DAY SIX AND SEVEN – SEPTEMBER 19TH AND 20TH
Okay, messed up on what DAY it actually is. I lost a day flying over, so this is actually day 6 and 7….
In bed at 2:30 am and had a 4:00 am wake-up call….which is why there was no road report yesterday! Took forever to make the operator understand that I was calling her at 2:30 am and asking for a wakeup call at 4:00 am. She kept saying, “Yes, 8:00 am”. Finally I tried counting off – 1, 2, 3, 4 am but she only responded “Room 1234”! But, evidently she finally understood or I’d still be snoozing in my room! I’m sitting at the airport now, getting ready to board the flight to JFK, meet up with Rosanne Cash, and go on to Tokyo. It’s going to be a long day. I’m sure I’ll burn these clothes once I arrive at the hotel in Japan. The “Country Music Stampede” is a first-time event with Charlie Daniels, Rosanne Cash, and T. G. Sheppard. It’s been pretty unorganized from their end and I am plenty worried about pulling this one off without a casualty. We’ll see.
Slept a lot of the 10 hour flight from Paris to JFK. Landed and was able to re-check my bag at the Air France counter for the Northwest flight to Japan. I am definitely worried that I will ever see it again. Air France is notorious for losing luggage. I had a 5 hour layover at JFK. Yesterday as I was getting of the train at Disney, my sunglass fell off my waist clip and, of course, went right down onto the tracks! Unbelievable. And, the clip went with them. It was this cute little clip that I had bought right before the trip that allows you to clip the glasses to a purse, your pocket etc. Tried to find more sunglasses at the airport but Duty Free was the only store that carried them. Cheapest pair was $130.00 and with my luck with sunglasses, I’m looking for the Wal-Mart Special at $12.00!
When we were walking along the Avenue de Champs yesterday, we noticed a crowd bending over a railing looking at the street below. There was a tunnel and Lindsey decided it must be the tunnel where Princess Di was killed. Great tourists that we are, we went over to take a photo only to learn that it was a truck that was too tall and was stuck in the tunnel entrance. It literally peeled back the top of the truck. There seemed to be a great deal of activity surrounding how to get the truck out! Lindsey, who has heard way too many of George Lindsey’s jokes suggested that they simply let the air out of the tires!
Met Rosanne and her group at JFK. Had a call from Penny and everyone from Nashville made it to Detroit. Charlie Daniels had $2,000 in excess luggage – the airlines just won’t work with you anymore on waiving any of this! That means there’s two more flights and $4,000 more in excess charges. And the airlines are hurting financially????
I’m in the air now about to land in Tokyo. Once, a long time ago, I traveled from Brazil to Japan via Portland and swore I would never do anything like that again…11 hours from Paris to Tokyo, 5 hour layover, 14 hour flight from JFK to Tokyo, and still a 4-5 hour bus ride after I land to the hotel. I wonder if somehow I’ll get back all the days I’ve lost crossing the international date line these past 36 hours?
Landed a few minutes early and got on the bus for the trip to the Arai Snow Park. Supposed to be a 4 hour drive but because of traffic, it’s taking 6-7 hours. Not good after everyone is so tired from the long flight.
DAY EIGHT – SEPTEMBER 21ST:
Finally arrived at the hotel (which is absolutely beautiful) at 12:30 am. Had a production meeting until 2:00 am. Then I had to unpack, answer email, and get things ready for sound check. Finally finished everything at 4:30 am and knew I had to get up at 6 am, so I just never went to bed.
Everyone was up early today for breakfast at the hotel. Charlie’s tech crew and my staff went to the venue first. It was definitely an hour ride from the hotel. It’s beautiful countryside – reminds me a lot of Kumamoto. The stage has been built and everything is very well-organized from the production side. Sound check is only running about 15 minutes behind schedule at this point. Things are not very “together” as far as the artist’s dressing rooms being stocked with beverages, etc. But, it could have been a lot worse.
My film crew is the same one that went with me on the Bellamys tour last year. The producer lost his airline ticket on the way to Italy and we had to leave him behind. He caught up with us later in the day. First thing I asked when we landed in Tokyo was “did we lose J.R. this time?” Believe it or not, we didn’t lose him but he had lost his wallet with his passport and airline tickets in it in Detroit! It fell out of his pocket while he was sitting in a seat in the terminal. Thankfully, someone turned it in – with all the money and credentials still in tact!
Sound check was a “walk in the park” – excellent production company with a very professional staff. No problems and all the artists are happy.
Left the venue and returned to the hotel at around 4 pm. I told one of the translators I wanted to go jogging for 5 miles and asked for suggestions on where to run. She gave me a route and warned me to stay away from the “bushes” as there are poisonous snakes in them! She also said that the snakes like to come out during the day to “sun themselves on the pavement”. Wonderful. Just what I needed to hear. Except for losing my voice by mid-afternoon, my cold seems to be getting much better, so I decided to go for the jog. It was all downhill for the first 2 ½ miles and I was watching closely and listening for snakes. Then it was 2 ½ miles uphill on the way back to the hotel. I also have to watch carefully for landmarks because I get lost if I don’t run in a straight line. I was almost back at the hotel when a snake shot out of the bushes and ran right for my foot. It was brownish-gray and shaped like an “S” and was moving like an “S”. I didn’t know if it would chase me or not but I let out the loudest scream I could manage with laryngitis and headed for the middle of the street – right in front of a taxi. The driver swerved over to her other side of the street and gave me a look that said “stupid American women” and kept going. I ran the rest of the way back to the hotel as fast as I could staying right in the middle of the street. Not going jogging here any more.
The rooms at our hotel are very unique. The floors are made of all dark hardwood and the bathrooms are an “experience”. The toilet seat is heated and on the wall beside the toilet is a row of 4 buttons – all labeled in Japanese. But the also have drawing on the buttons. You can tell that two of the buttons turn on the bidet – one with a wide spray and one with a narrow spray as indicated by water drops approaching what appears to be buttocks. One drawing looks like the water is lifting the woman completely off the toilet seat. I’m not about to try these out. Chely Wright tried hers when we were in Argentina. She wasn’t sitting on the toilet at the time, just experimenting with the buttons — and she gave herself a “shower”! I’ll let the guys try these out – and they are sure to do so. Guys just can’t resist playing with toys.
Now the “shower room” is another story. The bathtub is so deep that when I sit in it, the sides are above my shoulders. And the handheld shower wand just hangs on the wall – not in the tub. There is a drain in the floor and you stand in the middle of the floor and “shower”. Reminds me of the Norwegian hotel rooms, only they don’t give us a squeegee to clear the water from the floor.
Had dinner at a great Italian restaurant – don’t know why the Japanese know how to cook such great Italian meals. And, I’m hoping to go to bed early tonight – like by 11 pm!
DAY NINE – SEPTEMBER 22ND
Can it really be 9 days already? It has really flown. Of course, I lost two days on airplanes.
So, I’m up early to do 600 situps (YES, SANDY, I LISTENED TO YOU. I’M WORKING MY WAY UP TO THE 1,000…), plus work out with my rubber bands. No way I’m going back out on those snake-infested streets again. (Sandy is a fantastic trainer in Los Angeles who tried to kill me in a two-day time period at Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach.) A couple of the people in Charlie’s band went hiking in the rice fields and rode mountain bikes along the trails. Do you think they saw a snake??? NOOOOOOO….
We left for the venue at about 12:30 pm and it was very cloudy. The weather report had said yesterday that today would be beautiful. Not so. By the time T. G. Sheppard took the stage, a heavy fog had rolled in and you could barely see the crowd. It was a very small crowd – only a few hundred people. Very disappointing. The venue is just so hard to travel to and is in such a remote location. The “money” behind the event is Sony Music, so maybe no one will take a huge bath over this.
It started pouring rain about halfway into T. G.’s set but he was determined to finish his show. The rain was blowing onto the stage and he was soaked but never stopped for a minute. The crowd opened up umbrellas and stayed with us. Rosanne did the same. She didn’t cut one song and the audience was certainly appreciative. Charlie Daniels said he didn’t come that far “not to pick” and did his full show as well. Not only did it continue to pour rain, but it was freezing cold. I could see my breath. What a truly awesome group of artists we had. We offered them the option of pulling the plug numerous times and they all refused. The show ended with everyone on stage singing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and a fireworks display.
We all came back to the hotel – very wet, cold, and smelly! Had a farewell dinner party to attend and all the local Japanese artists from the concert the night before performed. It was really nice. I changed into one of my dozens of pairs of snakeskin pants (right, Bryan?) for the party. One of the guy’s in T. G.’s band said that the reason I was the only one to see a snake was because I had killed the snake’s brothers and made pants out of them. Hmmm…..
Rosanne’s and T. G.’s group have to leave at 7 am tomorrow for a 7 hour ride to the Narita airport. I don’t leave until 10 am with Charlie Daniels for Korea. But, of course, I have to be up so I can get the first group off. So, Goodnight All!
DAY TEN, SEPTEMBER 23RD
Got up early to work out in my room again and see the first group off to Nashville and New York. I took my bag down to the bus at 7 am for Penny to take back to Nashville with me. Just things I didn’t need in Korea and trying to keep the number of pieces checked within the minimum. I actually put the bag on the bus myself then went up to the restaurant for some last minute instructions. Penny went down to the bus after breakfast and came to tell me that my bag was definitely on the bus and they left for the airport.
Our group came down at 9:30 for our departure and this little Japanese man and woman come walking up carrying the bag I had put on the first bus. They were smiling and so proud of themselves because they had taken my bag off the bus and kept it for me!!!! I was furious. I have no idea what possessed them to pull it off. I told the travel agency they would have to pay the $230 in excess charges it was going to cost me to get it back to Nashville.
We left for the airport and expected another 7 hour drive. Didn’t hit nearly as much traffic going in as we did coming out, so we arrive at the airport 3 hours earlier than we anticipated. Got everything checked in and went to eat Sushi and shop.
No problems on the flight except a lot of turbulence at the beginning. Landed in Seoul and were met by Army Protocol and escorted to our hotel. We get to stay at a beautiful hotel on the base this time. Nice and convenient.
It’s 1:30 am and I need to get a little sleep. More tomorrow….