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All right, here’s what you’ve been waiting for. After finally getting settled in, for the mean time anyway, I’m sitting down to write a summary of our trip to the fabulous city of Tucson Arizona! I’m just warning you that this may get a little long, and it is of course from my viewpoint. So, all the stuntmen at Old Tucson Studios falling head over heels in love with me, may not be entirely accurate, though I like to think it is!;-) So, without further ado, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

This picture was on display in a glass case outside of Old Tucson Studios. We considered picking the lock and "borrowing" the picture, but we figured we had already commited enough crimes for one weekend!

I flew out of Pensacola at 7 am Thursday morning. It should be a felony scheduling flights that early and I would have gladly taken a later one, but then I wouldn’t have arrived in Tucson until early evening, and I was too anxious to get there to wait. I’ll leave out of this post the parts about my flight (i.e. obnoxious children kicking the back of my seat and the 3 hour layover in Houston) so I can get to the juicy stuff. I arrived in Tucson at 12:30, and Cass, who was to be my roommate for the next several days (poor girl), was there with a cardboard sign that read “Jess”. She ignored my request that she put “Princess” in front of it. Go figure.

Anna, Shannon, Tanya and Wendy posing underneathe a mochilla in one of the many gift shops we entered!

Cass and I hit it off right away. I was worried that meeting her in person would change the friendship we’d developed through e-mail, but nothing had changed. She was still as crazy as I imagined her to be! After picking my luggage, one big trunk and an even bigger suitcase, we headed off to the rental car. The first thing that struck me was the heat!! Man o Man, was it HOT! Now, I’m used to the humid, muggy heat that frizzes my hair, but this heat was dry and dusty! The sun was a lot stronger as well. All in all, I must say that although it was hot, I liked the Tucson heat better than Florida’s.

Kirsten in the front, Tanya, Anna, Cass and Baby Spice. I have no clue as to why I have such a mean expression on my face...I think the sun was in my eyes!!

After cramming all my junk into Cass’ car, we were on our way. It was our intent to find something to eat because I was starving, and that’s putting it mildly. However, we had no luck and figured we were just looking in the wrong place. We decided to go and check into the hotel, and then ask the attendant for directions to good restaurants. The ride was great though! The mountain scenery was absolutely breathtaking. Now, I’ve seen mountains before since I lived in Santa Barbara for a year, but this was different. I don’t know how to describe it, but it was gorgeous!

All right, everyone, and I mean everyone, played this shooting game. However, I was the only schmuck who had a score of 0! How sad!

We finally check in and transport our stuff to our room. We were situated right in front of an ‘orange grove’, but like Pam later pointed out to me while I was bragging about our view, “I don’t think 5 trees constitutes a grove.” Still, it could have been worse. The room wasn’t too bad, a bit rustic looking, but I wasn’t expecting the Hilton or anything. The hotel itself was not what I had pictured either. I thought it would be located at the end of a long dirt road or something, but it was right off of a main street. I guess I was expecting a sprawling ranch or something…oh well, it was still nice.

This is when I was first called up to be a part of the show! I had a great time!

We decided to go head out and grab something to eat. We figured that nobody else had checked in yet. After eating we headed off to the Desert Museum, which was only a few miles from Old Tucson studios. The Desert Museum was an entirely outdoor exhibit and since it looked like it was about to rain, the cashier looked at us like we were crazy…but I’m used to that look by now. The place was beautiful. Surrounded by mountains of course. I think I’ve seen enough cactus to last me a lifetime (more on that later), but it was still fun to walk along the trails. We saw Mountain Lions, wolves, coyotes, javalenas, rabbits, humming birds and my personal faves, prairie dogs. Now, me being me, I forgot my camera, but Cass took plenty of pictures, so I wasn’t too heartbroken. We stayed there for about two hours before deciding to head back to the hotel.

Kirst and I posing before the Mission...we were going to string Kirst up on a Cross like "The Exchange", but couldn't find any rope!;-)

As soon as we got back, we headed to the front desk to ask about the rest of our companeros, but that was kind of difficult since we didn’t know anybody’s last name. The only person I’d been talking to over e-mail was Kirsten, so I decided to try her first. They couldn’t give out room numbers so they just connected us to her room. There was no answer so we just left a message (I’m still wondering if she got it). We went back to our room and sat on our porch talking and laughing, waiting around for someone to call (story of my life!!). When it got to 9, we decided to take matters into our own hands. We went back to the front desk (I know the clerk was tired of seeing us) and tried to find out if Wendy had arrived. The clerk connected us to her room, and it wasn’t long before we were walking over to meet her.

Yes, this is my boyfriend Xavier(the one with the long dark hair). You're all invited to the wedding!;-P

Wendy was not what I expected at all. I had never really talked to her over e-mail or anything, but I had always assumed that she was older and very serious. However, this was not the case! She was an absolute blast! We were laughing so hard and loud I’m surprised we didn’t get complained on. Wendy’s friend Pam had accompanied her on the trip, even though she wasn’t a TYR fan, but we forgave her. I don’t know how to describe Pam except that she is probably the most colorful character I have ever met. She was a blast to be around too. I won’t even go into the conversations that Pam, Wendy, Cass and I had that night (Long Live Father Shauggnessy), but I will say that I was laughing until I cried. After Cass and I had been there for about 30 min, Wendy got a phone call from Shannon. They were heading over and we knew when they got there because we heard giggling from across the parking lot!

Once everyone had introduced themselves, it got kind of weird. Shannon, Anna and Kirsten had been hanging out all day, so they had already formed a comfortable group. And the four of us (i.e. Wendy, Cass, Pam and I) had done the same I suppose. I was really shy and didn’t say much to the other girls. Well, during our discussion earlier, the four of us had decided that we wanted to go to Tombstone the next day, and then Cass and I would be heading off to Mexico since we were the only ones who had brought their passports. However, Kirsten, Shannon and Anna had already planned on going to Old Tucson Studios for the day. Well, we all bid goodnight and went to our separate rooms. I will say that I had a hard night sleeping because I was so excited about the next day…but I did manage to get a few hours sleep and I was set.

I woke up Friday morning at about 7:55 and headed for the shower. Cass was still asleep so I tried to be as quiet as possible, but I think my efforts failed because when I got out of the shower she was up as well. We decided to wait until 9:30 to call the others because we knew that Pam and Wendy had been up for the past 36+ hours. So, instead Cass and I watched t.v. for a while. When we could contain ourselves no longer we called to wake up Wendy and Pam. It took them about 45 min to get ready and we headed over to their room. Well, there was a miscommunication and they headed over to our room as well, so we just missed them. We waited by our room for a while to see if they would show up, but we decided that they must have thought we’d meant that we’d meet them in Tombstone, so we headed out, blasting my 80's c.d.s all the way.

Cass and I stopped first as the Boothill cemetery and took some pictures. There were some hilarious headstones, my favorite being “He was right, We was wrong, but we strung him up anyway, and now he’s gone.” I just love western poetry!;-) Well, we then drove on to Tombstone and began to walk up and down the street, hoping to catch a sign of Wendy or Pam. Coincidentally, it was they who found us first. We hadn’t been there for 5 min before they spotted us. We got invited to a shoot-out type show and we arrived a little late…better late than never though, right? It was a good show and one of the stuntmen was really, really, really cute. There was a display of the famous gunfight between the Earps and those other dudes (I can’t remember their names, aren’t I a good listener?) and a lot of gift shops. We walked around the rest of the day together and Cass and I decided not to go to Mexico since the others couldn’t go. We headed back to the hotel and then to the Black Angus for some grub. Shannon, Kirsten and Anna had already eaten so we told them we’d catch up with them a little later.

When we returned from eating, Pam wanted to go and get a tattoo. Cass was really tired and just wanted to go to bed. So, Wendy, Pam and I piled into their car and went on a mission. We arrived at a nice little place, but by the time Pam decided what she wanted, it was too late to get anything done. So we decided to come back the next day. Before we all went to bed that night, we met up with the other girls and decided we’d all leave for the studios before they opened the next morning. I went back to my hotel room and again had trouble sleeping. I swear that room was haunted. They don’t call it the Ghost Ranch Lodge for nothing!!

Moving on, everyone decided to go and grab something to eat the next morning in the hotel lobby. Of course Pam and I were the last to arrive! I was wearing the infamous pink shirt that you will see in pictures and hear mentioned occasionally. I think it was Shannon who started everything by saying, “Hey, you look like a spice girl!”. From then on, I was known as Baby Spice…which Pam later changed to Peptol spice. After everyone had eaten, we piled into two separate cars and headed to the studios. I was in control of the radio so I made Pam and Wendy listen to the Spice Girls. I gotta live up to my name, don’t I??

We finally reached the park, and we decided to wait for Tanya in front of a little train station thing. She brought along her boyfriend Rob. We all couldn’t get over how nice he had been to come along. I didn’t really talk that much to Tanya, but she was very nice. We all went to THE CEMETERY to take pictures…yes we are all certifiably insane. Kneeling in the gravel (which hurt I might add) and proposing to eachother. Aaaaah, it was great! We went walking around for a bit and began posing in front of various buildings that most of you will recognize from the show. That’s when I saw him…Xavier!! He’s my future husband…he just doesn’t know it yet!;-) Anyway, that’s when we also saw Noel, the Jimmy look alike. Now I’m sure most of you are wondering how we are so familiar with these dudes…it could be because we went to all of their shows and took pictures with them. But I’ll go into greater detail a little later! We went to the saloon and everyone had a sarsaparilla, but no cheese sandwiches. They had a nice little show with some more cute men. This is where we also met Chino. Actually, Shannon, Kirsten and Anna had met him the day before so he was really friendly with everyone. I’ll get back to Chino a little later on. Now, we all wanted to take those period pictures where everyone dresses up. I of course was a saloon gal, along with Cass, Anna, and Shannon! Kirsten and Tanya were…well, I don’t know what they were. They were dressed in classier clothes…although Kirst was holding a gun. And of course, Pam and Wendy were our pimps!! It was so much fun getting everyone dressed and outfitted properly. We were all a bunch of giggling girls! I think we frayed the photographer’s nerves a little, but it turned out all right in the end. It was a little confusing deciding which pictures to get, etc, but we were finally out of there.

We met up with Chino again and he told us that there would be another show with our favorite stuntmen so you know we were there! Now, Wendy and I were chatting with Chino for a bit when Xavier walked past us…I guess I was drooling or something because Chino gave me this knowing smile. Anyway, we hurried back over to the bleachers where the other girls were and waited for the show to begin. Well, the show started and I got picked to go up and be part of it. Now, let me just say, I never get picked for anything!! I was always the last kid standing on the playground waiting to get picked for a team! But I was in luck that day! So, anyway this other dude and I head back stage to get ready for our parts. The show was about how stunt doubles work, etc. As soon as I walked backstage, Chino and Xavier were sitting together smiling at me! Chino said something like “Aren’t I a good friend?”. I was too shy to speak so I just kind of nodded. Well, we dressed in our costumes and were prepped on our parts, and then it was show time. I felt like a total dweeb, but I had a lot of fun. I’m sure one of the girls snapped a few shots of me in my Little House on the Prairie garb, so now you all will get a chance to make fun of me as well!;-) Well, the show was over and again we took pictures with the guys. I was in heaven!

Well, Tanya had decided to leave so we all said goodbye and walked a round some more. We met up with Xavier and Noel again and just started chatting with them, telling them why we were there. They thought we were crazy…which we are. But they were really nice and sweet. They answered some of our questions and then went on to do another show. Of course we were there to see that one, but restrained ourselves this time and didn’t take pictures. I guess it was around that time that we decided to leave. Pam wanted to go get her tattoo and we all agreed to go with her. I must confess that I had been thinking about getting a little dolphin on my ankle but chickened out at the last moment. My mother still hasn’t forgiven me for my eyebrow ring, and I didn’t think a tattoo would speed up the peace process! Shannon had been thinking of getting one too, but decided against it. While Pam was getting her tattoo, Shannon, Kirst, Anna, Wendy and I decided to go and grab something to eat. Cass agreed to stay with Pam. Well, it being a Saturday night, there was hardly any place to eat that didn’t have a waiting time of 10 years. So we ended up at this jazzy little place called Mimi’s café (free publicity). It was the first time that us gals had a chance to just sit and talk. And believe me, we talked. I don’t know how long we stayed there, but I know it was a while. We decided to head back to pick up the others while Shannon, Kirst and Anna headed back to the hotel to pick up the VCR we’d ordered. (I had brought all my TYR tapes since I am in the process of moving).

When Wendy and I reached the tattoo parlor, not only had Pam gotten her tattoo, but Cass had as well (a little panther paw). We finally made it back to the hotel and set ourselves up for a marathon of TYR. Not surprisingly, we only made it through the Sacrifice before deciding to hit the hay. Shannon had an early flight that morning so we all hugged her goodbye and went to our rooms, with the plan of hitting Mt. Lemmon the next day. I think I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow that night!

We all got up relatively early Sunday and had our free breakfast again. Before we left, I had to move my stuff into a new room since I was staying until Monday and Cass was leaving that evening. Pam had decided to stay at the hotel that day, so the five of us packed into Cass’ car and stopped at Target to pick up some film. I am not ashamed to say that we had a group hug in the middle of the store!;-) Anyhoo, the trip was long and the thing I remember best is everyone singing at the top of their lungs to Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5. It was great! Well, we finally make it to our spot and begin to climb the mountain. Poor Anna had on Birkenstock sandals so she had a rougher time than the rest of us. Actually, I think she made better time than I did with tennis shoes and that’s sad! We began taking pictures of the view and recording ourselves on the video camera. It was a lot of fun to say the least! We had made an appointment to go horseback riding that night at 6, but we didn’t make it back in time, and I was very disappointed. That was just about the only thing I had wanted to do the entire trip! Well, we made an appointment for 6 am the next morning instead. Cass wouldn’t be able to go with us since she had to leave that night, but at least we were still going. We proceeded to go eat at La fuentes and Kirst, Pam and I persuaded the mariachi band to sing Happy Birthday to Cass since she had turned 23 (sound about right Cass??) the day before! After dinner we went back to the hotel room and watched a few more TYR episodes. Cass had to drive to Phoenix so we all said goodbye and she was off. Yes, the Cheese (being me) really does stand alone!

We were supposed to all get up at 4:30 the next morning so we could leave the hotel at 5:15…however, I didn’t get my wake-up call until 5:02!! I didn’t even have time to take a shower! I didn’t even brush my hair! I just threw on some clothes and met everyone in Kirsten’s room. It was really quiet in the car (a first I assure you) since everyone was still tired. We got to the ranch and it was deserted. The gate was locked, so we couldn’t get in. We sat there for about 10 minutes, but I was not giving up! I got out of the car and started walking around the perimeter, searching for any sign of human life. Well, the guy finally pulls up and lets us in. He had to feed the horses first, so we just kind of hung around. Well, finally we were on our way. Let me just say before I go any further, that the one and only time I have ridden a horse was 8 years ago in the seventh grade!

Moving on, everyone got on their horses and I swear, I had the slowest horse in Arizona. She would not go fast at all! I was the first one in line and I think everyone was getting mad at me!*s* It’s the horse dudes, not me!! Anyway, we started singing our trail songs…The Gambler, Blaze of Glory, etc and were having a grand old time. We stopped a couple of times to take pictures and somehow I ended up being the very last person in line (did you guys plan that??). We started heading up this steep, rocky incline when all of the sudden my horse stumbled, and yours truly flew out of the saddle, into some cactus. Now, the ironic thing is, I had just been looking at that cactus thinking how much it would hurt if someone were to fall into it…I don’t think I made a sound when I hit the ground. I was in complete and total shock! I remember someone calling my name and then being helped up by our guide. He began to pick some of the cactus needles from my back, but it was a hopeless situation. There were just too many and we needed to get going.

So, I got back on Comet (yes that was her name, though I have no clue why…it should have been molasses or something like that) and we started again. It was a bit uncomfortable since I had cactus spines digging into my legs and backside, but what can you do?? I still had the best time and I have the scars to prove it!;-) If only Pam had the video camera on when I took my tumble, we could have won some serious money from America’s Stupidest People, or whatever it is they’re calling it now. Oh well, Bygones.

Well, we all rushed back to the hotel so that we could grab showers before having to checkout at 12. I was in the bathroom for at least twenty minutes trying to remove the spines from my ankles and legs. But time was a luxury I didn’t have, so I just jumped in and out of the shower as fast as I could. Packing was another story all together!! I will never know how I got it all to fit in the first place, but I had a terrible time putting everything back in. When I finally did, Pam carried my trunk (I love you man) to the front desk which was quite a hike!! We checked out and said goodbye to Pam and Wendy since they were driving to New Mexico. I was going with Kirsten and Anna to the airport since my train didn’t leave until 9:45 that evening.

Anna, Kirst and I boarded the shuttle, trying not to cry and planning the next reunion! Anna’s flight left at 1 something and Kirst’s left at 3:30. We were all taking pictures in the airport and just talking about all the fun we’d had. We couldn’t believe that the weekend had actually happened!! Anna was the first to go, so we all hugged and she left for the gate. Then Kirst and I sat talking since we hadn’t really been alone together that entire weekend. Then she had to leave, and once again the Cheese stood alone! I caught the shuttle to the train station. As I said earlier my train wouldn’t be leaving for L.A. until 9:45 that evening, so for 5 hours I sat reading and watching the Knicks game (which they won). Then finally I too left Tucson.

I don’t know what else to say. It’s kind of hard to put into words the experience that I had out there with that wonderful group of girls. I had my misgivings at the very beginning because it wasn’t very organized, but I had the time of my life out there. Cass, thank you for putting up with me and not mentioning my snoring which I’m sure you heard! You were so fun to hang out with, and to just talk with! Kirsten, well girl, only a few more months until you come and visit me in SB…and you know we’re making a trip to SM. Wendy, my fellow fat-bottomed gal, you know we make the world go round!;-) Thanks for planning the whole thing in the first place! I’ll be seeing you next year! Pam, you crazy, crazy girl. Even though you are not a TYR fan, you put up with our TYR marathons and our rabid behavior. I’ll see you next year, man-eater! Anna “pahk the cah” Murphy, another Bostonian. I may be going over there for Christmas, so I’ll be in touch. You and I have got to get together!! Shannon, at last another girl who watches basketball!! I know we really didn’t get to talk too much over the course of the trip, but I’m so glad I came and that I got to know you a little!! Tanya, I'm sorry we didn't get to chat much, but hopefully next year will be different

Well, this concludes my summary of those great days we had in Tucson. Hopefully I’ll be meeting more of you next year! It was one of the greatest things I’ve done in my life (which isn’t saying much, but…) and if anyone has an opportunity to join our ranks next year, please do so. I promise you won’t regret it! Just stay away from Cacti and Xavier (He's mine)!!!