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Hanson Day Tulsa 2019

Last month I made my 11th trip to Tulsa for a Hanson Members Only Event.  This one was a little bit different from the rest because we would get FOUR consecutive nights of music and I’d also be hitting my 200th show while there. :-O

I opted to try Westchester airport this time to see how things went not for a work trip.  The way there was perfect – I had a layover in Chicago and got to Tulsa without any problems. My room was ready when I arrived and was facing Main St – but was too far down to actually be able to see the Hop Jam stage from it.  I met up with some friends and we grabbed lunch and then went to the “pop up” registration that ended up happening.

Thursday morning we got in line early for the store – but still had to wait 4 hours.  I started feeling like I was going to pass out minutes before it was time for us to pay (an hour after placing our order!) but fortunately my friends were around to help me out and things were ok after that.  We ordered some lunch, headed to our volunteer shift and then it was time for the “Storytellers” show. I’m not sure they quite understand what “storytellers” means as they don’t often tell stories – but they did theme it to the Underneath Acoustic/Underneath tours since it is the 15th anniversary of that album this year.  And in a rare and special treat, Isaac ended up playing the cello on Underneath!   After the show it was time for karaoke but with both of us feeling less than stellar we weren’t able to make it through the full event. (And it was a lot more fun last year with Mac co-hosting)

Friday morning we got in line for group photos and then had time to actually get a meal before our Edible Digital Pants listening session.  After that we went to painting.  I wasn’t too thrilled with the painting chosen for us this year, and I’m not sure I would have bought tickets if I knew what it was going to be ahead of time but ended up having a lot of fun (once again) with the whole painting process.  After painting we went to Buck Atom’s on Route 66 and got our String Theory Galactic Space Sandwiches that were very good but perhaps a little bit too big of a serving.  That evening was the String Theory show and also my 200th show. I even made myself a brag sash for the occasion.  After the show we hit up Hurts Donuts and got their Peanut Butter Cup stuffed donut as well as a few others.  The peanut butter stuffed was underwhelming but I did enjoy a couple of the others we had gotten. Then we hit up the after party with DJ Taylor.  They were handing out heads of each of the band members on the way in and the song list was requested to Taylor in advance and I guess that was all that was needed to have a really fun time – we made it all the way to the end of the event! Woo! Maybe we’re not so old after all 😉

Saturday it was absolutely pouring rain and storming so we opted to skip going to the gallery.  I didn’t end up making it inside at all, sadly.  We had our Street Team Leaders lunch and then I had a volunteer shift until the Members Only Concert started.  Before the show the guys had their “state of the band” where they announced what would be coming up in the future for HANSON.  The big excitement was that they are working on not one but TWO new albums and hope to release them in 2020 and 2021.  The first album will hopefully get some preview shows later this year and then kick off one of their most comprehensive world tours.  Now I’m not so sad I can’t make it to Disney anymore because hopefully I will get to hit a few shows on this tour (and maybe another new state or two?)  After the show we skipped the Firkin Feast and just went to sleep early as Hop Jam was the next day and is exhausting.

Sunday we did our volunteer thing for Hop Jam and I wanted to check out most of the performers, and that I did.  Unfortunately the ADA section got combined with Music VIP and then once Hanson took the stage everyone stood.  I either had to sit there and be claustrophobic (not something I wanted to do with the near passing out/potential panic attack a couple days before) or attempt to stand for most of the show (also not ideal)  So I ended up standing up, taking a couple close up photos and heading over to Mexicali’s to sit along the wall.  Apparently I should have been saving my spot all day and not volunteering to ensure I was in the front of ADA.  Oh well, I’ll try better next year. Anyway… Phantom Planet had a surprise guest – Darren Criss from Glee – I knew he was a Hanson fan but apparently he is an even bigger Phantom Planet fan and had to come in to see their reunion show.  I had never seen PP before but thoroughly enjoyed them!

It was on Sunday we were realizing that the weather on Monday for our flights home was going to be BAD with the possibility of many tornadoes coming through.  My flight out was 3pm so we were just hoping that we could get out before the storms hit.  Fortunately we were able to get out – but when we landed in Charlotte, we had to deplane via the stairs.  I waited until the end and it was terrifying, fortunately I had a friend on the flight ready and willing to help me out.  She also made sure I got to my next gate.  I then realized that we would have to do stairs – AGAIN!  With no one to help me I said I wouldn’t be able to do the stairs so they said they would put a ramp up after everyone boarded.  No pre-boarding perks but fortunately there was still room for my bag when I got on and when we landed back in NY the ramp was up for *everyone* (as it should be!)  But we weren’t at a gate and there was no wheelchair so I had to lug my way too heavy on the day after Hop Jam backpack back to the terminal.  Not sure that I’ll be flying out of Westchester again for fear of that happening again or I’ll just have to be more demanding for assistance.

And it took me so long to put this review together, RSVP is already up for Hanson Day 2020!  I’m hoping to attend once again 🙂

 

 

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Australia ’19 – Travel Home

My flight home we all headed to the airport. While checking in the woman thought my carry on looked heavy and made us weigh it. It looked bulky because my travel pillow was in it, but i was super careful to weigh everything and stay below the limits. Then the woman decided to change all my seats and not tell me she did or why. (Seats i had paid extra to specifically choose) we got to the gate and got my long haul flight changed back to the seat by the restroom, where I would have the entire row to myself. I didnt realize she also changed my flight from Brisbane to Sydney to a middle aisle seat from my preferred window seat. Grrr.

Getting a wheelchair to swap from domestic to international was not a 30 minute wait and made getting to the other gate a breeze! Too bad i couldnt have done it on the way in as well. I was interviewed by security and they once again considered changing my seat. I protested because I wanted to be by the restroom only for the couple next to me to have to wife upgraded to first class. Ill never know if that would have been offered to me instead if I kept my mouth shut. (Also customs asked “what’s wrong with Australia?” When I said nothing but I had to go back to work he said “your wish is my command, you can go back to work”)

I had preordered dinner so they brought it to me early which was good, I hadnt fallen asleep yet! I watched a star is born but must’ve fell asleep several times as there were a lot of holes in the storyline as I continued watching.  I ended up making a lounger of sorts but was bummed when I realized the arm rests did not go up all the way so I couldn’t sleep across the seats as I had been envisioning. Still, leaning against the window with my legs across was much more comfortable than sleeping fully upright in a seat.

I made it to Dallas where I had a 7 hour layover. They brought me to terminal c which was a lot less exciting and a lot less outlets than the international terminal. Then my flight moved to A. I asked for help but was told to take the skyline but I didnt know if I couldnt handle that without help. But when every cart going by was full, I attempted the skyline and was fine on my own.

I asked for a wheelchair for when we landed and not only was it not there, the woman at the gate said if I couldn’t lift my bag (which looked “heavy”) they wouldnt help me. I assured her if I decided to put it overhead and not under my seat I’d have no problem lifting it. Do I look weak? Does the bag look that gigantic? Sheesh!

 

Oh also of note I took some PM pills to help me sleep… a few minutes after I started getting drowsy I *swear* a flight attendant told me to “put the shade down for sleepy time and if they need to go up they have robots” at the time I assumed theyd automatically go back up but now I’m not sure that was what he told me at all…

It was another long day of travel and I landed at 1am est… drove home without a problem and then had to figure out how to get myself back on a normal sleep schedule… which was not easy.

 

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Australia ’19 – Queensland

Our last bit of trip was Queensland. Nat and I flew from Canberra to Brisbane where I got to take a lift off the plane instead of the stairs. Then we rode in a buggy (aka stretch golf cart wrapped in plastic that made it very hot). Catherine found us and we were off to Lone Pine koala sanctuary.

We did the koala photos first thing as koalas can only be out for about 30 mins a day and once they decide they are done with photos that is it. Since I once again did the photo sitting down we needed a special koala. They grabbed Sprocket… who pooped on me. I am now 2 for 2 with koala poo. We enjoyed lone pine a lot more that the australia zoo which is where we went last trip for all our koala needs.

After we had seen enough we headed to gold coast where we stopped at Yatala Pies for lunch. I had a steak and mushroom and a creaming soda which I had enjoyed last visit as well. (And on the way there I decided to change out of my poop shirt only to take it off right as we had driven under a toll camera!)

We got back to the casino and our favorite talking elevator and got ready for the show – these were the tickets i was in charge of buying and we ended up front row by Taylor. Near the end everyone rushed the stage. I stayed put but Taylor kept singing to me – probably to make sure I was doing ok with the rush of people. (I was.)

Of note… Zac caught the mic when Isaac nearly knocked it over after Siren Call. The next night in Brisbane he almost did it again, and Zac was once again prepared to catch it.

The next day we went to the mall and picked out our pandora charms for the tour. (I really need to find the charms I got last tour to add them!) We got an astronuat and were told brisbane had 11 of the other charm we wanted – we got there only to find they had 0! We got some krispy kreme and headed to the beach for a bit then to brisbane for the last show 🙁 we had 4th row this time.

After having no luck at the stage door we rode the Brisbane Eye which as most of these tend to do, went around just a few too many times for our liking. We did see Hansons photo at the end though!

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Australia ’19 – Canberra

Next up was back to Canberra. This ended up being my 600th show! (Ever. Not just Hanson!) For this show we were 2nd row center and both Isaac and Zac spotted and acknowledged us. After the show all 3 came out, i missed Isaac (who was quickly escorted away when he began to sneeze) but got Zac and Taylor to sign my poster as well as a photo with Taylor who commentef that I was a ways from home before taking it. We drove by the tower at night to try and catch a glimpse of the city at night.

The next day we had an off day so we took a trip to the mint to see where the coins get made and even pressed our own 1 dollar coin (for the low price of 3 dollars!) But it was cool to watch it get struck. There were also a lot of examples of coin related oopsies which were cool to see!

We also got the chance to see some kangaroos in the wild when they showed up in the backyard!

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Australia ’19 – Melbourne

We ended up driving past the Melbourne Zoo where the shows were being held to see how the line was doing in the heat (it was 102 degrees at one point) and found out they were giving out tickets with numbers so we grabbed some and then headed to the apartment to hang out before we needed to be back at the Zoo for the concert.   I was trying so hard not to sleep so I could try to switch over to Australia time but there were moments when I just wanted to nap (but knew I’d never wake up if I did and would throw everything off.)  The first night we ended up in the front row and it was your basic rock set from the guys.  It was hot, hot, hot and it rained a bit as well.

The next day in Melbourne we opted to visit the Zoo thinking we’d catch a glimpse of soundcheck, but they were on to us and didn’t do anything until the Zoo had to clear out for the evening.  I was able to get some pressed pennies at the Zoo and we saw some butterflies, elephants and an orangutan that ran away once we walked in the room.  We ended up calling Uber Eats for burritos before we went in side but had such drama with security we weren’t even hungry once we got in.  Basically security told us we could go up first – even though that’s not how things worked the night before.  Then we got kicked out and then we were told we couldn’t go the way we did and then everyone else was being let in and then they told us we could go where we were and AHHHH.  Long story short we still ended up in a decent spot but the drama was not needed.  Nat ended up talking to head of security who wanted her to tell people not to block the gate after the show waiting for the guys (we weren’t in that mess the night before so I could sleep) and she jokingly told him to stick the dumb security guard out there tonight – and long story short – we cracked up when we got outside and who was guarding the gate? haha.

The second Zoo show they mixed up the setlist and also had more tech issues than I had ever seen in a show.  It kind of made it feel like BTTI because they were making up songs about Koalas and Wombats while their tech was crawling under Taylor’s piano to try and fix things.   And at one point they were ready to start a song and Isaac said, “not yet fellas”, always kind of nice to see that they are real and not robots since they are usually so “on”, on stage.

At the end of the show Taylor ended up making quite an effort to grab my hand. Everyone got a kick out of that.  We did wait outside – which led to the great Aluminium va Aluminum debate that continued on for the rest of the trip.  All we saw were the guys drive off in their van though, they didn’t stop or come out for photos/autographs.

Then it was time to get some sleep and head off to Canberra for the night!

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Australia ’19 – Travel There

After missing my flight to Sydney on my last trip to Australia and losing a day, this trip I decided to book a crazy layover instead to ensure that I made it.  I had a 6am-10am flight from Hartford to Dallas – where I had to attempt to buy NPH tickets for his book talk while in the sky. (Turns out they did sell out but not nearly as quickly as I thought, so I had plenty of time to buy them once I landed but had I waited they would have sold out in 5 minutes I am sure.)

When I landed, everyone at the airport thought I was nuts because I had a 10 hour layover.  I supposed I could have found something to do in Dallas for most of that time but didn’t want to risk anything so I was dropped off at the gate where I’d be departing for Sydney and sat by an outlet. I read 3 books (the only books I read the whole trip, so much for bringing my Kindle along) and found a nearby sit-down Mexican restaurant for lunch/dinner/whatever.

Finally it was time to board to Sydney and we were told that the flight time was going to end up being 15 hours and 55 minutes instead of 17 hours and 10 minutes.  Everyone cheered as if that made a HUGE difference in the massive flight we had ahead of us.  They boarded us 30 minutes late so that we wouldn’t end up landing in Sydney before 6am because they had a ban on landing before then and we didn’t want to circle either.

When I got on board, I started watching Bohemian Rhapsody, but fell asleep about half way in.  Later in the flight I woke up and watched the rest although I am sure there are parts I missed from being in and out of consciousness.  This led to me having Queen songs stuck in my head for the majority of the trip, but I’m not complaining.  There also was no one in the seat in the middle of my row, which made spreading out for me and the girl next to the window a lot easier and more comfortable. (I opted for Economy versus Premium Economy this trip to save some money and it worked out much better than the last trip and for about 1/3 of the cost.)

When we got off the plane, I had to wait for a wheelchair and then was told it would be a 30 minute wait for a chair to take me to my departing gate – but my flight was going to be taking off in about 20 minutes.  I was able to “cut” the customs line with a group of other disabled ladies that had just gotten off the plane and was taking a bus from the international terminal to the domestic with about 5 minutes before boarding was set to begin.  Of course, the furthest gate ever was where I needed to hustle to.  The signs all said to get to the gate and were blinking but when I got there – no one was boarding yet. PHEW.  I took a seat and attempted to get a WiFi connection to let me friend Nat know I had made it to Australia and would be seeing her soon – but couldn’t connect.  Nearly as soon as I sat they said the engineer had arrived (me?! lol) and they could board us.  My ticket was from the US so the gate agent asked where I had come from and I said the States – she asked if I could beat Florida and I said – yes I was from north of florida.  She ended up also being a flight attendant and gave me a pillow for the flight since I had traveled so far!

Finally we landed in Melbourne and I headed to baggage claim.  Again, the WiFi wasn’t connecting and I was hoping this would not be a theme for the trip (I am addicted to my phone.) but I ended up finding Nat, Shiree and Tiffany without WiFi and we grabbed my bag and headed to the apartment we’d be staying in for the next couple of days.  They weren’t ready for us yet so we went shopping at Coles – not to be confused with Kohls in the US – for some snacks and things for the apartment.

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Pittsburgh – Travel and Sightseeing

I am going to split my Pittsburgh post in 2 because if not it will be a post of travel woes with 2 sentences about the Hanson show and the Hanson show deserves a bit more recognition than that.  If you are trying to remain spoiler free for the Hanson String Theory tour – this post is safe! (The next one will not be.)

My flight to Pittsburgh was taking off just before 6am and I wanted to leave my house at 2:30am to give myself plenty of time to get through security.  Well, I set 3 alarms and slept through all of them and ended up waking up at 3:19am, essentially ran down the stairs and sped the whole way up to the airport, getting to the gate with about 15 minutes to spare before boarding.  I know a lot of people do this as their norm, but I think I’d much rather stick to my “I have an hour or more to kill sitting here” routine.  The other downside was both of my flights (Hartford to Baltimore and Baltimore to Pittsburgh) were less than an hour so getting to sleep was made difficult because by the time I actually fell asleep we were landing.

As I jumped into a Lyft at the airport, Zac posted on Instagram that they were doing a TV appearance and the station was right behind our hotel. I dropped my stuff off and we went to wait outside, but after waiting about an hour or so and no sign of them we decided it was time to get our sightseeing on.

 

Our first stop was the Andy Warhol museum.  The admission price of $20 seemed a bit steep for what it was, but we had a lot of fun exploring the several floors of artwork (and waiting 8 years for the elevator in between) and checking everything out.  There were some String Theory appropriate artwork, some not appropriate artwork, and my favorite was “Flowers”.  We had hoped to be able to do some screen printing but they didn’t open until 1:30 and we were ready to go and eat about noon.

We stopped at a local brewery for lunch across the street from PNC Park (a bucketlist venue, I was hoping for a Thursday afternoon game so I could check it out, but it was an off day instead) I got 4 cheese mac & cheese with chicken and it was not as tasty as I was hoping!

Next up was Randyland which is a home that was purchased by an artist named Randy who painted and adds all sorts of different objects to the house and yard.  It’s hard to explain but vibrant and colorful and you really can’t help but smile when you visit.  The problem of this trip was that I did not have any small bills so I couldn’t leave a donation for Randy.  He needs to accept some online or have a credit card swiper!

 

Next up we decided to ride the Duquense Incline.  Because riding it from the bottom has stairs, we started at the top and the observation deck (and 2 penny machines I was not prepared for, but managed to get 1 design from each) and rode it down and then back up.  The reviews where they say the person taking admission is rude are true… not sure why that was needed to add to the “experience” but after some confusion we made our way back up to the top again.  The car was cool and it was a neat experience, and the driveway was as smooth as scotch; and I am guessing that they got it sealcoated using resources from a reliable agency (learn more at HANOVER-SEALCOATING.COM)…but really, a little politeness to confused tourists goes a long way. I wish we had rented a flatbed truck (https://flexfleetrental.com/get-flatbed-truck-rental/) as it would save a lot of trouble.

–Then we took a break to go see Hanson… see next post for the details there—

Our post show meal was at Primanti Brothers, where they put French fries on their sandwiches. Those of us who opted to go for sandwiches all got the corned beef.  It was good, it was messy.  Then they completely charged our credit cards for the wrong orders and had to get everything resorted lol

Friday we continued our tour and headed to Pamela’s Diner which was difficult to get to due to construction, but worth the effort. There was about 8 people in front of us for tables but it moved quickly and I think we both enjoyed our brunch.

Next up we went to the Center for Learning which looks like Hogwarts inside and explored, attempting to cast spells, and got stuck in an elevator.

We went back to the hotel to relax and then my trouble began.  First, my Lyft couldn’t seem to get to me. They ended up finding someone else who was close by to grab me, and I fell down the curb cutting myself up on the way to the car.  The driver handed me some napkins and all was well… then his glasses fell from the visor on to me mid ride scaring the crap out of me and then cracking me up.  I got to the gate with 1 hour to spare before boarding and was getting ready for my 4 hour layover in Baltimore…

All morning the flight time was jumping around from 5:55 to 6:20 to 6:10 to 6:05.  Shortly after I arrived it got bumped to 10:55 which meant I would miss my layover. I was put on an 8am flight back to Hartford but I started looking for cars since I didn’t have much faith that the flight would EVER take off.  Most did not have any one way rentals available.  Finally I found one and was heading down to the rental counter.  I checked my phone and it said that the flight would now be taking off at 6:30 PM.  It was 6:15 PM.  I raced back to security, managed to be one of the only ones at pre-check, hustled to the gate, asked if I missed the flight only to be told it was now leaving at 8:30pm.  Well, now I WOULD make my layover… got in line again and was told there were no longer any seats left on that flight and I’d have to try and fly standby. I tried to cancel the car rental, assuming we would be leaving at 8:30… grabbed a snack from Auntie Anne’s Pretzels only to hear a collective “UGH ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” and the flight had once again gotten bumped to leaving at 11pm.  I confirmed with my friend I could crash at her house for the night in PA and made my way to pick up my rental car.  I left the airport at 8pm (when I probably could have left at 6pm if they’d stop… stringing me along…) and pulled into my friend’s driveway at 11:04pm.  The flight ended up taking off. At 11:04pm.    So I had to drive 8 hours home but was able to spend the night with a friend and in a bed instead of in the airport on the floor or in a chair getting home about 10am versus having to head straight to the casino for Jason Mraz… but I think taking my fate into my own hands was the right decision since the weather and Baltimore couldn’t seem to make up their mind…

I’d love to go back to Pittsburgh because I really want to see a game at PNC Park but I am not sure it will be this baseball season… and maybe next season will be out as well until I forget about this nightmare of a trip home! (Or maybe I’ll just have to suck it up and drive the whole way instead)

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Hanson Day Tulsa 2018

2018 Hanson Day was my 10th trip to Tulsa, OK to see Hanson.  When I first started planning my trip back in 2009 I am pretty sure I billed it as a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance to experience their home town.  In 2009 they recorded the Stand Up, Stand Up EP and there really weren’t any other events.  10 years later (and not really ‘consecutive hanson day’ events either – since 2010 was a Halloween event!) and it is fascinating to see not only how the Hanson event and activities have grown, but how Tulsa has continued to grow and flourish.

My trip started with some excitement. I had only 40 minutes to get off my plane from Hartford and onto my flight to Tulsa in Dallas.  When my shoes set off the metal detector upon arrival in Hartford, my gate was the furthest away and every flight around me was getting delayed due to weather, I was hoping I’d still make it and all the drama was working itself out early.  When the pilot came on and said we would be delayed 10 minutes because of weather and he hoped to make up the time during the flight but before landing told us we would be 5-8 minutes late, I started mentally preparing myself to drive from Dallas to Tulsa.  And when the jet bridge wouldn’t move to connect to the plane, I thought that any chance I had of making it was over. When we landed I was at the mercy of the wheelchair pusher. I informed him my flight was taking off VERY soon and let’s see if we could make it.  He was being thoroughly pessimistic about the whole thing – and then informed me that gate A8 was THE. LAST. GATE. In A.  Yet somehow, despite hearing “Flight 299 to Tulsa, you need to be on the plane NOW” we made it – and I wasn’t even the last one to board the plane.  Thanks American Airlines for holding that flight because if not it would have been Strike 3 for you.  (When I booked the flight it was an hour or so layover and they changed it on me)

Thursday morning our day kicked off waiting outside Ida Red to pick up an Albertane Tour 20th anniversary pint glass and try the special drink they had come up with.  After that we got our Hanson.net wristbands and hopped in line for the store.  I spent a new record amount of money, but in my defense I was picking up merch for 3 others in addition to myself.  Once you take out their totals,  I was pretty much on pace for my usual amount, despite being a bit underwhelmed with the merch this year. (But I’ll confess, that $100 blanket is beautiful and I can’t wait to put it on my bed.) Then there was some eating, some volunteering, some more eating and then it was time for some karaoke – where facebook and snapchat filters set me into a fit of hysterics.  Maybe I needed some sleep…

Friday we got I line for the gallery pretty early, and while there were some original paintings left by the time I entered, I opted to get a couple of prints instead. We also participated in the String Theory ball of yarn.  After the gallery it was time for group photos, so we headed down to Cain’s Ballroom for that.  We stopped at Prairie Brewpub for my first visit before getting ready for the Storytellers concert.  I was pretty nervous that they were going to play With You In Your Dreams and my fears came true when Taylor started mentioning that they wanted us to sing in a chorus.  The setlist was Albertane Tour throwback (and Money was a song I had never heard them perform live before) and I liked that they “themed” it to a 20th anniversary – but… I can really do without WYIYD for the foreseeable future.  Then it was time for the ST Leaders dinner where my cane almost took someone out… and I realized that IPA Cheddar Burger meant that the cheese had the beer in it… and was gross.  I ended up falling asleep instead of going to Taylor’s Dance Party that night. Oops.

Saturday we had a later day, starting off with the Listening Party of Zac’s special music project “The Machine”, it was definitely interesting… then we headed off to Pinot’s Pallette where we painted our own version of Zac’s pansy painting from the gallery.  I went roque – from the moment the instructor said “paint your canvas light blue” and mine was light orange.   I did a mixture of oranges, yellows and reds for my pansy.  It probably could have used more yellow, but overall it came out pretty good.  That night was the full Members Only Concert and I was really digging the 100% members only song setlist – until it got to the solos and then it kind of lost me… and then they played Where’s the Love which I love but am a bit sick of. (Honestly though I know I complain about the setlists but I’d rather be at a Hanson show with a (imo) lame setlist than pretty much anywhere else in the world. So.) After the concert we rushed off to Firkin Feast – and after the gross burger the night before I was wondering what I had gotten myself into, but I actually enjoyed 2 of the 4 beers that they offered after thinking I would never find a beer I would actually like, so that was a plus, and despite the menu not being at ALL what I would ever choose to eat, I ate each of my courses in its entirety and enjoyed it!

Sunday was The Hop Jam Beer & Music Festival.  Hanson wasn’t performing, which made things a bit less hectic and crowded.  I volunteered handing out fliers at the entrance with a great group of security guys (way better than the group I was with last year) and still had a chance to check out Paul McDonald’s set from my hotel room and some of Manchester Orchestra’s as well.  I was also pretty close to Guthrie Green which had the local bands playing and was pretty impressed with what I heard from there as well.

Monday it was time to go and my flight home was pretty uneventful except for the fact that the best flight I could get home for points on Southwest was to take a detour to Denver with a 4 hour layover.  I can’t complain, it was only $6 and I got to have a delicious Einstein Mac & Cheese bagel!

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Happy Flight Plane Travel Passport Protector

Coming up in just a few months I will be taking a crazy trip half way across the world to see Hanson in Australia and New Zealand! Since I have already started mentally packing you will see some of the travel items I will be taking with me coming up as blog posts.  Of course in order to take a trip to a new country (or two!) you need to have your passport.  I chose to use the USPS passport location closest to me to get my passport renewed. I have always had good exepeiences with them. One thing I have not yet done is travel with a passport cover, but for this trip I figured, why not?

Heads Outlet USA on Amazon has several options available – I opted to go with the blue option, although it looked a bit more on the teal side on their website and is a bit darker now that it has arrived. (And it was also addressed to a name that was not me so I am not sure what happened there with Amazon fulfillment)  There is a happy plane on the front cover along with the text of several cities that you might want to take a trip to – I was happy to see that Sydney, one of the stops on my trip, was included! I guess now I just have to work on hitting up all the others that are listed as well in future trips!

The passport cover is very stylish and durable. It is available in several vibrant covers to keep your passport protected and looking great. It even includes an extra pocket for your boarding pass.  On the inside there is a slip-in compartment and on the right two full length slots giving you room for your passport and extra notes or documents you want to have handy.  The bright colors will make it easy to spot in your bag or to avoid leaving it behind.

I thought that the material it is made out of might have made it slippery, but I was able to keep a good grip of it in my hand when I was trying it out. It is also water resistant and you can wipe it off easily if you happen to spill something on it when traveling – or in my case someone else happens to spill something on you when you are traveling!

I received this product at a discount in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

 

 

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So You Want To Go To BTTI?

SoYouWantToGoToBTTI

With 2017’s Back To The Island announced, I figured I should put something together like I did for MOE.

Back To The Island is a 5 day, 4 night event in Runaway Bay, Jamaica and Jewel Paradise Cove.  2017 will be the second year the event is held at this resort.  In order to go, you must be a Hanson.net member.  If you are not yet, join now!  (Your membership needs to be valid through the trip dates so if you join now you’ll be set.)

When Should I Come?

Definitely as early as you can on the 4th if you can’t add extra days.  If you can add an extra day before the event you’ll be golden, but it is not required.  The first day the only activity is checking in to get your group assignment and merch and then the Hanson concert that night (assume a 9 or 10pm start time)

How Long Does It Take To Get To The Resort?

I’d budget at least 3 hours from the time you land to get through customs, immigration and get your shuttle to the resort.  I personally like to land around noon – 1pm if I can.

What Airport Do I Fly To?

Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ) is the only airport that has the provided shuttles to the resort. The shuttle ride is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Can I Come Early And Stay At A Different Resort?

Yes, but you will have to figure out how to get from that resort to Jewel Paradise Cove for the event, as Island Gigs will only take care of shuttles upon arrival at MBJ. (If anyone who did this in 2016 can comment with how you worked it out, it would be appreciated)

When Should I Leave?

Keep in mind the last night that Taylor’s after party will probably go until 2am, give or take.  Shuttles to the airport leave roughly 4 hours before your flight (I had a 1:10pm flight and was on an 8:50am shuttle – shuttles seem to leave every hour).  If you can’t add an extra day on at the end, try to book your flight as late as you can if you don’t want an early wake up call.  Or book an early flight and leave right after the after party!

What Are The Add On Activities and How Much Are They?

Island Gigs generally schedules 2 excursions for each trip, but does not announce them until much closer to the trip dates (December).  This year it was a tour of Nine Mile – Bob Marley’s birth and resting place as well as a trip to Dunn’s River Falls to climb water falls.  The past couple of years we were only able to choose 1 of the excursions due to scheduling conflicts if not.  The excursions were $50-$60.  The hotel also offered booking for excursions as well which you might want to look into if you add extra days. [Edit: it looks like these can be booked when booking your trip for 2017]

What Are the Concerts Like?

There will be 3 Hanson concerts, on the first night, the second night and the last night.  These are full sets and voting for themes will be happening in March.  Each Hanson will also do a solo set of about 45 minutes.  The second to last night will be the special guests concert.

How Do Group Assignments Work?

Red or Green passes are handed out when you check in with Island Gigs and pick up your merch package.  Typically all of one color is given out first then the second color.  In instances when excursions interfere with group activities you will be placed in a group that will not cause interference. If you want to be in the same group as your friends, try to check in at the same time.  Island Gigs typically does not allow you to change colors, however if you can organize it on your own amongst other fans you can switch.

What Does the Schedule Typically Look Like?

For an idea, this was the 2016 schedule:

January 5th
10pm Hanson Concert

January 6th
11am – Bracelets with Zac (Green) / Tie Dye With Taylor (Red)
3pm – Trivia with Isaac (Red)
5:30pm – Zac Solo Concert
10pm – Hanson concert

January 7
11am – Bracelets with Zac (Red) / Tie Dye with Taylor (Green)
3pm – Trivia with Isaac (Green)
5:30pm – Taylor Solo Concert
10pm – Special Guests concert

January 8
8:30am – leave for excursions
1:30pm – Photos with Hanson
5:30pm – Isaac solo concert
10pm – Hanson concert
12:00am – After party with Taylor

How Is The Weather?

Typically in the mid-80s.  It did get a lot cooler during the thunderstorm this year, obviously.  But for the most part, hot and humid.

Is There Anything Special I should Bring?

Sunscreen. Bug spray.  If you don’t want to tie dye your event t-shirt, something 100% cotton to tie dye.  Money for souvenirs and tipping (not required, but if you have an awesome staff member, and you will, it might be nice)  There is a small gift shop at the resort with clothing, postcards, trinkets, etc. Be sure to let your credit or debit card bank know you will be in Jamaica along with the dates so that your card is not declined.

I also recommend that you bring a pair of shorts in your carry on if you want to change when you land at the airport.  The shuttles this year did have A/C though.  If checking a bag, you might want to toss a couple days worth of clothes in your carry on as well in case luggage gets lost.

Make sure to have your passport and a blue or black ink pen handy on the plane to fill out your customs forms.

How Do Island Gigs Payments Work?

When booking there is an $800 down payment.  If you have a roommate it will be a $400/$400 split.  If you do not have a roommate at the time of booking you will be responsible for the $800 down payment.  Once you add a roommate you can have the $800 credited to your portion of the room.  (If you do not yet have the name of a roommate choose the single booking and Island Gigs can change it to a double once you have a roomies name)
There are 2 payment plans – one is $400 at booking / $500 in July and the balance by October 1-per person.
I do the monthly, it begins April 1 and runs until October 1 and divides into even monthly payments of the balance due after the deposit is made.
You can log into your account and pay more money down on the booking outside of the payments if you want.

What Are The Rooms Like?

Most of the rooms have 1 king bed.  Some rooms do have 2 twins and they will try to accommodate as many requests as they can.  The closets are pretty big. All rooms have a hair dryer.  The outlets are just like the US outlets. Some rooms have showers and some rooms have tubs.  If you go to Trip Advisor you can read from people who have visited before as well as look through their galleries as well.

What information of my roommates do I need in order to book?

Their legal first and last names. Their email address (that matches their Island Gigs account, if they have one) their Hanson.net name (You cannot get past the page without entering this, so it is important that you know it!)  Their address and phone number (which should populate if they have an Island Gigs account and you entered their email address – but make sure you have it just in case).  It also asks for their birthday, but there is a box to check if you don’t know it.  It will prompt you to enter their credit card information as well, but it seems if they log in the same day to pay their down payment it should not be a problem.  If you’d rather the peace of mind by booking for both of you at the same time you need their credit card number, expiration date and the 3 digit code from the back of the card.

 

If there are any other questions – leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer!