MONDAY, MARCH 7TH – UK TO ITALY: I could not sleep at all last night. Just could not shut down my “brain” from thinking. Miserable night in a great suite. L Then at around 4 am, the GEESE outside started HONKING. And HONKING. And HONKING. If I had a gun, we would have had goose pate for breakfast. In fact, I was thinking I could probably take them all out with a baseball bat if I could find one! David and Susan said the knocked over the trash cans outside in the middle of the night and scared them to death, too. We were up and on the road to the airport by 8 am. It took a little over 1 ½ hours but we still had plenty of time. Only had to pay for 9 pieces of excess. Flight was on the tiny plane again to Brussels but the weather was pretty. We landed and had time to grab a quick lunch before boarding the flight to Milan. That was a big plane and flight was smooth again. I’m reading George Bush’s book. It was slow in the beginning but really enjoying it now.   When we got off the plane, I almost left my blackberry on the seat. That would have been a disaster. Thank God I realized it before I got off! All our luggage and equipment made it and our escorts were there to pick us up. Our promoter was not there because his mother-in-law died of a heart attack unexpectedly this weekend! It was a little over an hour drive to Como and I started feeling “uneasy” about our hotel when I saw what part of town we were in. It’s a “nice, clean” hotel but definitely not what we had contracted for.   The guys are doubling up and they might as well be sleeping with each other as small as the rooms are. There is wireless internet in each room but it doesn’t work. I get kicked off about every 5 minutes. I have to stand in a certain place for my cell phone to work. Since we have to stay here for a week, we will have to move hotels tomorrow. It’s going to be a “pain” but everyone just has too much work to do to not have internet and cell phone service all week. Really hated to dump this on our promoter with all he has going on with his family, too! Have been fighting the internet for hours now and just too tired to do much of a Road Report. I’m sure I’ll make up for it tomorrow night! Jude TUESDAY, MARCH 8TH – DAY “OFF” IN LAKE COMO, ITALY! Well “day off” was a joke! Got in bed after 3 am and up at 8 am. Breakfast “buffet” was pitiful. No eggs of any type. Warm Yogurt.   Warm milk for the cereal. Pretty pitiful. I advised the new front desk “clerk” (Angelo) that the internet wasn’t working and we were moving to another hotel today. That’s when my day went South. He ARGUED with me….after I had been up all night fighting with it as had David and most of the guys! I went to the exercise room to work off some frustration and then showered (sort of, the hook where the hand held shower wand hangs was broken, so it was a “hand held” shower!) and tried to deal with finding a new hotel. The internet finally came back on, but still kicked me off about every 2-5 minutes.   The guys were having the same problem.   Even went we went out into the “sitting area” outside our rooms, we had the same problem. Angelo kept coming by and insisting that there wasn’t a problem. Mitch had to attend his mother-in-laws funeral this morning but he sent me a message that he had found a new hotel and would be at the hotel by 3 pm. I told him I wanted to go to the new hotel, take my laptop, and go in every room we were considering to see the size of the room and if the internet would connect.   Then I literally “ran” with David, Susan, and Kenny to a Pizzeria for a late lunch. Mitch picked me up as promised and we went to the beautiful Palace Hotel located right on Lake Como and in front of Old Towne. The hotel was beautiful. But when the clerk started showing us rooms, they were too small.   At least the internet worked in every room. When I went back to the front desk and asked about other options, she told me there were much larger rooms on the other side of the hotel but they didn’t have a “lake view”! As if we care anything about a lake view!   Told her I’d hang a picture of Lake Como in their window and they could pretend they had a view. J The rooms without the view were PERFECT. Only negative with the musicians is the fact that they will have to pay for internet here. Not surprising as that is usually the case in most hotels where we stay.   Internet was free at the other hotel, but it didn’t work. Get what you pay for! Then, we had to figure out “how” to get everyone moved.   We didn’t have our nice big vans available. We had Mitch’s jeep and he had a friend who came by with an SUV. I made several trips helping shuttle people, luggage and band gear back and forth. We finally got everyone checked in at 8:00 pm! The other hotel made us pay for 2 nights of rooms and tried to make us pay for 4 nights but I won that battle! Mitch wanted us to go to a Pizzeria with him, his wife, daughter, father-in-law, our sponsor, and members of his Country Music Club.   It was a nice evening but I had to leave “early” to get on the internet. SOOO much to do because I didn’t get it down last night.   It is after 2 am and I’ve been working non-stop and still not caught up. Oh well..there’s always tomorrow. Jude WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9, 2011 – DAY OFF IN COMO, ITALY: I was in the bathroom (which is a SEPARATE ROOM) washing my face and brushing my teeth at about 2:15 am this morning. I heard this “static” somewhere and thought it was in the hall. I walked to the door and realized it was in the bedroom. On No! Not another ghost! Went back into the bathroom and all of a sudden there was loud talking coming out of my bedroom! I could hear it coming from a little speaker right by my bed but there were no controls to turn it off. I looked everywhere! I finally called the front desk and told them my problem. The guy who was on duty was frantic. He said it was happening all over the hotel and he didn’t know how to turn it off and it was his fault it was on! Guess he finally figured it out because it stopped about 2 minutes later.   The little speaker is about 7 inches from where my head would have been asleep on my pillow if I kept regular hours like sane people. It would have given me a heart attack if I had been asleep! The breakfast buffet was fabulous. Not that I eat anything except yogurt and maybe a boiled or scrambled egg. But it’s great for my guys. Did my Beachbody Cardio this morning and have a feeling I’ll be sore tomorrow.   Showered and then worked on the internet until around 12:30 pm when I remembered that shops close from 1-3 for their “siesta time”! I need watch batteries since BOTH my watches are still dead. Ran down to the shop but they were closed. Went back to work and Susan and David called for me to go to lunch with them. More pasta but at least I didn’t have a pizza this time! I worked for another hour and then walked around the town.   I MUST have a pistachio gelato before I leave Italy….just one. It’s my favorite! Didn’t buy anything except the watch batteries, a tiny travel alarm and another beautiful watch with “double faces” for my travels. I skipped dinner and worked on the internet all evening.   Have lots going on and lots to catch up on after being off the internet yesterday. The guys are going into Milan tomorrow but I may have to bail and work instead. I was there last June with Aaron Tippin anyway and will be back there this June with Lorrie Morgan. I don’t know if it’s because the other hotel was so horrible, but this hotel is fabulous! I love having the coffee maker in my room. The layout of the room is perfect and it’s large with lots of empty space for all my “junk”! The whole hotel is just perfect and I would definitely recommend it to anyone coming to Como. Hoping to get in bed real soon. Want to do a video call with my sweet grandbabies first! Jude THURSDAY, MARCH 10TH, 2011 – ANOTHER DAY OFF AT LAKE COMO, ITALY: BEAUTIFUL day today. I have a balcony that runs the length of my room and overlooks the lake.   It’s awesome! Had another quick breakfast and then worked out with Beach Body again. Did the sculpting this time. If this weather holds, I’m going to try and jog around the lake tomorrow. It would be such a beautiful run!!! Susan called just as I finished showering and I walked down to a restaurant with her and David for lunch. Afterwards, we went down the shopping street so Susan could show me the Children’s shop that she found on Tuesday. They had the cutest clothes – Mickey, Donald, lots of cartoon characters.   And the prices weren’t nearly as high as some of the shops here. I got the kids two outfits each and would have purchased more but the sizing was a little strange. We walked up to a grocery store after our shopping trip and purchased some snacks for the room. I was not going to eat dinner again tonight. Worked on email for several hours and met Mitch in the lobby for a few minutes to go over tomorrow’s plans. He had just returned from a great trip to Milan with the musicians.   But, it took them 2 hours to drive into the city because of traffic! Glad I missed that. Seems like I’m missing so many things I want to do while I’m here because I have too much work to do. That’s usually the way it is. But, I’ve done some major “people watching” from the balcony. The majority of the men here are tall, dark and handsome!   Of course, the women wear a size 0 and are gorgeous. Hoping to get in bed before 3 am tonight! Jude FRIDAY, MARCH 11TH – LAST DAY “OFF” IN COMO: This week has gone by MUCH too fast. I could stay here for months. Absolutely love this town. Las night I was emailing with a friend of mine who is a pilot with United Airlines and flew me back from Kuwait a few times. He was in Tokyo on a layover.   He lives very near Aaron Tippin.   Finally told him at 3 am that I had to get some sleep and logged off. When I got up at 8 am, I had a text message from Mark Wills asking if my promoter Charlie in Japan was okay. Said there was a massive earthquake there! I turned on the news and learned that it was near Tokyo which is on the other side of the island from Charlie so I could breathe a sigh of relief.   I emailed him anyway and his son responded to Penny that we were closer to the earthquake than they were and wanted to know if WE were okay. Too funny! Then I remembered that my pilot buddy was in Tokyo. I emailed him but didn’t expect to hear back from him because of the situation there. Got an email almost immediately and have received updates from him all day.   Will include those at the end of this email. Had a quick breakfast and then I JOGGED OUTSIDE.   Absolutely changed my life. I have been running on a treadmill for so long because of the cold weather that I almost forgot what a “high” it gives me.   Totally improves my physical, mental, and emotional state of mind – all of which needed it. J I ran for 5 miles around the lake. The “path” along the water never ended in one direction. The path is cobblestones that are very uneven most of the way though. Have to watch where I’m going quickly or I will be going face down! But I wanted to look at the lake and also look at the people.   I was shifting my eyes back and forth so much, I think I developed a “Tic”! LOL Answered a few emails and then rushed downtown for some more shopping. The battery in my jogging watch was dead, too! That’s 6 batteries that went dead in my watches on this trip.   Unfortunately, all the shops were still closed for “siesta” time so I popped in a “bar” for lunch. The shops all close at 1 pm and some open back at 2 pm, some at 2:30 pm and some at 3 pm. Very inconvenient for Americans! J   Had an amazing sandwich at the bar. It was on “flatbread” and had grilled veggies and brie.   Delicious. By the time I finished, the shops were open. By the way, today is what they call “Black Friday” and it happens frequently. All the government employees go on strike so trains, buses, and lots of flights were also affected. Thank God the shops were open. I got the twins some of the cutest clothes ever yesterday and couldn’t resist going back for more today. Of course, there’s twice as many cute clothes for the girls as there are for the boys but so far I’m managed to stay “equal”! I forgot to mention that I LOVE GELATO. David and I had made a pact that we would only have one and we both love Pistachio. We stopped at a shop yesterday and got one. Only, I decided to branch out and NOT get pistachio. I thought I was ordering Marzipan (flavors were in Italian) but turned out I was ordering Mascarpone (it’s an incredible “cream cheese” used in Tiramisu). It was heavenly. Even David and Susan admitted it was better than their Pistachio and Tiramisu cones.   So, we were only going to have ONE this whole trip, but I really, really deserved another one after running 5 miles this morning. I went back in the same shop but they didn’t have Mascarpone today. L I was on a mission and stopped in EVERY Gelato Shop (and there is one every block) on my way back to the hotel. No luck. Guess God saved me from all those extra calories. I love people watching here. Like I said, the men and women are so gorgeous. But, as I’ve been told by my boyfriend who lived here, the women do seem to age prematurely. He thinks it’s because they all smoke and love to sit in the sun, which could be true.   Of course, none of my Italian friends in America look old! Just covering my butt on that comment. I guess because I buy most of my clothes in Europe and have the “dark” coloring, I get mistaken for a local in places like Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Brazil. Locals are always speaking the local language to me. That happened several times today. Then when I answer in my Southern Drawl, they love it. Men are very “bold” and stare at the women…starting at the head and going to the toes. Very disconcerting. Maybe I should stay here a few more weeks so it won’t bother me any more.   J We went to a fabulous restaurant tonight. I had veal with pesto, mozzarella cheese and grilled eggplant. It was to die for! I denied myself the Crème Brulee even though I really, really wanted it. Maybe I can find the Mascarpone tomorrow and I’d rather “save myself”! Tomorrow is our sound check and performance. I definitely have to drive by George Clooney’s house, too. One of our hosts has a best friend who is George’s driver when he’s here. He said if he calls his friend and the friend says he’s on ‘alert’, it means Clooney is in town. He’s not “on alert” this weekend. L Hoping to go to bed before 3 am. Haven’t I said that EVERY night? LOL. Here’s my pilot’s reports: I’m in Tokyo …the hotel is damaged, we had aftershocks for about 2 hours. I left the hotel during the initial quake. We had no real good place to go. Tokyo has about 12 million residents, it is gridlock.   Upon exit, I found a maid on the floor of the hall and she was nearing shock… crying/shaking uncontrollably. (Her English was none, precisely equal to my Japanese) I got her up, and she, I, and a UA ORD 777 pilot made if down the stairwell to the street. (9th Floor). The stairwells are steel and reinforced concrete..  The newer buildings are built with this event in mind. The streets were potentially dangerous with debris falling from tall buildings. The Tsunami is the big fear, there are many dead north of Tokyo. I’m at the ANA Continental in Tokyo.  Our flight tomorrow to Washington is cancelled.  Other than that, life is pretty good..  Kevin   Mark, you would have done exactly what I did, just helped someone to a safer place. Initially, I calmed her as best I could, we were in a hallway, no glass. Interior corridors are usually better, structurally. The stairwell was steel and reinforced concrete. I didn’t feel any movement in the stairwell, whatsoever. Very nice.   There are cracks in the walls, halls, ceilings, etc. on the 9th floor. Some minor debris around the building. I think the building is likely built to the highest engineering standards in a quake zone. The lobby has no visible damage.   We made our way to the stairwell( interesting plastic ‘no tamper’ lock feature on egress door, take a look on your next visit to Tokyo). It is removable but takes a little reading to get through the instructions. It’s a tad challenging under the duress of the building and floor literally moving/pitching as you work the device..  I think Tokyo is largely intact, infrastructure (roads & rail) are a question.  The city is in grid-lock,  13 million people, with 80% or more, trying to leave, mostly on trains that are not operating…  Every bike store in Tokyo has sold out I’m told.  Overall, the Japanese are prepared and calm. To a high degree in my view.  The aftershocks(mini-quakes) are continuous. North of Tokyo is substantially affected, there are many dead.  I will send you any important updates, disseminate any of this as you see fit.  Kevin SATURDAY, MARCH 12, 2011 – SHOW DAY IN COMO: Got my 5 hours of sleep, quick breakfast of yogurt and coffee and then the Beach Body workout. I thought about running around the lake again because yesterday’s run was so fantastic. But, a quick visit outside on my balcony took care of that idea! It’s overcast and COLD again. I did the “fat burning” workout this time and really liked it. Didn’t have time to do anything else except shower and meet the guys in the lobby for the trip to the venue for sound check. We had to move the venue 2 weeks ago because the place where we were originally scheduled to perform lost their license because of a “fight” when a rap band performed there. That venue was very close to the hotel in Como. This one is about an hour’s drive away. On the drive, we passed 4 guys dressed in band uniforms and playing drums and a couple of instruments. My first thought was, “On no. There’s a parade taking place”.   We turned the corner and there was a “float” of sorts.   It was a huge “telephone” with the words “El Flippo” on it and was hooked to a tractor. Lots of men dressed in robes the color of the Italian flag and with their faces painted the same colors (red, white and green) were walking beside the float. Then moms and lots of children dressed in costumes were following it. It was all a part of the “Carnival” celebration which is still taking place. We pulled over to the side of the road as far as we could get but still caused a traffic jam trying to let it pass! The venue was just a long room that the promoter’s staff had decorated. Best he could find at the last minute. I checked out how to get the guys into the backstage, where the meet and greet would be held, and merch sales area. Then I asked Mitch to take me back to the hotel. BUT, I wanted to drive by Clooney’s house on the way back. He called his friend who knows where it is and we went by. I thought it would be high up on the hill overlooking Lake Como. Wrong. It was right on the lake and gated, of course. Huge hedge ran the length of the fence and there were sharp stakes along the top of the fence. Unfortunately, the shrubs didn’t die for the winter so I wasn’t able to see ANYTHING.   I did take a photo of the gate and Mitch promised to bring me back via boat when I’m here this Summer.   J Was only at the hotel for a few minute to change for the show and have a quick dinner. Mitch took us to a nice restaurant where I once again had a Caprese Salad (my LAST in Italy for a while!) but no pizza or pasta this time. I had the calamari and it was great! We drove back out to the show and the guys had a quick meet and greet with about 15 people before show time. There was not a big crowd there for the show which was what my fear had been all along. Because we had to move the venue, the promoter wasn’t able to start advertising until last weekend.   Then, I got the email from him that while he was at the Fair where he was selling the tickets last Saturday night, his mother—in-law passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack! Add to the fact that is Carnival and everyone is partying there, I knew we would have a light crowd.   Good news is everyone who did attend had a blast!  The promoter was not upset and actually came backstage and spoke (through a translator) with the Bellamys and had his photo taken with them.  He said they expected to lose money on their first show because of all the factors I’ve mentioned above but felt they needed to do this to “establish” country music in Italy.   He brought a friend of his backstage to meet us (who was an Italian HUNK).  The guy had on a beautiful Italian leather jacket.  Said he has a company and makes clothing for “only the rich people” in America.  He’s making some things for Lady Gaga now.  Turns out the jacket he had on was for “Kippi” — a designer that the Bellamys met a few months ago! We didn’t get back to the hotel until almost 2 am.   Wally had forgotten his harmonica bag yesterday when he went to sound check. He couldn’t remember if he left it in his room or outside on the table.   I had Susan check immediately since I was afraid if he had left it outside, someone might take it.   Fortunately, it was in his room.   On the ride back from the show to the hotel, Susan realized she didn’t have her purse! She was freaking out but THOUGHT she had put it inside the merch bag.   The merch bag was in the van with the musicians and they were about 15 minutes behind us. That was really a long 15 minutes for her and I can certainly relate! Again, good news is that the purse was in the merch bag. Promised myself I would not get on the internet but I did.   Didn’t get but a couple of hours sleep but hope to sleep on the 5 hour bus ride tomorrow. Had several emails from my United Pilot friend updating me on things over there. The power plant situation is really frightening and corporate decided to get them out of there immediately. Smart move in my opinion. Had a final email from him before I went to bed saying they were “out”.   It’s really hard for me to watch the footage of the devastation because Japan is like my second home. My heart just goes out to everyone. Jude