Houston and a trip to New York

I have very few photos to share of Houston – in fact I think I took two the whole week I was there. I just haven’t been feeling it with the photography lately, which is very weird for me. Maybe its the heat, maybe its because the walk to the theater from our hotels in the past two cities has been substantial (so I haven’t been wanting to carry extra things with me, like a camera), maybe I’m just uninspired by Texas, who knows. What I do know is that I hope I get my photo mojo back soon. I think having the pressure of photo projects (year in pictures and the archive project) isn’t really helping either. I’d rather just take photos when I feel inspired – so I may abandon those projects, or at least take a break. We’ll see.

Anyway, I was in Houston for a week with “Rock of Ages”, and I have nothing much to report about Houston. It is as bland as I remember it. Eric and I mainly used our free afternoons to run errands, like checking out strollers at Babies R Us. I’m kind of obsessed with strollers right now 🙂 We also made a couple of trips to this awesome seafood joint, Goode Company Seafood,  that I was introduced to by Keith Reese when I was here with “Spamalot”. In fact, one of the two photos I took this week was at Goode Company:

Its in an old train car, and the food is REAL good. Check it out if you are ever in Houston.

Other than that, I pretty much spent the week getting ready to head back to New York. Leanne, the girlfriend of our head electrician Petey, came in to train to be my cover for my week off. One of the highlights of the work week was the premiere of “Waiting for Shankman” – an original song and music video written and directed by three of our swings as a plea to Adam Shankman, the director of the movie of “Rock of Ages” (and a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance”) to put our cast in the movie. 24 hours after this video was posted on YouTube, Adam Shankman had already seen it and written about it on Twitter. We’ll see if our cast actually ends up in the movie 🙂

On Monday I took off on an early flight to New York. Originally I planned to take off a whole week because I thought I would be getting an amniocentesis and would need the time to recoup before flying back to Houston. In the end I decided against doing the amnio, but took the whole week off work anyway to get some rest and chill out at my apartment in New York.

The week has been great. Lots of rest, a couple of doctors appointments, and a trip to Buy Buy Baby to look at more strollers 🙂 I’ve also started really paying attention to what strollers people are using in Manhattan. I definitely want to pick a city-friendly model.

The highlight of the week was getting my 16 week anatomy ultrasound on Tuesday. Our little baby was all curled up, so the tech had a little trouble making out the gender but she is pretty sure it is a girl! I am going to try and restrain myself from buying anything pink until our follow-up ultrasound on July 1st when they will confirm the sex. The baby’s measurements all look great and the heartbeat is strong and fast. My blood pressure was high, unfortunately, at my appointment today, so I may have to go back on blood pressure meds. Stupid blood pressure. At least the baby is doing great 🙂

One more day in the city tomorrow and then back to Houston on Saturday. I am hanging out with my good friend Lyn tomorrow, which I am super psyched about and then Tanya meets me in Houston on Saturday to help me drive to Denver. Nothing better than good friends! Denver will be a blast, too. Two weeks there and lots of old friends to catch up with. The last week of June, we have another layoff from the show, so Eric and I are driving my car back to New York and spending a few more days here. We have the follow-up ultrasound, where they will be doing 3-D pictures, so we will be able to see our baby’s face! How cool is that?

In the meantime I am trying to stay cool. Today in NYC it was hotter than in Houston – crazy!

 

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!

Another Happy Monday

Ryan, Ken, Jovon, Rick, Anne and Karl outside the Armadillo Palace

Ryan, Ken, Jovon, Rick, Anne and Karl outside the Armadillo Palace

Last Monday here in Houston we had another lovely lazy summer day at Adam (our associate conductor) and Darryl’s (male ensemble) rental house. We had a grill going, video games in the living room, and guitar playing out on the porch. It was very relaxing and very fun. Earlier in the day, I rented a car and drove out to Galveston with Ryan to see the ocean for the last time this summer. I got sufficiently sunburned but had a nice lunch and walked around the touristy stores, and did get to wade through the waves. 

Here’s a few pictures:

The beach in Galveston

The beach in Galveston

The Strand in Galveston

The Strand in Galveston

The boys hanging out on the porch at Adam and Darryl's

The boys hanging out on the porch at Adam and Darryl's

Graham and Darryl playing guitar hero

Graham and Darryl playing guitar hero

Ricky B gets a beer from the keg

Ricky B gets a beer from the keg

Siobhan with Ang's dog, Missy

Siobhan with Ang's dog, Missy

Graham with Siobhan's dog, Puma

Graham with Siobhan's dog, Puma

The Sutton's - Lyn and Chris

The Sutton's - Lyn and Chris

Dumas and Erik play some tunes

Dumas and Erik play some tunes

Erik and Patrick

Erik and Patrick

Puma - pooped from a day in the sun

Puma - pooped from a day in the sun

This is how Texas should be.

Siobhan, Patrick, Nigel and Angelina in the chicken fight of the year

Siobhan, Patrick, Nigel and Angelina in the chicken fight of the year

This past Monday, Robert (Robin), Tony (Galahad) and Jeff (Patsy) held a BBQ/Pool Party at their amazing rental house. The weather was gorgeous, the food was delicious and the pool was beautiful. The entire cast showed up and some of the crew. We ate and drank ourselves silly and ended the night singing songs in the living room accompanied by various talented company members on keyboards, guitar and violin. Unfortunately the battery in my camera was dead by that point in the evening, but here’s a taste of the day’s events.

Now THIS is how I envisioned summer in Texas:) Ahhhhhh……

The beautiful pool

The beautiful pool

Angelina, Adam and Siobhan relax by the pool

Angelina, Adam and Siobhan relax by the pool

Kevin and Freddy

Kevin and Freddy

Tony and Jeff inspect Adam's tattoo

Tony and Jeff inspect Adam's tattoo

Piper and a bucket o'margaritas

Piper and a bucket o'margaritas

Angelina chows down on a sausage

Angelina chows down on a sausage

Nigel and his kick-ass ride

Nigel and his kick-ass ride

Tony P.

Tony P.

Patrick and Nigel

Patrick and Nigel

Rick and Freddy

Rick and Freddy

Esther, Angelina, Siobhan and Tony

Esther, Angelina, Siobhan and Tony

Patrick multitasking

Patrick multitasking

Everyone catching some rays

Everyone catching some rays

Darryl

Darryl

Darryl and Amy

Darryl and Amy

Paula

Paula

Siobhan and Patrick

Siobhan and Patrick

Laura, Matt, Erik and Tony

Laura, Matt, Erik and Tony

Patrick knocking one back

Patrick knocking one back

Houston, we have a problem.

The problem is it rains too freakin’ much here! When I heard we were spending two months of the summer in Texas, I was excited – I thought, it will be hot, we can lounge by the pool and drink icy drinks. It will be great. Instead, it has been soupy and muggy here and RAINY EVERYDAY. Hopefully Dallas will prove to be drier, as it is further inland.

Downtown Houston is a strange place. It has a very pretty skyline – that’s probably it’s best selling point. Other than that, it is mostly all office buildings – which means it is busy during the week but DEAD on the weekends. The really weird thing about the downtown area though, is that there is a huge underground labyrinth of tunnels that connect most all the buildings in the area. I guess so people can escape the humidity and rain and stay in the air conditioning. The tunnels are filled with restaurants and businesses, which would be cool, except that they all shut down around 2:30pm on weekdays and are closed down altogether on the weekends. 

I did manage to find a cool bar up on Main Street and Texas, a few blocks from the hotel – called The Flying Saucer. There is actually another location in Memphis, although I didn’t visit it while we were there. The Flying Saucer here in Houston is big and has a fun, young clientele, and has an amazing menu of over a hundred beers. Plus they serve food late, which is always nice after a show. It was definitely a pleasant surprise to find such a good bar downtown. 

Brian (ye olde 1st ASM on this tour) arrived last Friday to cover Ken’s vacation. We, of course, made immediate plans to visit The Cheesecake Factory (Brian’s fave) and decided to rent a car the following week so that we would not be confined to downtown. 

Saturday matinee was the tour’s 500th performance! We received really cool water bottles with the show’s logo as a gift from the producers, and then between shows we had a cookout on the loading dock of the theater. The local stagehands cooked up some sausages and brisket for us and everyone contributed side dishes. It was great fun, even though it RAINED the whole time and people had to grill standing under an umbrella. Luckily the loading dock is covered, so we could all sit out there anyway without getting drenched. 

Rainy day BBQ

Rainy Day BBQ

Tony and Esther

Tony and Esther

Eating and keeping dry on the loading dock

Eating and keeping dry on the loading dock

Jamie and her new puppy, Oscar

Jamie and her new puppy, Oscar

The 3 Amigos - Nate, Berg and Cuz

The 3 Amigos - Nate, Berg and Cuz

On Monday, Brian and I borrowed Karl’s car and went to the Johnson Space Center. We got a bit lost driving there (they don’t like signage here in Houston) but finally we made it. The Space Center is more geared towards kids, but we saw some interesting films about the space program, and saw some of the real spacecrafts that astronauts rode into space (how they managed to stay sane in the tiny Apollo crafts is beyond me). It was fun remembering all the stories that my friend Donna Rose told us about the space program while I was working at A.C.T. She is a huge space program freak and has gone to a couple of launches, and during one run of a show at A.C.T. we had a “space club” between shows, where Donna would show slide shows and tell us all about the history of the space program. At the end of the run she made us all “Honorary Astronaut” certificates. 

The best part about Johnson Space Center is the tram ride, which takes you to old Mission Control (“Houston, we have a problem”), to the Astronaut Training Facility and also to Rocket Park, where some of the old Gemini rockets are on display. As it was POURING with rain, Brian and I did our best to cover up with a couple of $1 rain ponchos, but still got pretty wet. Rocket Park was closed due to lightning in the area, but we did get to see Mission Control and the Training Facility, which were both very interesting.

One of the Apollo spacecrafts

One of the Apollo spacecrafts

Mission Control

Mission Control

Shuttle training facility

Shuttle training facility

Brian, soaked to the bone.

Brian, soaked to the bone.

And me.

And me.

hat night, we ate, of course, at the Cheesecake Factory.

On Tuesday, Brian, Ben (conductor), and I picked up Karl at the airport (he went to San Antonio for the day on Monday) and then Brian and I rented our own car. All they had left was a mini-van, so we have been driving around like two soccer moms all week. We spent all Tuesday afternoon at the giant mall – the Galleria. I think the Galleria may rival the Somerset Collection in Troy, Michigan, as best mall in America, from what I have seen so far on this tour. The Galleria is enormous and has all the best shops and restaurants. Brian, Ben and I all dropped some money on new clothes and shoes. A perfect day!

The next day, Brian and I dragged Shaun Sites, our flyman (who is leaving the tour at the end of Houston. sniff. sniff.), out for more shopping. We hit The Container Store, Old Navy, REI, Petco and grabbed some lunch. It was fun hanging out with Shaun outside of work. He’s such a great guy – its a real bummer that the show is losing him. 

We were hit by another torrential thunderstorm on the way home.

Thursday night, Angelina and Siobhan (two of our ensemble girls) hosted a “mafia” party at their apartment. Everyone convened for pasta and red wine, and some of the cast members dressed up like gangsters. Some of the actors (cough…Robert Petkoff and Jeff Dumas…cough cough) took their gangster roles a bit too seriously! It was lots of fun though, and who knew Angelina and Siobhan were such good cooks???

Gangsters - Robert, Matt, Tony and Jeff

Gangsters - Robert, Matt, Tony and Jeff

Ricky B

Ricky B

Refilling the water gun with vodka

Refilling the water gun with vodka

On Friday Brian and I went to see the movie “Waitress” starring Keri Russell – it was such a sweet movie! I definitely recommend it. Keri is really great in it too – she is getting really good reviews for it (which makes me happy – I did a play with her in New York two years ago, and she is one of the nicest girls I have ever met, let alone worked with).

So Ken comes back on Tuesday. We have somehow managed to hold down the fort without him. I’m glad he finally took a vacation – he needed one after 500 shows! I’ll miss Brian lots when he goes, but its been great fun having him around for the week – and he’s staying in town for an extra day (Monday), so we’ll be able to hang out for a bit longer. Jeff Dumas, Tony Holds and Robert Petkoff are having a pool party at their place, so hopefully it won’t RAIN!!!