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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!

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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

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Music, Travel

 

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My Top 5 Inspirations

I’ve been spending a few hours now trying to figure out what to write in my blog today, but it seems as though nothing I write comes out the way I want. On the contrary, everything takes on such a negative tone! I’ve decided that I am going to give in to my currently negative tendencies and see where they take me.

The truth is, the past few days have not been the greatest for me. Several directions that I have been wanting to go with my life have suddenly been closed off to me. I understand that everyone runs into these closed doors at some point, but that doesn’t make it any easier. About the best I can do is look for something that will inspire and motivate me to keep dreaming and searching for that open door.

Inspiration can come from many sources. However, my main sources are as follows:

  1. Other people
  2. The Internet
  3. Books
  4. Movies
  5. The Texas Tenors

Now, the first four are pretty self-explanatory. Still, I would like to give you an example of each.

Other People. Obviously, other people from Neil Armstrong to people I know that have battled and won against cancer can be very inspiring. For instance, there is a girl I work with that is going through a very difficult time right now. I’m not going to go into any details about it, but she has spent the last week in the hospital with a family member. If I were in her situation, I don’t know how I would still be able to get up in the morning. Yet, when I visited her on Saturday, she was still holding her chin up and cracking jokes. Amazing! I want to be that kind of person.

The Internet.  Facebook. YouTube. Google. There’s so many stories, pictures, etc. out there, that you can find just about anything. For instance, I came across the following video on YouTube:

Books. One of my favorite authors is Jodi Picoult. All of her books have an underlying, inspirational purpose. I recently read her book entitled House Rules. This book was about a single mother of two children. One of the children (Jacob) happened to have Asperger’s Syndrome. As if it wasn’t difficult enough to raise them by herself with very little support (monetarily or otherwise), Jacob became a primary suspect of murdering one of the few people he looked up to and could communicate with. Her struggle and perseverance remind me that no matter how bad it seems, there is always hope. It also reminds me that there is always going to be someone out there that is in a worse situation, so I know that I can make it through.

Movies. This is especially true for Disney movies. For some reason, there’s nothing like a classical Disney movie to get you moving. One of my favorites is Mulan. This is the story of a girl who was a disgrace to her family, but in the end, she ended up saving her entire country after going to war in place of her father. I love this clip from the movie:

The best part of this clip, however, is the music. Music in general is very inspirational for me, especially when the lyrics really seem to hit home. Which brings me to my last source of inspiration.

The Texas Tenors. This group has accomplished the impossible by rising through the ranks of America’s Got Talent to become the great success they are today. Of course, that success didn’t happen overnight, and there have been and always will be obstacles in their way.

One such obstacle is the negativity of others. There happens to be a critic named Michael Ross that has been against them ever since AGT. I don’t know why, and I can’t figure out why he won’t put an end to his ignorant (and yearly) remarks about The Texas Tenors. He hasn’t (most likely) seen them since they were on America’s Got Talent. Even though they were amazing on the show, they have improved by leaps and bounds since then. Their current status can’t even possibly be compared to when they were on AGT. Why even bother, three years later, to keep bringing them up?

I believe the answer is because he gets a rise out of fans of The Texas Tenors. Last year, there was a large group of us that responded to his remarks by “telling him off”. We told him why he was wrong, that The Texas Tenors were fantastic, and that he needed to find someone else to pick on. Well, a year later, he picked on The Texas Tenors again. Just like last year, an army of fans responded to him, giving him exactly what he wants: attention. It seems as though we are starting a vicious yearly cycle. Yes, I am well aware that by posting this blog, I’m giving him even more power, but I’m willing to make the sacrifice.

Personally, I see any attack against The Texas Tenors as an attack against me because I believe in them so strongly. They are one of the best things that has ever happened to me, and they will always inspire me to strive to be a better person and unlock that hidden opportunity.

Even though I have felt down all weekend, I am finally starting to look up again. Why? For one thing, I just got done watching The Texas Tenors’ DVD. Where else can I hear my favorite songs and see my favorite trio perform? Tonight, however, two songs really hit me. These have always been my favorite songs of theirs, but they hold special meanings for me right now: “The Climb” and “You Should Dream”.

“The Climb” is very relevant to my current situation. Just listening to them sing it makes me want to break down and cry because it hits exactly on how I feel.

Every step I’m taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking
But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

Every step I’m taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking
But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

Then there is “You Should Dream”. That is such a powerful song. I don’t know if I have the words exactly right, but I know they are at least close:

Tell me who hasn’t felt lost when you’re not where you thought you ought to be

Tell me who hasn’t felt discouraged by their reality

Tell me who hasn’t walked a thousand miles just to find they’ve gone the wrong way

Tell me who hasn’t thought tomorrow was just another day

But I’m telling you

The tide is gonna turn

The doors will open when you finally learn

You should dream

Let the voice inside you sing

You should dream

Let your wishes take wing

Close your eyes, feel your heart’s desire

hold on tight and set the world on fire

Be the living reason for all to see

You should dream

Need I say more than that? I know that, even though things seem hopeless right now, there is an end around the corner. I just need to hold my head high, keep dreaming, and keep searching for the better future that I know is ahead.

Now it is your turn. What inspires you?

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Music

 

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Memories

Well, it’s finally the weekend. As I look forward to the upcoming week, I also find myself looking back. It seems as though there have been a plethora of postings on Facebook lately with inspirational quotes and sayings meant to keep people looking toward the future and living in the present. For instance, I find myself dwelling on one such posting made by a friend of mine:

“Learn to appreciate what you have before time makes you appreciate what you had.” ~Anonymous

Today, I have spent a lot of time reminiscing about my high school marching band days. This could be due to the fact that I keep hearing people talk about marching band camp and looking forward to the upcoming season. Or it could be partially due to the picture I came across on Facebook that combines two of my interests: kittens and the Phantom of the Opera.

You see, during my sophomore year of high school, my high school marching band (The Pella Marching Dutch) performed Phantom of the Opera. Our performance, in my severely biased opinion, was nothing short of outstanding. I’ve always been extremely proud of my marching band days, but this performance takes the cake. For those of you that are interested, you can view our performance here: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4538031108703268286.

My favorite part of the entire performance is right at the end (around the 8:00 mark in the video). Our band worked tirelessly to perfect that part, and we never quite got it right. Until that performance, when it was near perfect. It also happened to be the last competition for my band director as he decided to retire that year. Talk about amazing! It gives me goosebumps every time I watch it!

Ever since, I have been completely obsessed with Phantom of the Opera music. It definitely ranks up there in my all-time favorite music list. Aside from owning the CD (which my college roommate and I spent several roadtrips listening to–even meowing along with the songs at one point!) and movie, I’ve even been to several live performances of it, including one at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London.

Her Majesty’s Theatre during the day

A close-up

At night

Imagine my delight when I got to Planet Hollywood in October 2009 and heard Marcus Collins and Barbara Padilla sing “All I Ask of You” as a duet! Can you think of anything better? I can’t!

Marcus and Barbara, courtesy of http://www.facebook.com/thetexastenors

I had flown out to Vegas with my mom and Aunt Lynda, and my cousin Jeremiah came from Arizona to meet us there. It was Halloween, so we got the pleasure of seeing some people dressed up in very strange costumes…

People walking into our hotel

At the actual performance, we were fortunate enough to be seated at the tables up front. There were three runners jutting out from the stage: one on the left and right, and one in the center. I was sitting just to the left of the center one, so that when Marcus came out on it, I had to turn backward in my seat. I could have reached out and touched him if I wanted to! Could it possibly get any better than that?

The answer is: yes. Three years ago, I never could have imagined that I would eventually get to the point that I could call The Texas Tenors my friends. In fact, I never expected I would see them again. How ironic is it that the first (and last) time I see the show America’s Got Talent, I fall in love with a group that becomes such a major part of my life? Just imagine if I hadn’t happened to tune into the show at that point! Would I have ever discovered them? Who knows?!

I also could never have imagined that I would hear my new favorite group sing a song that brings back as many memories as “Music of the Night”. Those of you that watched the video I posted earlier know that my favorite part at the end was during “Music of the Night”, so that song definitely carries some heavy emotions with it for me. Therefore, it came as no surprise when I practically bawled the first time I heard The Texas Tenors’ arrangement. It was absolutely beautiful–much better than any of the other performances I’d ever heard!!!

A friend of mine (who also is a Tenor fan) texted me recently talking about how things have changed for her so much in the past year, and she can attribute her better state of mind partially to The Texas Tenors. I can’t even begin to explain how or why, but I know that is a true statement for many of their fans, including me. They say in their show that they are “on the ride of their life”. They are enjoying every moment and excited to see what the future has in store for them. I am determined to appreciate them for as long as they are around (which will hopefully be a very long time), and no matter what, I will always be grateful for the experiences I have had as a fan of The Texas Tenors.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Music

 

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The Bumps in the Road

I mentioned in my last post that I was thankful for all of the friendships that I have made thanks to The Texas Tenors. It is true that we have become one big family. I always have fun when I am with other Tenor fans, even when there is no Tenor concert for us to attend.

This is how I came to be in Keokuk, IA this past weekend with Judy, Dave, Jeanette, Sabra, and my mom–other fans. You see, there are absolutely no Tenor concerts nearby (unless we want to drive to New York) during the whole month of August. As a result, we are all suffering from major withdrawal. The group of us had so much fun together a few weeks ago when we drove to North Carolina that we decided to get together in August to have some fun without a Tenor concert. I suppose you could consider it our therapy session too.

Originally, we were planning on meeting in Keokuk next Saturday, August 18. Judy and Dave are from St. Louis, MO, Jeanette from Bettendorf, IA, Sabra from Cedar Rapids, IA, and my mom and I from Newton, IA. Keokuk is basically in the middle for all of us. However, Friday morning, I stopped at the Newton clinic on my way to the Bondurant clinic to see if I could take off next Friday. Instead, I discovered that I would without a doubt be working on the 18th. Saddened and crushed, I called my mom with the news that we wouldn’t be able to go to Keokuk with our friends. At that point, I came up with a brilliant idea and immediately called Judy and Jeanette. By the time I got to work 20 minutes later, we had set up a plan to meet in Keokuk that day instead.

After getting off work an hour early, I rushed home, packed in about 10 minutes, and then we took off. What does it say for us when 5 different people can spontaneously decide to go on a trip for the weekend like that? We must need more exciting lives!!!

All of us got to Keokuk at about the same time and decided to have dinner at Pizza Hut. Not exactly unique, but it worked. The worst part was trying to cram everyone in my car to drive to the restaurant. I drive a Chevy Impala which, even though it is considered a sedan, does not have the roomiest backseat. Thank goodness I was driving and didn’t have to squeeze back there. Instead, I had to move my seat forward until I was practically driving with my elbows! I’m not sure which option was really the best. After leaving my pizza box on the dashboard of my car to bake for the next day, we went back to the hotel and talked until we fell asleep.

The fun part of the weekend came on Saturday after we all met in the breakfast area of the hotel in the morning.

We got a surprise phone call from Sabra saying that she was on her way home to Cedar Rapids from Branson, and she wanted to stop in to see us. It was so good to see her! After chatting some more (we Tenor fans really know how to chat!), we finally decided to find something to eat. Sabra wanted to continue driving home, so we said goodbye and headed to the Hawkeye Restaurant. We couldn’t figure out if we were eating linner or lupper. What do you think sounds better? My vote is lupper, but Jeanette seems to think that sounds like leper. Hmm…

We were apparently too wild for that restaurant. It was so quiet in there, and all we wanted to do was laugh. It didn’t help that one of the first items we saw on the menu was a propane tank! I’m still not sure what that really was.

After that, we once again crammed into my car to go for a drive. There really isn’t all that much to see in Keokuk, so we ended up crossing the river into Illinois and heading to the town of Nauvoo. To me, that sounds more like a planet from Star Wars than a town in Illinois, but it certainly proved to be an interesting place to stop. It turns out that Nauvoo is a historic community that offers a temple for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormons). Visit http://www.historicnauvoo.net/ to find out more about this community!

We drove around the town for awhile until Judy decided she wanted to stop at the bakery. Just as we pulled up, parked, and piled out, we noticed that there was a group of people coming out of the tiny building munching on cookies (or half-cookies, according to Judy). Then we realized it was a tour of what used to be a bakery, not an operational bakery. While contemplating cramming back into the car, a lady in a long dress with beads around her neck came up to us and asked what we were doing. Awkwardly, we said we were trying to decide that and walked down the sidewalk a bit.

The bakery, courtesy of http://www.historicnauvoo.net/

Then Dave realized that he left his window all the way down in the locked car, so he and my mom went back to guard the car. Jeanette, Judy, and I continued on past the little outhouses to the Family Living Center. We peered in the window and were scared by another lady in a dress standing right there. Laughing hysterically, we started back up the path to the car. Of course, we had to stop and pet the fuzzy plants right next to the path first! I’m not kidding, they really were fuzzy. Imagine seeing three adult women standing on the sidewalk, leaning over, and petting the plants. How odd! I hope they weren’t poisonous…

The adventure picked up with us driving back to Keokuk without any bakery goods. I realized that the bumpy streets of Nauvoo and the curves between Nauvoo and Keokuk made the ride very uncomfortable for those in the backseat. The evil Sarah came out then as I started speeding up around the curves and searching for the roads with the most potholes.

This got even better when we opted to tour the National Cemetery–one of the few things to do in Keokuk. My mom is a huge Civil War buff, and the cemetery is a Union cemetery. However, what she really wanted to see was the Confederate statue that she learned was there. The cemetery has quite an interesting history behind it. Go to http://www.keokukiowatourism.org/cemetery.htm to learn more.

Judy, Jeanette, and Dave can attest to the fact that the roads in that cemetery were the bumpiest yet, and they got the pleasure of experiencing them over and over and over again. After about the fourth time around, we found a different direction to go where I wasn’t slamming the brakes on for squirrels crossing my path. We finally found our statue.

Courtesy of Jeanette Allison-Glaser

Finally satisfied, we went back to the hotel. At this point, we prepared for our 8:00 concert of The Texas Tenors. Actually, we were just watching their concert DVD on Jeanette’s laptop, but it’s close enough. Just don’t tell Marcus–I’m pretty sure we had him worried for a minute when we said we were excited for the concert. He said it must be The Texas Tenors tribute band that’s now touring. Can you believe they were just as good as the real Texas Tenors?

The rest of the night was spent playing the hilarious board game Imaginiff. If you’ve never played it, definitely check it out sometime (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2750/imaginiff). We were all laughing so hard we were in tears at times. I think this game is going to become a must anytime we get together in the future. Here are some of the things we discovered while playing this game:

  • If Jeanette were an insect, she would be a louse (actually a firefly, but I really wanted to pick that one)
  • If Judy were a wheel, she would be a hamster wheel because she kept going around in circles in Nashville on her trip to North Carolina to see The Texas Tenors a few weeks ago.
  • When Helen has an impatient driver behind her, she likes to wink and lick the window (we had to call and tell her that one).
  • If Mom were a parcel, she would say “This Side Up”.
  • Mom is also the item in the vending machine that is still stuck.
  • I am a shrub.
  • And much more!

To make a long story short (even though I literally just wrote a novel), we had a blast this last weekend. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in a long time (or at least since we went to North Carolina). We’ve decided that whenever we have a month in the future with no concerts, we will have to add Keokuk to our schedule. It definitely broke up the monotony of Tenorless weeks. Plus, it was so good to see some of my newest (and best) friends. Only 4 more weeks until the concert in Godfrey, IL!!!

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2012 in Music, Travel

 

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Hello world!

It’s Monday. Like everyone else in the world, I hate Mondays. This week, however, the reason isn’t because I had to go back to work today. In fact, I had the day off! Instead, this Monday marks the end of a fun and exciting (but Tenorless) weekend.

For those of you that don’t know, I am a huge fan of the music group The Texas Tenors. To date, I have seen 38 of their concerts and traveled over 30,800 miles to see them all around the country. Right about now, you are probably thinking I’m more obsessed than anything. The truth is, The Texas Tenors and their fans have become such a huge part of my life that I don’t know what I would do without them! How does someone become so involved with a music group? Honestly, I have no idea. It just happened. My mom and I became engrossed in the tv show America’s Got Talent in 2009 (the only season we have ever watched). It just so happened that this was the season The Texas Tenors were on. We fell in love with them after hearing John Hagen belt out his long note during “Mountain Music”. It became obvious that these were three talented cowboys.

We gave them our support for the entire season, and after they took 4th place, they went out to Las Vegas to perform for America’s Got Talent Live at Planet Hollywood. Thinking it would be our only opportunity to see them, we flew out to Las Vegas over Halloween. Their portion of the show was spectacular, but meeting them afterwards was the best part. That is when I discovered John used to teach at Wartburg College, which is where I was a junior at that time. It was an instant connection.

Me with the sign from the show.

After we fell in love in Las Vegas, we didn’t hesitate to drive to Valparaiso, Indiana, a few months later to see them perform for a Christmas concert. We’ve been going to concerts ever since!

At this point, The Texas Tenors are more than three singing cowboys onstage. They are my friends. John Hagen, Marcus Collins, and JC Fisher are three of the greatest guys you could ever hope to meet. I cherish every minute I have with them and am always looking forward to the next. They genuinely care about every single fan, and they make a conscious effort to get to know everyone.

One of my favorite parts of following The Texas Tenors is that they have some of the best fans ever. Last October, my mom and I partnered up with Cheryl Stauffer to plan a fan event in Branson. Ever since, their biggest fans have bonded. We go to concerts together, eat together, and laugh together. We even get to hang out with the Tenors together!

A group of fans with Marcus and John at Andy’s Custard.

The Texas Tenors and their fans have been such an inspiration for me. Their music is wonderful. I’m thoroughly convinced that they could sing “I’m a Little Teapot” and make it sound good. However, they are more than the music. They have such passion and emotion that they put into their songs. Their songs tug at your heartstrings no matter how many times you hear them. Their original song, “You Should Dream”, by Dana Lamb, has motivated me to think the unthinkable, believe in myself, and attempt to “set the world on fire”. My goal is to promote their message and make sure people everywhere have the opportunity to know the group that is so near and dear to my heart: The Texas Tenors. If you haven’t already, be sure to check them out on Facebook or their website (www.thetexastenors.com). You won’t be disappointed!

After a concert in Grand Junction, CO, with the guys.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Music

 

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