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After all the excitement of the week, I thought it'd be best to just ride the train while Jameson traveled overland. It would give me time to process everything.

The train run was uneventful as far as I could tell. The weather was cold and rainy so I did not take pictures. We arrived in Manchester on time but took quite a while to be spotted. I always remember this yard because of the huge snow plow engines here. And I take a picture every year :)

Opening day was strange. We rehearsed the "new" stuff...basically it's all the same acts only the Cannon act has been moved to the part of the show where the elephants used to perform. Then we did the show. It was strange. I felt vaguely surprised when I found myself playing the end of the first act after only 45 minutes. The show overall is not much shorter, but to me it just flew by super quick. And yeah, I felt sad. I guess I never knew how much I looked forward to seeing how Asia would eat her bread this time; watching Luna curl her trunk into a spiral during the headstand; or wondering whether Mable would choose to play her tambourine with the band or to her own beat. You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

...or as my boss who's been here for 22 years put it, "It'll take me another 22 years to get used to this."

But moping acomplishes nothing. We all did the show as though nothing had changed.

On Friday I found myself with a lot of free time, so came to the building early. There's an antique store nearby so I spent a lot of time poking around in there and found a 100th anniversary Ringling program (posters intact!) at a good price. Then I cleaned the trombones and installed some new leather neck guards on each one. The guards prevent your sweat from corroding the laquer.

Saturday was a two show day, very weird. I can count on one hand the number of two show Saturdays I've experienced in my four years on the road, and here we've just had two such Saturdays in a row! For the second show Jameson and I had some guests! Circus fan and photographer Andy joined us on the bandstand, where he watched the show and got some great photos!

(photos courtesy Andy B.)

And for the first time ever, I got to meet one of my LiveJournal friends in person! What a treat! Donnad and her husband came to the show and I met them in the audience. They brought me a massive bag of local goodies, including a jar of local honey (you guys know I collect honey, right?). It was wonderful to meet my virtual friends in real life :) Thank you both for coming to see the show!

After the show a bunch of band folks went to a nearby music store to scope out some guitars. I just watched. And took sneaky pictures.

Jameson found an SG he'd been looking for for a very long time and snapped it right up! While we were in there Andy happened by with a Circus Smirkus DVD. Thank you Andy! Can't wait to watch it on this train run!

Then Jameson and I had some errands to run and some dinner to eat. By the time we were finished we were both tired and decided to head back to the train.

Sunday, only one show. Weird. Jameson will be going to a baseball game, so I've opted to ride the train. I went to the grocery to stock up, then rode the bus back to the train. Next stop, Hartford!

Other stuff:

If it's cool with you guys I'd like to talk about the tigers for a second.

I've noticed that animal rights activists outside the arena in this city were already focusing on these animals. In anticipation of some of the questions people might have, I'd like to share some information about Ringling's tigers and tigers in general. Enjoy!

- There are currently an estimated 3800 tigers total in the wild (up from 3200 in 2014). (SOURCE)
- There are an estimated 5000 tigers living under human care in the United States alone. This includes not only tigers in circuses, zoos, and sanctuaries, but also tigers as personal pets. (SOURCE)

- Over the past 100 years, wild tigers have lost 93% of their habitat due to the human population boom in India and other countries. (SOURCE)

- Ringling's tiger trainers use reward and repetition to train their animals. The tigers are given treats after performing each requested action.
You (and millions of others!) can see this happening live, during any show.

- The two sticks you will see Ringling's tiger trainers holding are called "guiders". One stick holds a piece of meat on the end, while the other is used to give physical cues to back up verbal commands. The guiders are used to communicate with the tigers. They are not used to harm the tigers in any way. (SOURCE)

- CLICK HERE to read a day-in-the-life account from Alexander Lacey, tiger trainer. Below the video there is a full description, hour by hour, of how the tigers are trained, fed, housed, and cared for.

- Tigers love to sleep and lie around! They can sleep for up to 18 hours per day. (SOURCE)

- In the wild, tigers can consume up to 88lbs of meat in one sitting! They then fast for several days until prey becomes available again. Here at Ringling each tiger consumes about 12lbs of high-quality chicken and beef per day. (SOURCE)

- Here are photos of Ringling's tigers in veterinarian-approved transport cages (similar to dog and cat carriers). These cages are used for short-term transportation only. Tigers spend mere minutes inside.
Ringling's tigers do not live in these cages.

(photo courtesy money.cnn.com)

Ringling's tigers are housed in a large "run", a space with shade, food, water, bedding, and toys. The run is so large, in fact, that it's usually difficult to take a picture of the whole thing! Here is a picture of Ringling's Animal Open House. The tiger run consists of the white shelters to the left, the surrounding fences, AND the circular fenced area in the background.

(photo courtesy circusnospin)

Photos of more tiger run setups in different cities. Again, these are partial photos of the entire run which is generally too large to capture without taking a panorama. Notice that none of the tigers are chained.

(photos courtesy Taba)

Activists will often be seen holding signs depicting big cats in cages. The trouble is, the photos are literally always close-ups of the cats, NOT the cats' environment. Such photos are wildly out of context. Here is an example courtesy the Herald Sun AU. Please compare these photos to the photos of the tigers' living environments above. I think you will see what I mean.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 9th, 2016 12:59 am (UTC)
We had a great on Saturday, it's a wonderful show.
FWIW, my husband is also a musician. He was impressed that it was a live band and not pre recorded music. Sometimes in large arenas a live band can sound muddy, and he thought it sounded great. He was able to hear all the instruments, so you guys were awesome. Oh and the rest of the cast was fun to watch too. Me, I'm always watching the behind the scenes stuff, the set-up and how smoothly it transitions to the next act. It was a lot of fun. And I got a stuffed elephant too.

I will treasuer the gift you gave me, I have already put it in my curio cabinet with my other special things.

I took over 300 pictures, once I get some of them edited and posted, I'll let you know.

I hope we can meet again sometime, in the meantime I will live the circus vicariously through your posts.

Oh and No I didn't know you collected honey, I just put together a bag of New England treats and I happened to find some local honey, so I added it to the bag. I hope you enjoy all of it. The maple syrup and maple treats all came from my local sugar shack, one of the best in the area. Enjoy!

Edited at 2016-05-09 01:02 am (UTC)
May. 9th, 2016 01:11 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you guys came out!!! And glad you didn't tell me he was a musician, I might've gotten nervous and played more wrong notes :P

Agree about the muddy sound in these big arenas! And each arena sounds different...it's a constant struggle! But we have a great sound crew. It's good to know we came through ok in the house :)

The next time we're through I'll try to let you know ahead of time!

One of these days I will post a picture of my crazy honey collection. I've got PA buckwheat, NC sourwood, Mexican Oaxaca, Oakland raw wildflower, and chestnut honey, plus the bear you gave me. What? It lasts forever!

I'm going to be nice and share the treats with my boyfriend. Some of them. Maybe.

Thanks again. It was great to meet you both <3
May. 9th, 2016 12:28 pm (UTC)
One of the other things my husband (He'll tell you he's not a musician, just a guitar player, but he plays guitar, flute, and can fiddle on the piano, but he has had no formal training.) noticed during the show was that the only performers who were "on" 100% of the time, was the band. All the others, even the Ringmaster and clowns got breaks between their times on stage, the band doesn't. So do not let anyone tell you that you band members do not pull your weight on the show just because you don't pull cables or hang lights.

And what no orange blossom honey? Next time you are at winter quarters you should try to find some, it's quite yummy. Whenever I visit my MiL in Florida we make sure we buy some to bring home. Sometimes I will even mail order it from the citrus place I order from during the winter months. I really does taste different from the clover honey we get up here.

And please, do share the treats if you want, that's why there are two of a couple things, so you can share if you choose to.

Edited at 2016-05-09 12:31 pm (UTC)
May. 10th, 2016 01:43 am (UTC)
He still counts ;D

Thanks! It's true, we are the only ones on the floor for the entire show. And we're one of the least-noticed parts of the show! Haha.

Not to dis orange blossom, it's just pretty common so I haven't picked any up yet! I will :)

Ok, so...that maple peanut brittle...IS AMAZING. I had to throw out the original packaging...could you tell me where it's from? Something I'd like to send to some family!
May. 10th, 2016 12:07 pm (UTC)
Orange blossom honey isn't very common up here, so that makes it's a pretty special treat for us. Mostly we get the clover honey, occasionally we can find apple blossom honey.

The Peanut brittle came from Parker's Maple Barn, Same as the maple sugar candy and syrup. They do mail order.



The NECCO Wafers are actually a pretty nasty candy. Some people love them, I think they taste like perfume. But they are made here in Massachusetts and something I grew up eating. So I wanted to include tham as part of the flavors of New England.
May. 11th, 2016 12:43 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!! I want to send some to people. I realized later that the maple sugar candy did indeed have the website on the packaging. Whoops...

I've always like Neccos! Yeah they're chalky but who cares :P The chocolate ones are awesome.
May. 10th, 2016 10:07 pm (UTC)
Hi there! I was at the show thur and have been readings your blog for a while. I love your insight! I was wondering if it was you in the band. But didn't want to be a creeper. But anyhow we loved the show. The kids were in awe. We have two little boys with pretty huge disabilities and they clapped the whole time. They love the circus. It's one of my biggest joys to watch them be in such awe. Will be back when it comes again
May. 10th, 2016 11:35 pm (UTC)
Hello and nice to meet you! Thank you for reading :)

If you were there this past Thursday in Manchester, then yep, that was me!

Any time you want to say hello you can just scream, "HEY TROMBONE!" or "HEY BAND GIRL!" or "HEY MEGAN!" or something and I'll probably turn around and give you a weird look, and then smile :D Seriously, I don't mind at all! Creep away *thumbs up* I love to meet people who come to the show.

And I would love to meet your boys next time. Sounds like they had fun!

Thanks for the nice note!<3
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )