Back to the Island 2024

Last week was my 11th Back to the Island and my 10th trip to Jamaica. (One of the airport employees told me I am now officially Jamerican.)   I started by taking notes on my flights down and then promptly stopped doing that once I actually arrived and the activities started.  I don’t know why I always seem to think I am going to become a different person on these trips, but it hasn’t happened yet. We’ll see how good my memory is…


The Hartford airport was absolute CHAOS when I arrived, lines for Jet Blue and Delta were ridiculously long but I was able to sneak up to the kiosk for Southwest, scan my passport, and get my boarding passes really quickly.  Pre-Check was longer than usual and at 4am everyone was a little bit out of it and the women behind me were laughing at a woman who said she did have a shirt on under her sweatshirt only to take it off and reveal only a bralette, asking if security has gotten stricter since she last traveled. The TSA Agent just shook his head and said, “I don’t know what’s going on, its 4am. I asked her if she had a t-shirt on.”   The captain and flight attendants came by just as we were preparing to board and the captain was complaining that they went through luggage ‘with a fine tooth comb’ (isn’t that their job?) as a result, he said he was going to take as long as it needed for the security check which ended up with him yelling at a gate agent because the gate agent was concerned about how long it was delaying our boarding. He scolded him saying that safety checks were important and however long it took, it took.  Which is fair. But also, security lines are insane so maybe show up to work a little bit earlier?  Once we got ready to take off he said he was going to “fly it like he stole it from Delta” and we made up most of the delay time in the air.  My second flight was delayed 10-15 minutes because I guess Montego Bay was getting backed up and asked us to wait and then there was an issue with baggage, but we still got there about 30 minutes after we were supposed to.  I ended up finding a friend who arrived shortly after me and then we hung around watching the chaos that was baggage claim waiting for a 3rd friend to arrive before we boarded our shuttle to the resort – which took way longer than it was supposed to because a husband going to Ocho Rios went missing before we departed.


I ended up at some point before we left thinking it might be fun to try every drink they have at the resort on the menu.  Last year we drank the same thing almost the whole time, so I figured it was worth seeing if there was something else I might like more.  I ended up getting a friend to join me.  More on that in a separate blog post, but we did manage to finish all of them around 1am during Taylor’s dance party.  This was our 5th time at this resort and not much had changed – except there now was a mongoose?  I heard that some others had seen one, but of course one of the times I was going back to my room alone the darn thing hid under a structure and then darted out in front of me.  All I got as a photo was a brown blur running across but trust me.  There also were the usual lizards, hermit crabs, regular crabs, bats, and an assortment of bugs. (And loud frogs?)  I was pretty happy for the return of hermit crabs because one year there was a whole ton of them, but then I hadn’t really seen them since.

Night 1 

The first night was a Hanson show, followed by and AMMM Bonfire Set.  I started by teasing that the setlist was predictable – because for the past few years they have opened and closed with Back to the Island – but they shut me right up by then going into a cover of Weezer’s Island in the Sun followed by a cover of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds and Stir It Up.  I was beginning to think that maybe this year was going to be different and maybe they’d actually put some effort into these setlists.  This show was relatively cover heavy – they also did Islands In The Stream, Kokomo by the Beach Boys for the first time ever and finished their set out with a cover of Feelin’ Alright, which while they have done it before, it hasn’t been done since 2009 so it might as well have been something new.  The Hanson originals were a bit more single heavy – but let’s just get all those out of the way early, right?

After Hanson’s set, AMMM did a bonfire set on the beach in which they wrote a three song set list and just took requests from the crowd for the rest for the most part.  Taylor ended up joining them on a cover of Whitney’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody and watched most of their set from the sound booth tent.   At one point he came out to the bar to get drinks for the band and I heard him tell someone that the last night setlist was going to be “Rockin'”  – a bit of a theme, but also super vague.

Zac Solo
Zac was up first for the solo sets.  Bonus points to him for doing 2 songs off of the latest Members Only EP – The Weight of Emotion and Where You Come From.  The rest was decent, but nothing new or any real surprises and I’ll be pretty happy when Seymour Better Times is off the list as he’s done it every year since he debuted it in 2018.  I think he gets a kick out of the kazoos though, so we might be stuck with it. This year we had birthday noisemakers we used as makeshift kazoos.  Also during his set the speakers we were sitting under decided to be problematic so there were a few songs where the crew was climbing the stage and trying to fix it as it was popping in and out.  If they were such a problem that they needed to be corrected during the show, they probably should have temporarily suspended the show as to not be such a distraction but, I’m not in charge.

Night 2

We weren’t entirely sure what to expect when it was time for Night 2 – but they pulled out major rare deep cut “Dream Girl” to start the show, and it became a Members song heavy set.  Trembling from White Rabbit was done for the first time ever, Working was done for just the second time (aside from Isaac doing it at his side project), So Lovely was full band for the first time since 2005, Grace Unknown full band for the 2nd time ever.  This was 63% Members Only which I didn’t do major research into but I think may be one of the biggest members setlists since the 2014 Members Only set. (81%)  They also had AMMM’s Zack Mack join them on harmonica for Dressed in Brown Eyes.  [Note: I have since done research: 2017 BTTI Members Only was 65% and 2017 MOE in Tulsa was 68%, BTTI Members Only was 84% beating out even the 2014 set and 2018 MOE in Tulsa was 71%, MOE Tulsa 2019 was 79%,  yet somehow that 2014 set is more memorable. ]

Isaac Solo 

Isaac loses so points for doing “River” but gains them for the 2nd time ever for Ordinary Words and live debuts (excluding his side project) of Mother of Exiles and The Gift Of Tears.  He also loses for not doing my request of Greener Pastures and also for doing Hand in Hand which ended up being repeated in the Night 3 set as well. Overall, he did a lot better with his set than he has in the past, even if he did bumble his way through a couple songs.

Night 3

Night 3 was AMMM’s set – which had Isaac joining them for a cover of One More Last Chance – which Isaac had been doing with Mother Road Sons and Taylor and Zac joined them for a cover of Forever and Ever Amen.  This set needed more Ingram Hill and less she who shall not be named.

Taylor Solo 

Taylor loses alllll the points for playing With You In You Dreams (even though we kind of expected it) and THEN doing 2 never before heard live songs that I couldn’t enjoy to its fullest because I was still recovering from crying.  He had been saying that Semi Hollow would never be played live – yet somehow managed to pull it off followed by the debut of We Belong Together.  Next time, Taylor, end on the sad one. (Even though I’d still be mad about it)  We now have all of Red having been played live – it’ll be interesting to see if We Belong Together makes it into the rotation more now or not.  I feel like Semi Hollow may end up back in the vault though.


I am kind of over the events.  I did like that we got to sign up on paper to play video games with Zac and didn’t have to stand in line (which I always skip doing) but we sat there watching him play with groups of 3 through 4 Mario Kart races and never got called up to play.  Watching it is boring if you’re not playing and he probably should have done 2 races instead to get in more people.  Family Feud is old, yet Isaac still doesn’t understand the rules, and throwing Taylor in as a co-host wasn’t anywhere near as amusing as I had hoped.  Plus having the events at the same time meant we couldn’t linger in the back to watch the other Family feud session to see if it was any more amusing or not because we were waiting to play games with Zac.  If they’re going to stick to Family Feud they need to theme it more Hanson and maybe a bit more “raunchy” as half the answers seemed to be going that way anyway, but it’s a premade family version of the game.  I also don’t like staying up so late after the shows – but FOMO keeps me from going to sleep before things are over.  I’m also not big into the Pool Party – especially with it back to being on the last night because it went until 1:30 and I needed to be up at 6:45 to finish packing and catch my shuttle. (Which I knew when I booked the flight, but I wanted the buffer of there being a second flight out of Jamaica to Baltimore after being screwed last year by taking the last flight out)

Night 4

While we knew Night 3 was going to be “Rockin'”, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.  Would they continue the awesome momentum of the first 2 sets? Or would they fall back on the usuals for this last one since so much rehearsal seemingly went into the other two?  They started with Dancing in the Wind – which really could go either way – but once they busted out Speechless – that had never been played at BTTI before – I had a feeling they did their research. (Is that why hansonstage is broken?) They also followed it with Cried – although I feel like they made this setlist a little top heavy and went back into the regulars at the end – where I’d rather they start with that and then build up for the end.  They ended up throwing in A Song To Sing as the first encore – saying that it was probably the complete opposite of Rocking but we’d grin and bear it as it was a request. (Though I do wonder WHO requested it) and then finished out with Zach Myers on I Believe in a Thing Called Love and all of AMMM for “AMMMBop” and the finale of Back to the Island.

Year 11 was one of the best – but I am hoping for some tweaks for next year and looking forward to getting my post-event survey.  The gift for year 11s was a blanket – which took up nearly half of my suitcase.  As someone who tries to do carry on only, they really need to give us a heads up about the size of these items they are giving us so I can figure out how to pack!

Back Again

I ended up asking to be put on a shuttle 1 hour earlier than when we were departing because it can take quite some time to find someone to push the wheelchair at the airport.  My name wasn’t on the list, but the driver took me anyway (he was the same driver I had on the way in) but then we stopped at 3 or 4 other resorts on the way there – stopping at one for 15-20 minutes for no apparent reason as no one boarded.  While waiting in the wheelchair for a pusher, I saw the people on the bus an hour behind us show up – 15 minutes later than we did!  The kiosk also said my flight was delayed, but it apparently was not delayed enough to show up as delayed on the screens.  I made it to Baltimore without incident and used Global Entry for the first time – there was pretty much no one in front of me, it took a photo of me and didn’t even ask for my passport – then I went to the booth and he told me I was all good and could enter.  I was so fast that they hadn’t even opened baggage claim for those who had to transfer their checked luggage.  Fortunately carry on only I just kept on my way to the security check point which was forever away.  They had no cane to help me out so I managed to get them to let me use my own but how ridiculous.  1.5 miles later, I made it to the gate, and the flight kept fluctuating between on time, 15 minutes late and 30 minutes late.  In the end, the crew was late and we did end up taking off and getting in late, but I can take a 30 minute delay over being stuck in Jamaica overnight alone.  If you’re on the fence about Global Entry, I can’t recommend it enough, I heard of  a lot of people missing their connecting flights from customs being so long this year. It took me like 5 minutes, if that.  Here’s my blog post on how I got Global Entry last year after returning from Jamaica:

Hanson in Escanaba, MI

Back in May Hanson announced what ended up being their last shows of the year in Escanaba/Harris, MI in the upper peninsula.  We bought tickets and booked our flights. The airport there is tiny and there are only 2 flights in and out each day. Delta couldn’t get their act together and here’s what happened from the emails I saved (and who knows if I actually saved all of them)

May 17:
Hartford (9:35am) Detroit (11:29am)
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

May 24:
Hartford (6:00am) Detroit (8:54am) Minneapolis (1:45pm)  
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

May 24: (I made this change to not have so many flights)
Hartford (9:42am) Detroit (1:55pm)
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

July 3:
Hartford (9:42am) Detroit (2:37pm) 
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

August 28:
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (10:25am) 
Escanaba (1:31pm) Minneapolis (8:00pm) 

September 23:
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (10:01am) 
Escanaba (1:08pm) Minneapolis (8:20pm) 

September 30:
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (8:50am)
Escanaba (11:52am) Minneapolis (12:47pm) Atlanta (9:40pm)

September 30: (I made the change to not have so many flights)
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (8:50am)
Escanaba (6:01pm) Detroit (9:55pm) 

In the end, that September 30th email & update stuck, but I did get a couple more emails from Delta confirming it with what appears to be all the same info. (Maybe flight numbers changed?)  Of course, I bought a ticket to see David Cook the night before when I thought I had a 9am flight, but a 6am flight meant I had to miss out on the show.  Fortunately I was able to sell my ticket and meet and greet to a woman who really seemed to appreciate me helping her out, so that helped lessen the blow a bit. (She sent me her M&G photo with a “thanks so much!” message the next day and it melted my cold, dark heart.)

Based on the August changes,  I had been totally willing to wait the 8 hours in MSP if I needed to (I have friends there, they could have taken me and brought me back later!) but Delta was treating it as if it was 2 separate flights and not connected and I wasn’t sure what kind of issues that might cause or if it really would be as simple as just checking in 2 different times.  When I contacted them via the chat they told me that it was either the extra Atlanta layover (please, no!) or going to Detroit instead.  As we were trying to get that all settled… Pet Assistance joined the conversation? They asked if I’d be traveling with a dog, cat or bird.  Just get me to Escanaba and back, I’m not bringing a pet!

When I left my house there was dew/frost on the ground. I also almost hit a buck on the parkway on the way to the airport.  That’s one way to wake you up at 2:45am!  When I got to the airport, I added the plane tickets to my Google Wallet.  Then somehow it became a ticket from MSP to ESC (what I needed) and another one from MSP to LAS VEGAS?  Delta, what are you DOING?  Fortunately my app had the correct tickets in there and I made it to MSP without any issues.  I had about an hour layover in MSP on the way there and made it to the connection despite having to go through nearly all the gates to get there. I had a cart get me to the end of A but had to walk the last 9 gates myself.  I found my 3 friends waiting for me at the gate and then we needed to get defrosted before taking off.  Our luggage didn’t fit in the overhead bins and there were about 10 people on the flight so the flight attendant ended up just strapping it into the seat across the aisle from me.  Our casino shuttle driver was waiting for us when we got there and took us to the casino.  We couldn’t check in until 12:30 so we hung in the lobby, got our rooms and went to check things out and eat. Then we waited for 2 more friends to show up on the later flight. We had a free night and just hung out and explored the hotel.  I ended up doing a pull tab card from the gift shop that cost $1 and won $5. That was all the gambling I did all weekend.   I also apparently offended a local when I said “there IS stuff to do here!” when spotting the kiosk of local brochures. She said “of course there is, you’re not in the middle of nowhere”  except once I grabbed a few brochures that interested me, they were 2, 2.5 and 3 hours away.  I’m not sure that counts as “here” and yes, we are in the middle of nowhere.
The next day, 2 more friends were coming.  We had discussed getting pasties which is a hand pie that is commonly found in the upper peninsula.  I had checked Door Dash and Uber Eats but there was not ONE restaurant on there. (Not just pasty places, nothing at all!) And to uber from the casino back to Escanaba was $22 one way.  Fortunately one of our friends mentioned it to the shuttle driver and he took a detour to Gram’s (which is supposed to be one of the best spots) and she was able to pick some up for us to try.  I got a beef with potato and even a while after they were purchased they were still warm and perfect for lunch!  For dinner we did a nice outing to the steak house that was on the top floor of the casino.  At some point, I got an email from Delta wishing me a happy birthday and offering me a $25 eCredit.  Delta, what is going on over there? My birthday was in July!
Then it was time for show #1!  I had fully expected that we’d end up getting some combination of the 35 songs that they just had done at Disney and for this setlist, I was mostly right.  My friends however were not happy with me because they had said they didn’t want to hear “I’ve Got Soul” and I had said since it was done at Disney it was bound to happen and they ended up opening the set with it, which made me laugh. But hey, let’s get it out of the way early! This setlist was pretty typical and what I was expecting.  What I was not expecting was for security to just be done doing their job during MMMBop and allowing everyone to rush the stage.  They had taken my walker away and I was happily sitting in my chair so I opted to not have my friends help me get up there because walking with just the cane while a sea of people were coming at me didn’t seem safe.  Turns out sitting in the chair wasn’t too safe either. I ended up with 3 men standing on top of me (actually ON TOP OF my feet) and then almost got run over by a wheelchair who decided to back up right on top of me.  I kind of expected this might have happened at the encore, but I missed out on the last 3 songs of the set *and* the encore.

After the show we hung out in the hotel since the 8 of us wouldn’t fit comfortably in either of our hotel rooms. We did a snack run to the gift shop in the hotel, which somehow was incredibly cheap and had some pickle flavored chips and “Yooper Bars” which were just chocolate bars with the upper peninsula on them. (I stuck with my baked lays and cream and dr pepper soda)

The next morning we had a late breakfast and just hung around doing more nothing. My friend did contact the GM of the theater and was told I could keep the walker with me for the 2nd show so I was already feeling a bit better about how it would go since I’d be able to have a bit of a barricade around myself.  Isaac had posted on instagram they’d be mixing the setlist up, which we did figure would happen to some extent – and we thought they might go all out being the last show of the year, but also didn’t want to get our hopes up.  When we finished eating a late lunch/early dinner we heard Hanson doing soundcheck of With a Little Help From My Friends and we hoped they weren’t just teasing us.  Some other fans nearby informed us that World Goes Around was sound checked earlier and the day before.  Then they went into Give a Little and I Don’t Want To Go Home but we still weren’t sure if they had plans to put all those songs in the setlist or not.

When they started the show, they mixed it up by starting with Fired Up but then did 2 repeats – A Minute Without You and Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’ so I wasn’t really sure where we were headed. But from there things went off the rails, in the best way possible. Instead of an acoustic set we got a solo from each brother and all the sound checked songs made the cut.  In the end we had 44 songs over 2 nights and 39 of them were unique – and I had thought they’d be pulling from 35 that were rehearsed!  Except now that we know they are capable of doing such a massive shake up and not at a members only event, the bar has been raised!

After the show we got a boozy ice cream drink and hung out for the time change. On top of the daylight saving time confusion, the casino was situated right smack in the middle of the Eastern and Central time zones. The airport was in Eastern and the hotel operates in Eastern so I had forced my phone to not auto update. For some who didn’t make that change, depending on where they were in the casino, the time would change back and forth. We made it to 2nd 1am but didn’t last much longer than that – and the delirious giggles had hit most of us at one point or another.

Sunday all my friends were on the MSP flight and I was alone on the DTW flight so I stayed in the room as long as I could before check out, took myself to breakfast at the restaurant in the casino and then hung out in the lobby watching videos until my 3:30 shuttle.

The Escanaba airport was so tiny, yet has 5 TSA agents for our flight. We ended up having to board the plane using the stairs which did not go very well for me (I’m ok, just a skinned knee) but it was smooth sailing and no flight issues. If Delta wants to just keep up with the drama before the actual travel days, I’ll take it!

Hanson at Parx Casino

To finish off the birthday week/end, we went to see Hanson again in Bensalem, PA, just outside of Philly.  We got to the hotel around 3pm and checked in and had just enough time to lounge and get settled before our dinner reservations.  The accessibility at this hotel wasn’t great, and when I called for a shower chair we got brought a shower curtain.  But after some google translate we managed to get a shower chair which made all the difference!

The hotel was just across the parking lot from the casino and the parking lot was PACKED!  We ate at the Beer Garden and then headed over to the XCite Center.  We had front row once again, only these seats were designated ADA seats.  They took my walker from me upon sitting even though there would have been plenty of room in front of us.  We also were told that no one could go right up against the stage, but I had intended to once again sit for most of the show since the stage was level with my eyeballs anyway so there was no way I could really stand in front of it with nothing to hold.

After looking like a mountain man the night before, it appeared Taylor trimmed his beard before the show.  Early in the show Isaac asked if there were any members in the crowd and said that this next song would go out to them, as it was from their Continental Breakfast In Bed EP.  I had no idea what song from that EP they would play, as really only 1 had regularly made it into their sets and they typically only did it if they had someone with a harmonica to join them – which I didn’t think they had.  Well, they ended up going into Don’t Ever Change, which is from Against the World.    Isaac did however correct himself after and say that it was from Against the World and the last few years had been a blur.

I was pretty pleased with how varied the setlist was from one night to the next with them being so close and a lot of the crowd going to both shows.  Before Write You a Song Isaac started talking again, this time saying the song was written in 2022 to which Zac interjected a “stop stop stop, don’t use dates OR album titles” and suggested he be more vague with his stories.  With Zac sick and Taylor sounding a bit scratchy apparently all the on stage banter went to Isaac and he needs a fact checker. (I am available.)

They ended up not doing an acoustic set and not bringing Zac up to the front and commented that he was on a lot of steroids due to the virus he had.  They ended up doing I Will Come To You and dedicating it to Cynthia – the co writer who had recently passed away.  During Been There Before when trying to get us to sing the “na na”s Isaac made a comment like “I am 95.9% sure you can sing ‘na na’, even babies go ‘na na na na'”  I don’t know if I enjoyed the Isaac banter show or not – but most likely due to time constraints they ended up cutting 2 songs from the main set (Watch Over Me and Get The Girl Back – I did see Isaac mouth something to Taylor about Get the Girl Back and him agreeing) and they changed the encore.  During Andrew’s Cold as Ice solo he ended up playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” which I’m not sure I noticed him ever doing that before!

Speaking of the encore.  The security guy who WAS up front in his chair disappeared and then my nice, safe, I can sit, ADA seat got me BURIED in women.  Several tripped over my cane while I was trying to situate myself and they were bum rushing the stage.  I honestly thought I was going to have a panic attack because of how crowded in I was.  I really do wish that they gave me a heads up – and didn’t essentially take my legs away by not allowing me to have my walker at my seat. (Although I probably would have been fighting the crowd to even attempt to get out so I think where I was probably WAS the safest even though it was not a great situation.)  It also turned out that the encore was not supposed to be In The City – it was going to be Taylor soloing Truth into A Little Help From My Friends!  But I do think they needed to be off the stage at a certain time and that was why they switched everything up.

After the show the beer garden was hosting an after party but we walked by and decided it was not for us and decided to leave instead. We found where they might come out and just missed Taylor due to being indecisive and watched him mingle with the rest of the crowd before being told it was time to go. (Isaac had apparently come out before we got there.)  It’s kind of wild that the next show won’t be until NOVEMBER after last year it was nearly every weekend we had jam packed with shows on tour!

Hanson at Foxwoods

When Hanson added a show at Foxwoods, I was beyond excited!  They were last in Connecticut in 2019 for a radio Christmas show and before that they hadn’t done a full show since 2016.  The on sale for this show was brutal.  When it first went on pre-sale, only a handful of single tickets were available.  An hour later, the whole 2nd row opened up and I managed to snag a pair on Taylor’s side and then an hour after that, the whole freaking place opened up and I managed to snag FRONT ROW tickets.  I sold the Taylor pair and my heart rate was through the roof for the rest of the day.

Before the show we stopped at Guy Fieri’s for dinner, and then made it inside for the show.  I had kept psyching myself out saying that the seats were too far over to be any good, but once we got there, they weren’t so bad.  And then the girls next to use asked if we would scoot over more into the middle so they could all be together so we ended up a couple seats closer.  When they first came out, Zac had on a jean jacket and after a couple of songs he took it off and was already really sweaty.  When they got to the acoustic set and there was no “Go” and had also not been a “Don’t Let Me Down” I started to think that Zac might be sick and they adjusted the setlist accordingly to remove his leads.

Even though I was front row at the CT show in 2016, being front row at a seated CT show was a whole different thing and I kept thinking about how when I was 12, that would have been all I wanted! And now I had it!   Well, that was until a small child decided to pop up in front of me and try to wave and give Isaac a card.  I think he ended up in front of me for like 4 songs – and even his mother came down at one point.  Absolutely ridiculous to take advantage of the fact that I couldn’t stand a whole show due to my disability and get in front of me – and security didn’t bat an eye when I pointed out they didn’t belong. (But when I finally stood for Lost Without Each Other and A Song To Sing security was quick to come tap me on the shoulder and ask where my seat was.  Um, you’ve jumped over me and my cane no less than 17 times tonight and now you don’t recognize me because I am standing?)

My suspicions were confirmed when before the encore Zac announced that he had been diagnosed with strep throat 12 minutes before they took the stage.  That didn’t stop me from trying to shake Taylor’s hand at the end of the show (and being successful).  Guess who’s sitting here with a sore throat nearly a week later?

After the show we stopped by the newly opened Hell’s Kitchen for a night cap – pretty cool looking restaurant but very pricey! Very good desserts though!

Hot Springs, AR July 2023

At the end of 2021, I decided to go to Arkansas to see Kris Allen thinking that since Hanson had never done a proper show in Arkansas before, it wasn’t likely they would.  However in February they announced a July 1 show in Hot Springs, AR at a water park.  It seemed like a fun idea at the time, I snagged some tickets before my friends could even agree to going or not as I was in whether they were or not.  Of course once the time rolled around we realized the temperatures were high and we would be in for a H-O-T weekend.

I headed up to the airport at 2:30am, only for the valet staff to welcome me back and comment that I was there all the time and offer me a VIP parking spot for my next time there lol (Which actually won’t be until November, as of right now anyway, so I’m sure they will forget!)  The airport seemed especially busy for 4am, but I made it to my gate and to Charlotte without a hitch. There was no wheelchair in Charlotte but fortunately the gates were close so I didn’t need to flag anyone down and I made it to Little Rock on time.  My friend’s flight was supposed to be coming in a bit later and ended up slightly delayed, so I waited in bag claim for her to show up. We teased we should stay there all day instead of out in the heat (It was “feels like” 114!) and see if we could spot a Hanson, but opted to get the rental car and find a quick bite to eat in Little Rock before we headed to Hot Springs.  (Funnily enough they posted a video of them arriving taken not too far from where I was stationed waiting for my friend to arrive.)

We ended up going to Freddy’s, which had a sign on the door that said “Just so you know, we have no soda”, we went in anyway to find a sticky note over the lemonade that said “Don’t Work” and tried to get Diet Dr Pepper and it worked, so just so you know, you do have some soda.  The bathroom was also barricaded off, but once we finished eating it no longer was so we tried to go down the hallway to use it only to be told it wasn’t actually able to be used. Get it together, Freddy’s!

There was no real plan for the day, but we had a list of a few things we might like to check out so we started with driving by Bill Clinton’s childhood home which was not too far out of the way from where we were going.  My friend asked if Spotify had a playlist of Bill Clinton playing Saxophone, but when I went to search I instead found a playlist called “Songs Bill Clinton would bop to” that we found to be a pretty decent playlist that we used for the weekend. (We also tried “Songs Bill Clinton listens to in the bath” but couldn’t get into it)  We did end up finding the childhood home pretty easily.  It’s a cute Tudor house.  The neighborhood was strange as some houses were gorgeous and some were boarded up and then there were some adorable cottages too.  There’s one main drag in Hot Springs that has all the bath houses and tourist attractions.  We drove down it a few times but parking was scarce and walking in 100+ degree temps didn’t sound like any fun.  We ended up going to the Mountain Tower next and despite the heat went up to the top.  Fortunately up so high there were some winds which made it seem not as bad as it really was and we were able to scope out the theme park from up above. I also got myself some pennies.  When we were leaving we spotted someone left their wallet outside, so my friend ran it back in and we joked that was our good deed for the day and hopefully it would get us some good karma.  Leaving the mountain tower and on our way to the hotel we spotted one of the fountains to get spring water from, which were incredibly popular and we figured we had to try the water. The fountains filled the bottles VERY fast and the water wasn’t really anything to write home about.  Once we got to the hotel room I ended up shooting it out my nose.  Do not recommend.  After settling in a bit and decided we’d go try to find a few murals (there was a baseball one and also some wings – as much as I’d have liked to be in the one with the wings, it was on the side of the building on a steep hill so we opted to just take a photo out the car window instead.)  We then decided depending on parking we would either go to an Ecuadorian restaurant to see my friend’s friend performing or we’d go to a brewery in one of the the bathhouses, because where else could you do that?  The Ecuadorian restaurant won, but once we arrived we realized it was up a ton of stairs.  One of the guys working sent us to a different set of stairs that weren’t quite as scary and when we made it to the top, he was performing a Taylor Swift song.  The trifecta was complete – hot hot heat, tons of stairs and Taylor Swift – welcome to HELL.  (I did enjoy the rest of his set a lot though, it was mostly 90s covers)

The next day we got up and got ready for the park and headed down to the breakfast area. We didn’t realize that we probably should have lined up earlier for the omelet station as it ended up taking nearly an hour.  Magic Springs was not far away, we parked, made it inside and were able to rent a scooter.  We started to do a loop of the park and decided to ride whatever we saw on the way.  First was The Gauntlet – a roller coaster.  We got the scooter inside and were told to stay there as the exit was stairs.  My friend helped me into the seat and we were off.  This was one that you knock your head around on a lot which wasn’t fun, but I was glad that the motion sickness medicine did work and the ride was fun.  But when we got off I could barely stand up I was so dizzy!  Next up we drove the old timey cars because they were shaded and then we ended up riding on a train roller coaster called Big Bad John.  Even though we took a shaded water break (where I ended up caving to peer pressure from American Airlines and paying to change my flight from a layover in Charlotte to a layover in Dallas) the heat was getting to us.  At this point we decided to take a break and hit up the ice cream shop that was airconditioned and get a dole whip.  I think we waited too long to take this break and after we finished our dole whip we decided our next stop would be the air conditioned Mexican restaurant which we ended up staying in for most of the day as once that peak afternoon sun hit we were miserable.  At 3 we ended up getting VIP passes to enter the concert area early but they weren’t giving away any more M&Gs and then we decided it was time for icees.  (I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so many ice cream and frozen treats in one day before and it was not at all how young me would have envisioned it)  We ended up heading back to the Mexican restaurant for a snack and to have our icees until it was time to head to the concert area.

I was surprised when I showed up with the scooter no one had any idea what to do with it.  Surely I wasn’t the first person to ever show up for the show in one?!  But we got that settled and got to our seats and not so patiently waited for the opening band Huckleberry Jam to take the stage.  We were so miserable this was going to break or break the evening, but they were decent which was a plus.  Before Hanson even took the stage, we were wanting the show to be over because we were just DONE which had absolutely never happened to either of us before.  Several times I counted how many songs they had done to figure out when they would be finishing up and was disappointed when I only counted 10 meaning we were only about halfway through the set.  Will I say no to outdoor summer festival type shows in the future? Probably not.  Should I?  Probably.  Also it is worth noting that somehow Isaac wore a denim jacket the entire show.  I had a fan blowing on my face for half the show and was still overheating. How did he do it?!  The only time I ended up standing for the show was when they appropriately did “Roller Coaster Love” for the encore.  Yes, I did feel the heat on the rise and I didn’t love any part of that.

After the show we wanted nothing more than to get back to the hotel.  We ended up hitting up the gift shop and getting some vitamin water (needed to hydrate!) and some Reeses’s ice cream only to be pleasantly surprised while we were snacking to see Zac walk in! He gave us a wave and then other fans went to talk to him before he went upstairs.  Isaac came through next and we debated going to try and get a photo with him but we weren’t sure he actually saw us.  Taylor ended up coming in last and so we did end up getting a photo with him and chatting for a bit about how miserable the heat was.  Guess we did get some good karma from returning that wallet? Also thank you to that hotel for being the only one that wasn’t off the wall expensive that had an ADA room available!

The next day we were going to take the Trolley tour, but since I now had an earlier flight out that got scrapped and we got breakfast and headed to Little Rock to the airport.  I got to Dallas without any issue and found out that my flight to Charlotte from Little Rock had been delayed by 1 hour so I thought I had made the right choice, but once I got to Dallas and started tracking the incoming plane I realized it kept getting more and more delayed.  We ended up delayed about 30 minutes and then the time we were taking off and the time the incoming plane was coming in was getting to be very far apart.  When we had a gate change from A to D I realized they must have snagged us a different plane but getting assistance from A to D was difficult and fortunately I had several hours to get there because the cart drivers didn’t really care at ALL that people had places they needed to be and were just doing whatever they wanted despite being asked several times to take the people waiting.  In the end, we were delayed leaving about an hour and I ended up landing about 15 minutes before the flight from Charlotte would have so it was fine except that I was out the extra money I had to pay to change the flight because it was only free to switch if I stayed in Arkansas an extra 2 days which I was definitely not going to be doing.

In the end I didn’t get a new overall state but I did get Hanson state #31. And we survived, but only just.  And now I bet they’ll add Arkansas as an indoor venue on their next tour, right? That’s how it always seems to go. (But if you’re going to do that, please add Montana too?)



Hanson Riverside Iowa

After getting home from Tulsa on Monday, and going to a baseball game on Wednesday night, I ended up getting a room at one of the airport hotels. I decided to stick with Hilton to try and get my status back and booked through their website using my work discount page. Upon my arrival the computers all went down at the front desk and then I was told that the manager didn’t know how I had booked an accessible room – but they were all out. I could either stay in a 2 queen regular room or I could cancel at no charge. It was nearly 11pm, I had a 6am flight. I asked to keep the room and get a shower chair – of which they apparently also had none left. Way to go Hilton, maybe I want to just boost my Marriott status instead… Thursday AM I left bright and early to go to Minneapolis. My friends met me at the airport so we could pick up a rental car for our road trip to Iowa.

We hung out for a bit while a friend finished working before heading out for the 4-ish hour drive to Riverside, Iowa for our next Hanson adventure.  We weren’t sure we wanted to do the show with it being so close to Hanson Day, but after we managed to snag front row tickets in the pre-sale we couldn’t pass it up.

When we saw a road side sign for Iowa’s Largest Fryin’ Pan, we had to stop and take some pictures because is it really a road trip if you don’t stop at a tourist trap on the side of the road?

Because of a lot of events going on at the casino including a wedding, most of the hotel rooms were booked up so we ended up getting a Grand Master Suite which was all the way at the end of the (long) hallway so after checking in and dropping off our stuff we decided to wander the casino. We did see Isaac out and about but opted to get snacks in the cafe instead of spending any time in the (smoky) casino.

The next morning we had breakfast at the restaurant in the casino and ended up spotting all 3 Hansons wandering around, though only Zac stopped very briefly to say hi.

The cafe also had a cotton candy zephyr, which we decided was some sort of donut/creampuff combo and since I am nothing more than an overgrown 5 year old, I had to try it. It did not disappoint.

That night we went to the show and I was very happy to sit and be able to see everyone for most of the show. (It was a tight squeeze so occasionally a friend would block a view, but leaning forward or wiggling to the side usually brought all 3 brothers back into view.)  For this show their usual bass player, Andrew, was not there because he and his wife just welcomed a new baby (Congrats!) and they had a bass player named Aaron filling in, who I realized had also filled in back in 2016 at Hanson Day! (and played on Loud/Play)  The show was a ton of fun and I was very impressed when Zac’s snare needed to be replaced in the middle of a song and he absolutely handled it like a pro. (While singing lead!) Taylor’s harmonica case also went flying off the stage at one point as well, so no, every show is not the same and you never know what might end up happening.

The next morning we went to another tourist trap, the future birthplace of Star Trek’s Captain Kirk.  The story was that he was born in a small town in Iowa, but it wasn’t specified where.  A fan living in a small town in Iowa decided that it should be HIS small town and so he made it so.  I think it’s actually now been mentioned in one of the movies as well and they yearly have a fan festival in town for the past 30 or 40 years!

We stopped for lunch at a brewery in Cedar Rapids (and also another really good beer flight I was very happy with my choices on) and then dropped one off to fly home from Cedar Rapids before continuing our drive back to Minneapolis.

On the way back we were following a hearse with the license plate “after lyfe” and ended up passing it only to find out that a skeleton was driving the car.  WHAT?!

It was nice to attempt to get a decent night’s sleep on Saturday into Sunday, but even with sleeping in I still did not want to wake up to get to the airport for my 2pm flight.  We ended up being delayed 5-10 minutes to do something being fixed on the plane, but otherwise the flights were uneventful.  I made it home in time for the American Idol finale and still absolutely need to catch up on sleep after diving back into work on Monday!

Hanson Day 2023

This year I had an early flight to Chicago, followed by a flight to Tulsa for Hanson Day 2023.  My friend had landed about 20 mins before me so she waited for me so we could uber to the hotel together.  Upon putting her suitcase in the trunk we realized it had been absolutely torn apart at the zipper and upon arrival at the hotel we found that the handle on mine was damaged!  Cue us comparing notes on how absolutely differently Southwest handled both of our situations for the rest of the weekend. (I ended up getting a $75 refund on the bag that had cost me $77 and I will see if the manufacturer can fix the handle or if I have to buy a new bag entirely)

After checking in to our hotel room we ordered some drinks for the weekend from instacart and then headed out to an event Taylor was having for Food on the Move to talk about some new pods they were growing produce in.  The area the event was at was very rocky and gravely and even with my walker to steady me I ended up falling – right in front of Taylor.  He came right over and asked if I was ok and him and my friend helped me back up which I don’t think could have been any more embarrassing, but it did answer the question my friends and I would often ask – if I fell and a Hanson was around, would he help me up? So I am glad that the answer was yes.   Taylor then ended up announcing a pop-up registration at the Fairfield happening at 3, so my friends and I left a bit early so that we could help out.

I ended up working registration to give out raffle tickets for the record player that two lucky attendees would be able to win. I also got a golden ticket to the store, so between 4-6 I was able to go in and order the items I wanted (but hadn’t had any time to pick out what I wanted! Yay impulse buys!) and worked the door of the store for a bit as well hole punching the tickets so they couldn’t be used again.

Thursday we did the HTP recording which had Isaac in rare form and making himself laugh so hard he cried over fart jokes?  While the whole thing was a bit unorganized and no one really seemed to know what they were doing it was a lot of fun and my friends got to be the reporters for the event so it was fun to see them on stage too!

After HTP was our 2nd pizza stop of the weekend and then we got ready for Karaoke.  When we arrived there already was a pretty long line, so we just waited on the corner for everyone to go inside.  Isaac kicked off the evening by singing Two Princes by the Spin Doctors and joined a lot more groups to sing with than usual, which made it for an interesting night.  We ended up being a bit too tired to make it all the way to to the end this year and it seemed like it ended up going longer than scheduled. (Though it did start a bit late)

Our big event for the next day was the Underneath Acoustic Revisited concert which was done in a horseshoe with the guys on a riser on the floor.  I thought this setlist was pretty much perfect – they did the entirety of Underneath Acoustic – including my first time ever hearing ‘Love Somebody to Know’ full band as well as picked some nice ‘extras’.  If I was in charge of the setlist I probably would have skipped This Time Around for Every Word I Say and added in some solos since that was the tour they started doing them on, but honestly as it was, was pretty great.

After we had the Street Team Leaders dinner, which was a good time but the guys couldn’t stay very long due to an early sound check the next morning for the main show.

After the dinner, I got “kidnapped” by some friends to check in on for more pins and to do the in-person scavenger hunt. My other friends had scooted to the locations as the furthest was a mile out and I couldn’t walk that far and I can’t scoot, so it was fun to see the locations and do the hunt again by car.

The next day was time for Isaac’s Grace Unknown lecture which was very interesting and helpful in helping you process events in your life and not at all what I was actually expecting it to be.

The main show was …good? But not the setlist I would have chosen for it at all.  I would have gone for more Members EP songs that hadn’t been played – especially since they skipped the entire EP last year due to it being the unofficial kick off for the RGB tour and their selection of Anthem tracks for the anniversary weren’t quite what I would have picked either. (Already Home? Screen and Be Free? LOST WITHOUT YOU?!) After the great setlist selection they did at BTTI and even the show the day before, it was a bit disappointing, but I’d still rather be at a Hanson concert than anywhere else, I was just hoping for something a bit more special for their fanclub event.

After the show we went and got a quick dinner at The Tavern, my friend who I was staying with all weekend told me to get back in the elevator because I wasn’t supposed to get off at her floor (cue giggle fit), and then changed into as much NEON as we possibly could for the Dance Party.  I was happy to see some black lights included, a balloon wall for photo ops and everyone absolutely buzzing like neon, neon.  We had a lot of fun dancing around – until the end when I almost got stampeded when Taylor decided to jump off the stage and walk through the crowd.  Nothing like getting your heart rate up to end the night.

Sunday we ended up making a stop at Nothing’s Left Brewery for lunch and trying the new Hanson collab – it was an IPA so I didn’t think I would like it (I am a sour and stouts girl) but wasn’t expecting to dislike it as much as I did.  However the other 3 beers I chose for my flight were excellent. You win some, you lose some.

Monday it was time to leave and I was hoping that my luggage would make it home and I could fix the handle once I got home, but unfortunately it seemed like everyone decided to hold it by the half broken handle which broke the metal piece and rendered it useless by the time I got home.  Fortunately my trips for the foreseeable future appear to only need a carry on so I have some time to see if it can be fixed by the manufacturer before having to buy a new one entirely. (That being said any brands of checked bags you recommend that can last more than, oh, 4? trips? Would be appreciated!)

Nashville / Atlanta

Have you ever tried to go on vacation but the Universe tried to injure you *every day*?  That’s what my trip this past weekend ended up being.  I already wrote about the Fire Alarms going off at “Ain’t Too Proud” the musical.  That in and of itself is quite a story – but it just got worse from there.  Read on to find out what happened Friday, Saturday AND Sunday…

Friday night was John Mayer at the Bridgestone Arena.  We opted for “cheap seats” which ended up being quite steep and high up and I was mildly concerned that I wouldn’t be able to leave them (but I am home, so I did) and ended up dealing with a Tornado Watch during the show.  With being so far away, we ended up with the more “casuals” and had 2 or maybe even 3 couples near us who decided the right time to talk about John Mayer was while he was in front of them performing a show.  Can’t you just enjoy it while he’s in front of you and discuss it on the drive home like we did?  So obnoxious…  The Nashville show felt a lot different than Newark. I don’t know if it was because we were further away, if the closer to “hometown” shows for John feel different or if the Nashville crowd was just.. meh.  Appropriately this time, John started with Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.  The first two songs ended up being repeats from Newark, but then he ended up doing Heartbreak Warfare and In The Blood – the latter I was saying I would hope he would do because it had been stuck in my head.  He also threw in another of my favorites, Emoji of a Wave and then went into a medley based on signs of Something Like Olivia, My Stupid Mouth (YESSSS) and Daughters.  I had to laugh when he said he was going to play a brand new song nobody would know – but it was the same new one – Driftin’ – that he debuted in Newark. (I’m not sure he’s thrown anything else new into his sets?)  Then he said that the tour was just him solo but he was going to break that and bring on a special guest – a legend – and welcomed to the stage Sheryl Crow.  They did her song “Strong Enough”.    He also updated his stage banter before Your Body Is A Wonderland from Newark’s “is this song stupid?” and spoke a bit more about the song more sincerely.  I was hoping that we’d be Free Falling Free – but he ended up closing out the encore with it.   When we left the venue, there was an absolute downpour going on and while weren’t so happy about out $54 parking lot right next to the door to the arena, it made for a quick getaway and not getting completely soaked, so maybe it was worth it after all.

The next morning we got up early in an attempt to make it to the Brookhaven Festival in time for Deep Blue Something.  Initially, we were going to make it in plenty of time but unfortunately the traffic had other plans.  After making a pitstop for lunch, my friend says “There’s a person in the road”  I look up and there is a semi-truck in front of us that is stopped and a man walks out from the front of the truck.  He wanders to the left lane and ends up running a couple of cars off the road because they are trying not to hit him or anyone else.  We are in the middle lane and I think that once he made it to the other side of the road he would stop – but no – he ends up coming at our car.  My friend avoids him and we continue on, wondering if we should call the cops but not knowing quite where we were.  We ended up not calling, but hopefully someone did.  We thought we’d se a broken down car a bit further up, but there was nothing and the man did seem out of it but didn’t seem to have any visible injuries so we weren’t really sure what was going on and if he wanted to get hit or if he was trying to get help.

We made it to the festival and found the ADA parking lot that was supposed to be ‘close’.  Entered the festival, walked through the vendor area and 3/4 of a mile later… we made it to the stage.  Deep Blue Something was doing their last song as we were walking their (and from what I could hear, it wasn’t “Breakfast at Tiffanys”)  so we waited for Don McLean, who ended up enjoying the sing a long of American Pie so much, he sang most of it again.  Finishing out the festival was Band of Horses, but we opted to leave a bit early into their set because we wanted to beat the mad rush leaving and also hit up the Harry Potter Exhibition in Atlanta.

The Exhibition had interactive displays where you could win house points, a bunch of photo ops as well as some of the clothing worn during the movies. It was pretty cool, though I have to say that the price of admission seemed to be a bit steep for what it was. But it takes a good hour and a half to two hours to go through and then they have a cute cafe with some themed desserts and of course a gift shop – complete with a penny machine.

When we got to the hotel for the night, completely exhausted, we found that the front desk was swarming with a high school marching band trying to buy snacks.  Of course, I tried to skip the front desk and get a digital key, but they needed to see my ID so we had to wait. Ugh!

The next day it was supposed to be a pretty stormy day so our plans for getting to the festival were up in the air.  With thunderstorms in the morning we opted to sleep in, went to Walmart and picked up rain gear and got to the festival in time to see Lissie.  Or so we thought.  About 3 songs into her set she got cut short because the radar was showing lightning.  We were instructed to take shelter in our cars.  Yes, the one that was 3/4 of a mile away. (And the able bodied attendees, even further, they were being shuttled in)  We ended up snagging umbrellas they were giving away and hunkering down for the storm that rolled through.  Things got back on track with All-4-One taking the stage a bit earlier than scheduled, then The Fray, and finally Hanson!

This was a pretty expected setlist for Hanson as they have their typical “festival” setlist that is single heavy – though we were surprised with the inclusion of “Runaway Run”, and not at all surprised with the inclusion of “Georgia”.  They started the set with Fired Up which we were joking they would because our weekend started with the fire alarms.  And we also got a kick of them singing, “isn’t it hard, standing in the rain”  I mean, yes, sort of… poncho on poncho kind of makes things slippery.

After the show we hit up McDonalds for their bathroom and then made another pistop at Buc-ees! I was glad to pick up a few boxes of their animal crackers that I loved so much when we went last summer, but I couldn’t find any of the overbite chocolates that I had liked 🙁  Oh well, I’m trying to count calories and it would have just complicated things too much for me.

I am happy to report that I had absolutely no flight issues there or back home – direct flights from Nashville to Hartford and back via Southwest.  I guess with everything else going wrong, something HAD to go right for once, right?


Earlier this month I made my way back to Jamaica for Back to the Island Year 10.  We ended up going 2 days early this year – although by the time I arrived at the resort it was basically time for dinner after all the travel.  The second day, most of my friends ended up doing an off resort excursion so another friend and I spent the day at the pool.  That night we tried to see a meteor shower but either didn’t stick it out long enough or were too far south and didn’t end up seeing anything.

When the event officially kicked off, we lined up to check in with Island Gigs to get our color assignment for the event – hoping for Red or Yellow – we got Orange. Which had apparently replaced Yellow. We also got our yearly gifts – the 10 year was an embroidered jean jacket.

During dinner, the guys did soundcheck.  A few hours later it was show time! Once again the guys said they were going to try and not repeat any songs.  It was a pretty solid setlist starting with a reggae version of Best of Times, going into a Bob Marley medley (that they had done last year as well) and then threw a song I had never heard before in there too – I’m a Man of Constant Sorrow I guess from O Brother Where Art Thou?  My lack of movie watching worked against me. Before the event I had sent Zac a list of songs from albums they play the least – and Me Myself and I was one of them and it ended up in this set so I started wondering if maybe he had seen the message and just not responded to me about it?  Also of note – there was a shooting star in the sky during GO! This excited us since we didn’t see any when we were looking the other night… and then they sang River and brought all our excitement right back down.

After the show was games with Isaac and Zac for Red and Orange teams.  We had selected our team but had no idea what we’d actually be playing.  Turns out it was once again Family Feud and the set up had 0 planning whatsoever.  Our team didn’t end up picked and it was probably for the best because we wouldn’t have made it up to the stage and I probably wouldn’t have been able to even get on it either.  I’m debating buying the game to memorize and cheat for next year because the answers to some of them were… out there.

The next morning was photos with the band. My friend ended up braiding my hair for me.  I didn’t have anything planned to say to them which in retrospect was a bad idea – but there was a lot of clusterfuck planning for there being a 10 year photo with the band that got me too worked up to think about anything to say.  But when I told them I was a 10 year Taylor said… “I’m not saying I’m better than you… but I’m better than you..”  he knows… haha. They also all gave me big hugs and said they hoped I was enjoying myself.  We hung around for the 10 year photo in our jean jackets and then hung out until it was time for Zac’s solo show.

Zac’s set was probably my least favorite. He didn’t seem to prepare and his voice was rough and while he usually gives us something new, he didn’t this time. He did do some members only songs but several of them seem to be staples for his solo sets. Someone has to rank #3 out of 3 and this year that honor went to him.

Later that evening was time for show #2 which was by FAR the best setlist of the whole event.  I was up and out of my seat singing along for nearly half the set (which I kind of regretted the next morning!)  They started with one of my favorites from Against the World – Don’t Ever Change – and then ended up doing 3 more songs that were from my list to Zac – Cut Right Through Me, Running Man (a song never before done at a BTTI event!) and Lucy.  Now we were up to 4 so I really started questioning if he had seen my message or not.

We also were hoping for Greener Pastures and for like 3 minutes I thought they were playing it, until I realized it was actually No Matter The Reason. Tell me you don’t listen to Green without telling me you don’t listen to Green…

They also pulled out a bunch of rarer songs and even had Zach Myers join them for guitar on I Believe in a Thing Called Love and Don’t Let Me Down.

After it was games for Green and Blue and we tried to get ourselves in a good position for watching and ended up right in the front once things were set up.  At least until 2 people decided to climb in front of us and sit on our feet.  They had absolutely no spacial awareness and seemed to be mad we were there, when they sat on us? The dude kept moving closer and closer to me too, which made me joke that I had just given birth to him.  His friend ended up getting up and putting a bracelet on Zac and wanting to try and get on teams she wasn’t signed up for.  Zac handled himself very well and then at one point ended up kicking sand our way and if it was accidentally on purpose at those people and we just got the excess, I’ll take it.  It was just the weirdest thing.  AMMM also joined a round of Family Feud which was a ton of fun as well and perhaps in future years if we’re still doing Family Feud Taylor should host and have Isaac and Zac on separate teams with fans (or some other combination thereof).

The next morning we went out on the glass bottom boat that the resort offers. It was about half an hour and we saw some starfish, fish, sea cucumber, a sunken boat and a couple of sunken planes.  We also stopped at one point and fed some fish so they’d come closer to the side of the boat.  It was pretty fun but getting on/off the boat was stressful, but I did it!  Just about as soon as we got off the boat it started raining, so we decided to duck into the resort lobby for a bit and then it absolutely started to POUR.  Perfect timing.

Isaac had the solo show and was about 20 minutes late.  He started off strong and I think if he flipped his setlist a bit and started with the same ‘ol same ‘ol and ended with the rares it would have won him some more points – but he did Make It Through The Day which otherwise was only performed in 2009 at a members only event and during his quaranstreams which definitely got him some points.  But Hand in Hand, Deeper and For Your Love?  Meh.  (Granted he does have a lot less of a pool of songs to choose from and he did make some tracks for some of his other songs which took some time and effort)

That night was the AMMM set – they were a lot of fun and had Taylor and Zac join them for TLC’s “Waterfalls” and Isaac joined them for Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me”.  The beach bonfire had some Jamaican patties which made us pretty happy.  Later that evening, Taylor did his pool party DJ party.  We hung out in the lobby and had some patties, watched the bats dance to NKOTB and had some New Zealand candy that a friend had so kindly sent for me.

Our final day of shows brought us to Taylor’s solo show in the early evening.  He won the solo set, but just barely over Isaac.  We were hoping he would do “All I Know” (and it seemed like he was thinking about it based on friends who asked him during photos) but he had said that he got a lot of requests and was going to have to let some people down and he’s not like Isaac so he won’t play any songs he hasn’t practiced!  We did end up getting “Climb” which had not been done before.  I could have done without Save Me and Sound Like Joy, though.

Before the last show, we were supposed to have a beach banquet but it was raining. Things got pushed back a bit and moved into the buffet area instead.  It was PURE CHAOS. I always enjoy the steel drum band, but shoving everyone in one spot to eat all at once before the final show is always the most stressful.

The final show of the night was the one most reminiscent of the RGB Tour – which looking back probably would have been a better show for Night 1 – but they did throw in some mixups – including song #5 that I had asked Zac about – Dying To Be Alive.  As well as a brand new cover – Don’t Worry, Be Happy! The lighting changed to the typical reggae red, green, yellow and was really cool.  To finish out the set their encore was members only song “Dressed in Brown Eyes” with AMMM’s Zack Mack on harmonica and Back to the Island with AMMM joining in.

After the show, AMMM set up on the beach and did a couple of hours of songs without a set list – including one of my favorite Ingram Hill songs – Almost Perfect.  Isaac and Zac were around mingling and we got to talk to Isaac early and put in some requests for next years guests as well as confirm that it did seem to go by fast and was probably one of the best BTTI events.  We ended up finding Zac as well so I could ask him if he did get my message or not – since they played the songs – and he said he didn’t think he had seen it but if they played them I must have asked him for them by using the force and that they had tried to throw some rarer tracks into the setlist.  I confirmed that Running Man had never been played before and they also hit some of the lesser played tracks off of the albums. (If he didn’t see my message, I guess my reporter interview gave them a complex instead!)

Even with the dance party being the night before, it was a nice way to end one of the best BTTIs ever! (It’s too bad all the drama for me trying to get home – totally ruined such a great vibe I was planning on riding back home!)

I am looking forward to booking for year 11, soon!

Hanson at Disney 2022

This October I made my triumphant return to Disney for the Food and Wine festival to see Hanson again after not having been there since 2017. Before going, I did a lot of research because since COVID a lot of things at Disney had changed.  One thing I saw repeatedly is that the ECVs in the park were often selling out, especially if you were park hopping.  I ended up renting from an outside company – Gold Mobility.  This is one of the companies that you need to meet for pick up and drop off because Disney hotels are ONLY partnered with ScooterBug and their reviews were less than stellar.  I was set to pick up my scooter at the front of the hotel at 2pm on Thursday.

But first – I had to get there.  Initially I had booked a flight on points via Southwest from Hartford.  There were not many direct options and after Southwest did me dirty a few times, I ended up keeping an eye on Avelo which has direct flights from New Haven.  When a 50% off sale popped up I managed to get direct, round trip for $219 (including luggage and seat fees as everything is a la carte).  Despite it being a very small airport they still had said to arrive 2 hours before your flight. I got there at 5pm for a 7pm flight – only to find out that the earlier 12:30pm flight – hadn’t left yet as they were waiting for 2 crew members!  They ended up leaving around 6pm and then confused crew members started showing up for my flight. I think that my crew got bumped to the other flight and they had to scramble to get back ups for the later flight as we ended up delayed about an hour waiting for our final flight attendant.  We also ended up taking a different plane than we were supposed to, so several rows were missing (it went 10, 11, 21!) those in 12-20 ended up being placed in the back of the plane as it was not a full flight and there was plenty of room.  We made it to MCO at 11pm and of course, Uber surge pricing was in effect and it cost me $100 to get over to Pop Century.

I had asked for a first floor room at Pop, since I knew I would have my scooter with me 24/7, but they put me on the top (4th) floor and one of the rooms furthest away from well, anything. (Yes, it was an accessible room!) I hoped I would be able to figure out the elevator with the scooter but it being nearly midnight by the time I got to the room I just wanted to get some sleep.

The next morning I got ready for the Halloween party that afternoon, made it to the cafeteria for some lunch and then wandered around until 2pm hit and my scooter was delivered. I ended up heading to the Magic Kingdom shortly after to try and get in for the Halloween party at 4pm.  The bus driver was absolutely amazing and parked the scooter for me after I told him I had never done it before.  It was H-O-T at Magic Kingdom but at 4pm they let us in and I wandered around to get my candy bag and just check out the park and remember where everything was located.  2 hours in, the battery level dropped significantly on the scooter. I found a spot with an outlet to charge and sat for 30 minutes as I was advised to charge it for 30-45 minute 2 or 3 times throughout the day to make sure the charge would last.  It went back up to full, but after 30 minutes dropped down again.  Overall, I ended up stopping to charge the scooter 5 times throughout the night (twice a cavalcade parade ended up going by as I sat so at least I wasn’t missing out on all the fun).  This didn’t seem right.  I did manage to meet Minnie in her witch outfit (after waiting in line early to knock it out right away and being told there was a delay and to leave – when I went back much later there was no line at all and Daisy was nowhere to be found) and hit up a lot of the photopass spots for photos. I wanted to hit up Main Street for some more photos but with all the timing of everything and not knowing when I’d need to charge again by the time I made it over that way the 2nd parade had ended and it was a steady stream of people leaving and my scooter was on RED. I tried to get in to meet Mickey, who had no line, and repeatedly got asked if I had a disability by a cast member. I told him yes and he wanted to see something on my phone? I think a DAS, which I don’t qualify for and I have no idea why the 20 questions as if I couldn’t take the scooter through the line he should have just told me? And once I did get in with it, Mickey’s attendant told me their last scooter died as they were leaving the room – I told him mine was dangerously close to that and I was hoping I’d make it back to the hotel!

I ended up leaving around 11 for the bus and this bus driver would not touch the scooter and instead got very panicky trying to direct me on how to park it myself on the bus. Not helpful when I was already frazzled from all the battery drama!  The hotel was supposed to be having a power outage between 12 and 5am.  I could see workers on a different building as I made my way back to my room and wanted to make sure I was back and settled by the time it went out in my room.  I ended up getting the scooter up the elevator and in the room after a couple of attempts and got settled in bed.  Then I was feeling cold so I went to change my pajamas a bit later and as soon as I got one leg back in the bed, the power went out.  Perfect timing!

First thing when I got up Friday I called Gold Mobility to tell them something was up with the scooter.  He said if it was still acting up after 2 hours again at the park, they’d bring me out a replacement.  I ended up changing my reservations from Animal Kingdom to Epcot for the full day as the terrain at AK drains the battery much faster. Sure enough, 2 hours after getting to EPCOT it went from green all the way down to red. Not even into orange.  I was struggling to find an outlet that was actually powered on and texted to get that replacement coming.  It took a bit longer than their estimate, but I was happy to (hopefully) have one with a better functioning battery.  I ended up getting it around 12:30 and while I did stop to charge it a couple of times, it never lost any of the power lights for the rest of the day!  I managed to navigate a couple of food & wine kiosks on my own and then met up with a friend.  And by total surprise another friend who was visiting Disney (and not there for Hanson) was in front of us in line at the Germany kiosk. You know what they say, it’s a small world!

Then it was time for the Hanson concerts… to be honest I’ve waited so long to post this they’ve all kind of melded into one in my brain so here’s the setlists:


Saturday was our scheduled all day EPCOT day.  I saw that my friend ended up snagging us reservations for Guardians of the Galaxy and made sure to take my motion sickness meds before I left. (Bonine – which I also found helped with the skyliner) We did a bunch more of the food and wine kiosks and ended up knocking out just about everything on my to try list.

Sunday another friend came in to town so we started the day at Hollywood Studios. We started with piloting the Millenium Falcon – poorly.  Rise of the Resistance was down the whole time we were there and we saw during lunch that it went back up with a short wait.  We got in line, but as it seemed to be taking a lot longer than we had expected, we stopped to ask a cast member what was up. He said he couldn’t give us a time estimate but if it was getting too close to the time we needed to get to Epcot for our dinner reservation to let him know.  Shortly after he pulled us from the line because the ride went down again and they had no idea how long it would take to go back up. He ended up giving us a lightning lane pass to any ride (but tower of terror which was the other one we had been considering riding) and we ended up getting on Slinky Dog before heading to EPCOT for our Coral Reef dining reservation.  This would get us priority seating for the 3rd show – where the guys ended up playing Greener Pastures! We had been asking for this one on the tour but it didn’t come in to play until after our shows were done and I was very surprised it made it into any of the setlists but was pretty excited it happened to be the one we were closest for!

Halloween we split our time at Magic Kingdom and ended up riding Haunted Mansion and getting a bunch of fun photopass photos. We also got to check out the Hocus Pocus 2 photo op and get Mickey ice cream bars!  We had more dining reservations at EPCOT, this time at Garden Grill which meant we got to also meet Pluto, Mickey and Chip and Dale during our meal! Of course I sat on the end where they would sneak up on me and scared me several times! (Pluto and I think Chip came around twice while we were eating)  Then it was time for our final night of Hanson shows!

Unfortunately the guys didn’t end up dressing up for the Halloween shows 🙁  We debated attempting Guardians again but after realizing our boarding time expired and not wanting to risk heading all the way over there to be turned away, we ended up leaving as my scooter pick up was set for 6:45am and then I’d be heading to the airport super early for my flight.
Upon arrival at the airport, Avelo didn’t have anything set up yet and I guess they don’t open until 8am for an 11am flight.  Another group was there that thought they had a 9am flight – that hadn’t existed for as long as my flight had been booked but kept saying their flight was “delayed 2 hours”.  Sir, please don’t say those words out loud in front of me because who knows what will happen!  MCO was a nightmare as usual – this time the Pre-Check area barely had enough room for my wheelchair to get pushed through!
There were minimal delays as the crew had to get off one plane in from New Haven and on to ours back to New Haven.  We ended up landing on time and upon getting back into the airport, I realized that the baggage claim area was a nightmare.  I asked someone to grab my bag for me and he did and I managed to sneak out to my Mom who was waiting.  The first thing I mentioned was how the bag claim set up was a mess. 2 days later? A guys arm got caught in the belt at bag claim… hopefully he’s alright and some changes will be made.
If Hanson plays again next year it will probably be hard to say no, but my 10 day non expiring ticket I bought when Disney phased them out is now gone after trips in 2016, 2017 and 2022 so the trip is going to be a heck of a lot more expensive next time… but now I know I can trust Gold Mobility and will definitely be using them again.
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