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After a yummy late breakfast in Charleson, we continued driving to Richmond. On the way we stopped in Midlothian, the town where Jameson grew up. His family traveled quite a bit, but this is where he has memories from Kindergarten up to maybe when he was 10 years old. Since it was late when we arrived, our first stop was a Friendly's--yes, the SAME Friendly's--that Jameson had gone to after ball games for dinner and ice cream. This was a nostalgia moment for me as well, as my mom used to work at Friendly's and I can remember getting the clown sundae once in a while :)

The waitress informed me that this is actually called a "conehead". Now I know what to ask for!
Anyone else remember these?

The next morning we went on a drive through Jameson's old neighborhood. Our first stop was the elementary school. There was sort-of-almost a little foreshadowing sitting right in the front yard! Jameson says it's been there since he went to school there more than 26 years ago.

After that we drove to his old neighborhood and found his house. Unfortunately the homeowner was out mowing the lawn, so he got to see us do about eight awkward drive-bys haha. But Jameson loved seeing his old house. First time in 26 years...it's good to get in touch with your roots once in a while.

The train wasn't quite spotted yet, so we went to a nearby 2nd & Charles, where Jameson found this awesome book of circus songs! It has write-ups on the history of each song, and excerpts too. Great find!

There was still time to kill, so we decided to catch a showing of Zootopia. We found the nearest theater, which turned out to be a seatside-service Carmike. Real food and a great movie? Excellent! The movie was amazingly good. I hadn't expected such depth from a Disney movie (no offense Disney) but Zootopia makes many great moral points and has a great storyline. This is one everyone should go see.

Anyway, the train arrived just as we were finishing the movie. We drove into the yard to drop off our things, then went to get groceries. The next day was a whole day off, and it was great. This yard is next to the beautiful James River Park, and the weather was unusually warm, so many people were out enjoying the sunshine. I went for a walk along the park trail and took pictures of lots of nature-y things. Spider alert.

One of the places where you can walk on the river via big rocks.

I found some circus people sitting on the rocks in the middle of the river, near a waterfall. Sunbathing and playing chess :)

After this wonderful relaxing day, I got to fall asleep listening to the sound of frogs singing in the marshes next to the train.

The next day we had one show. During rehearsal I took advantage of a moment where I don't play to get footage of the High Wire. These guys are amazing. Their families have been in the circus for generations. And Mustafa himself holds many high wire records, including walking more than a mile on a wire! My view of their act is not so great, but that doesn't mean I'm not holding my breath every time.

And then the weekend began with....*DUNDUNDUNNN*....the dreaded nine-pack!
Nine shows in three days (that's 18 hours of playing). No one ever looks forward to these, but we all do our best to put on a great show every time!!

Friday, the first two shows were a little lightly attended but the night show was a full audience. Former circus alum Jeff came to visit and said hello; we've been friends on facebook for a while and it was great to finally meet him and his family in person!

Later in the day I got a surprise envelope filled with mysterious, cryptic clues. A birthday present from my sister Raven! I plan to lie to her about how long it takes me to solve the mystery :P

Saturday, a little more tired and three more shows. But I got a great pick-me-up right off the bat: a visit from Don and D'Andre of Circus Fans of America! They brought me a wonderful gift bag containing some Windjammers magazines and chocolates (these guys know the way to a girl's heart!). After the show I was able to bring them backstage for a brief tour. The animals are inside with us this week, so there was a lot to see! Chris (elephant crew) generously allowed us to feed some bananas to Asia and April.

Don and D'Andre's visit gave me enough energy to get through the rest of the day. Thanks guys!!!

Sunday, the final three shows. Everyone was tired, but honestly I didn't notice a difference in the shows at all. Everyone put forth their best effort and it showed. We had three great shows with great audiences. I was very tired at the end of it all, but also very grateful. We had warm weather, meaning my lips didn't chap and crack...one less problem to deal with. And my new trombone is wonderful, it requires very little pressure to get a good sound. I couldn't ask for a better horn to get me through so many shows. And seeing everyone else working so hard, well, I couldn't help but do my best as well! Great job Red Unit and well done :)

I've been to Richmond with the show twice before. Each time has been different. This time we completed our 500th show on Sunday. Wow!

Now we get a bit of a rest before plunging into two weeks in Baltimore.
I'm looking forward to visiting the farmers market again!!

Other stuff:

Chaz (drums) catching a nap between shows.

(photo courtesy Chaz)

Camel, 1. Stipka, 0.

(photo courtesy Robert S.)

A very cool shot of our train crossing a bridge, taken by drone!

(photo courtesy Rhett C.)

The elephants leaving Richmond for the last time.

(photo courtesy Adria C.)