Thursday, July 31, 2008

July 31 Day 2 Ulster Co Fair- seniors day

Fair manager Gary punks out. He borrowed Victor's Punk costume accessories to show his grandson (who recently had his hair dyed blue) that grandpa is hip too.
Darrell in my Elvis wig leading the Senior Choir.
Frankie the Real New Yorker Piano player for the Choir portion.
(Don't have picture of Eddie the owner of these keyboards and the main piano guy for the day.

The choir; the woman on the far right is 99!

Bright and early...still not easy. I keep thinking about the drive home and how much easier it will be to get up early making the drives easier. Thinking about doing the Hershey, PA and Amish thing.

Today was seniors day...seniors get in free and get special entertainment (we were part of the line up). There was a singing group from a senior living center who did a fine job with old favorites and patriotic tunes. Then came our show followed by a Seniors Idol where seniors from 60-something to 99 performed. The 99 year old sang in both English and Italian. She won. That was followed by name that tune and then us again. A man named Darrel McGill was the MC...a real hoot. the folks loved him. I gave him my Elvis hair to where (normally he is bald), he had lots of fun with that. His regular piano guy for the two game show parts was a man named Eddie RRock (No misspell). He is a transplanted Californian who plays studio for a lot of famous people. Really nice guy. The man of the moment, though, was Frankie; he looked like a young Howie Mandel, he had a heavy New York accent, and he showed up 5 minutes before the gig. He was very nice to us and was skillful on the keyboard.

We have been having a ton of fun enjoying the accents of each region we visit. Even Olivia can mimic them. We aren't trying to be rude. It's just fun to learn and listen to the cool accents of our great USA.

No sound people were arranged for the Senior Day activities so we provided our sound system for them as much as we could. Worked out well.

The little ones made friends with some vendor's kids and they played in the dust and dirt in front of the stage up until we left (during non show times)...they came back to the hotel filthy. Even when they did that they drew compliments from on-lookers. These kids are blessed, I tell you!~

James miscalculated his time for his street show and ended up doing it 20 minutes early. That obligated him to do it over again (back to back) for the people who were going by the schedule. Then he had to come back to the main stage and do our show. His arms were rubber and he ended up loosing control of a bean bag. It hit the fire-eating box and sent all the full and apparatus to the ground (4' drop) loosing all the full in the box (we have back up). He recovered and finished the routine as if nothing happened.

Everyone here asks if we are performing at the Duthchess County Fair next. It is a county or two over and is much bigger. Apparently a ton of people think we would do well there. One guy knows the manager and will talk to him for 09.

CT Amusement park man who saw our show yesterday sent me an email saying he will be giving the park owners a favorable report on us.

The locals here are great and one tells me that 50 years ago this town was like Mayberry. But since the college campus grew and New York city-dwellers come in as tourists it has changed A LOT! It's a very beautiful area and as I said, the locals are great. New York City people not so polite...please and thank you have vanished from their lexicon and holding a door for people behind you doesn't even enter their mind. Still their accents match the attitude. One person here told me the City-folks have "tude" (attitude).

Prices are insane. Take anything and add anywhere from .50 to 4.00 and you have food, toilet paper, diapers, etc. Gas is still over $4.14.

Oh, yeah. The bathrooms at the fair have attendants. And they expect to be tipped. First I've ever seen anywhere. It's wild. Cynthia says that after each use the attendant goes in and sprays and wipes things down. I can't bring myself to tip a fair-toilet attendant. Like I can't tip a server at a restaurant where you get your own food and bus your own table (seen that many times). I am not cheap, I tip 20-50% for good service, but I need to really be served.

James and I have lost some lbs. The heat and the lack of wanting to eat a lot and then the shrinking of the stomach from not eating much often has shrunk our bellies.

Tonight is laundry night.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July 30 1st Day at Ulster County Fair

The smallest audience today.
Amelia and Olivia Made friends...
Bellamy Brothers
I have a Sulcata Tortoise at home (about 10" across) this one at the fair is about twice that.
Here is a picture of our stage.

Today was a tough day for getting up. We awoke at 7:30 but it felt like we were still on California time. Somehow we managed to get up, eat and hop in the car. We drove to Lowes and picked up the blocks for The bed of know the ones broken on Miles' Belly. We then rushed to the fair grounds to find our stage and set up. Turned out we forgot to stop by the store and pick up lunch. (more on that later)

We arrived at the fair and found our stage. The grounds are packed to the rim with booths, rides, vendors, etc. Our stage is right next to the main stage so they scheduled things not to step on each other. Somehow we managed to squeeze our trailer in behind the stage. We set up our backdrop and created a back stage area. No place for our van (we often use it for changing, storing stuff, etc.). Oh well, we will make do.

The first show was at 11:30 (fair opened at 10AM) . BIG CROWD. Lots of tator tot sized kids in that audience. The response was incredible. We had several people who ended up showing up to all three shows. All the shows were BIG CROWDS. The smallest was the third show and it had over 150 people and by the time I did the walking on Broken glass and the spear box it was even bigger.

James did 2 20 minute juggling shows ala street performer and both of those drew big responsive crowds. I don't know what it is here but the crowds are really great. I'm not knocking any other fair we have done so far. It's just s different kind of response.

The manager from an Amusement park in CT came all the way from there to see our act, take pictures and make a report back to the owners. If they like us enough they want to book us 4-6 weeks next summer.

The big act on the big stage tonight was the Bellamy Brothers. (If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me, Let you love flow, Redneck Girl, etc) They did an hour show at 4 and another show at 8. It was cool to have them there and see and hear them.

The weather was clear and a bit humid, warm. But as the day progressed clouds came in. It may rain tonight and tomorrow...heard that song too often this summer.

Every fair James makes a million friends with the vendors. By fair end he gets a ton of free food. It took him all of an hour to get a free big lemon-aid. (Of course it was a college aged cutie).
As always the kids were well behaved and even Olivia had a good day in that department.
I think I have said everything I can think of.....but then again I am pooped.
Oh yeah, the fair staff here are funny and really nice.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

July 29 New Paltz, NY

Cynthia made a I mean she really made her friend.
getting gas!
Have you ever noticed that Fed Ex Freignt has red EX and Fed Ex Ground has Green EX.
(Also notice inside the Ex...There is an arrow. JC taught me that!)
We lost an hour while crossing Indiana as we entered the Eastern Time Zone. So when we woke up this morning at 8 it felt like 7....on top of it none of us slept that well last night....with the exception of Olivia who had a remarkably good spirited day.

Gotta tell you, travel days are pretty boring to talk about. There were beautiful hills, and mountains covered with lush green trees and shrubs. They keep the sides of the roads and islands between the lanes mowed and clean. Pennsylvania's villages are beautiful from a distance from the hwy. As we crossed into New York on Hwy64 there is a spectacular view of the valley below...I called attention to it so everyone could enjoy it. Olivia exclaimed very loudly, " It's really, really Awesome!" (She's 2.)

The kids were really Happy to get "Bug Juice" ( a fruit drink) on the latter half of our trip today. (By the way the trip was only 9 hours today.)

Oh, saw gas as low as $3.35 (It was 85% ethanol). I bought the $3.95 regular gas...ethanol gives you lower MPG! I tested it and I proved it. Almost 2 mpg there is no real savings...I'm not sure if it is good for the engine either.

I just remembered something that happened at the Isanti Fair. During one of our last shows I had just finished the fire-eating-fire-blowing routine when a robust woman from the audience exclaimed, "what are you teaching your children?" (I think she meant it in jest...there wasn't any malice in her tone but it was said loud enough for everyone to hear; said during that gasp moment after the fire-ball blow.) ( I suppose I have became ready for any kind of heckling due to years of performing and experiencing everything....even though this wasn't a real heckle.) I responded on the beat, "A skill." A fast pause. "So they will never have to go on welfare." The audience responded immediately with a fabulous applaud. Then I said, "Grant it, it's a weird skill."

We decided not to drive in on the interstate (it's a toll road) on the final leg (18 miles) so we drove in on the local hwy. Glad we did. It weaved and meanered through little villages, and hamlets (Realy, they call them Hamlets) ....old homes with wrap-around porches, manicured lawns, beautful brooks, etc etc.

New Paltz downtown is a ritzy town. Take Santa Cruz, Ca, Davis, CA, Berkley, etc with street lined cafes and bars, sushi, health food, (get where I am going). It's beautiful, no doubt.

Monday, July 28, 2008

July 28 TRAVEL

Sorry no pictures today...Just 12 hours of driving. We are in Ohio for the night and will continue to NY tomorrow. Saw fire-flies in the gass along the highway...pretty.
Everyone is good.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

July 27 Last day in Cambridge

Jim wants this car!
High Fives for Magic Mouse.
Ugly bug #1 of the day
Ugly Bug #2
Magic Mouse
MM draws the ticket for the cool bike give-away from the Bond Slaves Biker Club: A Christian Group.
Hangin' with his buds.

Well, one more gig on this tour....Ulster County Fair, New Paltz, NY. There is still a possibility of a one day gig in Ohio on the return trip back home...but not for sure.

Only two shows today and they were both seat fillers. For fun we gave the fair the bonus of a couple of strollers going out: Jim went out on his stilts and Miles went out as Magic Mouse. As usual, James got free food from vendors....Shmores on a stick and deep fried taco an a stick. Both he said were delicious.

The little ones hung out with a cute brother and sister who were with with girl scout vendors. Their mom finally got to see the show today and was seriously disturbed by the walking on broken a good way. After the shows it was hand shakes and thanks and check time. The clients seemed very happy and are talking about having us back. We had a very good time here. The weather has been great...though the roads are atrocious (shaking the van and us apart.) Minnesota is a great state to visit....just like Kentucky.

The hotel folk are really nice. If you are in Cambridge stay at the Country Inn.

A twenty our drives lies in front of us and I am not sure how far we will drive each day but we have two days to get to our next gig. One thing for sure we will not be driving through Chicago. Our timing will put us at downtown Chicago at traffic time so we will just by pass the whole city. Also the roads are so bad in that part of Illinois that I don't want to put my van or us through it. Also there are a lot of toll roads and (as you know from the past postings) I don't want to pay a ton of money for third world driving conditions.

So how does a big family survive on the road. Well, the big kids are very helpful. They also argue very little; not allowed to nor are they raised to be that way. Lots of laundry is done (by me) whenever a couple of hours can be found. At Beechbend Park that meant between shows (during the long breaks as the kids did their strolling acts). Here in MN it meant in the mornings since our shows started anywhere from 1pm to 4pm. Meals are bought once a day at a grocer. Microwavable, sandwichable, Foreman grillable, or just ready to eat. Our hotel duties of bathing, dressing, sleeping, etc are done simply...the big kids help the little kids as I do the paperwork and the blog for the day.

By the way, Cynthia finally got that good sleep she was looking for.

Titus....miss you and will see you soon.

(By the way Titus is my 10 year old son back in California. He has a rare disorder that keeps him from having fine motor control and so he doesn't travel well. So he and mom must stay home on the long trips.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

July 26 four-show day

Between shows!
Crazy hair
Yum on the left...yuck on the right.
(Just the opposite in politics)
Between shows.
Between shows.
Popular WI-MN snack.
Eating the curd.
Annoucing the show.

Howdy! Or Howyadoin?

It is day three here in Cambridge, MN. The weather is skies, high 70s...a gentle breeze...ahhhhhh!

We have 4 shows today (only 2 tomorrow). All four went really well. The second show was the smallest audience and a bit aloof but still every seat was taken and they seemed to enjoy the show. The 8pm show was once again off the was packed...overflowing in fact. The reaction was incredible. And sales were good.

In between shows the little ones hit the commercial buildings...again. We also tried deep fried cheese curd. basically large cottage cheese curd battered and deep fried. Tasted alot like mozzarella cheese. It was good. (later on we tried some local meat spread...pork liver; and we tried a potato was good...the tortilla not the meat).

Tried to find lutafrice, a cod fish prepared by having been soaked in lye then dried, frozen, un dried and cooked. They say it smells and tastes bad but we have to experience it. Also tried to find blood sausage and Potato luck.

No butterflies have been caught by us in MN .... yet!

The girls befriended some kids from the girl scout booth...they are doing a crazy hair thing as a fund raiser. They asked the kids if they wanted to have their hair done for free. See the pictures.

Grandma...your card came today...thanks for praying for our safety and good shows. your email thanks. you!

Friday, July 25, 2008

July 25 I-san-ti (Eye- San-tee)

A little touch up before the shows.
Hopscotch in downtown Cambridge, MN.

I have been pronouncing it i (as in Indian) san (as in sauna) and ti (as in tee). I always try to find out how to pronounce the town, county name when we get into a new venue because 99% of the time it is never they way I thought it was pronounced.

Porta-potties, heat (aka humidity), obnoxious teens and tweens, the sound of carnival rides twirly, sliding, moving, gliding....screams, howls, squeals, laughter, tears...the fair...our life. Oh yeah, food on a stick, deep fried food, hot dogs, sausages, Chinese food, dipped smells, the sound of tractor pulls, the sound of's all the fair and it's our life.

We had totally full audiences every show. The 4pm and the 8pm show were over flowing! Great response, incredible!

Today was nice for the kids because they got to sleep in. I had business to take care of: the post office, get the tires rotated, pick up some supplies and stop by the fair to feed the animals. While there I saw something cool; a dog was sitting on a man's head. It was hilarious.

Tomorrow is a four show day (Sunday only two).

Not much more to to you all.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

July 24 Isanti County Fair

One of the vendors in the commercial bbuilding was a sister EV Free Church. We attend an EV Free church in our town.
There is a butterfly tent at the fair. Inside are hundreds of Monarchs. You can go in, buy a butterfly kit, or a net, or just look at them from outside.
Our stage area
The local gun club has a bear skin. Olivia is posing for a bite.

(Pre-note: Princess Cynthia did not get a great night sleep...)

The rest of us did! B-fast was nice at the hotel...Belgium Waffles, fruit, cereal, muffins, donuts, etc.

Today, being the first day of the fair, we had to run around and pick up those things we don't carry with us but buy near the venue due to their size or this case it was concrete blocks for the bed of nails and card board boxes for the Spear Box Illusion. The Uhaul (where we get the boxes) was located in a True Value Store and when I asked for them in quantity it caused the clerk to ask if we were the ones at the fair fair who puts a kid in a box and sticks spears into it. (The fair people located the store for me and apparently informed them why we needed the boxes.) Uhaul boxes are about a buck more per box and no quantity discounts. Also the boxes are 100% recycled ( state law or Uhaul going Green I don't know...other states' Uhauls don' have the green boxes.

Menards is the Home Depot of the East. Yet, they still have Home Depots. It is a BIG store and also sells some food products and other non-hardware-home improvement items). hat's where we got the bricks.

A note on the drivers out here. In Wisconsin on the drive in we noticed that tail-gating is a normal thing. And I mean at high speeds; everyone was doing it. Like L.A. but fast!

Back to today. We ran to the Walmart to pick up food and supplies and found an oil change joint nearby so we pulled in and got the full service (wheel rotation...tomorrow). While getting the service they noticed my break lights weren't coming on! After the oil and lube we drove to the fairgrounds (right across the street). While diagnosing the problem we noticed we could get the break lights on when we engaged the Trailer break controller button. After some thought and inspection it turned out to be the fuse. A walk back to Wally World while the kids set the stage. I need one fuse but Walmart doesn't sell them that way...$3.00.

The walk over to Walmart (across from the fair but also across three big parking lots: the fair's, Menards', and Wlamarts') gave me a chance to call the wife and chit-chat. The walk back gave me a chance to talk with a good buddy, Bill, In our hometown on the phone.

The ground for the stage was very uneven so it took a lot of shimming. Fortunately a man had just built a log gazebo with shake shingle roof and had a lot of ply wood and shakes left so our shims were taken care of.

Minnesotans have a different sense of Humor than other parts of the country. They have an animosity of Iowa so any joke that picks on Iowa is fair game. Here is one I was told: Why do the trees along the MN-IA border lean toward Iowa? Because Iowa Sucks. They also have a ton of jokes about a couple named Lena and Ole and their friend Sven. Here is one: Ole and Sven are in a boat fishing in a lake. The found a sweet spot and caught a bunch of fish. Ole told Sven, "You know we should mark this spot so we can come back here tomorrow." So Sven got out some paint and put a big X on the side of the boat. Ole said, "you moron, what if we don't get the same bought tomorrow?"

All three shows today went really well but the 8pm show was off the hook! What a crowd. Gotta love them.

Princess Olivia slept through the first show but was up and in fine spirits for the other two.

I noticed today that the kids out here are generally undisciplined and get away with murder. The teens cuss like sailors. I heard the f-word several time while crossing the small fairgrounds (about 100 yards or less). I asked someone about it, I used Kentucky as an example (the kids there said, "Yes sir" and "no sir" and generally obeyed when told what to do by adults. Not here. I was told that there is a no spanking law and you could go to jail if you did. Grabbing a kid could constitute spanking. Yikes

A note about the Laurel Co Fair in Kentucky: A few years ago David Copperfield was robbed. When the robber asked him for his money David turned his pockets inside out in a way that the contents were still hidden. It made big news how David used a magician's ploy to spoil a robbers chance to get money out of him. The guy was caught. He was from London Kentucky. In fact, he was at the fair one of the nights we were performing there so we were told.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

July 23 By Princess Cynthia

So, we're on the road again. I had an awful sleep at the hotel. Lately I cannot sleep at night and I have no clue why. Well, the breakfast at the hotel was not very good and I was not entirely in a good mood. Olivia has been driving me crazy. I totally gave up on potty training her because it's imposible. I'm going to give that responsibility to my mom when I get back to California. Olivia is also way crazier than any kid I have had to take care of. I slept for the beginning of the trip but it's king of hard with alot of talkative crazy kids in the van. To pass the time we played the alphabet game backwards. I WON!! Normally James wins so I was pretty stoked. Much later in the day we arrived in Minnesota. We drove on the outskirts of Minneapolis and saw none of the big city but maybe I'll see it some other time. We arrived at the hotel in Cambridge. Since we arrived early we dropped the trailer off at the fair grounds. The fair is pretty darn small and full of agriculture. The people here don't have much of an accent unless they say certain words. We picked up some bricks for the bed of nails and picked up some microwaveable food at Wal Mart for dinner. after dinner the kids went to the pool, I colored in my very cool potato head coloring book, and my dad did laundry. Hopefully he will remember how to work the dryer correctly for cottons. I'm a little worried because he's washing my costumes and I don't want anything to happen to them . Everything worked out fine though. it's getting late and we have the first day of the fair tomorrow so I'd better go and get a good night sleep. Maybe I'll be able to sleep through the whole night tonight.

Here we are!

An alien is spotted in the hotel lobby.
Happy birthday Victor
Princess Cynthia with her new Potato Head Coloring book
Miles the stud
Alien spotted on the porch
Alien invades and scares the clerk

In what had to be the easiest drive we made it to MN in 6 hours or so under beautiful blue skies and cool upper 70s. NICE!

We dropped the trailer at the fair...the tent area they originally had planned for us was way too small so we have been moved to a really nice covered open building... we will set the stage and show tomorrow...the first show is at 4pm.

The people out here are so nice. SO far everyone we've met have been kind. Even the fair people with the stress of the first day, crazy Ag Folks, crazy vendors and lovable entertainers (us) they still maintained good cheer.

At the hotel we celebrated Victor's bday a little more with relighting candles on a tub of ice-cream. Victor also dressed up as an alien and we went around the hotel taking pictures. Little old ladies on the hotel porch loved it.

After dinner, while the kids swam I did the laundry...our costumes were getting rank!

Well, kinda of a boring day from a news stand point.

This gig has a feeling like it is going to be a smooth and relaxing one. See if I eat my words....

Blessings to you all....Hi grand ma and Grand pa. Hi Honey! Love everyone of you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

July 22 A birthday on the road and Illinois roads suck!

Miles and Princess Olivia go for a drive in the Pizza joint.

Victor Wears the paper napkin crown Cynthia made for him.
Birthday dinner

Didn't like the smoking section.
View of the Corvette Museum from our hotel
Alien Victor
Stylish Birthday gift from Mami.

Well the week of non stop shows is over. Like every "day after" we aimed to sleep in....couldn't do it. Somehow the new schedule formed from this past week of performing stuck like glue. For the first time in forever, I, the late sleeper, was first to raise and start cleaning up. (Many who know me will read this and find it hard to believe.)

We were all up by 9am ate b-fast in our rooms and were loaded and ready to go by 10am.

We were happy to say good-bye to our hotel but not to Beech Bend Park and the friends we made their. They were all wonderful, form the owner down to the ride techs to the other acts to the snack bar folks. Everyone welcomed us and made us feel like family. Many employees even stuck around after their shifts to watch our last show.

As I mentioned in the last post we stayed after the park closing to be one of the first to ride the new carousel and we got to feed the wild frenzied catfish and cute ducks at the park pond one last time.

Earlier in the day the Park Owner's daughter, the manager of the park, gave me a tour of the speedway connected to the park. It has everything for the racing fan. They even have a fabulous large stage for special events. Ronald Reagan had given a speech on the spot of that stage several years ago so the stage is called the Reagan Stage.

If you are ever in Kentucky and particularly in Bowling Green then you owe it to yourself to visit Beech Bend Park.

Kentucky is made up of some pretty darn nice folks. Just like the folks at the Laurel County fair in London the folks at Beech Bend were very special to us.

I just recalled that the Fair manager at the London fair reminds me of Tommy Lee Jones. His wonderful fiance was also very nice...a a bit a good way. If you met her you can't help but like her...just don't fall down in front of her...she'll laugh her ...... off. (She is a natural audience for America' funniest home videos.)

Though the Corvette Museum was right across the street from the hotel we had not time in our schedule to visit the 68000 square foot facility. If we are blessed to return this way we will make the time. Too bad too because this past week they released the 09 version...only $103,000.

Victor turned seven today. His mom sent him an alien costume he badly wanted. She made it herself....very talented...just look at the pictures. He was ecstatic. He got to name our meal places today so we ended up at a McDonald's and then for dinner Chicago style pizza at a joint on the Indiana-Illinois border. We also went to the Walmart and he got a cool blanket that when rolled up looks like the Panda from Kung-fu Panda. A note pad and colored pencils rounded out the gifts for now. He will learn like Miles that most of his bdays will be celebrated on the road since it falls in July.

We saw a sign on the side of a road in a field in Indiana, "Used Cows for sale" . No joke. Saw it too quick to snap a picture.

It's hard to believe but the South is a changing. Couldn't find regular old fashion 30 minutes to get plumb grits anywhere. They had Quik (No spelling error) Grits and Instant grits of every flavor and style but no regular grits... I do declare!

Ethanol gas is a hoax. You pay a bit less but loose mileage. I have a few hundred miles testing it. Our mileage tanked and it ended up costing more per mile in the long run. Tell your friends.

The big industry up in London, KY and over the rural areas was tobacco. I had never seen it growing before this trip. It looks like large leaved Romain lettuce from a distance.

I have to compliment most of America for having pretty nice roads. But California and Illinois your roads suck. California's roads bent my axle. Illinois roads just shook us like a Polaroid Picture. To add insult to injury the cost to go 70 miles on their toll highway (no other choices) was $11.85.....I had to pay to have my van and trailer shaken like a shake and bake chicken. To add further insult to injury Kevin A. is the name of the ultra-rude toll taker at the Belvadire Toll booth. He was cold and icy and very rude...I will say no more...just that his eyes reflected the cold heart that beat in his chest and his skin was old and cracked like the roads he collected toll for. We were planning on stopping in Rockford, IL for the night but K. A. (his name will be left out) and the rotten roads put me in such bad sorts that I refused to spend another cent in we ended up in Beloit, WI, where the front desk clerk at the clean comfortable hotel with a fridge and microwave and bfast in the morning, Lee, is very friendly. I liked him so much I did my pounding a nail into my head for him...he loved it and is going to visit our website (hey Lee if you are reading this could you work out a cheaper deal on the rates...wink wink.)

Don't fall for Shampoo, demand real poo.

Blessings to all who read this.

We love you all