taz_39: (footprint)

Jameson and I spent Monday in Orlando. We were both feeling crummy, so didn't do a lot, just errands and resting. I slept for most of the day. Didn't realize how exhausted I was.

On Tuesday we had one last wonderful breakfast at Keke's. Then we packed our things and said farewell to Florida. I wonder if I'll be coming back, or not.

We drove all day and arrived in Greenville around 9:30pm. The train made good time and was spotted when we arrived. Railfan Joe Dougherty was on hand for our arrival, and took lots of great pictures of Nikki and other members of train crew unloading the flatcars. The Greenville yard is one of few accessible, paved yards, and one where the flats are stored with the coaches (passenger cars).

Some of the cars are hand-painted.

On Wednesday morning Jameson had a job interview, which went very well. Afterward we went to Publix to stock up on groceries for the week. I bought several prepared meals, because it's going to be a busy week and I don't expect to have time to cook. Then it was back to the train. I spend most of the day applying for more jobs and resting, as I hadn't slept well.

We have a pretty weird schedule here in Greenville. There were 10am shows scheduled for both Thursday and Friday, so we all had to be up early and there was no time for a rehearsal. Plus our bandmaster Brett had to fly home for a family emergency, so we had a sub on trumpet and Tim will be conducting for the entire week.

I like Greenville, a lot. I've probably mentioned this before...it has a special place in my heart, being one of the first cities that I ever visited on tour as a trombonist. It is a beautiful city with a thriving economy, but it's HOW it got to be beautiful and successful that I find really wonderful. The town found itself struggling during the 70s, with WWII-era industries failing and commerce moving to the suburbs where shopping plazas and malls were being built. Both the private citizens and the city government officials decided that they would not sit by and watch their city decline. They formed an ambitious plan involving both private and public sectors, and began a total redesign of the entire town. From the structure of the buildings to the landscaping to the businesses and economic foundations, they laid the groundwork for their hopes, and worked hard to achieve it. And the result is a beautiful city growing at an incredible rate.

Every time I come here, I am amazed at the leaps and bounds being made. This time, the area near our train has gone from being a row of empty shop fronts to an active market area, with local grocers, art studios, bike shops, and more coming soon. On the drive to the arena, a once-empty stretch of land now houses a massive housing boom...new apartments under construction as far as the eye can see.

Anyway! Opening day was a little rough, because of the early start and Brett's absence and a union meeting scheduled for the afternoon. But it was made better by a visit from our sister unit, the Blue show, currently performing Out of this World in Charlotte NC. They were seated in the section closest to the band, which was really nice because we had a loud rowdy bunch cheering us on!

After the show they immediately came down onto the floor and started socializing and checking out all of our stuff. People were climbing all over the portal, playing with props, taking photos, laughing, talking. It was a lot of fun. I got to see some members of the Blue unit band, including Landon, the union steward on that show (we'd never met!). A large group photo was organized...I had already left by the time it was taken so I'm not in it, but I'm glad so many people stuck around for it. It'll be a nice memory for us to look back on, that day when Red and Blue circus families got together :)

(photo courtesy Steve B.)

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After the Miami shows Jameson and I drove to Orlando for one more night at his apartment. The next day we drove six hours to reach Columbia, SC. There we found an amazing dinner at Pawley's Front Porch!

Pawley's is a burger joint that's been featured on various food shows, including Diners Drive-ins and Dives. Jameson got the Fripp Island burger, featuring souther salsa, boursin cheese, and fried green tomatoes on a pretzel roll. I got the Sullivan's a burger topped with grilled pineapple, guac, jalapeno citrus mayo, and pepper jack cheese on brioche. Both burgers were fantastic. The meat is ground in-house, it's very fresh and delicious. We both had alcoholic sodas with our meals :)

The next day we had a lovely lunch at a little Italian place called DeLucca's. The food was very good, although we were both a little disappointed in the pasta, which was straight-up out-of-a-box angel hair. But still, good eats!

The train was very late arriving...somewhere between 12-15 hours late. We killed time by walking around a local mall and getting Jameson a haircut. Eventually we were able to get groceries and go home.

Opening day went pretty well, though the crowd was not very good. This is the first city where we're repeating the same show we did last year, and sometimes that doesn't go over well.

Friday we had a split. We had planned to have lunch with Jameson's grandparents, but the weather was miserable and they were unable to make it out. I was catching another cold again (arrrrgh) so just took a nap during the break.

Saturday, three shows. While the northeast was getting hammered with snow, Columbia escaped largely unscathed by winter weather. There were a few flurries in the morning and it was cold all day, but nothing major weather-wise. The shows went pretty well, though crowds were not as into it as they had been in Miami.

Sunday, two shows. Jameson and I ASSumed that the shows were at 1pm and 5pm. Wrong! We were surprised when we got to the arena and hardly anyone was around. The shows were 1/2 hour later than we'd thought. Oops! But better early than late!

After the shows we went to a hotel, went to Walmart for some nighttime snacks, and enjoyed watching tv with the lovely feeling that can only come from knowing you get to sleep in tomorrow :) We will be driving to Charlotte, NC next.

Other stuff:

From Johnathan Lee Iverson, the Ringmaster on the Blue Unit:

"Tonight a mother and her two children were sitting in the front row having a blast. They were all decked out as well. Mom donned a colorful wig, with removable circus tattoos on her cheeks, while her children were attired, one as a clown and the other a ringmaster. I had to meet them. So during an opportune time in the show I made my way over. They were more than elated. They suffocated me with hugs, particularly the one in the ringmaster costume. So of course, I felt like I did my "good deed" for the day. Little did I know my heart was about to melt.

The Mother: "We absolutely love your show! We come every year."
Me: "Thank you so much."
The Mother: "My son is autistic (the ringmaster). He didn't even speak until he came to his very first circus. That's why this show means so much to us."
Me: (Stunned)

You can have your gold statues, I'll take making an indelible mark on someone's life any day."

This week was a little slow. Here is Monjok on a chicken.

(photo courtesy Monjok)
taz_39: (Default)

After Huntsville, Jameson and I decided to borrow Brett's car for a road trip to the next city. Brett needed someone to steal his car so his kids could ride the train, and we needed a mini vacation, so it worked out nicely :)

We drove two hours to Chattanooga and stayed the night at The Chattanoogan. We woke up nice and late, had breakfast at the hotel, and walked to the Tennessee Aquarium, playing Ingress all the way. Nerdy but fun! For April Fool's, Ingress was overtaken by Pac-Man :)

At the aquarium we were disappointed (but not surprised) to find that the "backstage tour" was all sold out. We got regular tickets and enjoyed the Ocean Journey display first. Jameson had brought his good camera, and I had my GoPro. We started with penguins.

We viewed the jellies, beautiful as always.

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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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taz_39: (woody2)

As we waited for the train to arrive in Charleston, Jameson and I went to Hyman's Seafood Co. for dinner.
Before our meals arrived we got hush puppies and slaw, and boiled peanuts. Ever had those? This was my first time. They're wet and not crunchy, and a little vinegar-y. Not sure that I'm a fan! Jameson says some people eat the shells too.

The food was fantastic. I had some pieces of salmon cooked in several different ways, along with red rice and sweet potato. Nom nom! Jameson got some super tasty shrimp 'n grits in a parm cream sauce, and a delicious spicy Bloody Mary.

(photos courtesy foodspotting.com)

The next day we returned to the train which, as Oscar the clown put it, "looks like we landed in a painting".
(photo courtesy Oscar)

Although the yard was pretty, we soon discovered that there was no running water and the power had been out for hours. As we (the band) were told that power would be restored soon, we waited another hour. When it didn't happen, our boss suggested that we get a hotel as per our contract (I'm so grateful that this option is in our contract!!) We found a nice Holiday Inn near the arena. Jameson and I ate dinner at the restaurant downstairs, enjoying some local moonshine as a special treat :)

In the morning some of us returned to the train to unpack. Water and power had been restored, everything was fine. Opening night went smoothly. The arena is smaller than most of those we visit, but it was a good crowd :)
We had a lighter schedule here, with only one show on Thursday and one on Sunday too.

The weather on Thursday was pretty crummy; it rained all day and was quite cold. I promised myself that if I "got all my chores done", I would treat myself to a visit to the Charleston City Market on Friday ;D So I spent the down time cooking, setting up my battery backup (a great investment this year what with the generator being busted), and finishing my taxes. We touring folks get a lot of W-2s as you might imagine.

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We arrived FIVE HOURS EARLY! Unheard of.
Load in was a little earlier than scheduled because of that.
This hopefully gave people more time to visit the grocery or rest up for Weds.

I have been through Greenville before with Handels Messiah Rocks back in 2010.
It's really cool to return to this city!
Some things are the same, some are different.
The crystal shop and Beaded Frog are still there.
The Hyatt where we stayed on the Messiah Rocks tour is there, but they're building a new plaza in front of it.
I had to stop in at Mast General Store (Since 1883) for some old fashioned candy!

And one of my favorite places in the Carolinas, Falls Park, is just as beautiful as I remember it :)
Here are some pictures from my visit two years ago:

...and here is is at present:

(Clowns: Julio, Kelly and G)
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March 2017



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