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I'd like to apologize--again--to anyone who's tried to read past entries in this blog. By the time I got working internet, the photos had once again been moved by facebook. I'm happy to announce that I spent the entire first day of the train run repairing all posts from 2012. Just the photos, not links or anything else. I'll go back for that once all the photos are back. Thanks for reading!

So yeah, the internet was working wonderfully. I spent all of Monday online fixing the blog. I didn't go outside for photos but I'm not above hijacking other peoples' great shots!

(photo courtesy David Shipman)

(photo courtesy Lindsey)

On Tuesday I did spend time outside, and happened to be out while we were crossing a series of bridges along the border of WV/KY/OH.

This bridge was very high up. People looked tiny.

Here we are going around a yard somewhere in WV.

Grass growing up between the ties makes this look like a green path of sorts :)

Near the end of our trip we passed a junkyard using buses as a fence:

The engineer slammed us around quite a bit as we were spotting. I had forgotten to lock my medicine cabinet, and everything ended up in the sink. For those who are curious, here's Eryn's explanation as to why this happens:

"Between each coach car on the train is a few inches of "slack" where they are connected. Locomotive engineers need to control the slack by either keeping the train all stretched out, or all bunched up. If they don't, those few inches add up and by the time you get to the end of the mile-long train a small jolt in the front becomes a huge jolt in the back, like "crack the whip".

So how do you start or stop a train and control the slack? Power braking uses the brakes on every car to slow the train down. It is a very smooth ride. Amtrak and other passenger trains all use power braking.

Dynamic braking is kind of like down-shifting (an oversimplification). You use the locomotive to slow the train, rather than the brakes on the train. It makes for a much rougher ride as it does not control the slack at all, but it saves money on brake shoes.

Here is where this gets ugly for us on the circus.

We use CSX, NS, and other railroad companies that are used to hauling FREIGHT. Freight does not care if it gets bumped around.
Most of these companies, *within the last 5 years*, have made power-braking illegal (against company handling rules). The engine has a sensor and if the engineer applies the power brakes for longer than a certain amount of time, it trips the sensor and sends an email to the foreman. The engineer can actually get SUSPENDED for up to 30 DAYS for doing it.

New engineers are not even being taught HOW to power brake. And the older engineers are not willing to risk 30 days out of work to give us a smooth ride.

The Trainmaster gives each crew a briefing on train handling when they come on duty, reminding them that our cars are OCCUPIED and to do gentle starts and stops, and to use power-braking, NOT dynamic. Often times the crew will confirm the easy starts and stops, but remind us that they aren't allowed to power brake, but they will do what they can."

So there you have it. The more you know.

Anyway, spotting didn't take long. The next morning I spent doing normal things like eating breakfast and doing laundry. This is my third time visiting this city (Here's Time One, here's Time Two), so it feels almost like home. We know where everything is!!

In the afternoon Jameson and I set out in miserable weather to reach the Giant Eagle that we remembered at the top of a nearby hill...only to find that it's been closed! Things have changed while we were gone :/ No matter, there was a Kroger only another 1/2 mile away. By the time we returned to the train we had decided to postpone our planned "date night" to Sunday in the hopes that it might be warmer and less blustery.

Opening day went well. During the sound check we had a guest trombonist: Jim Fischer from thisweeknews.com! He was here to interview Brett and get some footage of the band, but since he's a musician himself it was also a good opportunity for him to experience life as a circus musician firsthand! He did a great job, and I enjoyed the opportunity to wander around and take pictures :D

Here's the interview. I've got an unplanned cameo at the end :D (CLICK HERE to read/watch)

Friday was a one show day, but I didn't get to sleep in. I had a doctor's appointment in Cincinnati, so got up early to rent a car and drive out there. Getting there and back took up most of my day. It was just a regular checkup, but I think it's a good idea to see the same doctor whenever possible, especially with the nomadic life I lead. The appointment went smoothly and the Friday evening show went well, nothing to report :)

On Saturday morning a company-wide announcement was made regarding some planned changes to The Greatest Show On Earth. These changes won't take place for a while yet, and Feld Entertainment has not released an official statement, so that's all I can really say at this time. Stay tuned!

Other than that, we had three shows as usual. At (almost) every arena a local masseuse is brought in to offer services to circus employees. This week there was a chiropractor too. I treated myself to some much-needed shoulder work, and was impressed by all the cracking and popping sounds :P

During the second show I was able to snap this pic of Siam during a lull in the music. She had just gotten her whole-loaf-of-bread treat and was chewing it enthusiastically, ears flapping. <3

There were some sound snafus during the final show of the day, especially during High Wire. Sorry for anyone in the audience who had to experience that. Doesn't happen very often!

Sunday was another normal day. We had shows at 1 and 5, and then it was time to load out. After dropping our things off at the train, Jameson and I climbed the hill again for our date night at Matt the Miller's Tavern. We had dinner there last year and MAN was it fantastic! The menu was unchanged so we each got something different this time. He got shrimp and grits with tasso ham in Cajun sauce, while I had a 6oz filet mignon with onion straws and coconut edamame rice. Absolutely delicious. If you're ever in Columbus (or any Ohio city containing a Matt the Millers), plan a meal here. This is probably one of the best restaurants in the state.

We got some giant pieces of cake to go, to be enjoyed over the two-day train run to Providence RI. Walking back to the train, talking about various things and playing Ingress, I couldn't have been happier :) It was a wonderful end to a wonderful week in a favorite city.

Other stuff:

Jameson, our Key 1 musician and my boyfriend, is more than just a pianist. He also sings, plays guitar, bass, and drums, writes his own lyrics, and composes his own music. He's preparing to release a solo album, and this week released a preview song to SoundCloud along with some of his previous works. Take a listen!

A partial view of the RV lot and animal compounds outside the Schottenstein Center here in Columbus, OH.

(photo courtesy Chris K.)

From the Blue Unit, Alexander Lacey working with his big cats :)

(video courtesy Ringling Bros. YouTube channel)


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 28th, 2015 07:58 am (UTC)
oh my god, that food looks amazing.

Are you and Siam friends? Do you get to spend much time with her? I would be so scared!
Apr. 28th, 2015 02:15 pm (UTC)
we are lucky to get some fantastic eats on tour :)

We're not "friends" really...only the trainers and riders get to have close interactions with the elephants. Although it's good to remember that elephants are incredibly strong and could definitely hurt you if they wanted to, in general there's no reason to be afraid. Elephants are very gentle animals, and don't WANT to hurt anything!

Siam is definitely one of the friendlier, more approachable elephants. She's also a little slow (one leg is shorter than the others) so she's always at the back of the herd. So the band sees a lot of her :)
Apr. 30th, 2015 04:52 pm (UTC)
enjoy your blog
My son got me hooked on your blog. "Mom," he said. "It will give you a taste of what it is like to ride the circus train." He didn't take pics when he was in it. Well, I have been reading for two years and love all your stories and videos. Did you ever find out what you are allergic to? Rash twice, so it must be regional. Thanks for the blog. I look forward to Monday mornings and your new adventures.
May. 1st, 2015 02:06 am (UTC)
Re: enjoy your blog
Wow. Thank you so much! It still amazes me that people find this blog interesting. And it means a lot. Thank you :)

What did your son do in the circus?

I never did find out what the rash was! When I told the doctor how many states I'd passed through just to get to Vegas, he kinda rolled his eyes. It's difficult to determine an allergen in a "stationary" person; for someone who passes through umpteen states to get to a different city every week, it's probably impossible!! What with different native plants, exotic animals, climate and altitude changes...

The rash started while we were passing through Wyoming. We were in a somewhat mountainous area and the wind was blowing pretty strongly, so I wonder if some sort of pollen or spore caused it. But it only appeared on the backs of my arms and legs...who knows, really. In a few months we'll see if it happens again!

Thank you again for reading. I'll try to keep things interesting for you! ;)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )