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In the morning I went to the Norfolk airport, and from there flew out to Kansas City. The flights were comfortable, the weather nice. Thanks Delta! By the time I got to the hotel in KC it was pretty late, so I ate a late dinner and went to bed, because tomorrow would be an early day!

I woke up around 5:30am (yuck!) and drove out to the BAC Music factory. Mike Corrigan (founder, owner) met me at the door. He gave me a quick tour of the factory. It's AWESOME. I love seeing what goes into making brass instruments. The fact that these are made in-house, by hand, is just incredible and so rare these days.

Mike stamping a trumpet bell with the BAC logo.

This is the lobby/showroom, where guests begin their tour (if they're taking a tour) or try out instruments.

A display featuring BAC instruments of varying builds, and also some vintage horns...

They were Williams & Wallace trombones! Mike says they're the oldest on record, with serial numbers below 20!!

Across the room, another display of interesting artistic trombones. One had a stained glass counterweight, another was a bell made of wood and engraved.

Soon Matt (General Manager) arrived, and he and Mike gathered together some equipment, instruments, and handouts for an in-service in a nearby town. I'd be accompanying them to see what they do! We arrived a bit late and were immediately ushered into a room full of maybe fifteen faculty, all waiting for our presentation. I was instantly nervous, but Mike and Matt were unphased, launching right into suggested repairs and maintenance for brass instruments. Mike covered problems often seen with student trumpets and trombones (stuck tuning slides, broken sautering, valve alignment issues, cleaning) and Matt discussed similar issues with woodwinds (misaligned keys, sticky pads, flute tuning, cleaning). Throughout the presentation they made recommendations for repair tools, cleaning products, and alternative/last-minute repair options for students on the road or on stage when a repair is needed. I was impressed at their knowledge and expertise, and all of the topics that they managed to cover in such a short time. Really glad that I got to come along!

After the in service we went out for lunch and got to know each other a little better. These guys seem like they'll be fun to work with :)

Back at the BAC factory, I got a more thorough tour of the whole building. It's four floors (more or less...there are different parts of the building and it's a bit confusing!). We took a really cool old freight elevator to get to each level.

The main floor has the showroom and factory, and some offices. Below that is a room with rental instrument shelves and repair shelves, along with a shipping/receiving area and some offices. There were other levels with storage, repair facilities, and cleaning facilities. The top floor had storage for a lot of instruments that had been bought or sold online, and a little door leading out onto the roof. It's hard to see in this pic but down there past the park is a memorial to Wilbert Harrison's "Kansas City", which mentions a "12th and Vine". There is no such intersection, but that's where it would be if there were.

Selfie time with the bossman :)

(photo courtesy Mike C.)

After a few more photos we came back down to the factory level, and Mike handed me a Sharpie so that I could sign the Wall of Fame. Many famous musicians have signed this wall. What an honor!

It was a bit strange actually...today, of all days, was my five year anniversary with Ringling Bros. And here I was writing that date on the wall of my new workplace. Life is odd.

Next I drove to the BAC Music Center, their retail store located in Overland Park. It's a really nice store, with a repairs/accessories side and an instrument/rental side. Lots of brass instruments everywhere, just what I like to see :D

This will be my "desk" when I work here. Cool!

Matt and I spent some time talking about what kinds of work I'd be doing. I'm going to start off with getting the school accounts under my belt, while also selling and renting instruments as needed. My side project will be to work on BAC's education website, which I'm really excited to do. I'll also be able to do some inventory control by listing items on ebay and for sale on the site. While some of this is new to me, I'm excited to learn and think I'll be able to do a good job of covering these bases!

Later that evening I went to dinner with Matt and his girlfriend Andrea, and Mike. We had teppanyaki and it was delicious! Unfortunately it was very rainy crummy weather, but still, I was glad to spend time with these awesome people who will soon be my coworkers and bosses!

On Wednesday it was time to hunt for a place to live. I had four places on my list, and a fifth that I'd gotten from a young woman on my flight in. The first one was a total bust: terrible neighborhood, clearly not enough parking, and the first building I walked into (because I couldn't find the leasing office) smelled of urine. Nope.
The second one was better, but had no studio apartments available (the last time I'd checked they had 8-10) and their other options were too expensive.
Number three also had no studios available, but they did have a one bedroom that was within my price range.
The fourth was within my price range, but the studios were basement units, dirty, and smelled of smoke.
The last was way, way too expensive.

I ended up going with number three, as it was clearly the best option. I could have waited to see what else might pop up through the month of April, but in that case I wouldn't be able to see anything in person, and this day was proof that I really, REALLY needed to see this stuff in person. I went back to the leasing office and filled out an application. Hopefully everything will go smoothly and I'll have somewhere to live in May.

After that I checked into a hotel, returned my rental car, and went to bed. The next morning I got up at some ungodly hour for my flight to Wilkes-Barre. The weather was awful and there was a lot of turbulence, but I didn't barf (victory!). Josh (trainmaster) picked me up from the airport and we arrived at the arena just in time for our weekly meeting. After that we had a short rehearsal, and then I finally had a few minutes to sit still! My goodness!

My Dad's boss and his wife came to the show that evening, so I took them on a backstage tour. They had fun!

The opening day show went well, although there were lots of changes...Benny (wheel) hasn't been feeling well so his act is modified, and Anna (high wire) is back in the act after taking time off to have a baby, so their act has changed as well. The tiger act was a bit shorter because some of the tiger props were wet from the all-day downpour we'd experienced. Then as a result of the tiger cages tracking in a bunch of water, the BMX act had to be cut short. A weird night for sure, but still a good show! I was VERY tired at the end of the day, and couldn't wait to get back to the train and unpack!

On Friday I was able to sleep in, and it was glorious! We only had one evening show. Beforehand I was honored to participate in an interview with a reporter from the local newspaper (the Press Enterprise). Thanks to Colette for posting the article so I could share it!

(If you can't read it don't worry. Enjoy the pics haha)

Friday also marked one month left for the Ringling Bros. Red Unit. We tour Worcester, Manchester, Hartford, and Providence...and then it's over. So hard to think about that I'm trying not to think about it.

Saturday, three shows. My parents came out to the second show, along with Melody, a lovely young lady who attends their church, and my sister Kate, and some neighbors and friends. Although my parents have seen this show before, they wanted to see it one last time, or rather see me performing it with Ringling one last time. I was able to take Kate, Melody, and our neighbor's relatives backstage for a short tour. Here are Kate and Melody meeting Colonel the horse!

Throughout the day I ran into many other friends and family, some of whom I got to talk with extensively, while others only got a quick "hello, sorry, gotta go!". I am very sorry to anyone who felt snubbed. I wish I could accommodate everyone who comes out to see the show when the circus is near my hometown, but unfortunately some people will get neglected no matter how I try. Thank you all for coming to the show...it was great to see everyone, even if only in passing!

After the show I walked to the parking lot with my family. Kate had brought my car with her, and I wanted to move it to the employee lot. It's official: no more train runs for me. I have missed my car!!

The last show went well too. I had a few more visitors, including my former boss Tammy! It was great to see her again! After the show I drove back to the train, then loaded my car with a few items to store at my parents' house.

The next morning I woke early to clean my room up a little. My high school band director, Valerie Rheude, and fellow teacher Mrs. DeWire came out to the train! We visited the Pie Car, generator, and my room, and talked about the circus closing and the train being sold. It was so nice to spend time with these two, especially Miss Rheude, who has been such a major influence on my musical life. Throughout high school she always encouraged me as a trombonist, and that's a big part of why I ended up sticking with it. Years later, I am very happy to create some wonderful circus memories with these two ladies :)

When the tour was finished I drove to the arena for Sunday's two shows. During the second show I was visited by several more friends. Thank you to everyone who came to the shows in Wilkes-Barre, and for making our last PA visit a special one.

After the last show I took Tom (keys) to the bus station, then drove to my parent's house. I'm really looking forward to spending time with them for a few days! They've been to Bermuda recently, and showed me pictures from their wonderful trip, including dazzling azure beaches and amazing natural wonders (caves, coral reefs). I got reacquainted with the cats Roux and Immi too! They're still adorable!!

So much happened to me personally this week, I feel like I've neglected the overall circus life. Sorry about that. Now we have a month left of Ringling Bros. Four cities, four weeks. Stay tuned.

Other stuff:

While I was in Kansas City, the train was passing by my hometown!! I have frequently hoped for the train to take this route during my five years with Ringling...and of course the one time it does, I'm not there to see it! Lol!! But I'm glad it happened :)

On this map, I've marked both my high school and the house where my family lived during my middle and high school years. The house is the one right along the river, and the school is just down the road, where the pin is. Across the river is the set of rails that the circus train took to get to Wilkes-Barre this week (the red dots). When I was little I used to see trains going by while playing in the backyard, and hear their horns at night. A strange thing, that the circus train should intersect my past life near the end of its journey. 

On opening day it poured, resulting in lots of water coming onto the arena floor and lots of sawdust to sop it up. But then the sawdust needed to be spread around and removed. We were surprised to look up and see Rob (General Manager) out there swabbing the floor like...well, like a boss!!! You are awesome Rob!!

Here in Wilkes-Barre the train is on a very slanted set of tracks. It's both interesting and annoying. These images were taken by me, standing straight up.

Miss Claudia enjoying the train run from Norfolk to Wilkes-Barre...the last long train run of the tour.

(photo courtesy Nikki R.)

The train in the Wilkes-Barre yard.

(photo courtesy Bill D.)


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Apr. 12th, 2017 08:11 pm (UTC)
Looking forward to seeing the show on Saturday, we'll be there for the 3PM show. I'll look for you.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )