Sunday, May 24, 2009

A long recap of a long week

Well, I suppose I should get around to doing this. I've had a difficult time getting back into the swing of things. I've been trying to catch up with everyone, but that's an ongoing project! This trip was a great time! Not just the concert, but catching up with the Indy girls, too! Throw in a quick meeting with a couple of other bloggers, PLUS a surprise meeting, and you get a fun and exciting week! And tiring, but I think I'm back on track in that regard. I think the best way to do this is chronologically, so here goes!

MONDAY - I had to drive 3 1/2 hours
to Billings to catch my flight. Considering that plane tickets to Indy cost about $300 more from anywhere else in MT, it's definitely worth the drive! And it gave me the chance to stop in at one of those big warehouse stores (this one rhymes roughly with "Rosco") to see former HNTer and fellow Montanan No One Special (once known as Alien Autopsy). The last time I came through town unannounced and dropped in, she had left work to take care of her appendicitis, so this was much better! Didn't have much time, since I had a plane to catch, but we had a nice quick talk! Rest of the day/night was fairly uneventful, but I did have to fork out $40 for a cab from the airport to the hotel because there's no shuttle or bus service late at night. Ouch!

TUESDAY - Concert Day! And the official anniversary date for HNT. Thanks to all who left congrats and all, but like I said--it's not me, but you guys that should get the congratulations! I'm just the big cheerleader on the sidelines rooting it on!

I met up with NY Diva and Living Diary for lunch at one of the brewhouses downtown. I got there early, so of course, ordered a beer while waiting. I quickly became aware that 11:30 AM in Indy is the same as 9:30 AM Montana time. The time difference raised its ugly little head a couple of times during the week... After lunch, they had to go back to work, so I waited for M to show up. She shows, and we head to the concert.

The doors hadn't opened yet when we got there, which gave M the opportunity to take a picture of the local police force. Apparently they wear naughty boots and provide handcuffs. Who knew?!? (click 'em to big 'em). Being in the door early allowed us to partake in a drink or two (which was another theme to the week...). It filled slowly, but eventually, the place was filled to the rafters. Sold out. We had seats on the floor, maybe 25-30 rows back. Possibly closer. No one obnoxious around us, and no one really terribly tall in front of us. We didn't have the benefit of the video screens, but we really didn't need them. They were on the basketball scoreboard directly above us, and we would eventually look up on occasion, particularly to watch their fingers flying across the keyboard. Everything was set. Then 7:30 hit.

Elton and Billy walk on from opposite ends of the stage, while two grand pianos are lifted by hydraulics to the stage. The first 6-8 songs are primarily ballads, alternating between each of their hits, alternating verses and solos. They were joined by individuals of their own bands to fill out the rhythm section, but it was definitely their moment to shine. The lights go down, hydraulics take Billy's piano down while raising Elton's drummer, keyboard player, etc., and he starts his set. His show didn't change a great deal from when I saw him in Missoula a year ago. Not much audience interaction, and he started out somewhat subdued. But by the end of his set, he was rocking out pretty good. Still can't hit the high notes, though he attempted a few more than a year ago. M, on the other hand, was singing to everything. In Missoula, I sat up high, so was above the sound, so I got to hear all of the audience singing along. This time, we were in the midst of the sound, so the audience singing wasn't even noticeable. Which is why M was singing out loud! And everyone was singing! And enjoying the evening. Including the 80 year old grandmother who was dancing and rocking out in the aisle!

It took all of two minutes for the stage change for Billy's band to hydraulically replace Elton's, and we were off to the races again! A much different personality than Elton. He talked between songs, introduced all the members of his band, and there was no question that the man was raised in NYC! Whereas Elton's voice has aged, Billy's isn't much different than the old days. And he doesn't just sit at the piano. He grabbed a guitar for "We Didn't Start the Fire", and then sang from mid-stage with just a mike stand. This set up the finale.

After another incredibly brief blackout, both full bands are back onstage, and they rock out on another 6-8 hits, throwing in a little bit of the Beatles, for good measure. Then the stage empties, except for the two of them, and they end together with "Candle in the Wind", and "Piano Man". The lights come up, and it's 11:10 PM. Over 3 1/2 hours of music!

On the way back, we passed Howl At the Moon, a bar with dueling pianos. I'm a sucker for that sort of thing. Either that or the bucket of 5 beers for $5. Maybe both...
I've been to a few dueling piano bars, but this one was different, because there were 5 different players, they were all in their twenties, and when they weren't playing piano, they'd jump in on bass, drums, or a solo instrument such as fiddle or sax. And they all sang. Well. After a few requests, a couple of buckets, and a few drinks, we ended up closing down the place. Must have been some time past 2AM, I think. And thus endeth Tuesday.

WEDNESDAY - Met up with M's sister, Diva and L.D. for lunch at Hooters. Her sister had to leave before we got the picture taken. The guys at the next table should have bought our lunch. The petite blond Hooters girl that took the picture stood up on a stool, and for whatever reason, had to stick her butt out to do it. I'm thinking just to balance. But everyone of them was watching her. Just to make sure she didn't fall, I'm sure...

We met up again for dinner and then drinks to celebrate Diva's birthday (last Sunday). Diva's friend, Sista Diva, joined us for a bit, then drove us to Diva's car where got on-site instruction on how to replace a flat tire. We then hit Jillian's for the drinks. I continued on with the beer theme, while the ladies experimented with various colorful fruity drinks. We closed down this bar too, but at a much earlier hour which was good, because...

THURSDAY - Time to go home. I had a 7AM flight, which means I was up at 5AM. Eastern time. M drove me to the airport. She's not a morning person. By any stretch of the imagination. Plus she might have been nursing a bit of a hangover. :-) I, on the other hand, felt great, other than being quite tired from a long couple of days. My return flight took me from Indy to Chicago to Denver to Billings. The Indy/Chicago trip is too short to try to nap. My best bet would be the second leg to Denver, but I ended up seated next to a chatter. I even mentioned that I'd been out drinking the night before ("Oh, do I need to worry about you getting sick?"), and I had my earbuds in, but that didn't stop her. So no sleep there.

I had an almost 4 hour layover in Denver, so I had gotten in touch with Vixen to see if she wanted to meet for lunch. She accepted, and we met at the Boulder Beer Tap House on the public side of the terminal. We had a lovely time, though I was probably fairly incoherent the entire time, trying not to yawn in her face. We had an overly friendly waitress who was trying to get me drunk, sampling all the beers they had on tap. The time passed quickly, and it was time to go. I still had 45 minutes before my plane was to depart. So we say our goodbyes, and I go around the corner to go through security. OMG! It took no time at all for me to realize that if I was going to catch my flight, it would be by jumping through the hatch as the plane pulls away from the concourse. Short story...I missed my flight. I kicked myself, then accepted the fact that hundreds, if not thousands of people miss flights every day. So I go sign up for standby and sulk. Maybe I can nap now!!

Fate is a funny, fickle thing. Sometimes for something good. A bunch of unrelated, uncontrollable events that culminate in a nice surprise. Last week, I uploaded the mobile Facebook app for my iPod. The Denver airport has free wi-fi. I missed my flight and have nothing to do. I get on FB and see that one of my FB friends leaves the following status: "I'm in Denver and I'm not impressed." Cool! I ask where she's at, figuring downtown or something. "B46". One gate away from my missed fight! I hustle down as fast as my stubby legs, blistered heel and funny floor escalator can take me so I can meet Wendy, whose airplane's potty had a malfunction and they were waiting for a new plane! This was, by far, the most bizarre circumstance to meet to date! We ducked into some small eating establishment to chat for a bit. This time, I left earlier, as I didn't want to miss another flight. Even if I lost my nice cushy plane for the cramped seat on a puddlejumper. The rest of the day was pretty normal. I still had the drive back home, and got in sometime between 11:30 and midnight. And didn't get to bed until about an hour later. The end of a long day and long week.

Would I do it again? Without question! This wasn't so much a blogger meet-up, as it was meeting up with bloggers while I was around. A great concert, wonderful company all week, and in spite of the travel problem, a fun time! Sorry this ran long, but I had to do it all at once. Hope you're all enjoying your weekend!

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