Off to Switzerland – again – second time in 2 weeks.  Gotta be a better way!  In bed at 12:30 am and set the alarm for 3:30 am.  IT DIDN’T GO OFF.  Fortunately, being a Capricorn, I had set a travel alarm across the room, which did go off.  Thought I’d be able to sleep on the flight to Newark but arrived at the airport to find that it’s a little puddle-jumper.  No way I can sleep on one of those.  I have to stay away to listen for engine trouble!  I’ll hop on a C-130 with only 3 engines working but am scared to death of the little commercial planes. When I land in Newark, I’ll grab a car into NYC for a very important meeting regarding Stars for Stripes.  Wanted to dress appropriately but also comfortable for travel.  Wore white slacks, which I am totally paranoid about spilling something on.  Don’t want to jinx myself, but I just KNOW!  (I have 6 “SHOUT” wipes in my bag….just in case!)  Will meet David Ball and his musicians in Newark for a 6 pm flight to Zurich.  Wonder if I will ever see that bag I checked again .. 8 hour layover in Newark—I seriously doubt it.  Great. That would mean no clothes the entire time I’m there.  The ticket agent gave me the lecture about all bags being “checked” against the passenger manifest.  Hellooooo….how many flights have I taken and arrived to find that my bag is missing.  Sure I’m jinxing myself on that, too.  But, a clothes shopping spree wouldn’t be a bad deal! The festival is at the top of an alp and is only accessible via a gondola.  It’s a large gondola and I absolutely HATE riding it.  It goes past those towers and shakes like crazy then “drops” off the other side.  I have it timed to exactly how long it takes to go back and forth and how many times I have to ride it this weekend.  Beautiful view at the top.  Covered outdoor stage and a “western village” set up.  This one is always “easy” because it’s smaller and I only have one artist to babysit.  No gyms in this little town so I’ll have to run everyday.  Hoping that will give the rib I cracked in Korea a chance to heal since I haven’t followed the doctors advice which was to “quit exercising until it heals”. The pilot announced that we would be landing at 9:10 and all my information said 10:10.  Figured I’d have to wait an hour for my driver. Then, we landed, and it was 10:10.  Just what you want…a pilot who has no idea what time zone he’s in!  My driver was waiting for me at baggage claim.  His name was Roger and he was a nice older gentleman.  I immediately began making phone calls on my cell phone and halfway into NYC, he cranked up the radio to some “oldies” station.  Then, he started singing along – not humming slightly under his breath but really belting it out.  When he paused for breath, I asked him if he liked the oldies.  He said he was “lost in the fifties”.  So, I told him I work with Pat Boone.  Oh dear, when will I ever learn?  He said when he was growing up, he played with a band (he’s originally from the Bronx) called Scott Stevens and the Cavaliers and they had some songs that hit the top of the charts.  I was then treated to several selections from one of their cds AND a taped interview with Scott Stevens himself.  Arrived for my meeting 1½ hours early so I walked around until I found a coffee shop.  Got a latte and started preparing for the meeting and listening to the other customers talk.  As much as people say they love to listen to the Southern accents, I love the New Yorkers accents.  I knew I’d have to leave the coffee shop at least 30 minutes early because I have no sense of direction and had already forgotten which way I came from.  After drinking a tall latte, I needed to visit the ladies room.  The owner took me upstairs right through the middle of his kitchen to the employees restroom.  And who said New Yorkers weren’t friendly?   Made it to my meeting in plenty of time and it was a great meeting.  Got lots of tips and support for “Stars for Stripes”.  I was pretty nervous going into it but came out feeling elated.  To only have a couple of hours in NYC was pure torture for someone like me who loves the city.   Roger was waiting for me and we headed for Newark.  He heard me talking on the cell phone about Stars for Stripes and asked me about it.  When we arrived at the airport, he gave me the telephone number of the CEO of a major corporation and told me to call him, mention his name, and tell him about the project.  Seems Roger has “driven” some of the top VIPs in his career. Went through security without having to take off all my clothes and headed for the Executive Club to check email.  Realized that something had happened to my computer and I couldn’t log on to AOL.  I made frantic calls back to Nashville and finally got on line.  I sure hope I don’t have this problem in Switzerland.  Five days without email and I’ll be suicidal. Met David Ball and his group at the gate and we’re off!  Didn’t have to use even one Shout wipe….amazing.

ROAD KILL – DAY TWO – JULY 17TH: No problems on the flight over except for one brief period of extreme turbulence.  Thankfully, it was ‘brief’.   Our promoter was waiting for us when we cleared customs.  It’s raining in Switzerland.   Took about an hour to reach the hotel and of course, the rooms were not cleaned since it was only 10:00 in the morning.   We switched hotels this year and I think this one is much better.  It’s right on Lake Lucerne and much cooler since the rooms don’t have air conditioning.   My room overlooks the lake and there is a little balcony that I can walk out on.  The lake is surrounded by the Alps.  I’ll try to take a photo tomorrow if the weather clears up.  AOL is still screwed up and I’m pretty frustrated with it.  Several of the guys went into a little village – Boughs – for shopping.  Can you believe I passed up a shopping trip?  I had to get on the email (imagine that!).   We had dinner at the hotel and sat outside on a huge deck that overlooks the lake.  Everything moves at a much slower pace here – I don’t think anyone is ever stressed.  David ordered fish and when it came out, it was the entire fish with the eye just looking at him.  He was pretty squeamish about eating it and I offered him half of my salmon fillets.  But, he toughed it out and said it was delicious. After dinner we all went to the venue at the top of the Alp.  It’s much colder up there and we all needed jackets.   It takes 7 minutes to go up in the gondola if there are only a few people on it and there are 4 towers that you have to cross.  When you pass the towers, the gondola shakes and drops down the other side and then rocks back and forth for what seems like several minutes.  We went up to see the “Yodeling Festival”.  There is a huge fest tent that seats 1,600 people and it was packed – SRO.  The local yodelers dress up in their native costumes and they sing and yodel.  It was really beautiful.  There were large groups as well as duets.  And, it’s a “listening” crowd.  No one speaks while they are singing.  Of course, if this took place in America, there would be one person in the group who suddenly went into a “rap yodel” and broke the monotony!  We’re thinking about writing a rap yodel now. Got back to the hotel early even though we decided to walk from the gondola station to our hotel.  Guess whose idea that was.  It was a beautiful night as the rain stopped and there was virtually no traffic on the little, winding road.   Wish all my trips were this “easy”.   Today almost seems “boring”…almost!  The best part of the program that was printed for the festival is the last line on David Ball’s bio…and, I quote “Great and meat David Ball on Klewenalp 2003”.  We’re all looking forward to that. Jude

ROAD KILL – DAY THREE – JULY 18TH Interesting night.  The entire wall facing the lake is a huge glass “window” and a glass door.  The window does not open and since there is no air conditioning, I have to leave the door open.  It was cool when I came in last night, so I closed the door and rolled down the shades…which is quite an experience.  There’s this rod inside the room and you crank it to lower these solid –what looks like metal – shades over the window and door.  Went to bed and woke up less than an hour later in a sweat!  It was SO dark in the room and I couldn’t find the light switch.  Finally groped my way along the wall to the bathroom, hitting my leg on the corner of the bed along the way (nice bruise!), and found the bathroom light.  Went through the process again of opening the shade and door.  Back to bed.  Less than an hour later – mosquitoes!  Lots of mosquitoes!  Got up and ran along the lake.  What a beautiful run and the weather was perfect.  Met the guys for breakfast and none of them had mosquitoes.  They’ve decided I’m their “pest strip”.  Nice. Promoter called and said there would be a 30 minute delay in picking us up to go to sound check today.  When he arrived, he was driving a mini-bus that he had told me yesterday he could not drive.  I was a bit concerned but figured if he had made it to the hotel, he must have “learned” quickly how to drive it.  So 8 packed into the vehicle and as he was pulling out of the parking lot, he said, “I’ve never driven this before.”  Great.  It was a stick shift so you can imagine the jerky ride we had.  Fortunately, we only had one mile to drive.  I was on the back row of seats with 2 of the musicians and when we stopped, the seat in front of us would not move forward to allow us to exit the vehicle.  Everyone just sort of got out and scattered and David was trying to force the seat up for us.  It would not budge.  We thought of climbing over but the headrests were too high for the guys to clear.  The were finally able to squeeze their upper body over the top of the seat and their legs between the broken seat and the doorway.  Fortunately, I’ve kept the weight off and just squeezed right through the space.  David had quite a surprise when he opened his guitar case.  His beautiful guitar had a big hole in it from the flight.  Since he checked it in just a regular guitar case and not a road case, the airline will not assume any responsibility.  I felt so bad for him. We have those shower “wands” again in this hotel and I was just thinking today that we haven’t had any casualties.    Wrong.  David turned his shower on, went in the bedroom to do something, came back a few minutes later to find that it had turned itself around and there was about an inch of water in the floor.  Plus, it had hosed down everything on it’s way to the floor.  At least no one has been personally attacked…yet! Show was great.  They love “true country music” at this festival and David Ball gave them what they wanted.  It’s almost 2 am and we’re going into Lucerne for the day tomorrow.  Taking the boat over. Jude

ROAD KILL – DAY FOUR – JULY 19TH Another beautiful run along the lake this morning and the weather is gorgeous.  Only negative about the weather is that it is so hot in our hotel rooms and none of the hotels have air conditioning.  The beds have huge down comforters and down pillows, which are WONDERFUL – in the wintertime.  The pillows, of course, compress to 1/8 inch thickness the minute your head makes contact with them so you might as well just use only the pillowcase.  Since the mattress is as hard as sleeping on the floor, I figured out that it is smarter to sleep on top of the comforter.  Of course, the only sheet on the bed is the fitted on you sleep on.  BUT, I’m not complaining, just describing.  When I think of the conditions we saw in Iraq, trust me, I count my blessing daily. We all took the boat over to Lucerne.  It is about an hour and a half trip and is indescribably beautiful.  I could have sailed around all day.  Then, we hit the shops.  We had 3 hours to shop and it seemed like 3 minutes.  I didn’t do nearly enough to support the economy.  The annual Blues Festival is here again with Bonnie Raitt headlining this year.  The name of the event is the “Blue Balls Festival” which always gets a laugh out of our entourage.  Grabbed some fantastic Indian food on the way to the train back home.  I think everyone enjoyed the day and it’s nice to have a day off so they get to see some of the local sights.  Tonight is the final show and we fly home tomorrow. David Ball as telling Iris (our promoter) that he thinks he was having trouble with his voice last night because of the “down” in the pillows.  He went into this long explanation and then coughed really hard and “feathers” flew everywhere.  Scared her to death.  He has shredded little pieces of paper and blew them out of his hand when he coughed.  We have DEFINITELY been away from home long enough… So happy this was the LAST time I had to ride the gondola.  Show was great – much larger crowd tonight.  The promoter came out and sang with David again tonight.  His “stage name” is P. J. and last night David called him B. J.  Tonight, he did much better.  Called him A. J.!   Right before “BJ/AJ” was to go on stage, he was standing behind the curtain with me and Iris.  Iris noticed that his pants were unzipped.  I think that would have been a little more of a show than what the audience was expecting. Great group of guys to travel with.  Off to the airport tomorrow and I get to stay in Nashville for all of TWO days before heading to Scandinavia for two weeks.

LAST DAY – ROAD KILL: Off to the airport this morning.  Our drivers decided to take a “short cut”, I suppose, and took these little winding roads with lots of potholes.  I was on the back row in the van and I don’t normally get motion sickness but I was absolutely green by the time we arrived.  Other than that, no problems checking in and boarding the flight.  However, we were late leaving Zurich.  Then, when we got to Newark, we circled for about a half an hour.  Which would not have been so bad, except there were some low clouds and it was turbulent.   Very happy to get on the ground.  We ran through passport control, customs and security to try and catch our flight.  Everyone made it except two people.  We begged the flight attendants to keep the door open but they closed it 30 seconds before our guys showed up.  Figured none of our luggage would make it on the flight but when we arrive Nashville, everything was there!  I hated leaving two of the boys in Newark.  But, one of them had a cell phone, so we called and talked to them.  They were not going to get in until 9:30 pm tonight. Only TWO days at home, so I’ve got a lot to do.  Off to Norway, then Scandinavia this Wednesday. Jude