As I've mentioned before, there was nothing that in Waterloo that took more than 10 minutes to get to. Unless of course you have never been to Waterloo and have a tendency to get lost, as I do. It didn't seem like it would be that hard, there is one Main Street and it's maybe 4 blocks long. But if you drive all the way down it you end up on a highway.
|This is the actual Google map of how to get back to Joker's from the highway. |
Yes, I have the humor of an 8 year old boy sometimes.
We finally made it Joker's where I saw the following:
I have never felt more professional in my entire life.
Scott and I found TJ sitting upstairs in a corner, listening to Glee (of course). She was calm and collected. Not a nerve in sight (she may tell you differently, but that was certainly how it appeared). Due to my faulty navigating, we were a little short on time, so we scouted out our best viewing positions, set up our gear and prepared for whatever was about to happen. Shortly after 9 pm I saw TJ making her way downstairs, I turned my camera on and followed after her as she navigated through the crowd and to the stage, where a sea of family, friends, school mates and strangers were waiting with anticipation. It was show time...
TJ has posted about the show in her blogs, so some of you have an idea of how the whole thing went. But let me just say this: The performance that TJ put on that night at Joker's was her absolutely BEST performance that I have ever seen (until she went out on the stage Saturday and out did herself, again!). She absolutely killed it. The crowd loved her and she loved them. She was one of them and so foreign to them at the same time. The laughs were big and the cheers were loud. It is almost hard to write about because I can't find the words to say just how amazing the whole experience was.
After both performances, TJ was SWARMED by her old friends (and new fans). There was literally a line for over an hour each night of people waiting to congratulate, talk to, catch up with, take a picture with or get an autograph from TJ. It was astounding, she was truly a superstar.
|Old friends reunited!|
|TJ and family!|
We stuck around late Saturday night after the show. At midnight it was officially TJ's 41st birthday. Everyone had a drink in her honor. The DJ played "Get Low", which if you don't know, is basically TJ's favorite song, and she made her way out to the dance floor. It was a blast!
|Happy Birthday, Teej!|
In the days following the performances, TJ showed us what it was like to be an Iowan. We traveled to her hometown in Newhartford. Saw her old school and the house she grew up in. We had "Maid Rite" sandwiches, which we were told is an Iowa staple. We saw lots of corn (Scott really likes corn fields now).
On the last full day of our trip we went out for an official birthday dinner with TJ, Myriam, and TJ's immediate family. I had an actual Iowa steak and potatoes. It was DELICIOUS. TJ had to sit on a saddle whilst the staff of Texas Roadhouse sang to her. It was HILARIOUS. After dinner we made our way back to the lobby of our hotel to conduct our final interviews. Honestly, this was the part of the trip I was most nervous about. First of all, I am not Barbara Walters or Oprah. Interviewing people is not my strongest skill. I hate being put on the spot, so of course I also hate putting others on the spot. One by one we walked family members into our semi-private interview area while everyone else sat in the lobby. I felt like an executioner walking each of these people to the electric chair. (Okay, that's a little dramatic, I was just going to be asking them a few questions..) Sometimes in interviewing, you feel like a bully, but you have to keep pushing. I feel very lucky to have had such cooperation and understanding from everyone interviewed.
We wrapped up the final interview of the night and said our goodbyes. It was truly a sad moment, I felt like we had become some sort of extension of the Huberg-Dewey clan. On the day we left we were able to stop by Jackie's house one final time for some lunch and a little wrap up. And then before we knew it, we were on our way back to San Diego.
We literally spent 1/3 of our time traveling to and from Iowa. It made everything sort of a whirlwind. That being said, it was an amazing whirlwind. I know there is so much more to say about our trip, it's just hard to sort it out. (And I'm sure this is not the last time I will write about Iowa) Luckily, we've got most of it on film! But if I could have spared another week, I would have stayed. I met dozens of new people and I loved every last one of them. To everyone who showed up, introduced themselves, welcomed us into their home, thank you SO much. We couldn't have done any of this without you.
Here are some of the photos I took along the way:
|There was a fireworks aisle in the grocery store. God bless the mid-west.|
|Mmmm, road kill.|
|Has anyone outside of Iowa ever heard of this product? |
What qualifications does a beer have to have to make it friendly?