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On Monday we woke late and had lunch in Hartford at a place called City Steam. They had very good burgers and some locally-made sodas. No photos because of poor lighting, sorry. I hope we get to eat there again!

The drive to Trenton was short (but longer than expected thanks to good ol' NYC traffic). The train wasn't due in until 5am, so we got a hotel. As it turned out the train didn't get spotted until almost noon! Wowzers!

Opening day was pretty normal. Air circulation in the arena here is not so great, so the haze was condensed and hanging several feet above the floor.



This caused a slight problem for the high wire troupe during rehearsal. We all had to wait while the climate control was turned on to get some of that haze out.


We had two one-show days in a row. Nothing amazing happened. Crowds were fair. I used the spare time to go to the grocery, do laundry, all the usual stuff.

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**EDIT: Originally I had thought that the caterpillars in this train yard were gypsy moths. I was wrong. They're tent caterpillars, so called for the "tents" they make in the trees. Many thanks to the anonymous commenter who pointed this out! CLICK HERE to read about the differences between the two types of pest.**

It's Trenton, yay!

Or not :P

The train parks in Morrisville PA, in a weird little yard half buried in the woods. The first thing I noticed when we arrived was caterpillars. LOTS of caterpillars. Their nests were in every tree.



Outside the yard there was nothing, just some industrial lots and a stretch of highway. I rode the bus to the arena. There is quite literally nothing to (safely) do within walking distance there either, except for a large Mexican grocery called Food Bazaar. I remembered it fondly from two years ago, and was thrilled to find that it hadn't closed. Along with "standard" American groceries, Food Bazaar carries a lot of brands and produce that are popular in Mexico and other countries. Here we have some eggplants, huge aloe leaves, and...quince or something that resembles it...


They also sell pretty much every cut of meat you can imagine (except eyeballs, I haven't seen those yet). Near the meat section there was a line of white tubs containing various interesting pork and beef parts. They were not refrigerated so I've got to assume they were in brine. Pig snouts! You can see one snout pretty clearly near the bottom.


So...after getting groceries I went home and enjoyed some internet. The blog repair is coming along.

The week was spent doing shows and chilling at the train. I honestly can't think of anything especially exciting or unique that happened here. Some cities are like that.


After the last show on Sunday, Jameson and I ran into Bernadette (elephant handler) outside the arena. We all three play Ingress and we're on the same team, but because our schedules are so different we've never gotten to play together. So we seized the opportunity and claimed a row of enemy portals down the block, linking them together and fielding them. Good work team :)


After that Jameson's dad arrived to pick him up and take him home for a visit (and to retrieve his car before we head west). Bernadette and I caught the bus back to the train.

Next is Hershey PA. I'm from Pennsylvania and Hershey is the closest we ever get to my hometown, so my parents and friends will be coming out to see the show. I'm looking forward to it!!!



Other stuff:

Elephants will often try to smash fruit with their feet to get at the goodness inside. An effective tactic with many fruits, but a disaster with the slippery mango!
Adria (elephant handler): "I gave Mable a mango to see if she would like it...hilarious. No, she doesn't like mangos!"



Our generator car getting an oil refill.
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As you can imagine, the train run from Newark to Secaucus was short.
We arrived on Monday morning.

We had an elephant walk scheduled for around 3pm. For those new to this blog, an elephant walk or animal walk is the process of getting the animals (elephants and horses) from their train cars to the arena. The animal cars are separated from the rest of the train and are brought to the closest possible location. Most of the animal crew members are already with the animals, but some are bused/driven to the walk location along with animal walk volunteers like myself. Walk volunteers can include anyone from the circus: dancers, acrobats, production folks, musicians. All you need to participate is a TB shot, some training, and the ability to pay attention. Oh and a pair of khakis :)


(photo courtesy Brett)

Once the animals have disembarked and are ready to go, we follow a predetermined route to the arena. Local police are usually on hand to help clear the roads and escort the animals and circus workers. Pedestrians will often line up on the sidewalk to view the animals on their way to the arena. The animal walkers' job is to make sure those people stay on the sidewalk, for their own safety and for the comfort and safety of the animals. To do this, 8 to 12 walkers position themselves on either side of the animals, between them and the sidewalk. They hold a yellow nylon rope between them to discourage anyone from running into the street.

I have done the walk to the Izod Center before. This time, I got to carry the rope coil and walk at the back of the procession (a first for me, yay).



Chantal (Production) and Brett (my boss) waiting for the walk to start.


The weather was nice and it was a short, pleasant stroll to the arena. I don't remember anyone coming out to see the walk the last time we were here. This time there were quite a few people standing to the side taking photos. I guess it's not surprising, as for all we know this could be one of the last elephant walks, period. And it's definitely the last one to ever take place at the Izod Center.
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(photo courtesy Ryan H.)

See the fourth elephant in line? That's Assan, our oldest elephant. She's holding her handler's hand <3
I always enjoy the chance to participate in an elephant walk. Walking beside these beautiful animals is a privelege. Seeing the astonishment and excitement on peoples' faces as the elephants pass by is a joy. However many/few of these moments are left, I'm going to savor them.


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On Monday we had a short train run to Newark.
It took a while to get moving...there's a lot of traffic on the rails around here as you can imagine! By the time we were on our way, I was in bed. But Eryn was up, and got some awesome photos of our train passing under the East River and through Penn Station!

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The next morning we awoke to find ourselves in Newark. Aah, that fresh NJ air :P
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We're in the same yard--the one next to the prison and the airport--but in a different part, so that we won't have to pass through the guardhouse every time we want to get home. I spent the morning enjoying the internet (haven't had good internet for three weeks!!), repairing my blog, and reading up on the "elephant issue" until I became too aggravated to continue that. Then it was time for a Hangout chat with my tax preparer. Then it was time to do several loads of laundry.
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As you might expect from one of our country's most dangerous cities, Trenton is kind of a bummer.
There wasn't much to do within walking distance of the arena.
In fact the only attraction was a Food Bazaar across the tracks.

It's like a Fiesta grocery, with lots of Hispanic and international foods
and tons of produce at a great price.
I got cactus fruit, pineapple coconut candy and fresh mango along with my usual groceries.
The snack aisle reminded me of the Mexican Walmart :D



They had Jamaican hard dough bread from Golden Krust, a Brooklyn-based chain.
I've seen this bread in other stores in the past, and was interested to try it.
Just one loaf weighs almost two pounds!!
Turns out it's just like any other bread, only more dense and maybe just a little sweeter.

I threw half of it in the freezer...probably can't eat something like this in one week!


I also got a 'round bun', a sort of muffin-sized fruitcake that tastes strangely like egg nog.


Anyway.
A totally uneventful week.
I'm excited to get to Hershey,
where I'll get to see friends and family before the Red Unit goes west for the summer.

The Blue Unit crossed the border into Mexico this week, and will be there for almost a month.
Have fun guys! Don't drink the water!


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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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We pulled into Newark pretty early.
Many of those not involved in load in took advantage of our early arrival to go into the city.
Self included!

Brett (bandmaster), Skippy (trumpet), Brian (guitar) and his girlfriend and I took a train to Penn Station
and rode the subway to a few stops to the East Village. Brian knew about this great sushi place,
so we followed him there, and it was pretty yummy!



I got to try Chu-Hi for the first time...pretty sure it had the alcohol content of a wine cooler,
but it was tasty! Brian had lime-flavored, I had oolong.


Next we went to McSorley's Old Ale House (since 1854! "WE were here before YOU were born.")
They've kept it as authentic as possible, with sawdust on the floor and a cash only bar.
They did let me in (McSorley's was for men ONLY until the 1970s!) and I was grateful for that ;D
You've got two drink choices here: light or dark.
I went with light, being not much of a beer drinker myself. For beer, it was pretty good!



We then headed over to Swing 46, where George Gee's Swing Orchestra was heating things up :)


This was really a treat...the band was great, couples young and old were dancing, and it was a good crowd.
More circus people joined us here...Ashley (Animal Trainer/Preshow Host), Colleen (Pie Car Master Chef), Jessi (Vet Tech), Tony (former sax player on Blue), and several others. Brett knew the guys in the band, so we got to meet several of the musicians, that was awesome.


After the band was done we split up...
some people went barhopping and the rest of us hopped the train back to Newark.
En route we passed through Times Square. It was raining and pretty quiet at that hour.
The streets were reflecting the lights, very pretty.

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This week's show schedule is light compared to last week, and to what we'll be doing in Brooklyn.
I'm enjoying the down time while I can!
We had two one-show days this week.
I didn't do anything special, just rested, cooked, caught up on laundry, and enjoyed the time.


Yummy week )

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