Minneapolis

So the week started off with a LOOOONG drive to Minneapolis from Boston. 1400 miles. 24 hours. Thank god Ryan was there to help me with it. We left Boston at 5pm on Sunday and drove until 1am. Then we set off the next morning at 7am and arrived in Minneapolis around 9pm. Not bad. I’m getting really bored with driving the same route over and over again though – I drove from NYC to Chicago, then back mostly the same way to Boston, then back again the same way to Minneapolis. Yesterday I was faced with driving back yet again en route to Cincinnati, and I purposely drove 60 miles out of the way just so I could drive through Iowa instead of having to go back through Chicago again for the fourth time in as many weeks!

En route to Minneapolis

Anyway, we arrived at the Towne Place Suites in Minneapolis and ordered a pizza from Pizza Luce. It was nice to be back in a hotel with a kitchen again. Ryan went out to Trader Joe’s the next day and bought us some groceries.

Load-in went pretty smoothly. The crew were pretty much toast by showtime as it was the first overnight load-in. Because the trip was so long, the trucks wouldn’t get to the theater until past the regularly scheduled Monday load-in time, so the crew instead went in at 11pm and worked all through the night and the next day up until sound check. They were not happy campers. We had a party afterward at the Hard Rock Cafe that was crowded but decent – hey, I’ll never pass up free drinks and appetizers. A nice waitress took pity on the few of us huddled in the back of the bar and made sure the passed hors d’ouvres made their way over to us.

On Wednesday I had a chiropractor appointment. This time I went to a doctor who does A.R.T. (Active Release Technique). He was really nice and spent about an hour with me. He seems to think my issues are muscular and not necessarily disc related. Who knows. I should have gotten an MRI back in New York so that I knew for sure what the initial injury was. Anyway, he told me I needed to work on strengthening my core because my back was overcompensating for other weak muscles, therefore causing overexertion, muscle spasm and pain. Whatever the issue is, my back is actually feeling much better and I do intend to start doing some light yoga this week to try and get my muscles back into use.

After the chiro, Ryan and I had lunch at Hell’s Kitchen and then I had understudy rehearsal. During rehearsal, we got word that Patrick, who plays Lonny, had called out for the evening show because he was having trouble with his voice. We quickly started reviewing the show with his cover, Sean, who went on that night for the first time. He did a great job (and is actually going to be on all week in Cincinnati, too, due to Patrick’s ongoing vocal issues).

On Thursday Ryan and I went for a walk down by the river. There is an awesome trail that runs alongside the river that we biked for miles last time we were in town. Minneapolis is a great biking town – there is also a greenway that cuts across the city from the river trail. I was missing my bike a lot this week. I’ve been talking about getting a fold-up bike for a while now, and I’m still thinking about it. It seems a little redundant to travel around since I have the car now, but I really do miss exploring cities by bike. The car came in handy this week, though, since the hotel was a mile from the theater, and we were expected to take two city buses to get to work. The walk wasn’t bad, but you had to go by all the strip clubs, and coming home after the show at night could be a little sketchy. So I drove. There were a couple of parking spots at the theater and I managed to score a permit. I became a little shuttle bus for the week, driving a few people back and forth each day, which was more than fine by me 🙂

Taken along the river trail

Berries along the trail

A

Along the river trail

Grain belt beer sign

Mill City Museum (the mill ruins are along the river)

On Friday I dropped Ryan off at the airport to go back to Green Bay, and then did a little shopping. Saturday and Sunday we had two shows, and then it was time to pack the bags up again. It was our first one-weeker of the tour and it just flew by.

Now its on to Cincinnati for two weeks. I’m looking forward to having a day off finally (next Monday) and maybe actually getting back into a routine of eating right, exercising, and maybe even seeing something of the town. Wouldn’t that be nice??

I took a bunch of self-portraits this week - I've been kind of missing taking them 🙂

Also, just a side note. This blog was formerly called “Travels with Tallulah”. I changed the name last year when T got very sick, partly because I wasn’t sure how many more travels I would have with her, but also because I felt like it was time for a change – new show, new job. But, as for Tallulah, I just wanted to give you guys a little update – she is doing so well! She is healthy and happy and loving being back on the road. Its still a process to get her to eat the right amount of food everyday – it still takes some coaxing – but I haven’t had to force feed her in months. She still hides under the bed when the suitcases come out on mornings of travel days, but once she is in the car, she is happy and quiet – I love having her around. It makes coming “home” to a hotel room so much better when I see her little face. I am so thankful that she decided to stick around for a while longer 🙂

Tallulah, lazing about at the Radisson in Boston

Tallulah in Minneapolis

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22 Weeks, 22 Cities

This week marks the end of a very, very long stretch of one-week stops. Twenty-two to be exact, making the last day off – free of travel and work, way back in January when we were in Boston. I went on vacation that week, so my Mexico trip was the last time I had any time off. That was six months ago!

Traveling to a new city every week has had its ups and downs. On the one hand, we were able to explore a variety of cities that we may not ever had had the chance to visit, if not for this tour schedule. We were also able to play at some amazing theaters around the country, and meet some really nice people along the way. We were able to experience a true touring gypsy life – which some accustomed to better than others, but I think  in the end, we all feel pretty proud of ourselves, regardless, from having made it through.

On the downside, packing every Sunday got to be a drag – both packing up the show, and packing up our own suitcases. The travel between the shorter jumps was fairly easy – the overnight bus rides were fun and convenient. But in the last few weeks, when the stops have been further apart, all the air travel has been a drag. The schedule has also been unfortunate in that you can never stock up on groceries (well, too many groceries), because you can never finish them all on a one week stop. That is one thing to really look forward to on the longer stops – a stocked fridge – that you might actually finish!

Tallulah has been a sainted kitty throughout all the moves. She only had one spiteful episode (peeing on my suitcase in Nashville), but other than hiding under the bed every travel day – she has been the best-behaved, most adaptive and loving little puss on the planet. She is a rock star.

So to recap – here are some of the highlights of Spam Tour’s “Trail of Tears”:

PROVIDENCE: We said goodbye to Michael and Jeff, our original King and Patsy. The girls sent them off right with a hilarious game show-edition shot night. We also enjoyed the diner truck which parked late night behind our hotel.

Jeff and Michael's final shot night

Jeff and Michael's final shot night

HERSHEY: Brad Bradley made his debut as Patsy, with Chris Gurr assuming the role of the King. We had a blast at Chocolate World, and were welcomed with open Italian arms at Fenicci’s.

Waiting to see the 3D movie at Chocolate World

Waiting to see the 3D movie at Chocolate World

NASHVILLE: We visited the Opry, hung at the honky-tonk’s on Broadway, and celebrated Patrick’s birthday. Julie Barnes made her debut as the Lady of the Lake, as both Esther and Lyn were out. Cara Cooper joined us to take over Sabra’s track.
Julie's debut as the Lady of the Lake

Julie's debut as the Lady of the Lake

JACKSONVILLE: Hometown of Patrick and Keith Reese. Was lovely seeing Keith’s smiling face around the show again. Adam Souza assumed the maestro’s baton as Ben began his leave of absence.

Also, Gary Beach joined us, and began rehearsals to take over the role of the King.

Adam as Ben at sound check

Adam as Ben at sound check

FORT MYERS: Where we were re-introduced to “Crawdaddy”, a strange crawfish-loving keyboard player who had first played with us back in Naples. Most of this week was spent doing taxes with Trudy!

Crawdaddy!

Crawdaddy!

MIAMI: Gary made his debut as the King, we had an awesome anniversary party for the show at the Raleigh Hotel on Miami Beach. It was a generally happy week spent on the beach – oh, and quite a few people got tattoos. Sadly, we said goodbye to Jeff Klein, our associate company manager, and welcomed his replacement, David.
Original Spam Tour members at the 2-year anniversary party

Original Spam Tour members at the 2-year anniversary party

WEST PALM BEACH: We had a big photo call at work, and spent much of the week around the gorgeous shopping center near the theater. Ryan and I stayed at a very cute pool house, as did other members of the company.
Gary and Esther - one of my shots from the photo call

Gary and Esther - one of my shots from the photo call

CLEARWATER: One word – O’Boobigans! We sent Lee Appleton, our drummer, off in style with a party at an Irish bar/Hooters called O’Boobigans. Crawdaddy returned, and great controversy began when one of his lobster puppets mysteriously disappeared…
Lee, Ryan, Lobster Puppet, Keith and Crawdaddy

Lee, Ryan, Lobster Puppet, Keith and Crawdaddy

ORLANDO: We said a tearful goodbye to Julie Barnes, whose going-away party was at a fun tiki bar downtown. Some people ventured to Disney – I enjoyed our Extended Stay Deluxe and stayed in most of the week, with the exception of a walk around the cute shopping area of Winter Park. This was Vera’s last week before her leave. On our final Sunday in Orlando, some clean-shaven faces showed up to work to kick off the Beard Contest!
Julie at her going-away party

Julie at her going-away party

BIRMINGHAM: Probably one of the least favorite stops on the tour. Sort of a depressed, run-down city. There was the trolley that took you to Five Points where you could get pancakes at the Original Pancake House, otherwise you were stuck with Subway. I think everyone ODed on Subway that week. Bree Branker made her debut, and David Havasi began rehearsals. We also had a visit from Casey, our choreographer. Probably the highlight of the week, was the man-o-vator at the theater…
Patrick on the man-o-vator

Patrick on the man-o-vator

GREENVILLE: A surprisingly cute town! We all ate our faces off at the myriad restaurants on Main Street, a vast contrast from Birmingham the week before. There was lots of hiking and park-going, and Brian O’Brien’s farewell pub crawl was truly awesome. We also had the best stage management office we’ve ever had – walls lined with windows overlooking the river. Lovely.
Brian makes a new friend on the pub crawl

Brian makes a new friend on the pub crawl

RALEIGH: It was Jonathan Brody’s final week – we had a cajun dinner hosted by Piper to send him off. Not too much doing in Raleigh – some shopping at the mall across from the Candlewood, and some photo-taking of all the old, old houses. There was also an evening of Cornhole at a local bar, which was quite fun. David Havasi made his debut in Brian’s old track. There was a big blow-up among the chorus boys over some ridiculousness that sort of clouded this week.
Taking pictures at an old cemetery in Raleigh

Taking pictures at an old cemetery in Raleigh

DAYTON: Probably second only to Birmingham in general ass-iness. The theater was big and new and nice, and if you ventured over to the Oregon District, there was an area of cuteness, with cool shops and restaurants, but downtown was rather barren. We spent most nights at a bar called J-Alan’s, which Ken dubbed “The Hootennanny”. Terry and Patrick both did open mic performances there. Rick Costa made his debut this week in Jonathan’s old track. Oh, and who could forget Tony’s masterful win in the Beard Contest!
Patrick at open mic night at the "Hootenanny"

Patrick at open mic night at the Hootenanny

MILWAUKEE: Pubs, pubs, and more pubs. That’s how I remember Milwaukee. The art museum building was stunning to see. We said farewell to Piper with another pub crawl, this one in a party bus. Piper and Julie leaving were big blows – it was hard to lose those two girls – I miss them! Milwaukee was also the debut of “Duckie” – Tera-Lee performing a male ensemble track.

Cuz and Piper at her going-away

Cuz and Piper at her going-away

APPLETON: Ryan’s home local! I had fun visiting his house that week. We also hosted a super cool shot night – the ice luge! Even Gary Beach did a shot! I also discovered a great yarn store in Appleton – Iris Fine Yarns. Sarah Lin Johnson took over Piper’s swing track.
Gary taking a shot from the ice luge

Gary taking a shot from the ice luge

MADISON: My love, Madison! One of my top three favorite stops on the tour. That city rocks. We did a lot of bike riding, a lot of eating and drinking (at the Black Dog and Essen Haus), and I did even more yarn shopping. And p.s., the Capitol Farmer’s Market ROCKED! We also had a visit from Jeff Dumas, and Darryl’s family hosted a party for us at their house!
Gurr, Suzanne, Matt and Paula hanging out at Darryl's

Gurr, Suzanne, Matt and Paula hanging out at Darryl's

GRAND RAPIDS: Kind of a letdown after Madison, but it had pockets of cute. I got my hair done at a nice salon. We visited the art museum, and did a little bit of bike riding. But the highlight of the week was having Elaine around to cover Mitchell’s vacation. Yay! And also Bret arriving to cover Ken’s vacation! Scary weather driving to Minneapolis.
Getting drunk with Elaine when I should have been packing

Getting drunk with Elaine when I should have been packing

MINNEAPOLIS: The crazy weather of being in Tornado Alley continued, with thunderstorms peppering the week. We visited the sculpture garden and played mini golf with Ryan’s friend, Brent. In work-related news, Patrick split his head open causing a frenzy of last-minute replacements on the Saturday. I visited the Mall of America, Brit’s Pub (a couple of times), did quite a bit of bike-riding, and had a lovely Monday night meal with Bret.

Brent and Ryan playing mini-golf

Brent and Ryan playing mini-golf

OKLAHOMA CITY: Hmmm…sort of along the lines of Dayton. Not horrible, but not much going on. Crazy windy but hot weather. The Memorial was quite a sight to see, and made the week worth it. We also stayed at a nice hotel downtown called The Colcord, and enjoyed drinks a couple of times at a cool brewpub called Tapwerks. 
OKC Memorial

OKC Memorial

ALBUQUERQUE: Ken was back from vacation, and it was Jovon’s turn for a week off. I was in bliss all week with my buddies Michael and Tanya and Bret all back in my life. I had a great visit to Santa Fe with Tanya, and Albuquerque’s highlights included the breakfast burritos at Frontier, Satellite Coffee and the weather! Gorgeous! Hot and dry. Sadly we said goodbye to our A2, Tony.
With my Ta

With my Ta

With my Bretty

With my Bretty

SAN ANTONIO: Hot and sweaty is how I will remember San Antonio. The Riverwalk was fun – highlights included meals at the Iron Cactus and Boudros. Mi Tierra at the Marketplace was also good, although if I never see menudo again it will be too soon. I had my birthday here, and was treated to a yummy chocolate mousse cake from Ken! I also treated myself to some new camera equipment! Oh, and then there was the Alamo. Eh. Patrick bailed on us this week to go and do “Gossip Girl” for eight weeks, so we scrambled a bit (another couple of gender-bending performances by Tera-Lee), but we had it figured out by….
Tera-Lee doing some gender-bending in Rio

Tera-Lee doing some gender-bending in Rio

FORT WORTH: Where Brian O’Brien re-joined us to help fill in the gap left by Patrick. Kevin Burrows was also around this week to help cover some of other boys’ vacations. Everyone was antsy getting ready for Canada. There was a quick trip to the Stockyards, but otherwise it was all about getting phones, and credit cards and money in order. Vancouver here we come!
Packing up trunks for Canada

Packing up trunks for Canada

22 eventful weeks! I look forward to the next 22, only I am happy to report that we will be spending some quality time in the next few cities with longer sit-downs, just enough time to recoup before another slew of one-weekers begin this winter. 

Bring it on!

Minneapolis

I drove from Madison (where I had stopped to spend the night en route from Grand Rapids, at the nicest Candlewood I’ve ever seen, by the way!) to Minneapolis last Monday morning, and after getting settled at the Doubletree downtown, I set off for the Mall of America! I made a quick stop in Saint Paul to visit my favorite yarn shop, The Yarnery, but it was closed for Memorial Day. Boo! I drove on to the Mall of America, which I did not plan to spend much time at – I had a few specific things to pick up, and I also just wanted to see the madness of the place.

Well, it was pretty crazy – enormous, with a giant amusement park in the middle. Like I said, I didn’t intend to stay long, and as soon as I had what I needed, I was on my way. It was a fun outing, but I have definitely been to nicer malls – it also took forever to navigate around because of having to go around the amusement park. No matter, I got what I needed and sated my curiosity at the same time!

While I still had the rental car, I drove around Minneapolis a bit, and then later met up with Bret for dinner. We went to a place over by Loring Park which had some good small dishes and some yummy cocktails.

Load-in the next day went well – the stagehands were a good bunch and opening went extremely well. We had an opening night party at a hotel near the theater, and everyone was abuzz when Eddie Izzard (who was in town doing his show) appeared and hung out for a bit.

On Wednesday, Ryan and I went to Brit’s Pub for lunch – a giant English pub with lawn bowling on the roof! It was right next door to our hotel, too, which made it all the more convenient. I had a yummy plate of fish and chips. To work off all the calories, we went for a long bike ride after that. We rode over to the river, and past an old mill which is now a museum and park. We also saw the new Guthrie Theater building, which looks really spectacular. We continued down the river past where the bridge collapse was, and down to the Midtown Greenway – a bike path which cuts across the whole city. We took that back to downtown. 

The bike paths in Minneapolis, like Madison, are incredibly plentiful throughout the city, and many of the streets also have bike lanes. It was great to be back in a city that was so bike-friendly!

Brit's Pub

Brit's Pub

The Guthrie Theater

The Guthrie Theater

The Old Mill

The Old Mill

The remains of the bridge collapse

The remains of the bridge collapse

On Wednesday night we had another party thrown for us at a rooftop bar called Norman’s. There was some good sushi, and it was so nice to sit outside. Minneapolis is big on the rooftop and outdoor seating – what a nice way to spend the warmer months!

On Thursday I decided to give a visit to The Yarnery another try. I took the bus across the river to Saint Paul, where I had lunch and spent some time yarn shopping. I bought some wool to make another time capsule cozy for Tony, and I also bought some washable cotton and wool to start making some baby things for Michele’s two on-the-way. I also spent some time sitting in Starbucks knitting – it was a lovely afternoon!

On Thursday night Ryan and I met up with his old friend Brent, for drinks (and tater tots!) at Grumpy’s, an old haunt of theirs. It was raining something fierce outside. The weather in these parts is a little nutty! Lots of lightning, and earlier in the day, the tornado sirens had gone off!

On Friday we met up with Brent again at the Walker, where he works. The Walker is an art museum with a performance space and sculpture garden (Brent is the sound guy in the performance space). We walked around and looked at the sculptures and then played a game of mini golf on the course that had been designed by artists (which is coincidentally on the site where the old Guthrie Theater used to stand). We had a lot of fun.

Ryan and Brent at the Sculpture Garden

Ryan and Brent at the Sculpture Garden

Playing mini golf

Playing mini golf

On Friday night, Ryan, Bret and I went for another drink at Brit’s – this time we sat on the roof and watched a bit of the lawn bowling. It was a bit crazy up there, being Friday night, and being that a Twin’s game had just let out, but we had fun nonetheless.

On Saturday and Sunday, we had our usual four shows, and also tried to cram in some last minute dining excursions. We ate at an Irish pub called The Local on Saturday, and then on Sunday rode our bikes over to the warehouse district for some delicious pizza at Pizza Luce. 

We also celebrated Suzanne’s birthday on Sunday. Normally at work, we have cakes for birthdays, but Suzanne wanted something a bit different. So instead, we had Hooter’s hot wings to celebrate. Yum!

The show itself has been a little out of sorts for the past two weeks. We are winding down our five months of one-weekers, and everyone is tired and getting sick and injured at this point. Gary, our King Arthur, has been out for the better part of two weeks with a pulled hamstring, and we have had some various other injuries and illnesses as well. One of our ensemble girls had to drop out of the show mid-way on Wednesday with an injured hip. We were down a carpenter on Thursday as Keith was out sick, and Ryan had to step up and run automation. The local carpenters were great in helping to fill in. Then on Friday night, Patrick tripped and fell down the stairs at the hotel on his way to work, and cracked his head open, so we had to put in a last minute cover for him. What a week! Everyone is looking forward to getting to Vancouver where we can rest and recuperate for a month!

Minneapolis is a great town. I wish we could have stayed longer. I didn’t get a chance to bike out to the lakes, which I really wanted to do. It was also really nice to be in a historic theater like the Orpheum, working with a really conscientious crew (and so nice to see some of the same dressers from when we played Saint Paul!).

Hopefully I will be back again someday! But now, on to Oklahoma City.

Malabrigo Cowl

I bought some gorgeous Malabrigo yarn in Appleton at Iris Fine Yarns and had originally planned on using it to make a hat, but the more I thought about it, the more I worried that the hat would be too bulky. So after seeing photos online of some of the beautiful cowls everyone has been knitting lately, I decided to go that route instead.

The pattern is the Dolores Park Cowl by Parikha Mehta, which I found via Ravelry. I used two skeins of Malabrigo Aquarella on size 11 needles. 

Of course now we are off to Oklahoma City where it is 98 degrees, so the cowl may not see the light of day for some time! Oh well, I love it anyway!