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Since we were coming from Manchester, the train had a short way to go to reach Worcester. Jameson and I traveled overland, stopping at a Holiday Inn in a small town outside Salem. The next morning/afternoon our day trip adventure began!

We got off to a great start with brunch at Red Line Cafe. The crepes were awesome. Jameson got a savory smoked salmon crepe with goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and capers. I got the Elvis crepe...peanut butter, bananas and bacon of course! AND a cup of hot apple cider since it's fall. Absolutely delicious.

My delicious crepe:


After our meal and before sightseeing, we HAD to play Ingress. There are so many portals here, and so many people playing! Together we made a nice layered field (the big blue triangles).


Then we checked out some of the tourist draws. There were lots of magic/witchcraft shops. Most of them had gimicky stuff...charms, gag gifts, shrunken heads, etc. Some of them had expensive-looking bronze, gemstone, or wooden items. This shop had various bugs preserved in clear plastic and glass. I was very partial to the shiny beetle.



Next we each tried a Tarot reading! I've never had one before. There were lots of "psychics" to choose from. We settled on a shop called OMEN with two readers, and paid for separate 15 minute readings. My "psychic's" "name" was "Shalimar". Her tarot deck was cat-themed (I was glad Jameson went to the other lady as he dislikes cats). She gave me a 16-card reading, sort of like a double tetractys.

I don't know a whole lot about tarot, but I do know that modern readings are often intentionally vague or containing double meanings in order to give wide interpretation (how convenient). My opening "question" was a little vague, something like "What's my five year forecast". It's hard to describe the "answers" that I got, but I can say that the Clubs cards came up a lot for me, which "Shalimar" seemed to interpret as both "more responsibility" and "more work". Great. I asked her if the cards ever revealed a month's vacation or anything like that. Har har.

She also did a little prying about my past, and I have to say I was surprised about two things that she mentioned that A) I had forgotten about myself, and B) don't appear online, in public, or anywhere a "psychic" could access them. That was a little...weird. But hey, maybe she just got lucky :P

I don't believe in tarot or the occult, but this was a fun experience. And now I can say my first ever tarot reading was in Salem!

Next, we visited the Old Salem Burying Point (or Charter Street Cemetery). It's not the biggest or most famous of the cemeteries here, but it's the oldest one in Salem, having been established in 1637. Judges from the Salem witch trials are buried here, along with a governor and a passenger from the Mayflower(!).



This was one of the oldest graves I saw. Mr. Marston was born in 1615, when America was just an uncharted wilderness. What must it have been like...


This stone featured an Ouroboros symbol and the Latin phrase "Death Follows Life".


Here lies Richard More, a passenger on the Mayflower. He was very fortunate to reach the age of 84 (there were LOTS of young folk buried in this cemetery).


Right next to this beautiful cemetery was the Salem Witch Trial Memorial. This is a tribute to the fourteen women and six men who were found guilty of practicing witchcraft. Most of the memorial benches looked like this:


One unfortunate man was pressed to death.


The memorial is also ringed with quotes from the accused and the heading, "Lest Terror Be Forgotten". It's a very dark, haunting look at a shameful part of America's past.

Now it was time to find dinner. We went down to the Waterfront to smell the briny ocean water and see all the pretty boats resting in the bay. After a brief search we found Finz Seafood & Grill. Jameson got the clam chowder (VERY good) and the lobster roll (a sort of upscale po' boy) and a seasonal beer. I had the fisherman's stew, a blend of various seafoods in a tasty tomato base. Totally awesome!



Then it was time to head home. We had a really wonderful day. I really enjoy this guy's company :) :)

We drove to the train yard which I remembered only because there's a big Walmart next to it. The train wasn't quite there yet, so we killed time wandering the aisles. By the time we were bored, the train was spotted.

The next day, we went to see The Lion King in Boston!!!
We arrived several hours early, parked in Chinatown, and promptly started playing Ingress :D
I got an ADA Refactor from one of the portals! It's best to use this rare item on a high level portal, so we found one and hit it. Unfortunately I don't have a key for it so can't recharge it, but it was fun to do something new in the game.



While out and about, we visited Jameson's old stomping grounds near Berklee School of Music. He showed me some of the buildings owned by his alma mater, and two of the places where he used to work (an upscale hotel and an Uno's pizza). And showed me the intersection where he dislocated his knee while rollerblading (ow). We also found his old apartment, a cool-looking brownstone. This visit must have been very nostalgic for him. For me, it was an exciting glimpse into my sweetheart's past and a chance to reflect on my own college life (was that really almost ten years ago??).


Since it was still too early for dinner but we were both hungry, we stopped at Emack & Bolio's for ice cream!
Ice cream has lately become a problem for me in my old age :P Lactose intolerance is very annoying. But who could resist an orange cream smoothie from a place that makes frozen yogurt with live cultures?! Not me!!!

We continued to walk and play Ingress. I finally reached Level 8!!! This is the level at which you have the most powerful weapons, and the strongest resonators. Yesssss.

At dinner time our nerding was over :P We went to Fire + Ice, a chain that specializes in Mongolian-style food. You fill a bowl with meats/veggies/starches and even fruits of your choice, then choose spices and a sauce and bring it to the chef who will cook it on a flat grill for you. My first attempt was a little too salty, second was just right :)

Then...it was time. THE LION KING!!!
The show was at the Boston Opera House, an absolutely gorgeous building. We found out later that it had sat abandoned for almost a decade when the previous owners went bankrupt. What a shame!




Our seats were absolutely perfect. Jameson found us front row balcony seats, so no one was in front of us and the view of both the stage and pit was just amazing.


Much of the percussion was set up in the wings adjacent to the stage.


The show was visually stunning. If you've never seen it, it's a MUST. There's a great deal of puppetry, and at first it can be a bit confusing to have two faces to look at (the dancer's and the puppet's), but take a few minutes to get used to it and the natural grace of the performers makes it work. The script is pretty much spot-on with the movie, with a few alterations...for example, Zazu sings "Let It Go" instead of "Bunch of Coconuts"; Timon and Pumba do the Charleston instead of the Hula to distract the hyenas; Scar tries to woo Nala (eew). The staging and effects were fantastic. The pit orchestra was SICK. I am still green with envy over that crunchy bass trombone part. Mmm.


During intermission, we were invited by one of the dancers to take a backstage tour!! Her name is Selena, and she's a former Disney employee and a friend of a friend of Jameson's. She plays a Lioness, a Hyena, and a Grass Woman in the show. She has been with The Lion King for six years! (CLICK HERE to visit her webpage and blog!)

We met her in the lobby and were whisked backstage. Selena was an EXCELLENT tour guide! We discovered that Pride Rock weighs 8,000lbs! It moves on a thin metal track across the stage, which had to be made of steel to support its weight (steel is very hard on the dancers' feet and joints). We saw many huge props and stage sets hanging from the ceiling due to lack of floor space backstage, including the massive Elephant Graveyard. Selena showed us the rows of costumes, some of which weighed up to 50lbs! Specifically Scar's costume has battery packs in the legs and is therefore very heavy. The beadwork and other details on the headpieces were amazing. We also learned that the Lioness's headpieces have a unique attachment for quick removal...a patent first held by Nike for use in their shoes and later picked up by Disney. Also, Selena has 7 costumes and 12 costume changes!!!

We took a glimpse into the pit. I was able to see where the brass section had been, and there was lots of percussion down there as well, but we couldn't find the keyboards! It's a mystery...

We were not allowed to take pictures backstage, but Selena graciously took our photo FROM the stage! :D



It's been a wonderful, memorable week for both of us :)


The next day was a dark day. I used mine to catch up on computer stuff...writing this post, researching flights to/from home, early Christmas shopping and such. Likewise Jameson relaxed and ran errands like tending to his car and going to see a movie.

Friday...was very much the same :P Not much to report! I know the clowns and Emelins had rehearsals for next year. I went to the building early to practice. Thrilling.

The weekend was uneventful too, but it's worth mentioning that we had not one, not two, but THREE "band holidays" in this one weekend: A Deuce Saturday (two shows), A Slick Sunday (train doesn't move + someone brings doughnuts) and a McDonough Monday, a relatively new "holiday" in which we all wear our McDonough shirts :D


(photo courtesy Rebecca)

We had only one show on Monday afternoon, then Jameson and I went to a hotel.
Next week is Boston. Looking forward to it!!!


Other stuff:

The elephants hangin' out during Animal Open House. Mabel is hiding! Siam is saying "aaaaah"!


(photo courtesy Ryan)

Logo for the new 2015 show. You know it's REALLY extreme because of the X in X-treme.