SATURDAY, JUNE 26TH – SWITZERLAND TO ITALY:
Ouch – 2 hours sleep. Took me forever to “re-pack” and leave one of my bags and the chocolate with Lindsey. We had time for a quick breakfast before departing Interlaken. Our bus was right on time and our driver – Beat – was very nice and an excellent driver. The roads were narrow and very, very curvy – up and down the Alps. Definitely could not sleep as hard as I tried.
There wasn’t much traffic and we arrived an hour earlier than I anticipated. The driver was using his GPS but he drove right past a huge billboard that said “Cowboyland” with a huge cowboy hat on top of it. I saw it and realized he had not noticed it. We had to drive a ways to turn around and then it was hard for him to maneuver his bus into the small road. It really is a “Cowboyland”. Seriously cool little place. There is the Guest Ranch where we will be staying, a Saloon, an arena (indoor) where we will perform, a petting zoo and I even saw a little roller coaster. The guest ranch is beautiful – very old wood and furnishing but they have air conditioning. Thank God. It’s about 100 degrees outside. The rooms were ready for us and there are no numbers – just names. Aaron is in Texas (the one I wanted) and I am in Oregon.
We went upstairs to the restaurant and had lunch – veggie burger for me and it was very good. Then Aaron and the guys went down for sound check and I went to log on to the internet. Ha! Once again, excellent connection and couldn’t log on. Carlo tried to help as did several of his staff. We’d get on for a few minutes, then it would die. This has been going on for 2 hours now. Very frustrating because I definitely need internet connection since we are here for the weekend.
We were all able to take about a 1 hour nap before we had to be ready for dinner. We were supposed to have dinner with the Consul General of the U.S in Milan but she was sick. Two of her staff members did attend with their children and they were really nice. Enjoyed chatting with them while we were having dinner.
Almost immediately after dinner, there was a very short “meet and greet”. No autographs were allowed and the only photos were taken by the festival photographer. That allowed Aaron to see lots of people in a short period of time. A press conference was held immediately afterwards and I knew a lot of the media present. They asked some very controversial questions that kept Aaron on his toes but he was really P.C. the entire time. Was very proud of him because not sure I could have handled it half as well.
The arena was packed with fans waiting for Aaron’s show and it was a great evening. The Italians are a lot more responsive than the Swiss just simply because of their culture. Aaron performed for over 90 minutes and then signed autographs and took photos with everyone for more than an hour.
I kept going back and forth to my room trying to get on the internet. I was finally able to access Internet Explorer and sign on to AOL through that but it wasn’t much help since I can’t send out my road reports from there. Thankfully it is a weekend and email is a little slower than on week days. The most frustrating part was having to go stand in the hallway to pick up the signal. The lights in the halls are on timers and the turn off about every 2 minutes. So one minute I’m working away and the next – total darkness! Earlier in the afternoon, I found the router in the hallway and got a chair, climbed up, unplugged it and reset it. It worked a lot better for a while but soon died again. I was worried when I was on the chair that Ben would open his door because I was standing right in his doorway. It’s strange because everyone has an excellent connection but no one can sign on.
Got in bed at 3 am! Aaron and I go to a vineyard tomorrow and have lunch there. Then we pick up the boys and go into Milan for some sightseeing and dinner. Because it’s Sunday, most of the shops are closed unfortunately.
MONDAY, JUNE 28TH – MILAN TO NASHVILLE:
Got my 3 hours of sleep (this is like being on one of the tours for the military! J ) and when around to wake all the boys up at 5 am. Going to be much harder on them because most of them didn’t come in until around 3 am. Most of them never even went to bed and were already waiting downstairs for me. We had coffee and fruit waiting for us in the lobby and enough vehicles to transport all our luggage and equipment and the passengers comfortably as I had requested. I made SURE I rode with Mitch. Found out all the musicians got back to lodging a good half hour before us yesterday because the person driving us took us completely the wrong way out of the city. Fortunately, there was only Mitch and I in the car and we had a great conversation about country music in the area. This is a great event and the buyer – Carlo – is truly doing amazing things to bring country music to Italy…not an easy task but I’ve seen my promoters in Japan and Greece have success with the same scenarios.
We arrived at the Milan airport and I spoke with an agent for Lufthansa regarding checking the guys in as a group. Aaron’s group is on Lufthansa to Frankfurt and then U.S. Air to Charlotte and Nashville. One agent checked everyone in using the kiosk and then sent us to a different agent. While they were waiting to check their bags, I walked all the way across the terminal to check in my bag with Delta since I knew they would be there for quite some time. Turns out Delta wasn’t open for another 10 minutes and I didn’t want to wait just in case Aaron had any problems. So, I walked all the way back with my huge suitcase. They were getting checked in and as is typical for Italy, they will not give them their boarding passes until they pay for the excess. The agent was a young female and completely flustered trying to understand the accents and deal with two of Aaron’s guys at the same time. I spoke with her and explained that one person would be paying for all the excess charges and she could just check all the bags under that one name. However, by that time, it was too late. So, all the guys except Aaron had to go to a different counter to pay for one bag each. This took a very long time to accomplish. Then they came back to the original counter and picked up their boarding passes. The large cases had to be taken to “bulky baggage” and checked in after all of the above was accomplished. I sent them through to security to the gate area since I still had not been able to check my bag. Once I got my bag checked, I realized that I was going out of a completely different gate area and would not be able to access the gate where they were departing. Just hoping they didn’t have any problems once they went through security! They land about 30 minutes after I do tonight, so maybe I’ll see them.
I went to the Lounge and had coffee and yogurt for breakfast. Then went downstairs to try and buy something “Italian” for the Z’s. No luck. Nothing at all for babies and only one tiny “souvenir” shop for passengers and it wasn’t open! Everything else was Gucci, Prada, and shops like we have in the U.S. I asked another shop owner what time the souvenir shop would open and they informed me that they had no idea because it was supposed to open at the same time as the other shops. Hiked back to the lounge and answered some emails and packed up my computer. Then I hiked back down to the souvenir shop which had finally opened. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything for babies – not even a little t-shirt. I ended up buying little jackets that say Italia that they will be able to wear – hopefully – this winter.
Boarding was easy and this time the aircraft is a “Delta” and Air France crew – not Northwest. By the way, I emailed my complaints about the flight over to Northwest and received a very nice response plus 5,000 miles for my inconvenience. If this flight is as nice as I think it will be, I’ll email my compliments. The flight is very full and I’m hoping to get some sleep on the way home. Food was so much better than the flight over AND I got my pasta I wanted. I watched the movie “Dear John” which I enjoyed because one of the lead characters was Special Forces and he reminded me so much of one of my friends. I had read the book last year and the movie was very similar. It’s a Nicolas Sparks book and I like his work.
Was able to sleep for about 3 hours and then worked some more. So far, not a lot of turbulence. I got really excited because the in-flight magazine mentioned wireless internet. Unfortunately, that’s only on domestic flights at this time. Hopefully the day will come when I’m working away on the internet on an international flight wondering what I ever did before we had it. Yesterday, Mitch and the members of his country music organization gave Aaron and I wonderful gifts. Aaron opened his first and it was a beautiful book about “Vino” in Italy and a unique wine cork. I laughingly said told them I knew what mine was going to be before I opened it…a book on “Blackberry’s”! Since I couldn’t get on the internet, I was on my blackberry non-stop trying to keep up with email.
Looks like we will arrive Atlanta on time and I have a short connection that hopefully will get me home at around 6 pm.
Actually landed 20 minutes late because there had been “weather” in the area and the planes were stacked up trying to land. We had to circle for about 30 minutes. Thank goodness I have the “Global Entry” pass and the kiosk was working. The line for immigration would have been about a 30 minute wait. With Global Entry, it took me about 30 seconds at the kiosk and I was at baggage claim. Fortunately the bags came out quickly and I was able to get to the gate with time to spare. Then, we were over 30 minutes late leaving because they were waiting on a wheelchair! The plane and flight crew were there waiting for us to board and we couldn’t until the wheelchair arriving. I wanted to get home so bad, I was ready to offer to carry the person on my back just to get us boarded!
Short flight to Nashville and I was “toast” when I landed. As I exited the gate area, I heard someone say “Judy”. Looked up and it was Mark Wills’ former tour manager. He’s a sweetheart and complimented me on my hair which at that point looked like I had been pulled through a bush! Lindsey had brought the Z’s inside. Zac spotted me in the “mob” of people walking to the baggage claim area and started pointing and smiling. Zoe turned and saw me and her little hands started clasping and reaching for me. Okay, they OWN me. J Aaron’s guys were still at baggage claim even though they arrived before me. They were missing FOUR bags, thank you U.S. air!
Will be home for about a week and then head back over to Norway for two weeks.