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After the last show on Sunday I drove a few hours to my Aunt Chris's house. It was late at night so I went straight to bed in her guest room, but the next day we shared a cup of coffee and talked for almost two hours, catching up on as much as possible :) A lot has happened this year already, only four months in. It felt great to sit together and talk about everything. I've missed her company.

After a tasty omelette breakfast we went for a walk in a nearby park. We continued to chat while enjoying the lovely weather and natural surroundings. We walked for nearly three miles!! Felt so athletic :P Then she took me to Great Harvest Bread Co. for some amazing bread! Although Great Harvest is a chain, each of their stores mills their own flour from whole wheat berries. They do this because when flour is milled, the nutrients in the wheat begin to deteriorate immediately. Grinding the flour fresh ensures the maximum nutritional content and also gives the bread a flavor and quality not found in other brands. My Aunt treated me to a loaf of honey wheat and a peach oatmeal square. Yum!!

Then we visited LaFarm Bakery, an authentic French bakery run by Master Baker Lionel Vatinet. In addition to the amazing baked goods, the cafe also sells sandwiches that vary depending on what's available locally. We got a poulet tartine to go and shared it back at the house. Chicken, spinach, brie and havarti on LaFarm's sourdough bread smothered in pear slices, petite tomatoes, onions, a bit of salad, and some honey mustard. You can't see the bread and cheese in this photo, but believe me, they were there and delicious!

When she's not working, my Aunt has been participating in many "extracurricular" activities, including painting! After seeing a tutorial about painting a pear in acrylic, she wanted to give it a try. I was reluctant given my last fiasco with the watercolor leaf...but what the heck! We ran to the art store for supplies, then got right to work. We had to stop partway through to prepare dinner (chorizo-infused yellow rice and chicken thighs!) but were able to continue afterward. It seemed to take hours, but we were both pretty satisfied with the results. Here they are, our first acrylic paintings!

Finally finished, I spent a little time cleaning up and catching up with my Uncle Andy before heading off to bed.

The next day I had to leave in the afternoon. My aunt insisted that I take my pear with me, along with various snacks and an "infinity" scarf that she'd crocheted herself! I count myself fortunate every day to have such a wonderful, generous aunt. <3

I drove to Newport News, straight to the train, and picked up Jameson for a rushed grocery run. Afterward I barely made it in time to drop the rental off. The manager graciously offered to give me a lift to the arena; it was pouring out. I caught the bus back to the train, unpacked, and RELAXED. With my new (working!) internet I was able to enjoy some YouTube, check email and waste time on Facebook. Reading Eryn's page, I learned that during our train run a rock hit the engine and broke its windshield, so a new engine had to be called and the entire train had to be inspected. Exciting stuff :P

On opening day we had rehearsal as usual. The Hampton Coliseum is shaped like a giant coffee filter. Or another spaceship, your choice! Either way it's one of the more interesting arenas we've visited.

I used to work at nearby Busch Gardens, so I've got several friends in the area. Dan and his wife Darla picked me up for dinner before the show, and we went to Cracker Barrel to enjoy a meal and catch up. They're doing well. It was great to see them again :)

(photo courtesy Don)

The next day we only had one evening show. I spent the day relaxing and cleaning up. Another friend and local musician Dru came out to see the train! I showed him my car and room, and we broke into the Pie Car even though it was closed :P Then we enjoyed dinner at Boston Garden. Thanks for a great visit, Dru!

(photo courtesy Dru)

On Friday we had a split. After the morning show Jameson, Tim, Brett, Chantal (production) and I went to Hooters for "conducting class". This is where Brett goes over all of the cues in the book...what he's looking at to indicate it's time to give a cue, when to hit the track buttons, what to do if something goes wrong. Tim already knows how to conduct. Jameson is the "emergency" conductor since he's on Brett's bandstand, and I'm, like, the spare :P After getting all of the info and enjoying lunch, we walked to a nearby Goodwill to do some picking. The guys found some CDs, but I didn't find anything I needed this time. The evening show went well.

Saturday, typical three show day. We had really great crowds, especially the last one. Thanks for showing your enthusiasm Hampton!! It was also "World Circus Day", so employees and guests were encouraged to take "circus selfies" to mark the occassion. Here are some of our selfies...there are many more out there, just search for #circusselfie or #worldcircusday on Twitter or Instagram! Let's start with Production!

(photo courtesy Kathryn. That's Chantal in the middle btw!)

Sound crew...

(photo courtesy Ben H.)

Taba (tiger trainer) and friends!

(photo courtesy Jade)

Our fantastic Mongolian dancers/camel riders!

(photo courtesy Tuvshinsaikhan Tsogtkhuu. Try saying THAT.)

Sunday was another typical day. The weather started out crummy and gradually became downright miserable, cold and rainy. Maybe this weather is good prep for our next city: Columbus, OH! This is one of my favorite stops on the tour, and I hope the sun will shine for us there :)

Other stuff:

Last week we had front row seats for an amazing surprise: a local airman coming home early to surprise his family! CLICK HERE to watch.

One of our Mongolian men is an amazing juggler! Here he is being fantastic during preshow on Saturday.

Baby camels Andrew and Dan. SQUEEEEE

The Hampton Coliseum is next to a small lake. We enjoyed sunbathing, fishing, and...whatever that Strongman is doing...

The Blue Unit celebrated a baptism and several confirmations last week. What a wonderful event! We're blessed to have the "Circus Church"!

(photo courtesy Sjana)


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 20th, 2015 04:42 am (UTC)
Circus Church sounds cool!

Also, your leaf wasn't bad. Painting is hard! Your aunt sounds amazing, though, and omg all that food sounds delicious.
Apr. 20th, 2015 01:55 pm (UTC)
Yeah! The Fathers and Sisters of that church visit us on the road. Occasionally they can't keep up with us and we have to do our own service, but normally at least one member of that church is there on Sunday. It's pretty amazing!

Thanks about the leaf. I watched a tutorial to do it but the guy was using tube watercolors and I've got the cakes, so I didn't mix the paints right and the colors came out very weak. Next time I'll do better :)

My Aunt IS amazing. My grandmother (her mother) recently passed away after having dementia, and about 13 years ago my mom (her sister) died of pancreatic cancer. She's going through a really hard time right now, and she's such a strong person.

Saw your recent post about moving back to America. From what you've said it sounds like you're right to do it, but of course it's going to be hard. Keep your cool and do what you have to, and I'm sure good things will come of it!

Thanks for commenting. Take care :)

Edited at 2015-04-20 01:59 pm (UTC)
Apr. 22nd, 2015 01:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm really excited to move back! I'll try to catch the circus when it comes around :)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )