Ann Arbor, Michigan – The Road Trip.

Wow. How the heck do I talk about 4 days of absolute insanity? Our Rocka-filled road trip started WAY before June 21, with gathering information, making reservations, scheduling chats, making travel CDs and gifts, and packing. Once all that was done, we were able to start our journey. Whew. Somehow, it all came together on June 21st. I wasn’t even excited about the trip really, work has been a bear lately (no pun intended for you Barry fans) and I was very stressed, and even more overworked. The thought of 4 days off to do nothing sounded better than spending a total of 24 hours in a van, but I knew that would all change once we were on our way….

Amy arrived at my place on Thursday night, and we did the usual pella obsessing, a pre-requisite to any Pella weekend. We got up at 9am on Friday to shower and get everything packed, but more importantly, to await the arrival of our other three partners in crime for the weekend, Madelin, Paula and Sue. Sue was the first to arrive. Her dad dropped her off around 10:30am. She came up and we watched some Pella and generally milled about doing stuff. Then, Madelin and Paula arrived, we took out all our stuff and loaded it into the white Chevy Astrovan. Wow, that’s a big van. How am I gonna drive that? Well, I might as well conquer my fear right away, so I was first to take the wheel of "The Love Bus."

Before our departure, Amy gave us our bags of fun. They were so cute, little gift bags which included: Candy (Kit Kat bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups), A pastel colored glitter gel pen, a mini-notepad, a travel game (mine was checkers), 2 sheets of stickers (Scooby Doo and Dr. Seuss), and sheets of games to fill out. The sheets were: A US Map (to keep track of states we see on license plates), A Maze entitled "Help Scott and Kevin find El, Jeff and Bear for soundcheck", Rockapella Roadtrip Wordsearch, Rockapella Roadtrip "In Other Words" (for example: Festival For the Undead = Zombie Jamboree), Rockapella Mad Libs (to the tune of Zombie Jamboree) and Guess the Pellaman (smiles and various facial features). The bag was a great time passer and we had a lot of fun with it. Yay! Madelin gave us each 3 CDs – Sean Songs, Rockapella Mix, and Mad Music Mix. She made these CDs using our top 5 songs for each category. Yay!

Our actual journey started with a trip to Avis for me to sign the rental agreement. Yipee. Then, we were off. We took Route 287 to Route 80. Route 80 is the longest road EVER. We were on it for about, oh, 8 hours of the 10 hour ride to Sandusky, Ohio. We decided to stop off in Sandusky on the way to Ann Arbor, so that we could go to Cedar Point, an AWESOME amusement park along Lake Erie, complete with 15 monster roller coasters to make even Barry Carl scream like a little girl who wet her pants. We got to Sandusky around 8pm. We made great time considering we stopped to eat lunch, and then made 2 other pit stops for gas and general pee-ness. (you’ll get that later – or now). We check in at the front desk of the Clarion Hotel in Sandusky. I REALLY had to pee. We are all standing there, and I said "PEE-NESS" really loud (which sounds like penis – duh) and there were all these people around. Yup, that’s me. Sometime while I was in the bathroom around the corner from the front desk, Sue and Paula wandered over to a fishtank in the lobby. Apparently, Sue said "Paula, lookatthefish" (yes all 1 word) and Paula looked, and I guess Sue might have said it again, to which Paula replied "what do you want me to do, pet it??" so this became a running theme for the rest of the trip. It’s insanely funny, but maybe not so much if you weren’t there.

We got our rooms, dumped our belongings into them, and went to Cracker Barrel for dinner. Sue broke Cracker Barrel. She seems to break every place we eat. She ordered something, which apparently had meat in it, so she had to send it back cuz she’s vegetarian…then it turned out that like 98% of the menu was cooked with meat or included meat, so she had a veggie platter of some sort. It generally sucked for her. My meal was decent, but overall dinner was lame.

Next we go mini-golfing. HAHAHAHA. This is when Paula started to open up. She was quoted as saying "ya bastid" and "F" a lot and it was funny. On one hole, there was this really loud cricket, and Sue, being the animal lover that she is, killed the cricket by bashing it with her golf club, then she nearly cried when she realized it was not something she should do. LOL. I got 2 hole-in-ones. Go me. I ended up with a 40 on a par 41 course, so I won, though Madelin *actually* won cuz she got the most points hehe. Silly Madelin. After golf, we were dog tired, so we retired for the evening. We had to go to Cedar Point bright and early the next day…

Cedar Point. LOTS of roller coasters. I think we only got to go on 4 of them, due to time constraints, long lines, hot weather, bad backs, and general seatbeltness. I went on Millenium Force, Magnum XL200, Raptor, and Iron Dragon. You can ride these coasters on Cedar Point's site. Millenium Force is currently the #1 rated Steel coaster in the US, boasting a 315 foot hill. While at Cedar Point, we took insane pictures…

Next - someone, in their infinite wisdom, decided we should go on a water ride. I forget what it was called there but it’s the equivalent to Roaring Rapids (aka Congo Rapids) at Six Flags Great Adventure here in NJ. Basically it’s a large tube that holds about 15 people that floats down rapids, goes under waterfalls, etc. Well Madelin and Sue sat on one side, and Amy, Paula and I sat on the other. We are floating down the rapid when what do we see, a waterfall! Oh sh*t. Whew. It didn’t get us. We float some more….ut oh, 2 more waterfalls up ahead, and the boat is spinning, next thing I know, I’m DRENCHED head to toe. We got hit DEAD ON by BOTH waterfalls. I was mortified. Everything I was wearing was SO wet. Now, I had to drive to Ann Arbor Michigan, wet, for 2 hours. WET UNDERWEAR SUCKS! That was the most uncomfortable ride ever. I even had to buy new sneakers across the street from the AA hotel (Quality Inn) at the DSW Shoe Warehouse, but I jumped ahead...

We get to Ann Arbor, Michigan and check into the Quality Inn. Hmmm. Quality? Yeah ok. We won’t be staying there again. (Washentaw Road, or something like that, across from Arborland Mall.) The place was circa 1960. The elevator – first off, it had a max of 4 people at a time, and we were a party of 5, so that was always a pain in the butt, however, it got worse. You had to continuously press "door open" else it wouldn’t let you out at your floor, and it took you back to where you came from. OKKKKK. Zool? Probably. So, now we get changed, YAY dry underwear, and I borrow Madelin’s sneakers to wear across the street so I can get new sneakers. Two minutes until closing and I check out, with my new white Keds in hand. I put them on in the store, and gave Madelin her sneakers back. We then went to Chili’s to have some dinner. Very nice waiter. We had a huge booth, it was cool. While at dinner we decided to rent a VCR at the local Blockbuster so that we could watch Buttload of Pella (aka Carmen Clips and various RP TV show appearances). We get to the Blockbuster and get to the counter and say "do you rent out VCRs" to which they said "yes". We were like, OK, we want one. The guy behind the counter was all "um, how do I do that" to the girl next to him. She was totally snotty and was like "I think they are all out" to which I said "you THINK or you KNOW?" She gave me a snooty look and said she thinks they have 3 but that they are ALL broken. She tells the guy to look it up. He looks up CASSETE, CASETTE, and finally CASSETTE and VCR. Ugh. Do they inbreed there?? He couldn’t figure it out really, and the girl again said, "they are all broken" so we left pissed off. We called and found out that there was a Hollywood Video down the other way from the hotel, so we go there. WHAT A DIFFERENCE. We get there, and the man behind the counter was SOO nice and SOO helpful. Really, it was an awesome experience. We got everything we wanted, and great conversation. I’ll think twice before going to a Blockbuster again. We left, VCR and candy in hand, to go back to the hotel.

We all gathered in one room, and set up the VCR to watch Pella. And watch we did. We watched for hours. Finally, we had to go to bed. A lot of funny comments were made during the viewing of the tape, which you can read on Sue’s site. (it also contains quotes from the entire trip, now was just a good time to bring it up hehe.)

We get up the next day, and get ready to go to the reason for the whole excursion, the first ever Rockapella Fan Club convention – hosted by Rockapella Center, Rockapella’s Official Fan Club. The convention itself was held at The Neutral Zone, which was basically a room. It was OK, but not exactly what I thought it would be. I expected more of a school looking place, I don’t know why. Cinder block walls and such…this place was a teen center. I believe there were paintings on the walls by the kids and stuff. There was miscellaneous furniture all over the room, chairs, sofas, etc. The convention basically consisted of meeting other fans, and watching Carmen tapes. No offense to RP Center, but we did that at the hotel the night before. It is fun to watch Carmen in a group though. About 2.5 hours into the 4 hour convention, Barry showed up. He was very sweaty, and his sweat was in the shape of a heart. I even commented to him about how he’s the only man that can sweat in the shape of a heart. It was so cute. Barry gave a speech that made me cry. *Sigh* He was saying how he’d probably never see most of us again, and that was just so sad. I know I’ll see him again, but it all just felt so final. After his talk, I gave him the picture Amy from Kentucky sent to me, to give to him. He appreciated it, and said "I look scary!" He’s so cute. He then milled about and signed things, talked to us, etc. I had my picture taken with him, and I actually don’t look like a 12 headed freak, check it out…

About 45 minutes to go, and Amy and I decided to go out to the car to get the T-shirts to give out to any pellamen that show up (we had gotten wind that Jeff got there and figured more would follow.) I start walking towards the stairs to go outside and Kevin is right in front of me, so I said "ok, I’ll hug you then I’ll go outside" and he hugged me and banged on my back like 10 times. It was good lol. Closest thing to a massage I’ve gotten in ages. We go out to the car, in the 90+ degree heat and get the shirts, by that time 4/5 of Rockapella is upstairs. Apparently, Kevin counted Madelin, Paula, and Sue’s breasts while Amy and I were out of the room. Here’s the story. We had made T-shirts for the roadtrip, which we wore to the convention, and also gave to the boyz. On the front, was the devil baby, and small writing talked of the convention (see the pic of us all below). Apparently, Kevin was trying to read the shirt, and Madelin just thought he was staring at her breasts, so she blurts out "these are my breasts" totally forgetting about the image. He then Kevin apparently said "Yes they are. And these are yours and these are yours, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6!" going down the row of women making hand gestures all the while. (note the emphasis on the 5,6 cuz Sue’s boobs are huge…) I wish I had been there to see that. I decided mine are 7 and 8, and Amy’s are 9 and 10. Just ‘cuz. Shut up. We also got to hear the new CD at the convention, apparently Barry brought it with him. It's very nice. Pretty artwork, and a few appearances by the Rockapella offspring. CD is available nationwide on August 13, 2002 (plug plug).

Sadly, the convention and the Rockapellaness had to end, for the time being. So, we all filed out of the room, and went back to the hotel for Madelin to get changed, and then we went to Denny’s to eat. Denny’s must have a creed. It goes like this "No matter where you go, no matter where you are, you’ll always find a Denny’s, and we’ll always suck ass." We get in there, and there’s no air conditioning. I ordered soup and a hamburger, easy right? Well, the soup never came. Finally I had to tell her she forgot the soup (about half way through the meal) and she was like "Do you want it" and I was all "ummm, no." It also took them 50 years to make Amy’s salad, what with all the cooking salad entails…

So we high tail it out of there (after waiting at the front counter for 15 minutes to pay the bill that we should have walked out on) and go back to the hotel. Madelin, Sue and Amy decide to go get pierced, and Paula and I hung out at the hotel and watched some Devil Baby madness. It was fun. Then I went back to my room to get ready for the concert, which started at 8pm.

Around 7pm or so, the others returned from their piercing excursion. Sue and Madelin got their ear pierced (one ear each) and Amy got her belly button pierced. Ouch. She said it didn’t hurt at all. Somehow I think I’d cry like a baby hehe. We rushed off to the campus of the University of Michigan, and have no clue where the Power Center is. We ask a few random people, and they don’t know. Finally, we happened across one of the cross streets it was listed on, and then ran into the Power Center. (at like 7:50pm) We thought we’d be late, but as luck would have it, Zool made them start 15 minutes late as usual.

The night started out with a local group, The Dicks and Janes I believe. They were actually quite good, and they only did 3 songs, which was enough to enjoy them, but not too many to get antsy for the main act. The Rockapella portion of show went as usual. Rockapella presented Barry with a gift sometime during the show, his retirement gift. It was a Breitling watch. He seemed very touched by it. They mentioned that they thought about having it engraved with 60 Minute Man. It was sweet. Sue and I cried during the show, a lot. At one point we just hugged each other cuz it was just sad and we were bawling like the saps we are. It’s good to know that others are feeling the same way at the same time, so I just cried. I don’t remember much of Big Bad John, cuz that’s when it hit me the most.

After the show, there was a meet and greet at a table in the lobby. We got in line, and said our final goodbyes to Barry. I didn’t lose it, really, for me. I was pretty good. A couple tears, but nothing like during the show. I hugged Barry from over the table and I wished him luck, and he said "thank you, I’m going to need it" and I said "no, you won’t." and smiled at him as I let go. It was a nice last moment, I think. Jeff was right next to Barry. I talked to him about the fact that I was crying, and he said "Were you a BB King’s?", and I said "yeah", and he mentioned how at the second show he didn’t think there was a dry eye in the place after Bear’s speech and the 7 man lineup. Wow, Jeff being nice, I like that side of Jeff. Usually he barely looks up at me.

So, as it turned out, I realized I hadn’t gotten my In Concert poster signed by any of them (most importantly Barry since he was leaving) so I ended up getting back into the line, but I really didn’t talk much to them that time around. (Barry signed ALL my import CD covers at the convention, bless his poor writing hand.) We all hugged Phil goodbye, cuz Phil is awesome, and headed back to the hotel to get the VCR to return it to Blockbuster.

Amy wasn’t feeling well so she stayed in the room, but Madelin, Paula, Sue and I went out to return the VCR and to buy some ice cream at a local 7 11 store. Yum. We hung out in their room and talked and I don’t know what else we did, I guess we watched TV and they all were packing their things for the trip home. Sad, it was ending. Around 1am I got back to my room, and packed my things as Amy was sleeping.

We checked out the next morning at 10am. (One hour before actual check-out time, go us). We tried eating at the hotel’s free continental breakfast, but there wasn’t much so we stopped at Starbucks across the street for coffee. (Well I didn’t, but you know.) Amy’s cup had a hole in it, so she had to go back inside for another cup, which she just placed over the cup with the hole. She got coffee all over her shirt from the original cup. A little later, so much had leaked into the bottom cup, that it spilled out onto her again as she drank from the top cup. She changed her shirt after that cup of coffee. About 2 hours later, she opened a can of soda, which sprayed all over her, so she gave up hehe.

After driving a few hours, we got to Sharon, PA. Supposedly, in Sharon, is the world’s largest chocolate factory (or something to that extent of a title). We get to the place (that was thought was it) and it ended up being a factory outlet for the main store, which was 5 minutes away. We bought some chocolate at store number 1, said some funny things there (read Sue’s page again from the earlier link) and left to go to the main store which had the "chocolate kingdom." We arrive at the main store, and to my chagrin, it really wasn’t as impressive as I thought it would be. Maybe I was expecting Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory impressive, I’m not sure, but the entire "kingdom" was in a room about the size of my bedroom. I took pictures, which can be seen here.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, until about 2 hours from home (well Piscataway, home for me, not all) when we decided to throw in karaoke sean. We had A LOT of fun, and also realized how many words we don’t really know in the first place. However, the best moment (which moved me to tears actually) was when the cd ended, and we ended up singing "Sometime Before Tomorrow". It was simple, no harmonies or anything, but it was just so good. It had been a long time since I was part of something that moved me to tears, it was really nice, though unsafe since I was the driver at the time hehe. We then sang along to RP CDs as if they were karaoke. YAY singing.

Finally, we pulled into my parking lot, at around 10pm. Not bad. We made it from Ann Arbor Michigan, to Piscataway in less than 12 hours, considering we stopped for lunch, dinner and the trip to the chocolate factory. I can’t wait until we are able to do something like that again, it really was a lot of fun, albeit extremely tiring. I love you guys!


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