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Jameson and I drove to Cleveland on Monday. It was six hours from our hotel, so not a bad drive. It's strange (and nice) to be back in the eastern US...there are green plants, real trees, and rolling mountains. I don't think I realized how completely dry California is until I had something to compare it to!

Anyway, when we got to our next hotel we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was right next to a large mall! We decided to go see Crimson Peak. It was a good movie, but we were both disappointed at the lack of actual scary scenes. Still, a fun time :)

The next day we got up late and enjoyed lunch at The Rail, a burger place attached to the mall. They've got really good locally-raised beef, locally-made ice cream, and locally-brewed beer. I treated myself to a root beer float along with my "bootlegger" burger. Yum!

After that we did a little shopping (both of us needed shoes), then got groceries, then found the train, hopped on, and unpacked.

Opening day was good, good rehearsal followed by a good show.
Thursday was similar, with only one night show. During the day I did chores: laundry, cooking, cleaning, taking care of internet business. After the show, it was time for the annual Halloween tradition...Haunted Clown Car!!!

Every year around this time, the clowns turn their train car into a haunted house. This year they used 3D paint and passed out 3D glasses for a really awesome effect. The first half hour of the event was "kid safe"...after that...

The clowns use their Alley fund to pay for the decorations, so a donation is suggested. With your donation you get a shot before entering ;) I took vodka, Jameson took whiskey. I couldn't really take video or good photos inside the haunted house, but the decorations were excellent and the scares were great! My favorite was when Lindsey, wearing a completely freaky mask, blocked my way and I seriously had no idea how to get around her! (ended up just hugging her, I know, I ruined a perfectly good scary moment haha). After that there was a little dark tunnel of sorts. At the end of the tunnel Chase was scaring people with a foghorn. I turned around and realized that Jameson was still stuck behind Lindsey...so I got my camera ready...(watch all the way to the end)

Heehee! Haunted houses are awesome!
We exited the car and joined our friends back on the ground. Brett (bandmaster) had brought "punch", and Pie Car was there to cater the event with some spooky snacks!

After socializing a bit Jameson and I returned to the clown car exit to capture some choice reaction shots. Claudia was hiding between the cars to jump out at people. BOO!

We had a great time. Clown Alley did a fantastic job, especially considering that they'd had a 4am PR that same morning. The hardest-working circus folks are DEFINITELY the clowns! Thanks guys, you did a great job!!!

(Photo courtesy Ryan B.S.)

Friday was another one show day. I woke up late and messed around online, then decided to go to Cleveland's West Side Market (there was supposed to be a safety meeting but it was cancelled). I had gone two years ago and it was awesome then, and it is awesome now too! Tons of local foods, especially meats. Along with the usual beef and chicken, I saw bison, rabbit, quail, and unusual pieces-parts like intestine, hearts, stomach, etc. I was there for pumpkins, but picked up some apple butter and a piece of cake to split with Jameson. I also got a beef pastie for lunch, super tasty!

Saturday, three shows. We had excellent crowds all day.

Sunday, another three shows. It was also the very last day for the Gold Unit. For those who don't know, there are three Ringling shows/units: the Red and Blue units, which are larger and travel by train, and the Gold Unit, which is a smaller one-ring circus that travels by RV and truck. The Gold Unit was designed to reach smaller cities and towns, especially those that couldn't accommodate the mile-long circus trains. The result was a more intimate setting; with only one ring, the Gold Unit resembled a traditional European circus but still offered the amazing, over-the-top spectacle that Ringling Bros. is known for. After today, only the two large circus units will remain.

The Gold Unit has been in operation since 2003 (for 12 years). That is a great run for any touring show. But that doesn't make saying "see you down the road" any easier.

(photo courtesy Ringling.com)

Here's to the Gold Unit. To all of these talented people, we will certainly be seeing you down the road. May you all find success and happiness wherever you may go. <3

Next stop, Toledo, OH.

Other stuff:

More camel action! (or lack thereof) Sleepy time...

Boinko the alpaca (visiting from the Blue Unit) stealing Chester's food! Chester doesn't seem to mind that much <3

(all photos courtesy Mike G.)

This week I picked up a copy of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Treasury. This trilogy of books was a childhood favorite of mine, and since it's close to Halloween I wanted to revisit it. In the process of shopping for this book, I found out that the series has been banned from schools across the country because its artwork is deemed too disturbing for young readers. In fact, the book has been out of print since the mid-1980s, and has been in the American Library Association's Top Ten banned books list for more than TWO DECADES. In other words, it's a must-have :D The artwork is fantastic, surreal, disturbing, perfect. For more facts about this awesome series, check out THIS LINK.