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!

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Lasts

The past week and a half has been all about lasts for me. Last city. Last load-in. Last sound check. The goodbyes have started, the packing has started, the cards from the creatives are arriving. Its weird. But, I’m also ready for this journey to be over, as I think most everyone is. I will miss a lot of things about my life out here – the people, the job, the travel, the paycheck – but it’s time to move on to something else. This is by far the most performances I have ever done of one show – I think I’m at around 11oo performances now. Before this, the most I had ever done of a show was I think about 200 performances. I would be lying if I told you I would miss “Spamalot” the show – I love it, but after 1100 performances, I am pretty bored. I’m ready to be challenged by something new.

So, the Costa Mesa stop, for me, has been all about tying up loose ends, readying my trunk for shipping, gathering all the items I think I’ll need over the next few weeks before I see my trunk again, including my winter coat and snow boots! I think by the time I get back to New York I will have missed fall entirely this year. I have a feeling I’m going to be going straight from the summery weather of California and Texas, to winter in Wisconsin and Chicago and New York. I am driving back to NYC, taking two weeks, and visiting some friends along the way. As of right now my schedule is: Huntington Beach to Scottsdale, Scottsdale to Las Cruces, Las Cruces to San Antonio, San Antonio to Houston. Two days in Houston visiting Fran and Tanya who will be there with the “Mary Poppins” tour. Then Houston to Wichita, Wichita to St. Paul, St. Paul to Sobieksi – where I’ll stay with Ryan for four days at his house. Then Sobieski to Chicago, where hopefully I’ll catch up with Flickr friends Lauren and Carolyn, and then Chicago to somewhere in Pennsylvania, then PA to New York City. All by November 1st. Whew. Had to go out with a bang, right?

So, back to Costa Mesa. We are playing the Orange County PAC where I saw “Jekyll and Hyde” while I was in college, with my voice teacher at the time, Sandie. It seemed like an enormous theater then, and now it doesn’t seem so big to me, but it is nice and spacious in comparison to other places we have played – a nice theater to end with. I was so happy to complete some of my load-in tasks for the last time, namely directional signs – which can be so tedious in some of the labyrinth-type theaters (Orange County PAC is one of those). I will be happy to take a break from killing a tree every Tuesday in copy paper.

Early on in the day, Ken, Jovon and I found some Spam can costumes in a rehearsal hall, left over from a press event, so we absconded with them, and wore them to sound check, to everyone’s delight. They ended up becoming a novelty item, being passed around through the cast, everyone taking turns wearing them during the sound check.

Ben and Merle sound checking "Song That Goes"

Ben and Merle sound checking "Song That Goes"

Find Your Grail

Find Your Grail

Ben Whiteley conducting the final sound check

Ben Whiteley conducting the final sound check

Wednesday was Ken’s (the PSM, my boss) last day. Ken is starting work on a new musical called “Wonderland”, which is doing experimental runs in Tampa and Houston, with an eye on Broadway. It was so strange saying goodbye to Ken, who has been with “Spamalot” since the very beginning. It even seems now like he’s on vacation, rather than really gone. Jovon organized a party for Ken, after the show, at Mastro’s steakhouse. Almost everyone came out to say goodbye to him. Ken got really choked up making a speech at the party about how proud he is of the family our whole company has always been. Its such a rare thing to have a company – from actors, to crew, to musicians, to management, all genuinely enjoy spending time with each other – both onstage and off. Ken was definitely a leader in guiding the company in that direction, and he should be proud of that. I got teary when he thanked Jovon and I. Its been so nice working on a team and in an office that is happy and full of laughter 95% of the time. It makes such a difference in wanting to go to work, and being happy there. I hope I get more opportunities of working with such great teams in the future.

The rest of the week was spent doing more packing, and more reflecting on what a great experience this has been.

Our official closing notice was posted. Carissa threw a farewell, thank you shot night.

The closing notice

The closing notice

Carissa's shot night

Carissa's shot night

Over the weekend I took some more photos of the show – I wanted to try and get some shots of some of our newer cast members, but also just want to get in all the shooting I can while I have the chance! What will I take pictures of when this is all over? Its been an amazing photographic opportunity – and to have had the freedom to shoot whatever and whenever I want has been great. I’m so thankful to all my coworkers for allowing me!

Nikki Della Penta, one of our newer showgirls

Nikki Della Penta, one of our newer showgirls

Can Can girls

Can Can girls

Bows

Bows

In keeping with tradition of “never a dull moment”, the weekend of shows was no exception. We had a number of people out and then Matthew Greer, who plays Lancelot, injured his leg at the Saturday matinee, so we had to put Tera-Lee on one last time (hopefully!) in a male ensemble track, to cover David Havasi, who understudies Lance. Its always fun when Tera is on as a guy, and her husband was in town, so he was able to come and see her “butch it up”. Sunday night was Cara Cooper’s last show (one of our ensemble girls). Cara has a wedding to go so she unfortunately she has to miss the final week of shows. She has been with the company for almost two years and it was sad to have to say goodbye to her early.

On Monday night it was time for a little fun. Mitchell and Paula hosted the second “Hell Party” (the first being in Dallas in 2007). They went all out decorating their rental house for Halloween, and everyone did an amazing job coming up with costumes. It was a really fun night – a great way to let off some stress and be together one more time before the final week of shows.

Angela Dittmar-Lykins

Angela Dittmar-Lykins

Jason Goldsberry

Jason Goldsberry

Roy Turpin

Roy Turpin

Mitchell Beck

Mitchell Beck

Steven Wenslawski

Steven Wenslawski

The weather this week has turned windy and rainy. Its the perfect weather for staying indoors and watching a movie – or in my case, getting my hair done, (which I did on Tuesday), getting a massage (Monday’s activity) and catching up on blogging. I’m hoping the weather is good enough tomorrow for my final hike with Suzanne. Friday will be all about packing and cleaning the apartment, and then we have the final weekend of shows.

An overcast day at the Huntington Beach

An overcast day at the Huntington Beach

Not much time left now – just trying to savor every moment. And gearing up for life back in New York!

San Francisco Days

So the day after Ryan arrived was unfortunately a two-show day. But it gave him a chance to rest up a bit after the long ride across the country. Val, one of my friends from Flickr stopped by the theater before the afternoon show. She was in town for the day, and unfortunately I couldn’t meet up with her for an extended period of time, but I did want to say hi to her in person – and she had the best surprise for me – a care package put together by a whole group of the girls who I have befriended on Flickr through sharing our photos. It was so nice unwrapping their treats and reading their cards. I was so touched by the gesture! And it was great to see Val’s smiling face again.

That night I had a huge group of family and friends at the show – all my siblings, as well as all my close high school friends. I gave my sister Becky, her friend Nicole, my brother Nick and his girlfriend Morgan a backstage tour after the show. It was a lot of fun showing them around – and I think they all really enjoyed the show.

Sunday was the day of my big BBQ! I took the day off work and Ryan and I spent the afternoon preparing food for everyone. We had a really great spread that included chicken feta burgers, kabobs, a peach, avocado and goat cheese salad as well as homemade mango salsa and pints and pints of Bi-rite ice cream! Friends started arriving soon after 4pm. I had invited all of my siblings and their significant others, as well as all my closest high school friends, and a couple of friends from college. It was so nice to have so many of my favorite people all under one roof for the afternoon! Ryan was a champ at the grill, and we sufficiently stuffed everyone full of food and drink. It was a really nice afternoon and evening – and we spent the later evening hours after most everyone else was gone, hanging with Becky, Nick, Dave and Morgan. I was exhausted but happy at the end of the day.

My brother-in-law Dave (my sister Becky is in the background)

My brother-in-law Dave (my sister Becky is in the background)

Fin and Mary

Fin and Mary

Me and my sibs

Me and my sibs

The next day Ryan and I got up early and rented a car and drove down beautiful Highway 1 to Santa Cruz. We started off our day with lunch at Taqueria Santa Cruz (burritos as big as your head!) and then headed over to Seabright Beach. We napped for a while on the sand and then walked around the lighthouse, taking photos. After that, we drove downtown and walked around the shops for a couple of hours, before heading over the hill (Highway 17) to Sunnyvale, to meet up with my family for dinner at Cicero’s Pizza (my very fave!!). After dinner we went back to my parents’ house for dessert and a bit more hanging out before driving back to San Francisco. It was a very full day, but a good one.

The lighthouse at Seabright Beach

The lighthouse at Seabright Beach

at Seabright Beach

at Seabright Beach

On Tuesday, Ryan and I just chilled out at the apartment, the events of the past two busy days had caught up with us and we were tired! In the afternoon, Mary called to say that she and David (another of my closest friends from high school  – and college actually, we both went to UCSD) were headed over to our place. David was only in town for a couple of days (he plays for the symphony in Honolulu) so it was great that I would get an opportunity to see him, even if it was only a short one. They came over and we hung out at the house for a while and then walked over to Bi-Rite to get ice cream cones, which we ate in Dolores Park. It was nice to see David – it sounds like he might be moving back to California in the near future, which would be great – I’m more likely to see him if he’s in California – Hawaii is a little harder to get to!

David, Ryan and Mary goofing around in Dolores Park

David, Ryan and Mary goofing around in Dolores Park

Wednesday was my birthday. 35! Crazy. I still can’t believe it. I don’t feel 35. We had two shows, so that didn’t leave much time for fun birthday things, but I did have a cake at work – Bi-Rite ice cream cake! (Are you sensing a theme?). It was delicious. Ryan met me for dinner. We walked over to Sotano Grill on Powell and took advantage of happy hour – I had two mojitas with my enchiladas – yum! After work, I went home and we watched a movie. My mom had given me a couple of DVDs for my birthday – one of them was the documentary “Show Business” about the Broadway season a couple of years ago (when “Wicked”, “Avenue Q”, “Caroline or Change” and “Taboo” were opening). Ryan and I watched the DVD that night – it made me miss New York! I especially remember that season well as I went to the Tony party for “Avenue Q” after their surprise win for Best Musical, and “Caroline or Change” was one of my most favorite productions ever – I saw it five times!

On Thursday, Ryan and I went over to the Haight and walked around for a bit. I left Ryan there when I had to go to work, and he spent two-and-a-half hours in Amoeba Records, coming home with a stack of used CDs. I knew he would love it in there. That night after the show, I hosted a pub crawl in North Beach. I spent so much time there in my early twenties hanging out with Michele (primarily at Tosca Cafe), and love the neighborhood so much, that I really wanted to share it with my coworkers. We went to Vesuvio’s, Tosca, Specs and Tony Nik’s (Savoy Tivoli was also on the list but we got there after last call, so we ended up back at Specs). A lot of people showed up at Vesuvio’s and then after that the crowd began to thin out, but I think everyone enjoyed themselves, and really liked the bars. There were a few people who wouldn’t leave Tosca, which I think is a good thing! It is my favorite bar after all, and I don’t blame them for wanting to stay. Ryan and I finished off the crawl with a slice of pizza before heading back home. It was a very successful night!

Paula at Vesuvio's

Paula at Vesuvio's

The company enjoying Tosca

The company enjoying Tosca

Tosca Cafe

Tosca Cafe

Nate and David

Nate and David at Specs'

On Friday Ryan and I had dinner at House of Nanking in Chinatown – my favorite Chinese restaurant in San Francisco. It has expanded and the digs have gotten nicer since I last dined there, but the wait staff were still mean and curt as always (which is part of the charm!) and the food was as delicious as I remember.

On Saturday I had two shows, and in between Ryan met me for dinner and we picked up a rental car which we used for the next three days for our trip to Tahoe! I took Sunday off work and we got up early and drove to Truckee, where we met up with my family. My dad had rented an amazing house in Tahoe Donner for the weekend, and all of my siblings were there, as well as Dave and Morgan and Nick and Morgan’s two dogs (Tallulah came as well, although she stayed in the bedroom safely away from the two dogs!). We had such a nice weekend, playing ping pong and going in the hot tub, watching old movies from our childhood (“Top Gun” ha!) and exploring the area. On Sunday after we got settled in, my mom and dad took Ryan and I on a drive around the north end of the lake to Incline Village and Sand Harbor (where we used to go as kids). The next day Ryan and I explored downtown Truckee in the morning and then took a long hike near Tahoe City in the afternoon. The hike proved to be more strenuous than we expected – there was still a ton of snow on the ground, so finding the trail wasn’t always easy – but the views from the top were amazing. We had a 360 degree view of Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake. We hiked two and a half miles to a small serene lake called Ellis Lake, and then hiked back – five miles in total, through all kinds of different terrain – snow, rocks, forest…it was really the perfect hike. That night we had a lovely Italian meal in Truckee with my parents (by that time all my siblings had headed back to the Bay Area), and then on Tuesday morning we packed up and headed back into the city as well. It was a lovely family weekend.

Nick and his dog, Val

Nick and his dog, Val

Lake Tahoe (at Sand Harbor)

Lake Tahoe (at Sand Harbor)

Sand Harbor

Sand Harbor

Ryan on our hike

Ryan on our hike

The view of Donner Lake from the top

The view of Donner Lake from the top

Snowy Sierras

Snowy Sierras

Trees at the peak

Trees at the peak

Now its back to work for our final two weeks in San Francisco. There’s so much still to do and so many people still to see. I know I’m not going to get around to all of it, so to all of you who I don’t get to see – apologies! I have been trying my hardest to fit everything in, and unfortunately I’m just not going to get around to all of it, or to seeing everyone. I’ll just have to come back!

Spending time in San Francisco

It has been a busy couple of weeks here in San Francisco. Mostly I have been trying to see people and catch up with old friends. I’ve been trying to layer that in with time for myself, and – oh yeah, work! But its been a challenge! I have definitely been feeling a bit burnt out the last couple of days, but I wouldn’t trade being here for anything.

I had the unfortunate experience of being pick-pocketed last week. I was on Haight Street, and someone snagged my iPhone out of my bag. That was a big drag. Partially because I had just replaced my phone a couple of weeks ago when we returned from Alaska, and partially (well mostly) because it ruined my day off, having to go downtown to AT&T and deal with it. My lousy afternoon was remedied though by dinner at Donna Rose’s house. Donna is a former stage manager who I worked with many times at ACT. I just love her to death. She hosted dinner for myself, Elisa (another stage manager from ACT) and Gregory (an ACT company actor) at her place in Pleasant Hill. It was such a lovely evening – catching up on all the ACT news, and hanging with old friends.

The next day, I attempted to do what I had set out to do the day before (before the whole phone snatching debacle) – go to Golden Gate Park and take some photos – and this time, with a close eye on my iPhone, I had better luck. I walked around for a couple of hours snapping shots. It was really nice out and it was fun to see how the park has changed (the newly remodeled Academy of Sciences looks amazing), and what has remained the same.

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We have been on the “Broadway schedule” here in San Francisco, which means two shows on Wednesday, and only one on Sunday. While two on Wednesday kind of feels like a drag while we are doing them, having only one on Sunday is amazing. It really feels like we do get a proper weekend, having Sunday evening free. The week does go by quickly though with the two shows on Wednesday, and last week we also had an understudy rehearsal thrown in on Thursday. To make the most of the week, and so that it didn’t feel like every waking moment was being taken up by work, I made myself get out of the house early on Thursday and headed over to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Originally I planned to go the SFMoma to catch the Georgia O’Keefe/Ansel Adams exhibit which I had seen previously in Santa Fe and just loved. When I arrived though, I realized there was another fantastic photography exhibit there as well – Robert Frank’s “The Americans”. “The Americans” is a collection of photographs that Frank took in the 1950’s as he traveled around the country, observing American life. They are a truly fantastic collection of candids. I’m so happy that I was able to see the exhibit, because it was really inspiring. If you are in the Bay Area, try and see it while it is here!

At the SFMoma

At the SFMoma

Walking by the Contemporary Jewish Museum

Walking by the Contemporary Jewish Museum

After understudy rehearsal, I had my first sewing class! Roy, one of our wardrobe supervisors, agreed to teach me and Suzanne (one of our hair supervisors) how to sew. We are having a blast. First Roy taught us all about the machines and the different things they can do. Then we practiced stitching on scraps of fabric. And then, we each made a pencil case – with a zipper! We are currently working on tote bags, and then we are moving on to garments (I am making a top, and Suzanne is making a sundress). I’m starting to look at sewing machines. Suggestions for a good beginner machine, anyone??

My handmade pencil case!

My handmade pencil case!

After the show that night, I went over to Lyn and Chris’s place (two of the actors from the show) for drinks with Lyn. It was really nice hanging out with her. I love Lyn a lot – she makes me laugh. She is definitely one of the people I have connected with most on the show. We had a really great time. It was funny being back at the Steinhart, too – the apartment building Lyn and Chris are staying in – its where I stayed when I came back to do “A Christmas Carol” at ACT in 2002. It seems like forever ago.

On Friday, I had lunch with Katherine, one of my closest friends from college, and then did some shopping at Britex Fabrics for all my sewing projects.

That night at work I was ecstatic to find that my Duaflex camera had arrived! I ordered the old Duaflex from ebay to use to take “Through the Viewfinder” (TtV) photos. Basically you build a “contraption” around the Duaflex to block the light, and then you use your digital camera to photograph the image on the Duaflex’s viewfinder. You end up with some really cool grainy images. I’m having a blast playing with it.

My Duaflex

My Duaflex

The "contraption"

The "contraption"

TtV - Chinatown

TtV - Chinatown

TtV - Subway

TtV - Subway

On Saturday, my voice teacher from high school, Sandie, came to the matinee along with Kathie, the mother of three boys who I used to do theater with in high school. My friend Carrie and her husband Patrick were also at the show, and I gave everyone a tour afterward. I then had lunch with Sandie and Kathie and caught up on what all the kids who I used to do junior theater with were doing. It was so great seeing both of them and I’m looking forward to trying to connect with some of Kathie’s boys when we get to LA (where two of them live).

On Sunday, we had the luxurious one-show day and then I headed over to North Beach to meet up with Fin, Mary, Erika and Tristin for dinner to celebrate Fin’s birthday. I was so excited to finally be in town for a get together, and to not be working, no less! We had a yummy meal at Mona Lisa, and then walked down to the wharf and around Pier 39. It was a double celebration of sorts, as it was not only Fin’s birthday, but she is also expecting her first baby! So exciting.

Mary and Fin

Mary and Fin

I knew that my next couple of Mondays off were going to be busy, so I made it a point to spend this past Monday and Tuesday just doing stuff around the house, like cleaning and laundry and grocery shopping. Ryan was planning on arriving in town on Friday so I wanted to make sure everything was ready for him. I also wanted to spend some time working on some of my projects – like getting my Duaflex contraption made and cutting out the pattern for my tote bag (my homework for sewing class!). It was a very productive couple of days – and it was really nice to just check some things off my list of “to dos”.

On Wednesday, we again had two shows. Thursday I went downtown at noon and met up with Katherine and Monique, my roommate from college, who I hadn’t seen for nine years! Monique was in town for a few days with her daughter Amelia for a mother/daughter trip. It was so great to see her – it was like no time had passed (except that she now has an eight-year-old daughter and two sons!). We had such a nice time catching up. We ate lunch at Lori’s Diner, a 50’s style restaurant on Powell Street. Amelia was a hoot, too – the spitting image of her mom. Sassy and funny and smart. Definitely her mother’s daughter. I really hope it is not another nine years before I see Monique again. I love her so much!

Amelia

Amelia

Me and Monique

Me and Monique

In the afternoon, after splitting off from Monique, Amelia and Katherine, I went over to North Beach to do some scouting for a pub crawl that I am putting together for next week. And then, I went in early to the theater for sewing class #2! We started putting together our tote bags. We didn’t quite finish before our show call, though, so you’ll have to wait until next week for photos of our finished products.

And then on Friday I did a big shopping run in the morning for supplies for the BBQ I am throwing on Sunday for all my Bay Area friends – and in the afternoon, Ryan arrived! He had spent the previous four and a half days riding his motorcycle to San Francisco from Green Bay. I was so, so happy to see him. The next two weeks will be all about adventures with him. I have missed him so!

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Goin' Back to Cali

The first week in Vancouver whizzed by. After celebrating Canada Day, Ryan had to go back to work to begin the load-in. I had one more glorious day off. I took the bus over to Kitsilano, a beach neighborhood west of us. I did some shopping, sat in a coffee shop for a while, and walked down by the beach. It was a nice ending to our few days off.

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On Thursday I was back at work. The Centre Theater is plenty big for us and although the local crew are non-union, they are pretty good, so the load-in and opening went smoothly. We aren’t sold very well here in Vancouver, unfortunately, due in part to a mistake on the Broadway Across Canada website, which claimed we are sold out. Not so. The enthusiasm of the audiences have made up for their small size, though.

Friday was spent packing and organizing, because after only two days back at work, Ryan and I were heading out to California for the weekend to celebrate Jen and Mike’s wedding, having been allowed a couple of personal days from work. We dropped Tallulah off at her gay uncles’ apartment (Ken and Jeff) on Friday afternoon. They took very good care of her all weekend while we were away.

So on Saturday we headed back to my hometown of Sunnyvale, California, where we first met up with my family for lunch at the best pizza place in the whole entire world, Ciceros. Ryan agrees that it is really good pizza!

After that we went back to our hotel to get ready for the wedding. Jen (well, we call her Fin – a shortening of her last name, Finney) is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We met when I was fifteen, when we were all taking catechism classes to prepare for confirmation. Out of those classes developed a youth group, and I am still very close with all of my friends from that time. So Fin met Mike a couple of years ago, and while we were in Salt Lake City, she called to tell me they had gotten engaged. I’m so happy I was able to make it back to California for the wedding!

Ryan and I met up with Bryan (another of my good friends from youth group) and his lovely girlfriend, Erica, at the Saratoga Country Club for the wedding. The ceremony was short and sweet and touching – both Mike and Fin got a bit choked up…and I did too! It’s very overwhelming to see one of your best childhood friends get married! It was a beautiful setting, in a gazebo overlooking the valley.

The reception was held at a hall at the Country Club, and I had a blast at our table, catching up with Mary and Erika, who were both bridesmaids, Tristin and her husband Ross, and Bryan and Erica. We ate, we danced, we laughed. It was great fun. Afterwards we headed back to the hotel and had more drinks at the hotel bar!

Mr. and Mrs. Draeger

Mr. and Mrs. Draeger

Erika, Mary, Fin and Mike

Erika, Mary, Fin and Mike

M, Mary, Fin, Erika and Tristan

M, Mary, Fin, Erika and Tristan

Bry and Erica

Bry and Erica

On Sunday, we woke up early-ish and met up with Fin and Mike and their families, and some of our friends for brunch. Then Mary, Ryan and I headed off to San Francisco for the day. Ryan and I got a great deal on a convertible at the rental car place – perfect for sightseeing around northern California!

We had plans to meet up with Laura and Neil at their place in Oakland later in the afternoon, so a stop in San Francisco seemed like the best way to spend the earlier part of the day, especially since Ryan had never been there! We first drove along the coastline in the Sunset district, stopping for a minute in the Richmond district to see my old apartment building, and Mary’s (how I miss living there!), and then set out across the Golden Gate Bridge to the vista point on the other side. Unfortunately, there was typical San Francisco fog, so the bridge and city were hard to see, but Ryan got the idea. We then went back across and into the city, and drove down windy Lombard Street. Then we went over to North Beach, my favorite neighborhood, and walked around a bit and got some gelato.

Foggy Golden Gate

Foggy Golden Gate

The view from Lombard Street

The view from Lombard Street

Mary in Washington Square Park

Mary in Washington Square Park

Ryan in the convertible

Ryan in the convertible

Me outside Vesuvio in North Beach

Me outside Vesuvio in North Beach

After a few hours in San Francisco, we drove over the Bay Bridge to Oakland for a BBQ at Neil and Laura’s. It was the first time meeting their beautiful son, Quincy. What a cute kid! It was a great surprise to see that Laura is pregnant again and expecting their second son in three months time! We also were able to catch up with another old friend, Chris, and his wife Lorin. And then Jason surprised us, showing up for some good eats and good company as well!
Laura, Neil and Quincy

Laura, Neil and Quincy

With Mary, Chris, Jason, Lorin and Neil

With Mary, Chris, Jason, Lorin and Neil

Baby Q

Baby Q

After stuffing our faces, we got back in the convertible and headed back to Sunnyvale, to one of my favorite bars, the Duke of Edinburgh, to meet up with David, who was in town for a hot second before flying to Austria to play with the opera for two months (he’s a bass player). Erika, Bryan and Erica also joined us for a couple of pints. It was great to see David – and to hear about his exciting opportunity in Austria! I can’t wait to see the pictures he takes!
David and Mary at the Duke

David and Mary at the Duke

After drinks, we had to say goodbye to all of my friends. I love them so much! Until next time!

On Monday, we had to get our priorities straight. Ryan needed to have his first In-N-Out Burger experience. It did not disappoint.

Then we got in the convertible and drove over the hill to Santa Cruz, which is probably my favorite place on earth. I spent two blissful summers there working at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and many days lounging on the beach. It is just such a cool town, with such beautiful surroundings. We drove through the UC Santa Cruz campus first, and I showed Ryan the redwood glen where I did two shows with SSC. We saw some carpenters working on building the current set.

After that we drove along the coastline to the lighthouse and visited the Surfer Museum. We watched the surfers outside for a while. Then we drove over to Natural Bridges Beach and chilled out for a bit before heading downtown to check out the shops. It was a great afternoon. 

Pigeon Cove

Pigeon Cove

Catching a wave

Catching a wave

Ryan at Natural Bridges

Ryan at Natural Bridges

Me at Natural Bridges

Me at Natural Bridges

That night we had another BBQ at my parents’ house in Sunnyvale. We had some delicious burgers, and it was nice to catch up with all my sibs and play with the dogs. I love you guys!
Drinking beers with the fam

Drinking beers with the fam

Simon and Jack

Simon and Jack

Nick

Nick

The next day we had to go back to Vancouver. After a torturous day at the airport (our plane was inexplicably 3 and a half hours late leaving), we made it back to Canada in time for the evening show. Tallulah was very happy to see us when we picked her up afterwards.

So that’s the story of our lovely mini-break to California! It was an amazing weekend filled with friends and family and lots of love and laughter. I can’t wait for the next time!