First stop was a long long day in Seattle waiting for my flight. Got to hang out with a good friend of mine who was endlessly patient with me as I could barely hold a conversation I was so tired. My friend kept me entertained and awake somehow all day and kindly drove me to the airport that night. It's good to have good friends!
|Yea for real alcohol off the ship!|
|Guess who won? Yup, I did!|
|Beautiful clear day viewing Mt. Rainier.|
Sadly, when I left the ship this time, I left my hiking shoes for the last time. After my first summer in Alaska, I purchased a legitmate pair of hiking shoes at Dicks Sporting Goods store on a big sale. I hiked in those shoes all over North America, South America and even in Korea and Japan. I put Shoe Goo on the soles over and over but the insides had finally worn through all the layers so I had no choice but to purchase a new pair of hiking shoes. Wow! Of course, after shopping two outdoor stores in Juneau AK, the one pair that fit and I like was the most expensive women's shoe in both stores. Ugh, that's why I didn't look at the price tag while I was trying them all on though. I wanted to care more about the fit and function than the price. I succeeded lol. I hiked a couple of times in them but breaking them in is going to be a harder task then previously thought. They are not comfortable yet. In fact, they're downright painful. Making me wish for my old worn shoes. But it was a final good bye to my faithful first pair of hiking shoes that took me up and down mountains all over the world.
|The shoes of stories :)|
The next stop was a turn around of one day in TN before heading to a short vaca in NOLA. I love visiting NOLA and had a wonderful time eating at my favorite restaurants and listening to live music at my favorite clubs.
|The oh so good obligatory char-broiled oysters!|
|Oh man, that Poco Loco Colada was sooo tasty. And so handy to take one to go :) Love NOLA!|
|A walk around the lake revealed some wildlife.|
|Look closely, there's a little message in a bottle in this tree.|
|oof....I bet the stories here are epic.|
|Back at Blue Line Sandwich Co. for amazing waffles and biscuits and gravy!!|
|Beignets of cours|
|One last super tasty omelette at a nice French restaurant I like.|
I then hit the rode to start gigging again. First up was the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in Little Rock. It's almost certainly true that I've lived more at the hotel there over the past 7 years than anywhere else on land. After a year hiatus from traveling, the staff welcomed me back with open arms. I was also fortunate to have a friend come visit me for a few days and to learn that one of my "adopted" sisters had started attending college there so I had company! It was great. Throwing room parties, shopping trips, sightseeing excursions, and all around good times were had for a little bit.
|View from a lookout point on Pinnacle Mt.|
|At the top with a worn out puppy.|
|Dessert time at our favorite restaurant, Brave New Restaurant. Oh, it was good.|
|Nice view sitting outside overlooking the Arkansas river.|
|How to survive on a musician's budget in a hotel room. Lots of rice, yogurt and beer!|
|Did I mention beer? Maybe I should have said wine lol.|
|Alone time. Was wonderful.|
The good times didn't end, but they continued elsewhere after a short week. It was time for the Fire Ant Frolic in Austin TX and it had been quite some time since I'd a) attended Fire Ant Frolic and b) attended any contra dance weekend. I was thrilled and purchased a souvenir tank top and a button for my time there. It was a fabulous week of exhaustion! The dance weekend was just the end. At the beginning my path happened to cross with a friend I hadn't seen for a while who was also in town. We coordinated our schedules so I came a day early and my friend stayed a day late and we got to hang out. We visited a gardens which at the time wasn't in bloom but we still enjoyed the few flowers and animals around.
|I danced a few of the dances...maybe....|
|My favorite place to eat in Austin is Juiceland! Amazing smoothies and cold meals.|
After Austin, I headed to Dallas for a night before continuing on to Little Rock again. Wouldn't you know but the contra dance friend I stayed with is a bass player so I took my try at some Christmas tunes on the bass. It was lots of fun, although not my new instrument lol!
Now it's time for a vacation!!! Actually, it was just time to use up some vacation stay points before they expired and my dad#2 and I will use any excuse we can get so off we went to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. It was a fabulous trip. Great times were spent on our favorite rides: Toy Story (I won every time), Buzz Lightyear (I won every time), Mini golf (I won every time), Men In Black (I won all but once-lost on my first try but I learned fast and whipped the competition every time after), all the water rides (the competition is to not get as wet as the other person. One ride everyone gets drenched but the others...I won) AND I also won at the finger print scanner to gain entry to each park. This is notable because my dad #2 only got through once without having to call over an ipad holder or have someone just give up and wave him through. Good thing I'm patient!! :)
|Found this suitable shirt at the Shrek ride.|
|Dad #2 score|
|Daughter #1 score :)|
|Getting ready to ride the Hogwart's Express.|
|Platform 9 3/4|
|This was the cool wall that it looked like people were walking into the bricks. Picture didn't come out well and I had to keep moving.|
|Day at Wet & Wild = AWESOME FUN|
|I won despite missing the last hole in 1 opportunity.|
|Note Dad #2 finger on identity screen.|
|Note result of such finger. Maybe I should be worried?!?|
|Had lots of fun reading all the cartoon captions. Wish you all could have joined!|
|Found myself a Spanish Coffee....wonder where I've seen this before. However, this one did not come with the Holland America signature fire show. Bummer.|
|Stretched out trying to dry off from water rides and waiting for a table for lunch.|
|Harry Potter world! It was pretty darn cool, I gotta say.|
|Christmas time at Disney World. Truly magical :)|
|Having fun playing with the fairy app on my phone camera. Thought it appropriate considering the location.|
|Note the scores ;-)|
|Christmas in the sunny south.|
|Someone...ahem...is purposefully hiding their score.|
|New Vibrams, new cd, and new bluetooth. <3|
|JOY TO THE WORLD|
|The scores below will explain the reactions seen above.|
|Always a must eat shrimp tempura udon at the Japanese restaurant in Epcot.|
|Our favorite lunch at WDW!!|
It was a phenomenal time. I even got to go to Wet 'n Wild. Dad #2 had never been to a water park and didn't know how much I love them. It was fun for me and a learning experience for him. I took it easy and only stayed 4 hours instead of a whole day and took longer breaks instead of continuous riding. Next time...!!! I purchased a one piece swimsuit just for the occasion so I need to get my money's worth out of it and go to as many water parks and ride as many thrill rides as possible. The mission has begun! If any of you (readers) like going to water parks and want to take an enthusiastic and fun girl along for some rides just let me know.
After WDW and Universal Studios it was Thanksgiving time. I tried to fly to Wichita from Nashville via Chicago, but with the weather that weekend all flights in and out of the Chicago area were cancelled so I flew through Las Vegas instead. It was a rushed visit with time to grab a double Tequila Sunrise and a tasty salad before heading out again. Thanksgiving was nice. Spent too little time visiting family in Wichita that I hadn't seen for years. Then drove to south east Kansas where the majority of my family is from to do old fashioned house calls country style; i.e. call someone up and ask if they are home and up for a visit right now. Gravel roads, tractor and farm equipment and delapidated houses and barns are the norm out there. I stopped at a gas station on the high way near the destination and noticed all the men were wearing ten gallon hats, cowboy boots, flannel shirts and dirty blue jeans. I was in REAL cowboy country haha. As boring as it can be, it was also nice to walk outside and just listen to nature. I walked around my mom's farm and took pictures of the old farmstead.
|Old corn husker.|
|Nope, I didn't step in it. Grew up learning that lesson!|
|A tree growing up in the middle|
It is still cattle land but nothing more today. It was peaceful though and nice to walk around it alone. Thanksgiving was soon over and I was dropped off at the airport to head back to Nashville.
It's just been gigs and driving and gigs and more driving since until Christmas. Took a long bus ride up north to visit the family for a few short days. Mom and decorated my room. The stocking was hanging on the door, the kitty kate ornament with a santa hat and jingle bell was sitting on the vanity along with a notepad with a santa claus figure on the bottom, a red pen and two mini candy canes. It was the most decorated room in the house outside of the music room bearing two nativity scenes set on the piano. Christmas isn't really celebrated at my house. There was no tree and no presents. I didn't even really realize which day Christmas was until I was told we'd be going to someone's house for dinner. I won't get into that....it was just awkward and we'll leave it at that. It was a nice visit though otherwise. Good talks with the folks.
Now it's time to go on vacation again! It's been a month since WDW and Universal hehe. The cold weather is coming finally so heading south to the Caribbean for a ten day cruise. Even though I'm not working I still love the water and can't turn down the opportunity to escape the winter weather.
When I return it will be back to the stress of land life. I've recently discovered I fall into a loophole of the government meaning, I don't make enough money to qualify for subsidy (or purchase help on my own), but I make too much money to qualify for exemptions. The place I fall means I'm supposed to be able to go to my "local" health care facility and get help. Unfortunately I travel 24/7 so "local" doesn't exist in my life, nor does permanent address. I've looked into the government restrictions to prove this in multiple states before and came up empty handed. This time is no different. I've always planned on moving overseas eventually but the stars seem to be aligning faster than planned for this arrangement. In addition to the government fiasco, I have been unable to garner a trio for cruising the high seas so I am resorted to the "career" I had straight out of college; performing for multiple symphonies around the country and living out of a suitcase all the time. I don't mind the travel, in fact, I like it. But I don't like the job. Performing every weekend for a year this way doesn't even make poverty level. It's pathetic. I don't need a lot but I do want to be able to eat and sleep without fear and in this situation, it's a constant tick in the back of my mind. It's scary right now and stressfull more than I like. But it's time. It's here. I just need to trust. The house of life I've been building; India broke down a wall, and in this new addition I'm trying to build, figuring out where all the walls and windows and doors will be is complicated but it will be worth it.
Next blog ~ Caribbean cruise pictures!!!