Friday, July 30, 2010

48 Hours in Missouri Wine Country

My roommate joined Groupon (that group coupon discount thing) in my absence and she bought a Vineyard tour/overnight stay in Missouri Wine Country - specifically in the Ste Genevieve/Farmington area. She invited me to go along with and we had a blast. The trip included wine tasting and a tour at the Crown Valley Winery, a tasting at their Champagne House, an overnight stay at one of three bed-n'-breakfasts and a $25 gift card to spend. It was an amazing deal and a fun time.

We headed out early Monday morning and arrived mid-morning at the winery. Undaunted by the hour, we had our tastings and the tour straightaway. We both found things we liked (I tend to like slightly sweeter white wines and she's trying to expand her palate and try reds).


Barrels of Wine

After a late lunch at a local resturant (Spokes), we headed to the Champagne House and sampled sparkling wines. We picked up a dinner for later and headed to our bed and breakfast - the Vineyard House. A petite house nestled in the middle of the vineyards. We went for a brief stroll among the vines as thunder and lightening menaced on the horizon.




It was a quiet and peaceful night in and we had the whole house to ourselves.

The next morning we had a delicious breakfast at the restaurant at the Tiger Sanctuary, which was not open for tours on Tuesdays, sadly. Next, we headed into Ste Genevieve proper - i.e. the actual town and historic area. During my middle school years, as part of my school's curriculum, I had had the chance to spend some time in Ste. Geneieve - first as a 7th grader during Environmental Issues class, helping clean up from the Flood of 1993 and later as an 8th grader for my final project for the Live-In Experience where I studied Ste. Genevieve and their floods. I showed her the flood line, and the house that we actually stayed in during our Live-In experience.

Flood Line

Bequette-Ribault House

I was eager to show my roommmate the places I knew and remembered and we ended up having lunch at my favorite restaurant.


Unfortunately, my favorite item (the pizza burger) was off the menu and had been for several years. Luckily, they had the ingredients in house and someone was around from when it was on the menu and they made me one. JUST as delicious as I remembered. I was SO happy.

We took a few more photos and headed out of town towards our planned detour, Elephant Rocks State Park, but not before grabbing a snack on the way:


Elephant Rocks were amazing, though neither of us were feeling adventurous:

Elephant Rocks

Elephant Rocks

On our way to the Elephant Rocks, we saw a sign for Johnson's Shut-In's State Park and decided to make a further detour. It was worth it. A shut-in refers to the way the river carves the rocks and how it is shut-in to this smaller area. What we didn't know is that it was a really big swimming hole, and a popular one at that. For someone who is part fish (me), and it being a hot day, it was a little like being tortured. I so wanted to hand off my camera and my phone and jump on in.

Johnson's Shut-Ins

Johnson's Shut-Ins

After that, we were both tired (from the amazing heat and humidity typical of a Missouri summer) and had successfully missed rush hour traffic back home, so we hit the road again - having had a great mini-vacation!

On the Road

As usual, you can see more photos here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer Job Survival Tactics

One more text-based post before picture posts resume! A girl's gotta upload the photos first!

The festival I worked at this summer has an unofficial policy: work hard, play hard. We DO work hard. We work long hours, some people work them outside in the amazing humidity of the state of Iowa, and others in the deep dark dungeon of our performing arts center. We're all overworked but the product we put out despite our exhaustion is good.

Here are some of the ways our particular department coped with the amazing schedule/hours:

* Magic 8 Ball. There was one mysteriously in with all of our supplies and we jokingly used it throughout the summer. More often than not, it was accurate. And when it didn't want to answer, it wouldn't.

* Wisdom from Dove Candies. I already did a post on it here, but we really did enjoy the bits of random wisdom found in the inside of the chocolates used as a survival tactic. A few more nuggets of wisdom include "Take the pleasure, skip the guilt" and "It is possible, believe it!". These wrappers decorated our office and our boss' desk.

* Diet Coke. Every stage manager needs caffeine and not all of us drink coffee. Diet Coke seemed to be the universal drink of choice, I have no idea how much diet coke we drank, but it was a lot. I drank more than I usually do on a job. And at least for me, it was losing its efficacy by the end of the season.

* The Zoo. Local bar who loves the tech crew, and the Festival as a whole. The bar is walkable from our housing, has darts (electronic) and two pool tables and a decent townie population. And pizzas. The bartenders were nice, knew us by name by the middle of the season and where everyone went to blow off steam. Definitely a saving grace.

* Fishbowl Margaritas. These margaritas were HUGE at a local Mexican restaurant. We couldn't believe the size of them. We had had a very very very long day and decided to reward ourselves on one of our first night's off from work. Yum.

* Hypnotiq/Citron Vodka/Cranberry Juice/Sierra Mist. Combine those together into a drink, and it was our drink of choice for awhile - one of the bartenders created it for us and we drank it throughout the summer. Bit of a change from gin and tonics, Cape Cod-ers and Tequila Sunrises, our other cocktails of choice.

* Crossan'whiches. JH and I used these as motivators for getting up for our twice-weekly production meeting at 8:30am. Worked quite well. Thank goodness for Burger King.

So Diet Coke, chocolate, fast food and alcohol - all the vices of a hard-working/over-worked stage manager. Or any theatrical technician. Or artist.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

By the Numbers: Summer 2010

My summer job summed up in numbers. I'm sure I'm leaving some good stats out. This may be updated again.

3: the number of mainstage shows in the season

16: the total number of performances of mainstage shows

8: the number of weeks in the festival

14-16+: the hours in an average workday this summer

35: The number of days that went by without a day off (for stage management - a couple of days longer for apprentice singers, a few less for other tech staff)

~150: the number of people when the festival was in full swing (tech, apprentice singers, principal artists and orchestra)

3: the number of directors for the mainstage; and 3 assistants total as well

2: the number of conductors for the mainstage season

3.5 hours: the length of our longest show

2.25 hours: the length of our shortest show

endless: the number of hours spent in rehearsal

2: the number of tornado scares while at work, evacuating into the rehearsal hall

a lot: the number of days it rained

at least 10: the number of times the backstage areas had water leakage

even more: the number of days it felt like we were swimming to work in the humidity

far too many: the number of stairs climbed this summer (3rd floor dorm room, 2 flights down basement rehearsal space/office)

almost every night: the number of times we went to the Zoo (local bar that loves us) and drowned our sorrows in alcohol, darts and pool games

20: the number of miles we were away from our namesake city

very small: the size of the campus we lived/worked/performed

0: the number of places open after 11pm that had food (bars didn't count)

too few: the number of pictures taken this summer

3: the number of trips up to the Apple Store in West Des Moines about my old computer

1: the number of new computers purchased this summer

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I'm still alive...

... wow, and much more time has gone by without a post. This summer job just eats me up alive and doesn't leave much for me to function with.

Actually, the schedule has gotten much more manageable lately, but I've been crippled by a broken computer. Thanks to my iPad, I've been able to eke by, but its nice to have the new computer in hand.

It's not fully up-to-speed (I can't get some stuff off my old HD yet... or ever) and need to wait until I have access to the backup on my external drive that is home in STL.

But for now, this works for me... and I'm getting used to the quirks and new developments since my old computer was made (that's 4 years ago - an eon in the computing world).

So hopefully I'l have some new pictures for you in a week or so! I've had a chance to put the camera back in my hands and my artistic soul is not screaming as much anymore.