Saturday, April 5, 2014

Monday, March 31-Thursday, April 3- Austin, TX

3/31/14- Travel Day

Our route sheet said that everyone needed to leave Brownsville by 9 a.m., so Ryan and I were perplexed when we were two of three people that were up and ready to go by that time.
We hit the road by 9:30, while everyone else seemed to still be in bed.

We only stopped once for fuel on our 354 mile trip to Austin. It was a very easy drive; we only hit a little traffic once we arrived in the city limits.
Since we were the first two trailers to arrive at the new lot, the Highland Mall, we weren't exactly sure where to go.
Luckily a mall security officer drove by, so Ryan flagged him down and asked where we needed to park.
We were introduced to the operations manager for the mall, and he showed us a general layout of where the show had been set up last year.
We parked off to the side of our designated area of the parking lot, and then we waited for more people from the show to arrive.

I joined Ryan and his family for a tour of the Highland Mall.....what a sad and depressing place! The majority of the stores are closed down, but there was a great used movie and video game store, so naturally Ryan and I were in Heaven.

After we were done walking through the mall, I set off on my own to explore the surrounding area. It seemed that most things worth seeing were on the other side of the Interstate, but I kept my search closer to the lot.

I did find a cool local coffee shop, Kick Butt Coffee, with a very helpful barista behind the counter. He gave me a list of places to check out while in Austin. Looks like I'll be very busy in my off time!

I spent the rest of the evening sitting outside my trailer enjoying the beautiful weather. By the time I went to bed a couple more trailers had arrived.

4/1/14- Day Off!

Today was a very lazy day. Mostly I hung around the lot waiting to be parked.

After awhile I started to go stir crazy, so I walked a mile and a half to a nearby Half Priced Books. It was a very easy trip; there was sidewalk the whole way.
I found some great books at this location, and I also found this, which may be of interest to some of you:

Back at the lot I finished a book I had begun on Sunday. It was a really good novel ("Lullaby" by Chuck Palahniuk), and I probably would have finished it quickly anyway, but since I was afraid to leave the lot for too long and I didn't want to drag out my generator for power, I had few entertainment options and plenty of time to read.

Finally Mimo, our operations manager, came by around 7:30 p.m. and told me they were ready to park me and Ryan.
We drove over to the trailer area and then waited another hour to get parked. While we were waiting, Ryan talked with Julio and found out that moving and set up days will be about the same every time, so we don't have to be so anxious about hanging around the lot waiting to get parked.
It would have been nice to know that we could have unhooked our trucks and gone out on the town, but we still have two days off in Austin, and now we know for next time.

Ryan and his family invited me out to dinner once our rigs were parked and set up, but I wanted to jump in the shower first.
As I was finishing up, my trailer battery died, which shut off my lights and water. One other fun feature of this trailer: when the battery dies, my propane detector goes off, and the alarm is SHRILL and LOUD!

I threw on a towel and dripped all the way over to my fridge, which is where the alarm is located. I kept pushing the reset button, but the alarm wouldn't stop.
By now the pitch of the beep was high enough to drive dogs in the next state crazy, so in a fit of desperation I tried turning off everything related to the battery.
Once I hit the water pump switch, the alarm mercifully stopped.

I had to haul out my generator and plug into power just so I could finish my shower, and also to charge my battery until I got back home.
Luckily after dinner we were able to plug into the show's generator, which solved all my problems.

Martin Espana invited me and Ryan over for a drink, so we went to Visan's house, which is dubbed "The Office".
We had a great time hanging out with the Espanas, David the diabologist, and Mike, who is in the band.
We stayed up until almost 3 a.m. telling stories and laughing.

4/2/14- Day Off!

Today Teo and I went to lunch at Kome, a sushi restaurant that came highly recommended to me by the barista at Kick Butt Coffee.
The sushi was amazing! I will definitely be returning before we leave Austin.

I took Teo to run errands, and before dropping him back off at his hotel, we went to Amy's, which is an Austin chain of ice cream establishments.
The staff does tricks with the ice cream while serving it (i.e. flipping the cup of ice cream behind their back and catching it in front before handing it to you), and they have very unique flavors.
I tried chocolate jalapeno, which was just as delicious as it sounds! (I'm not being sarcastic [for once])

Back at the lot I hooked up to city water so I wouldn't be depleting my tank's water supply. The water hook up was different in this town; usually we have a tower with multiple hose hook ups, but in Austin there is a lone hose that everyone hooks up to via Y connections.

At 4:00 p.m. Ryan and I had a television publicity in front of the ticket office. We, along with Alexa and Memo Vazquez, were interviewed by a reporter from the local UNIVISION station.
Funnily enough, she is the sister of a reporter we've worked with for a few years down in the Rio Grande Valley.

Her sister in 2012. We were having a better hair day then

We filmed a few segments that will be aired during our Austin engagement. It was a quick and easy publicity.

After getting cleaned up, the Combs family and I drove to the home of Rik Gern, who was a Ringling Red Unit clown back in the 90's.
More recently Rik was an advance clown for the Big Show, and currently he is a well known local entertainer known as Bonzo Crunch.

Rik cooked dinner for us, which was delicious, and then we enjoyed talking shop for several hours. I always enjoy getting a chance to pick the brains of Ringling alumni, especially ones I saw on the road when I was a kid.
Thank you, Rik, for a fantastic night!

4/3/14- Day Off!

This morning was spent in the warm embrace of my beloved Panera Bread. It had been far too long....
I was able to use the gift card that Ryan's Grandma and Grandpa Chan got me for Christmas; thank you, Donna and George!

Back at the lot I walked to the Metro train by the Highland Mall. The train only took 15 minutes to get me to the heart of downtown Austin. It was much easier than dealing with traffic and trying to find parking in the area for my big stupid truck.

My first stop was on the infamous 6th St. No, it wasn't a bar. I went to The Museum of the Weird!
I paid for admission and then looked through what the museum had to offer. There were plaques on the walls giving the history of sideshows, dime museums, 10 in 1s, etc, and there were many exhibits of sideshow attractions (Fiji mermaid, cyclops pig, two headed calf, etc).

My favorite feature of the museum was their collection of wax figures from horror movies.

The tour of the museum ended with a sideshow performance by one of the staff members. He performed several acts, including the human blockhead and sword swallowing.
Afterwards I told him that I was in town with the circus, and we talked shop a bit. Turns out we know a few of the same people; small world, right?

After I received my fill of weirdness, I walked over to Hut's Burgers, which came highly recommended to me.
My food was good, but it wasn't amazing. Luckily I was given the names of a few more burger joints to check out while I'm in town.

I also explored Book People, a huge, two story bookstore. I found some great titles to add to my wish list, but all the books were new (meaning full priced), which was a turn off for a cheapskate like me.

Once I got back to the lot, Ryan and I drove to a Half Price Books. It was a different location than the one I visited on Tuesday. There are 6 locations in Austin alone!

This evening was more low key than my afternoon. I joined Ryan and his family for dinner, and then we watched a movie at their house.

I love having four days off between cities!

In closing, here's a cool piece of graffiti I spotted on the train ride back from downtown:

And a display on 6th Street that excited me far more than should be normal for a thirty year old man that doesn't live in his parents' basement:

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