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Why I Travel to See Garth Brooks

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but sitting here in my hotel room getting ready for my next Garth Brooks concert, the writer in me is compelled to share some thoughts.

Last night was my Sweet Sixteenth, Garth Brooks’ concert that it is, and it certainly wasn’t my last! (I’m actually going to tonight’s late show in Sioux Falls.) Over the years, I’ve traveled from Minneapolis to see shows in Kansas City, Vegas for two separate shows at the Wynn, Nashville, cashed in all my miles to go to a Croke Park Show in Dublin (but the show got cancelled), Milwaukee, Des Moines, Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena, and now Sioux Falls. Why you ask? Well, for starters he puts his heart into every show, his music is the soundtrack of my life, and his shows offer the perfect mix of meaningful songs, rock-out melodies, party anthems, and rollicking moments.

But what I find so alluring about Garth is his connection with the fans. If you’re up at the top in the last row, or behind the stage, Garth makes an attempt to acknowledge and connect with EVERY fan. There’s no greater example of this than during “housekeeping”. It happens during the encore portion of the show. Fans bring signs requesting their favorites. Garth selects several of the songs to sing as part of his encore. Last night, I was lucky enough to have my sign selected. We brought this “We Shall Be Free” sign to the opening night in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Our seats were behind the stage to the side. He saw our sign earlier in the show, and came back during the encore to sing the first verse right to our section. It was absolutely incredible!!! I will never forget it!

In addition to our sign, there was a woman with a sign that said “I’ve waited 95 years to see Garth Brooks.” He saw the sign, and not only did he acknowledge it, but he came down from the stage, and went right over to the lady for a photo with her and her family. How many performers do that??

In addition to last night’s experience, I have to say my personal favorite Garth-related moment was when I happened to be walking to the elevator in a Milwaukee hotel at the same time as Garth. The hotel’s security asked us to wait for the next elevator, but Garth made eye contact with me, and said, “Come on in”!!! It’s been nearly two years, and I still can’t believe I got to ride in an elevator with my musical hero. The best part? He was as kind and genuine in person as he is on TV. I was so shocked by the whole experience, and I didn’t want to be rude, (and let’s face it, I was pretty much speechless) so I don’t have a photo with Garth. If you know me, you know, he’s the person in the world I’d choose to meet over anyone else, but I hope maybe someday I get another chance…

Until then, I’ll keep traveling the world to see Garth. It’s the best concert ticket money can buy, and I always leave feeling like I’ve seen a completely different show than the last Garth show, because of his unique connection with the audience.

Now, it’s time to get ready for the show tonight!

 

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May the luck of the Irish be with you today!

Version 2Oh Ireland how I miss your shores, rolling fields and fences made of stone. I have nothing but the fondest memories of my two trips to Ireland.

Today on St. Patrick’s Day I’m reminiscing about my travels to the Emerald Isle.

Irish Daydreams

Shamrocks & Steins: 11 Days in Ireland & Germany

Please share, what’s your favorite Ireland experience?

 

 

An Ode To Iowa and Tom Brokaw

It’s officially Caucus Day in Iowa. The day when the state becomes the focus of the nation, watching and waiting to see who will emerge victorious. It’s the day when the media takes over downtown Des Moines and the entire state becomes involved in the political process.

I had the pleasure and the opportunity to participate in the Iowa Caucus experience as a young college student from Minnesota at Drake University during the 2000 election (yes, I am totally dating myself). It was an inspiring environment. Rather than people just going and casting a vote in the General Election in November, Iowans are involved in the process months, actually years before the election. They meet the candidates, shake hands with them, attend pancake breakfasts, tea parties and town hall meetings. They talk about the candidates non-stop, and it was truly unlike anything I’d ever seen before. As a student, I worked phone banks, attended big events and small gatherings, including a tea party at the Younker’s Tea Room. It changed the way I view the political process. It made me realize that everyone has a say in the process, that becoming actively engaged with the issues, sharing your perspectives and getting out the message can truly change the world.

It was also during the Iowa Caucuses that I truly discovered the amazing Tom Brokaw. Many evenings I would be in my room studying and have Tom on the NBC Nightly News covering the political landscape that was forming in Iowa. I can’t hear his voice without thinking about my Iowa Caucus experience.

Today, I tuned in to watch the happenings in Iowa, reflecting on my time there participating in the process. Tom Brokaw was on the TV discussing the scene, in his own eloquent way, the way only he can cover the news and elections. The journalist and civic-interested part of me was so filled with joy to hear his take on the day’s events! He brings such knowledge and perspective to the news, it is refreshing. I feel like in general there’s so much rhetoric and finger-pointing on political coverage, but Tom Brokaw brings his own brand to the coverage in a professional and engaging way.

I hope today a new generation of college students becomes forever inspired by the civic process and Tom Brokaw’s classy coverage of the events. But most of all, I hope we as a nation realize the importance of the political process and that we all have a say in who runs our country. Understanding the issues, getting the facts and making your own decision is important to ensuring our democracy runs as it should. Every vote truly matters!

Cheers to Tom Brokaw and the State of Iowa!

Otterly Wonderful Time

In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to share a story about one of my favorite animal encounters.

Last summer I had the unique opportunity to partake in the Sea Otter Experience at the Minnesota Zoo.

It was a hot summer morning when I met trainer Jenny, along with two other participants in the lobby of the zoo. Dressed for 40 degree temperatures in the otter habitat, I was beyond excited to enjoy my birthday gift and get up close and personal with one of my favorite animals.

Our experience started with a presentation about otter behaviors, their habitat and a little Q & A session with Jenny. Then it was time to go to the food prep area. We saw the variety of fish they feed the otters at the zoo and learned how they blend up fish with vitamins and other meds (as needed).

Next up was meeting an otter! Our group worked with Jasper. We went into the training area. We were behind glass, but we got to watch the trainer give Jasper signals and see how he would react. It was fascinating to see how responsive the otter was with Jenny.

Then the exciting part…we got to feed Jasper! For safety reasons, you feed the otter through a small circular hole in the glass. Each person got their own turn and it was so fun to see how excited Jasper interacted with everyone. After the feeding session, it was picture time. Jasper posed behind a half glass wall, so everyone could have a photo to capture the moment.

The final phase of our experience was to set up a learning lab for Jasper. Each of us selected four fishy treats along with some toys, placed them into the enclosure, along with a sled decorated with frozen squid and other fish flavored delights. We left the area, and Jasper was let in to put his playful instincts to work! In no time at all, the treats were gone and Jasper was floating along the water in the sled. Everyone took more photos, and then Jenny brought us to the behind the scenes area of the enclosure to see what the trainers see.

All too soon the experience was over, but what an amazing opportunity!