Well, we did it! Today was our final performance of the 2010-2011 National Tour of CATS. It has been one incredible journey, one that I will never forget. I’m so excited to be going home! But leaving this experience behind is bittersweet… This has been such a phenomenal group of people that I have gotten to make magic with night after night, and I will miss them dearly. I am so proud of the work we did this year, and I will cherish the moments of happiness. :)
Now comes the time in a performers life that is terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. I’m suddenly unemployed, and I have no clue what comes next. But that’s also the exciting part; the possibilities are limitless. I have no idea what my future in the theater holds, but I’m anxious to find out. :)
Don’t worry my blargh readers, I will soon come up with something new to blargh about. I will also be passing the reins of this blargh to the next Grizabella. I hope she enjoys this adventure as much as I have…
I had fun making this map! This is a map of all the places that the kittehs have performed in or just slept in on stopover days during our time on tour this year. I’d say we’ve been around quite a bit, no?
LAST DAY ON THE BUUUUUSSSSSS!!!!
That was the gist of my excitement for the day. :) It was a painless, nice, last day on the bus. We drove the 163 miles in about 2 and a half hours from Tallahassee, FL to Jacksonville, FL. This is where we’ll be closing out this leg of the tour. Gee… I’m gonna have to start thinking about something else to blargh about… :-/
And we’re almost there… Today was the second to last day on the bus. I couldn’t close out my time on that thing without saying goodbye to the bathroom in the back. Well… Actually, I could have. But that’s just not how things went down. We did have our goodbyes, and I have to say, I won’t miss it. Not one bit. I’ll spare you all the details, but let’s just say that bathroom and I haven’t had a good relationship. Matter of fact, I don’t think ANYONE on this tour has a good relationship with that thing.
Anyway… Today we drove the 398 miles from Huntsville, AL to Tallahassee, FL. Took us the better part of the day… Just to tell you how long a day it was, we watched two movies after lunch, and there was still an hour and a half left of the trip after. Just over 7 and a half hours… And it was our last long travel day!
Oh, we’re almost to the end, and I still can’t get my act together. That’s exactly why I call it blarghing. Actually, to tell the truth, I’ve been very busy putting together the end of tour blarghing fun. Well, that’s my excuse, anyway. BUT. Monday, we drove the 285 miles from Louisville, KY to Huntsville, AL. The last bit of this tour, all things considered, has been really easy. We had a lovely evening off on Monday and a Golden Day on Tuesday. My roommate’s lovely family was kind enough to throw us a real down-home, country barbeque at their home. Just what the cast and crew needed to get us through the last few days… Good food, drink, games, and bonding with nature. :)
And after a brief period up northward, we’re heading south again. 365 miles from East Lansing, MI down to home of the slugger, Louisville, KY. Drove for about 6 and a half hours, and then settled down for a lovely night of TONYS! :) I gotta say, since I have been rather disappointed in the Tony Award show for the last few years (sound problems, disagreeing with the winners, etc.), this year was FANTASTIC! I’m so glad I sat down with some members of my cast and shared in that with them.
Another long flying day in the world of cat travel… We left El Paso, TX this morning and flew to Phoenix, AZ to change planes and fly to Detroit, MI to get on a bus and drive to East Lansing, MI. I don’t wanna count the miles, and it took somewhere in the realm of all day. I can’t wait til the last travel day where I get to make my final map with the spider web of every destination we’ve hit on this tour. One of our technicians did some of the math the other day and said that we have traveled well over 42,000 miles on this tour. That’s almost the distance of going around the world twice. Woah. I just blew my mind a bit.
Well, after my incredible weekend in Albuquerque, we were off again. Back on the bus once more and driving to El Paso, TX. It was 286 miles in about 5ish hours through the beautiful New Mexico desert that I miss sometimes so very much… We even had our comfort stop in my favorite name of a town ever: Truth or Consequences, NM. :) I just think that’s an awesome name for a town.
I also think it’s kinda funny that on Google maps when I made my map to El Paso that Juarez shows up in the city name instead. (hehehe)
So, I was so excited about this weekend, that I completely forgot to blog about going there. :)
On Thursday, I got to fly home. :D I flew from Tulsa, OK to Dallas, TX and then to Albuquerque, NM, I was just so overwhelmed with excitement and such that I just didn’t get to write about it! So I will now… I flew in a day earlier than my cast because I had a bunch of press to do since this was my hometown performance weekend. Well, actually, I grew up in Los Alamos, about 2 hours away from Albuquerque, but a great number of my friends and people I’ve known since I was a little girl were in Albuquerque or at least within driving distance of there. So many people came out to see it, I was just amazed and so very grateful.
The other amazing thing was, when I was little the very first big Broadway production that I ever saw live was CATS. Where did I see it? Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque. Where did I get to perform the role of Grizabella this weekend? You guessed it. The very same theater. It was pretty emotional for me… It was incredible stepping onto that stage doing the show that I had seen there all those years ago. It was almost like things had come around full circle, and I just had the most amazing bunch of people come out to see and support the show. I was just completely blown away by the amazing, phenomenal, generous people in my life.
After a nice relaxing week-long sit down in Charlotte, we are off again. Today we flew from Charlotte, NC to Tulsa, OK, but not before our plane stopped in Houston and Dallas on the way… It was nice seeing the Houston airport. And the Dallas airport. But only from the confines of our 737. (haha) Anyway, we’re in Tulsa for a couple days! Woot!
We’re back on the road for the home stretch! Yesterday, I flew from New York to Charlotte, NC, where we are starting this last leg of this year’s tour. It was a rough travel day, after several flight delays, one cancellation, and spending eight hours in La Guardia airport, those of us flying from NYC made it in late last night to Charlotte. It’s a lovely city, and I’m so looking forward to spending a week here.
During our wonderful two week stint in San Francisco, we had two golden days to do whatever the heck we wanted! So, since my fiancé had come to visit me, we decided to rent a car and escape to wine country. Instead of going to the big wineries in Napa, we wanted to check out some of the smaller, more family-owned type places in Sonoma. Oddly enough, California wine country really started in Sonoma, but Napa Valley ended up taking all the credit. It’s also called the Valley of the Moon (beautiful, huh?). Jack London lived here and did most of his writing here. Sonoma Valley is home to some of the earliest vineyards and wineries in the state, some of which survived the phylloxera epidemic of the 1870s and the impact of Prohibition. A couple friends of ours pointed us in the direction of Sonoma for a wine weekend, and we were not disappointed. :) 11 wineries in two days made for some good times.
We started at 11:00am with a tasting at St. Francis Winery. In 1971, Joe Martin, a San Francisco businessman and his wife Emma purchased the 100 acre Behler Ranch Vineyard in Sonoma Valley, located in the historic town of Kenwood. In 1979, after several years of growing and selling grapes to local wineries, the decision was made by Joe and partner Lloyd Canton to build their own winery. St. Francis Winery was established and christened after St. Francis of Assisi, in recognition of the Saint’s role as a protector of the natural world and as acknowledgement of the Franciscan order, believed to have been the first to bring European grape cultivation to the new world.
The wines were all lovely, but we were especially fond of their 2007 Port. After having a lovely walk around the grounds, we took with us a bottle of that fantastic port and moved on to our next winery.
Next up was B.R. Cohn. This fun place was founded in 1984 by Bruce Cohn, manager of the Doobie Brothers. They also make olive oil and other gourmet food products. The atmosphere of the winery and the wines are that of an awesome music festival and antique car show.
We had our lunch picnic here and did our tasting, but nothing struck us as a wine that we just HAD to have, so we went on to winery #3.
Next down the road was Gundlach-Bundschu, which was a winery with German roots. A beautiful, beautiful winery with a long fascinating history. The land was purchased in 1858 and the first vintage produced was in 1861, making it one of the oldest wineries in the area. You can read their whole interesting story on their website.
We especially liked their Estate Vineyard Chardonnay, which we bought a bottle of and can’t wait to drink. It had a lovely buttery mouth feel with a touch of butterscotch in the finish, which I just loved. The grounds are beautiful, and I very much enjoyed going here.
After this, we wanted to experience some even smaller wineries of the area. So we stumbled into one called Homewood Winery. This place is pretty much a one man winery. David Homewood does the vinification process almost entirely himself. So this place is super small, only about 3,000 cases of wine a year. This place is a handcrafted approach to wine, and the people here were so very nice and attentive. It was really an individualized experience for everyone who ever came through here. This was also the first winery we came to that didn’t charge anything for a tasting. We bought a bottle of their 2007 red blend table wine called Wizzbanger. It was so delicious and easy to drink, we already drank it while we were still in San Fran! :)
The last winery of the day was another small winery with a BIG personality called Kaz Vineyard & Winery. Still a relatively new winery (opened in 2003) I’d be interested to see how they mature as a winery. I like that this place is small, organic, and does interesting things with their wines. For example, their ports in particular were excellent. They do an excellent red port, but they also do a blush and white port, which were the two favorites of mine that we tasted here. We bought a bottle of their blush port. Their mission is to create full bodied experimental blends. While I love that idea, I think they can keep going. The wines were very vegetal. Many of the notes, rather than fruits, were those of leafy greens. While that would be interesting for one or two of their wines, it was kind of an across the board quality in the wines. But like I said, I liked the vibe of this place, so maybe in a few years they will level out.
For the second day, we ventured a little further north to a town called Healdsburg to check out some of their wineries. We started with our friends’ favorite, Williamson Wines. This place. Was by far. My FAVORITE. To prove it, we joined their wine club. Here’s why. All of their wines are crafted to pair with food. They do their tastings to show this unique quality. So with each of their wines, they give you a bite of food that pairs with it to show how the flavors are affected. It was such a delightful experience. The best was their Cuvée. It’s meant to be paired with spicy foods. We tried it with a bite of spicy salami. When we had the wine after the bite of spice, the wine neutralized the spicy flavor and really brought out the umami (savoury meaty flavor) of the salami. It was AMAZING!!! Not to mention we loved every single wine we tasted. So we joined up with their wine club. I can’t WAIT for the first shipment!
Next up was Dry Creek Vineyard. Another beautiful, vine-covered winery. This was in the Dry Creek region, which is another valley near Sonoma. This was one of the first wineries in this particular region, even though it’s relatively young compared to wineries in Sonoma, founded in 1972. We particularly liked their 2006 Malbec and bought a bottle of it.
We continued to explore the Dry Creek Valley area and went to a place called Sbragia. This winery had the most beautiful view from their patio of the whole valley.
The wines were okay… But the view was the best part BY FAR about this particular place.
We then moved on to Dutcher Crossing Winery. This was probably my second favorite winery of our trip. I just absolute loved their Zinfandel, and so we bought a bottle! They also had a stunning view and a lovely winery.
All of their wines were very well balanced, and just extremely pleasant to drink.
We then ventured over to a winery called Zichichi Wines. This place specialized in Zinfandels, and their Estate Zinfandel was amazing. We tried the 2010 Zinfandel right out of the barrels! It hadn’t even been bottled yet. We asked about ordering the 2010 once it was bottled, and they told us it was so popular, by the time that it was bottled, they would be sold out in preorders! So we jumped on it and bought 3 bottles. :) Good stuff…
We ended the day at a place called Unti Vineyards. Sadly, I was pretty unimpressed by their wines… I mean, they weren’t bad. But they weren’t really good… But luckily, the whole weekend was so full of amazing wines, I wasn’t that upset. :)
All in all, 11 wineries, we purchased 7 bottles of wine, preordered 3 bottles, and joined a wine club. It was a fantastic weekend!
San Francisco is even better than what I remember as a kid. I visited so many awesome places, and I can’t wait until I get to go back someday. First of all, there’s the cable car. This is something so uniquely San Francisco, and it is one of the most fun things to do there. Yeah, it’s $5, but you get to ride it hanging out the side!!! Here’s my fiancé and I taking our first ride on the cable car together:
I of course did a couple of the touristy things in San Fran: Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf… But I also tried to venture a little more and find some lesser known gems. For me, the only cool thing about Pier 39 was the sea lions. We sat there for a good hour just watching their interactions and antics. It is really some of the best amusement to get for free. Otherwise, Pier 39 is kind of a Disneyland setup, and not really my speed. Fisherman’s Wharf was kind of the same deal, but one of my favorite things this trip was there. The Musée Méchanique was like stepping back in time to experience one of the world’s largest privately owned collections of mechanically operated musical instruments and antique arcade machines. It was AMAZING. One of my favorites was the French Execution. You put in a quarter, and the curtain opens to a priest saying prayers over someone about to get the guillotine. The blade comes down, and the curtain falls with a thud. Call me morbid, but it was HYSTERICAL. Here’s me with the old arm wrestling machine that was seen in The Princess Diaries. Yeah, I touched something that Julie Andrews touched. Jealous? :)
Another one of my favorite places in San Fran was Japantown. Being that I lived in Tokyo for 6 months, I suffer major withdrawal from Japanese culture sometimes. So going to Japantown for a couple hours, I actually felt like I was back in Japan for a little while. While there, I saw a sushi bar that was sushi-boat style called Isobune. The sushi chefs make various types of sushi and then send it around the bar on boats, and there’s a little moat encircling the bar. You take whatever you want from the bar as it goes around, and at the end, they charge you by how many plates you ate. I LOVED places like this in Japan, so I figured it would be good. I went and it was AMAZING. And it turns out, this restaurant was the very first sushi boat restaurant in the United States when it opened in 1982. It was the best sushi I have had since leaving Japan:
One of the other neat experiences that I stumbled upon was when I went to check out Telegraph Hill. I had heard of the wild parrot flock that hung out in that area, there was the book and the movie The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. Well, I went there and after we saw the beautiful parrots, as we were wandering down the hill, we ran into a gentleman carrying a bike. We got to talking about the beautiful gardens, and the neighborhood, and how it was just about the best place to live EVER. I also mentioned that we had just seen the parrots. The gentleman asked me if I’d heard of the book and the movie, I said yes. Turns out this guy was Mark Bittner, the author of the book and the subject of the film!
I had so many wonderful experiences in San Fran that I will never forget!