Thursday, September 22, 2016

WCT 40th Anniversary Gala

This past weekend Duane, my BFF Lynn, and I drove down to Washington, Iowa to attend the 40th anniversary gala for the Washington Community Theater.  I did several shows there in the mid 80's and mid 90's, and wanted to reconnect with some of the amazing people I worked with during that time.

It was a busy, crazy, whirlwind trip!  We left Saturday morning at 8:00, and were back in the cities by 6:00 on Sunday night (a 5 1/2 hour drive, each way).

On the way down, we stopped in Pella, Iowa to be lunch at the Windmill Cafe...and buy pastries at Jaarsma Bakery...

...then continued on to Fairfield, where we dropped our luggage at the hotel (Lynn), and Tena and Andrew's (Duane and me).  We made a quick change into our formal wear for the evening, then headed to Washington.

Our first destination was for wine and cheese on the porch at our friend Dan's house.  Lynn used to work with Dan, and, through their Facebook "relationship" I got to know him too!  I eventually "friended" him, and we got to know each other online.  It was GREAT to finally meet him in person!

Dan has also worked with the Washington Community Theater, so Lynn was going to be his "date" for the gala.  We were supposed to arrive in Washington at 2:30, but the stop in Pella threw off our schedule, so we didn't have much time to socialize before it was time to head to Cafe Dodici!

What an amazing place!  Having just been to Italy, we were THRILLED to experience the delicious cuisine.  Lynn and Dan met another "old" friend of mine and theirs...John, who Dan still works with, and Lynn used to work with, and who I knew from a theatrical production 30 years ago...small world!

Unfortunately, the restaurant seated their group of four (John's wife Nancy was there too!) and OUR group of four too far apart to actually interact (dispersal of tables to servers, I suppose), but Duane and I had an AWESOME time catching up with Tena and Andrew!!

After dinner, Dan and Lynn, John and Nancy, and Duane and I headed to the theater for the 40th anniversary gala.  What a HOOT to go back to the theater after twenty one years!  It was cool that the place hadn't changed much, but BOY had the people!  I had a hard time recognizing some of the people I had worked with, but it was AWESOME to reconnect with some dear, dear friends!

 Linda, who was Wendy to my Peter in "Peter Pan"...

 John (one of the brothers in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"), Peg (backstage for "Joseph"), and Linda

 Greg, who directed me as Seymour in "Little Shop of Horrors"

 My coat of many colors from "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (second production)

Carmen...narrator to my Joseph in TWO productions of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"

One of the highlights of the evening was when the theater recognized Leon Hilfman, who has done so much for the Washington Community Theater, and with whom I was fortunate to be directed in THREE of my four shows there (in addition to also working with him on a show in Iowa City).

After a lovely evening enjoying show tunes performed by the Southeast Iowa Symphony, directed by Robert McConnell, who conducted the pit for (I think) all of the productions in which I performed, we headed back to Fairfield, and collapsed EXHAUSTEDLY into bed!!

On Sunday, Lynn went to Washington to have brunch with Dan and John and Nancy, and Duane and I had PLANNED to have brunch at Ila with Tena and Andrew, but...AGAIN...Ila was!!!  They were closed last time we were in town and wanted to go there for dinner too.  BOO!!!

We ended up at George's Pizza for an "adequate" breakfast, walked around the square for a bit to look at the vintage cars in the car show being held there...

,,,then went back to Tena and Andrew's and packed, and headed to Washington to pick Lynn up at Cafe Dodici (which, apparently, has a really good brunch too!), then headed north.

OF COURSE we found a "photo op" on the way back in New Hampton...

A super fun trip, with super fun people...super fun!!

Here's hoping YOU were able to reconnect with "long lost friends" recently too!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Italy: Day 3

Day three in Rome started with another hearty breakfast at the hotel, then a walk through the Borghese Gardens.  LAST TIME we were in Rome, we hiked for miles and miles and miles to get to the gardens, then realized that one edge of the perimeter is close to the Spanish steps, which were just down the street from our hotel.

It was MUCH easier to get to it this time, and I did NOT end up with the huge, horrible, painful blisters I got last time (in the new shoes that I, for some stupid reason, decided to wear on my first day there!!

At the top of the Spanish Steps (which were still closed), I bought a few “original” watercolor paintings to commemorate the trip (and which we saw ALL OVER ROME).  Even if they aren’t “one of a kind”, they are still beautiful, and will be a nice remembrance of the trip.

After a short walk through part of the gardens, we walked to Vatican City to tour the museums and see the Sistine Chapel.  Rick Steves is an awesome, awesome travel book writer.  We followed his directions to buy tickets online, and saved HOURS of time avoiding the “buy tickets here” lines outside, which, seriously, wrapped around the outer wall of the city. 

The only problem was that I, somehow, purchased the “Children’s tickets”.  Not a big deal, because, even though we had to get in about three additional lines to pay the difference, we still got to the museum with just a short wait.

The Vatican Museums are unbelievable…so many treasures, and so many people!!!  Although we THINK it was less crowded than our last visit, there were people EVERYWHERE, it really just felt like we were cattle being herded through the halls!

We tried to listen to part of Rick Steves Podcast tour, but ended up moving through the museums more quickly than the narration…usually to get ahead of a large tour group that was on our heels.

After wandering through gallery after gallery after gallery, we ended up in the Sistine Chapel, which truly is, GORGEOUS!  After admiring the ceiling for awhile, we tacked on to the end of a tour group to take the “tour group only” exit, cutting about 45 minutes off the route to get from the chapel, back through the museum, to St. Peter’s Basilica (also a tip from Rick!).

St. Peter’s is BEAUTIFUL, and we enjoyed the exquisite art, and the immenseness of the basilica. We weren’t able to get close to the altar this time because the area was blocked off, which was too bad.  From a distance it’s beautiful, but “up close” it’s breathtaking!

After the basilica, we walked around the piazza in front, bought a soda, and sat for a few minutes before walking back to the hotel (which, luckily, wasn’t far). 

We had a brief siesta, then went out looking for a restaurant for dinner.  After several frustrating attempts to find something that was open, ended up at a cafe near Trevi Fountain (can't remember the name!).  I had a delightful pizza, and some nice pinot grigio!  

It felt really good to sit…especially since we tried about six different restaurants before walking WAY FARTHER than anticipated to finally settle on this one.  I was one CRABBY tourist by then! 

After dinner we walked to our favorite gelato place for one last magnificent treat, then headed back to the hotel to pack and brace for the return journey to Minnesota. 

 BEFORE final gelato in Rome!

AFTER final gelato in Rome!

Although it was really hot, and really crowded, it was great to be back in Rome, and although we LOVED the tour we were on three years ago, it was nice to see things at our own pace, and explore things we might have missed!

Here’s hoping YOU were able to revisit a beloved place recently too!!!