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Quick sidenote. Some folks have contacted me to point out a lack of "circus stuff" in my recent posts. Please let me explain why that is. For the past two weeks this circus has had shows on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only. That means that for the past two weeks, Monday through Thursday have been down time for most of us. Like many other circus employees, I am using these days off to prepare for a new life in a few weeks. I would like to get as much done as possible now so that I can enjoy the last two cities, Hartford and Providence. So I'm sorry for the boring parts about my chores and such. Hopefully the last two posts that I make as a circus person will be about nothing but the circus. In the meantime, for those who don't want to read about my personal doings, I've hidden most of them behind a cut this week. Click on the cut to read the full post, otherwise enjoy the parts about the circus.

After a restless sleep, I got up early on Monday to take my trombones to Osmun Music. I've been here before to have the Williams trombone serviced. This time I was bringing my Minick to have the leadpipes worked on, and my large bore Bach 42A for a slide alignment.

I enjoyed shooting the shiz with Jim Becker, who is the main trombone repair dude. He asked how long I'd be in town, I told him that today I'd be in town all day as the train was moving and wouldn't be in Manchester until evening. He pointed out that it was Patriots' Day (a holiday that I'd never heard of before) and suggested that I see if there were any historical events or reenactments going on. Good idea!

But first, breakfast! Tucked away in a small corner behind a gas station I found Nashoba Brook Bakery. They had all kinds of awesome-looking confections like scones, muffins, and hot crossed buns, but I was hungry for a meal so ordered the No. 1: bacon, egg, and real white cheddar cheese on rosemary garlic bread baked right there in house. It came with a side of charred taters and some fruit. Along with some hazelnut coffee, it was a fantastic way to start the day!

After my delicious meal I decided to stay at the cafe and do some work on some resumes for folks. It took longer than expected, which was a good thing as I needed to kill time. Osmun Music is in Acton, an hour away from Manchester. I'd need to hang around until my horns were done. After a while I realized that I was hungry again, and was startled to see that it was lunch time already! Goodness! Not only that, there was now a huge line at the bakery that was nearly out the door!! I finished my work and scooted out...they clearly were going to need the table I was taking up!

For lunch I found a little pizzeria and had a few slices. The weather was fine so I took Jim's suggestion and looked for historic places to visit. I'd already missed the reenactments taking place that day, but Minute Man National Historical Park was only a short drive away, so what the heck. This was where Paul Revere was captured by British troops partway through his famous midnight ride. The place where he was arrested is marked with a stone circlet and a bronze plaque.

What many people don't know (and what they don't tell you in most history books) is that there were THREE riders warning the people that the British were coming: Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott. And of the three riders, only Prescott actually made it all the way to Concord NH and beyond...and Revere was the only one captured! After Revere's capture, Dawes and Prescott fled, splitting up in the hopes that one of them would escape British pursuit. Dawes came close to being captured, but supposedly managed to trick pursuing soldiers into thinking he'd led them into an ambush, and narrowly escaped. Prescott knew the area very well, and rode into the woods in the dark and off the beaten trail, escaping pursuit entirely. He was then able to ride to Concord and on to Acton, warning as many people as possible. Neat.

As I walked further into the park, I came across some historical structures that have been preserved. This one was called the William Smith House, and is believed to be the oldest home in the area (built 1692!).

There is a stone nearby recognizing the British soldier who died and was buried here. How nice!

Even further down the trail I came to a large structure with a horse painted on a sign out front. I was about to investigate, but off to the side I noticed a barely visible trail and a small sign with a picture of a salamander and a frog on it. Where could it lead?

I decided to check it out! It really was barely a trail. I had to unfocus my eyes sometimes to see where it was going in the underbrush and fallen leaves. There were even downed trees across the path. On my way I encountered a very frustrated family coming from the opposite direction...the kids were griping about how they'd walked soooo far for "nothing". After they'd passed I hesitated, thinking maybe there was nothing up ahead. Then figured meh, I had nothing better to do.

Eventually the trail petered out in this mushy-looking puddle. Could this be the end of the trail?

I clambered through the woods a bit to get around the muddy pit, and was happy to find a small stream running across the rocks. It was quiet and nice. The water was moving in a very interesting way, in smooth glassy ripples (watch in HQ).

Eventually I looked across the water to see if the trail continued on the other side...and it did. I picked my way across and continued to see where it would lead. Soon it became more obviously a trail, and then abruptly ended with a crazy wooden walkway that looked like some sort of surrealist bridge, or something.

I started to walk across, but something caught my eye. It was a small post with a little white arrow, pointing in the opposite direction (not the direction I'd just come from, a third direction). I still went across the walkway to satisfy my curiosity, but the other side widened out into what looked like a return to the main trail. Having enjoyed the crooked bridge, I now went back to see where that little arrow was directing me. It seemed to be pointing into the random woods. Again, meh! I was already here, wasn't I?

I shoved my way through the trees and soon found a barely-visible trail again. This one led to another wooden walkway, which ended in an overlook sitting right on top of a large vernal pool.

Vernal pools are a temporary pooling of water caused by spring snow runoff and rains. They are a good breeding ground for amphibians (hence the salamander and frog signage) and a good place for many types of plants to grow as well. I was struck by how still the water was, and by how quiet it was here in general. Spring may have begun, but it seems that much of the wildlife in this New Hampshire wood was still sleeping!

I sat quietly and just enjoyed being surrounded by nature. No one came to interrupt the quiet...I suspect most people thought the trail ended at the stream. After a while it began to get windy and cooler, so I decided to head back. I found my way through the woods, and right as I was reaching the main trail again Osmun Music called to say that my horns were done. Sweet!

I drove back to the shop to retrieve my horns. It's amazing what a little TLC can do...both instruments were in awesome shape! Thanks Jim and everyone at Osmun Music!! Now I could begin the drive to Manchester. When I arrived I found a Subway for dinner and then settled in at the local library. Libraries are a great place to kill time while waiting for the Silver Snail (the circus train :P). I even found a copy of The Sandman Overture, which is the only novel in the series that I haven't read yet! I dove right in and easily killed an hour reading and oogling at the incredible art in this graphic novel.

As it came close to closing time, I decided to pack up and head out to the train. Jerome (bass) had been keeping me up to date on the train's progress, so I knew that it was in the yard, but suspected that it would be a while before spotting as we're always in several cuts in this yard. I took a roundabout route and stopped for gas on the way. By the time I reached the train it was nearly there...just one more cut to spot. I wish it had been lighter out, I'd have made a video of the train spotting, for the memories. Oh well. By 10pm the train had stopped moving and it was safe to get on. I unpacked, had a snack, and went the heck to bed.

The next morning I was up cranky and early for a trip to get some stains removed from my car upholstry. I was off to a good start until I realized that my gps was not giving me up-to-date traffic info. How did I know this? Because I was at a dead stop for a solid fifteen minutes and the gps gave no indication that anything was off. The jerk :P It was a minor annoyance...until my battery light came on. Suddenly there was a sense of urgency and worry. And I was pretty angry as well...my car was just in the shop a few days ago! What the heck!!!

I got to the detailing place and let them know about the battery issue, and asked if they knew anyone nearby who could have a look. Thankfully there was a garage right across the street. Less thankfully, the alternator was dying and I'd need a new one. Hopefully this will be the last car repair for a while, because I really can't afford many more. I walked to the arena and caught the company bus back to the train, ate breakfast, and decided to sort through some of my things in preparation for packing my car (assuming it can handle it without snapping in half or something!!!).

It quickly became clear that I would not be able to effectively sort my things until my car was back. There's just not enough space in my room. So instead, I went outside to revisit this yard that I know so well and am seeing for the last time. Between two cuts of our train there is a section of rotted track.

The ties are very old, and if you look carefully you can find date nails hammered into the wood. The last time we were here Brett and Sasha dug up most of the date nails, but I remembered one in particular that no one was able to remove, a 1929 nail about halfway down the tracks. Isn't it weird, the things you remember?

At the other end of the yard, I made sure to take my semi-annual photo of the snow plow engines that are always sitting in this yard. This year they are back to back. In past years they have been positioned in other ways. This yard is in my mind as "the one with the snow plows".

Further on I noticed that the engines that had pulled our train to the yard were still here! They are beautiful blue Pan Am engines. Josh (our trainmaster) tells me that these are the president of Pan Am's own personal locomotives. Josh says that all of the parts are original, which is very rare for an engine that operates on freight lines. I took a few pics, and a pic of our train sitting in the yard.

On the way back to my room I noticed tons of these little glass tubes lying around. I was convinced that they were some sort of weird crack pipe.

But when I looked at them carefully, I realized they had to be something else. A quick google search told me that these are Gastec pipes for detecting and measuring gas leaks. Neat!

After a brief rest I caught the bus back to the arena and walked to pick up my car. The stains had been removed, and the alternator had been replaced, and I was significantly poorer. I stopped by the grocery for a few things, then returned to the train. Jameson had sent me a link to one of his online class discussions, so I turned it on and listened while continuing to pack. He's a very good teacher, and it was good to hear his voice.

The next day I very literally spent the whole day packing, sorting, and playing Car Tetris. I was shocked to find that all three of my trombones AND all of my books AND all of my misc would fit into the car! Once I was certain that all of my things would fit, I cleaned up my room. This involved wiping out storage areas and cleaning drawers and cupboards too before putting some necessities back in the room. Again, the more I can do now, the less I'll have to do in a few weeks. I moved about half of my boxes back into my room, wiped everything down, and finally sat down for a bit before bedtime!

Thursday was the last day off of the week. I spent the morning reaching for things that weren't there anymore and digging things out of boxes that I hadn't realized I still needed for daily life. Good times. The room doesn't look that different really, but almost all of the storage spaces are empty. Partway through the day I took a trip to the grocery for some things I'd forgotten. I also stopped at a Michaels craft store on a tip from Kyle (former Ringling clown) who'd posted pics of some Ringling-branded items being sold there. Sure enough, there's a whole section of Ringling things! Most of it was food...animal grahams, rainbow twist lollipops, elephant/tiger/clown-shaped ring pops, and some marshmallow twists. Non-food items included foam clown noses, sequined bow ties, and branded wrapping paper.

For dinner I treated myself to Whole Foods takeout, then returned home to continue the chill time.

Friday was opening day. We had a very short rehearsal (what are we even rehearsing at this point, honestly?) and afterward I visted an antique mall down the street that has been a go-to for circus people every time we're in town. I killed a good hour in there looking at some wonderful old things. The weather was miserable, rainy and cold, so when I was done I got a quick dinner at the grocery across the street. Brett (bandmaster) had been more industrious at the antique shop than me...he'd found a copy of a vinyl album performed by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey "Klowns"! Yes, really, this was a record produced by Ringling! It's very....60s!!

The opening day show was very well attended and went smoothly.

Saturday, three shows. It looks like I may be wearing Jameson's costume vest for the rest of the tour, as mine is still missing :/ Again, sorry for the lack of interesting photos. A slow weekend is a slow weekend. I should mention that the Blue Unit is now one month away from their closure :(

Sunday, two shows, a little later than usual at 2 and 6 instead of 1 and 5. Shows were well attended.

And now, only two weeks left for the Red Unit. Fifteen shows. Crazy.
In both Hartford and Providence we will having some final events and parties. Looking forward to it, and dreading it.

Other stuff:

Hooray! The train car that I live on is going to LIVE ON as a part of the Cincinnati Dinner Train! They bid on the car in the auction and won. I am so happy that our car will not be rotting in some junkyard. Maybe I'll even get to revisit it someday :)

The animal barn in Manchester. It's up on a hill and a bit awkward to access, so no Animal Open House here.

Pie Car Jr. Took this pic for the memories, and because I felt bad that nothing much happened this week.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 23rd, 2017 10:03 pm (UTC)
Oh bummer, I wish I had known you were going to be in Acton, I live one town over, you could have visited, hung out as long as you needed and borrowed a cup of my internet to do whatever. On Patriot's Day all I did was sit around watching a baseball game and the Boston Marathon.

Nashoba Brook Bakery makes awesome bread.

Oh and the Minuteman park is actually in Massachusetts, Lexington and Concord Mass.

Edited at 2017-04-23 10:04 pm (UTC)
Apr. 25th, 2017 05:36 pm (UTC)
Sorry :/ I don't like to impose on people in any case.

I enjoyed the bakery's bread so much that I bought a half-loaf! Delicious.

Sorry if I got Minute Man park info wrong...I know it's a large park and I only saw a very small portion of it. Was glad to be able to visit though!
Apr. 25th, 2017 06:45 pm (UTC)
Well, you have a standing invitation whenever you are in the area, to get in touch for lunch or whatever. I work at home, I make my own hours, so it's not an imposition, I like the company.

And no need to be sorry about not knowing Minuteman Park. You don't live in this area, I wouldn't expect you to know. Yes, it is a large area, it can be a very soothing walk.

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )