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Pittsburgh, PA and nearing the end

Tonight (10/30) Hurricane Sandy is hitting the east coast. We're en route from Rochester to Pittsburgh, but the weather doesn't seem to affect our train much. The circus train weighs something like 4300 tons (that's 8,600,000lbs!) so the 90mph wind gusts were hardly noticeable. I hear NYC was hit pretty hard, and NJ too. Hang in there, tri-state peeps :/

(next day)
We arrived in Pittsburgh this morning and were spotted around noon.
It was raining pretty hard. When it slowed to a steady drizzle I went for a walk.

Living in train yards, you don't always end up in the nicest places.
I walked to a nearby grocery to get vanilla.

In the last city I picked up a quince, not knowing that you have to cook 'em for like two hours in an oven :/
I tried to poach it on my hot plate using water, honey, lemon, the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

It was supposed to turn pink...oh well. Still tastes good! Like a baked apple or pear. Although poaching either of those fruits would have been way easier :P

Pittsburgh is our second-to-last city, and the only city we've visited in my home state.
About a decade ago (yep feeling old),
I participated in a PMEA All-State concert here at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

I was SUCH a band geek when I was a kid!
Can't believe I'm posting this in public. Here's me and my best friend Lauren circa 2002.

It was a strange and nostalgic feeling to return to this city as a professional musician.
I feel a little pride, and a little humility; a little old and a lot happy.

I set out on a walk near the venue with the intention of visiting a local farmers market.
I ended up in the Strip District which was just as good if not better!
The Strip is on Penn Ave., and features lots of tourist shops, international food vendors,

hipster hangs, and Italian restaurants.
Formerly this location was the home of U.S. Steel, Westinghouse, and Heinz Ketchup.
Highly recommended for tourists!

I was there for vegetables. But I had to get a cookie :)

It was a maple praline twist with maple-flavored icing and pralines baked in and on top. VERY good.

Also this week, the company threw us a Fully Charged end of the year party!

It was a lot of fun. Dustin (boss clown) was the host. The kids loved him :D
Gosh, I'm gonna miss that guy!!! He's hilarious and down to earth and just all around awesome.
Karen (animal trainer) Brian Miser (human cannon),
Fabiana (dancer/production), and Tulga (strongman) are all leaving too.
I didn't get to know Brian and Fabiana very well, but I'll sure miss seeing them around.
Karen has been here for a very long time. I've loved watching her work with the horses, and enjoyed her company in our shared dressing room. Her dog Bailey will be missed as well!!
Tulga is moving on to the Gold Unit, where his family will have an RV.
He's VERY talented. His kids are ADORABLE. I'm really happy for him!!

Anyway, the party was catered with tasty fare and an open beer/wine bar.
The theme was supposed to be 'awards ceremony', so we were supposed to 'dress to impress'.
But the range of clothing was just as diverse and colorful as the circus people themselves :)
Some people dressed like they were gonna receive an Emmy.
Others wore suits and nice dresses.
Many people were casually dressed in jeans and polos or t-shirts.
And some people simply wore what they wear to work.
And nobody batted an eye, because this is the circus, and clothes aren't what's important :)

Some of the awards given out included:

The Golden Shovel (hardest working floor crew)
The Golden Spatula (hardest working pie car employee)
Hardest Working Staff
Golden Dragon (Most Outgoing Chinese person)
Cutest Couple
Best Dressed
Most likely to appear in the 181st Edition
Nablo of the Year Award
('Nablo' is a gypsy word for 'idiot'.
The guy who won it this year did a head-first flip over a fire pot during a show.
Name withheld for his protection :P )

To entertain us between awards, participants in the No Talent Talent Show strutted their stuff.
Chantelle sang a groovy blues tune with members of the band playing backup.
Tabata (tiger tamer's daughter) and Olesya (acrobat's daughter) performed a stunning synchronized aerial act. Those girls are TALENTED!!!
Some more young ladies from the circus performed a ballet to 'Barbie Girl' for us.
And G (clown) sang two popular songs with band people backing her up.

Here's a pic of the band, courtesy Jameson (keys). I'm the one flailing around in the blue dress.

On Bass: Chris, Head Sound Technician
On Guitar: Jerome (usually Bass; that night, Guitar)
Keys: Aaron (usually Drums) and me
Drums: Rudy, Clown
Vocals (not pictured): Genevieve, Clown

It was a fun night!

Next year is looming on the horizon!
Built To Amaze now has a spot on the Ringling website, and the first chunk of our 2013 schedule is shown too.
Nicole Feld is posting more pictures on her Twitter:

Elephant rider costume:

Pink and blue motorcycle:

Clown costume (at least I hope it's a clown costume, she didn't say lol):
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I can't wait to get started!