Our names are Amanda & Megan. If you're reading this right now we can only assume that you are a fan of Straight No Chaser! We have had so many adventures in our journeys to see them that we needed a place to write them all down. Cue blog! We can only imagine the adventures will continue and we can't wait to see where they lead us.
* I dedicate this blog post to Randy Stine, who expressed his disappointment in the lack of blog updates recently, and motivated me to get this done*
Well, when Mike Luginbill tells you that he wants you to come to a show soon because December is too far away (his precise words were “Pick a show!” It was an outright demand) and then gives you a pouty face, you do as you’re told and find a show. That’s the basic gist of how we ended up in Wilkes-Barre, PA just a mere 10 days after the cruise.
The day before the Wilkes-Barre show, both Megan and I had to work. Our plan was to meet up after school and leave as soon as possible. We had booked a hotel for two nights so that it didn’t really matter what time we got there, we’d have a place to stay. We debated driving the day of the show but decided against it. It was a smooth drive down there. These drives are becoming increasingly more familiar and therefore increasingly more uneventful. An uneventful drive though is a good thing.We did feel as though we were driving in circles. That may have been because we drove by a surplus of Best Buy stores and they all looked identical. Our only reasoning was that we had to be driving by the same one over and over again. It seemed logical at the time. When we finally got to our hotel, we were able to check in right away and had no issues. We made our way to our room using the creepy elevator. It tended to blend in with the wall at times (more on that later)
Shower WITH directions
Once we finally made it to our room, after we had traversed through our smelly hallway, we decided to scope out the situation and make sure we had everything we needed. We had learned our lesson the hard way in Biloxi. Now seems like a good time to mention that we were both very thankful that our room didn’t have the same stench as the hallway.Our first stop was to the shower. This shower had the same confounded doohickey as the one in Mississippi, the only difference being that this time we were prepared for it. Oh yeah, and this one came with directions. It was late and we decided that it was probably best if we just hung out in the hotel for the night. The next day we would go exploring in Wilkes-Barre.
The next day arrived quite earlier than we had hoped for with a surprise wake up call from our boss at Sylvan. Apparently, he was unaware that we were together in PA and so when I took the day off, it meant Megan could not cover my hours. After that, we were both up and ready to go. We decided that we should probably venture out and get coffee and food, as later in the day we would embark on a mission to find glow sticks. When we were leaving the room, we walked down the hallway in the general direction of the elevator but to our surprise it seemed to have been moved to another location. We were both sure that we had gotten off the elevator, turned left, and not too far down was our room. Why has this become such a complicated process? You can imagine our embarrassment as we walked up to one of the housekeepers and asked “Excuse me, where is the elevator?” She turned and looked at us and while she attempted to hold back laughter simply stated, “It’s over there, by the trash can” We turned around to see a hidden elevator that was painted the exact same color as the wall. We concluded that it has just magically appeared there. The only other option was that we had just walked by it and that was certainly not possible, was it?
After finally finding the elevator, we exited the building in stealth mode because the guy at the front desk was super creepy. At one point we had gotten locked out of our room so I went down to get a new key and he said, “How many keys would you like?” (both keys had suddenly decided to stop working) I said, “Just two, thanks” (we both like to have one, you know, incase one breaks down) His response was, “are you sure? I can make as many as you’d like” and then gave the creepiest smile ever. Needless to say, we did not want another interaction with him. When we got our coffee, we decided we should probably make sure we knew exactly how long it would take us to get to the venue before we went out gallivanting.
We realized that we were once again driving in circles. Pennsylvania loves one-way streets. As it turns out the venue was much closer than we had anticipated. Suddenly we found ourselves stopped right in front of it and the happy squeal of “BUS!” could be heard once we noticed where we were. Although, those excited emotions passed quickly and turned into utter confusion. As we approached a large rotary –*ahem* traffic circle (something we are quite accustomed to in MA) we noticed a stoplight. That is something we had never seen before. Our instincts told us we had to yield and go when it was our turn but that light seemed to have other plans for us. In true Massachusetts’s fashion, we cursed it with vexation. After we were allowed to pass, we drove almost completely around it and headed back in the direction of our hotel.
It was still plenty early so we decided to go get some glow for the evening’s festivities. Since we know that the store iParty is not a common occurrence in many of the places we travel, we decided to find a Party City instead. My GPS searched and told me there was one not too far from where we were. I should know to never trust my GPS, it consistently gets to somewhere I do not want to go. When we got to the proposed Party City, the only thing that waited for us was a giant plaza and a Wal-Mart. Since we’re not usually ones to complain, we made the best of what we had. We went into Wal-Mart on a mission. We had 3 things we wanted/needed 1) Glow Sticks, 2) Candy Corn, and 3) Twizzlers (preferably individually wrapped ones.) Given that it was almost Halloween – we had very little trouble accomplishing our goals. It did take a bit of perseverance to find the glow sticks, though. We were just about to give up hope when we stumbled upon the party supplies. Our options in glow paraphernalia that would be useful to us were minimal so it was sort of a grab and go mission.Upon exiting the glow section, we stumbled upon something that stopped us both in our tracks.
There, Across from the wonderful display of things that would glow was a glorious section we referred to, as “The Moustache Section” There was just shelves filled with bins, and those bins were filled with anything and everything you could imagine. Every item found in this section had a moustache on it. On the lowest shelf, that clearly had seen better days, we saw a package labeled “photo props”. They were simple (and flimsy) black cut outs of silly things that had been hot glued to wooden dowels. Did we need these? First instinct – Yes! There was nothing in our brain that said otherwise, so we got two packages (there were 6 props in each.)Despite the fact that we were in the wrong location, we left the store feeling proud of our amazing purchases.
What more could we possibly need, right? That’s what we were thinking so we headed back to the hotel to start getting ready for the night. We took our time getting ready while we munched on candy corn and twizzlers (which now, in retrospect, the thought of doing that makes my teeth hurt.) We had purchased new lights so we got those ready to go. They were pumpkins of course! We do try to be seasonal. Megan realized that one of her pumpkin necklaces was not working. This was a shame and saddened us immensely. We decided, since we both had finished getting ready, that we would head out once again in search of Party City to right this terrible wrong.
Upon exiting the building, this time without getting lost in the hallway, we realized we had exuded a great deal of energy in our last adventures and were feeling a bit famished (and a little on the edge of our seats – no thanks to the candy corn and twizzlers.) We decided to nourish ourselves at Wendy’s before we headed out on our new expedition. Party City would about as easy to find as the Lost City of Atlantis. I made a generous amount of U-turns before we finally reached our destination.
Going to a party store 4 days before Halloween was probably the worst decision we had ever made. There were more people there than I cared for. Everything was arranged by color, just how my OCD likes it. We wandered around for a bit, mainly because we had never been inside such a store. This place was much bigger than any party store near us. We came across the exact pumpkin lights we had previously purchased (SCORE!), played dress up with the sunstache glasses, and then got in the seemingly endless line to leave. Once we were given consent to leave from the cashier, we headed back to the car and we were concert bound.
It didn’t take us very long to get there and find a place to park. We walked down a creepy alley to get to the front of the venue. As we walked, we were almost positive this was going to be the time we were kidnapped.Fortunately, we made it to the venue without any white vans taking us against our will. We instead had to battle the woman at will call for our tickets.Actually, Megan just gave her name and the woman happily gave us our tickets, but I wanted to add some drama. We decided to hide out in the venue but the doors weren’t open yet and we weren’t invited in to the preshow meet and greet (though, not for lack of trying) When the doors (to the lobby, not the actual venue) finally opened we made it a point to hide out as we hadn’t told anyone we were coming so we figured it would be fun to surprise some people. My FAVORITE reaction was from Jenn. Earlier we had tweeted her saying that we missed her and told her to enjoy the show and blah blah blah. While she waited in line we positioned ourselves in direct view of her and then casually just waved. She smiled and waved back and turned away. She then immediately turned back with a look of shock on her face and just pointed at us. We pulled this stunt on many other chasers but her reaction was by far the best one. I can only assume the security become ill at ease with the crowd growing in the lobby, so they opened the doors and we all scuttled in.
We had to rummage around a bit looking for our seats, but that didn’t bother us. When we finally found our seats we noticed that we were sitting next to Jerome’s parents. Last time we had this privilege we were let in on some stories about Jerome in his younger years. Much fun. The show started and we were happily singing along and enjoying life. When it was time for the guys to introduce themselves we noticed some frantic actions happening in the background. It seemed to be aimed in our direction so it naturally caught our attention. It was Ryan, and he was in fact waving at us very excitedly, and shaking his faux light necklace. This had apparently become the universal sign for “Are you Amanda and Megan?”This left Megan and I pondering if it was the first time he had noticed us. That was a question we asked him later which he promptly ignored and then changed the subject.
After the show, and a bit of waiting in a line, the Meet and Greet line was set in motion.We naturally just goofed off while we waited. We had a little gift for Mike. Apparently we were condoning the arm-twisting behavior from the cruise. We took the time to get that ready (in a gift bag covered in glitter no less) so we wouldn’t be bumbling idiots when we got to the tables.
First up was Charlie. When we approached the table was apparently easing dropping on the conversation going on between Vicky and Ryan. Vicky had given Ryan a DVD of his concert from the cruise (if my memory serves me correctly) and to this Charlie exclaimed “That’s better quality that his Malibu EP.” He was quite proud of his joke but Megan and I were not impressed and voiced our opinions saying, “That’s terrible!” Charlie once again had wit on his side when he decided to come back at us with, “Come on, it’s not that bad, guys – OH WAIT, you meant my joke.” He told us that he felt like people were starting to intrude on “our thing” with all their glow stuff. We told him not to worry about it because it doesn’t bother us. He also asked us if it was us that had written a cruise review. Obviously that had not been the case because our blogs didn’t come out until months after the fact.
We then moved on to Ryan who asked us about our blog. Ack! My teaching adventures require mucho attention and these blogs remain on the back burner. My priorities are somewhat where they should be, right? He then leaned over to Don and said “Careful Don, They’re recording this….with their brains” This is true, although, the thought of actually recording them has crossed our minds. Don simply acted out a scene from him reading the blog saying, “Oh! I forgot I said that!” We then took the time to show Ryan our awesome props we had gotten. We asked if we could use them in our group picture and before we had even finished asking the question he said, “OF COURSE!”
When we left Ryan and focused our attention back to Don who asked what our favorite song was. Megan told him it was Some Nights, which was true then and still holds true now. He told her to make sure we told Tyler that saying, “If you rely on us, we’re just going to lie” I made a mental note of this.
We shuffled along to Randy who was the first of the guys to notice our new lights. Although, he did notice that they were rather dim for lights that had just been purchased. We went into the big long explanation – involving the batteries and stuff like that. He seemed understanding. I was then told to “keep moving” by security. I thought I had said in my head “no!” but apparently it came out of my mouth as well because Randy just looked at me and laughed and said, “They’re never talking about you guys” While it was a nice compliment, we’re pretty positive they’re always talking to or about us.
I swiftly moved down the line, almost skipping DR. I did manage to stop and exchange pleasantries such as “Hi, How are you?” and ”I’m good, thanks” before I pointed to the security guard and said “Apparently I have to go. It was nice to see you though!”
our gift to Mike
I moved on to Jerome, who gave us (well, me) another stern talking to about our love for Hyannis Sound. I’m not sure why he gets so angry. I listened in silence to his opposition. There was no reasoning with him.So after listening attentively with the occasional laugh, I gave him a hug and then quickly moved on to Mike. Mike thanked us for coming and I thanked him for making us come.I was excited to be giving him the gift we made. We spent a lot of time working on it. I looked for Megan but for some reason she wasn’t with me anymore. She was either causing anarchy with the security guard or lollygagging in line somewhere. Either way, I decided to just give Mike the gift without her. Some how the bag crossed the table and she found her way to my side again. Mike said thanks and went to go stash it somewhere safe. I asked him if he would open it but he didn’t hear me so Jerome kindly nudge him and said “Dude, open the gift!” He reached in and took it mostly out of the bag to peek at it. While he was thanking us and telling us how cool it was, Megan turned to the surrounding guys and said, “Look what we made! We’re so crafty!”There was laughter from all around. Jerome then decided to add, “You should see what they made Hyannis Sound!” Way to ruin the moment!
We made our way down to Tyler. We naturally told him Some Nights is our favorite song. He seemed slightly confused by why we had just professed our love for the song so we went into the story about Don earlier. He appreciated the compliments and then asked us if we watched the show The Office. While normally I don’t watch the show, I knew exactly why he was asking, and had indeed watched the episode in which he was referring to. The Hullabahoos from The University of Virginia had recently been on an episode and one of the members of Hyannis Sound is in that group. We discussed the episode a little and how cool it had been to see him on TV and what not before moving on to Walt.
Walt was next in line but before I could get any words out a different friend interrupted me. It was Seggie, and he had felt the need to tell me that Megan and I looked very “Christmas-y.” I looked at him with confusion and then pointed to my lights and said “umm, these are pumpkins” He then shook his head and said, “no.”Apparently I had misunderstood him and he was actually referring to the color of our clothing. He stated that Megan and I were wearing red and green. While it was true that I was wearing a green shirt, his facts on Megan were faulty. I pointed and said “Umm that’s pink.” He said, “Well, from here it looks red” I simply replied with, “Well, it’s not!” and then right there in line there was a stand off between Me and Seggie.Megan just looked on. You’d think she’d jump to my defense but no, it was Walt who laughed at the situation and tried to step in as negotiator. It didn’t take much because soon the props fell out of my hands and I was so excited to show them! Seggie asked, “are those for our group picture?” to which we replied in unison, “YES!”
I frolicked off to wait in line for pictures, taking all my signed goods with me.When I looked down at my ticket, I noticed there was a signature missing. In the chaos that occurred during our kerfuffle, Seggie had conveniently forgotten to sign it.
Megan and I found a table in the lobby so that we could gather our props and get everything ready for the picture. We wanted to be as efficient as possible. During this time there was a lull in the line and Ryan caught our attention by making ridiculous picture poses and shouting at us. He commented about how we were both wearing boots at the time. This prompted us to both lift up one foot and look down at our shoes. Then we just nodded at him, because that is the proper response when someone makes such a comment at you, I think?
When it was finally our turn to go up for pictures, we were ready. We walked up with authority, and I said, pointing to the batch, “You have to take one, It’s not a choice!” Ryan found this hysterical and said, “Did you really just say,‘it’s not a choice’?” Yes, yes I had. I apologized and told him that was my teacher voice. Megan than handed him a handful of props and said, “Here, pass these out.” From the back of the group, I could hear Seggie yelling, “I want the hat!” There were comments from Tyler about how cool it was that we brought props and how we were going to have a unique picture and how he could tell we were obviously teachers. Tyler then made a remark about us making these props and we said, “oh we didn’t make these” and he said, “Then who did?” we both replied very straight forwardly, “Wal-Mart” At the end of our picture Seggie tried to give me back the hat but I didn’t want it. What would I need it for? Some how I ended up with it back in my hand anyways. As this was happening, another picture was being taken of Ryan, who, with the assistance of Randy, was attempting to use all the props at once. It was quite the scene.
An attempt at capturing the scene by Jessica Townsend
We made our way to the exit and while we were standing outside chatting with other chasers, Mike came bursting through the doors wanting to say good-bye to everyone. He told us he had stepped away to use the bathroom and didn’t get to say good-bye to anyone. He’s so thoughtful. We all chatted with him for a bit before he and all of us went our separate ways.
The next day, we made the long trek back home. The ride home is usually when we plan our next big adventure but this time we didn’t need to. Our next big adventure was already planned.