Wednesday, August 31, 2011

102 to 68 ---- No more 'magic'?

Today will be a quick posting.
We are now 6000 feet above sea level in New Mexico. It was 68 degrees when we arrived. We started the day at 102 in Texas. That state needs your prayers as it burns up. It is supposed to hit the low 50s tonight where we are.
We had Mexican food for dinner and even roasted our own Jalapeno peppers. NM peppers are the best!
We will be at the fairgrounds tomorrow. Everyone is looking forward to getting set up and practicing. 10 days was too many days off.
On the show news front we have decided to drop the word magic from our show name and starting 21012 season we will just be the Kent Family Circus. We are an internationally registered circus. After much research I have found that the word "magic" is a stigma with many bookers because there are so many magicians out there, and in the words of a couple of fair managers and a few bookers, "most of them bad magicians". I love magic but I know our show has transformed so much so we had a meeting and made the decision.
There will still be lots of illusions and magic in the show and I will still do private and public magic shows separate from the big show.
Blessings to you all. Cheers to you JC and Dean. Love you guys. Cheers to Mom and Dad, love you too. Thanks for all the help.
News to the house sitters.....we will be back Sept 11. Mami and Titus will end the tour then but the rest of us will continue to Texas, New Mexico and Southern Cal.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Expensive day.

Sunset over the smokey skies of Texas as it burns in the drought out here. Amarillo!
I'll explain the pictures in a minute. But first an update on the automobile problems. As I wrote yesterday I got new back tires for the van. This morning was an early riser day so I could get the RV into the shop. The fam would wit things pout around the RV camp (pool, ping pong, walks, buffalo viewing, etc. ) The shop was right next door to the camp. So my commute time was less than 2 minutes so I beat the shop owner and his crew to the shop. As I sat in my RV waiting I saw a big bushy Dog hanging around the the front of the shop. He was the shop's dog by default. The owner arrived and jumped on my problems right away. I explained the tests I did with the help of my hometown friend, Mr Butler, who owns a shop back home. While we talked the shop cat came out. She went to the glass front door and started annoying the dog through the door on purpose. It was hilarious. Seems every auto shop has a pet cat. Again, by default.
An hour later they told me the diagnostics indicated trouble with either the sensor in the differential or with the gear the sensor interacts with. So we opt to change the sensor anyway. I also order a brake job as the pads were looking pretty bad. There was also a squeak in the front left tire and the emissions diod was on. His test there showed nothing special on the squeak and the emissions problem was bad RV hates ethanol.
While waiting I did a supply run to the store then I stopped by an RV sales place. I was looking for an RV I saw last year and liked a lot. They had one on the lot. A Fleetwood Storm 32BH class A motor home. Big and stable with pull outs and a breakfast nook that turned into bunkbeds. With the pullouts out the kitchen area is huge and the ceiling above the driver's seat comes down and turns into a bed...rare in class A RVs. Only $79K...anyone want to give me $79K?
I got to play Mami a game of Ping Pong and happy to report she kicked my butt.
I want to make a note about the Rockwell RV Camp in OK City. It is awesome, affordable, clean and the staff is great. The owner is a really nice man. Back in May we stayed here one day and saw the ground work for a new section of park being laid out. Today we saw the finished product. It has come a long way. Also I remember there was a large mud puddle near the Buffalo pen but that has long since given way to the drought and is a dust bowl now. 100+ degrees today. Dry heat. But tempered by a wind coming cross the plains. My cuticles are shot.
We got the RV back around 2:30 and were on the road. We wanted to make Amarillo tonight. Everything was going along swimmingly but around 3 hours into the trip the ABS and brake light came on again. With no loss of pressure or braking ability I am convinced a sensor is getting a wrong reading or is fouled. When we got to Amarillo we took the front tire off and cleaned the brake pads and rotor and killed the squeak..hopefully that helped fix the problem...we shall see.
Since we got here near 7pm everyone was starved. I set out for pizza but found a chikfilet. So Chicken sandwiches all around. Very nice. Cole slaw, Carrot raisin salad, criss-cross fries with skins...mmmmmm.
The straw in the picture above comes from my chikfilet story. When I came up to the register I said get ready for a big order I have to feed a small circus...really. That got us talking. I noticed a lot of people were listening in. Sadly I hadn't a single prop on me. I noticed juice boxes and that they had tiny straws. I asked to have one and I took the straw and did my Human Blockhead trick...I stuck it in my nose as far as it could go. Everyone in the place came over to see. it was a hoot! Cool thing is I could breathe through it. One woman and her kids who saw it became a facebook friend tonight as a result.
This guy is a visitor at our camp.
Tomorrow, onward ho! To Albuquerque. But first a trip to Petco to get mice for Buttercup.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Gremlins in the Gears!

As I reported yesterday the RV had the ABS and Brake diodes come on. Well, today, I go the "service engine" light too. I know this one is unrelated to the other two. This one comes on whenever I put bad gas or gas with ethanol in it. But my dash was lit up like a Christmas tree none the less. I was supposed to take it to Camping World this morning. When I called yesterday Kammy told me to come in the next morning at 8AM and Pat would take care of me. We stayed at an RV five minutes away so as to make the trip easy. I set my alarm clock yet still slept very lightly not getting that full deep sleep. Then everyone rushed around earlier than we usually get up getting things ready to go without an RV for a few hours. Pat turned out to be a real piece of work. I arrived about 5 minutes before the place opened and saw a group of mechanics standing around . I walked over and the eldest of the group came over to meet me. I told him I was looking for Pat. He was he. And I said that Kammy had to me to ask for him. He told me they were having a meeting but I can see him inside in a few minutes. I stood at the door like a fan in line for the hot ticket. They unlocked the door and I went in. I walked over to Pat. He looked at me like he had never seen me before in his life. I repeated what I said outside and described my problem. Oh, we don't do that kind of work here. I was confused and sad and angry all at once. I asked if he could at least put meter on the car and look at the code so I can fix it myself. He said he would check to see if someone in the back could do that. He disappeared. When he came back he walked past me with out looking and up to another customer and clerk and started working on his problem. When he was done I walked up to him and began to inquire again. He said that they couldn't fix it but they could hook a meter to it and tell me the codes...but he would charge me 30 minutes labor for the 30 second least $70. I said no thank you.....and then I said the door I added "a Lot!"
The night before the crew was so nice. I had always gotten bad service at Camping Worlds but the night crew made me feel there was a chance that at least one Camping World was alright. I was wrong.
I noticed the diodes weren't on so I decided to get out of MO and try my luck in OK. I made reservations at an RV park we stayed at in May. They told me there was an RV service shop next door. I called them and have an 8 am apt again. Pray for me.
An hour into the trip Nick radioed me and asked if the road was bumpy. I said it wasn't so we decided to pull over and check his tires. Last time we felt that feeling when the road was smooth was when the RV had tread separation then a blowout.
We found this gash in the tire. Nick said the rough ride started a few minutes ago yet he had not run over anything. Turns out this gash wasn't caused by hitting anything. Somehow a bubble of air formed under the radial layers and started to cause the tread to lift away from the tire. Then at the edge (inside and out) the tire started to chip away. There was a smaller but similar gash on the other side of the tire too. You could see the rubber kind of crumpling up.
Nick And James helped.
The only place we could find to pull off was at an adult book store so prevalent out here. Mami and the girls jumped out of the RV thinking we were at a place where they could use the restroom. I quickly stopped them before they got the surprise of their lives.
Mami though it was funny that everyone including the dog were crashed while we drove. She got the camera and snapped everyone pix. Ten minutes later she joined the dead-sleeping. Wish I could've got the picture.

When we arrived in OK City we quickly set up and I rushed the van off to the tire place. Turns out the spare was the wrong tire from the time I had the front tires changed in KY in July. I wanted the better of the two tires changed. He accidentally gave me the one that was also beginning to get tread separation. So I had the tire folks here change the two bad tires and moved the one good tire left to the spare position. They were very busy and it took then over 2 hours to do it.
While I waited I went to a cheap pizza buffet and stuffed myself. Mami and the kids cleaned out the fridge at the RV. Good thing since it will not be hooked up while at the repair shop.
Our RV park has buffalo. It also has a pool, a ping pong table and air conditioned game room. Did I mention it was over 100 out here. We are in the land of dry heat so it was a different 100 than the east coast.
Oh, nearly forgot. While driving I drove over, but did not hit, a piece of black plastic like the type used for door paneling in cars, but smaller. I heard it lift up and bang along the undercarriage. I asked Nick via radio if it came out. He said yes then asked me to step on my breaks. I did and he informed me that my wire connector wasn't connected any more. The trailer was disconnected (Power-wise). So after driving through a construction zone I pulled over and checked it out. The connector was worn down a little on one nub but otherwise fine.
Gremlins were mucking about today. I was too tire to be mad or frustrated. I am in the submit and take it mode.
By the way, I mentioned the names of the Camping World clerks. But notice I did not mention they were from the Stafford, MO store so as not to upset some people who read my blogs and hate when I name jerks or bad people. So rest at ease.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

ABS/Break Light - Walking Stick

Is it a stick or a's a Walking Stick bug! This is a baby one. The owner of the RV park we are at says they get as thick as a man's thumb! Very cool. They are all over the pace. Leaf bugs, spiders, mosquitoes, flies, horse flies, and bugs of every type are here in south Missouri! We didn't quite make our goal of Branson.
As we pulled out of the RV camp in St Louis after two great nights there I had a feeling deep in my gut that things have been going way two easily. I really did. I was waiting for a shoe to drop. So maybe I was riding a little more sensitive than usual and I dismissed the brick like feeling of the brake pedal when I pushed it once coming down a hill. I let up fast and pushed down again and it was soft again. Hmm. It would do it once more but never again. However, about 2o minutes later the ABS diode and the Brake trouble diode came on. UGH. We pulled off at a gas station and filled up. I let Mick (the other driver) know what was going on and we came up with a code word we would us in case we needed to go into emergency stopping where he would use the van to slow the rv down if the dire need arose. I didn't want to worry any of the others.
When I started the engine the abs light came on momentarily but the brake light didn't. Whew! We dodge one there. Must have been a computer error. BUT, five minutes later the light shone bright on the dashboard. I started making calls around to find a nearby RV camp that also allowed tents since I knew, it being Sunday, no service shops would be open. I called a chain RV Store and they told me about a camp near one of their outlets. They also told me their books we full but if I came in first thing they might be able to take me. I will put my best sorrowful looking face on.
So we are not in Branson and instead of seeing a show I will see an early bedtime and then see my money go bye bye. I hope it's something simple. But with the way things have been going financially this will be an arm and leg. If not I will gleefully report it here. If not I will set up a donation fund and beg for contributions. (LOL)
The camp we are at has a pool a big field to play Frisbee, soccer, etc. and a jungle gym area. The owners are really nice. They have told me, as every RV park across this land is reporting, it's been the worst RVing summer in their lives. Many have a few choice words for the president. 30% chance of rain today and tomorrow so say a prayer for our five or size in tents tonight.
Talked with Bill. He separated from us after Ohio. He visited friends in Illinois and is now on the road to Oroville.
For those of you wondering, since the Louisiana Gator Fest pulled out we will go from the Madera fair in California back to Oroville for two weeks when most of us will continue to TX and NM then Socal. Mami and Titus and the RV will stay behind.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Someone told me it was all happening at the zoo!

We went to the zoo today. That makes our 3rd zoo this year...for me. For Mami and the girls it's the second (SF and St Louis) and for everyone else it was their only zoo this year. We went for two reasons. It was something everyone could enjoy, and it was free. OK, parking was $12 and drinks at the zoo are three times normal price but entrance for 11 people was zip zero nada! That's important as those of you who read yesterday's blog knows. If not, let's just say I will end this tour broke. It has been very successful with record audience sizes, great responses, record news coverage, but we were screwed by David Jackson in April for several thousand and we lost the Louisiana Gator Fest due to their loss of sponsors. That coupled with the worst economy of my life and a government that passes stupid laws so my health insurance has doubled and gas prices are through the roof. So much for hope and the change so far sucks!!
All that aside. Today was fabulous. We all slept in and then hit the zoo. Like the night before parking in St Louis is tough. We managed to find a spot in the paid parking area way in the back. The zoo was packed with families of all sizes. I mean I haven't been at a zoo this packed before. The grounds are laid out very well and their are wonderful and beautiful flora and trees everywhere. But there was a woefully low number of animals. Many exhibits were empty or closed. We saw no Rhinos and a number of other animals touted on the brochures and signs. As far as animal content the L.A. zoo that I visited in Cali with my dear friend, JC, wins the prize. But this place won for activities and layout. Still a lot of wasted space on fauna and not animal life.
Since there were so many people it wasn't hard to find a baby crying around almost every corner. Since Titus is a sympathetic cryer we had a dickens of a time keeping him out of earshot. He cried a lot today. This zoo also wins for good food. The LA and SF zoo could learn from this zoo in regards to food. Actual grilled hamburgers that you get straight from the outside grill fresh and hot. No straws for the drinks though because they are "dangerous" for the animals.
We spent about 4 hours there and boy were we bushed by the time we were done. in fact, I think we were all spent by the time we got the the two thirds mark. So the zoo got our money via the drinks and slushies. It got up to 95 degrees here so the slushies turned to syrupy drinks fast. Still they were refreshing.
For dinner, as you will see below, we had a St Louis original, Roasted Ravioli. In actuality they are deep fried and smothered in parmigiana cheese. Wonderful. The lady at the RV park's front desk told me the best place to go in "the Hill" district...little Italy in other towns. Her family has a restaurant but she sent me to a place she considered even better than her family's place.

Very cool sculptures and art decorate the St Louis zoo. More money spent on that than the accumulation of animals me thinks!
They had an outside and an icy inside display for the penguins. Inside they had the artic birds. Brrr. Titus and Belle did not enjoy that so much. That's right Belle,as a working dog, was allowed in. She drew a lot of attention by people. Probably because there weren't as many animals as there should be so she became an exhibit unto herself.
Look Puffins!
Note the famous Lukas blue beanie. he put it in his back pocket at some point and lost it!

The zoo had many misting areas since it was so hot. Even Titus got misted.

Zebra...I had a few jokes about zebras but decided to save them for a future date. My favorite is in regards to the people today. People have reached such a point of confused depravity that they now call black white and white black. The following week they were all killed in a Zebra crossing. (By the way anyone who reads race into that joke you have a serious problem so get a life! You probably have projected your own problems into it. )
KISS...remember Gene Simmons's famous pose?
Mom and son learning.
far off in a tree (we used the telephoto to get this shot.)
Any monkey with mutton chops is OK with me.
The snake curator of the zoo.
Olivia loves snakes.

Yikes it's a hippo. You know more people are killed in Africa by hippos than any other animal?
I'm teaching Titus how to pick a hippo's nose.

My signature pose.
Another snake statue.
oooo, a real elephant. SF zoo didn't have any. They were sent to a sanctuary for elephants at the pressure of PETA and others...they died enroute. LA had more elephants...just one here.
Another snake statue.
Roasted Ravioli.
Monkey Butt anyone. Just remember if you get this just try our sponsor's product...Anti-monkey butt powder at
Here is an extreme close up of a moth that looked like a stick. A mimic. It was on the RV door handle.
St Louis has the feel of the Bay Area back home. Busy, crowded, but with all the conveniences one needs. There are also lots of green areas. But the area has more free stuff for families to do. And they have lots of big attractions too. There is a Six Flags Amusement Park just down the road. We won't get the chance to visit the free museums and tours (including the Anheiser Busch tour) as we need to start moving southwest to Arizona.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Show Business! Yogi Bear! The Arch

Show business...what a life, Huh? Days off you play around the pool. Drink from cups with umbrellas. Hob nob with the rich and famous.....well We hung around the pool in KY at the RV camp in Berea. We met with Cynthia for a few minutes as she had a load of homework (it's her second day of classes.) It was too late to hit any real stores so we did the Walmart there for supplies and the antique, flea market hybrid store across from the Oh KY RV Camp. Mami got a couple of books and Amelia got a piggy related thingy.
We left an hour later than I planned today for St Louis. But it worked out OK since we gained an hour due to the change of time zones.

On the drive today we saw this grass fire on the side of the Highway in Illinois. We passed through Ky, IN and IL on our drive to MO. We found a great RV camp outside St Louis related to the camp we stayed at in Nashville, Jelly Stone Park.
Instead of the Hey Ride that Nashville had we had the train ride. It drives around the park and you wave to everyone.

Afterwards the driver took us over to Yogi's cave where we all hollered for Yogi to wake up . He came out then pointed to the sign on the door and shut the door on us. We coaxed him out and he came out for pictures and hugs.

I had told the kids I was too big to take pictures with Yogi. He heard and pointed at me. Then waved me in for a picture. The "smarter than the average" bear then proceeded to put the peace sign over my head! Too bad it wasn't bear season.
Later, after a meatball sandwich dinner, we drove back to St Louis and spent nearly 20 minutes looking for parking so we could visit the arch. UGH! One park lot said my 15 passenger van was over sized and rudely waved us on. More driving around we stumbled on an area I think only locals know about...waterfront parking....literally water front; on the break water rocks and mooring chains. It was a buck cheaper than the place that waved us on.

It's hard to get a picture of the arch at night. It's big, and dark, though it is lit-up, not enough for my camera though.

Victor had to do a handstand under the arch. By the way our parking was nearly under the arch as well. We were just 100 yards away from the arch directly under the middle.
Olivia showing off too!
We got into a discussion today about the trip and the tour. We are convinced this season is all about relationship and people. People within our group and friends, family, and fans outside the group. Miracles in relationships have been occurring the entire trip. This year is definitely not about money. The loss at the beginning of the tour when David Jackson and Lisa Jackson from West Coast Festivals and LA Spring Fair stole thousands from me, vendors and other performers is an example and was an early warning that 2011 wasn't going to be about money. I will end the tour with a net gain of zero. The paid staff will end up richer than us when we are done. In fact, the debt I started with will still be there when we finish. But that is not here no there. It has been a remarkable journey this year and the people and places we have visited are fantastic. I've added over 400 Facebook friends.
Victor Attempts to escape from old Boat moorings.