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**BLOG UPDATE: From now on, you can reach my blog by visiting or sharing the address trombonemegan.com. My name's Megan and I play the trombone. Easy to remember, right? I figure it's easier to remember than taz-39.livejournal.com.**

The drive to Phoenix didn't take too long, although it was very hot with temperatures reaching up to 120F in some areas. We took it slow so the car wouldn't overheat (we saw many unfortunate folks broken down along the way).

We arrived in Phoenix a day before the train, plus the train was late, so we had time to kill. For breakfast Jameson took me to Lolo's Chicken and Waffles. I love chicken and waffles!! And now that we've been to several such places across the country, I get to compare! Unlike Roscoe's or Home of Chicken and Waffles, Lolo's chicken is very lightly battered resulting in a nice crispy skin. It's also more salty and heavier on the seasoning, which makes a nice contrast with the sweet waffle. I couldn't say that any of these restaurants have a "better" chicken and waffles. They're all delicious! And Lolo's hit the spot this morning!

After our meal we killed time at a local mall. We visited the Microsoft store to check out the Surface Pro and Surface Book, both of which Jameson might be interested for programming work. We were surprised to find a virtual reality setup near the store entrance. Jameson decided to check it out!

It was really cool! The demonstration started with visiting a shipwreck in VR, with fish swimming all around. Then, Jameson got to draw in 3D space! That looked like a lot of fun!

The demo ended with a shooting game!

Such things make me excited for the future :D

Since the train still wasn't in, I got to join Jameson and Krista (his best friend of 20 years!) for dinner at a popular local bar. The train arrived shortly after our meal, and those two had plans to play in the bar's poker tournament, so I stole Jameson's car to get back to the train and unpack.

The next day was pretty chill...well ok, it was really hot, so we mostly stayed inside. But around dinnertime we met with Krista for some delicious pasties at Cornish Pasty Co! Seriously, these things were amazing. A light buttery crust stuffed with all kinds of wonderful fillings! Mine had lamb, mint, potatoes, and rutabagas with a wine gravy. I could eat these for weeks!

After our meal, we had a challenge to face across the street...

Escape the Room! You may have heard of these, they're popping up all over the country. Basically you and your friends are locked in a room for an hour, and you have to figure out how to get out! We booked a room called "Escape the 80s" and were joined by two others, a young couple looking for a fun activity :) When we arrived, we were briefed on how the game was played and led to the room where we'd be trapped for a whole hour together!

Over the course of our hour we discovered many clues and unlocked many locks :) We got stumped several times, and when that happened our staff member (who was watching and listening via cameras in the room) offered hints that pushed us in the right direction without giving anything away. Very clever! Despite the fact that our two groups were strangers to each other, we all worked together quite well. Each of us had a hand in solving at least one of the many puzzles. So the feeling of satisfaction when the door finally popped open at the end of the night was pretty sweet!

We managed to excape with only a few minutes to spare! Great job everyone!!!

The next day was opening day. We had two shows, so there was no rehearsal. Everything went smoothly :) I was surprised at the great crowds, that's been pretty rare as we repeat cities! It definitely made the show more fun for us performers!

On Friday we had a split. After the first show Jameson and I found Zookz, a grilled pocket sandwich place that we'd discovered the last time we were in town. Still delicious! I didn't take pics because I was too tired to think of it, but suffice it to say we enjoyed our meal and followed it up with a dessert sandwich of bananas, nutella, peanut butter, and almonds. Om nom nom!

The evening show went well.

Saturday, three shows. A pretty uneventful day, except for the last show Krista and her friend came out to sit on the bandstand and watch us play! They seemed to have fun :) After the show some of the band stuck around to rehearse for the upcoming company 4th of July party. They're gonna sound great!

Smile Jerome! You're gonna sound great!!

Why are you hiding Chaz! You're gonna sound great!!

...you just do your best Jameson. :P

And of course other circus performers stayed late to rehearse as well. Viktoria and her son always blow my mind with their juggling feats!!

Sunday, two shows. During a break I took a moment to visit the animal compound. It's inside because that's where the largest (and coolest!) space is for the animals this week. This is the arena's entrance ramp, where the tigers are situated. Their space is roughly the same indoors as it would be for the outdoor animal open house, only the trailers where they sleep are to the side of the main run space instead of behind it. In other words the run is longer instead of wider. And again those are the black transport carriers to the left.

I didn't take pics of the horse and camel spaces because to be honest there was nothing extraordinary about them, they looked just the same as they do outside :P And anyway activists don't seem to care how the camels and horses are housed; for whatever reason they prefer to target the tigers. Some animals deserve more of their attention than others, I suppose.

After the final show we decided to hit another Cornish Pasty Co location, because the food was so delicious and because they were one of few restaurants open this Sunday night. This restaurant was WAY too dark for photos, so you'll have to live with a description of my pasty, the Roast Dinner: house roasted beef, roasted potato, candied carrots, sauteed Brussel sprouts, cheese sauce and rutabaga mash, served with red wine gravy and horseradish cream. I am telling you. If you are in Arizona, look for Cornish Pasty Co. Just fantastic food.

After dinner we got to a hotel in Tucson. Next up is San Antonio for Independence Day! It's going to be an awfully long drive/train run. Safe travels everyone!

(photo of Josh's kids, courtesy Josh R.)

Other stuff:

The Blue Unit is wrapping up rehearsals for their new show! As the train prepares to leave, it receives the traditional blessing from Father Jerry Hogan!

(photo courtesy Jerry H.)

Speaking of the Blue Unit, have you guys SEEN the previews of their new show?? It looks SO AWESOME. The effects on the ice are incredible.

In our dressing room this week there was a giant bottle of (fake) vodka. Bill couldn't help himself.

(photo courtesy Bill D.)

Ever wondered what it's like to change the wheels on a train? Nikki (train crew) captured part of the process on video this week! CLICK HERE to watch.