Saturday, June 30, 2012: Up early and went down to the train station to exchange some money to euros before we left.  Judy and I came down the other day and were told they open at 6:45 AM.  Since we are leaving this morning for Italy at 7:30 AM, I wanted to get there early.  I get here at 6:45 only to be told “that” window doesn’t open until 7 AM.  Ok, so I wait a few minutes, go buy some water in the store next door, go back to “that” window, only to be told that they can’t do it until the train leaves at 7:10.  Ok, why couldn’t you have told me that the first time???  Finally at 7:15, “that” window opens and it’s the same person, same window. Back to the hotel and the bus is waiting.  Most of the band is downstairs waiting and ready to go.  I went to the front desk to check on our “to go box” for breakfast, and put them on the bus.  We all head out to Italy for what is supposed to be a 4 hour drive.  Not too long after we start our journey, we hit traffic, and I mean a LOT of traffic.  Luckily our driver, Fred, knows this area well and he takes a detour.  He takes up the winding mountain, Alps really, and it so beautiful and breathtaking.  I go back to let everyone know what we are doing and just as I turn around to back to the front of the bus, Fred slams on the brakes to avoid a bicyclist and throws me about 3 rows, I spin around and land in the floor by the dash.  Anita was coming to the front as that happened and freaked out.  She helped me get up, luckily nothing is hurt too bad, just a good lump on my upper shoulder blade and what I know will be a huge bruise on my upper thigh soon!  We make it to the top and we are in the clouds, literally, then start back down the mountain.  When we get back down the mountain, we see traffic on the other side of the tunnel, going in the opposite direction.  The tunnel was 10 miles long, so we would have been in traffic for HOURS!  Good move, Fred!  We finally make to Italy – Como, Italy that is….just across the border, and where George Clooney has a home, but not our destination.  We still have about another 2 hours!  L  Finally arrive about 2 PM and head straight to sound check.  There were a few technical issues, but they got everything resolved and hopefully all will go smoothly.  Met the group in the lobby and we all went over to the restaurant for dinner.  Laura arrived during dinner and she had Jason’s bag.  She had been at the airport in Milan since early this morning trying to track down his bag.  I am sure that Jason will forever be grateful to her.  J   This place, Cowboy’s Guest Ranch, is more like something you would see in Texas, with the horses, cows, very “western”.  Our room keys are these saddles with 3 keys, and each room is modeled after a state, I am in Texas.  J Back to the room to freshen up, do a short m/g, press conference and head over for the show.  Wow, this place was packed!  She put on rockin’ show.  The crowd knew all of her songs and sang along to all the words.  I was so glad she didn’t explain about “Smile” tonight; just don’t think I could have handled that again – very emotional.  L  Skyped with my boys and off to bed about 1:30, still can’t figure out the video. Penny

SUNDAY, JULY 1, 2012: Got to sleep in a bit, got cleaned up and headed down for breakfast.  Today is a “day off” so we are all going to Milan to go sightseeing.  This is my first time in Italy, so again, I’m excited!  J  Laura and Salvina are our “guides” today.  It is a 1 hour drive to Milan, and tonight is the final soccer game between Spain and Italy.  We visit the famous castle, the cathedral, have an awesome lunch, do a little shopping, and head back to Voghera.  The streets in Milan were starting to fill up with people ready to party and watch the big game.  It’s going to be one crazy night, especially if they WIN! Back to the hotel, and we all chill for a bit before heading out to an “authentic” Italian restaurant close by.  We order a variety of things, mostly to just try – we all tried octopus.  It wasn’t bad, but not near as good as calamari.  We even talked Terri into trying it!  We did keep up with the soccer game during dinner, and unfortunately Italy lost 4 – 0!  L  Had some great pizza, pasta, salad, wine and I even tried a taste of Terri’s “lemon cello”…..strong, but tasty!  Back to the ranch about 10:30 and the doors to the hotel are locked so we go to the bar for a quick drink.  Once there we find out that 1 of the 3 keys on our “saddle” opens the front door.  Back to the room about 11:30 and off to bed. MONDAY, JULY 2, 2012: Today we all travel from Voghera, Italy to Untermeitingen, Germany.  Bill, our promoter, picked us up in a big bus for our 5-6 hour drive.  We also changed our departure time from 12 Noon to 10:30 AM, hoping to get in Germany early enough to do a little sightseeing this evening.  The hopes of that happening came to a quick halt shortly after we left the ranch.  We hit traffic in Milan, construction, a wrong turn, mountainous, curvy roads, more traffic, stopped for lunch, border crossing and finally got to Bill’s club at 8 PM!!  It only took Bill and the 2 drivers 6 hours to drive it during the night….what a difference a little daylight makes.  L When we arrived at the hotel, Lindsey was there and had all of our keys ready waiting for us.  She flew in this morning and will continue the rest of the tour with Terri and the band – 2 dates in Germany and 1 show in Norway.  We all dropped our bags and headed over to Bill’s club for dinner.  I ordered pizza.  They have the best pizza at this club.  I am NOT a big pizza fan, but it is so good – I remembered it from when I was here last with Tracy Byrd in 2009. I went back to the hotel with Jeff and Terri, and we all met in the lobby to get on line and skype home.  I went back over to the club to let Lindsey know I would leave the “book” at the front desk for her since I figured she might be a little while.  While I was there, they all conned me into drinking some kind of “shot”.  It was good, but boy was I ready for bed…going to bed soon because I have to get up at 5 AM for a 7 AM departure to the airport.

TUESDAY, JULY 3, 2012: Up at 4:30 because I just couldn’t sleep.  I was ready and downstairs by 6:30 and even had time for breakfast before leaving.  Bill and Lindsey came to see me off.  Christian, the taxi driver, arrived right on time to take me to the airport.  He also picked up Lindsey when she arrived yesterday, and she had already warned me about how fast he drives.  OMG!!  Fast and furious!  lol  He took back roads and was passing cars like crazy, going through little towns and farmland, then traffic!  We sat in traffic about 10-15 minutes because of a wreck, imagine that!  At one point we were going 180 km, about 110 mph on the interstate trying to get to the airport.  Got there about 8:30, still plenty of time before my flight, but sure was glad that I checked in on line last night.  J  I slept almost the whole flight home since I had very little sleep last night.  That usually works well for me, and the flight goes by much quicker that way.  Landed in Nashville and I met Tim and the kids curb side because Jacob was asleep.  We were almost home when Jacob woke up and looked at me, actually stared at me; almost like he wasn’t sure he was seeing what he thought he was seeing.  Then when I got him out of his car seat, he gave me the biggest hug!  As I have said many times before, I love to travel, but I love to get back home even more!! Penny