8/4/15- Day Off!
Our trailers were parked around 10 o'clock this morning, so as soon as I got my house set up I went out to run errands.
I did my laundry, went by the post office, and picked up a birthday gift for Julius Espana from Gamestop.
While I was out I also went by Vesecky's Bakery to buy some wonderful Czech pastries to enjoy with my morning coffee.
In the late afternoon I caught a train to downtown Chicago to have dinner with my new friend, Brittany.
I met her at a nice bar and restaurant called The Ogden that was not too far from the United Center, where I used to perform with Ringling.
That night appetizers were buy one, get one free, so we picked two that were absolutely delicious. We got the Animal Fries, which were topped with pulled pork, white cheddar cheese curds, giardiniera, and a fried egg, and we also ordered the Truffle Mac & Cheese, which had crimini, porchini, portabella mushrooms, cheese curds, bacon, jalapeños, toasted bread crumbs, and truffle oil.
After a nice visit with Brittany I used Lyft to get back to the lot. Lyft is a program like Uber where drivers registered with the business come and pick you up and take you wherever you need to go, like a taxi service.
The price was very reasonable, and payment was handled via my credit card through my phone. My driver was also much more personable than any cab driver I've ever had; I enjoyed our chat on the way back to the circus.
8/5/15- Day Off!
This morning Alexa, Ryan and I had a television PR with the local UNIVISION station. It took forever for us to film one five minute segment; either the reporter would flub her lines or the camera man would make us re-film what seemed to me like a perfectly good take. What frustrated us was that it took so long to start filming again every time we stopped; everyone was just chatting and taking their time. I tried to keep everyone from the station focused so we could finish, and I could move on to enjoying my day off.
After getting cleaned up I took the train downtown and had a delicious deep dish pie at Pequod's Pizza. I read that Pequod's was the preferred deep dish locale for locals, and I can see why. My pizza had a caramelized cheese crust, and the price I got for the lunch special (around $6) was a real bargain.
After lunch I walked to Ann Sather, a Swedish restaurant specializing in breakfast, where I had a plate of their famous cinnamon rolls and a cup of coffee.
That little after meal snack set me back the same amount of money as my pizza did!
I hopped back on the train and rode to Millennium Park where I watched people play in the Crown Fountain.
I also sat in the grass by the Millennium Park amphitheater to rest my tired legs and do some more people watching.
After giving my limbs a break I walked along the lake over to the area with the Planetarium and Field Museum.
In the evening I met up with my friend, Brittany, again for sushi at Butterfly Sushi. After eating and hanging out for awhile I caught a Lyft back to the lot; my driver was from Manila, Philippines, so I told him all about my experiences there five years ago.
8/6/15- Day Off!
Ryan, his family, and I left for Baraboo, WI this morning at 7:00 a.m., and we got to town around noon. We were hoping to get there sooner, but we hit a lot of traffic leaving Chicago.
Our first stop was at the house of Corissa, Tatiana's sister-in-law. She just had a baby girl last week, and Tatiana was so excited to meet her new niece.
Tatiana's mom, two of her sisters, two of her nephews, and another niece all arrived in Baraboo at the same time that we did. They were just fifty miles away with Carson & Barnes, so things worked out perfectly for a nice family visit.
While the Fusco clan went off to get lunch, Ryan and I met up with our friend, Greg DeSanto, who is executive director of the International Clown Hall of Fame & Research Center.
We had lunch and then headed straight to the ICHOF. I had so much fun geeking out in Greg's office. While we talked and swapped stories, I helped Greg organize and ID some of the thousands of slides that he has in the Hall of Fame's collection.
Dan "Buckles" Buckley, a former clown with Clyde Beatty, Vargas, and Franzen Bros., stopped by to say hello, and once our friend, Neal Skoy, was finished with work at Circus World Museum, he came over to visit and geek out as well.
Once Tatiana, Nico, and Abrianna were done visiting with the Fusco family, they met up with us, and we all went to dinner at Monk's, a restaurant a few doors down from the ICHOF that had excellent burgers.
Greg's daughter Emily joined us soon after we had sat down.
As we were leaving Monk's we ran into renowned circus performers Lee and Judy Stevens and Joanne Wilson.
While we were all chatting, Karen DeSanto, Greg's wife, found us and joined the fun.
After Lee, Judy, and Joanne moved on, the rest of us went to have frozen yogurt. While there, an intense, high stakes game of Checkers broke out between Nico and Neal.
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and we had to leave Baraboo to head back to Chicago.
We had such a fun visit today, and all of the laughing really helped recharge my batteries.
We got back to the circus in Chicago around 2:30 in the morning.