MONDAY, MARCH 23rd – EDELWEISS RESORT, GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, GERMANY: Went to bed at 1:30 am and at 2:00 am my cell phone started ringing. I was so disoriented, I didn’t get to it before the caller hung up. I waited and played the voice mail and it was Bo Bice. He said someone found his trunk that he lost in Iraq which is absolutely amazing. I decided to wait and call him back in the morning. Got up and made coffee in my coffee maker in my room. J Then went to the gym. It’s called “The Pointe” which is the same gym they have in Korea at the Dragon Hill Lodge. It’s a great facility. Worked legs but was missing several machines I usually make use of, so did about 30 minutes on the bike as well. Bought some cereal and a Starbucks Latte at the café in the Health club and purchased some yogurt for lunch. Ran into Frank – Bellamy’s keyboard player found a Laundromat right next to The Pointe so I’ll visit there later today. Howard said he got up and threw open his drapes and thought Spring had arrived overnight. His window faced the huge mural that is painted on the building behind us. It’s a beautiful scene showing the Alps in the Springtime. Took him a few minutes to realize it was a painting! Showered and answered some emails and then went down to Zuggys (nightclub where we will be performing). It’s small – 200 capacity – but all the ballrooms were rented so this was our only option. Public Address is our sound company and we’ve worked with them for years, so I KNEW they would make everything fit…and they did. I met Brad (Marketing Director) for the hotel and he gave me the “tour”. Explained the murals on the walls outside and the legend behind the “Edelweiss”. All very fascinating and I took lots of photos. This resort is only for the Military. They can bring their spouses and families here at a huge discount. As I said, the facility is beautiful but so is the surrounding area. We are completely surrounded by the Bavarian Alps. Since the snow is still on the ground, it is breath-taking. Have been going between Laundromat, show room, and my computer all afternoon. I talked to Bo and here’s the story on his bag. He lost it the first of November when we were in Iraq on tour. I still can’t believe someone actually has it and is getting it to him. He had all the gifts he had purchased in there, but even more important to him because they are irreplaceable, the certificates, patches and coins from the military were also in it. Bo’s recently saw his pastor from Alabama. In the course of the conversation, he mentioned that some lady called the church and said she has Bo’s duffle bag. Bo’s ears picked up on that and he said told the pastor he was missing a trunk and he needed for him to call the lady right away. The lady lives in Alabama only a few miles from Bo’s home town. She was with a Unit in Iraq. As they were pulling bags off the aircraft, there was a trunk left over with no “label” and no “lock” on it. They opened it and the first thing someone saw was a certificate to Bo Bice. The person opening the trunk yelled out to the 5-6 people pulling bags and asked if anyone knew Bo Bice. The lady spoke up and he asked her which branch of the military Bo was with. She informed him that it was Bo Bice from American Idol. The guy asked her if she could get the trunk to him and she agreed. Evidently, she reached out to Fox News, Rick and Bubba Radio Show, and finally Bo’s church.
WHAT are the chances? Bo definitely has an angel on his shoulder! Met David, Susan, Howard, and Jennifer for dinner. The nice restaurant is closed on Monday so we ate at the “buffet”. They had “bar-be-que” in our honor. J George DeGrella – he is the AFE/MWR Circuit Coordinator for Europe and the Balkans – arrived and joined us for a chat. Brad from the hotel also came in right before we left. I was quizzing him a little more on the hotel and he said that a loan was secured to finance the building of the hotel and it has already been repaid. They have 5 properties total like this – The DragonHill Lodge in Korea (where I always stay), one at Disney, one in Colorado, one in Virginia, and this one. Great hotels at reasonable prices for our military. Really happy George is with us on the tour. He’s worked so hard to make sure everything runs smoothly and this is the first time I’ve gotten to work with him with one of my tours. Also happy that it’s the Bellamy Brothers because they are such a pleasure to tour with. This is just the perfect tour – Switzerland shows were great and saw some many dear friends there. Now I have 4 days with some of my dearest friends ever – Michael Tietze, George DeGrella, John Howe, and the Bellamys! What a fun few days this will be. The little club was packed with people but they wouldn’t get up and dance. Brad finally offered a couple a free drink to go out on the dance floor. That’s all it took to get the others going. There were even moms and dads dancing with their little kids. It was awesome. Some of the people in the audience were too young to remember who the Bellamys are but once they heard the music, they remembered the songs. I tried to get Michael to dance but he said he only knows how to break dance. One more drink and I think he would have hit the dance floor. J Bellamys took photos with everyone and signed autographs. It’s almost midnight now…early for us to be finished for the evening. We leave at 9:15 am tomorrow so I don’t want to stay up too late. Jude
TUESDAY, MARCH 24TH – GRAFENWOEHR, GERMANY: Well, I’m the one who had the shock when I opened the drapes at 6 am this morning! It was snowing and there was at least a foot of new snow that had fallen overnight. It is so beautiful. I’ll put photos on the website next week. Had another migraine at 2 am this morning. Something is obviously going on again and will get this checked when I’m back in Nashville for more than a few days. Departing for about a 4 hour bus ride from Edelweiss to Grafenwoehr today. One of my dearest friends that I met in the Balkans in the early 90’s will be meeting me there. We’ve managed to stay in contact throughout the years and see each other when I’m in Europe or she’s in the States. Her name is Silvia and among other things, she handles the B.O.S.S. program at Schweinfurt Military Base. Awesome lady. Susan is definitely feeling better. We’re both disappointed that we didn’t know about the “Castle Tour” that departed the hotel at 8:30 am yesterday. Would definitely have loved to gone on that one. My friend “Diggs” in Stuttgart is supposed to take me sightseeing in that area and I’m hoping Susan feels good enough to join us. The bus ride was long but very comfortable. I thought I’d sleep all the way because of staying awake with the migraine last night. But, that didn’t happen. We made one stop for “lunch” at a truck stop. I couldn’t find anything “healthy” but just as I was leaving, found a fresh pasta bar. I had this spiral shaped pasta with fresh pesto sauce. It was awesome. Gave Howard some of it because he didn’t see it when he ordered. It snowed really hard and then would stop, then start up again on the drive over. When we arrived, Silvia had just arrived and was waiting for us. It was so great to see her! The hotel is really “on base” lodging but the rooms are nice. They had our keys ready for us but when David and Susan got to their room, there was a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. The maid was on the floor and opened the door. She said someone was still in the room. Silvia, George and I walked back up to lodging to get it straightened out. Evidently, a soldier was supposed to move to a different room but left his stuff in that room. The front desk clerk came down to the room and when he went it, it was just “trash” that was left in there. Plus all the windows were open with snow blowing it. It took the maid a good hour to clean the room and she had two huge trash bags full of “junk” when she finished. There is wired internet but when I plugged mine in, it blew out the phone. Turns out it has to be plugged in by the TV which is all the way across the room from the desk. So I’ve been sitting on the bed with my computer on my lap most of the afternoon. Silvia took Susan to the food court to get some lunch for her and David because they didn’t eat at the truck stop. Silvia’s boyfriend who is a physician in the Army and who I met numerous times in Iraq came by to say hello. I knew he looked “younger” but figured it was because he was out of the “stressful situation” in Iraq. Actually, he had shaved his mustache! He and Silvia are so cute together – the perfect couple! He’s at this base and she is at a base about 2 hours away. But that’s a lot better than him being in Iraq! We had a “hosted” dinner at Tumbleweed” restaurant on base. Food was not very good but pretty typical of a base restaurant. Went to the show and the Bellamys did several interviews with AFN, local radio and the newspaper before performing. The show was in a gym tonight and I was pleasantly surprised by how many people attended because of the weather. Lots of families attending with little kids who stood right in front and clapped and danced the entire show. Still strange for me to see families and soldiers in civilian clothes at the performances after spending so much time in Iraq. It was really a great show. During the last song, Tietze (bus driver) started doing some kind of “dance” similar to a line dance. The ladies started lining up behind him trying to mimic his steps. Of course, he had no clue what he was doing. It was hilarious. Bellamys signed autographs and took photos with everyone for over an hour. Lots of children in that line, too. Silvia mentioned how great it was to get to see me, George, Tietze, John Howe and the Bellamys all on one trip. I told her she “completed” the circle. What a great tour this has been. Going to bed soon as we depart at 8 am tomorrow. Another very long drive to Ramstein. Huge Air base that I have visited many times. Jude
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25TH – RAMSTEIN AFB: No workout today because the gym was too far from lodging. We were on the second floor of the lodging and there was no elevator. David and I were dragging bags down the stairs and Howard and Jenny followed behind us. As I was going back up to get my last bag, I heard Susan say she fell. Her ankle immediately swelled up exactly like mine did in Iraq. I’m sure it’s sprained but we will definitely get her to the doctor once we arrive Ramstein. She’s in a lot of pain and has ice on it (Boy, do I remember that!). Decided to wait until we got to a truck stop to eat breakfast since the breakfast at lodging was just a “continental” style. We didn’t realize the first truck stop would be about 1 ½ hours drive away. Had a nice “truckstop” breakfast – omelet and yogurt for me then back to our long drive. We departed 8 am and plan to arrive by 3 pm. Susan needs to get there before the Clinic closes at 4 pm. Our bus driver had to stop driving at 1:30 pm because of the rules regulating how many hours/miles they can drive without resting. He had to “rest” for 1 hour and stopped at this terrific truck stop with the best food I’ve seen the entire trip. Only problem is, no one was hungry because we had such a large breakfast! We only had 30 more minutes to drive to get to the base but he had to stop because of the strict regulations. Arrived at Ramstein and the Bellamys and I are in “General’s Quarters” which are extremely nice “suites”. I am in the “Stuttgart Suite”…fitting since that’s where we perform next! Susan went to the clinic and they had to x-ray her ankle. It is not broken but is sprained and will take about 6 weeks to heal. They gave her a strange “blow-up cast” and crutches. She is not going to the show tonight. I went over with the Bellamy Brothers for dinner at the club connected to the E-Club where the show will be held. Basically, it was a “sandwich” style restaurant. Got Susan a cheeseburger “to go” and then went by the Exchange and found one of those Velcro wraps that holds ice for her. I loved mine because I could just strap it around my ankle and not have to hold it in place. David had given me the key to their room so I knocked and when she didn’t answer, went on it. She was out cold. I left everything for her and just as I was leaving, she woke up. I can’t believe how good her ankle looks. Hardly any swelling and almost no bruising yet. She took some kind of herbal pill that is the preservative that is put in food. Said it works miracles with swelling and must be true from the looks of her foot. Went back to the show and took some photos of the guys on stage. This is the largest base we played this trip and we had the smallest crowd. But, it was a great show and the guys signed autographs for about an hour afterwards. Came back to the hotel and have been answering emails for a couple of hours. While the guys were on-stage, Jenny, Michael, Jake (USO Rep in this area that I met years ago in Germany) and I talked about “spirits”. I have one that follows me wherever I live. Spooked ourselves pretty good. I have a feeling I may sleep in the lobby tonight! My best friend, Colonel Kyle McClelland sent me a message that he is on Skype. He is in Baghdad and not only was I able to talk to him and it sounded like he was in the next room, but he had his videocam hooked up, so I could see him. The miracles of modern technology. It was 1:30 am for him and he had to get up at 5 am….keeping Judy Seale hours. Going to bed soon so I can get up and work out tomorrow morning. There is a “gym” in the basement of this building which is really nice. Plus internet connection right in the suite and a “kitchen” that serves breakfast tomorrow morning. Getting spoiled. J Jude