Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Craziness Continues

This past weekend marked the first time I’ve seen The Texas Tenors since that crazy trip to North Carolina. Of course, all of the same people that were at the concert in North Carolina were there yesterday as well, plus several more. If I were Marcus, John, or JC, I would have been scared to see all of us together again!

Our trip was eventful as always. Why is it impossible for us to go somewhere without something strange happening? Aside from the dire urge some of us had to find a bathroom despite the fact that we were in the middle of nowhere in Illinois (and they call Iowa flat and desolate?), the most interesting part was our drive into Pella from Newton. This is the view we saw in front of us. Seriously?

12 tractor parade into town

There were eight of us that arrived in Alton, IL Saturday afternoon (the tractors fortunately didn’t slow us down too much). We immediately picked up where we left off in Keokuk. After quite a bit of chatting upon our arrivals, we finally made our way toward food. Naturally, it was dinnertime at that point, and none of us had eaten breakfast or lunch. Well, I take that back. Between all of us, we had consumed a bag of chips, a doughnut, a roll, and a candy bar. Talk about eating healthily!

We ended up at the Applebee’s, mainly because Mom didn’t want Chinese, Kathy didn’t want Mexican, and Red Lobster was too expensive. Nonetheless, it was really good. Of course, I think anything would have tasted good at that point since we were so hungry! I don’t think I’ve eaten that much in a long time! Why did Kathy and Judy have to get Blonde Brownies for dessert? They were too tempting for their own good!

After dinner, it was back to the hotel to continue our favorite game of Imaginiff. It’s definitely a riot. We couldn’t stop laughing! I’m not going to share some of the answers we came up with this time; they are too embarrassing for certain people and mildly inappropriate. Jeanette managed to win both games. I think she was cheating. Maybe she kept moving herself forward and conveniently forgetting to move everyone else’s pawn?

The night was over way too soon. We made sure to get our chairs moved back to our respective rooms so we wouldn’t get in trouble, and we moved Judy’s furniture back into place (although we thought about leaving it there). Bedtime. And one step closer to Tenor time.

The next day, we ended up at the mall to eat lunch at Olga’s Kitchen. This was especially funny for us after our game the night before. One of the questions asked was which female name my mother would be, and one of the options was Olga. Coincidence? I think not! We were having trouble deciding whether we wanted to go in or not initially, so we stood outside talking about it for a few minutes. At that point, one of the employees (Olga?) came up to us and asked us if we were coming in. Does that remind anyone else of the lady at the “bakery” in Nauvoo? Does our group have some magnet that causes people like that to be attracted to coming up to us?

Our group in front of Olga’s Kitchen, courtesy of Sabra Rieck

It was a very strange restaurant. Judy convinced me to eat the three-cheese curds appetizer as my meal since I wasn’t very hungry. It turned out to be delicious, and it gave me the opportunity to ogle at everyone else’s unique foods. For instance, Kathy had purple potatoes in her salad, and Glenda’s chicken was green. That’s not something you see every day!

At the end of lunch, Judy was struck with the brilliant idea to get something for John for his birthday. Even though it isn’t until the 12th, we knew that none of us (except for Sabra) would be in Branson that day to celebrate. Judy and I walked next door to the cookie place to purchase a huge decorated cookie that said “Happy birthday John” on it. They even put T’s on all of the balloons!

John’s cookie

Cookie in hand (more like in pizza box in hand), we headed over to the concert at the Lewis and Clark Community College. Two hours early! Our tickets were General Admission, so we wanted to be sure we were at the front of the line in order to get front row seats.

Our group in front of the venue

I have never seen so many people as worried about getting into a concert as these people! As we were standing by the main door into the auditorium trying to listen in on rehearsal, a man walked out and wanted to know if he could help us. We were caught. He told us to try going in one of the side entrances since not many people use it. That sounded like a good solution to me, but the others were worried that the side door wouldn’t be unlocked at the same time as the other doors. Then they discussed the possibility of posting several people at each door. Talk about a lot of work for front row seats!

We ended up staking out the side door like the man had suggested after he helped us hide John’s cookie. The doors opened 15 minutes early, and we raced in, only to discover we didn’t like the view from the front row after all. There were speakers in the way of several seats, and it was so close to the stage you had almost no legroom. Most of us moved to the second row.

Of course, the concert was absolutely fantastic (as usual). Instead of a live band, Jeff Hughes was playing the piano for The Texas Tenors. This was my first time hearing him, and I was extremely impressed.

Courtesy of Teena Carter

In other news, Marcus got his hair cut! According to him, he won’t have a chance again to have his regular hairdresser cut it until the end of December, and he doesn’t trust anyone else. I don’t know about you, but I like it!

Courtesy of Teena Carter

The concert was over way too soon. Sabra ended up being the lucky person to win the raffle for the huge concert poster signed by The Texas Tenors. I think the rest of us are extremely envious! Wouldn’t that look perfect hanging on the ceiling above my bed? I do, however, know it will earn an honorary spot in her new condo in Branson.

Courtesy of Sabra Rieck

We all waited until the end of the line to talk to the guys as usual. Teena and I were next in line to get pictures when they decided they needed to go take pictures with the board, and the line dissolved. For some reason that always seems to happen to me! What are they trying to tell me?!  When we got them reeled back over to us, we took our picture with them at last.

Courtesy of Teena Carter

Once the pictures were over, we finally got to present the cookie to John. He seemed to love it!

Courtesy of Teena Carter

Unfortunately, this meant the day was nearly over, and we still had the long trek home to look forward to. There’s nothing better than a weekend getaway with some of your best friends that’s filled with lots of love, lyrics, and laughs. Thank you to The Texas Tenors for bringing us all together. Here’s to many more special memories in the future!


Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Music, Travel


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Caramel Apples, Corn Mazes, and The Texas Tenors: 10 Things I love About Fall

As all of you know, today is Labor Day. Most people see it as a holiday to celebrate the workers in America that have given so much to our country. It’s a day for families to get together, to have picnics, and celebrate one last outing before school gets back into full swing. However, for me, it means one more thing: fall is coming.

When I was still attending school at Wartburg College, Labor Day meant school was about to start for me. Quite often, I found myself moving in on Labor Day. The Fall Term started just a few days later. With school commencing, I always knew that all of my favorite fall activities were about to begin. Following is a list of the reasons fall is my favorite season.

1. Weather. There’s something about the cool, crisp air and gentle breezes of fall that is so calming. It’s the perfect time of year to be going on long, refreshing walks. Not to mention the fact that I love when I can wear sweatshirts again!

My college roommate and me sporting our Wartburg sweatshirts

2. Leaves. The bright reds, oranges, and yellows adorning all of the trees throughout the month of October are simply beautiful. When I was growing up, my mom, dad, grandpa, grandma and I would take a weekend vacation during October where we would drive along the Mississippi River on the Great River Road to look at the leaves. We normally drove all the way up to Minnesota and Wisconsin, through Illinois, and finally back into Iowa. For anyone that has never had the opportunity to take a trip like that, I would highly recommend it. Now, we get the full benefit of seeing the leaves throughout Missouri on our way to Branson to see The Texas Tenors. There’s an area on Highway 65 between Springfield and Branson where you can see nothing but trees for miles on both sides of the road. It truly is breathtaking!

3. Corn mazes. One of the great things about living in Iowa is having the option of going to a corn maze every fall. There’s something about getting lost in a seemingly impossible maze for several hours with some of your friends that is so much fun. That is, until you’ve been going around in circles for hours, and the maze is ready to close. There was one year that my boyfriend at the time and I were in a maze and happened to be in that situation. We couldn’t for the life of us figure out how to get out of there! We knew what time the maze closed, and once it got to be that time, we decided we’d better start cutting through the corn to get out. When we finally reached the exit, everything was dark–including the building we paid in. The worst part? There was a fence around everything to keep people from sneaking in without paying, and apparently to keep people who were trapped in after hours from getting out. Fortunately, the owners were just leaving, so we yelled until they heard us. They felt so badly about it! My favorite corn maze to go to (not the one we were trapped in) is Dan-D Farms. That one always has a haunted maze around Halloween time, so you end up with people jumping out at you from the corn throughout the maze. It definitely adds to the atmosphere! This year, their maze is in the shape of the United States, presumably because of the election this year. I can’t wait to try it out!

4. Apples. Apples are one of my favorite fruits, and fortunately, they are in abundance during the fall. We always loved to stop at Kelly’s Apple Orchard in Galena, IL on our leaf trip. They have some of the best apples I’ve ever tasted, not to mention some amazing apple cider. Then, there’s the caramel apples! I am absolutely in love with those, but they have to be the ones without the nuts!

5. Pumpkins. I’ve never been a huge fan of pumpkin patches like some people. They just don’t interest me all that much. However, I love anything and everything pumpkin. My favorite: pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream! Yum!

6. Hayrack rides. Sadly, it’s been a long time since I’ve been on a hayrack ride. That doesn’t make me love them any less though! My church always used to have a hayrack ride on a parishioner’s farm each year while we were also having a weenie and marshmallow roast. I will never forget the last time we had an outing like that. I was sitting on top of a huge hay bale with a bunch of other kids from the church. For some reason, we got to singing “Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar” for the entire ride. What a strange memory to have!

7. Marching band competitions. When I was in high school, fall always meant it was marching band season. Football games, early morning and Saturday practices, and competitions. We always had four competitions: Davis County, the State competition, Valley Fest, and the Mid-Iowa Band Championship. Just about every Saturday in October was taken up with these competitions or with rehearsals. I loved the crowding on the bus, comraderie between band members as they were waiting for results, section chats, and huddling under blankets in the stands while clutching hot chocolates after marching. Also, Pella was (and is) extremely competitive. We were extremely disappointed if we didn’t win. I’d venture a guess that we are one of the best marching bands in the Midwest, but I am a bit biased. Even while I was going to school at Wartburg, I still made sure to come home for at least one of the competitions. Last year was the first year I was unable to make it. I really missed it, so hopefully this year, I can find a weekend to go. What can I say? I’m still extremely proud of the Marching Dutch!

The Pella High Marching Dutch

8. Halloween. This is quite possibly my favorite holiday of the year. It’s so much fun! I love to decorate and dress up for this holiday. My freshman year at Wartburg, my roommate and I even bought a ghost that flew across our room while screaming anytime someone walked in the door. We named the ghost James Raoul Phantom, and we definitely had a blast with that. Oh, and let’s not forget my experience of Halloween in Las Vegas that I mentioned in my recent entry Memories! I went trick-or-treating through my senior year of high school. I probably would still be going if it weren’t so frowned upon. After all, who doesn’t like free candy?

James Raoul Phantom

9. Haunted houses. I had to make this a separate category because I love them so much! I’ve been to haunted houses all over the state. Some were really good, some were…not so good. Two years ago, my boyfriend and I even went haunted house hopping all over Omaha on All Hallow’s Eve. Talk about amazing! The last haunted house I went to was in Waterloo. I went with a group of frends from Wartburg, and it was actually decent. The best part was that several of my friends were chickens. There was a room in the house that was filled with clowns, and one of my friends happened to be scared to death of clowns. He screamed. Very loudly. I thought it was hilarious! I have yet to find a haunted house that actually scares me, but I’m not going to stop trying!

The group that went to the haunted house in Waterloo

10. The Texas Tenors return to Branson! This is quite possibly one of the best reasons to love fall. This year, The Texas Tenors are in Branson consistently throughout the months of September, October, and November. Of course, I am planning on being there multiple weekends each month. Surprisingly, I’m not the only one. In fact, every weekend I’m planning on going, there’s a whole bunch of other fans going as well. This year, the huge fan event will be held October 12-14, and I can’t wait! There have been so many people working very hard to make this event a success. Besides having three concerts of The Texas Tenors that weekend, we also will be having a Meet & Greet for several hours with them, a decorated car caravan, a barbecue, a visit to the Tiger Sanctuary, and a mini golf tournament. It is going to be so much fun!

It’s almost to the point that Branson is a second home to me. I get to see my best friends when I’m there. I finally know my way around town (still working on the shortcuts). The staff at the Seven Gables Inn knows me, as do the staff at Starlite Theatre. Plus, I feel more comfortable and at home there than I do anywhere else. I absolutely love when The Texas Tenors are there and can’t wait to get back!

Courtesy of Cheryl Stauffer


Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Music, Travel


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