Showing posts with label Vacations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vacations. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What I Did On My Summer Stay-Cation: My Summer in Concerts

Retirement has its perks, but there are also downsides.


Suddenly, there just isn't as much.

And we are a one-person-retirement household, meaning I am the only person who has retired.  Hubby still works.

So with those facts in mind, planning a major summer vacation can be a challenge.

Last year we went to Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris, London and the English countryside to the tune of about $9000 (I know, but you aren't going to catch me backpacking and staying in hostels - didn't you see "Hostel?").

So this summer we stayed home.

And it has been a beautiful summer (and you know how I feel about summer as per my "overrated" blog post and "What's Good About the End of Summer" post).  It has been the most beautiful we moved here over ten years ago, and according to the natives, the most beautiful Seattle summer ever.  We have had blue skies and sun with temperatures in the high 70's and low 80's every day.  No humidity, just perfect weather.  It's been so perfect that I find myself waking up some days and thinking, "Geez, sun AGAIN!?"  (Check with me in November, though, when it gets dark at 4pm and the rain has started).

So staying home for the summer.  What to do?

Why, let's go to a few concerts, especially outdoor concerts.

So that's what we did.

Here is the "Rosy the Reviewer" run-down on my summer concerts:

May 30 - Lionel Richie (with Ceelo Green) at Key Arena

I know that May 30th is not exactly summer, but I had to include this concert.
Ceelo opened for Lionel and was accompanied by female guitarists in red mini dresses. Of course. He sang his hits including the "real" lyrics, and let's just say his biggest hit is NOT called "Forget You!"

When Lionel came out, he warned the crowd it was going to be all the hits, "all night long."  And it was!  He wore us out.  He reminded me of Sir Paul who, when we saw him last summer, at 71 played for three hours straight without a break.  You could tell he loves to perform.  He never left the stage.  Same with Lionel.  He is 68 and sang all of his hits all the way back to his Commodores days. 

In between songs he said “I have noticed something tonight. We have been together for a very long time. Think about it. When I was in love, you were in love. When I fell out of love, you fell out of love … You got old. I stayed young.” 

He added to that with a cute bit where he said to the audience:

“Your relationship is over. Words you thought you’d never hear are being said to you. ‘I never want to see you again.’ You’re out of your mind in confusion. You don’t know where to turn or what to do. Alcohol is not the answer. You’re completely out of your mind. You don’t know where to turn, so you turn and rush home. You pull out your album, CD, cassette, 8-track. And you call on Lionel Richie.”

That theme carried through - "You just met your true you rush home, you pull out your album, CD, cassette, 8-track.  And you call on Lionel Richie."

And over and over for a few songs.  And he was right.  Lionel's music punctuated many love stories and break-ups.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I hate arena venues, so I don't go to Key Arena for just anyone, but Lionel was on my bucket list and he did not disappoint.

June 22 - The Yardbirds at The Triple Door


This sixties group is most famous for its early members (at various times), Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck and the song "For Your Love."

No, neither Eric, Jeff or Jimmy were there.  But two of the original members are still with the group: Jim McCarty on drums and Anthony "Top" Topham on guitar and at 71 and 67 respectively, they looked their age.  But the other members are young guys and the lead singer and guitarist Andy Mitchell was really good.

They performed in a nightclub setting (that included dinner) and by most standards, the set wasn't very long.  The senior citizens in the group needed a rest, I guess.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a nice blast from the past.

June 28 - Cher and Cindy Lauper at Key Arena

Cher needs no introduction.  At 68, she still looks fabulous and puts on a terrific spectacle of a show.

When she came out in full Cher regalia, she told the audience she was 68 and asked "What's your granny doing tonight?"

She sang many of her hits with lots of costume changes and dance numbers, all very Las Vegas.

And yes, she sang "Half Breed!"

At the end, she was suspended from the ceiling and "flew" all around the arena singing "I Hope You Find It," like the Madonna (the saint, not the singer) blessing her flock.

I have been a huge fan of Cher's ever since Sonny and Cher were on "Shindig!"  I wanted to BE Cher, though I looked like her complete opposite - light coloring and nowhere near as skinny.  I adored her clothes.  Those bell bottoms and fringed vests. Here is my Cher impression from back in the day.

I wasn't alone in my adoration.  At the concert, Andie McDowell just happened to be sitting nearby and, of course, I had to go over to say, "Hi."  I said, "I don't want to be that person..." to which her husband immediately replied, "But you are going to be, right?"  But she was very good-natured and was appreciative that I knew she was filming her new show "Cedar Cove." She even introduced me to her co-star who was also with her.  My feather earrings (homage to Cher) kept getting caught in my shirt, which was so embarrassing!

Rosy the Reviewer says...she has a one word name for a reason.  She's Cher!

June 29 - Steve Winwood at Chateau Ste. Michelle


Here is the deal with the Chateau. 

It's a winery with a lovely outdoor amphitheater.  In the summer, they have shows with performers running the gamut from Pink Martini to Crosby, Stills and Nash.  It's a gorgeous venue when the weather is nice.  Not so great if it rains. Shows go on rain or shine.

You can get reserved seats or you can buy General Admission seating which means you sit on the lawn.  We call those people "Lawn People."  The "Lawn People" start lining up in the morning for some sold-out shows that don't start until 7pm or 7:30pm.

We get the reserved seats because number one, even though the tickets are cheaper, no way am I waiting in line for hours to secure a good spot to see the show. Second, I don't do lawns.  I might not be able to get up especially after consuming the requisite portions of wine that you stock up on there at the winery before the show. 

And "Lawn People" do not necessarily sit on the lawn because the tickets are cheaper.  They actually LIKE it because they have their chairs (they can't be tall chairs), they have their blankets and tablecloths and food and some even bring little tables.  They have it down.

"Lawn People" waiting for the gates to open.

We on the other hand usually sign up for "The Social," a members and reservation only event that provides free VIP parking and food and wine.  Well, it's not free.  We pay for the privilege.  We have that down.

Chilling at "The Social."
So that's the drill at The Chateau and Steve Winwood was our first concert of the season.  Depending on the line-up, we usually get tickets for several shows.  This year was a record seven concerts.
Steve Winwood was a member of Traffic and Blind Faith, among other groups, and he can play multiple instruments - guitar, mandolin, keyboards, violin, etc.  Here he played a fantastic long version of Traffic's "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys." 
Rosy the Reviewer says...He is 68, still fit, multi-talented, and he rocked the venue.

July 16 - Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band at Chateau Ste. Michelle

Ringo's All Star Band consists of great musicians from other bands who come together to showcase Ringo.  The group varies from year to year, though this year was the same as last: Steve Lukather from Toto (he's my new Guitar Hero, but more on him later), Gregg Rolie from Santana, Todd Rundgren ("Hello, it's Me"), drummer Gregg Bisonette, and Richard Page from Mr. Mister.  Ringo sings his Beatles songs and the other members sing songs from their bands.  And let's just say that you can tell Ringo spent a lot of time behind his drum kit, because his stage presence is not the best.  His performance consists mostly of walking back and forth across the stage while he sings, but he wisely also showcases the other musicians and their hits.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this picture tells it all.  A rocking evening.  And, hey, it's Ringo - a Beatle!

July 17 - Replay America:  Naked Eyes, Martha Davis of the Motels, Patty Smyth of Scandal and The Go Go's with Belinda Carlisle at Chateau Ste. Michelle

Martha Davis from The Motels.


Patty Smyth from Scandal and Hubby being Hubby.

Naked Eyes, and I am up there with them!  "There's Always Something There To Remind Me!"

Rosy the Reviewer 80's love fest.

July 23 - Joan Baez at Edmonds Center for the Arts

She came, she sang, she left.  Joan did her 90 minutes, but she was in great voice, and personable.  She has a reputation for being a bit grouchy sometimes, which is why we didn't get a very good picture despite being in the front row.  We were scared she would yell at us.

Rosy the Reviewer says...she has let her hair go white, and she herself admits she is singing a little lower these days, but you would never know she was 73.  She looks great and her voice is still beautiful.

August 3 - Toto and Michael McDonald at Tulalip Casino Amphitheater

Another outdoor venue, but not as nice as the Chateau.  However, Toto kicked rock and roll butt.  There's my guy, Steve Lukather, who has taken over some of the singing and the helm with Toto (he mostly played guitar before).  When I saw him with Ringo last year at The Chateau, I was up front and as he was leaving the stage, I mouthed "You're FAB-U-LOUS" to which he mouthed, "You're fabulous" back to me, or I think he did.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

The headliner was Michael McDonald.  Unfortunately, after Toto's kickin' set where he had briefly joined them to sing "I'll Be Over You," he faltered when it was time for his set. He couldn't sing. It was terrible.  His voice was cracking all over the place.  People were leaving in droves. That's pretty bad for a guy who is so known for his voice that it's said that women wanted to make love to it.  His voice, not him. He even apologized for his voice.  Let's hope it was a temporary condition.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Toto will rock your world.  Michael McDonald, maybe not so much.

August 8 - Creetisvan at Starbucks - Madison Park


Hubby and his bandmate, Mike Tiano are Creetisvan.  Check them out.   They were joined by Ashley Brewer for a special performance.  She took time out of her busy schedule to join her Dad and Mike, er, Creetisvan for a Rush song, "Time Stand Still."

Rosy the Reviewer says...A must see in the Seattle area. 

*You can catch them tonight (September 17th) at the Celtic Bayou in Redmond 9pm.

August 9 - Jeff Beck and ZZ Top at Chateau Ste. Michelle

Beck is 70 years old and still a guitar god.

I didn't realize I was a ZZ Top fan. 

The fur guitar.

Rosy the Reviewer says...If the Chateau had a roof to blow off, it would have.  They ROCKED!

August 24 - Peter Frampton and his Guitar Circus featuring Buddy Guy with special guest, Don Felder

Everyone probably remembers Peter Frampton more as the pretty boy with the long blonde hair and the talk box.

His looks overshadowed his talent to a certain extent. He never got the props for his great guitar playing.

Now he's balding and wanting to be taken seriously. He is a great guitar player.  Buddy Guy is the veteran.  We were sitting next to a couple who had come all the way from Canada, not to see Frampton, but to see Buddy.

Don Felder is an ex-Eagle.  His rendition of "Hotel California" was a treat. He is also a nice tall handsome man, which I like.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Peter Frampton wants you to take him seriously, dammit.  And you will.

September 12- Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons at Chateau Ste. Michelle

When a person is 80 and still out there doing what he does, you can be forgiving.  But you know what?  We didn't need to be forgiving.  Frankie still has it.  His voice is clear with that distinctive sound, he sang all of the hits with some new songs thrown in and he remembered all of the lyrics.  What more could you ask?  None of the original Four Seasons were on hand.  He is backed by young guys, and I wish they had done more of the signature moves.  But it was Big Band all of the way. One wonders, though, why there was no mention of the death of Bob Crewe, who wrote so many of their hits.

Rosy the Reviewer says...we were dancing in the aisles remembering those early teen years, and I was trying to remember how to dance the Mashed Potato to "Sherry." 

September 14 - Crosby, Stills and Nash at Chateau Ste. Michelle

Crosby, Stills and Nash defined much of the 60's ethos with their songs of love and protest.  All have been through some hard times.  Crosby chronicled his struggles with drug addiction and the law in his autobiography, and he looked much better than in recent years.  Nash also wrote a tell-all that sums up the times. Stills' voice is not what it once was and he seemed a bit disoriented at times.  It was ironic that Nash and Crosby sang "Wooden Ships," when it used to be a Stills-Crosby duet since they both wrote it.  But Stills can still play the guitar.

I saw David Crosby when I was 17 and he was with The Byrds.  They played at a local roller rink.  David was dancing all around with the locals in his fringed poncho and hippie brimmed hat.  I also remember that night dancing with a fellow who said he was being sent to Vietnam the next day.  I knew what that meant.  I excused myself.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if they come your way, a concert not to be missed no matter what your age.

As I said the concert was wonderful, but we almost didn't get to see it.
I am very much a Type-A personality.  The good side of that kind of person is that we are very reliable.  We can be trusted to get the job done, as it were.  So for that reason, I am the keeper of the tickets.  I can honestly say I have never forgotten to bring the tickets.  And when I have them in my possession, I check and double check to be sure they are still there.  While at "The Social (which I explained earlier)," I swear the tickets were in my purse, but when it came time to take our seats, they were nowhere to be found.  I could not explain it. Hubby hiked back to the car to see if the tickets had fallen out of my purse.  But those who know me, know that I carry a ginormous purse. 

How can something fall out of that thing?  Hubby must have taken everything out of my purse and put it all back a million times before the full impact hit him.  The tickets were not there.

Once the realization hit, then blame began.  There has to be someone to blame, right?  I saw divorce in Hubby's eyes. I could hear my Mother's voice saying, "See?  That's what you get for making fun of "The Lawn People." 

As we mumbled and grumbled, still at "The Social," a couple sitting near us said, "Did you lose your tickets? We heard someone found some tickets in the parking lot.  The name was something like Browder or Brainer.  They took the tickets to the Will Call."

Hubby and I couldn't believe it.  Browder, Brainer?  How about Brewer?

We hightailed it over to the Will Call booth and sure enough, there were our tickets. Unbelievable. There really is good in the world.  That concert was sold out.  A "Lawn Person" could have upgraded to reserved seating.  But then, as I said, "Lawn People" like to be "Lawn People." 

But even as I write this, I still can't figure out how those tickets printed out at home on 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper could have fallen out of my purse.  I know I checked that they were there when we were eating and drinking.  I think a gremlin took the tickets from my purse when I was getting more wine.  My mother would certainly say, "See?  That's what you get!" for getting more wine.

But what a summer! 

We saw some incredible performances.  These performers are icons of the music business and their music reflected the times and punctuated the youth of Baby Boomers.  They are in their 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's now, but they are still rocking.  Their staying power and ability to still draw big crowds says something about their talent, their music and their relevance. Will Iggy Azalea, Ariana Grande and Maroon 5 be around 40 years from now?

Rosy the Reviewer says...If any of these bands  I saw this summer perform in a venue near you, go.  They are not getting any younger. You may not get another chance.

Thanks for reading!

See you Friday for
 "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Pt 2"
The Week in Reviews
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Favorite Summer Vacation: A Narrow Boat Cruising Adventure in England

Now that Spring is here, you are probably starting to think about what to do this summer.

So if you are looking for a great adventure, I thought I would share one of the most wonderful summer vacations I have ever had.

If you read my blog, you probably already know how much I love England.  (If not, you can find out from my earlier blog "Why I Love England.") 

So what better way to enjoy England than to hire a narrow boat and cruise slowly up one of her beautiful canals?

So that's what we did.

Not sure where I got the idea from.  Probably from watching too many Morse mysteries or reading magazines about England ("In Britain"), but somehow we decided that was how we were going to spend our 25th Wedding Anniversary.

I gathered our "crew" - Hubby, our daughter, my older sister, and my cousin, Jane and her soon-to-be husband, Lars, who joined us from Sweden.

Our ages ran the gamut from 24-70.

I did my homework and decided the best route for us was the Oxford canal (not too many locks) and the best company the Anglo-Welsh Company.

Meet the Damselfly. 

Our home for the next four days. And we were driving it ourselves.  There were guided tours available and we saw many of those along the way, but, hey, we can do this ourselves!

We all met up in Oxford not knowing what to expect.

Wouldn't you know.  Our boat was the farthest one away.  Geez, why did I bring so much luggage?

After a brief training on what to do, we were off.

Everyone wanted to drive - in theory - but as you can see, it is driven from outside and when it started to rain, Hubby took over.  And it rained for the whole first day!  Lars tried to keep Hubby's spirits up with...well...spirits!

Keeping dry.

Our first challenge was getting through the first lock.

We were cautioned to be sure to NOT leave the "windlass" behind, which was the "key" to opening the locks.  Naturally when we got to the first lock Hubby didn't know what to do.  Uh, gee, here is this handy notebook in the boat with the DIRECTIONS!  What is it with men and directions as in not following them?

That sorted, we opened our first lock.

After more of that, we tied up to do a little sightseeing. 

the ruins of a manor house and church at Hampton Gay.
(Librarian Rosy had already done her research for activities along our route).

Over the stile, over the bridge - watch out for cow pies!

Now on to the next lock.

A bit of traffic.  We were traveling a bit off season. One can imagine what it must be like in the heart of summer.

Though Hubby did an admirable job driving the boat, we were not without mishaps.  Note the hull.  We were not responsible for all for all of those nicks and scuffs, but thank goodness the sides of the boat were reinforced with steel. 

Hubby complained that in order to steer the boat, he had to rev the engine to gain some speed and then swing it around.  The wind was also a factor.  Sure.

I can remember sitting happily inside with a lovely glass of wine looking out the front of the boat and suddenly a tree was looming and boom!  No worries.  Lars jumped out and pushed us off the shore.  Thank goodness for the handy, dandy poles provided for just such a purpose.

The first night we tied up at The Boat Inn in Thrupp.

We were having difficulty finding a space until a friendly local woman came along.  She grabbed hold of the line of one of the parked boats and moved it, making room for us.  She said that since the owners were in the pub having a few, they would never notice their boat had been moved!

So Day 1. 

We traveled about eight miles. Hey, it's not easy when you can only cruise at about 2-3 miles per hour.  Hubby cranked it up to 4 one time as we passed another boat parked on the side of the canal.  The owner of that boat came out and shook his fist at us.  We were probably rocking his boat as he was preparing his tea!

Day 2 was our 25th Wedding Anniversary.

This friendly swan seemed to be saying, "This way to the next pub!"

And here we are!

At the end of Day 2 we had to turn the boat around.  Yikes.

There are only certain places where you can turn the boat around.  Those spots are called "winding holes (pronounced "win - ding")." 

Here at Lower Heyford, our farthest point, Hubby once again didn't read the directions and after many attempts, a friendly local turned our boat around for us.

Half the fun was tying up and spending the evenings hanging out together.

Or just relaxing.

Or making new friends.

I was able to get my Inspector Morse fix as we headed back toward Oxford having lunch at the Trout Inn, one of Morse's and Lewis' haunts. 

Our last day, after traversing the Thames, we tied up just outside of Oxford as we had to return the boat early in the morning.

As we readied the boat for its return, we noticed we still had a lot of wine and spirits, er, "supplies" left. 

What to do?

What do you think we did?


On the fourth day, we said our good-byes.

Taking our happy memories with us
(can someone tell me what is going on with the hair on that redhead?)

We were a motley crew aging 24-70, but nary a cross word was spoken and a good time was had by all.

I have often thought of doing this trip again and sharing it with others.

But I can't help but worry that it just wouldn't be the same. 

Sometimes you just can't recreate magic.

So I think - next stop!  Barging in France!

What are your favorite summer vacation memories?

See you Friday for

"Why Oprah Still Matters"


The Week in Reviews

Thanks for reading!

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Photos courtesy of Rosemary DeHoog and Chuck Brewer