Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Don’t Let it End…

The open road…road trips…. I love them…It settles my soul in ways I can’t explain. When it includes music of any kind, it’s a definite boon! The ladies and I have been trying to make it a tradition to see the Nelson Brothers in Green Bay every year. They play 3 shows and I meet up with several friends (old and new) for a full 3 days of music, bonding, alcohol and many a good conversation.

I’d had this planned for several months, however I hadn’t plan to switch jobs, and I can’t say I planned it very well either. I received only a half a check from the electronics company and I do have a mortgage to pay, so the quest began with trying to pay the front portion of my mortgage and see if I had any money left over. If so, that would enable me go on the trip. I lucked out and was able to cash out the measly amount of 401K I accrued at the bank without taking much of a tax hit. Green Bay here I come!!!!

Saturday afternoon-Shannon, Kim and I made the decision to meet at Hertz to pick up our rental for the week. After much finagling we ended up with a grey KIA Amanti-which I dubbed Monti. Apparently I didn’t get “the memo” to pack and bring my stuff so we decided to make the drive back to my house so I could finish packing and we could all get ready. We had purchased tickets to see both the 4p and the 7p “Ricky Nelson Remembered” shows at Mystic Lake Casino. This is the first time I’ve seen them play in my home state and it had been since March since I’d seen them last, so I was excited!

Saturday Evening-
We got there a bit early and found our seats for the first show. It wasn’t what I expected. It was set up with some “Behind the Music” clips and in between the guys would play their dad’s music and talk about him a bit. It was funny, a bit sad and definitely
entertaining. There was a point in the show that the guys introduced the Co-pilot of the plane that Ricki was on when it went down. This man was 1 of 2 survivors of the crash. I was in tears. How bittersweet that the guy lives out this way and they get to meet him after all this time. It was mostly a crowd of oldsters so not a lot of clapping, and chair dancing, but they did give the guys a well deserved standing ovation for putting such a great show. After the 4p show all we met up and headed out to get some grub. This also included Kim’s camera being stolen inside the grill (bummer), a bit of toilet surfing and the traditional loo pix. (Don‘t ask, we just think it’s funny!)

The 7p show was a right on, full of energy, musical freight train. They received another ovation and afterward did the usual meet and greet of people, and signed autographs…After some brief conversation with the guys, Brian Burwell (I’m Batman!) and a few others we headed into nearby Shakopee for a late night dinner before heading out ontothe open road.

It’s a 5-6 hour drive to Green Bay and I navigated until we were well into Wisconsin before I tried to settle myself into the 4x2 space in the back seat. My MP3 player got a lot of use on the way out, since I was too tired to converse with anyone and wanted nothing but to try and grab some Z’s. After much tossing, adjusting and one hell’va backache later we arrived at the hotel about 5am. Sleepily, we mosied up stairs to our room, waking up poor, tired Barb to let us in when our key card didn’t work. Our room was medium sized, with 2 queen sized sleep number beds, and weirdly placed vanity and bathroom; certainly not enough room for 4 people and not enough mirrors; nevertheless our first order of business was to rest our weary eyes and heads.

Sunday- Once fully rested, showered and dressed, we headed to lunch then back to our rooms to get ready for the show. The point of staying in the hotel next to the casino was that we could all get ready at our leisure and “reserve” seating. The show is in a little “tavern” portion of the casino. There is the stage, in front of it the bar, then bar seating with built in poker machines, the aisle and then curved booths that typically seat 4-6 people. The goal is to get as many people in the bar seats and also grab a booth behind. If we stay at the adjoining hotel, each of us can get ready and go down whenever, instead of all of us waiting and going as a group, like we did last year. The casino gets a bit pissy over the fact that none of use the poker machines and only drink for those hours before the show. I politely explain a simple thing called “revenue”. See, the highest amount you can play poker at is $1. The average drink costs about $3-$4.00. They make more money on us drinking than if we were to play poker. Very rarely does a person sit up there for several hours playing poker AND drinking. So they actually make more money off of US…Go figure.

We started to ease down to the casino around 4p and the show started at 7:30p. The guys were in great moods, they played their energetic set and we all had our usual great time. Afterward, they did a meet/greet of people, signed autographs and pictures. We staggered out into the night, for our usual bout of laughs, stories and food. We came back and a few of us night owls decided to go for a good hot soak in the hotel’s hot tub and take many a brisk swim well into the wee hours of the morning.

Monday-The day went pretty much the same except after the show Shannon and I were standing in line to meet the guys and get our picture taken when a strange lady came up to us spewing a full out verbal assault on us.She informed us that we had to get ahead of her and stop standing around and move forward. Several attempts on mine and Shannon’s parts to get her to calm down proved fruitless and actually made things worse. It got to the point that I just walked away. Shannon took a bit more before giving up and walking away as well.

We had our moment with the guys and left to grab some grub. Other than, the evening went pretty smooth including the surprise party we threw for Shannon. Kelly dropped off the cake and few other birthday items at Perkins and we decided to eat and embarrass the birthday girl there. It wasn’t until we came back from dinner that I realized that I left my debit card at the bar and forgot to pay my tab. I headed back to pay my tab and got brush off from the bartender. When I suggested that it might be a good idea I pay them and get my card back I received it with a slip of paper attached to it indicating that it was left behind and to “charge to Nelson Bros”. I was mortified! I immediately paid my tab and went back to my room were I rounded up the ladies for head-soaking in the hot tub and brisk swims until about 2 am.

We lazed around reading the paper, talking about the shows and people we’d seen over breakfast. Shannon and I made a trip to the store and to round up some party supplies and a cake for Connie’s birthday. We came back, took our time getting ready and met the usual suspects in the casino to see “our boys” put on their last show. We had our casino chairs, booth and were enjoying the show when I noticed that freaky lady from the night before, rudely informed an oldster that he couldn’t stand by her because he was “blocking” her view. He didn’t argue and begrudgingly started to walk away. I got pissed and told him that he could sit in our booth with us and enjoy the show if he wanted. He sat down, ordered himself a drink, enjoyed the show and our company to boot! This same freaky lady kept jumping in front of us holding up Nelson and Rick Nelson CD’s during every other song and wouldn’t sit down until one of the guys acknowledged her. Crazy! It was later in the meet and greet line that she threw a bunch of CD’s at the guys and asked them to sign them…I’m not exactly sure what happened but it was enough for them to cancel their usual picture taking session and call security. Stoopid freaky lady…

Disappointed and irate (not at the guys; at the freak!) we decided to go to dinner. We went to our rooms and got into our jammies while I went to grab the cake. The plan was that the girls were to get Connie in the car and be on the way before I came out with her cake. Go to Plan B; apparently Connie decided to call a friend and sat in the lobby on her cell, leaving me stuck in the hallway with her cake; a cake I thought was red frosted cupcakes setup to look like berries but was really supposed to be a pepper, hence the word “OLE!” written in bright red frosting on the side. Ah ha?!
Here I am in the hallway, hiding with a “pepper cake” and here comes Matthew Nelson on his cell phone…I have NO where to go but down the hall toward the lobby. Since he and his brother had issues with the Freaky lady minutes earlier I didn’t want him to think I was some weirdo too. I decided to pass him and exit the hallway…I reluctantly waved to him and quickly moved toward the end of the hallway only to be turned back by Shannon indicating that Connie was just around the corner- still on her cell. I turned around to see Matthew looking at us as if we were crazies and I turned around trying to find a place to hide
from Connie and Matthew. I found a small alcove near the entrance to a restaurant. I sat there for what seemed like eternity before I got the clearance to move out into the lobby. I packed the cake into the car and headed to meet the ladies at Denny’s in downtown Green Bay.

I hid the cake with the hostess and had her bring it out later where we ate red frosted cupcakes, laughed our heads off until we practically burst. Afterward, we decided to head back to the hotel and soak our heads in the hot tub one final time before we headed out the next day. We all agreed that we should all meet in the casino for brunch to say our last goodbyes to each other before we headed back to reality.

Wednesday-By 9am; sad, exhausted and disappointed that in the next couple of hours we’d all have to go home and back to our lives. We took one last picture, had breakfast and headed to our said rooms to pack- much to our disappointment that we couldn't delay our return to reality by at least another 24 hours or perhaps by time-machine... We all met at the side lobby door of the hotel said our teary goodbyes and headed out our separate ways with the agreement to be online by 9p that same evening.

Writing any of this down can’t even begin to give justice to the time we had. What I can say is that I have the most fantastical group of friends, had many a great conversation, lots o’ laughs shed many o' tear and that I hold new sense of love, respect and appreciation for the guys. Thanks for the time !!
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