Friday, December 20, 2013

Saturday December 14-Sunday, December 15

Greetings from I-70 West outside of Columbus. OH!

I know it isn't Throwback Thursday today, but here's a picture from Ryan's past that is proudly on display at his grandparents' house:

That's Ryan as a kid juggling for President Bill Clinton back in the 90s. Before leaving, President Clinton imparted these words of wisdom to the impressionable young Combs, "Don't take your jacket off. It's about to come to rain."
Great man. Great president. Great meteorologist. 

Here's another photo from Ryan's grandparents' house:

Know what that is?
Those are all my blog entries from Kelly Miller, printed out and filed away by Grandpa George.
Seeing it all in one place made me realize that I've written a lot of crap over the past five years!

On Saturday Ryan and I drove to New Bedford, MA for two shows at the Keith Middle School.
I didn't correctly read the tour info sheet, and we ended up circling the High School looking for an entrance before I realized that we were playing a different venue this year.

Our Santa, John Bundy, had conflicting gigs today, so Doc Swan stepped in as the jolly one.
It was great to see Doc again. He was the Santa my first three years on the Christmas tour, and I hadn't seen him since December of Aught Nine.

Eddie, a circus fan from the area, came to watch the two shows with his family. We chatted with him a bit throughout the day.

Amie, who helps Gail with the dogs, brought a portable, one cup coffee maker with her on the tour, which made her my new best friend. From then on she was nice enough to make coffee for me every day to keep me sane and caffeinated. 

The Middle School stage proved to be a difficult venue since it was set up for a concert the next day. Also, the front curtain didn't close (why would it, right?), which made for awkward prop changes. We're all pros and made it work, though.

Ryan had a lot of family at the shows today. His grandparents, his uncle Kevin, and his dad and stepmom all came to the first show, and his mom watched the second performance.

Ryan's dad, Chris, brought a couple of gifts for me, for which I was grateful. He brews his own beer, and he brought me a small jug of a coffee stout. He also brought a light up Bumble for me to use in my Very Merry Bumble Christmas display at home in Walterboro.

Around the time the shows began it started to snow. (Or "came to snow", as President Clinton might say)
By the time we were finished for the evening, there was a good coat of snow on everything.

Ryan and I stopped for dinner with his mom on the way back to Marlboro. Travel in the snow was very stressful for a good ol' Southern boy like me.
I drove the first shift to the restaurant, and Ryan drove the rest of the way. I think it is safe to say that I got the raw end of the deal since the snow was coming down heavily, and I couldn't see any lines on the road. It was slow going, to say the least.

Luckily by the time we had finished dinner the snowfall had subsided, and it was fairly easy going to Ryan's grandparents' house.

We had to shovel snow once we got to the house so we could gain access to the driveway. It was fairly late by the time we got to sleep.

On Sunday morning we slept in to get some much needed rest, and we hit the road close to lunch time.
We were in no particular hurry to leave since we had the day off for travel.

Before we took off I helped Grandpa George with the snow in the driveway.

Well, actually I stood there and posed for a picture. Which helped him….take a picture of me standing by the snowblower….I guess.

Grandpa George said that they had received 10 inches of snow. I was glad that all the wintry weather was finished by the time we got up.

We made great time on our drive once we hit the road, and we were even able to get into our hotel in Norristown, PA at a decent hour.

Since we were playing in the Philadelphia area for the next several days, we decided to base our operations out of one hotel for the whole time.

I'll see you all tomorrow with another update!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday, December 9

Greetings from I-40 East outside of Memphis! (Don't worry. Ryan is driving as I type)

This past week was extremely hectic, and unfortunately stressful. I suppose we were paying the price for taking a break last week to indulge our fancies of watching a British Sci-Fi/Comedy, and spending one day being thankful for what we had.

It seemed the fates were against us all this week as far as our prop construction was concerned. Every time we took a step forward, we were then forced to take two big steps back.
It was extremely frustrating and time consuming. 

On Thursday we knew that an ice storm was set to blow through the area, but I severely underestimated the impact it was going to have.
I woke up around 3:00 a.m. Friday morning to find that the power was out. There was freezing rain all night that accumulated on the power lines, trees, and everything in sight until the power was knocked out in different parts of town.

When I woke up in the morning I found out that the trees surrounding our trailers were all either losing limbs at an alarming rate, or simply falling over.
Ryan and I moved our houses out of danger's reach, which was no easy feat since everything was frozen: truck doors, windshields, jacks, etc.
Luckily I had the forethought to keep my water running all night, so I was able to use hot water to thaw a lot of ice. And no, I didn't put hot water on my windshield!

After getting situated, I went to the Circus City Diner to warm up and have some coffee. 
The place was packed not only  with regulars but also with the men taking a break from restoring power to parts of the town.
Apparently Friday was the biggest day of business the diner has experienced in its history, and they didn't open Saturday morning because they had run out of food.

I stayed indoors most of the day until my trailer battery died, which quickly got rid of our lights and heat.
After that we went around town vainly looking for a propane heater or an adaptor so I could use my new generator. Of course every store was sold out long ago since we didn't start looking until the evening.
I also tried to book a hotel room for the night, but again I was a day late and a dollar short. 

Later in the evening, over dinner, we explained our situation to Radar and Elisa, who graciously offered to let us borrow their generator. 
However, on the way to Winter Quarters we found out that our power had been restored. Hallelujah!

Many thanks to the people who worked long, difficult hours to get the power restored. We were very lucky that our outage only lasted about 14 hours; many homes are still without power.

The ice storm threw a big, cold monkey wrench in our plans for the weekend. Ryan and I were put way behind schedule.

On Sunday Ryan and I needed to drive to Dallas anyway to pick up our rental car, as well as to buy some materials and costumes that we are not able to get in Hugo. 

Unfortunately we had another wrench thrown into our plans since a few of the businesses we needed to visit were closed on Sunday.

We still managed to have a fun and safe day in Dallas. Here's an interesting little anecdote from lunch at In 'N Out Burger.
While I was waiting for our order to come up, I heard one irate woman complain to anyone that was listening, "No french fry sauce! I can't wait to get back to Utah where I can get french fry sauce!"
At first I thought "french fry sauce" was Mormon slang for ketchup since she was leaving the ketchup dispenser as she griped, but upon further research, I found this:

Ryan accurately guessed what the secret ingredients of french fry sauce were before I found the article, and he found it amusing that she could have easily made it herself with supplies readily available at the restaurant instead of complaining about it.

While we were shopping in Dallas Ryan picked up a present for Tatiana since they just celebrated their 4th wedding anniversary.....without either of them realizing it until the day after.
Ah, sweet romance.

At the airport Ryan and I were able to pick up our rental car.

The roads going to Dallas were not bad at all, but things got a little dicy around downtown and the airport. All the bridges and overpasses still had sludge and icy residue on them, and on our way back from the airport, Ryan and I encountered a five lane section of Interstate that was completely covered with slush that had frozen again, 
It was a scary scenario since you couldn't see the lines designating the lanes. Everyone just had to carefully make their own way across the treacherous tundra….it was kind of like playing the game, "Oregon Trail"! Only no one in my party died of dysentery. 

Ryan and I got back to Hugo around 10 p.m., and then I went right to work packing and getting my trailer ready for my departure.
Unfortunately I was up way past my bedtime, and I only got about 3 1/3 hours of sleep before I had to roll out of bed at 5:00 a.m.

An hour later Ryan and I were on the road to Williamsport, PA for our first engagement with our winter tour of "'Twas The Gift Show Before Christmas".

I'll be updating the blog sporadically over the next two weeks with updates from the tour. Keep checking in so you don't miss a moment of the madness.

Wait, did I say madness? I meant Christmasy madness!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Post Tomorrow

Hey everybody,

This has been a crazy weekend, what with an ice storm hitting Hugo, as well as our preparations to hit the road for Pennsylvania, so I am behind.
I will write a blog tomorrow during the 12 hour first leg of our drive. See you then!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday, December 1st

Greetings from Relaxing Hugo, OK!

This week was a lot more laid back than the past few have been; Ryan and I spent the majority of the week just relaxing. I started watching the British Sci-Fi/Comedy series, "Dr. Who", which Ryan, John, and Clara are always raving about.
I watched (and enjoyed!) the majority of the first season (from the newest reincarnation) with Ryan....and sometimes Nico.

When he wasn't running around playing with Angry Birds, of course.

On Thanksgiving Thursday I joined John, Clara, Dudley, Natalie, Georgia, Tootie, and Fridman over at Danny and Tavana's house for lunch. 
The food was incredible, and I was thankful that I got to spend the afternoon with good friends.
Later in the evening, John, Clara, and I went to Ryan's trailer to have leftovers from his family meal, and of course, to watch more "Dr. Who"!

In closing, here's a note from Clara:

Since I wasn't able to find a job here in Hugo, I've made my job this: Making bags that incorporate used circus tent vinyl...the first four bags are up and ready to ship! More bags will be showing up soon...if you want a custom bag or a bag made entirely of circus tent vinyl, message me. Thanks!

Those bags make great Christmas gifts! hint hint

See you all next weekend!