered it from two years ago). After a delicious meal we visited the candy store across the street, just because we could. This particular store specializes in weird sodas. Flavors ranged from the normal root/ginger/butter beer and fruit flavors to the bizarre and sometimes downright gross. Ranch dressing? Gravy? Sweet corn? Eew!

Jameson was brave and got the PB&J soda. He has yet to try it. I got an almond-flavored one and will check it out sometime this week.

Then we drove to Nashville. After checking into the hotel we decided to do some looking around. First stop, Gruhn Guitars to check out some amazing and rare instruments! I don't know much about guitars, but this was a very impressive collection. Jameson really enjoyed looking at them and playing a few.

After poking around in a nearby antique mall, we decided to get dinner at the highly recommended Hattie B's. I was skeptical that fried chicken could be anything but plain ol' chicken...but this was something special! You choose your chicken portion and the heat level you want. Neither of us were brave enough for "Shut the cluck up" spice, but we both enjoyed the "medium" heat. The chicken was SO good, juicy and tender. The sides were delicious as well, especially the black eyed pea salad. Don't leave Nashville without stopping in for a bite!

We were both pretty tired, so decided to just enjoy the hotel that night. Just as we were falling asleep we got a call from Rebecca (wardrobe) who lives on our car. Apparently the train came to an emergency stop, causing a lot of things to go flying around in everyone's rooms. Soon after, smoke started coming from Jameson's room. It turns out a bottle of (ironically) Jameson fell onto the stovetop knob, turning the burner on. A stick of deodorant fell on top of the burner and caught fire.

Fortunately we've got some quick thinkers on our car. Rebecca called train crew while Chaz (drummer) got into the fuse box and turned the power off to Jameson's room. Rebecca was kind enough to take some photos of the area around the stovetop. It's fortunate that none of the other flammable items lying around caught fire.

(photo courtesy Rebecca)

Jameson was very relieved, and thankful to everyone who helped to take care of the situation while we were traveling overland. Thank you Rebecca and Chaz, and everyone on train crew, for looking out for us. One emergency is hard enough to deal with, much less a second unexpected one. Thank you.

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Now that the week's over I can spill the beans!

Jameson flew home to Florida during the break for a surprise visit, to see his Disney band Mulch Sweat & Shears, one last time. Like many live entertainment groups at Disney World, MSS is being canned while the park undergoes a massive expansion/rebuild. It was a bittersweet visit for Jameson, seeing old friends and watching the band he spent six years with as they performed some of their final shows. But he says it was worth it and a wonderful thing to be able to return and see the band off.

(photo courtesy Jameson)

While this was happening, I was keeping busy thanks to Jameson's car :D
I had quite a few errands to run. Monday was spent scanning documents and mailing things to people, eating pizza, and shopping for new work clothes. Near the end of the day I decided to go to the movies solo, something I haven't done since working at a movie theater in the early 2000s! I saw M. Night's The Visit. It was both disturbing and funny, I enjoyed it :)

The next morning I got up early to "audit" a Colorado Symphony rehearsal!

I contacted the symphony's principal trombonist John Sipher, who kindly got the OK from the Personnel Manager for me to watch the rehearsal. I had originally planned to attend a concert, but there were too many schedule conflicts. But to be honest the rehearsal was better in some ways. For one thing, I had the whole auditorium to myself. It felt like a private concert! Also, with rehearsals you don't start at the beginning of the piece (in this case Brahms Symphony No. 4) and play it all the way through. The orchestra will usually rehearse out-of-order, stopping occassionally to clarify the parts or fix mistakes.

This morning Mr. Dragon chose to rehearse the 4th movement first, probably so that the low brass could leave early (they don't play for the first three movements). I got to hear the entire movement once through, then the orchestra went back over it in chunks to fix a few things, so I got to hear the famous brass chorale twice. Yay!!!

After the 4th movement was deemed satisfactory the trombones were dismissed. The rest of the orchestra continued with the other three movements, then took a break. I wanted to say hello and let the musicians know that they sounded wonderful, but didn't want to seem like a weirdo so settled for a quick "Thank you" to Mr. Dragon before scooting out the door. I would have loved to stick around for the horn concerto rehearsal, but there were more errands for me to run.

If you ever have the chance to attend a professional orchestra rehearsal...like, if you know that one is rehearsing somewhere in your town or city...go listen. You'll see and hear firsthand the incredible effort, the relentless attention to detail, and the dedication and focus that result in the perfection of a live concert performance. These people are extremely talented, true, but they also work incredibly hard so that they can perform as perfectly as possible every time. I'm very grateful to have been able to listen to this group of amazing musicians today. Thank you Colorado Symphony!

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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:

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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!

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Most will have heard how my travel plans were crushed already, but for the livejournal crowd I'll give a summary anyway.

I woke up early in Birmingham and took the airport shuttle to the Delta terminal. Check in and security went smoothly, and I killed an hour waiting for the flight. We were boarded on time, but around takeoff time the captain got on the com and informed us that a "flat spot" had been found on one of the plane's tires. And since the airport didn't have its own maintenance and instead contracted out, it would be an hour before maintenance crews even arrived to look at the tire.

We were allowed to disembark the plane. Back at the terminal, chaos ensued with over 100 people looking to rebook flights and only two representatives to help everyone. The whole reason for my early flight was to make it to the evening funeral service. When I realized that no one here would be able to help me, I ran downstairs to the rental car counter, explained my situation, and was given a rental car for the low low price of $160 for a two hour drive (thanks for nothing Avis). Halfway to Atlanta I realized I would not make my connection, and quickly called Delta to book a later one. Upon arriving at the airport, I realized that even for this connection I'd have to run to the terminal. But before that, my Aunt called to let me know that a massive winter storm was moving in and that I shouldn't travel if I didn't want to get stuck in New Jersey.

That was that. I chose to throw in the towel. Got a hotel near the airport and spent the day trying to calm down and reflect on my Obachan's life on my own.

I was so happy to see Jameson the next day. He's such a great supportive boyfriend...really, I don't know what I'd have done without his support.

We drove to a hotel in Greenville, ate dinner at a Mexican place, and just chilled. On Tuesday morning the train was spotted, so we got groceries and headed over. It was still pretty early in the day, so I chose to catch the bus to the arena and from there walked to some of my favorite spots in this gorgeous city!

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After our night's stay in a gorgeous hotel, Jameson and I went out to explore Savannah GA!

First stop, brunch at Funky Brunch. This place looks like a breakfast-y Mellow Mushroom.

(photo courtesy scaddistrict.com)

A unique feature of this restaurant is the tables, some of which have built-in griddles so you can cook your own pancakes! The kitchen mixes your batter and includes any fruits/toppings you'd like, and you assemble everything yourself. Neato!

We didn't get pancakes, but enjoyed some mildly alcoholic treats along with our breakfasts.

After that we wandered.
Savannah is a very pretty riverfront city, so just walking and enjoying the scenery was a big part of our day.


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So, I had to post a little earlier than planned last week thanks to sketchy internet.
The shows on Sunday were fine. Jameson and I got to a neato hotel in Port Chester. It had the CREEPIEST hallways (photo lost, go figure).

The next day we decided to do an NYC day trip!
We caught a train to Grand Central and walked to Sarabeth's for lunch. Jameson got "Goldi Lox" (salmon scrambled eggs with cream cheese, a scone and jam) and I got a potato waffle with ham, two eggs and Mornay sauce. We both got orange/banana/pineapple/pom juice. Everything was delicious!

After the meal it was time to do some serious Ingressing. We've both picked up Mophies to double our playing time (#nerdy), and I brought my pocket router to cut down on data usage. One of the features of Ingress is a "missions" option...a sort of scavenger hunt that takes you down a path of historical or artistic significance. Although this feature has been on Droid phones for quite some time, it's new to iOS.

We decided to try the High Line mission. At first we weren't quite sure how to reach the Waypoints...some of them seemed to be inside buildings! But we finally figured out why we couldn't reach these spots. The High Line is a park built on an abandoned rail line ABOVE the city!

So once we got ABOVE street level, the mission became much easier :) Basically we had to walk the length of the park and stop at certain portals marked with a Waypoint indicator.

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Since we were coming from Manchester, the train had a short way to go to reach Worcester. Jameson and I traveled overland, stopping at a Holiday Inn in a small town outside Salem. The next morning/afternoon our day trip adventure began!

Trip to Salem )
The Lion King in Boston )

The next day was a dark day. I used mine to catch up on computer stuff...writing this post, researching flights to/from home, early Christmas shopping and such. Likewise Jameson relaxed and ran errands like tending to his car and going to see a movie.

Friday...was very much the same :P Not much to report! I know the clowns and Emelins had rehearsals for next year. I went to the building early to practice. Thrilling.

The weekend was uneventful too, but it's worth mentioning that we had not one, not two, but THREE "band holidays" in this one weekend: A Deuce Saturday (two shows), A Slick Sunday (train doesn't move + someone brings doughnuts) and a McDonough Monday, a relatively new "holiday" in which we all wear our McDonough shirts :D

(photo courtesy Rebecca)

We had only one show on Monday afternoon, then Jameson and I went to a hotel.
Next week is Boston. Looking forward to it!!!

Other stuff:

The elephants hangin' out during Animal Open House. Mabel is hiding! Siam is saying "aaaaah"!

(photo courtesy Ryan)

Logo for the new 2015 show. You know it's REALLY extreme because of the X in X-treme.
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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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The train run was looooong.
We were supposed to arrive on Monday night around midnight, but didn't even leave Columbus until after 6pm. We missed our window. It was a long day. In its own way that's relaxing, but still wish I could've gone outside for a bit. Instead I cleaned up my room, made a list of things to do before Mexico, and tried to create my own flavored water using mint/vanilla extracts (a horrible failure as extracts are 98% alcohol).

Old telephone poles:


I recognized this farmhouse...we were stopped in front of it for over two hours the last time we were through. The house itself is gorgeous (not pictured) and so is the barn. The owners were out front waving to us. They have a big brown horse and a dog. I'm kind of jealous :)

I had hoped to take Jameson for a date on Tuesday but he came down with a chest cold, poor guy. So instead I went downtown to enjoy the fine weather. I visited the Waterfront Park again (had been there with Cindy the last time we were in town).

The Ohio River.


A statue of York, the first African American to cross the country. He was a slave, but participated fully in the Lewis and Clark expedition.

The long-distance viewer for looking at stuff across the river. And the view through said viewer :D

Then I went to my bank to deposit some checks and make sure they knew that I'd be going to Mexico soon. Then I went to a nearby salon to get my hair cleaned up, as there won't be another chance for haircuts until June. Then I was going to go grocery shopping, but got hungry and tired and decided to pick up dinner for Jameson and I at Panera instead.

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After the last Sunday show Jameson and I went to his parents' house in Virginia.
There we were able to rest and enjoy a few activities. We ate at Seasons 52, a grill and wine bar specializing in seasonal meals all under 500 calories. The food was simple and fresh, and very enjoyable. For an appetizer we shared a lobster flatbread (flatbread is one of their specialties). For my dinner I combined the cider-glazed chicken skewers with a quinoa citrus side salad. My photos turned out too dark, so here are some from other sources so you can get an idea of presentation, which was lovely.

Desserts are served in shot glasses, for guilt avoidance I suppose. It was tempting to have them leave the tray.
I picked the red velvet.

(photo courtesy shescookin.com)

After that fantastic meal, we watched the new Muppet movie! It was very funny, lots of celebrity cameos. The next day we shopped for green curry ingredients at H-Mart, an asian grocery. I was tempted to buy lots of things but was able to exercise restraint. This time :P Jameson's Mom made us a wonderful green curry using fresh herbs, shrimp, Thai eggplants, baby corn, and red peppers over jasmine rice. It was absolutely delicious!

I also had the chance to do a little classical music geeking with Jameson's Dad. He sings with the Fairfax Choral Society, and they've just finished a concert series with Morten Lauridsen. That guy is AWESOME. Anyway, it was a wonderful time. I really enjoy spending time with Jameson's parents!

After a quick Walmart run we returned to the train. I immediately recognized the yard...this was the place where I first saw the train on March 29th, 2012 while dropping stuff off in my new room and filling out paperwork at the arena. I remember pulling over at this crest on the hill, and staring at the circus train, and telling myself, "This is really happening".

Yep, this week I am hitting my two year mark. I have now done a full two year cycle with the circus, and will be repeating cities from now on. I think that being able to recognize the workplaces will make my life easier!

I remember this arena fondly too. This was where I first met Asia the elephant, and was overwhelmed by the kindness of the people I was going to be working with, and the scale of the show. And faced the horror of learning the music so quickly, LOL.

Working here turned out OK :) At times I get tired of all the movement and noise, the dirt and drama. Some days I just don't want to do my job or deal with people. But these days are few and far between. Overall I still love it here, still get a thrill from the experience of working for Ringling. It is wonderful to see so many new places, meet new people, and experience so much in addition to playing music for a living. I'm proud to work with this group of people and for this company.

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taz_39: (woody2)

After Sunday's shows, Jameson and I drove to a hotel as usual.

The next day we crossed PA to reach my parents' house. The drive was long and boring; nothing but farmland for five hours :p My parents gave us a nice warm welcome :) After meeting Jameson, they took us to dinner at Rose Marie's, a nice Italian restaurant in downtown Bloomsburg.

We also drove around a bit, showing Jameson some of the more "interesting" sights to be found in our little town such as the Civil War memorial, Bloomsburg University, and the Fairgrounds. It was too dark to see much of the Fairgrounds unfortunately, but we described to him how the Bloomsburg Fair has been operating for over 150 years, with the only exception being 2011 when a terrible flood prevented this annual event from happening.

How the fairgrounds normally looks:

After the 2011 flood:

Bloomsburg is at the bottom of a series of floodgates, and also positioned between Fishing Creek and the Susquehanna River. Flooding occurs about every five years, but lately the water level has been higher and higher, and has become a serious problem.

Anyway, we had a nice visit. Originally I had wanted to stay all day Tuesday, but a buyout show was scheduled for Wednesday evening so we had to hit the road first thing Tuesday morning. Well, almost first thing :) We visited my sister's house for breakfast. She made an awesome breakfast casserole! My siblings Raven and Jonah were also home from spring break, and I was really happy to see them and introduce them to Jameson. Although it was a brief visit home, it was wonderful to see everyone :)

Saying goodbye to my car was a little rough :P I wish I could bring it with me always, but it's expensive to have to get hotels every week, and extra hotels when the train is late, plus gas, tolls, parking, etc...at some point it's just no longer worth it. But it was convenient and fun to be able to get groceries whenever I wanted, offer rides to people, and visit friends in other cities. I'll probably do it again next year.

On the way to Jameson's parents' house we stopped in Centralia, PA to have a look at the cemetery and what remains of the abandoned coal town.
If you're a gamer, you might recognize this town as the setting for Silent Hill.

As a local, I'd driven through Centralia many times but had never bothered to stop. We visited the cemetery first. There were many interesting graves.
A LOT of people died before the age of 50 here, and most were Irish immigrants.


We also took a look at the closed portion of Route 61, where burning coal seams have torn the road apart, releasing toxic fumes and making the road impassable. Pedestrians can access the area, but at their own risk.
Here you can see that many college students have defaced the condemned area.


The road is cracking from the heat of the fire underground. Sometimes steam and toxic fumes rise from the cracks. And sometimes it's hot enough that you can stick a piece of wood in there and it'll burn.

Jameson checking out the cracked road.

There was no fire or steam while we were there, but the ground was certainly warmer to the touch than it should have been on a 30 degree partially cloudy day.
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March 2017



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