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First I'd like to apologize for an error I've been making in some of my posts and photos. At some point I started saying, with assertiveness and great conviction, that Ringling's animals/facilities are inspected by the FDA. That's wrong! It's the USDA that examines the animals and inspects their living and traveling conditions. I can't believe that no one's corrected me up until now.

Friends, if I ever write something that you think might be incorrect, please correct me! I won't get mad, I promise! I want to be sharing good *correct* information, that is far more important to me than having my pride injured. Sorry for the mistakes...and thank you!

Jameson and I drove overland and stopped partway to CO Springs. The next day we decided to take a little detour to Denver for one of our favorite restaurants...Buckhorn Exchange! (EST 1893!)



We both got the special, which was the bison prime rib with herb butter, house-made chips, and the restaurant's homemade baked beans. SO delicious.


After that we got to the train and settled in.
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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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On these particular days off, Jameson and I went our separate ways.
He drove overland to get to Denver in time for a special showing of a Pink Floyd film.
I rode the train because there was supposed to be an animal walk early on Wednesday!

The run out of Salt Lake isn't as pretty as the run going in, but I still got some very nice photos.





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After getting Jameson's car all patched up, we continued on our way to Colorado Springs. We booked a hotel just past the CO border, and on the way there encountered a huge severe thunderstorm. Nebraska is so flat and so much of the sky is visible...the size and violence of the storm scared me, but Jameson shrugged and smiled like it was nothing, and we drove on through. We ended up avoiding the worst of it, and I got some pretty awesome pictures too.



Over on the train side of things, some beautiful scenery courtesy Lindsey:


We safely arrived at the next hotel. On Tuesday it was a three hour drive to the train, parked in its usual awesome spot next to Monument Valley Park.

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(photos courtesy Tom M. and Lina A.)

Many people were already out sunning and enjoying the fine weather as we drove up. I spent the evening doing chores so that I could enjoy the dark day: laundry, cooking, cleaning, and moving some bedding around (Tom sold me his mattress and I'm giving him my "mattress-sized cushion"). Jameson and I made a Walmart run. A nice normal evening.

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After returning from the mini-vacation with Jameson, we had a day to rest up before shows started.
Nothing exciting happened on Tuesday, and opening day on Wednesday went as usual too :)
On Thursday I took my bike out for a bit on a nearby path and later to the grocery store.
I must be at least partially adjusted to the altitude as it was an easy ride. Of course, it's pretty flat terrain around here too :P
At the grocery, I picked up a loaf of cranberry walnut bread from Dimmer's Bakery (now Udi's). It tastes similar to cinnamon raisin bread, but less sweet and the crust has a nice kind of smoky flavor too.

On Friday during the split I did a little recording with Aaron (drums) for a project he's doing, then I went for a walk on the 16th St. Mall in downtown Denver. 'Mall' in this case refers to a shopping strip...about a miles' worth of street packed with shops and restaurants. It reminded me of the Gaslamp Quarter, actually.

I'm sorry for the lack of photos in this post. I took several of my own pics, but had to reset my phone to factory default this week and lost everything :/

Over the weekend we had a six pack, our first in some time. Everyone was pretty tired by Sunday night.
Thankfully we've got a nice long train run to St. Louis! How exciting to be heading back east!!

As Halloween approaches, I still don't have a costume. Any ideas, anyone?


Also this week:

FELD Entertainment has released some teaser PVs and behind-the-scenes footage
for the new Marvel Universe Live show!

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Security here at the Pepsi Center was pretty tight.
We walked through a metal detector and had our bags searched every day.

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We were again treated to beautiful scenery on the run from Salt Lake to Denver.




Our train headed into a tunnel. Photo courtesy Chris, clown.


We arrived on time and the elephant walk was NOT cancelled, yay!
It was a lovely day for a walk, and it was only about a mile to the arena.
I didn't see any protestors. Just people driving by who slowed down to gawk...kids and parents running to keep up...construction workers and police pausing to wave and take pictures . It's always very nice to see the wondering smiles on peoples' faces at the sight of the beautiful elephants and horses.

I couldn't find any footage of our walk, but here's a cool photo from a walk in the 1960s.
That's the Denver Coliseum in the background.


(photo courtesy Denver Post)

Sort of off-subject, I recently found THIS article by someone who was privileged to visit Ringling's Center for Elephant Conservation (CEC) and has kindly shared her experience.
I've always been curious to know what it's like!


The rest of the week was pretty good, nothing thrilling to report.
Catfish had been subbing in for Slick this week and last. It was good to see him again!

On Monday, Jameson and I went to Winter Park for a short little getaway :)
We arrived late at night after driving over what felt like a high mountain pass. I hate that feeling of going up where the air is thin...it's hard to breathe and think :P Jameson had rented a nice condo for us, complete with a kitchen, couch, and a balcony with a fantastic view.


We started our day with Nutella and banana pancakes :)


Most of our time was spent wandering around the mostly deserted ski resort, window shopping and just enjoying the scenery and weather and each others' company. We ate lunch at a nice Mexican place and dinner at Smokin' Moe's, and breakfast the next day at a cute bakery, all of which were located in Cooper's Square. We visited the Winter Park Resort itself...
it was completely closed, but that didn't stop us from having a good time.

By chance, we found a bowling alley/movie theater/pizza place right down the road from our condo.
We bowled for a few hours...I didn't score above 80, but that's pretty good for me!
Jameson consistently got over 100. Skillz.
After that we had a relaxing evening in front of the tv.
We returned to the train this afternoon after getting some groceries.
And now I'm going to unpack and enjoy the rest of the day :)

A small bit of news this week, FELD Entertainment has given us a sneak peak of the new Ellenton facility!
Click the link for video and photos.
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The train run here was pretty nice.
Here we are passing Denver!



Tuesday was load in and Wednesday was a dark day.
The train was parked next to Monument Valley Park.
Being parked in a public place can be very convenient and fun. Here we were only about a mile from downtown Colorado Springs, right next to a university, and a short bike ride/walk to the nearest grocery. On the other hand, I can understand why some circus veterans prefer isolated train yards. We had many trespassers this week...people who thought it was OK to just climb onto our train and sightsee or take pictures. I'm sure it's exciting to see the circus train,
but I hope people will remember that this is our HOME, and it is private property.

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In general this was a great spot for us. We didn't have to go far to enjoy the outdoors!
Some people went to see the Garden of the Gods, only two miles from our train.

Some more adventurous circus folk went climbing on Pike's Peak, or white water rafting!
As for me, I tried out my new bike!



I followed the greenway to the grocery.
It was a really nice ride.



On the way back I was out of breath and had to walk the bike several times.
On top of being out of shape, I was probably struggling with the thinner air at 6000ft above sea level.
Everyone in the circus had to drink more water and take deeper breaths here.
It made doing shows more difficult, but we're all professionals and made it through without major incident :)


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