I just got back a roll of black and white film that I shot on my Yashica FX-2 in Seattle, LA and on my cross-country road trip. I’m so in love with some of the shots, I had to share. I may never shoot digital again.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
Day 14: West Middlesex, PA. to New York, NY.
I could not get to New York fast enough on Sunday! By then I was completely sick of driving. It was actually a beautiful drive through all of Pennsylvania, through the Poconos, but I just wanted to get there! My leg and foot were falling asleep by the afternoon. Finally, finally, I reached the George Washington Bridge! And of course, traffic ground to halt. I discovered that Sunday was NYC marathon, so lots of streets were closed off, making for traffic jams around the island. It took a while to figure out how to get to my sublet with all the street closures, but I finally did – and then had to carry all my stuff up four flights of steps. Argh! A rude awakening back to New York City living!
Seriously though, it was great driving across the bridge and into the city. I always get such a rush when I see the Manhattan skyline. It is such an awesome, awesome place to live. I’m really happy to be back.
My apartment in Harlem is great – cute and charming and comfortable, with a fantastic roof deck with a “West Side Story”-esque view of all the surrounding rooftops. I love it. I am here for a month, and then hopefully I’ll be moving in to my own place!
And – I’m actually going back to work next week! Only for a week though, which is good, because I really do need to focus on looking for a place to live. When my friend Phyllis emailed me (she and I did “BARE” in 2004) and asked if I wanted to do a reading with her of a new musical, directed by Kristin Hanggi (who directed “BARE” and also was nominated for a Tony for “Rock of Ages”), I couldn’t say no – I had such a great time working with the two of them on “BARE” – and it will be a nice way to get back in to the swing of things in New York. I’m looking forward to it.
So, there probably won’t be many “travels” with Tallulah any time soon, but I’m sure there will be stories, so I think I am going to continue this blog to keep at least my parents apprised of what I’m doing (does anyone else read this???). I thought about changing the name of the blog, but I like how “Travels with Tallulah” rolls off the tongue, and plus everyone knows it as that name, so its probably easier to keep it. And… I kind of think leaving it as “Travels with Tallulah” is kind of like positive thinking – hoping and willing that there will be more travels in the future!
But for now, I am more than content to unpack my suitcases for a while and put them away! New York City, I’ve missed you!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
When Ryan and I got back to the city after the weekend in Tahoe, we realized we had very little time left in San Francisco before it would be time for me to go to Los Angeles, and for Ryan to head home – so we made a game plan to try and fit in as much as we could in the time left.
One thing I really wanted to make sure we did was head over to my old neighborhood in the Richmond district. We took the bus over there one day and walked through the streets of Seacliff, by all the big houses, to the entrance to Baker Beach. From there we had a good view of the Golden Gate Bridge – there was a bit of fog, like always, but we managed to get some decent photos. Then we walked over to Land’s End, and hiked the coastal trail along the cliffs, past the Legion of Honor, ending up at the ruins of the Sutro Baths. It is so pretty over at that end of San Francisco, you hardly know you are in the city.
Our next to last weekend in San Francisco was Pride Weekend. It was pretty crazy in our neighborhood, being so close to Castro Street – we were definitely in the thick of things. We tried to take a cab home on Saturday night after having drinks downtown with Neil, Laura, Chris and Lorin, who had come to see “Spamalot” that night, but the streets were all closed off around the Castro, so we had to walk through crowds and crowds of people (at 1am!) for about five blocks to get home. I had Sunday afternoon off at work. As the parade went directly past the theater, it was literally impossible for patrons to get there, so we had no matinee, but a Sunday evening show instead. To escape the crowds, Ryan and I went over to North Beach for the afternoon to shop at City Lights and get lunch at Mario’s. We sat in Washington Square Park and enjoyed the sunshine.
On Monday, I rented a car and we drove down to Sunnyvale, where (after lunch at In-and-Out Burger!) I bought a sewing machine! I got the Janome 2010, and so far I love it! Everyone at Eddie’s Quilting Bee (where I bought the machine) was very helpful, and I definitely feel like I got the right machine for me.
In the afternoon, Ryan and I went to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. I hadn’t been there for years, since I was a little kid, and Ryan really wanted to go. It’s a fun place to see – such a crazy house with doors and stairways leading to nowhere. The woman who owned the house, Sarah Winchester, believed that she had to keep building on the house in order to ward off evil spirits. Its definitely a fun place to check out if you are ever in the area.
After that, we met up with a couple of old friends of mine for dinner. I’ve known Gina and Dawn almost my whole life – they grew up around the corner from me, and we were inseparable when we were younger. It was really nice to see them and to catch up.
The next day, back in San Francisco, Ryan and I toured Alcatraz. The first time I went to Alcatraz wasn’t until my twenties, and I couldn’t believe I had never gone before. It is a really interesting tour, and the audio recording that accompanies it is really well done. It was fun to take the ferry there with Ryan and to see the place again with him. We made it back to North Beach in time to have dinner at The Stinking Rose before I had to go downtown for work. Such a nice day!
Sadly, on Wednesday, it was time for Ryan to begin his long trek back to Wisconsin. He had planned a longer route back, stopping in Denver for a few days around the fourth of July. It was sad to say goodbye to him again, especially after getting back into a routine together, but he is hoping to come out to Los Angeles for a visit in August, so it won’t be too long before we get to see each other again.
I spent Thursday and Friday tying up loose ends and packing. I had lunch with a couple of friends – Regina on Thursday and Andrea on Friday. We finished up the weekend of shows and then on Monday, I drove down highway 5 to Los Angeles.
We are playing LA for nine weeks, even longer than we were in San Francisco, so I was very, very happy to find that the apartment I had rented was so perfect. It is cute and comfortable, and has a really nice outdoor space, which is enclosed, so Tallulah can spend time outside without me worrying that she will get out. The area is nice, too – I am living in Beachwood Canyon, which is adjacent to the Hollywood Hills and very close to Griffith Park. The commute to work hasn’t been too bad either.
My dear friend Christopher, who I went to college with and who I was roommates with in New York (but who lives here now) met me at the apartment and helped me unpack. We had dinner that night with his boyfriend Sean, and I got to see their cute new house.
Load-in Tuesday was sort of run-of-the-mill at work, overshadowed by the fact that Michael Jackson’s funeral was taking place just down the street at the Staples Center. I wasn’t a huge MJ fan growing up, but there is no denying his cultural impact on my generation. It is a strange thing, his passing. I still haven’t quite grasped it. It’s the end of something big.
Our official “opening” was Wednesday night and we had a big party afterwards on the roof at The Standard Hotel. Christopher and Sean came with me as my dates, and we had a really nice time. There were some celebrities there, which was kind of fun – including our own Richard Chamberlain. It was funny to see the likes of Richard Chamberlain relaxing on a waterbed pod next to the pool! How LA!
So now “Spamalot” is up and running, and I have some time to relax and unwind, which I really needed after the hectic seven weeks in San Francisco. I loved being there and seeing all my family and friends, but I am glad to have some time now to get my head together and to prepare for what happens next, after the tour ends in October. I expect I will be doing some sightseeing here in LA and some catching up with friends, but in more low-key fashion, for sure!
More on LA to come!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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”.
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!
I don’t really know how to even start writing about last week, because it sucked royally. Nothing against Eugene, but the events that happened while we were there have changed my experience on this tour forever. And that’s a damn shame, because up until now it was one of the best experiences of my life, and although I am so grateful and blessed to have seen all the places I have seen over the last two years and the opportunity I have been given in this job, now I am heartbroken. And I won’t ever forget that, or likely forgive. And I hate that that has clouded over all the good that there has been. Because there has been a lot of good.
The return to the lower 48 from Alaska was great. Ryan and I chose to stay the night in Seattle instead of journeying on to Eugene right away. We had a great afternoon and evening, revisiting some of the places that we had loved when we played Seattle a year and a half ago. We had lunch at Serious Pie, which has some of the best-tasting, most innovative pizzas I have ever eaten. We shared a yummy clam pizza with lemon-thyme sauce. So, so good. That afternoon we walked around the Pike Place Market and bought some pasta to take with us to Oregon. We drove over to the Apple Store so that I could get a new iPhone (my old one was crushed in Alaska). It was nice to have to drive to the Apple Store, because it meant driving past the University of Washington campus, which I had never seen before. What a gorgeous place to go to school! That night we revisited Six Arms, a McMenamins bar that we had spent a lot of time at during our previous three week stay in town. I’m happy to report that there is still a Killer Rabbit sticker in the kitchen at Six Arms!
In the morning we got up and drove to Belltown, our old ‘hood, to meet Bret for brunch at the Boat Street Cafe. We had a delicious meal there and it was so nice to see Bret again before heading out of town.
We began driving south on Sunday afternoon, stopping when we got to Portland. We drove immediately over to Powell’s Books, where we spent well over an hour browsing through the shelves and shelves of books. It is literally impossible to get in and out of Powell’s in under an hour, and also equally as impossible to walk out empty-handed. Ryan and I both made some purchases!
After Powell’s, we realized it was getting a bit late, so instead of doing any more walking around, we drove over to Sushiville on 23rd, our favorite sushi boat restaurant anywhere. We totally pigged out. Sushiville has the best variety of sushi and they have desserts! And the prices are so reasonable, you can really eat a good meal for under 20 bucks. After we were sufficiently stuffed, we got back in the car and continued the drive down to Eugene. I wish we could have stayed in Portland longer – I love that town so much. We arrived in Eugene pretty late, but just in time to run across the street from the hotel to North Bank, another McMenamins bar, to buy some beer and a bottle of wine to take back to our room. Score!
The hotel in Eugene, the Residence Inn, was super, super nice! We often stay at Residence Inns, but this one had just recently been renovated, and so the decor was very modern and colorful and chic. We had splurged on a two-bedroom to have more space, and it was basically a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment. Really, really nice. I like to write about the hotels here to have a record, in case I ever tour again. I’ll be able to look back and remember where the nice places were to stay!
On Monday, we had all day before Ryan had to be at work for load-in. We went to Trader Joe’s and stocked up on groceries for the week, and drove around downtown to get the lay of the land. Eugene is a college town, housing the University of Oregon, and is full of bars, restaurants and cute shops. College towns are the best. After Ryan went to work, I went for a long walk along the river, which was right across the street from the hotel. There is a trail that runs for miles and miles along the riverbank, and I had a great time taking photos and watching people fish in the river and walk the trail. I *might* even have taken a self-portrait to kick off my 2nd year of 365 days 🙂
Tuesday was when everything went wrong. Load-in was fine. The theater was a bit on the small side, but everything fit. The show that evening was fine. All status quo.
After the show, Ryan was told his contract with the show was being terminated.
Now I can’t talk about what happened, or what went down, or how messed up the whole situation is, because this is a public blog and anyone can read it. All I can say is that I am heartbroken, Ryan is blindsided and devastated, and that my experience out here will never be the same. Ryan is my best friend. We have both been working our asses off on this show for two and a half years. Its terribly disappointing and hurtful to have it end this way for him.
I want to write more, but I can’t. I thought about not writing about it at all, but how could I not? How could Ryan just disappear from this journey without anyone having questions? And this IS the story of my journey, and this happening is a big part of that story. I’m just so sad to be losing him. And I find the prospect of having to start using the pronoun “I” instead of “We” incredibly hard.
So needless to say, not much sleep was had on Tuesday, and Wednesday was all about trying to clean up the mess. We did get out finally for a walk along the river late in the day, and I’m glad we did. It was beautiful out and it was nice to clear out heads.
On Thursday I had rehearsal all day, and then after the show we went out for drinks at the North Bank. It was nice spending time with some of our friends from the show. If nothing else, this experience has really made it crystal clear who our friends are out here, and who really are not friends at all.
On Friday Ryan and I drove over to Hendricks Park, a big green space just east of campus. We spent a couple of hours walking the trails there and wandering around the Rhododendron garden. Eugene is so, so green and lush. This was an amazing time of year to be there.
On Saturday morning we got up early enough to make it downtown for the Saturday Market, which is a farmer’s market/craft fair in downtown Eugene each weekend. It was dreary and rainy outside, which was a bit of a drag, but we still managed to make it through all the craft booths before work, despite having to take cover from the rain here and there. Ryan bought me a bracelet made out of spoon handles, and also a wind chime made out of old pieces of silverware – I love them both!
We had two shows on Saturday and two on Sunday. After the show on Sunday, I drove over to Prince Puckler’s, an ice cream shop that my friend Fin had recommended to me (she went to school at U of O) – I had a scoop of the mandarin chocolate and a scoop of the banana brownie – delicious!!
And with that, load-out began. I was on a bus all day the next day to Spokane, Washington, where Ryan will have his last week with the tour.
I have a feeling I may be a bit sad for a while, peeps. Sorry for being such a Debbie Downer. It’s weird to think about the months ahead without my best friend with me. I’m just thankful that the cities coming up – Denver, San Francisco, LA and San Diego are filled with so many family members and dear friends from my “real life” – – I need to escape the bubble for a while.
Our last week in Anchorage was an abbreviated one. We closed the show on Friday night in order to give the trucks the weekend to make the drive down the Al-Can Highway to Eugene. With that, the week went by very quickly.
I spent the majority of Monday working on my final self-portrait for my 365 Project. It was kind of a comedy of errors getting the photo done. I drove up towards the Anchorage Overlook, trying to find an appropriate roadside spot for the shot, and as I pulled over to one such spot – my car got stuck in a snow bank. I spent a few minutes trying to dig it out when another car pulled over. As luck would have it, it was Paula and Matt, two of the actors from the show, who were on their way up the mountain to walk their dogs. Matt tried to dig out around my tire with the ice scraper from their car, but that wasn’t working – so we went back to their rental house to pick up a better shovel. After about an hour and a half of messing around with this (poor Matt tried his best to dig the car out), a big pick-up truck pulled over and the guy who was driving it, hooked my car up to his truck with a chain, and pulled it out of the snow that way. By the time it was all said and done, I had totally lost any excitement or motivation to try and take my photo. Anyway, I finally did get it done, and then I drove back down into town, and Ryan and I went for lunch at Snow City Cafe. I spent the rest of the afternoon processing the photo and typing up my 365 notes.
I honestly have no recollection of what I did on Tuesday. How sad that without having a 365 shot to look back to, I have no idea what I did. Hmm. I do remember driving out to the water after the show on Tuesday night to take some photos of the sunset. That’s right – SUNSET AFTER THE SHOW! Crazy, right? When we first arrived in Anchorage, the sun was setting at about 9:30pm. By the time we left, two and a half weeks later, it was setting at 10:30pm. It was pretty nutty getting out of work that late and it still being light out. I actually really loved it. I imagine the opposite – it being dark all but five hours of the day during the winter, is majorly depressing though.
On Wednesday, Ryan and I drove back up to the Anchorage Overlook, being careful not to get the car stuck in any more snow banks 🙂 We walked the little half mile trail to the overlook spot and took some photos of the view. Unfortunately it was quite hazy out, so the mountains in the distance were pretty faint. If I had been in a better mood to take some photos up there on Monday, I probably would have gotten some nice shots. Monday was a much clearer day – so clear in fact, that I could see Mount Redoubt and her smoky plume off in the distance.
After that, we attempted to hike Blueberry Hill, a fairly easy trail of about two miles in length. There was, however, so much snow up there, that we couldn’t follow the trail – and there was a real lack of signage. So, we kind of walked and climbed around for about an hour and a half and then called it quits. It was also a lot colder up on the mountain than it had been down in town, so we were a little underdressed and getting chilly. Still, it was a nice afternoon and I’m glad we made it up there before leaving town.
On Thursday, we had lunch at the Moose’s Tooth, a delicious pizzeria and brewhouse. We had been hearing about the amazing pizza there for two weeks, and we finally found the time to fit it in – I’m so glad we did! After that, we drove over to Earthquake Park, a small park on the Coastal Trail, that still has evidence of the 1964 earthquake in the form of buckled trees and sunken land. It was interesting to read about the effect of the earthquake, and the tsunamis that followed. Being from California, I do find it kind of funny how much the 1964 earthquake is still talked about in Alaska. I mean, I know it was a big deal – but it was a long time ago – it just doesn’t really seem like it should be news anymore. We walked around the park for a bit, sort of hoping to see a moose – there were lots of fresh droppings and tracks in the snow – but no luck seeing the actual animal.
We got a tip from Jovon that there were Dall sheep down at Beluga Point, so we jumped in the car and drove down there hoping to see some sheep on the cliffside, but alas, no dice there either! We had spotted some moose in Potter’s Marsh on the way down there, so we drove back to try and get some photos – but it was raining by the time we got there. We had no wildlife luck that afternoon!
Friday was all about buying presents and souvenirs. Ryan and I had our final Snow City Cafe lunch – I had the Crabby Omelet – so good! Then we drove over to the Ulu Factory to buy some knives. Ulu are traditional triangular knives that the Inuits use for a variety of things (even cutting ice for igloos!) – but would be good for someone like me for cutting up herbs in the kitchen – that sort of thing. We ran into Jovon, Ken and Wayne at the Factory, and we all stocked up on knives and other souvenirs. After that, Ryan and I did some more shopping around the downtown area for other presents to take home.
After the show that night, the crew began the load-out. It was not without some drama – again a good number of locals did not show up to the call, making things harder for our guys. And then as the trucks got to the weigh-in station, it was found that the sound truck was too heavy to make the trip (the weight restrictions on the Al-Can Highway had recently changed because of the thaw). So, a couple of our crew had to re-load part of the truck onto a seventh trailer to lighten the load. They barely made it to the airport in time for our flight.
And with that, the Alaskan adventure was over. I had a great time, and I know that I only scratched the surface of things to do and see there. I definitely want to return during a summer at some point and spend some more time seeing other parts of the state. It is such a beautiful place with so much to see and do – definitely plan a visit if you can!
And now – back to the lower 48!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
And that was my very full first week in Anchorage!
For the past year I have been doing a project on Flickr called 365 Days. The object of 365 Days is to take a self-portrait of yourself every day for a year. I started taking my SP’s last March while we were in Orlando. I’ve missed a few days here and there, but today I finally took my 365th self-portrait!
It has been a wonderfully rewarding project to be a part of. I have “met” many, many fantastic people through comments on my photos, and through commenting on others’ photos. There is a large 365 group on Flickr, but a smaller group exists of “knitterly and crafty types”, which is the most amazing community of women, some of whom I have actually met in person this year, and many others who I “talk” to on a regular basis online through comments on each others photos. It has been the best part of the project to get to know these gals and to see them everyday in their photos!
So, here are my 365 stats!
Miles traveled: 28,378
States visited: 25 U.S., 3 Canadian provinces.
Number of cities I stayed in: 47 – Orlando, Birmingham, Greenville, Raleigh, Dayton, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Appleton, Madison, Grand Rapids, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Vancouver, San Francisco Bay Area, Edmonton, Calgary, Philadelphia, Toronto, Syracuse, West Point, Great Barrington, Ottawa, Norfolk, Boston, Pittsburgh, Sioux City, Denver, Fayetteville, Des Moines, Cincinnati, South Bend, Peoria, Chicago, Detroit, Huntsville, Melbourne, Tampa, Austin, Atlanta, Wilmington, New York City, Cleveland, Seattle, Anchorage.
Plane Flights: 24
Bus Rides: 13
Long Car Rides: 13
Overnight Bus Rides: 4
Rental Houses: 6
Days it took me to complete this project – 390. Started March 28, 2008. Completed April 20, 2009.
The record I have of my days over the past year is absolutely priceless. I only have to look back over my 365 set to realize how lucky I am, to take in all that I have experienced and learned, and to sit back in amazement at the things I have seen. I AM BLESSED.
Below is a mosaic of some of my favorite self-portraits taken over the year – they are the shots I am most proud of.