THURSDAY, JUNE 19TH AND FRIDAY, JUNE 2OTH: Today I leave for the longest “time” I’ve ever been away from home. Will be in Europe until August 11th, home for a couple of days, and then off to Mexico. Very stressful. I start out with the Bellamy Brothers. Meeting them in Norway for our first show, then on to Ireland for 4 shows, Sweden and Switzerland. They go home and I stay with various other artists that I’ll mention in my reports. Guess I should start this report with my flight last weekend to Las Vegas because nothing can top that one. Got up at 3 am for a 6 am departure on NW to Memphis. I was in First Class in the second row. Right before the door closed, a man sat in the seat in front of me. He looked like he was straight out of the movie “Deliverance”. I figured he must have had a lot of miles and upgraded (like I did!). A few minutes after he sat down, a lady that looked like a street person appeared from the back of the plane, tapped him on the shoulder and says, “You gonna set up here?”. His response was “Yep”. To which, she made a huffing noise and marched back to the coach section. Right before we were set to take off, the man yelled “Sir” to the flight attendant. The flight attendant didn’t hear him at first so he yelled several more times. When the flight attendant came over, the man said, “I don’t know where my weapon is. I don’t know if my wife packed my gun or if it’s in my carry-on. Security didn’t see it”. I saw my life flash in front of my eyes. The flight attendant was appalled and started quizzing him about WHY he would be carrying a weapon. The man kept saying he didn’t know if he was carrying it or if it was packed. Finally, the man leans over in his seat and YELLS to the coach section, “Teresa. Where’s my weapon. I don’t know where my weapon is”. Teresa didn’t answer or at least I didn’t hear her answer. By this time the male flight attendant has called for reinforcements. The gate agent came on board and told the man that since he made that statement, they had called the police and all his bags had to be searched. He told her his bags were in the overhead and some “helpful” passenger across the aisle shouted that he had FOUR up there. The airlines barely allow me to board with one. How did this guy get on with FOUR? The gate agent grabbed the largest bag which happened to be a duffle with lots of zippers and threw it in his lap. She said, “The police are on their way” and huffed off the plane leaving the guy to hold his bag. He started unzipping all the pockets looking through them. My thought was, “Okay, he has a gun in there and now he’s going to have it in his hands”! I called another flight attendant over and asked her why they didn’t just remove the man and his wife so we could go on to Memphis. Her comment was, “No he might have a gun in his checked luggage and we’d have to go through all the luggage and remove his before we could depart”. Now excuse me, but if someone brings a gun on board, isn’t the “checked luggage” where it is supposed to be? About 15 minutes later, “Barney Fife” boards the plane and starts asking the guy questions. The guy tells him he is a retired Cop (God help us…at one time he carried a gun legally!). “Barney” asks him for some type of ID showing he is a retired copy and asks him WHY he would be carrying a gun. The man responded that he was “Thankin ‘bout takin’ it to a gun show”. While Barney was looking at his ID, “Teresa” stomps back up the aisle and asks the guy what is going on. He responds, “I can’t find my gun.” Teresa answers, “You ain’t got no gun!”. Again he says, “I don’t know where my weapon is”. Teresa assures him that he doesn’t own a weapon. Barney comes back and gives the man his ID back and the man sitting next to our “suspect” tries to tell Barney the chain of events so MAYBE we can get going. Barney gets his back up and says, “Are you related to this guy?”. The man explained that he was not and was only trying to be helpful. At this point, the guy accuses Barney of NOT giving his ID back. Twenty minutes later, he finds it in his wallet. At this point we are about an hour late leaving Nashville but we finally take off – with the Deliverance Guy, Teresa, all 4 carry-on bags, and their checked luggage which may contain a weapon! We had to circle in Memphis for 40 minutes, I guess because we lost our landing slot. I got on the flight from Memphis to Vegas and there was a blonde guy sitting next to me. Looked like he was Scandinavian. There was a lot of turbulence and when they finally started serving the drinks, instead of my usual “water, no ice”, I asked for OJ. When they handed me the glass and I started to sit it down, the plane dropped and the entire glass of OJ and ice went into the guy’s lap – all over his shorts and mainly on his crotch. He had been sleeping but that woke him up pretty fast. He didn’t speak to me the rest of the flight but did slam one “screwdriver” after the other. When we landed in Vegas, I stopped in the ladies room before departing the terminal and then realized that I had to take a tram to get to the main terminal. The tram was full so I walked all the way down to the first car and boarded – and stood right next to the Scandinavian with the wet shorts. He looked like he wanted to bolt off the tram but the doors closed. The trip went downhill from there. J Flight from Nashville to Dulles was on United on one of the small planes, of course. It was packed and the man next to me slept the entire flight. Everything was fine until we started to land and had to circle in turbulence for half an hour. Not sure why. I couldn’t see any black clouds and there didn’t appear to be a lot of “traffic” that prevented us from landing. Went into the Red Carpet Lounge to answer emails and make some phone calls. I just had a “server” installed so that I could access my files remotely via the web and of course, the server was down. I happened to look at my boarding pass and it said that I was boarding and departing an hour earlier than my itinerary. Had an absolute panic attack trying to shut down the computer and get to the gate only to learn that the boarding pass was wrong! I was actually a few minutes early. The plane is one with the new “seating configuration”. There is supposedly more “room” in business class. The seats are a lot like first class with the little round “alcove” around them. But half of the seats face backwards. I would really have been freaked out if I had to sit in a seat and fly backwards. Got to make sure that doesn’t happen on any of my flights. There is also no privacy at all. The seats are 2 -2 – 2 and I am in the middle two. The seats directly across from me face backwards which means the guy is facing me and looking straight at me the entire flight! And, he’s a TALKER and he was slurring his words, so at first I thought he was very drunk. Found out he is 84 years old, lives in Oklahoma City, retired Air Force, and going on a ‘”tour” all over Europe. I have on a black outfit from Bebe and he was fascinated by the sequins down the sleeve of my shirt that say “Bebe Sport”. He kept reaching across tapping me on the arm when I was trying to read and asking what it said. By the way, he is also hard of hearing. He wanted if know if I designed the clothes or distributed the clothes or modeled the clothes, etc., etc. Then we got into a conversation about the bracelets I wear in support of the troops and ultimately country music artists. He’s never heard of Roy Clark but knows who Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks are. The man sitting next to me heard my comments about Iraq and Afghanistan and he works with Blackwater there. He’s going to email me and give me some contacts for my next trips there. I told him my “horror” story about flying the little Blackwater prop plane over the snow-covered mountains of Afghanistan in February when we were 400 pounds overweight!
Flight went smoothly. The nice thing about the new seats in business class is that they lay flat like a bed (like the 1st class seats). Unlike the first class seats, there is not a lot of “storage” area in front of the seat and the flight attendants “fiercely patrol” the plane making you put EVERYTHING In the overhead. I don’t like putting my purse up there. So I stuck it in the seat beside me and put my blanket and pillow over it during take off. The seats have new big screens on the seat backs instead of the pop-out monitors in the arm rests. Much nicer for watching a movie. Didn’t have much turbulence and we landed in Frankfurt early. Since I skipped breakfast on the plane, I headed to my gate area and grabbed a latte and croissant. Halfway through my cup of coffee, I had a panic attack because I couldn’t find my passport. (I know, Bebe!). After going back to the Ladies Room and Security and not finding anything, I took my purse apart and located it! Flight from Frankfurt to Oslo was “easy” and we landed early again. Frode – our promoter – met me at the gate and we sat and drank Latte’s until the Bellamys landed about an hour later (also early). This time only three of their personal bags were missing — David’s and two of the musicians. Last year, the airlines lost ALL their luggage and equipment every flight we took. Guess that’s progress although I’m not sure David would agree. It was an hour drive through beautiful countryside to the hotel in Kongsvinger, Norway where the Bellamys will perform tomorrow. I’ve never been to this particular city in Norway. The hotel is an older hotel that has been recently remodeled. There is an elevator, restaurant, and internet service – three requirements when we travel. They had our rooms ready for us – actually had too many rooms ready for us. They had double booked ALL the musicians. Got checked in and went to the restaurant for an early dinner. Food was excellent. I had poached salmon (so fresh!) with cauliflower, broccoli, and this incredible side dish of paper thin sliced fresh cucumbers in a vinegar dressing. Very healthy eating but delicious. I KNOW I’m going to be tired of Salmon before I leave Norway this Summer. Susan and I walked down to a Shell station at the bottom of the hill and purchased bottled water. I’ve been in my room on the internet ever since. No need to unpack since I’ll be moving from hotel to hotel every couple of days. 🙁
Will try to get some sleep soon but because the sun is still high in the sky, doesn’t feel like “night”. But, my body sure feels like it’s ready for some sleep. Probably only be about one hour of darkness here tonight. Tomorrow is a show day in Kongsvinger. Will write more then. Jude
SATURDAY, JUNE 21ST – DAY THREE: Got a lot of sleep last night. Sort of. Had a phone call an hour after I went to sleep when I was in a very, very jet-lagged phase. Not exactly sure what I said but am sure I was entertaining. J Weather was beautiful this morning so I went for a run. Amazing how CLEAN the air is here in the mountains. Hard to run because of all the hills but very pretty. I ran down towards the little village, across a suspension bridge that crossed a beautiful river and then up into the “hills”. Didn’t realize it, but I ran right past the venue for tonight’s performance. Came back to the hotel, had breakfast and a shower and then went over to the venue with the guys for sound check. One of their musicians was on UK time which is an hour behind us. He was still asleep when the bus pulled up to pick us up. I went over and checked out the situation and then came back to get him. The venue is a large soccer stadium that they have decorated. Looks really nice. Hope we have a huge crowd. When I got back to the hotel Susan (David’s wife) was walking out of the hotel. I talked her into walking down to the village with me for lunch. We got caught out in one of Norway’s “afternoon rain showers” and ducked into the venue for cover. Found what we thought was a little Italian restaurant but the menu was in Norwegian and the owner couldn’t speak any English. It was “interesting”. Back to the hotel to work with Wally on trying to locate the lost luggage. BMI airlines finally said they “found” it and it is supposed to come into Oslo this afternoon around 3:30 pm. It’s unusually cool in Europe this Summer. I definitely didn’t pack appropriately but who could pack for TWO MONTHS! We’re wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts and the locals are in shorts and tank tops. I called the front desk to see if they could do my laundry and laundry service is not available on weekends. Typical for Europe. I had to wash my clothes from the airplane and my jogging clothes in the sink and let them hang to dry. It won’t be possible to get anything laundered in Ireland because we travel every day. Washing by hand won’t work there either because we won’t be in the hotel room long enough for things to drip dry. I won’t have any days off until after June 29th, so no retail therapy in sight until then. Had dinner with the group and this time I had the halibut. It was excellent. Served with asparagus and cauliflower and topped with capers and little baby shrimp. Had the cucumber salad again, too. I went over to the show with Susan and the band and then rode back to pick up Howard, David and Jenny. Short meet and greet with some VIPS and the promoter’s family. His wife is very pregnant and due in August. Have I mentioned that my daughter is pregnant with her first babies — yes, plural – TWINS!!! Due around Christmas so I might actually be home. Had a great crowd….very definitely Bellamy Brothers fans. I don’t think anyone sat down the entire 90 minute show. They didn’t go on stage until 11:30 pm and played until 1 am. Didn’t sign autographs since we have to depart to the airport for the flight to Dublin at 7 am tomorrow morning. And perform a show in Dublin tomorrow night. It is almost 2 am now and I still have work to do before going to bed. Have decided to fly to Brussels at the end of June. I was going to spend 3 days off in Zurich – by myself – but Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band are performing for the USO in Brussels. Three of my best friends – Jeff, Brian, and Michael will be there. Plus, a dear friend of mine who is in the Army and who saved my life in Afghanistan will be at the show. So, which would I rather do? Sit by myself in Zurich where I have way too much time to “think” or go party with my buddies in Brussels? Hmmmmm….hard choice. J Okay. Going to get my 3 hours of sleep which is typical for these tours. More on Sunday. Looking forward to doing a little sightseeing in Dublin. Jude