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Circus Xtreme Fresno, CA - 'Merica Day

We finished our week with an early show on Monday. Jameson and I drove 5.5 hours to a hotel in Long Beach, CA. The next morning we paid a visit to the Queen Mary!

The Queen Mary was a luxurious ocean liner in the 1930s. The popular style at that time was Deco, and so we saw quite a lot of brass decor and lovely Deco lettering and artwork.

The Queen Mary was one of the fastest ships of her time. When WWII began, her speed was needed for Allied troops to cross the Atlantic. She was stripped of her lavish decor and painted grey for battle, and during that time was referred to as the "Grey Ghost". At one point she carried over 16,000 soldiers across the Atlantic, a record number of passengers that still holds today. After the war, The Queen Mary was refitted to be a cruise ship and received some upgrades to her living quarters and other facilities. With the advent of air travel, commercial ships became less profitable and the Queen Mary was retired in 1967.

Since then, the ship has been converted into a hotel, event facility, and tourist attraction. You can stay on the ship for around $125/night, and dine in any of her four unique cafes and restaurants. The Queen Mary hosts weddings, conferences, and holiday events. Despite all of these changes, much of the original decor and fixtures are still present, and you can take a self-guided audio tour of the entire ship. Jameson and I did this, and it took about 2.5 hours (big boat!). We also enjoyed two ghost tours: one was basically a haunted house within the boat, taking you through supposedly haunted areas like the boiler room and swimming pool while special effects made the surroundings seem spooky. The second tour had more to do with the deaths on the ship and places where supernatural phenomena had been sighted.

Hotel Room #340.
Left unfinished because they couldn't get anyone to stay in the room due to uncomfortable feelings.

The hold and prow of the ship, where 239 people died during a trans-Atlantic accident and where 500-some WWII POWs were detained, several of whom died during transit.

The swimming pool. Nobody died here, but people have supposedly seen and heard phenomena here.
It IS creepy...

The ship's propeller (1 of 2) displayed below the water line. The wire hanging into the water is a deionizer to help preserve the metal. The shiny dots are coins that people have thrown in. Not haunted, just cool.

We had a great time and learned a lot :)

The next day we drove another four hours to meet the train in Fresno. We are in a different yard this time...with pavement! Yaaay!! A freak lightning storm that evening drove everyone inside. Everyone except Umbaakhuu Lkham-Erdene's husband, who captured some incredible lightning strikes!!

(photos courtesy Umbaakhuu Lkham-Erdene)

Opening day was pretty typical. The Selland Arena is pretty crummy to be honest...there's not much room backstage, climate control is poor, and every year things are stolen from the dressing rooms. This year we had a computer stolen even before the first show. Really, Fresno?? Fortunately the band has a room with a key. We ended up locking the dressing room every time we left it. Sad that we had to resort to that.

On a more positive note, the crowds here are great! Very enthusiastic. Thank you for that, Fresno :)

After the show some band members stayed late to rehearse for the 4th of July party. I'm playing a little solo myself, so stuck around to run through that. While waiting for my song to come up I climbed up on the portal to take some pictures.


Friday was normal, one show in the evening.
During the day I made plans for the overland to Los Angeles, and chores.

Saturday, Independence Day! We did do the National Anthem, using a horse to carry the flag. Nothing against the horses, but it IS more impressive with an elephant :)

After the shows we returned to the train for the company 4th of July party. The band was set up and ready to go, and people started lining up for food as the sun was setting. Jerome, Chris, Michael, and Jameson played some rock/pop tunes. I'm especially proud of Jameson for playing one of his own songs, "Maybe Someday". It takes a lot of courage to perform your own songs in front of others. Great job, sweetheart!!!

(Photo courtesy Chris G.)

After that, the hot dog eating contest began! The clowns organized the whole thing: piles of hot dogs, and four teams competing to find out who is the face-stuffing champion!!!

(Photo courtesy Tatiana R.)

Below are the contenders from left/right top/bottom. One is the coach and the other the eater:

- Ryan Harris (production) and the new Pie Car guy (???) are the most normal looking.
- Joey F. and Jon M. (animal crew) showed up it a flashy white truck dressed like construction workers!
- Nate and Damian (dancers, Damian not pictured) arrived classily clad in both Australian and American flags.
- Kenny and Koji (BMX) showed up in some Middle-Eastern garb and dinosaur pajamas, then proceeded to blend their hot dogs into a pulp and try to drink them. Didn't work :P
- Last on the list but first in the standings with TWELVE hot dogs(!!): Huyagaa Huyagaa and ??? of the Mongolian Troupe, sporting the traditional deels (robes) of their country.

(photos courtesy Chris G. and Jade F.)

THE WINNING TEAM!!! (Note: Huyagaa Huyagaa is now wearing traditional Mongolian wrestling garb, which he had on under the deel)

(photo courtesy Jade F.)

Then the "big band" (original band plus Bill, Brett, Brett's kids and I) got on stage to play some more music as fireworks began to go off in Fresno. The food and fun continued for several hours. What an awesome multinational 4th of July!!

(photos courtesy Huyagaa H., Lina A., and Karlee H.)

Sunday, back to work with three shows :P I think none of us were excited about the number of shows, but we still had excellent audiences. It's always more fun to do a show with a good crowd :)
On Monday we had a night show only. Kinda strange...usually if we have a "hangover" show it's in the morning or afternoon. But whatever, it gave us time to rest. I prepared my room for the train run and picked up a rental car for my gift-to-self overland. Jameson and I are having solo adventures this time. More on that later!

Next we go to Los Angeles to play the Staples Center. LA is one of the cities we enjoy the most! Lots to do and see!

Other stuff:

Is Mable spinning the pinwheel, or is the pinwheel spinning Mable??