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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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On the rooftop in Harlem

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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!

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!

Finally…home to San Francisco

There was a mix-up with the plane flight to San Francisco, and the day before we were set to leave, I found out that Tallulah would not be allowed to fly on the Frontier flight that I was booked on. Some last minute ticket-changing was done, and as luck would have it, Tallulah and I ended up in first class on a United Airlines flight to Oakland! The ticket was surprisingly cheap, and since overweight bags are allowed (without charge) for first class passengers, it actually ended up being less expensive for me to fly first class rather than coach (where I would have had to pay for my overweight bags). I had never flown first class before, and it was a real treat – lots of room, drinks constantly being served, and a yummy lunch!

Mary (one of my best friends from high school) met me at the airport and drove me to my rental apartment in San Francisco. The lower unit in an old Victorian (my boss, Ken, is renting the upper unit), my apartment is spacious, bright and gorgeous. I love it. After getting unpacked, Mary took me to Trader Joe’s to get some groceries, and then we drove over to North Beach where we had dinner at the Stinking Rose and drinks at Specs. It was great seeing Mary – I have missed her so much!

Chianti bottles at the Stinking Rose

Chianti bottles at the Stinking Rose

Mary

Mary

The next day my parents and my brother Simon came by and had lunch with me at Chow. It was lovely to see them. That evening I joined the crew at the Golden Gate Theater for load-in.

The Golden Gate is dear to me in that it is the theater where I saw my first touring Broadway show – “Fiddler on the Roof” in 1989, starring Topol. There is another tour of “Fiddler” out right now, still starring Topol! The Golden Gate is in a nasty part of town – the Tenderloin – which has gotten so much worse than I remember it. Maybe I was just ignorant or oblivious when I lived and worked in San Francisco a few years ago, but I don’t remember ever thinking the Tenderloin was dangerous – just kind of skeevy. Now I think it’s dangerous. There was a drive-by shooting outside the Golden Gate a couple of weeks ago. Apparently when there is no show in residence, the area around the theater is really, really bad. While a show is in performance there is security, a big police presence, and a lot of street light. I guess when the lights go out and the security and police go home, its a different story. There is talk of trying to clean up the area and make a real “theater district” by opening some restaurants nearby – but two of the city’s largest soup kitchens are within blocks of both the Golden Gate Theater and the Orpheum, so I don’t know how realistic that plan is, unfortunately. I remember after I visited New York City the first time, I was amazed at how few homeless people I saw – only a couple of people here and there on the subway. In San Francisco the homeless presence is huge – it always has been, and sadly, it still is.

We spent the next couple of days at the theater continuing the load-in, and doing a little bit of re-tech and rehearsal. For this engagement and for the next one in Los Angeles, the producers have beefed up our lighting and sound package, and restored our full orchestra (you might remember that we downsized the orchestra last year in West Point). So we spent some time looking at light cues, reprogramming, and on Thursday, we did a full dress rehearsal in the afternoon so that the cast could perform the show with the restored orchestration before having to do it in front of an audience. It also gave Linda Lee, our new wardrobe supervisor, a chance to go through the show with the local dressers. It actually proved to be very valuable on all fronts as all departments had a trial run before the first performance. It made our first preview on Friday very low stress as the local crew already had a clue about what they were meant to be doing.

There were some familiar faces at load-in. I had been wondering if any stagehands who I had worked with previously at ACT might be around. Denise, who had worked as assistant sound at the Geary, is now the house sound head at the Golden Gate – it was really nice to see her. The first person I ran into though, was Paul, my friend Regina’s husband (Regina was a stage manager who I assisted at ACT – now she works for the local producing organization), who was standing at the stage door when I arrived on Tuesday night. Paul is on our crew as one of our local spot operators. I also knew one of the riggers on the load-in, Cheyenne, who I had done “High Society” with in 1997 – and who I hadn’t seen since. I cannot believe it’s been twelve years since I worked on that show!

In between rehearsal and load-in, I did have some time off. On Thursday night I went to one of my favorite San Francisco restaurants, La Mediterranee, for some middle eastern food, and on Friday afternoon I walked over to North Beach and spent some time at Cafe Puccini, and then went to Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Shop, where I had one of their amazing breaded eggplant sandwiches. Of course, I was thinking of and missing Michele the whole time. We spent so much time together in that neighborhood back in the day – I really wish she were here now as well! Earlier that day I walked over to 24th Street in Noe Valley to pick up shampoo at the Aveda store, and I happened upon Noe Knit, a yarn store. I went inside and started talking to Susie, the woman who was working there – and it turns out that she knows my friend, Patty, from when Patty worked in SF on “Jersey Boys” and attended the Chicks with Sticks knitting group. Susie is also a member of the 365 group on Flickr. Such a small world!

North Beach

North Beach

Mario's

Mario's

The best damn sandwich on the planet

The best damn sandwich on the planet

We had our first performance of “Spamalot” on Friday night – and it was an amazing audience – in fact all of our preview audiences were fantastic. It was a four show weekend, with lots of creatives in attendance – we had designers there earlier in the week and then Casey, our choreographer, and Todd, our musical supervisor were at the show on Friday. BT, our associate director, and Eric Idle would arrive on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Monday was the day off. Mary and Erika drove into the city and we had lunch together at the Dolores Park Cafe. After sufficiently stuffing ourselves, we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge to Mill Valley, and into the hills to Muir Woods. It was Memorial Day, so the park was a tad crowded, but we still had a nice walk through the redwoods. I love Muir Woods – so pretty, and so peaceful – even with the crowds. After our hike we drove back to my neighborhood and got in line for some ice cream at the Bi-Rite Creamery. It was a half hour wait, but well worth it. Their homemade ice cream is DE-licious. I had salted caramel and roasted banana. Yum!

Muir Woods

Muir Woods

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Wednesday was our official opening night performance. It went very well, and was followed by a fun party at the Hotel Monaco. It was nice to feel the rush of a big opening again. Eric Idle and John du Prez got up on stage with the cast during the curtain call and joined in the sing-a-long. We were all allowed one guest to the show and party, and so my college friend Katherine was my “plus one”. We had a really nice time at the party, and I’m looking forward to getting together again with Katherine so that we can catch up properly.

Jeff and Alexa at the opening night party

Jeff and Alexa at the opening night party

Chris and Lyn at the party

Chris and Lyn at the party

I took it easy on Thursday and Friday, catching up on things like laundry and grocery shopping, and restoring my computer after I had a new, bigger hard drive installed. I spent some of Thursday afternoon walking around the Mission district, and on Friday I met up with Julie Haber, a stage manager who I worked with at ACT, for lunch. It was so nice seeing Julie and hearing all about her current show which is playing at Berkeley Rep, and catching up on what we’ve been up to the last couple of years. Julie is also a very talented photographer, so it was fun talking nerdy photography stuff with her.

I sit here now, writing this blog, on Saturday night – when I should be at work. However, Ken decided that he was going to call both shows today, so he gave Jovon and I each a show off. What a luxury! I stayed and worked the matinee while Jovon took off, and then I was free after the matinee. I walked over to North Beach and then down to the Wharf, and then back to North Beach for dinner, and then home to watch a movie and blog. Lovely! And shortly I will be off to bed as my parents are coming over early for brunch before they go to see the matinee of “Wicked”.

Cable cars down near the wharf

Cable cars down near the wharf

I can’t even express how happy I am to be “home”. I keep running into people I know and I love. I had drinks with Ruth Saunders on Tuesday night (Ruth used to work at ACT) and ran into some of the Geary stage crew as I was walking to meet her. Andrea, who was the wardrobe supervisor at ACT my first year there, stopped by the Golden Gate stage door on Wednesday to say hi. I saw my friend Regina over at the Shorenstein-Hayes offices (the local presenters) when I was there to pick up the mail. It is just great being back in a place where I have so many amazing friends. And I am looking so forward to seeing all of them in the coming weeks! I am trying to savor every moment – I just hope the time doesn’t go by too fast!

Anchorage, Week One.

I started my “back to work” week with a Monday of errands, not very interesting – a Petco run, groceries and a rental car switch-a-roo at the airport. Ryan and I had lunch at the Snow City Cafe, a quirky diner downtown. They have lots of healthy, veggie options on the menu. I had some veggie tacos that were delicious!

Tuesday it was back to work.

The Performing Arts Center in Anchorage is quite big – lots of room onstage and backstage, although strangely, not a lot of dressing rooms. Everyone is sharing rooms here. Load-in seemed to take a long time for no good reason – except that at least a dozen of the local stagehands didn’t show up for the local call, making things a lot more difficult and time-consuming for our guys. I guess they don’t get many big shows through Anchorage and maybe the stagehands here aren’t used to the standards we expect. Who knows. At any rate, at 3:00pm when we were supposed to do a brush-up rehearsal onstage in preparation for John O’Hurley’s debut, the stage was far from ready. The actors did a run through of lines in the green room instead.

Despite the setbacks, the show was received extremely well that night. The audiences have been so appreciative here. John O’Hurley became our new King Arthur, and we celebrated with a champagne toast after the show.

On Wednesday, Ryan and I decided to change hotels. We just were not happy at the Westmark. Our room was run down and dirty (dried up chow mein in the carpet – ew!). One of our wardrobe supervisors, Angela, had gotten a good deal on another hotel, the Inlet Tower, on Hotwire. We booked a room there as well (for $20 less a night!) and moved over there Wednesday morning. We are so much happier at the Inlet. We have a great view of the water, the room is bright and cute, the bed is super comfortable, and we have a fridge and microwave. It is a bit further away from downtown – about a 15-20 minute walk, but it is so much quieter, which is definitely a plus.

In the afternoon, Ryan finished getting his taxes together and then we headed over to the mall where he went to the post office to mail them out, while I went to the AT&T store. My purse had gotten stepped on during load-in and my iPhone was smashed. The guy at the AT&T store was totally unhelpful and told me it would cost $700 to replace. I went outside and called Apple, and they said if I came into an Apple Store I could get a new one for $324. So, suck it AT&T store, I’ll go and visit Apple when I’m in Seattle. I decided I could deal with a broken phone for two weeks.

After the mall, we headed back over to the Coastal Trail and spent an hour or so walking it before we had to get ready for work. It is such a beautiful trail along the inlet – what a great thing to have right downtown!

Walking along the Coastal Trail

Walking along the Coastal Trail

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The next day I wanted to do some more hiking, so Ryan and I drove north to Eagle River and did a three mile hike in the mountains there. It was really beautiful, but I was more than a tad worried that we would run into a bear while we were there. There was no one else around, and there were “high bear activity” signs everywhere! This is the time of year when all the bears are coming out of hibernation and they are hungry. Luckily, we did not run into any wildlife of that sort – we saw some moose poop, but that was about it!

At Eagle River

At Eagle River

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On Friday, I had my best adventure to date here in Alaska. David, our associate company manager, organized a small group of us to go snowmobiling! We met up in Girdwood and got suited up at the company’s office, and then drove ten miles further south where we went out with a guide for a five hour snowmobiling adventure. It was so much fun – we climbed an iceberg, crawled inside a glacier and raced at 70 mph on our snowmobiles. It was definitely an experience of a lifetime, and I’m so glad that I went.

Ryan, on top of an iceberg!

Ryan, on top of an iceberg!

Me and my snowmobile

Me and my snowmobile

Walking towards the face of Spencer Glacier

Walking towards the face of Spencer Glacier

Heading up the mountain on our snowmobiles

Heading up the mountain on our snowmobiles

Inside Spencer Glacier

Inside Spencer Glacier

A dogsled near the glacier

A dogsled near the glacier

David jumping in the snow, with Spencer Glacier behind him

David jumping in the snow, with Spencer Glacier behind him

Sorry for the overload of photos, but it was just such an amazing experience, I had to share! Of course when we all got back to work raving about the day, two other groups immediately made reservations to go – I think by the time we leave Alaska, half the company will have gone snowmobiling!

On Saturday afternoon, I had wonderful opportunity to meet up with another friend from Flickr, Val. Val lives in Mountain Village, a small town out in the Alaskan Bush on the Yukon River. She is a teacher, and it was so interesting hearing about her life there. There are only 750 people in her town! We had an awesome lunch at Orso, and then went and took some photos together before I had to head back to work. She and a group of her friends came to the evening show and I gave them a backstage tour afterward. It was so great to meet her – I just love all the friends I’ve made through  Flickr, and the opportunity to meet some of them this year has been amazing.

With Val

With Val

On Sunday, after our two-show day, David Havasi, one of our ensemble guys, hosted a party at his brother’s house (his brother lives here in Anchorage). It was a lot of fun to wind down with everyone  – Spamalot parties are always good. And David’s brother and his wife were so nice and welcoming. It was a great way to end the week.

Everyone playing a card game

Everyone playing a card game

Tim and Carissa

Tim and Carissa

David showing us some funny baby photos of himself (Carissa's face makes me laugh in this shot)

David showing us some funny baby photos of himself (Carissa's face makes me laugh in this shot)

And that was my very full first week in Anchorage!

A Busy Week in Wilmington

We flew to Philadelphia from Atlanta (luckily on time and without incident this week), and then took a bus to Wilmington from Philly. I had smartly decided to fly with the cast this week, which meant being able to sleep in a bit. Last week’s 6am flight did me in, and I was in no rush to get to Wilmington. It was a little bittersweet driving out of Philly. Couldn’t we at least stop at get some lunch at Alma de Cuba??? It was a short bus ride out of Pennsylvania and into Delaware, and soon we arrived at our hotel in downtown Wilmington. It was fairly late in the day so I stayed in for the evening and ordered room service.

Jen and her dog, Bella, on the bus to Wilmington

Jen and her dog, Bella, on the bus to Wilmington

Its a good thing that travel day was relatively stress free, because I needed all my patience to deal with load-in on Tuesday. We were playing the DuPont Theater, a very small theater (only 1200 seats) which is part of the DuPont Hotel. The backstage was very tight, and the auxiliary areas – dressing rooms and basement were also very small. It was definitely the tightest overall space we have played to date. Although the stage was smaller in Sioux City, the dressing room areas there were quite spacious. Everything about the Wilmington theater was small. Couple that with the fact that the building had no elevator and everything had to be chain motored or carried to the different levels, and then top it off with all the crazy safety rules enforced by the local crew, and we had quite a tough situation on our hands.

We all spent the day running around, working to make the show fit. Our office for the week was a corner of a room in the basement behind some of the hair work boxes. We called the show from a catwalk. Scenery was piled everywhere, and there was no room for all the wardrobe. We were all just on top of each other the whole week. I have to admit, though, once we figured out how to make it work, I sort of liked the space. It reminded me of a Broadway house. Most of those Broadway theaters are ridiculously small backstage and often the dressing rooms and offices are the size of a closet. The DuPont reminded me of that. It was definitely cozy.

To make things even crazier, John O’Hurley, who played the King in the Las Vegas production of “Spamalot”, and who you probably know as the current host of “Family Feud”, joined us to start rehearsals. He is taking over the role of King Arthur in Anchorage. He had a music rehearsal in the lobby with Ben and Michael after the orchestra finished their rehearsal. Also joining us on Tuesday, was Tera-Lee, who was our associate dance captain up until she left in Toronto. She decided to return to us when Candy put in her notice, and we couldn’t be happier. She is such a nice, happy presence in the company. It was so great to see her again.

So the evening approached quickly – we had no onstage crossover, the boys were changing in the basement, it was a crazy night – but we managed to get through the opening performance without anything tragic happening. We were all beyond exhausted though when it was all over, and so everyone convened at the hotel bar afterward for some much needed libations!

No rest for the weary, though – on Wednesday we had two shows. In between, Ryan and I ate at the Washington Street Ale House, a cute pub a few blocks away, which had a nice menu and quite a few beers on tap. We also discovered two good coffee shops nearby – Brew Ha Ha, and Presto (which was also open on the weekend – a rarity in this town).

On Thursday I was up at the crack of dawn to catch the Amtrak into New York City. I had two doctors’ check-ups and a dentist appointment scheduled. I felt slightly bad because Casey Nicholaw, our choreographer, and Todd Ellison, our music supervisor were in town for rehearsal, but I had had these appointments scheduled for ages, and without knowing when I would be back on the east coast, I knew I needed to just get them done. I also had to get up to my storage unit in Inwood to drop a few things off, meet up with Patty at the Lion Brand Studio, go to the bank, and meet up with Richard for dinner. Whew. Somehow though, everything went super smoothly all day long – and I didn’t have to wait at all at any of my appointments, so I also ended up having time to go to Central Park –  and do a little shopping. I stopped by B&H Camera and picked up a telephoto lens to be put to use in Alaska!

Heading to the dentist on 57th Street

Heading to the dentist on 57th Street

Playing with my new telephoto lens in Central Park

Playing with my new telephoto lens in Central Park

Times Square

Times Square

A wall of yarn at the Lion Brand Studio

A wall of yarn at the Lion Brand Studio

I spent the night at the Edison Hotel on 47th. I have eaten at the Edison Cafe a million times and have hung out at the bar, but have never stayed there. It kind of cracked me up – it is a really old hotel – very clean, but old – and very old fashioned. It felt like a classic New York rooming house from the 50’s. I actually really kind of liked it. I slept with my windows wide open so that I could see the city lights and hear the traffic. I miss the city so much.

I was up early again for one more appointment and had a bit of time of walk through Central Park again afterward. I am physically unable to be in New York City without going to Central Park. It is my absolute favorite thing about the city. I ate some fruit and yogurt for breakfast just outside the Delacorte Theater, where I did Shakespeare in the Park for three summers.

Morning in Central Park

Morning in Central Park

And then it was time to head back downtown to Penn Station to catch the train back to Wilmington, where I went straight to the theater for John O’Hurley’s put-in, and then a show following. I was beat by the time the day was over!

The subway platform at 81st and Central Park West

The subway platform at 81st and Central Park West

Then it was on to our two-show Saturday, and a closing matinee on Sunday. As I write this, I am grateful for the Sunday evening off to catch up on blogging and emails and knitting. Thank god for hobbies, because there isn’t anything else to do in Wilmington! It was actually a blessing that the week was so busy because sadly, like so many other downtowns we have come across throughout the country, this one is pretty dead. There are a few good restaurants and things, but on the weekends everyone closes up shop. I walked around a little bit, and there is some nice architecture here – the brick buildings are in the colonial style, and the town feels a lot like Baltimore or Philadelphia. I only wish it had the charm and personality those cities do! Ah well, with all that was packed into the week, I wouldn’t have had time to experience it anyway.

Onward to Cleveland!

Lovely Layoff

After Sioux City, we had another layoff week – we had originally been scheduled to play Iowa City, but during the terrible tornadoes this past summer, the theater there was flooded and is now closed . On the one hand, it’s a little tough to go with another unpaid week right before Christmas, but on the other hand, I was excited to take advantage of the time off and go and visit some friends. 

I left early on Monday morning and drove ten hours to Denver. The drive was thankfully uneventful – being in this part of the country I was very afraid that I might be inundated with snow. Luckily the snow waited until I arrived in Denver to start falling.

As I entered Colorado, I could see the snow clouds drawing near.

As I entered Colorado, I could see the snow clouds drawing near.

I spent the evening (and overnight) in Denver at my dear friend, Tiffany’s house. Tiffany and I went to college together at UCSD – we lived together in the same dorm as freshmen, and then after college spent a year living together in Oakland, California. She is such a great girl, and I so admire what an awesome mom she is to her three-year-old daughter, Ava, who I think may be the cutest, smartest three-year-old on the planet.

Ava

Ava

Tiffany is pregnant with her second baby, a boy, and has recently been on bed rest. Although her doctor has given her the clear to resume normal activity, she’s smartly taking it easy, so we stayed in and made dinner with another old college friend, Robin, who moved to Denver around the same time as Tiffany. Robin is also doing great – her husband is a minister of a parish in Denver, and they, too are hoping to start a family soon. It was a great night hanging out with two awesome friends – I can’t believe we have known each other now for sixteen years! And of course, I had a blast playing with Ava. Tallulah didn’t have as much fun – she didn’t really take to Rocky, the Freemans’ cat, and vice versa. They spent most of the evening hissing at each other. 

I was lucky enough to arrive at Tiffany’s just as the snow was starting to fall. When I woke up in the morning, there was about eight inches on my car! It took twenty minutes to clear off! Tallulah and I set off for Albuquerque, New Mexico at around 10am. The roads hadn’t been plowed so well yet so it was pretty slow-going – and as we hit a couple of mountain passes, the driving was a bit treacherous in the icy conditions.

Awaking to snow in Denver

Awaking to snow in Denver

Once I made it through the mountain pass between Colorado and New Mexico, the drive improved drastically. There was no longer snow actually falling, and even though the roads were still a bit icy, they had been plowed, making driving much easier. The upper part of New Mexico was gorgeous – the snow in the desert made the land look like the moon!

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I arrived at Tanya’s house in the Sandia mountains around 6pm and was greeted by her and her mom and step-dad. We had dinner and hung out and chatted, and then I fell asleep early!

The week with Tanya was awesome. I love New Mexico. It is so beautiful – I swear, unless there is a storm brewing, the sky there is a brilliant blue year-round. As Tanya lives in the mountains above Albuquerque, she gets quite a bit of snow at her place. The color of the sky, and the bright sunshine, juxtaposed with the snow was just gorgeous. 

So happy to be in New Mexico!

So happy to be in New Mexico!

We spent the week Christmas shopping, going to the movies (see “Milk”!!), hanging out, cooking!, and we spent one luxurious day at Ten Thousand Waves spa in Santa Fe. I had a facial and massage, and we shared an outdoor hot tub (which was perfect in the snow!). It was the best. I also made Tanya have breakfast with me at Frontier Restaurant, which is near the theater at the University of New Mexico, which is where we played with “Spamalot” in June. The breakfast burritos with green chile at Frontier are amazing, and I could not come to Albuquerque without having one!

A house decorated for Christmas in Madrid, NM.

A house decorated for Christmas in Madrid, NM.

Colorful mailboxes in Madrid

Colorful mailboxes in Madrid

Tanya at Ten Thousand Waves

Tanya at Ten Thousand Waves

Tallulah had a nice week, too, being doted on by a house full of people, taking many naps by the wood-burning stove, and taking her first walk on snow.

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On Sunday, alas, I had to say goodbye. Of course, I once again awoke to snow – a new storm system this time. It was very windy and snowy, and it took a long time to get through the tiny roads on Tanya’s mountain, but once we hit the freeway, it was smooth-sailing. Tallulah and I began the long drive to Fayetteville, Arkansas. We drove through Texas and stopped overnight in Oklahoma City, arriving in Fayetteville on Monday afternoon.

So long, New Mexico.

So long, New Mexico.

It has been quite cold and icy here in Arkansas, but no snow. I’m actually missing the snow. I like it this time of year. It was one of my favorite things about moving to the east coast, to finally have snow in the winter! Hopefully next week when we head back to Iowa for Christmas, we’ll see some more. It has been an uneventful week so far in Fayetteville, the hometown of Esther, our Lady of the Lake. It seems like a cute enough town, and I drove through a gorgeous national park to get here, but really this week has been all about Christmas preparations and Secret Santa!  More on that to come!

Vacation, Week One – New York

The first week of our layoff has been busier than I thought it would be! I had planned on spending the first week in New York City, seeing friends, and running errands. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any affordable hotels in the city so I ended up staying out in Fishkill, where we were housed last week for West Point, and renting a car for the week so that I could commute into New York City when I needed to. It is about a 65-mile drive, and really gorgeous this time of year, so I didn’t really mind. I figured between going into the city, I could get some relaxation in here in Fishkill.

Patty and David

Patty and David

The first day off was spent in Rhinebeck at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival! After saying goodbye to a very tired Ryan for the week (he was heading home to Green Bay), I met up with Patty and her husband David for a day of yarn shopping, good eats and of course, the Leaping Llama contest! We packed a lot into the day – in fact I didn’t take many photos at all because we were trying to get so much in. I left with some great loot – 4 skeins of Brooks Farm Fourplay, 3 skeins of Brooks Farm Solo, and 2 skeins of heavyweight Socks that Rock. Where I am going to put all this yarn, I have no idea!

At Rhinebeck

At Rhinebeck

On Monday I did some shopping at Woodbury Commons, an enormous outlet mall not far from West Point. All the big labels have shops there – I did sort of a speed through of the shops, but did walk away with a few things, including a new pair of Kate Spade sunglasses – yes!

Tuesday I got my highlights done and hibernated a little – it was rainy and gusty outside. Wednesday was my first trip into New York City for the week. I met up with Patty at the Container Store. She was shopping for shelves and caddies to hold all the needles that were to be sold at the new Lion Brand Studio, where Patty is the studio coordinator (sorry Patty if you are reading this, I don’t know your exact title). After we finished shopping, I went over to the studio with her to check it out. It is a really cool space – big and bright with an exposed brick wall, and shelves and shelves of yarn. Lion Brand yarn will be sold there, and all kinds of yarny-related events will take place there, such as classes and book-readings and such. I think it is going to be really awesome. The studio opens in November, so if you are a knitter and in New York, go check it out!

After that, Patty and I went to lunch and hung out for a bit. After we parted ways, I did a bit of shopping downtown in Soho, and then headed uptown to see “Billy Elliott”. What a great show! The story is so good, and I was really impressed with the staging and choreography. And I cannot say enough good things about all the child actors, especially the kid playing Billy. AMAZING. Definitely check this show out if you had the chance. Billy’s passion for dance and the reasons why he loves to dance reminded me of how and why I fell in love with doing theater. It was a really really nice reminder.

Thursday ended up being my one relaxing day of the week – I hung out with Tallulah and caught up on my TV shows. The new season of “Friday Night Lights” is soooo good!

Friday morning was my immigration appointment. It was quick and painless. I should have my new permanent card within 90 days. That afternoon I ran some errands and then hung out in the park for a while. I miss Central Park a lot. It is my favorite thing about New York City. It is just a really magical place.

That evening I met up with Brian, who was the first assistant on “Spamalot” when I first joined the tour, for dinner. I miss Brian so much! It was great hanging out with him and catching up.

On Saturday it was back to the city one last time. I stopped by my storage unit to drop off a box and change the locks on my units (a set of keys were in my stolen purse). After that, I met up with Kathryn Clark, an old friend from ACT, for a beer and some snacks. Kathryn and I moved to New York around the same time. She used to be in casting and worked for a big agent and for Warner Brothers TV when she was in New York. Two years ago she decided to change careers and moved to Arizona to go to grad school to study psychology. Now she is back in New York and working towards her credentials by doing group therapy with convicted sexual offenders. Talk about a 180 degree change in careers! It was so great to see her – she is one of my favorite people, and it was so nice going through the growing pains of moving to New York with her. I’m glad we were able to reconnect.

After leaving Kathryn, I went and met up with my friend Richard for dinner. Richard is also a stage manager and currently working on “Spring Awakening”. We’ve done a couple of shows together – “Twelfth Night” in Central Park and also “The Great American Trailer Park Musical”. I love working with Richard, and it was great hanging out with him and catching up. He has been such a great sounding board in the years since we first met and I really treasure our friendship.

I saw one more show before leaving NYC – “In the Heights”, which won the Tony for Best Musical last year. How strange to walk into the theater and see the corner where I lived for three years recreated as a set onstage! There it was  – 181 and Fort Washington! The show was energetic and fun and original, and I had a great time. It made me really homesick for Washington Heights!

Now I am back in Fishkill, and earlier picked Ryan up from the airport. Tomorrow we drive to a farmhouse that we rented in the Berkshires, to spend the week relaxing before heading back to work in Ottawa. I can’t wait to chill out and knit and read and watch movies and go on some hikes. Look for photos to come in my Flickr photostream!

It was so nice getting a chance to spend some time “back home” in New York City this week. I miss it.

Wishing you all a lovely week!

Philadelphia Redux

It has been really nice coming back to Philadelphia – not only because it is a great city, but because it is so familiar. It has been a really easy couple of weeks, living in the center of the city and near everything, and already knowing where everything is! It has also been nice because it has been a productive couple of weeks. Being that I did a lot of sightseeing the last time we were here, I haven’t felt the need to rush out everyday and see something. Instead I’ve been able to get some housekeeping things done – like reorganizing my trunk and shopping for Ryan’s birthday – without feeling like I should be out seeing the sights. But that’s not to say that I haven’t seen anything.

Last Monday Ryan and I ventured over to the Eastern State Penitentiary, an old prison that I had heard about the last time we were here, but didn’t get a chance to see. It is very close to downtown, and was open until 1971 – I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live in one of the houses across the street from it – creepy!! The prison itself looks like an old fortress. It is very dark and dank, but really fascinating. Al Capone was imprisoned there for a while! We had fun walking around taking arty photos.

The following day we went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is enormous! I was exhausted after four plus hours of wandering around the galleries, but we did see some cool stuff – including a exhibit of jewelry by Calder, who is known for his mobiles. On the way there we snapped some photos at Logan Circle. The last time we were in Philadelphia, it was winter, so none of the city’s fountains were on – since it is summer this time, the fountains are all on, and they look amazing!

On Thursday there was a going-away party for Keith Martin, our automation guy. Keith has been with the show since it opened, and he will be missed. Ryan organized the going-away party as he and Keith have grown pretty close in the last year. Ryan is taking over the automation job now that Keith is gone. The party was a lot of fun, but Ryan got a tad drunk and did not have a very good time of it the next day!!

Spam Fam hanging at Misconduct

Spam Fam hanging at Misconduct

This past Monday, Ryan and I set out for another day in New York. I had a dentist appointment, and I also needed to go to my storage unit to drop off some boxes, but other than that we had a nice day walking around the city, even if there were a few too many tourist out and about. We went to B&H, the giant camera shop in midtown, which was extremely overwhelming! I will have to go back though when I am in town in October and spend some more time looking around. I have never seen so much camera equipment in one place! We had some yummy street meat for lunch at Columbus Circle after a short walk through the park. We also headed downtown so that Ryan could see Ground Zero and take a peek at the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park. For dinner we went to the Village and ate at Tea and Sympathy. Yum! It was a nice way to end the day!

Tea and Sympathy

Tea and Sympathy

Chicken and Leek Pie

Chicken and Leek Pie

Bangers and Mash

Bangers and Mash

Rhubarb crumble with Bird's custard

Rhubarb crumble with Bird's custard

Back in Philly, on Tuesday we ventured down to South Street to see The Magic Garden – a project by the mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. I had walked by the Magic Garden the last time we were in town, but it was really cool to go inside. The mosaic work is amazing! Zagar has been working on it since 1991.

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The going-away parties are now in full swing. Last night was Vera’s party – Vera is our prop head and has also been here since the beginning of the tour. We went bowling at Lucky Strike – it was really fun. Tonight is Gary Beach’s going-away party. This week we are rehearsing our new King Arthur, Jonathan Hadary, who played the role on Broadway. In the next six weeks we are also putting in three new ensemble members and a new Lancelot. Plus our associate conductor, Adam, is leaving. Whew.

So, a few more days here in Philly until we move on to Hartford. Unfortunately our first two shows in Hartford have been cancelled, so the guys are loading out the show in Philly on Tuesday so that everyone can have Labor Day off. I’ll travel with the crew to Hartford on Tuesday afternoon. There are worse things than having two more days in Philly!

Back to Philly, and back to New York City!!

I was so overjoyed to get back to Philadelphia, one of my favorite stops from last year. It was a long-ass travel day but we finally arrived in the City of Brotherly Love and checked into our super huge, super plush Rittenhouse apartment. I had found this apartment building a while back, and to rent on our own was way too expensive, but at the last minute the rental company struck up a group rate for our show, and so we are in this amazing apartment for less that what the hotel option cost! I haven’t taken any photos yet, but I will. The best part is the location – we look right down on Rittenhouse Square, which is a small park surrounded by restaurants and shopping, and only a few short blocks from the theater.

On Monday night, Ryan and I revisited our favorite bar in Philly, Monks, for dinner. Monks has tons and tons of beer on tap and in bottles from all over the world for you to choose from. They also have a very eclectic, delicious menu. I had a duck salad. Yum! And of course a side of pommes frites, which are so good at Monks. There was a group of Spam company members already at the bar. Everyone remembered this place and picked it as the first to return to!

On Tuesday I joined Zipcar! How awesome is Zipcar? You reserve a car online and then just go to where it is parked and drive it away – no dealing with showing up at a rental car place and being told they have no cars. It’s awesome. I walked over to the Zipcar office and picked up my membership card, and then promptly reserved a car for the afternoon. We spent the whole afternoon grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and then DROVE the groceries home! That night, we ate at Alma de Cuba, another amazing restaurant that we had promised ourselves we would return to.

Ryan eyeing the sampler plate at Alma de Cuba

Ryan eyeing the sampler plate at Alma de Cuba

On Wednesday, I woke up early and Tallulah and I drove to New York City. Tallulah was due for her yearly vet appointment, and it was great that we were close enough to the city to go to her own vet, Dr. Ramos. We met up with Andrea for breakfast and then set off for the vet. Tallulah did so well – and she has lost two pounds since last year! Yay for the Catkins diet! Dr. Ramos was very pleased with her weight and overall health.

Back in the Heights

Back in the Heights

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Then we drove to Brooklyn and spent a blissful afternoon with Patty, eating lunch and knitting on her roof deck. Tallulah didn’t know what to do with herself, between the bees and the butterflies, and the amazing smells of Patty’s flowers and vegetable garden.
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There was one scary moment when Tallulah decided to check out the space UNDERNEATH the deck, but Patty smartly crafted a kitty toy out of a circular knitting cable and some stitch markers, and we lured her out.

We headed back to Philly that evening, pooped, but happy. Thanks, Patty!

We loaded the show in to the Academy of Music on Thursday. It was nice to see so many familiar faces on the crew – especially the wardrobe staff. Those ladies (and gents) are so nice, especially Pam, who dresses Patrick. It’s great to be working with them again.

On Friday I started the big sort through of my trunk. I am going back to New York next Monday and plan on driving up to my storage unit and leaving a bunch of stuff there.

Saturday we had a visit from our union reps to discuss ratifying the proposed new production contract. This contract governs all Broadway shows and tours. The new proposal is not a good one. I won’t go into all the gory details here, but the per diem rate being offered is horribly behind the times. With rising hotel rates, we are no longer able to pay for our hotels and meals solely out of our per diem. The new contract doesn’t offer any help in that area. There are also some aspects affecting stage managers that have been sorely overlooked. Anyway, to make a long story short, it wasn’t a happy meeting. Although I didn’t speak up at the meeting (there were plenty of other people doing that), I feel I have been very communicative with the union through emails expressing my concerns over the new contract. I feel satisfied that I have spoken up in that way, and that I’m not just sending in a “no” vote and not explaining why. I don’t necessarily think anything can happen now, but maybe three years from now, when the contract is renegotiated again, perhaps some of these concerns will be taken into consideration. One can only hope.

Other than that, life has been all about the Olympics. I’ve been addicted to the swimming and the gymnastics. Michael Phelps is super-human! Go USA!

Hope you all had a great week!