Friday, December 20, 2013

Long lost friends, craft beers, and air craft carriers

The sunset that greeted us in San Diego.  Too bad you can't see how pink the sky was

Me and Robby doing some EARLY morning press

Another glimpse at our new photos in celebration of Million Dollar Quartet Day!
Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel

A cake made for us by the lovely people at the Civic Theatre 

My high school buddy Matt Ivey and his little boy Jack

The beautiful Christmas tree at the equally gorgeous Westgate Hotel

One of the many beautifully restored historic buildings in the Gaslamp District

PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres

The Civic Theatre

A gorgeous historic hotel; The Horton Grand

The Old Town district of San Diego

The Presidio; California's first military outpost and the site of it's first mission

Look at that face!!! A fisher cat at the famous San Diego Zoo

And a baby panda....

The Sante Fe train station, downtown

The amazing USS Midway Museum at the sea port

A random Delorean outside the Ballast Point Brewing Co. 

Hi everyone!  Sorry this blog is a bit overdue!  It was a busy last week of tour, so I'm a little behind on my blogging.  However, the added bonus is you will get two this week!  I also am planning on continuing to write even while at home, because my Christmas break proves to be pretty eventful.  But, enough's to the week in San Diego!

We left Palm Desert and made the relatively short drive to San Diego.  We pulled up to the stunning Westgate Hotel, and took no time to move in!  It was a bit colder than I expected, but still very nice.  Knowing I had early press the next day, I didn't do a whole lot.  I moved into my room, enjoyed it's luxury for a while, and then headed to a local place, Sushi Deli 2, with Robby to grab a bite and talk about our impending early press the next day.  They have some pretty amazing sushi for a very reasonable price, so I saw myself going there quite a bit over the week.  After a nice dinner and a quick visit with the Franklin-Barry clan who were also chowing down on some sushi, Robby and I headed back to our rooms to try and rest before our 5:20 AM call for

Tuesday morning came very early, but Robby and I were good sports and were in the lobby well before our call time to meet our local press rep.  We got into a luxury car and our driver took us to a Starbucks to get some much needed caffeine before our TV appearance.  It went extremely well, especially considering the fact that Robby hadn't ever done any sort of press at all.  After our quick interview, we were driven home, and I went up to my room hell bent on getting SOME rest for a bit, so that I could get up and walk around the town.  I succeeded.  Sorta.  I laid down and got a bit of sleep, but I really wanted to be able to get out and see the town a little bit.  So, I woke my happy self up and headed to the historic Gaslamp District, just a stone's throw from our hotel.  I was able to stop by the much sought after Hard Rock Cafe along the way (it's been a while since I've seen one and been able to get a pin), and I took pictures of some of the amazing historic buildings in my path.  I decided, though it was sprinkling, to head to PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres.  It's pretty amazing to look back on all of the MLB ballparks I've been able to see along the way; so, I walked around the outskirts of the park, took a bunch of pictures, and even went into the team store to buy an obligatory pin and a throwback Tony Gwynn t-shirt.  After stopping in a few more shops along the way, I ended up meeting up with David Sonneborn, and we decided to get lunch at a Thai restaurant not too far from our hotel.  We rarely get the chance to talk now that I am onstage every night, so it was nice to catch up with him and get some delicious food at the same time.  I decided afterward that I needed to go home and lay pretty low to counteract my early morning.  I took the walk (it was about 50 ft.) to our stage door later that evening, and prepared for opening night.  Yet again, we were surprised at the audience's response, and though it had been a while, we had an opening night party following the performance at the nearby House Of Blues.  While dining on some delectable treats, I also got to meet some of our VIP's, representatives from the theatre, and enjoyed myself thoroughly.  We even got to meet a wonderful gentleman who had interviewed the Beatles on their first American tour....he offered us links to recordings of John Lennon doing some PSA's for his college radio station in Maryland, and even an interview he did with the band....pretty unreal.  I mean, I'm a Beatles fan, and a big one, but not as big as James and Patrick.  They were kinda freaking out.  After the festivities at HOB, we headed to a local place....the Local...strangely enough.  A big group of us hung out there for a while, meeting even more happy audience members (a little on the younger side), and just thoroughly enjoyed the rest of our night.  

On Wednesday morning I did a long overdue workout on the scenic third floor of our hotel.  From there, I walked around the Gaslamp District yet again, heading into the MAC store for some makeup; ah, the life of an actor.  Shortly after I left, I stumbled upon not only some amazing buildings, but the Gaslamp District Museum.  So, I went in and wandered around the house.  It was beautifully decorated, and in time for Christmas (in 1886 style, of course).  It had been quite a while since I had been in a museum like that.  I went home for a bit, and then headed to the Local to meet up with Suzi, a college friend I hadn't seen in over 15 years.  She got married recently, and had settled in San Diego a few years before; it was so great to be able to catch up but also to reminisce about old times in college.  I left her off at her car, and headed to the theatre for another great show.  I met up with a few of the boys after meeting a patron who knew Jerry Lee personally, and he was gracious enough to show John, Jennice and I some of his treasured vinyl and autographs.  After meeting at the Yard House, me and a few of the boys went out in search of some of San Diego's night life; we found some.....but were unimpressed.  We will leave it at that.....

I had the night off to look forward to on Thursday, so Frace and his cousin Robert and I took a short cab ride to the Old Town district of San Diego.  A bit like a less commercial version of Tombstone, AZ...but really quaint and cute.  A lot of local artisans and eateries....we trekked through town and made our way up a confusing and steep hill to see the Presidio.  Though it was beautiful to stand atop this gorgeous hill and look out upon the metropolis of San Diego, I was a bit disappointed that the museum on site was closed.  No matter.  We headed back into town and stopped at the Root Beer & Jerky though such a thing exists.  I found 2, count them 2 Maine root beers in store that I purchased, along with some Vegan jerky for the Franklin-Barry clan.  We made our way through town, and just as we were about to try and catch a cab, we decided to head into the free Sheriff's museum.  It may have been free, but it was REALLY interesting and fun!  We got the cab home, and we went our separate ways for a bit before the show.  As classy as our hotel was, they threw quite a big party that evening before we headed to work; Victorian garbed carolers at the entrance to the lobby, wassail, mulled wine, egg nog, carved turkey and roast beef, finger foods along with a small performance of the Nutcracker (which we had to miss, due to our call time).  After sampling some of what the hotel had to offer, I headed to work, fully prepared to take the night off.  Frace killed it once again, and afterward I met him, his cousin Robert, and mutual friend of ours I hadn't seen in years, Jonathan.  It was a grand night.

I got up bright and early on Friday with the motivation to send a small box home, and then head off to the world-famous San Diego Zoo.  Though it was quite pricey, it was easily the best and most stunning zoo I had ever been to.  A family could easily take 3 or 4 days to see the entire thing.  Sporting not only some amazing animals (see the baby panda above) but some challenging terrain, I really was thoroughly impressed, and spent over 4 hours there; easily the most time I have ever spent at a zoo.  I flagged a cab and headed home to chill a bit before the show that evening, where ANOTHER college friend, Bridget, was able to see the show!  We headed to the Local again that night to chat and catch up...yet another amazing night and time to catch up with dear friends from the past.    

I made the quick trip to the theatre on Saturday for our two shows.  David went on to play bass for both shows, and in between the theatre threw us a little BBQ in the Jam Room.  BBQ chicken, veggie burgers, some amazing beans and veggies.  And some of the best BBQ sauce I've ever had.  They even made us a cake!  After dinner I went home to chill before the second show and rest a bit.  Another amazing show that night, and a quick stop at the Local with a couple of the boys afterward.  

Sunday marked our last day of shows in San Diego, and Bradley went on for James for both shows, as he had taken a personal day to spend with his family.  Bradley did an amazing job both times, and it is pretty astounding the amount of improvement he makes each and every time he goes on.  He is a hard working, passionate guy.  Kudos, my friend.  A dear, dear friend of mine, Matt Ivey and his family were able to come to the matinee on that day.  Matt and I went to high school together for the first two years, and through playing baseball became very close.  I was pretty broken hearted when he and his family moved to Puerto Rico, but amazingly we have kept in touch pretty well throughout the years; which is pretty amazing considering we've been friends for 20 years, and he is in the Navy.  Nevertheless, it was great to catch up with him and his wife Haley whom I had met a couple of years ago....and finally meet his little boy Jack!  The. Cutest. Thing. Ever.  After dinner with them at Sushi Deli 2, I walked them to their car and prepared for the evening show.  I hated to tell James later....but it was easily the best audience of the week.  And Bradley ate it right up.  Following the show a bunch of people went out to celebrate Brad's day, and I joined for a bit; I was very interested in this place, The Tipsy Crow that they went to.  It has a Drink Exchange; sorta like the stock exchange....if everyone in the restaurant is order Coke, then the price of it will go up due to it's popularity, whereas if no one is drinking Diet Coke, it will be dirt cheap.  A pretty interesting concept...though not something I would want to deal with on a daily basis.  

I was so excited for Monday!!!  We very rarely get a full day off in a place without travel, let alone a cool city like San Diego after a great week of shows.  So, I slept in a bit, and after getting a quick bite and some coffee, I walked all the way down to the water to visit something I had been wanting to see ever since I had heard it was in SD: The USS Midway aircraft carrier.  I've been on quite a few ships actually; when I was in the Boy Scouts, my father and brother and I went with my troupe to Fall River, MA and actually slept on the battleship USS Massachusetts and toured the USS Lionfish submarine.  My brother has always been fascinated with military history, and by proxy I was too.  Still am.  My father served in the Navy in Vietnam, and his father was in the Marines in WWII.  I can't say we are "fans" of the military or war, but we certainly support our troops, and a lot of the history of warfare is quite interesting.  So, I spent a good 4 hours on that ship.  It's pretty amazing how much of it you can actually see.  There are over 20 planes and other aircraft in the hanger and on the deck, as well as displays all over the ship, a guided tour of the control tower, and a self-guided tour of the sleeping quartets, mess halls and multiple pilot ready rooms.  Just incredible and awe inspiring.  I could've stayed for longer than I did, but I was getting a little hungry and wanted to see some other sites.  Along the waterfront were a number of other ships, part of the San Diego Maritime Museum:  The Star Of India, a couple of submarines and other ships.  I walked nearly a mile from the Midway to a brewery that James suggested, Ballast Point Brewing Co.  It was a very pleasant walk though, as the temperature had risen that day.  On his suggestion, I tried (for the first time ANYWHERE) the fish tacos; I'm kinda against the idea of the dish on principal, but I gave in.  And though I don't think it is the type of thing I will have a lot, I will say I enjoyed them.  I sampled a couple of their beers, also on James' suggestion, which is not really the type of thing I do.  But, I really enjoyed myself, though I was by my lonesome, and when I was done I made the mile and half walk home to the hotel.  I was home at about 5, and after hanging in my room for quite a while and having a nice long convo with James, I met up with a few of the boys at a very chill place close by, El Dorado bar.  It was a great way to end and amazing week in San Diego.  

The next morning we did something we hadn't in quite a while......headed to an airport.  As I said, this blog is WAY overdue, so my final blog before the Christmas break will be riding on this blog's coattails.  Thanks for tuning in, and I hope you enjoy this week's tale!  More from the Pacific Northwest in my next installment!

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