Well, not exactly. Ryan grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but the theater there is not used much these days since a nicer, newer one was built about forty miles south in Appleton, which is where “Spamalot” played last week. Now, when Ryan’s home, he spends as much of his time working at the performing arts center in Appleton as he does working in Green Bay. The crew there are part of his home local, so it was a homecoming week for him.
I drove Ryan’s truck from Milwaukee, where he had driven it to do the load-out after having the week off and spending it at his house in Sobieski. That truck is kind of a beast – its huge! Once I managed to maneuver it out of the parking lot of the Hyatt in Milwaukee, it wasn’t so bad. I was convinced I was going to shear the roof off in that parking lot though.
After getting Tallulah settled in at the Candlewood Suites in Appleton, my favorite tour hotel (The rooms are efficiency studios with kitchenettes; each room also comes with a DVD player which is awesome, and the beds are really comfortable. Best of all, the Candlewood rates are usually fairly inexpensive), I went across the street, rented a car (Ryan took the truck to load-in), and I began running errands. Mostly they were boring – like going to the Petco to get more kitty food, but it was nice to have such a normal Monday – doing normal things, like going to the grocery store! The Woodmans grocery store that I went to was quite a sight to see – it was ENORMOUS, and had every product you could imagine. It was a tad overwhelming, but also great to be able to get everything that I wanted, rather than my usual grocery store run, which generally entails scouring the shelves at the CVS for anything that remotely resembles something decent to eat.
I also went to investigate Iris Fine Yarns – a yarn shop near downtown Appleton. What a shop! It is an old house which has been converted to a shop, and the stock they have is simply amazing! Who would have thought that in such a comparatively small town, I would find such a magnificent shop? I was blown away – they had all the most beautiful fibers and organized in such an attractive and user-friendly way. I came a little unprepared, not really knowing what I wanted to buy, so I just bought some wool to make a case for my new Time Capsule hard drive, and made plans to go back later in the week with a better list of wants.
I also drove down College Ave, the main thoroughfare in Appleton. The performing arts center is there, as well as a ton of bars and restaurants and cafes. It was a really cute little street, and proved to be a great place to hang out for the week.
The performing arts center was big and new and clean, and once again we had a smooth load-in and opening. The stagehands there were very nice and welcoming. On Thursday night we were introduced to real Wisconsin cheese curds and beef jerky, as provided by the local sound guy. I have to say, the curds were good! (and squeeky!)
On Wednesday I went back to Iris’s with a list and picked up some more yarn – two skeins of Malabrigo to make a beret, and six skeins of Rowan Kid Classic to make the Lush and Lacy sweater from Sweaterbabe.
Thursday we had understudy rehearsal, but wound up with quite a long break before the show, so I went and read a magazine at Brewed Awakenings, a really cool independent coffee shop on College Ave. They not only make good coffee and sandwiches at Brewed Awakenings, but also some kick-ass gelato (which I indulged in over the weekend. One of the flavors they have is Guinness!)
On Thursday night after the show I packed up Tallulah and we went to Ryan’s house for the night. Tallulah didn’t know what to do with herself, she had so much space to explore. Ryan is still working on the house, having only really spent a few weeks there since he bought it, so it’s still in sort of a state of construction. He tried to pick up as best he could before we got there, but Tallulah still managed to find various ant traps and things she shouldn’t get into.
On Friday we hung out at the house, then went for lunch at a bar in Sobieski (the small town where Ryan lives has only three bars, a church and a daycare. That’s it!) Then we drove around the area a bit and looked at other houses. It’s amazing how quiet it is at Ryan’s house – I’m so used to traffic noises, or some kind of ambient noise – but at Ryan’s it’s dead quiet. Oh, and I saw a wild turkey in his front yard! Crazy, right?
On the way back to Appleton, we picked up libations for shot night on Saturday, which we were hosting.
On Saturday morning I worked on felting the case I had made for my time capsule. It turned out pretty well, I think!
On Saturday between shows, the theater hosted a cookout. We enjoyed brats and burgers and cheese curds.
Saturday night was shot night. We made “Jamaican Bobsleds”. The shot itself was a mixture of Bacardi rum, Malibu, banana schnapps, pineapple juice and cranberry. Pretty tasty. Ryan and I had come up with this idea (leftover from college party days) to freeze two blocks of ice and then carve “bobsled runs” into them. Someone pours the shot into the top of the run, and someone else has their mouth at the bottom of the run, catching the shot, which has gotten cold by going through the groove in the ice. Unfortunately our blocks didn’t freeze all the way through. We had to ditch one of them, and the other ended up getting quite a hole in it, but everyone who wanted to did end up being able to do at least one shot on the ice block. It was a success in the end, I think.
Here’s my favorite photo from shot night – it’s Gary, our King Arthur, partaking in a shot on the bobsled run:
We closed on Sunday night and today traveled to Madison, which I already love. It is a college town, and reminds me of a little Berkeley. We are staying right near the Capitol (which we have an amazing view of from our hotel window), and steps away from State Street, which is lined with all kinds of fun shops and restaurants. The University of Wisconsin is at the other end of State Street. I think it is going to be a very fun week!