BBQ to celebrate the new patio!

Eric and his dad have been hard at work over the past two weeks putting a patio in our backyard (in 100 degree temps, no less!). It came out beautifully, and its hard to believe that our backyard is the same one that we formerly called “the jungle”. It looks so great. We invited a bunch of friends and family over on Saturday to break it in.

Our friends, Travis and Brian

Brian and Erika, who is 15 weeks pregnant!

Lila’s cousin, P.R., in between Brian and Fernando

Petey, who we toured with on “Rock of Ages”

Lila, checking out the new bottle opener

Lila and Nana

Aunt Maryliz and Lila

Eric’s dad Paul and his neighbor, Eugene

Eric’s cousin Kelsey and his sister, Dana

My friend Gina’s daughter, Petra

Tom, a neighbor of Paul and Marge

Brian and P.R.

Eric’s cousin Annmarie and her daughter, Lucy

Kelsey

Lila and Petra

Advertisements

Christmas Break

The two weeks off for Christmas were really nice. I spent a few days driving down to Fort Lauderdale, via Winston-Salem, NC (where I stayed with my dear friend Ryan Hill) and Savannah, GA. I parked my car at the airport in Fort Lauderdale and flew to California, where I spent ten days with my family in Sunnyvale. It was my niece’s first Christmas, and I am so happy that I could be there to share it with her! It was also great to see so many of my old friends from high school, and to meet some of their new babies, as well 🙂 It was a much-needed break from work, but I was definitely excited to get back to the show after two weeks away from it (and excited to get back down to warm, sunny Florida!).

Tormenting Lucy with reindeer antlers

No, she wasn't happy about the antlers

Lucy big eyes

Smiley bear

With some of her Christmas loot

And of course, any trip home to Sunnyvale is not complete without a trip to Cicero’s pizza (check) and also a trip (or three) to the Duke (check). The high school gang was of course out in force whenever a trip to the Duke was in the plans.

Mary and Steve

Erika

Me and Mare

Craig-o

David and Mary

I also loved all the awesome girl time I got while in town. I actually was able to be there for the gift exchange with my best girlfriends, we had a mani/pedi day, and had a night of baking Christmas cookies at Fin’s. So great to spend time with my girls!

The day after Christmas it was back to work, though, and although I had a great time and miss everyone terribly, its not too difficult to be waking up every morning to this:

Happy new year all!

Portrait Session

I’ve been missing taking photos of PEOPLE lately – I am looking forward to getting back on tour so that I have subjects around on a regular basis! I’ve been wanting to get some practice shooting portraits, so I asked my friend Lyn if she wouldn’t mind doing a shoot with me. She happily agreed and we got together yesterday for a couple of hours and shot a bunch of photos in 95 degree weather! Most of the shots turned out beautifully though, despite the heat – I couldn’t be more pleased. Thanks so much to Lyn for being such a great model (and her husband, Chris, too, who joined her for a few shots).

Okay, who’s next??

Catching Up

Well, its been a whirlwind few weeks with lots of ups and downs, and I can’t believe I’m only writing now! I have to be better about keeping up with my blog.

First off, work. “All About Me” opened, and then it closed. Ah, they can’t all be winners. It was definitely a challenging production period to be a part of – from starting with no script, to putting together a fully formed show in just four short weeks. I don’t really know why the finished product never caught on – it was definitely an enjoyable night in the theater – maybe it just wasn’t marketed well, who knows? At any rate, we did four weeks of previews, and two weeks of regular performances, and then closed on Easter Sunday.

Dame Edna and Michael Feinstein in "All About Me"

Opening night was a lot of fun – my best friend Michele came into town from Belgium for it. I hadn’t seen her since her wedding in 2005, so it was lovely to have her here. She was an ASM for Dame Edna on the Dame’s first Broadway show, so it was a reunion of sorts. Our friend Ruth, who has also worked with Dame Edna, came into town for the weekend, too. It was really nice having lots of old friends around. And of course Ryan also came into town for about ten days to celebrate and hang out with everyone.

Ruth and Michele

Michele, Ruth and I with Barry Humphries (Dame Edna)

Me and Ryan

Now that all is said and done, despite the fact that I would love to be getting a paycheck right now, and there were some great people working on “All About Me”, I am sort of relieved that I don’t have to go into work there anymore. The rehearsal process was very challenging, but the run of the show was not at all, and I think I would have been extremely bored in the long run. There also were a couple of not-so-nice people working on the show, and I’m sort of glad to not have to see them everyday now – I’m not gonna lie! I am very thankful to have gotten the opportunity to work with Barry Humphries (Dame Edna) though. He was nothing but lovely and kept all of us in stitches every day. It was wonderful working with him.

Ah well, I guess you win some, you lose some. That’s the nature of show business. And its kind of funny to have worked on at least one big Broadway flop! (Let’s just hope its my last!)

Me with Dame Edna

As far as work upcoming – nothing so far, but I’ve got some feelers out. I’m really hoping for another tour. Fingers crossed that something works out.

Another reason that I am happy to have some time for myself right now, is that the week the show opened, I noticed that Tallulah hadn’t been eating as much as normal, so I took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with FIV – feline AIDS. It turns out that she probably has had it her whole life (her brother died of it, but we assumed he had contracted it from a stray that Andrea had taken in). Cats can live long lives with FIV if they stay healthy. Unfortunately Tallulah’s white blood cell count was dangerously low when I took her in to the vet, and her liver was showing signs of fatty liver disease, because she hadn’t been eating.

To make a long story short, I am now taking her to another vet – a cat specialist (who I am not entirely happy with, I am still searching for a vet who also does holistic practice as well as regular western medicine). Tallulah has been on antibiotics for about a month now, which have brought her fever down to normal and are warding off infection. I have done a bit of my own research and have started Tallulah on a serious vitamin regimen. It seems to be working – she seems much peppier, her coat is shinier – she seems like her same old self, except that she is still not eating much. I am also trying to make sure she gets fresh air and sunshine.

The food thing is rather frustrating. I am feeding her about a can of food a day through a syringe to make sure she gets the nutrients that she needs. The last set of blood tests said that her liver had recovered, so I just want to make sure that it stays that way. She is probably nibbling about a half a can of food herself, and grazing the dry food as well. I have given her every kind of food imaginable – from every brand of cat food, to chicken, tuna, tuna juice, chicken broth, eggs, milk, baby food, you name it. Its very frustrating not knowing what to give her. She takes the food I give her in the syringe just fine – no spitting out or vomiting. And she comes to the kitchen when I am getting her food ready, but then when I put it out, she sniffs it and leaves. I hope eventually we figure it all out.

As far as the vitamins go, I am currently giving her the following twice a day (in food): immune support formula (from Only Natural Pet), bone meal, calcium, echinacea, and brewer’s yeast/garlic. Soon I will be adding a multi-vitamin, vitamin C and probiotic (waiting for those to come in the mail). I am keeping my fingers crossed that the next time we go to the vet, Tallulah’s white cells are up so I can get her off those antibiotics.

If anyone else has an FIV cat and you have suggestions of ways to help keep my cat healthy, I would welcome them! Also, anyone with a cat who is a finicky eater – any suggestions would also be appreciated as to how to get my cat to eat again!

My parents came for a visit last week. It was great to see them – and although they arrived too late to see my show, being unemployed was actually a good thing, because I was able to spend more time with them. We went to the New York Botanical Gardens, Central Park and on the Circle Line cruise. I also brought them up to my neighborhood for brunch at New Leaf Cafe, a walk through Fort Tryon Park and a visit to the Cloisters. We also went down to Hudson River Park and walked underneath the George Washington Bridge. It was a really wonderful few days with them.

Dad

Mom

At the Botanical Gardens

Going under the George Washington Bridge on the Circle Line cruise

As far as crafts go, I’ve been totally focused on baby knits. I made a sweater for my friend Carrie’s baby, a blanket for Fin’s baby Evan, and a sweater for my sister’s soon to be daughter. I’m currently working on a blanket, also for my soon-to-be niece. I think I am going to break out the sewing machine today to work on another Clothkits skirt for me. Its been a while since I’ve used my machine – but springtime calls for sewing!

Blanket for Evan

Sweater for baby niece

I’ve had time to get out and do some photography as of late, as well. I also splurged with some of my tax return money and bought a few new toys – a 35mm lens for my Nikon DSLR and a new digital rangefinder camera – the Olympus e-p2, which I am loving. It is so much fun and takes fantastic photos.

F

Fort Tryon Park

Overlook at Fort Tryon

Me at Fort Tryon Park

The mall in Central Park

Outside St. John the Divine

That’s about all for now – keep your fingers crossed that I get a job soon!

Happy Spring!

Rehearsals.

It has been a busy couple of weeks as “All About Me” started rehearsals. The script was still very much in flux on the first day, and still is, although we have a solid framework going. Its all about filling in the details around the framework. So without a finished script and only three weeks in the studio before we move to the theater for tech, rehearsals have been long and tedious…but fun all the same. I’m working with a really lovely group of people – much smaller than my Spamalot family, but talented and interesting and fun. I think once the show is set and everyone is comfortable with what they are doing, we are going to have a real blast together.

I haven’t been taking any photos in rehearsals as it has been such an intense time, and I am still getting to know everyone, but we did have a press event last week and so I took the opportunity to get a few shots.

Michael Feinstein and Dame Edna

Dame Edna

Meeting the press

Other than rehearsals, I have been trying to get as much rest as I can (which isn’t much!), catching up on “Lost” (I had never watched it before this season, so I hurriedly watched all previous five seasons in time for this year’s season premiere), trying to take a photowalk on my days off, and finishing up some knitting projects.

I went up to Inwood Hill Park a couple of weekends ago, which I had never walked around before, despite living right next to it for three months in 2003-2004. It is the only natural park in Manhattan (all the others are man-made). It was really lovely to walk through some of the overgrown trails. I love that wilderness like that exists right in the midst of the city.

Inwood Hill Park

Inwood Hill Park

I also went on a walk last weekend to Fort Tryon Park, and discovered some places that I had never been – like this archway.

Fort Tryon Park

I just love Fort Tryon Park – I’m so glad its in my neighborhood!

Fort Tryon Park

Fort Tryon Park

Some of the girls from “Spamalot” got together a few weeks ago for a “haircut party” to take advantage of Suzanne being in town (she cut everyone’s hair while we were on the road). Cara Cooper hosted everyone at her and Graham’s new condo in Hoboken, and it was so nice to see everyone – lots of beautiful faces from the last few years on tour. It was a great evening with some of my favorite girls.

Little pregnant Callie!

Jen and Suzanne

Angelina and Suzanne

Sarah, Alexa and Jen

And finally, a couple of photos of my two latest knitting projects – a vest called “Estes” and a sweater called “Lush and Lacy”. I began Lush and Lacy towards the end of the Spamalot tour and just got too sidetracked with the tour ending and my move to finish it until now. Estes was a project for “Vestvember”, but again I got sidetracked with moving, so didn’t finish it up until January. Ah well. I love them both. I also finished a little hooded sweater for Flickr friend Carrie’s little boy who is due to arrive any day, but I forgot to take a photo before I sent it off to her (duh!). Next up, probably a hat for me, and then maybe on to some baby knits for my soon to be niece!

Estes Vest

Lush and Lacy

Hope everyone is keeping warm! Happy Valentine’s Day to you 🙂

A Busy Start to the New Year

There has been a lot going on so far in 2010!

Ryan came to visit for ten days, and we had a great time. We spent New Year’s Eve with Patty and David and some of their friends in Brooklyn and then New Year’s Day with some “Spamalot” friends up in Inwood. We managed to see a lot of people and also a lot of things. We enjoyed the Tim Burton exhibit at MoMA and spent one day walking across the Brooklyn Bridge into Brooklyn Heights where we did a self-guided tour. We saw more “Spamalot” friends at a birthday party for Esther Stilwell, a former the Lady of the Lake and even took in a Rangers hockey game at Madison Square Garden. It was a really nice time. Ryan is doing some work on the “Legally Blonde” tour, and hopefully we’ll be able to figure out a time when he can come back to New York again – and soon 🙂

With Ryan on the Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge

Esther at her birthday party

A few days after Ryan left, Suzanne, a good friend from the “Spamalot” tour came into town and stayed with me for a couple of days. We spent one day walking a good portion of Manhattan from Washington Heights down to Midtown along the Hudson River. There is a fantastic trail that runs down the side of the island and it is well-used by joggers and cyclists alike. I think we walked 7 1/2 miles in total! We also spent time with other friends from “Spamalot” – a Mexican dinner with Tim, drinks over at Ben Whiteley’s apartment (our conductor from “Spamalot”) and lunch with Vera, one of our former prop heads. Suzanne is still in town (but staying with other friends now) – and so still on the agenda is a Golden Globe party and a haircut party with the “Spamalot” girls! (Suzanne is a very talented hairdresser so everyone has been waiting for her to get into town to get their hair cut!).

Suzanne

Taken while walking along the Hudson

Taken at the Boat Basin

Other than hanging with my friends, I have been doing lots of knitting and reading and taking lots of photos. I’ve been trying to get my photo mojo back, which I feel I’ve lost a bit since moving back to the city, so I bought a stack of books for myself for Christmas to try and kickstart the inspiration. I think they might be helping 🙂 I’ve been making myself go on photowalks, and also checking out museum exhibits. I went to the Brooklyn Museum earlier this week to see the exhibit “Who Shot Rock and Roll” which showcased the work of rock and roll photographers from 1955 to the present – it was really great.

Books for inspiration

In Fort Tryon Park

In midtown

On the lower east side

At the Brooklyn Museum

And so now, after a lovely three months off work, I head back to it tomorrow. I’ll be assisting my friend Jim on the show “All About Me” – Dame Edna’s return to Broadway 🙂 I’m really excited about it – you can read more about the show here.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful 2010 so far!

Cross-Country Road Trip, Week 2.

Day 8:  St. Paul, MN to Sobieski, WI.

It was an easy drive on Monday to Sobieski, where Ryan lives. Of course, I HAD to stop on the way in Wassau, WI. for a soft-serve cone from Briq’s. I discovered this place a couple of years ago driving to Ryan’s, and I just love their soft serve. It is the perfect balance between creamy and icy. Yum!

I arrived at Ryan’s early in the afternoon and we hung out around the house for the afternoon. All the improvements that Ryan has made on the place since he came home in April are fantastic. The house is looking really great, and he had just gotten a bunch of new furniture the week before, which really made the house feel like a home. Unfortunately it was dark and kind of dreary weather all week, which made the house interior really dark, so I didn’t really get any good pictures of the inside.

That night, we had dinner in downtown Green Bay at a restaurant called Cafe Espresso, which is one of Ryan’s favorites. I had to laugh because it seemed like everywhere we went over the next couple of days, starting with Cafe Espresso, Ryan knew someone. I asked him,  “do you know everyone in Green Bay?” Hilarious.

Day 9: Sobieski, WI.

On Tuesday we went for a walk at Baird’s Creek – a wooded park in Green Bay that has skiing hills, a frisbee golf course, bike paths and hiking trails. It was so pretty there – it had rained, so everything was wet and lush. It was so nice to see all the beautiful fall leaves.

Before we left the house, we made an Irish stew and put in the slow cooker, so when we got home that night, we had a delicious dinner waiting for us. Yum!

DSC_0009

DSC_0025 (1)

DSC_0040 (1)

Day 10: Sobieski, WI.

On Wednesday I took Tallulah for a “kitty hike” around Ryan’s property. He has about six acres of land around his house, so there is quite a bit to explore. Tallulah did so well! I had her on harness and leash, and she actually walked and responded to the leash tugs and led the way! We were out for about a half an hour.

In the afternoon Ryan and I went to a couple of yarn stores! I bought some yarn for a sweater in one of them. We also did some shopping at Kohl’s, where I bought a slow cooker on sale. I really don’t like to cook at all, but I think the slow cooker might be a good way for me to go – throw everything in in the morning and then you come home to dinner! We’ll see how it goes.

That night we got together with a group of Ryan’s friends – Neil and Tara, Kris and Steph, Dan and Rick. We had drinks and dinner at a local bar – it was two-for-one perch plates, and they were super good! It was really fun meeting all of Ryan’s friends – they all seem like really nice people.

DSC_0006

Tallulah on a kitty hike

Day 11: Sobieski, WI.

On Thursday, we met up for lunch with Ryan’s dad and sister, Renee, and her two kids. We went to a yummy Mexican place and had a nice time catching up.

After that Ryan and I did a little shopping – I went and looked at some furniture and we went back to Kohl’s to pick up some more things for Ryan’s house.

That night we had dinner at Jake’s Pizza, Ryan’s favorite pizza place. It wasn’t as good as Cicero’s – but it was definitely a close second – really yummy crust. I was glad that we had leftovers so I could enjoy it for lunch the next day as well!

We went home and watched a movie and lit a fire. We actually had fires every night in the fireplace – so nice!

DSC_0008

The view from Ryan's living room - he lives in the country!

Day 12: Sobieski, WI. to Chicago, IL.

It was with great reluctance that Tallulah and I left Ryan’s house on Friday. I had such a nice few days there in his cozy house. Hopefully I’ll get back there soon.

I drove on to Chicago, which took longer than it should have, thanks to traffic. I checked into the Hotel Indigo in the afternoon, and met up with my friend Kevin, who used to be in “Spamalot”, for coffee. Kevin is currently in “Jersey Boys” in Chicago. It was so nice to see him and catch up. We’ve kept in touch through email, but I hadn’t seen him in person in about two years. We had a nice visit before Kevin had to leave for his show, and I went to meet up with friends for dinner.

Carolyn and Lauren are both friends that I got to know through Flickr, an online photography website. I met up with Lauren the last time I was in Chicago, but this was my first time meeting Carolyn. We met at Carolyn’s apartment in Belmont and made pizza and sat around and knit. It was so fun! Lauren and Carolyn’s friend Sara also came over and we just had the best time chatting and knitting and drinking beer. I’m so glad I was able to get together with those girls while I was in town.

DSC_0019

Lauren

Carolyn, looking hilarious with her in-progress knit hat on her head

Carolyn, wearing her in-progress knit hat

Day 13: Chicago, IL. to West Middlesex, PA.

Nothing much to report for Saturday. I got up and drove to Pennsylvania. I saw cornfields. I had dinner at Red Lobster. I went to bed. The end.

DSC_0030

Day 14: West Middlesex, PA. to New York, NY.

I could not get to New York fast enough on Sunday! By then I was completely sick of driving. It was actually a beautiful drive through all of Pennsylvania, through the Poconos, but I just wanted to get there! My leg and foot were falling asleep by the afternoon. Finally, finally, I reached the George Washington Bridge! And of course, traffic ground to halt. I discovered that Sunday was NYC marathon, so lots of streets were closed off, making for traffic jams around the island. It took a while to figure out how to get to my sublet with all the street closures, but I finally did – and then had to carry all my stuff up four flights of steps. Argh! A rude awakening back to New York City living!

Seriously though, it was great driving across the bridge and into the city. I always get such a rush when I see the Manhattan skyline. It is such an awesome, awesome place to live. I’m really happy to be back.

My apartment in Harlem is great – cute and charming and comfortable, with a fantastic roof deck with a “West Side Story”-esque view of all the surrounding rooftops. I love it. I am here for a month, and then hopefully I’ll be moving in to my own place!

And – I’m actually going back to work next week! Only for a week though, which is good, because I really do need to focus on looking for a place to live. When my friend Phyllis emailed me (she and I did “BARE” in 2004) and asked if I wanted to do a reading with her of a new musical, directed by Kristin Hanggi (who directed “BARE” and also was nominated for a Tony for “Rock of Ages”), I couldn’t say no – I had such a  great time working with the two of them on “BARE” – and it will be a nice way to get back in to the swing of things in New York. I’m looking forward to it.

***

So, there probably won’t be many “travels” with Tallulah any time soon, but I’m sure there will be stories, so I think I am going to continue this blog to keep at least my parents apprised of what I’m doing (does anyone else read this???). I thought about changing the name of the blog, but I like how “Travels with Tallulah” rolls off the tongue, and plus everyone knows it as that name, so its probably easier to keep it. And… I kind of think leaving it as “Travels with Tallulah” is kind of like positive thinking – hoping and willing that there will be more travels in the future!

But for now, I am more than content to unpack my suitcases for a while and put them away! New York City, I’ve missed you!

rooftop 10 copy

On the rooftop in Harlem

Cross-Country Road Trip, Week 1.

Day One: Huntington Beach, CA. to Scottsdale, AZ.

It was an exhausting morning getting out of Huntington Beach. I had to switch rental cars, which ended up taking longer than I had planned, and I had to thoroughly clean my rental apartment before leaving – which in retrospect, I shouldn’t have done, seeing as I am still only getting half of my cleaning deposit back. Ah, well. I got on the road around 10:30am, and it took a while to get out of Orange County. I couldn’t wait to get out of the city and onto an open stretch of highway. Luckily I eventually did pass through Indio and on through Joshua Tree towards Arizona. It was funny to see the saguaro cacti again – very deja vu. Wasn’t I just here? I reached Scottsdale in the late afternoon and after a dinner at Claim Jumper, settled in for the night.

Arizona, we meet again!

Arizona, we meet again!

Day 2: Scottsdale, AZ. to Las Cruces, NM.

Another fairly easy drive – I left Scottsdale around 10am and headed east. Before too long I was back in Tucson, where I just was three weeks ago! As I drove through the city, I decided to pull over and get some gas, and in the distance I could see the Aircraft Boneyard. Ryan and I had driven by the Boneyard on our last day in Tucson three weeks before, and didn’t have time to stop. The sight of all those thousands and thousands of old planes just sitting there on acres and acres of land was quite stunning, and I really wanted to get a few photos. I decided to drive by quickly and try to get a few snaps. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any good place to pull over and get out of the car, so I had to make do with some shots through the car window. One day I will get back to Tucson and properly walk through the Boneyard!

Parts of the afternoon drive were quite stunning. New Mexico is just so beautiful. In the early afternoon, big puffy clouds filled the blue skies, but as the day went on, the clouds got bigger and darker and lower, and later in the afternoon I found myself driving through some pretty spectacular thunderstorms. It would have been kind of beautiful if I hadn’t been so freaked out that I was going to get struck by lightning! I made it safely to the hotel, though, around 6pm, and lucked out by being given a two-bedroom apartment at the Towne Place Suites as I am a platinum Marriott member. Woohoo!

Airplane carcasses at the Aircraft Boneyard in Tucson

Airplane carcasses at the Aircraft Boneyard in Tucson

Day 3: Las Cruces, NM. to San Antonio, TX.

A long, long drive this day across I-10, which was surprisingly beautiful. I thought it would be barren and dusty, but it was actually quite green with some beautiful rock formations. I was thrilled to see that the speed limit along that stretch of I-10 was 80 mph! Yes! I made really good time in part because of that, and in part because I didn’t see a single highway patrol car all day. In Arizona, the highway patrol were everywhere, and if not a live cop, then a parked car with a camera. I must have seen at least 20 highway patrol cars the day before, so it was nice not seeing ANY once I passed into Texas.

It rained most of the afternoon, but the driving was fine, and no scary lightning! I reached San Antonio around 7pm, having passed through a whole time zone that day! My hotel was on the Riverwalk, but I was too tired to venture out.  I ordered in food and settled in for the evening.

A dreary day in Texas

A dreary day in Texas

Day 4: San Antonio, TX. to Houston, TX.

A nice sleep in and an easy drive to Houston from San Antonio. There was even time to stop at a yarn store before heading to the hotel 🙂 I checked into the Hyatt downtown and had a nice afternoon and evening in, relaxing. That night I met up with my dear friends Fran and Tanya for drinks at the hotel bar. They are both working on the “Mary Poppins” tour which is playing the Hobby Center in Houston. Fran toured with me on “Spamalot” in 2007 and Tanya and I have known each other since our early twenties when we were both working as stage managers in the Bay Area. I love both those girls to death.

Houston skyline, as seen from my hotel room window

Houston skyline, as seen from my hotel room window

Day 5: Houston

A lovely day off with no driving! I slept in and then met up with Fran and Tanya for lunch and some thrift shopping. We had a great afternoon, catching up, laughing and making some good purchases. I scored a handful of vintage dress patterns at an antique store for a dollar apiece! That night I went to see “Mary Poppins” (which was really good!) and then went to the opening night party with Fran and Tanya. They both came and hung out with me after the party in my hotel room while I packed. It was hard saying goodbye to them both – I love them both so much!

Fran

Fran

Tanya

Tanya

Day 6: Houston, TX. to Wichita, KS.

Probably my hardest day of driving so far – it was a long day, 600 miles of driving, and I was tired from staying up late. Now I was headed north from Texas. I pulled over at one point to take a cat nap at a rest stop and felt much better. It was frustrating driving in Texas – there was lots of traffic and numerous road closures – I was very happy to see the “Welcome to Oklahoma” sign! I was also relieved to be off the hugely massive wide Texas freeways and onto the smaller midwestern highways. It was a really pretty drive through Oklahoma and Kansas – the sunset was especially beautiful that night. I got to the Candlewood in Wichita close to 8pm and tumbled into bed early – time to catch up on some much-needed sleep!

A long, long day of driving

A long, long day of driving

Day 7: Wichita, KS. to Saint Paul, MN.

Another long drive – another 600 miles. I began listening to the new Dan Brown novel “The Lost Symbol” and became totally engrossed in the story, which made the day pass fairly quickly. As I drove through Iowa and into Minnesota, the temperatures kept dropping, and the leaves on the trees changed into all varieties of bright autumnal colors – finally, fall! I had to laugh when I recognized a shopping center outside Kansas City with a Cracker Barrel and Walmart that we had stopped at for a dinner break during a tour bus ride from Fayetteville to Des Moines last year with “Spamalot”.  That says something about how much traveling I have done on the country’s highways when I recognize specific Cracker Barrels!

I arrived in Saint Paul around 6:30pm, and had a quick dinner at Chili’s before heading back to the hotel for a restful evening.

Signs of approaching winter in Minnesota

Signs of approaching winter in Minnesota

Tomorrow, a shorter drive to Wisconsin, to Ryan’s, where I will be until Friday! Almost 3000 miles of driving under my belt in one week – whew! I’m ready for a few days off!

A Little Vacation Before the End

When we were first told that we would have a lay-off week before our final engagement in Costa Mesa, I thought it sounded like a huge drag. But when it came right down to it, I was ready for a little break, and it was nice to have one more “vacation” before unemployment, when I know I won’t want to spend the money on any more travel for a while.

Ryan flew out to Tucson for our last weekend there and busied himself with a rental motorcycle and some exploring, while I finished up the weekend of shows. On Monday we spent the day driving to Sedona, where we would spend two nights. It was a beautiful drive, and we made stops in Flagstaff, and Jerome (a small mining town on the side of a mountain) along the way. Our rental house in Sedona was perfect – centrally located with great views, and lots of space.

We spent Tuesday exploring Sedona. First we drove up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a chapel that is built into the side of one of the cliffs, and is said to be a “place of power” in Sedona. We took lots of photos – there is an amazing panoramic view from up there. After that we grabbed some lunch in the “uptown” area, and then drove out to Boynton Canyon, where we did a six mile hike. Boynton Canyon is one of the “vortexes” of energy in Sedona, and we spent some time hanging out by the Kachina Woman rock formation and taking in our surroundings. I don’t know if the “vortex” thing is real or not, but it was definitely extremely peaceful there.

Chapel of the Holy Cross interior

Chapel of the Holy Cross interior

Chapel of the Holy Cross

Chapel of the Holy Cross

Boynton Canyon

Boynton Canyon

Kachina Woman

Kachina Woman

That evening we drove up to Airport Mesa, which is another vortex site, to watch the sunset. There were dozens and dozens of people up there with cameras. There were some clouds in the sky, which made for some dramatic photographs.

Sunset at Airport Mesa

Sunset at Airport Mesa

On Wednesday we packed up the car and headed north to the Grand Canyon. We met up with Suzanne, who had also just arrived, for dinner at El Tovar, the nicest lodge on the national park grounds. We got our first glimpse of the canyon (Suzanne and I had never been there before), and then had a delicious dinner. Then it was back to the hotel and to bed, so that we could get up and back to the park in time for sunrise the next day.

We were up and driving to the park by 5:15am! It was FREEZING. After the temperatures being in the high 90’s in Tucson, it was quite a shock to be in temperatures as low as 20 degrees. We ran around and did jumping jacks while we waited for the sun to come up. It was worth it, though. The early morning light on the canyon rocks was just beautiful. As soon as the sunrise was over we went back to El Tovar for breakfast, and luckily got a table by the fireplace!

Suzanne at the Grand Canyon at sunrise

Suzanne at the Grand Canyon at sunrise

After breakfast we headed over to Bright Angel trail to start our hike. It takes two days to hike all the way down to the bottom of the canyon and back, so we decided to just go down about three miles and then hike back out. There were a lot of people on the trail, and it was interesting to hear people’s stories along the way. There were a lot of people who had camped out at various places along the trail, and we met one group of women who were finishing up a “rim to rim” hike, which had taken them the better part of a week (they hiked down the north side, camped on the canyon floor, and now were making their way up the south side). We saw a few mule trains, although most of them were carrying rangers rather than tour groups. The hike was definitely difficult – going down, and back up, but we made it the six-mile round trip in about five hours and were very proud of ourselves!

A raven on the trail

A raven on the trail

Suzanne and Ryan on the trail

Suzanne and Ryan on the trail

Mule train

Mule train

In the afternoon, Ryan and I went back to the hotel and napped while Suzanne took off for Williams, where she was spending the night before heading to a yoga retreat in Sedona for the weekend. Ryan and I headed back to the park later in the afternoon, and drove all thirty-five miles of the road out to Desert View, on the eastern end of the south rim. We stopped at a few of the overlooks, including one for sunset.

DSC_0116 (1)

The next day we decided not to do another vertical hike, but instead we walked about eight miles along the Rim Trail, from Hermit’s Rest, out at the western end of the south rim, all the way back to El Tovar. I have to say, the views of the canyon from the west side were my favorite. You had less obstructions in the way and were able to get more of an idea of how vast the canyon really is. Even though the trail was relatively flat, we were still pretty beat by the time we made it back to Grand Canyon Village. We went to the bar at El Tovar for a couple of prickly pear margaritas, to celebrate hiking 20 miles total that week!

A panorama taken with my iPhone

A panorama taken with my iPhone

DSC_0083 (1)

After our drinks were emptied, we took the park shuttle back out to Hopi Point for sunset. There were lots of people out there – I think Hopi Point was my favorite lookout spot of the whole park, so I wasn’t surprised to see lots of people there for the sunset. We took lots of photos and then scrambled back into the warmth of the shuttle bus and headed back to the hotel.

Sunset

Sunset

People watching the sunset at Hopi Point

People watching the sunset at Hopi Point

Having had our fill of nature for the week, we drove to Las Vegas on Saturday 🙂 We stayed at the Treasure Island casino and had a great time, seeing two Cirque du Soleil shows (“O” and “Mystere”), playing the slots, and just walking around and exploring all the hotels and casinos. I was pretty beat by the end of the weekend and ended up having a little fainting episiode on Sunday evening (no big deal, my back was just hurting from carrying my bag and camera around all day, and it just caught up with me).

Watching the water show at the Bellagio

Watching the water show at the Bellagio

On Monday I dropped Ryan off at the airport, and then made my way to Orange County, where we are playing our final engagement of “Spamalot” in Costa Mesa at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. I can’t believe the end is finally here!

I am driving back across the country following our closing, taking two weeks to get back to New York. I’m headed first to Houston, where I’ll catch up with the “Mary Poppins” tour and spend a day with Fran and Tanya. Then I’m making a sharp left turn and driving up to Wisconsin, where hopefully it won’t be snowing, to spend a few days with Ryan before heading back to the Big Apple. I’m hoping to see a little bit of autumn along the way since I’m not getting any here in California!

It was really nice to have one final adventure with Ryan before getting back to life and reality. I don’t know what the future holds, but hopefully there are more adventures to come!