Saturday, May 31, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 59

We drove a few hours to an RV park in Shreveport. I took the girls to the pool and got sunscreen on everybody and then tried to go in and realized that the gate was locked. D'oh! I should have looked at the sign that said the pool closes at 2 pm on Saturday. I thought it was strange that nobody was in the pool on a hot evening. But why close a pool at an RV park at 2 pm on Saturdays of all days??

Anyway, we drove over to a nearby playground we had noticed on the way to the RV park and the girls played for a while. We came back, had dinner and put the girls to bed, then Roseann and I watched Lost and went to sleep.

Friday, May 30, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 58

We did some laundry this morning (fun wow), then went back to Brent's. I recorded two of Daniel's song pieces onto my laptop. The first was an interesting version of "Carol of the Bells" and the second was a really cool Coldplay kind of piano riff. The girls had a bath (they're not fans of showers, so we have to take advantage of a bathtub when we can) and played together with Audrey and gave her one of their toddler toys.

We got some pizza and had dinner, then the girls played in the kiddie pool for a while and we sat outside and talked. David came home and we laid the girls down for bed inside and all sat up talking for quite a while about various philosophical/existential/religious subjects. We probably could have stayed up all night discussing our different theories and speculations, but we finally packed up and headed back to the RV park and went to sleep.

David, Crystal and baby Jane...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 57

We went over to Roseann's brother Brent's house and had a great time there for most of the day. Roseann's cousin David and his family are also staying there while he is interning at a law firm in Dallas. The girls played with David and Crystal's 2 year-old daughter, Audrey, and watched The Tigger Movie (Tigger's family tree animated segment is a favorite of mine). Brent and Cheryl's 13 year-old son Daniel was eager to play me some of the cool new music riffs he's come up with. His older brother, Bruce, who now lives in Utah, has always been a fine musician and songwriter, and now Daniel is taking after him very well. He seems very excited to have an uncle who plays music for a living. I'm going to record some of his pieces on my laptop tomorrow.

We had a nice dinner and talked for a while about life, the universe and everything, then Becca treated a few of us repeatedly to one of her magic tricks... showing a marble, then making it disappear and reappear from your ear. I was quite impressed at how well she did it. Even when her technique wasn't entirely disguised, her magician showmanship was always very convincing. Magic is something I've always enjoyed, but never really had the knack for performing. It would be neat if Becca pursued that more. Seeing Becca performing her trick, Uncle Brent pulled out a number of his magic tricks and showed them to the kids.

Unfortunately, David had to work late, so it was bedtime before he got back. We'll have to catch up with him tomorrow, or when we come back through here again in a few weeks. We drove back to the RV park and all went to bed after doing some internet stuff.

The girls setting up a marble tower with Cheryl and Audrey...

Daniel introducing the girls to their parakeets (one of them landed right on Evee's head, but unfortunately I had put the camera away by then)...

Uncle Brent showing the kids some magic tricks...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 56

We left the RV park and stopped in Irving for a craigslist transaction, then went to Ft. Worth where I had a school gig. We got caught in some very slow construction traffic and were thankful for the GPS unit to get us around that.

When the notice came in last week from the agency that books schools for me about this gig, I did a double-take when I saw the times listed as 3 and 4 pm. I thought, what... am I doing assemblies for kids in detention?? I did another double-take when I noticed the description said to please make the assembly and songs science oriented. I thought, hmmm, I'm not sure I could pull off a science assembly, you know, with bubbling beakers and electrostatic machines and such. That's just not the kind of thing I do, and somebody would probably get hurt (most likely me). I assumed the booking was a mistake, but when Roseann called in to ask about it, they laughed at the confusion in her voice... Turns out it was a special after-school program for the kids and their parents which was paid for in part by a science foundation grant, or something like that. They didn't really want a "science show", but just a mention of the importance of science included in the program. That, I could probably do without hurting anybody or burning the school down. So I emphasized more of the scientific aspect of Thomas Edison's work, which is already mentioned in the program, and talked about how a lot of science involves observing and learning about the world around us, and doing what we can to make it better.

Anyway, there were two groups and they were both a lot of fun. The auditorium was extremely echoey echoey echoey, so I had to adjust my levels quite a bit during the first part of the first show, but it worked out from that point on.

We drove from there to an RV park in Princeton, where we'll be staying for the next few nights while we visit with Roseann's brother Brent and her nephew David and their families, who live nearby in Plano.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 55

It was a very rainy and dreary day. I was hoping we'd be able to go swimming here again today but that definitely wasn't happening. So we stayed inside and worked on the computer and made some business calls while the girls played, and then we all watched Monsters Inc. together. It gets a little crowded with all of us up on our bed watching a movie on the laptop, but we make do and enjoy the snuggliness of that.

The rain finally stopped and the sun came out at about 5 pm, so I took the girls for a walk, carefully trying to avoid some big puddles (knowing that the girls try in particular to jump into them). We went to a nearby store for some milk and a few other things and played some Becca games on the way there and back ("Guess What I'm Thinking", "Sad/Mad/Glad", etc.). We had dinner and then the girls went to bed. I played Kingsburg on the computer while Roseann took Tiggy for a much needed walk, then we watched The Wedding Singer (the first movie Roseann and I had ever watched together) and went to bed.

The sun finally breaking through the rain...

Out for a walk...

Monday, May 26, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 54

We drove a few hours to an RV park in Arlington, stopping on the way to do some shopping and to eat lunch. When I mentioned a few nights ago that we'd be going to Arlington, Roseann said that we should go to the Arlington National Cemetery. I thought, yeah, and what better day to go there than on Memorial Day? I looked up the website and then did a big forehead slap when I realized, um, that's a different Arlington. Whoops. Sometimes we get a little tired and disoriented from the traveling, I guess. Heheh. I did think it was a little strange that the National Cemetery would be in Texas, but how many Arlingtons can there be? It's not like Springfield or Salem or Peoria or something...

Anyway, we got to the RV park and the girls and I went swimming for a while. We came back and had dinner and the girls went to bed. Roseann and I watched the first part of Ken Burns' The War series (we watched his Civil War series this past winter... obviously we had since forgotten the frequent mentions of the Arlington National Cemetery being established in Virginia right on Robert E. Lee's front lawn, during that program) and went to bed ourselves.

The girls swimming with their new fishy floaties...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 53

Another "not much to say" kind of a day. (I expected there would be a number of these during May, in particular.) We dropped Tiggy off at Karen's house (in a room of his own), then went to church and met up with Karen and her family. Then we picked up Tiggy, gave goodbyes and thank yous and hugs to Karen and Lance and the kids and headed back to the RV park in Georgetown, where we had dinner, played some computer games and went to bed.

Dressed for church (sporting the new tie from Tito)...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 52

We left the RV park and headed to Round Rock, where we went to see Horton Hears a Who. This was Evee's first time seeing a movie in a big theater (Becca saw Ratatouille last year as her first) and it was a great choice. Horton Hears a Who is one of my all-time favorite stories, and I include a reference to that in the bridge of the song "How Big", which will be on my next album. It was an excellent adaptation, I thought. Very colorful and full of character, in every respect. Clearly, Dr. Seuss was meant for 2D animation and now CGI, but not so much the live action versions they've attempted in between those mediums. My only quibble was that they changed the character of the kangaroo in the pouch to be contrary to his mother (voiced by one of my favorite comedians, Carol Burnett). In the book, one of the recurring motifs is that every time the kangaroo says "Humpf", the kangaroo in her pouch says, "Humpf", too. I think that brilliantly illustrates how prejudices and attitudes are often passed on from generation to generation. They decided to go against that for this film and I was a little disappointed by that. I also thought the end song sequence, though amusing, was kind of out of character with the rest of the film, and was more of a Shrek kind of thing to do. But overall, it was very entertaining and we'll definitely be picking up the DVD to watch again.

After the movie, we met up with Karen, who had been shopping nearby with the family. They had just adopted a new dog, a boxer who is currently named Daisy (and will probably continue to be named Daisy). We took Karen along with us in the bus and did some shopping for a while, then went back to her house for dinner. She had to chaperone for a church dance, so she left for that during dinner. Roseann and I played a game of Pandemic with Lance (he was appropriately dealt the role of the Medic, as that is essentially what he is in real life) while the girls played. Aidan was using the Flip Boom animation program that Becca used to make the "Dance Like an Animal" video to make his own version, featuring an animation of his brother Brennan. It was bizarre, but strangely amusing, and of course Becca was enthralled and had to help with instructions... nevermind that she's 5 and Aidan is 11 and already knew what he was doing pretty well... Becca can be extra helpful that way (wink). Tiggy came into the house and was not amused that in addition to the two cats who he still wasn't really comfortable with, now he also had a big dog to deal with. Was there hissing? Oh yes, there was hissing.

We left there at about 8:30 and drove out to an RV park in Georgetown and went to bed.

The girls stopping to meet some puppies for sale...

Me and the girls hanging out in the bus...

About to bless dinner (thus all of the crossed arms)...

Friday, May 23, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 51

It was a hot one again today, so we took the girls to the pool this morning. We had it all to ourselves, so we worked a little on some swimming training, which is going slowly... We came back and had lunch and a nap, then went out to the playground for a while. The girls made Lion King masks out of paper plates. Becca was Simba and Evee was Nala. We all watched The Incredibles and had dinner, then went to bed.

Behold, the vicious lions...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 50

Not much to report today... I took the girls out to the playground for a while this morning, then we mostly hung out in the RV all day. It was like two worlds in terms of the climate... super hot and muggy outside, and super cool inside. Maybe a bit too cool (we can't really regulate the temperature of our AC unit), but still, that was the obvious preference.

By and large, the girls played together while we got some business done. Roseann started working on a new animated video and I plotted out some of our upcoming gigs in Louisiana on Google maps so we can figure out where we'll be staying. Other than that, we played some computer games and watched some TV and otherwise enjoyed a relatively low-key kind of day.

A walking stick bug trying to catch a ride on our tire... but since we weren't going anywhere today, we moved it to a nearby tree.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 49

We got a new laptop for Roseann, which was shipped to Karen's last week, anticipating our arrival. It was really meant to replace Roseann's home desktop, which we weren't happy with and quickly resold (Vista, yuck), but it will also help us get some things done on the road, too. This morning we got up and were each working on our laptops when the girls came climbing up to our bed. With resolute purpose, Becca stated forthrightly, "Mommy got a new computer. So what (now)...? We're going to take yours!" I had told them that once Mommy's laptop arrived, I would gladly let them use mine now and then to play some of their computer games... I guess after knowing that Mommy had her computer for two days already, they had waited long enough for that to happen.

So held at the mercy of two adorably menacing little computer-wanting roughniks, I had no choice but to load their favorite Jump Start First Grade game and a Hello Kitty game onto my laptop right away so they'd have something to get started with. We flipped a coin and Evee called it, so she got to go first for 20 minutes, then Becca. Normally, we'll give them longer stretches each (you hate to just start getting into something and then have to stop), but we had to check out of the RV park and only had so much time for that.

I went with the girls to get some groceries while Roseann made a couple of phone calls, then we went back to Karen's and hung out for a little while. Aunt June was headed home again, so we said goodbye for now (we'll see her again when we pass through Utah later this summer). We let Tiggy stay there with his good friends Gunther and Stripey (well, they still aren't really close, but they're about the only cat friends he's got) while we drove out to a place called Gatti Land, which is kind of like Chuck E Cheese with more of a pizza buffet. The food was pretty good and we had some fun with the games and the arcade style rides, and the girls each won a stuffed Beanie dolphin, which they named Caitlin and Laitlin. Evee had wanted to name hers Caitlin, but Becca picked that name first, so I'm guessing she opted for Laitlin since she was too late for Caitlin.

We came back and picked up Tiggy, then headed out to an RV park in Cedar Creek where we'll stay for the next two nights before going back to see Karen and her family again on the weekend. We watched National Treasure 2 (a preposterously fun adventure that should hold me over until I'm able to see the new Indiana Jones movie), then went to bed.

"We're going to take yours! Arrrrr!"

The girls enjoying their spoils...

Me and Aunt June...

Riding the jet ski racer at Gatti Land...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 48

I had a show this morning at the Pflugerville Library. As I was setting up, Roseann was about to turn on the generator so Tiggy would have the AC running during the show (it was already very hot in the morning) and discovered that it didn't work. Apparently, when we went over some abnormally large speed bumps last night, one of them knocked out a set of cords which then dragged on the ground for a while and became mangled. Roseann was able to solder it together quickly to get the generator working, but once we moved the bus again it came apart, so she had to fix it better later at Karen's (with the bus elevated up on one of the offending speed bumps).

I've mentioned this before on my Cool Tunes for Kids blog, but among the many talents Roseann has is a great mechanical ability. She is clearly the Bob Vila of our family. I've just never had that ability or knowhow. It's not for lack of training... my father was often fixing and building things around our house and would involve me and try to teach me that stuff... but I think once I picked up a guitar and started filling up my brain with chords and licks and solos and lyrics and all of that, there became less room for things of a nonmusical nature.

The show was terrific. A packed audience and a really fun time. This was my last scheduled show until the series of Baton Rouge shows begins in early June, so I was glad to have a particularly good one to end on for now. There were a lot of CD sales, too, which is always nice. That's something that is often hard to predict... sometimes there might be a huge audience and a show that seems to go very well, but there aren't that many CD sales, for whatever reason, and sometimes there might be a small audience, but most of them buy multiple CDs. This one was a medium-sized audience and many of them bought CDs, and we nearly ran out of what we brought in with us. Woo hoo!

Karen and Aunt June had come to the show (they kept an eye on Becca and Evee while Roseann was soldering under the bus), and Karen's husband, Lance, met up with us afterwards and we went to Dairy Queen for lunch. We talked while the girls played on the playground there, then we all went back to Karen's. Roseann redid the soldering for the bus while I sorted through the box of mail we received from home (thanks, Jean!). It was mostly credit card offers and music catalogs and such, as expected, but I did receive a really awesome Yellow Submarine tie from Tito of The Hipwaders. How cool. Thanks, Tito! Roseann says I'm allowed to wear it to church and for some of my shows. (wink)

Evee had a nap while Becca and I went to the pool with Aunt June, Karen and her kids. The temperature reading on Karen's car thermometer said 106, so it was indeed a pleasure to jump into the pool. Roseann and Evee joined us after Evee's nap and we hung out there for quite a while. We went back for dinner and then I gave Lance a beginner's guitar lesson. He just bought a new guitar and was kind of looking for some direction as to how to get started with that. I showed him a few basic chords and about tuning and told him that at this point, it's going to be very painful on his fingers, especially with an acoustic guitar (I'm glad I learned on an electric!). He definitely has a good feel for strumming and positioning his left hand to make chords, so I think he'll do fine.

We drove back to the RV park and watched House and American Idol and went to bed. (Notice I didn't mention anything about being sick today?)

My own personal mechanic...

Roseann, the Grease Monkey, with her cousin Karen... (the grease spot did come out of her jeans!)

Monday, May 19, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 47

Thankfully, I felt much better this morning. I won't presume to be out of the woods yet, because whatever this thing is seems to come and go and come again and go again. Hopefully it's going for good this time, though.

We drove about seven hours today to the Austin area, where we stopped to see Roseann's cousin, Karen, and her family, who moved here last year from Idaho, where we'd visited them before. Karen's mother, our beloved Aunt June (a sister of Roseann's mother), happened to be visiting her now so we were very glad to see her again, too. We've visited Aunt June several times over the past few years when we've passed through Utah. I joked with Aunt June about her receiving her new brain... For many years, she had something called "essential tremor" which made her hands shake very badly. She had a procedure done recently that added a sort of pacemaker for her brain to help correct that, and apparently it's worked very well... I didn't notice her hands shaking at all, and she can write and do other things with her hands again that she hasn't been able to do for quite a while.

We had dinner and talked with Karen and June while the girls played with Karen's three kids. I guess it's toad season now, and they all caught a bunch of toads out in the yard and had fun putting them on their heads. Tiggy came in the house and met Karen's two cats... They were friendly enough to him but there was still some tension there, and I'm sure Tiggy didn't appreciate that both cats used his litter box that we had brought in for him. He's spoiled that way, I suppose... he's never had to share a bathroom with anyone before.

It was already pretty late and we'd had a long day of driving, so we couldn't stay too long. We said goodnight and headed to an RV park in Georgetown to stay for the night.

The girls having a dance party with Brendon and Sophie...

A very awkward meeting...

Toads for everyone...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 46

Yesterday, I said that finally eating something seemed to make me feel better, and that was true. But I don't think that meant that I was ready to start eating normally yet... I probably should have just eaten a little bit to begin with. I woke up at about 2:30 am this morning feeling very nauseous again. I got back to sleep at about 5:30 and the nausea passed in the morning, though my stomach still felt very funny.

We went to church and thought we were running a little late, but ended up being an extra hour late, as we didn't realize that the time zone had changed between El Paso and Fort Stockton. It was a very small branch. Everyone was very friendly and they invited us to stay for their pot luck afterwards. I didn't feel lucky about the pot luck in my condition, so I just had some water, and then I started to feel really weak and went out to the bus to lay down.

The fever I had the other day had come back very strong, so the rest of the day was mostly spent trying to sleep it off while Roseann did some bead work (she makes bead bracelets and necklaces) and the girls played together. I vaguely remember joining into a game of theirs about The Incredibles for a while (they like to do play acting scenarios from movies or shows or stories they make up), but I don't think I had too much to add to that. Mr. Incredible just wasn't feeling too incredible today...

The Giant Roadrunner of Fort Stockton...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 45

I took the girls out for a while to the playground at the RV park, where they played on the teeter-totter and pretended they were contortionists and acrobats on the jungle gym (residual from the shows we saw at Circus Circus).

I called a place to look for somewhere to get an oil change for the bus and the conversation went like this... "Hi there, do you guys do oil changes for motorhomes?" "Yes." "Great. Can you get me in today?" "Yes." "Okay good... How long are you open today?" "Yes." "Um... I mean, are you open until noon or 5 or...?" "Yes." So I realized we were having a language issue. I've been thinking for quite a while now that I should learn Spanish. I mean, I know the lyrics to "La Cucaracha" but I don't think they'll be that useful for most day-to-day interactions unless I need an exterminator. Clearly, our country has two languages now and I'd like to at least have a better grasp of the other one. There are a lot of adults who are here now who don't speak English very well, but I think that was the case with a lot of the immigrants who came here back in the Ellis Island days, and though many of them tended to still use their home languages (when I was growing up, my parents and grandparents and their friends would often talk German to each other... maybe they just didn't want me to understand what they were saying), their children assimilated just fine in all respects. Having just performed at several highly ESL elementary schools, I know that virtually all of the kids there speak perfect English. (Well, as perfect as you'd expect for kids that age... they're not reciting Shakespeare in a Sir Laurence Olivier accent or anything like that...) Anyway, I really wish I had learned German better back when I traveled to Germany years ago, and now I feel a little out of sorts being around so many people who I can't understand, so that's something we're going to look into. Becca already has a big head start on speaking Spanish, and I'm sure that will be required for her and Evee as they grow up, but this will be more of an old dog/new trick thing for me.

We went somewhere and got the oil change and had to leave the bus for a while as they worked on it. We took a walk around the area and ended up stopping somewhere to eat. I was still feeling very iffy but decided to chance it and though I was a little uncertain after eating, I actually felt much better an hour or two later. I think the eating actually helped.

We drove from El Paso to Fort Stockton where we're staying through Sunday night. We were able to see Mexico on part of the drive and Becca was excited to see a different country, if only from a distance. We had some dinner and put the girls to bed, then went to bed ourselves after watching some TV.

Teetering and tottering...

There's Mexico...

Friday, May 16, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 44

I ended up getting to sleep at about 3 am and got up as usual with the girls at about 7. But those four hours of sleep combined with the three hours of sleep earlier and the nap yesterday afternoon actually made it feel like oversleeping. Regardless, I was still feeling pretty lousy this morning. Not quite as nauseous, but very weak with some serious knots in my stomach. I had a fever yesterday for a while but that had passed, thankfully. We drove to El Paso and the whole way I kept seeing billboards with pizza and burgers and other delicious looking food and it was a torturous temptation, because I was super hungry but knew I wasn't remotely ready to eat anything but anti-nausea chewables.

Considering I had very little energy and a weird feeling in my stomach the whole time, the assemblies I did at a school in El Paso went well. Not terrific, but good, all things considered. I was scheduled at 1:30 and 2:30 and I should have asked the principal sooner what time school let out, because when I asked him that right before the 2:30 performance, he said, "3:15, so if we can have the show end at 3:05, that would be great." Problem is that this program is usually right about 47-48 minutes on the nose from the time I start, and I can't remember when an assembly I've performed has ever started right at the scheduled time... usually by the time all of the students are in the room and announcements are made it is about 3 or 4 minutes after the start time. Normally, that's fine, but in this case it meant that I had about 30 minutes. I cut a couple of songs and rushed through everything else best I could and the show ended at, I think, 3:08. Anyway, I was really grateful to be able to perform both shows at all... I could have spent the whole day hugging my knees on the bathroom floor... so although it wasn't ideal, it could have been a lot worse.

We drove from there to an RV park nearby and stayed there for the night. As we were pulling into our spot we noticed another RV near us where a guy had a macaw and a sun conure, so we took the girls over to look at them. Tiggy really wanted to go, too... he is really fascinated by birds... but we felt he probably shouldn't make their acquaintance. We had dinner (I braved a bowl of oatmeal and seemed to do okay with that... though I'd have preferred the pizza or burger) and put the girls to bed, then caught up on some net stuff and watched some tube before getting to bed ourselves.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 43

The girls and I went to the RV park's TV room and watched Sesame Street while Roseann got some more rest. She is feeling better today, but now it's my turn to feel yucky. More on that later...

We left the RV park and were headed to another one that had wifi, but it turned out to be about a 15 mile drive on unpaved roads. We got about two miles into that, going 10 mph, and said "forget it" and went back to the other place. I started feeling sick and queasy and really needed a nap, so the girls went to the TV room and hung out there for a while. Roseann brought Evee back for a nap after a while.

I felt a little better after the nap and we drove into town and found a wifi connection and caught up best we could with everything from the last couple of days. We really try our best to get back to people who have e-mailed us, but please don't fret if it doesn't happen right away... sometimes we're at the mercy of whatever connections we can find. I've got to look into getting some kind of satellite internet connection.

We came back to the RV park and Evee's tummy was feeling bad again. That poor girl has had quite the up and down week. We put the girls to bed early... they needed to get caught up on some sleep, especially Ev... We started to watch the movie Troy, but then I got up to get something and felt very nauseous all of a sudden. I fully expected to puke and was hoping I would, but couldn't quite reach that point (don't you hate that??). I ended up in an upright fetal position on the bathroom floor and strangely, after a minute or so in that position, I didn't feel like puking anymore. I quickly went back to bed and tried to keep that general position and get some sleep. Roseann stayed up and played Settlers of Catan on the computer for a while, then went to sleep. I ended up sleeping from about 8 to 11 pm and then woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. The long nap this afternoon and the three hours of sleep tonight made for a strange sleep cycle, and there was some very heavy wind blowing outside that made it hard to relax, what with the bus being constantly nudged back and forth. So I got up and typed this post and eventually went back to sleep.

Driving out in Middle of Nowhere, New Mexico...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 42

Kent came out to the bus to say goodbye this morning before we headed out. I have to say an enormous thank you to him and Kris and their family for their generous and welcoming hospitality. We hadn't intended to stay there more than one night, but we didn't realize until we got to the Phoenix area that we really had far fewer options than we expected. We had a list of RV parks in the area and virtually every one we called was a 55+ park. Some of them were downright obnoxious about not wanting us or our kids there. There was one RV park that we stayed at, which would allow all ages and kids, but the owners there were kind of rude to us, too, so we didn't want to patronize them again after that. Another place that allowed us to stay had nice owners, but was quite a bit out of the way and didn't have working wifi (we have too much business stuff to keep up with when we're on the road to go too long without that). We couldn't stay over with Larissa and Sam (townhouse) or Perry and Angela (Home Owner's Association), so we were kind of stuck. The thing is, we can pretty much always stay at a Walmart or a highway rest area if we absolutely need to, but we've really only done that in Seattle or Portland and places like that where it never really gets that hot... Phoenix this time of year is just too hot to go without AC, especially with a 3 year-old who's been very sick and needed to stay cool. Kent really "gave me shelter from the heat and the dust" and I hope that he and his family will get some big-time extra blessings for that. The same goes for everyone else who has offered us assistance in some way or other during our travels over the past few years. I may say "thank you" several times, but I don't know if the real level of our appreciation is always evident enough... Please know that our prayers are with you and we try to return the favors or pay them forward the best we can. Kent is the CFO for a razor wire company, so if you're ever building a prison or trying to keep people out of your secret alien research facility, please let me know and I'll put you in touch with him for all of your razor wire needs.

Before heading out of town, we stopped to see Cecily, a lady who edits and writes for a long-running Arizona entertainment paper. She had come to my show the other day and wanted to do an interview. She is very nice and we really liked chatting with her. She has published a children's book called If I Made a Bug and gave Becca and Evee copies of that, which they enjoyed reading and coloring later. She also gave us some yummy cookies, which I enjoyed eating later.

The rest of the day we spent driving from Phoenix to Deming, New Mexico, where we had reserved an RV park for the night (thankfully, they have no age restrictions... that seems to be only a Phoenix area thing). It took us a lot longer to get there than we expected, as we were held up for well over an hour by an accident on the interstate. Apparently, it was a really bad accident, with a couple of semi trucks and several cars involved, and there were some fatalities. Knowing right away that it was some kind of accident from the police motorcycles screaming by made it easy to avoid impatience during the long wait... I was entirely grateful to be stuck for over an hour in traffic when I realized "there but for the grace of God we go" about the accident victims. It was scary to think how close we were in proximity, time-wise, to whatever happened, and if we had headed out a few minutes earlier, well...

Anyway, after that it was an uneventful drive. The only notable thing, sort of, was the roadside attraction called The Thing. I wouldn't dare spoil it for you and tell you what The Thing is, in case you're ever driving from Phoenix to New Mexico... But it only cost us a buck total for the whole family to go see it, and there was a museum of cool old stuff (old cars, Victrola, etc.) as part of the exhibit, so I'd say it was definitely worth that price, and by far a more fulfilling roadside experience than the World's Tallest Thermometer.

Evee is almost fully better today, so that's great, but this morning Roseann started feeling very sick and threw up a couple of times, and she has a fever now, too. Hopefully, she has the shorter duration strain of whatever it is that was going around back in Phoenix. She rested for much of the drive here and went to sleep early after we watched last night's American Idol. I stayed up to write yesterday's and today's blog posts (there's no Wifi here, so these two posts will be uploaded pretty late) and then went to bed myself after doing some work on the computer.

Some of the wreckage from the accident. Oh my...

A cool looking mountain of rocks...

One of many signs for The Thing...

On the way to see The Thing...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 41

Larissa called and invited us to come over again today, and added that she and Sam really wanted to play Pandemic again. Kent also called to see if we were staying at his house tonight, and added that he really wanted to play Pandemic again. I think we need to buy a bunch of copies of that game at a bulk price and resell them to the people we play it with. It really seems to be infectious... no pun intended.

We went to Larissa's and then went out to the park with all of the kids. Evee is not feeling 100% yet, by any means, but she is clearly feeling a lot better and was a lot more active today, which is great to see. It was a somewhat overcast day (it actually rained briefly a few times) and so we decided to take some promo pictures. Larissa is a professional photographer and did a really nice job, and the park had a lot of cool places for different picture ideas. Of course, as with any photo shoot involving me, there were numerous tie hanging in a weird direction issues, floofy hair in the wind issues and assorted strange-looking expression issues, so a lot of the pictures weren't usable at all, but there were a surprisingly high number that were potentially useful. We still need to narrow down some choices from those and have them edited and color balanced and all that, but a couple of the pictures are below. Those and others will probably turn up on my website or on flyers or other promo materials. I should mention that many of the promo pics I've used in recent years were taken by Roseann's brother, Jim, who lives near Seattle. He does a great job, too, and each time I go out there he seems to have a bigger and stronger camera with more filters and lenses and other miscellaneous attachments, much to his wife Cindy's chagrin. An advantage we had with today's shoot was that Roseann was with us to help point out some of the tie/hair/expression problems, whereas it's usually just me and Jim for his shoots.

Sam came home and we had a nice spaghetti dinner and then played Pandemic, barely losing at the very end. We had found the means of winning but got crushed by outbreaks before we had the chance to win. One of the fun things about that game is that even when you all lose (which is often), it is still very entertaining to be a part of.

While we were there, Becca went potty and was trying to wash her hands when she pushed down on the foaming hand soap dispenser and it shot a big clump of soap into her face. She panicked and rubbed it right into her eyes and she was in heavy distress for quite a while after that. We flushed it out the best we could and had her lay down, but it was still a little hurty by the time she went to bed later.

We went over to Kent's and talked with him and Kris for a while and then played Pandemic again. It looked like we were doomed but we were able to figure out a solution that barely worked and so we won at the last possible moment, which was quite thrilling. After that, we watched House and The Simpsons and then went to bed.

Evee's feeling a lot better...

Roseann and the kids at the park...

Playing invisible chess with Invisible Jill (she declared checkmate in four moves, but I just couldn't see it)...

Me and Kent...

Monday, May 12, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 40

Evee was pretty stable this morning... no throwing up... so that was good. Roseann gave me a haircut and we left the RV park and went to Larissa's. Speaking of haircuts, a quick aside to those of you who had seen Becca with very long hair last year and might have noticed her significantly shorter hair this year. Well, while we were home over this past winter, Becca did the "hey, here's some scissors... I think I'll give myself a haricut" thing. It was pretty brutal as haircuts go... three bald spots on the top, middle and back... but as we found out from other parents we talked to, that is apparently a rite of passage for many kids her age. It's finally growing out again but still has a way to go to catch up to where it was.

Anyway, We hung out with Larissa and her kids for much of the day. Evee mostly rested on the couch but she was able to keep everything she ate down and got up to play a few times. As it turns out, two of Larissa's kids have what seems to be the same thing, and I guess a lot of kids in Hollie's elementary school have it, too. I suppose that's reassuring in a way, that Evee probably doesn't have some freakish thing that Dr. House would need to solve, but it's still been rough for her riding it out.

Larissa and Roseann went out shopping for a while and I held down the fort with all of the kids. Her husband Sam came home and the two of us went out for some ice so we could use their new ice cream maker. While we were gone, he and I talked about how we each come from very small families... I have two sisters and their families, my parents and one uncle and aunt, and that's it (well, I have some relatives over in Germany, but I haven't seen them in over 20 years)... and Roseann (and Larissa's) family is enormous. Roseann is one of eight kids, many of whom have several kids of their own, and they live all over the place. Roseann is the youngest of her siblings, so many of her nieces and nephews are her age or near her age. The cool thing for me is that by marrying Roseann, I really gained so many new brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews and close friends. I love my own small family very much, of course, but I have now been able to appreciate and receive the love and interaction of a very large family, and that has been a wonderful thing.

We had dinner and then some yummy homemade ice cream, and then we had a family home evening and talked about how we're grateful for our hands and all the things we can do with them. Larissa had each of the kids close their eyes and reach into a paper bag to feel an object inside so they could appreciate the sense of feeling with their hands. I jokingly said that I wanted a turn and so Sam took the bag and totally got me by punching a hole in the bottom and grabbing me with his hand through the bag when I reached in. Zoinks!

After that, Sam fired up their Wii. I had heard about the Wii for a long time and had been eager to try it out. It is truly an amazing innovation and brings some actual physical activity to video games. You can really get a workout with the thing. We played some baseball and golf and some other games and had a really great time. Becca tried to play it but couldn't quite get the hang of it. She and Evee were happy enough that we created character avatars for them. My first inclination was that we need to get a Wii immediately, but the reality is that it wouldn't make too much sense for us to have one when we're gone for several months of the year, especially when it's not something the girls could play with for a while.

We played Pandemic with Sam and Larissa. Yeah, that's obviously our favorite game right now and everyone we play it with is eager to play again, too, especially when we come so close to winning, as we did again tonight. We said goodbye and drove to an RV park in Mesa and stayed there for the night.

Hanging out with Sam and Larissa's family...

Beltin' some dingers with the Wii... (10 AB, 5 HR)

Me and Sam in Mii form...

Some of the pictures Larissa took at the mall the other day...

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 39

We went to visit Roseann's brother, Perry, and his family, and had a great french toast and bacon breakfast. Perry insisted on cooking some of the bacon in the frying pan, but I went with using the microwave, where we could stack several pieces on top of each other. In the time that Perry cooked 5 pieces in the pan, I cooked 18 in the microwave, but I had to admit that his bacon tasted much better.

Evee was still pretty tired and out of it and mostly laid down at first, but then she ate a pancake and had some juice and got up and played for a while. Not her full-on kind of playing, but it was encouraging. But then when we walked over to church later she was complaining about wanting to sleep some more, so I took her back to the bus where she laid down. I thought she was just catching up on some rest but then she got up and puked all over herself. She was pretty irritable again for a while and puked and had diarrhea, so now we're worried about her again. We may have to take her in somewhere again tomorrow if she's not better.

We stayed at an RV park in Apache Junction and watched some different YouTube segments before going to bed.

Becca with Perry and Angela and their super-friendly dog, Buddy...