Sunday, June 10, 2007


Traversing to Traverse City

We were to Michigan quite a few years ago, when we had some friends who were from Bay City. The kids were very young at that time. We spent some time around Bay City, Detroit, and Mackinaw Island. On this trip, we were on the other side of Michigan. We flew in and out of Grand Rapids and the retreat was in Traverse City.

Traverse City is where several peninsulas go into Lake Michigan—so there are several large bays. When we got there Wednesday evening, we walked along the shore and in the sand for a while. It was in the 80s and very humid, but as we were walking, the temperature dropped probably 20 degrees.

The next day, we drove up the Mission Peninsula before the retreat started. There are tons of cherry orchards, vineyards and million dollar homes. At the end is a historic area where an old light house is located. It was supposed to be a swimming beach, but there was a long stretch of rocks and grassy area before the water started. I guess the lake is really low (like a lot of others). Although there were some really nice sandy beaches along the lake.

On Saturday, after the retreat, we drove to the west cost of Michigan and followed the lake. We found a really nice beach where we sat in the sunshine—it was kind of neat because it was a sand dune with a steep bank. We carved out ‘chairs’ and plopped down. If we needed little more lumbar support—we could just push some sand in the area. Since I’m always so exhausted after a retreat—it was really nice to just sit back and relax.

We spent the night in Grand Rapids and then left early in the morning to fly home. Since there were sever thunder storms the day before, our plane was delayed for 45 minutes so the crew could get the mandatory rest. Then we ended up being delayed another 45 minutes because they didn’t get the slip when they fueled up the plane and couldn’t leave until they got it. That meant we only had 20 minutes in the cites—so we really hurried across the airport. Another man from our flight ran by us while we were going on the moving walkway. About the time we got to where the A and B concourse starts, we heard our names called for our flight. It was a lucky thing we were leaving from A2—so we didn’t have too far to go. The other man who had run by us was also getting on the plane to the Falls and was telling them that we were right behind him—so we made it on the flight. The really amazing thing to me was that our luggage also made it. I was certain that it wouldn’t.

I’m only home for a little while and then will be gone for two full weeks again.


Country Music Capital of the World

Bob and I flew directly from New York to Nashville where my convention was held. Since both Bob and I love county western music—it’s one of our favorite places. Bob has gone to The Grand Ole Opry six times, so he was excited to get tickets and go again.

But I’ll start at the beginning—we go in to Nashville fairly early on Monday. We were able to check into our room right away. Then we went to work (or rather we stood around waiting to go to work). HQ always loads a huge truck with merchandise from Recognitions, all the awards that are given out, all the packets for the pre-conference and lots of other stuff. People from the hotel were suppose to be there to do the unloading, but they didn’t show up—so we ended up unloading all the stuff ourselves.

That evening, Bob and I found a Laundromat so we could wash our clothes. And that was the last time we had to relax together! And it was also the last time I stepped outside the hotel until Sunday morning when we headed for home.

Of course the Opryland hotel is pretty spectacular—so even though I didn’t go outside for a week, I did sit on our balcony which overlooked the Garden Atrium every morning. And I ate at three different restaurants—a couple that were atrium seating—so it felt like you were outside.

This year was really neat, because Ross and Richard came to the convention. Ross was a Guistwhite Scholar when he was a member and there was a reception for the former and current Scholars with Dr. Guistwhite. Since Ross was invited to the convention, he approached the college where he works and got them to pay his travel expenses and he staffed the college’s booth at the college fair. Richard came along for the ride. So they got there on Thursday evening and stayed with us.

Since they were there, I put them to work—and I think they enjoy working behind the scenes. And I was really busy. I lead five breakout sessions, did a couple focus groups, helped with the Int’l Officer elections, coordinated a luncheon, and staffed the Advisor Corner. Several days I would leave the room at 7 am and not get back to the room until after 11 pm.

Friday evening, there was nothing scheduled—so the kids and Bob and I went to a great seafood restaurant in the hotel. We were right near a little waterfall, so it was a neat area. We had sushi as an appetizer—which was really good.

Saturday evening was the Gala Banquet and Hallmark Awards—so I was involved, but that’s when Bob, Ross and Richard went to the Grand Ole Opry. They had a good time—and got back just as the last awards were being given out. Afterward we went out with the advisors from MN.

Being in Nashville really brought back a lot of memories. The first time Bob went to a Bus Ed. Convention, it was in Nashville—it was the only one where I didn’t go along. Bob and I took a fun vacation in 1994—just for the heck of it while the kids were on Tour with New Wine. The next time I was there was the second PTK convention that I ever attended—it was special because both Ross and Kara were members and attended with me. Also it was the first time I met Richard. The next convention that I was at was when our chapter won so many awards. I’ll never forget that night, we waited for photos after the gala and then I went out for a drink with Dennis Anderson and some of the MN advisors—I got back to the room at 2:30 am—it was the start of daylight savings time—so set the clock to 3:30—I needed to pack, so did that until almost 4 and we had to get up at 4, so we could catch the shuttle for an early morning flight. I decided it wasn’t worth it to go to bed.

This time was a little different—I was working, but the convention was still top notch. Al Gore was one of the speakers—and he did a good job of talking about global warming and the climate. However, he is still a Politian and didn’t answer any questions straight.

As always, even though it’s great to go to these wonderful places and see all kinds of new things and visit with people from all over—it’s really nice to get back home again. So it felt really good to get home and sleep in our own bed again.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


New York, New York—Wicked!

We have always been fortunate that Bob has his Business Education National Convention the week before Easter. Generally the kids would have a few days off from school, so we would pull them out for a few more days and have a wonderful family vacation in a great city. The only down side is that we are never home for Easter, but we have spent Easter morning in some really neat places.

This year his convention was scheduled for New York City. Even though the kids are all grown up, they felt they could revert back to the Easter trip with the parents (especially since it was in New York). So they all came along, and because we knew about the trip for a while—the kids gave everyone tickets to Broadway plays for Christmas.

Bob and I arrived in New York on Tuesday—he had meetings and work and I worked during the day, but we wandered around in the evening and for lunch. We found a couple really neat delis to eat at. On Wed, we bought tickets (from a man on the street) for Jersey Boys, which is the story of Frankie Vali and the Four Seasons. I was nervous that when we got there, our tickets might not be any good—but they were great. We were in the second row back from the stage—although two seats away from the wall. So I was looking up through the staircase, but no one sat in the two seats on the aisle, so at intermission, the man next to us and we moved down two seats—then we could see great. We were so close to the stage that the actors could spit on us when they sang (and they probably did). We also made eye contact with them—although they were more interested in Stephen Spielberg, who was sitting two rows behind us.

Jersey Boys was great—it had wonderful music—that Bob and I grew up with. And the actors all did their own music—when there were instruments on stage, the actors were playing and they did all the songs. We read that this was the first major role for the guy who played Frankie Vali, but he had that distinctive singing voice and really fit the part—he even looked a lot like Frankie Vali. One of the neat things they did was when they were showing them performing for a group, they would stand at the edge of the stage as if we were the audience. Once scene talked about them being on the Ed Sullivan TV Show and so they had cameras on one side of the stage and they started singing for the camera, then then moved to the back of the stage and it looked like they were singing to an audience and we were behind the stage. Then they moved to our side of the stage and sang to us..

Ross and Richard came on Thursday and then Kara and Paul came on Friday. We actually did the trip fairly cheaply because all of us flew on free tickets. Then Bob got some staff development funds to help pay for our room in the hotel and he used Marriott points for Kara and Paul’s room. Although the cost for food and theatre was outrageous.

Friday night after everyone was there, we went to see Wicked. This is the story of the wicked witch of the west from the Wizard of Oz. It was a great performance—we had really good seats in the first balcony and the music was so powerful. Since we knew we were going by Christmas time, most of us had read the book. Although it made us wonder how they were going to do a musical from the story—the book is really dark.

The next morning, Bob had meetings, but the kids and I had tickets for a back stage tour of Wicked—it was really interesting. One of the actors who led it was a ‘Swing Actor’ and a ‘Stand-in’ for one role. As a Swing he never knows what part he will be playinig until he gets to the theatre—he said one time it was even as they were taking their places on stage that they realized someone wasn’t there and he moved into that position. As a stand-in he will take one of the principal actors role if something happens to that person and they can’t continue with the performance. There are also under-studies for all the principals who will take their place if the principal knows they will be gone beforehand. This guy said one time Ben Vereen, who played the role of the wizard, got sick and after one of his numbers—so he left the stage and his stand-in went on stage and took over from there. It was probably a little confusing because the wizard was black and then came back on and was white.

We got to see a lot of the costumes and they were really beautiful—and big--and heavy. The costume designed likes to use upholstery fabric and many layers—so a lot of the costumes weight 30 lbs or more—and then they were suppose to dance. The actor said he has over ¼ million dollars worth of costumes just for his roles. Another thing that I found very interesting was the way they put the microphones on the actors—we noticed during Jersey Boys, one of the women had something in her eyebrow and a guy had a seam looking thing across the back of his hair. Most of the mics are in the hairlines or above the eyebrows, or in a mask or hat. The sound manager keeps track of all the mics so that only the actors who need them are live and if they put on a hat, the one in the hat will be live and the one in the hair won’t be. I would really like to do more back stage tours—it was really interesting.

The next day, we went to see Avenue Q—which was very (gulp) interesting. Kara had said it was like an R-rated Sesame Street. It was puppets with their puppeteers. We weren’t sure what to watch—the puppet or the person who was the running the puppet. And there’s something about a bedroom scene with puppets that just seems wrong—but it did have its funny parts.

Saturday night we all went our different directions. Kara and Paul went to Phantom of the Opera, Ross and Richard went to a club and Bob and I went to Rockefeller Center where we watched the skaters and ate at a rink-side seafood place. It was really good, but also really expensive—Bob had a bowl of butternut squash soup that was $15. We also had an appetizer of French fried portabella mushrooms—they were delicious!

Easter Sunday—we went to church. Ross has a friend who’s a minister at a Lutheran church right near Central Park. He and his wife invited us for brunch before church—we met some of their friends and then went to church. The church was beautiful with lots of beautiful stained glass windows—one was even by Tiffany—worth several million dollars! The pastor mentioned that the Church was used in a CSI New York episode—so we had to watch for that. We saw it, but they changed it in to a Catholic Church—I guess interviewing someone as ‘Father’ is more impressive than ‘Pastor’.

The service was very impressive with a wonderful choir and musicians. And, of course, Easter services are always so moving. We enjoyed fellowship following the service and then we hopped on the Subway and went to 5th Ave to experience our first Easter Parade.

‘Parade’ is a little bit of a stretch—mostly it’s people milling around—a lot of them have hats of some sort on—one was even a roller coaster. There are lots of little stands selling junk and snacks and there are some street performers. We watched a really neat group of dancers who combined gymnastics, rhythm, and dance. The crowd was a little sparse, but I think that’s because it was really cold and even snowing!

Sunday night we went to the restaurant at the top of the Marriott—it had a revolving platform that took about an hour to go around once—we went around two times. Our meals were off the set price menu--you got an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert (for only $69.99)—but it was delicious and we had a great time.

Bob and I had to get up really early to catch our flight (to Nashville). The kids had until 4 pm before their flight, so we took off and they caught a few more sites of the city. What a wonderful time in a great city with our kids!

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