2014 Greater Colorado Tour – Day 3
Good morning readers and welcome to tour: day 3! We’re up – we’re at ‘em – not really. We are indeed up. The “at ‘em” part is a little more difficult to come by. We’ve gathered a bit earlier today to have breakfast in Salida before we make the drive to Lake City where we’ll be for the next two days. The challenge of packing the car has become quite satisfying, it’s like Jenga. It looks really pretty when all of the pieces are in place, but remove one and it all goes to poo.
Anyway, on to breakfast. We head to the place that was recommended to us yesterday called The Patio Pancake Place. Word is, they have really good pancakes. Ben is especially happy when he looks at the menu and sees “breakfast meat selection.” Brett orders something from the European faire and when it arrives he announces, with a German accent reminiscent of the Three Little Pigs from Shrek, that his sausages are wunderbar. Before we further offend any of the locals, we bid Salida adieu and begin our day’s drive.
We’re heading over Monarch pass and the sky is clear, blue and amazing! Taylor spends most of the trip clapping for avalanches. It keeps him happy. Driving the beasty over these hills is not an easy feat, but we make it to Gunnison. We meet Louise and Ben at the parking lot of the local grocer where I am told that they saw llamas which Ben thought were sheep. When I ask why (after laughing) he defends himself by saying he only saw them from behind. I am then told that they also visually intruded on a rather delicate moment involving two deer… We only saw road kill in our car. After mentally regrouping, I head into the grocery to locate the baked goods section. We have left Juliet’s birthday cake in Denver so she’ll be getting cupcakes at this week’s shows.
Before getting back on the road, we make a quick pit stop at the facilities when Ben sees yet another interesting sight. Apparently in Gunnison they have needle dispensers in the bathrooms. That’s considerate. And… we’re back on the road! I am taking a break. I’ve developed a headache so Jared is driving. We’ve put Taylor in the back which has greatly reduced the clapping and he’s within easy striking distance of Colleen. Brett alternates back and forth between sleeping and playing DJ. The car eventually goes quiet which provides the perfect opportunity for Jared and me to serenade each other, playing all of the parts from Into the Woods.
The closer we get to Lake City, the more remote we go and the more beautiful the landscape becomes. Brett and I see a stream that would be perfect for fly fishing and Jared spies the elusive Greater Horned Squirrel (which he discovered on the trek last year). It’s a strange looking thing; he thinks it may be the only one in existence. I think that this sighting was simply a ruse to take my focus away from the fact that he just hit a pothole so hard that part of my coccyx is now fused with the seat. Lake City – we have arrived. We make our way to the Mary Stigall Theater, where we will perform Barber this afternoon for students and tomorrow we’ll be doing an A&E/Romeo and Juliet for the entire community. We have a few minutes to walk around town and get some coffee before we have to load in. We quickly see that we’re in the right place. We’re on the marquee of the theater and in every shop we go into, there are posters toting the upcoming performance. It is so fabulous to see the entire community supporting our tour!
Time to load in. We decide to take everything in since we’re going to be in the same location for 2 days. We meet Dan, our wonderful tech manager, and basically the king of everything, who has the stage ready for us. I take the group into the basement and show them the dressing rooms – this area is also where they store their costumes. Group of performers… room of costumes, hats, wigs… You can imagine what happened over the next few minutes. See. Photo.
Fashion parade complete, we return to process of loading in. This stage is a little tricky so we have to reduce the size of the set and get creative with some of the staging. Dan helps figure out the lighting and we get Taylor situated with the piano. We take a quick break, eat something to tide us over until dinner; I manage to get my pants hooked on a nail on the stage. Colleen gets me untethered, Dan calls the union to fix the nail, which is him with a hammer and it’s time for costumes and makeup. The kids begin to take their seats. We’re got preschool – 12th grade at today’s performance and they are very excited. I go out to do the introduction, which is a bit briefer than usual as my headache has developed into a full blown migraine. I find a chair backstage and listen to the performance – it’s wonderful again. The kids are laughing, the Young Artists are playing off of each other like crazy and Taylor is helping by adding some creative ornamentation on the keyboard.
Time for the Q&A where we get some excellent questions. One young lady clearly wants to be a singer and asks questions about technique and vocal health. My favorite moment of the performance actually happens after everything is done. Two young men have stayed to get autographs from the performers. One of them tells us that the fire chief for Lake City is his grandpa and he’s sick. His little face begins to crumple. Ben quickly goes to him and asks if he would like everyone to write a note to his grandpa and the young man brightens and says he thinks that would help a lot. On his way out, he tells me that he and his grandpa sit on the front porch and sing together in the evenings sometimes. I’ll admit, I hear a lot of wonderful comments about what we do – this one got me. Music reaches into people’s hearts and creates memories. We’re so lucky to be a part of that.
Everyone gets out of costumes and makeup while I visit with John Smith, the gentleman who works with us to make this possible. We strike the stage but leave things in the theater – we’ll set up for Romeo and Juliet tomorrow. It’s time for us to follow Dan and John to our lodging for the next two days. It’s a little ways from town, so we’re not sure what to expect. When we pull up – the word that is expressed communally is “Wow.” We’re staying in a beautiful cabin on the crest of a hill. The rear wall of the cabin is all windows and looks out over the valley, including the river and a lake. Every direction you look, there’s an amazing view. The inside of the cabin is warm and welcoming. We offer our sincere thanks as Dan and John leave and get the cars unloaded. When you’re a performer, you live a bit like a gypsy, especially when you’re on tour. It sounds simple, but being able to stay in one place for more than a day is a treat and having a place like this to call home; it’s priceless and we are deeply appreciative.
Rooms are chosen and we each meander to our spaces. I head out onto the back deck, not wanting to miss a moment of being here. I’m soon joined by Brett. For a few minutes, we just listen – to nothing. All you can hear is the sound of the river, the wind in the trees and the birds. In the span of about 10-minutes we see bunnies, blue jays, elk and a bald eagle. Jared joins us and we spend a few minutes simply enjoying what’s in front of us. Very needed – my head’s beginning to feel better. Before we know it, it’s time to go back into town for dinner. Taylor is clapping again. He’s focused his attention on one specific peak now. I think it’s the stress in his personal life. He and Siri are still fighting.
This community really throws out the welcome mat for us. Dinner is being provided for us by the parent teacher association. As we drive through town, there are deer everywhere. As we park at the school, there are several just a few feet away. One doesn’t look right. Thinking he has a collar on him, we look closer and see it is, in fact, not a collar but a bucket. Not. Making. This. Up. Oh, “deer.” (Brett provided the pun folks, I’m just the messenger)
We’re welcomed to the school by the lovely Shawn and as dinner is finished, we’re able to visit a bit with John. We are treated to a truly fabulous home cooked meal and when you’re on the road, that is something that beats any five star restaurant, any day. Louise is especially fond of dessert. Do not get in between that lady and her chocolate.
We all eventually find ourselves out on the back deck again. The view is just too good to pass up. I sit there, writing the blog, listening to the geese in the distance. Colleen makes herself into a blanket burrito and is describing the cloud formations to us. She has somehow developed a Dutch accent while doing this. Ben looks like the stereotypical southern granddad with an afghan over his lap, sitting in a rocking chair, drinking a local brew, Taylor has stopped clapping for the moment and is wrangling a lawn chair and Brett and Jared are discussing how one day, they are actually going to do something during a performance that surprises me to which Louise responds, “Yeah, get it right.” And ten points were awarded to Louise.
Right off the back deck are some aspen trees. They don’t have their leaves yet, but they will soon. Jared looks concerned. Jared inquires if the trees have worms. Brave granddad Ben picks off the supposed offending creature to show to Jared. Fear not Jared, ‘tis but a leaf bud. At the time, laughing seemed the appropriate response, but I now fully expect to see this worm imposter in my bed at some point…
The group breaks up as the weather gets colder. I move inside to continue blogging and Colleen teaches Louise and Ben the finer points of line dancing. Jared and Brett are still outside; I believe Jared is plotting some kind of wormy revenge and Brett is his accomplice. Taylor is nowhere to be seen, but I can hear faint clapping… Later, we all decide to test our skills at a game which is basically Telephone, but with drawing. One person writes down a starting word or phrase. The next person draws it, the person after them then guesses what the drawing represents and the person after them guesses again; and so on and so on. We are a group with many diverse talents. Some of us can draw, some of us are good guessers – none of us are good at both simultaneously and what results is hilarious. My favorite round is where we started with Elbow Grease and by the time we got to the end, it had become Sweatin’ to the Oldies. This is largely because Brett’s interpretation of the word grease involved drawing the cast of Grease, the musical. We also had a minor fiasco when we began with Potluck and ended on Same Sex Marriage. It also seems that Americans and our neighbors across the pond have some different ways of phrasing things. For example coffee cake became tea cake and mayonnaise became beans on toast – well, that one may have been because I can’t draw mayonnaise; but who can, really? We’ve never seen Brett laugh so hard. He actually squeaks if you really get him going;
As the game wraps up, we make another trip outside to see the stars. Jared and Brett have a constellation app on their phones that you can hold up to the sky and the app will tell you what you’re looking at. It’s very cool. It even has a soundtrack – I feel like I’m in a planetarium. Some of the group decide that it’s time to call it a night. I stay outside a bit longer with amateur astrologers, Brett and Jared. We see a shooting star – absolutely worth the fact that I can no longer feel my toes. It’s been a long day, but a good day.
While we do have a lot of fun on tour and share a lot of laughter – we also work incredibly hard and pull some very long hours. Having a little downtime like we have this evening helps us recharge and get ready for what’s next. Tomorrow we have rehearsals in the afternoon to get ready for our A&E/Romeo and Juliet program. We’ve been away from Romeo and Juliet for over a month, so it’s going to need refreshing. Plus, there’s that problem of the whole “no tomb” thing I have to figure out… Maybe I could put the deer with the bucket on stage and no one would notice… I’ll sleep on it.
Goodnight to you readers.