Thanksgiving is usually a time to spend with your family, eat so much turkey you can’t move, and maybe watch some football (or fall asleep on the couch while the game makes some nice background noise). For us this year (and many other Chasers) Thanksgiving also meant Straight No Chaser.
Straight No Chaser was featured on this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I woke up bright and early to make sure I saw this momentous event. I stationed myself on my couch with my coffee. Every time Straight No Chaser was mentioned I freaked out and was getting frustrated with the rest of the parade. Where was Straight No Chaser, people? Finally they made their way to the end of the parade route and onto my TV, right before Santa Claus. I was SO EXCITED, and my family kindly made fun of me while I told them to stop talking so I could hear. I was so thankful for our DVR because as soon as the guys finished singing I rewound and watched again (about ten times…I had to watch once for every guy after all). When the rest of my family arrived for Thanksgiving dinner, I graciously serenaded them with Straight No Chaser music, told them about the recent New England shows, and talked about our upcoming trip to Atlantic City (which I was leaving for as soon as everyone left). It’s safe to say that I was thankful for everything Straight No Chaser has brought into my life this Thanksgiving.
When all of the Thanksgiving festivities concluded, I gathered up my previously packed bags and headed to Amanda’s house. While millions of people nationwide were planning their Black Friday attack plans, we were fine tuning our Atlantic City adventure and discussing how proud we were of the guys. It was overwhelming how excited and proud we were for the guys and their parade exposure. We then went through all of our blog contest entries and chose our winners. We still couldn’t believe that it was our blogaversary and we had been writing about our Straight No Chaser adventures for a year now. What an eventful year this had been.
Fast forward a bit to 8am Friday, November 25th. It was finally time to start our adventure to Atlantic City! We had made this trip so many times now that we were pretty sure we could get there successfully with our eyes closed, but we fired up Gretchen (Amanda’s GPS) anyway. We made our routine stop at Dunkys and we were on our way. When we hit Connecticut (the longest state ever) the first Ryan Ahlwardt song came on my iPod. It was now officially a road trip, and I felt the need to tell Ryan. Naturally I tweeted him about it. It was the only logical thing to do in this situation. The rest of the journey was fairly uneventful, and we didn’t even hit as much traffic as everyone had warned us we would. The George Washington Bridge even rendered only a little bit of traffic, everyone must have known we had important people to see and stayed out of our way.
As we approached Atlantic City we had the feeling of returning home. Everything was right in the world, and we knew we were exactly where we needed to be. We made our way to the hotel (which was the same one we had stayed in over Labor Day Weekend). We were about an hour early for check-in (per usual…we love to play the hurry up and wait game), so we asked to use the restroom…we hadn’t made any pit stops on the trip down…and headed in to Absecon (which we later found out is pronounced Ab-ce-can…sorry, but that’s an “o” not an “a”). We had errands to run, so we made our way to the local CVS. Here we made ourselves at home at the photo kiosk, claiming it as our own. The woman working there even gave us the code to the machine so we wouldn’t need her when it came time to print. I think she knew we would be there for awhile. We had made photo mosaics for our blogaversary contest winners and we used this time to decide which one we liked the best and to print them. We planned on getting them signed so we played around with borders and formatting. We decided on using the mosaic of a group picture of the guys and we added a white border around the edge for signing. We picked up a few other essentials (like cherry cordial M&Ms…so good) and headed back to the hotel. We had successfully killed an hour of wait time in CVS and were able to go straight to our room when we got back to the hotel. We win.
|Anyone looking for some furniture?|
When we got into our room we whipped open our curtains to see our view. We discovered the hotel was having a yard sale and felt fortunate that they had provided us with any furniture at all. To show our gratitude, we sprawled out across our beds in an attempt to rest up before the show (which started at 9pm). When that obviously didn’t work, we began to get ready for the show. Once we were showered, dressed, and made sure everything we needed was in our bags we decided to head to Caesar’s. We needed to find something to do that would distract us. We found a parking spot in the garage right next to the elevator so we decided to leave the majority of our belongings in the car. We had quite a few hours to kill prior to the start of the show and had plenty of time to come back to collect them. We noted that we were on level 8 (which I deemed the Seggie Level due to its purple color) and made our way into the casino.
We decided to head to the Pier Shops and get some dinner. We really hadn’t eaten much all day, so food was our first stop. Once seated in the restaurant we found ourselves too excited to be hungry and ordered two appetizers to split (this may not seem important now, but I have a feeling it comes back into play later on in the adventure). When we finished eating we still had A LOT of time to kill. So we decided we could go shopping or wander the casino. As neither of us have spare cash just lying around shopping and gambling didn’t seem like the best options, so we propped ourselves up on a wall near the venue and people watched…this is always a great form of entertainment in Atlantic City, you just never know who or what you are going to see. From this vantage point, we were able to spot many of the guys (all of them except Tyler, if I remember correctly), Blake, and Richard wandering into the venue. During this time there was apparently a special meet and greet going on. The man who was organizing all of the high rollers for this event continually asked us if we were on the list for this meet and greet. No we are not, not-so-kind sir, but we would be more than willing to join your group if you want us to.
Finally it was time to enter the venue. We made our way over to the merch table to get the t-shirt prize for our blogaversary contest winner, Jenn. Then we went to find our seats. We had managed to score one of those nice tables just in front of the balcony seating. They were perfectly accommodating to our needs. We had a nice table that helped when it came time to untangle our strands of lights, where we could put all of our blogaversary prizes, and enough room for our Buddy Holly signs (which ended up not being used because they didn’t sing the song). I would totally recommend getting one of these tables if you ever have the opportunity, they were fabulous; however when it came time for the show, I’m not going to lie, we were so comfortable on those couches that there were moments when we could have just taken a nap. It made sense though…we were ridiculously comfortable, the show started at 9pm (it was past my bedtime), and it is not uncommon for us to fall asleep listening to Straight No Chaser at home…why would the concert by any different? This made the moment near the end of the show, when Ryan called out the couple in the front row for falling asleep, even more hysterical. They’re just so soothing. For the record, we didn’t actually fall asleep, but it was a close call during Fix You.
We pried ourselves from our snuggly seats and made our way to the meet and greet line. We had so much stuff and we took a few minutes to figure out how we were going to go about doing everything. We had pictures to get signed for our contest winners and I had made cookies that I was going to give all the guys. (My mom had promised them that she was going to bake for them and send me with the goodies to Atlantic City. She had gotten sick a few days before Thanksgiving, so I ended up baking cookies for the guys…I wouldn’t let her near anything that they may consume, even after she became symptom free.) I gave each guy and Richard 8 cookies, which left me and Amanda carrying 88 cookies…they were heavy! It was reminiscent of when we decided to give the guys Beahs ‘O Honey and I was wishing I had learned my lesson from last time and invested in that fork lift.
Naturally, Amanda and I felt the need to argue about who was going first down the meet and greet line as we approached Seggie. He took notice and told us to stop fighting. We decided Amanda would go first despite her having cookies that I made. It is just too weird when I go first; I’m a creature of habit. I handed Seggie his cookies and made sure to tell him that I had attached a list of the ingredients. Being the smart-aleck he is, he replied with, “Why, so I can make my own?” Well I didn’t give you the entire recipe, so good luck with that, Seggie. Charlie got really excited for his cookies and even hid them under the table so no one could take them. Don’t worry, Charlie, I made enough for everyone. When I got to Don he told me he was trying to watch his figure. I said, “Don’t worry, there’s nothing in them.” I meant to say there’s nothing fattening in them (which may have been a lie). Walt picked up on this and while laughing he told Don, “There’s nothing in them so you will actually lose weight when you eat them.” Hey, it could happen.
Around this time the photo prizes made their way to Tyler. We had put post-it notes on them so that they guys would know who they were going to. Tyler looked at the first one and said, “You’re not Angie!” Amanda promptly replied, “Nope, I’m not. I’m not Michelle either. These are for them.” Tyler and I then had a funny interaction when I handed him the cookies I had made:
Tyler: I’m trying to watch my weight.
Megan: Okay, I’ll eat them then.
Tyler: NO! These are my cookies.
I laughed and went to hand him a birthday card we had gotten for him. He didn’t take it at first and gave me a confused look.
Megan: Happy birthday! This is from me and Amanda.
Tyler: My birthday is next week.
Megan: Yeah. I know.
Tyler: Oh right, you won’t see me then. Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.
Apparently he had become accustomed to seeing us nearly every day. So had we, Tyler, and I was kind of sad that it wasn't going to continue.
We then made our way to Ryan who asked us about the mosaic pictures and the contest. Somehow we managed to get distracted, however, and never answered any questions. He may have actually distracted us by informing us that he had gone on our blog the night before. (He needs to be patient; we’re working on it…still…over two months later.) I then tried to refocus myself and handed Mike his bag of cookies. He asked me what kind they were. I replied with some form of peanut/peanut butter cookie three times before I got out that they were pumpkin chocolate chip and snickerdoodles. Maybe I really wasn’t refocused, or subconsciously wanted to harm Seggie. When I handed Jerome his cookies he exclaimed, “Yay! I can eat these!” Yes you can, Jerome. He was the last guy in the meet and greet line so we went to find Richard so I could give him some cookies too. He thanked us and told us that we were always so thoughtful. We then congregated with the rest of the Chasers and waited for group pictures.
As we walked up to the group for our picture, we couldn’t help but notice that Seggie was wielding a beverage. We attempted to take it from him, but there was no way he was going to let that happen. We came to terms with the fact that he is inevitably going to “ruin” every family photo. As we took our positions Tyler looked at me and said, “You’re wearing your scarf!” You are correct. Richard began to take the photo and all the guys noticed that Seggie was drinking. There were a few shouts of “he’s drinking, he’s drinking” and Tyler said that it was Seggie’s MO. Richard took two pictures, and Seggie must have been extremely parched because he’s drinking in both of them.
We then went to collect our belongings and stood by the wall near the exit of the venue to wait for the other Chasers to be finished with their pictures. As everything was wrapping up, we saw Ryan walking toward where we were standing. As he walked by people he thanked them for coming. It sounded a little like this: “thanks for coming, thanks for coming, thanks for coming” as he practically sprinted to where we were. When he reached us he sighed and said “hi!” We smiled at this and said “hi” back. We talked about the sleeping couple in the front row and we told him about how we had a close call with the dozing as well. He laughed when we told him that those couches are just too comfortable. We discussed the picture mosaics briefly, he was curious as to how we made them. Then Amanda asked him if he had ever noticed Charlie’s glowing inner ears during Fix You. They had fascinated us and distracted us from falling asleep. He laughed and said, “Tyler tells me mine glow and asked me ‘do you know you look like Green Lantern?’” Amanda’s logical response was: “What a nerd.” This was met with laugher by all. Ryan then informed me that he was excited to eat the cookies I gave him. I apologized that they were a little squished. He said that that was a sign of a good cookie…when they look moist. Around this time we were being kicked out of the venue, so we said our goodbyes and reconvened with the other Chasers.
|Take notice of the photo bomber|
We hung out with Tara, Marna, Jenn, Cindy, Robin, and Kary for a while. Some of us ordered food (Amanda and I did not) and sat around chit-chatting. It was a lot of fun. The timetable for this evening is a little hazy, but I want to say around midnight we all decided that it was time to disperse and head to bed. We would meet at the Christmas tree in the main lobby the following evening for a Chaser family photo. We noticed Terry and Latricia were in Mia’s (a bar right near said Christmas tree) so Amanda, Jenn, and I decided to go in and let them know the plans for the following evening. As we approached the bar DR was walking out, that didn’t stop us from dancing our way into the bar and pretty much making asses of ourselves. The music was so loud that I had to shout at Terry and Latricia so that they understood our plans. In the process of pointing at the Christmas tree, I nearly smacked Randy in the head. The way Amanda and I were acting you would have thought we had been drinking for hours…but we hadn’t. Logically we thought it was a good idea to make our way to the bar. It made perfect sense. The bartender checked our IDs and when he noticed we were from Massachusetts he got wicked excited. He was originally from Wellesley, Massachusetts. We appropriately began calling him Wesley.
|Massachusetts Fist Pump|
Now with drink in hand, we continued socializing and dancing. We did our signature dance move, which basically looks like an amateur trying to shoot a basketball, and Jenn dubbed in the “Massachusetts Fist Pump”. A few of the SNC guys wandered over from time to time and we even had the opportunity to meet Laurn (Ryan’s wife), Jamie (Seggie’s girlfriend, who he said he almost made wear the lights we gave him and I told him he should have), Blake, and Kevin (he drives the Mac). It was an endless night of shenanigans, including Amanda and I bellowing Sweet Caroline in the middle of the bar and resulting in Wesley giving us the biggest and strongest drinks ever. We got kicked out of the bar around 3 am, and as we were walking out of the bar Randy turned around and told me he tried the cookies I gave him. He said he’s usually not a pumpkin person, but they were really good. That’s because I’m a master baker, Randy (which is totally a joke, but I can whip up a mean cookie from time to time). We won’t be forgetting this night anytime soon. The hangover that morning was at least a great reminder, to say the very least. We couldn’t wait to see what the following night would bring!