Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Jump To Laredo, TX

We were told to arrive in Laredo, TX on Wednesday, February 25, but Hugo was slated to get freezing rain on Monday the 23rd, so we decided to leave early to avoid possibly getting stuck in the bad weather.

Our plan was to drive down to Alton, TX to meet up with Carson & Barnes, which is where Tatiana's family is now working.
While there, we'd be able to see both Carson and Kelly Miller, who were playing just a few miles away.

Unfortunately about 200 miles into our jump, a car pulled alongside me and the people inside started pointing at my trailer and mouthing, "Your tire!"
I thanked them and quickly pulled onto the Interstate's shoulder.
When I got out of my truck I could see that one of my trailer tires was smoking, but besides that, it seemed to be in fine condition (meaning that it wasn't flat or shredded).

Ryan and I looked under the trailer and saw that a piece of metal on the inside of the wheel was smoking, but luckily it hadn't caught on fire.
I called Good Sam Club to get a mechanic on the way, and I told Ryan and Tatiana to go ahead to Carson, as I knew I'd be waiting for awhile.

About two hours later a mechanic arrived on the scene. After initially thinking that one of my trailer brakes had locked up, Jeff, the mechanic, soon changed his diagnosis to a broken axle bearing, meaning that my tire had come askew and was rubbing on the brake, which caused the smoke.

Jeff told me that I was very lucky the wheel had not come completely off, and sure enough, when he jacked up my trailer, the tire slid right off the axle with no resistance.

Even without one tire, my axle didn't touch the road, so I was able to very slowly drive the mile and a half to the next exit so I could get off the busy Interstate.

Once I was on the service road, Jeff was able to take off all the broken parts so he could go to the nearest shop and get replacements.
Being that it was Sunday, time was a factor since it was close to 6:00 p.m. by that point.

Jeff called me after awhile and told me that they didn't have the parts I needed, so he wouldn't be able to fix my broken axle bearing until the next morning, which is when the delivery truck would be bring the parts to the shop.

As luck would have it, there was a cheap RV park just a few miles away from me on the service road, so I pulled in and spent the night, able to enjoy all the amenities the park had to offer, namely electricity for my heater, and running water so my pipes wouldn't freeze.

Monday morning is when the ice storm hit, and although I got next to nothing in Fairfield, Dallas, which is where the delivery truck was bound from, was hit worse, which delayed the truck's arrival.

I talked to Ryan, who had made it to Alton early in the morning. I told him that I would be on my way as soon as my wheel was repaired.

I spent all day waiting, but at least I was warm and comfortable. Finally around 5:00 p.m. Jeff arrived with the parts, fresh off the delivery truck.
He assured me that it would be a quick fix, and I would be on the road in 30 minutes or so, but as he took apart the axle bearing, he discovered one part that was the wrong size.

He drove to a shop to get the right size, but after several hours of searching through all the boxes containing those parts, he and the staff still hadn't found the right fit.
Luckily, the right part would be coming in on a delivery truck in the middle of the night.

On Tuesday I was beginning to go stir crazy. I was extremely anxious to get going because I knew I had over 400 miles to go before arriving in Laredo on Wednesday.

Jeff was tied up with another repair, so he sent one of his other employees to finish the job. Unfortunately, as he was putting the tire back on my trailer, he found one more part that was the wrong size, so he excused himself as he ran back to the auto parts store.

By this point I was pulling my hair out, but the mechanic returned shortly after leaving, and he finished the job in no time.

With so much time on my hands to think, I had begun to grow paranoid that Jeff and his team were dragging out the repair as long as they could to take advantage of the fact that I was being charged by the hour, but I was greatly relieved to see that I was only charged for one hour of labor, even though I know much more time went into the course of the repair.

Finally around 4:00 p.m. I was able to leave Fairfield, and I put the pedal to the metal to make up for so much lost time.

Luckily I made great time on my trip, and I pulled into the Walmart in Alton, TX around 2:00 a.m.
I was bummed that I didn't get to see any of my friends on Carson or Kelly Miller, but I was just so relieved that I had made it down to the Valley without any further problems.

On Wednesday morning I met up with Ryan, and we began the final 150 mile trek to Laredo. Thankfully we encountered no more problems, and we made it to the Circo Hermanos Vazquez lot after lunch time.

I was familiar with the area where the show is set up, as it is right across the street from the arena I played on Ringling 12 years ago.

Ryan and I pulled into the parking lot next to the circus, and I went to the ticket office to find Sandra, the general manager.
She welcomed me back, and then introduced me to Nestor, who is in charge of parking the trailers.

Ryan had no problem parking his rig, but mine required a little more finesse. Since I need to open the cargo door on the back of my trailer to unload props, Nestor needed me to park my trailer backwards compared to all the other trailers.
To do this, I had to unhook my truck, and then a forklift was brought in to do the rest of the work.

All of the show owned trailers had arrived and been parked already, and between them and a big hill where the front of my trailer was to be facing, it took the forklift driver a long time, with many multi point turns, to get my trailer into position.

Since we've arrived, we've seen a few familiar faces from last year's tour. Most of the performers arrived on Wednesday or Thursday via plane or their own trailers.

I met with Luis, our sound guy, to go over the sound effects needs for our gags. I also gave him our Instant Replay sound machine and cue sheets so he could practice with videos of the gags in his hotel room.

We saw Eddie, our production manager, soon after we had parked, and he told us that the rehearsal schedule he had planned had to be changed since the tent had not yet arrived by Wednesday.
Apparently we will be starting the season with the tent from the Mexico unit of Vazquez. I knew we would be using a smaller tent this year, but it didn't strike me how much smaller it would be until I saw that only four towers had been erected to hold up the big top (as opposed to the eight towers that the East Unit uses!).

On Friday the big top started going up, and in the afternoon Ryan, his family, and I had a meeting with Sandra, the general manager, Nestor, who is in charge of everything outside the tent and performance, and Jaros, who is Sandra's assistant.
They went over the company rules with us and answered any questions we had about being on this unit.

That's all to report for now. Stay tuned for more updates!


Tejano said...

Welcome back to Texas! For a good Mexican breakfast check out Dannys restaurant.

Steve Copeland said...

I went to Danny's a couple of years ago for lunch, per your recommendation. I'll have to give their breakfast a shot.