MONDAY, OCTOBER 19TH – JAPAN TO KOREA:
Forgot to mention that of course, Charlie and the Cannonballs opened the concert as usual. Yumi Godsey also performed. Yumi was in Charlie’s band a long, long time ago.
We met in the lobby at 6:15 am and Hiromi, Charlie, and Toshiko all came to say good-bye. Shoji and Seiya rode with us to the airport in Fukuoka. It should have taken us 2 hours but we hit rush hour traffic a few miles from the airport and it really slowed us down.
We are on Korean Air from Fukuoka to Seoul and they are “supposed” to partner with Delta. However, when we checked in, they would not allow everyone to check a second bag free of charge. I argued with them. Seiya argued with them. They would not budge. So, I took a picture of the man’s “badge” who was giving us such a hard time and told him I would be contacting Delta Airlines. He was not very happy about that.
Most of us went upstairs and had breakfast before heading to the gate. The plane was a really nice aircraft. Usually is when the flight is only a little over an hour! It was a very smooth flight and we landed on time. All our equipment and luggage arrived and Joanne met us with a really nice, new bus for the 1 hour drive to Yongsan Army Garrison in Seoul.
I have spent a lot of time at Yongsan for more than 2 decades but haven’t been here in many years. We arrived a little after 2 pm and our first stop before checking into the Dragon Hill Lodge was to go get processed for our CAC cards. THAT was an ordeal. We had to take a number and there was 14 people ahead of us. A sign said each card takes 20 minutes to process. There were only two people working there and they closed at 4 pm. When I was finally called back, one of the two staff members got up and made coffee, stood and drank a cup and then left for a bathroom break for about 10 minutes. As soon as the other staff member finished with me, she did the same. That is why it was taking 20 minutes per person.
Once I got my card, I walked across the street and got everyone checked in at Dragon Hill Lodge. Boy, talk about wonderful memories from this place. And so many of you who will be reading this were here with me at some time throughout the years! It’s changed a little but not drastically….same restaurants and shops.
I got everyone checked in and the group was just finishing up with the CAC card processing. We were all starving because we missed lunch and some of the group missed breakfast and lunch. Kristen, Johnny and I went down to the Green Street Restaurant and ate and then met up with Jadan and walked over to Itaewon. They were just “overwhelmed” with all the shops. Kristen bought a couple of pairs of earrings and a beautiful leather jacket – both incredible deals, of course. Johnny is going to try to have a suit made when we get to Osan and I take him to Mr. Oh’s….my tailor there. I know he is still there because I saw his shop when I was there in August.
We were back in the Dragon Hill Lodge by 8:30 pm. Working away in anticipation of the office opening in a few minutes now!
We have AFN Radio early tomorrow morning and then sound check and performance.
TUESDAY, JULY 20TH – FIRST PERFORMANCE IN KOREA AT YONGSAN GARRISON:
Got in bed at midnight and got up at 5 am to answer emails before going to the GREAT fitness center located in lodging. It feels “good” to be back here. Had a fantastic workout and then grabbed a Starbucks and scrambled eggs.
First thing on the agenda was an interview with AFN Radio. Joanne picked up Bucky, Kristen and I at 9:30 am. They spent an hour with the radio station. Simon and Slick Rick were the guys taking care of us. “Slick Rick” has just returned from Kosovo and Bucky was there several years ago so they bonded immediately.
We dropped Bucky and Kristen off at lodging and picked up all the guys. When we arrived at Collier Community Center, the stage was NOT even close to being set up. I was not happy. Joanne said she had let the production company come in at 8 am this morning. It was 11:30 am when we arrived. We need 3 hours for sound check today since it is our first show with this production company.
Johnny stayed and I had the driver take everyone else back to lodging with a return pick up set for 1 pm. A nice man on Joanne’s staff took me to IPark Mall to find a music store. Had to buy guitar strings for Kristen, Bucky and Ducky. We passed through an area near the Tower Hotel where I used to jog. More memories! The music store was HUGE! The first guy we asked, pulled the strings we needed out of his drawer and said they were on sale for half price – 10,000 won instead of 20,000 won. I purchased 6 packs of each….just in case!
I went back to the Dragon Hill Lodge to print set lists and make copies of those. Everything takes SOOOOO long to accomplish. The Business Center is really a Cell Phone Sales Center and only one person working there. I had to wait over 20 minutes just to ask where the copier was located. Finally got copies made and headed back over to the venue with Kristen and Bucky – hopefully for their sound check. I did go over the remaining days and call times for the tour so hopefully this won’t happen again.
Had dinner with Johnny and Kristen again. I had the buffet tonight and it was German food. Excellent! Had a salad, bratwurst and sauerkraut.
We left for the show at 6:15 pm. The crowd was light to begin with but filled in to a decent size. The Deputy Commander came by to tell us that there was a “mandatory conference” taking place and most people were attending that. This has happened to us most of the times we have visited Yongsan. There’s just too many “officers” at this Garrison and there is always a meeting, conference, ball, etc., taking place.
Regardless, it was a great show. Bucky had everyone standing up in front of the stage before he was halfway through his show. I think everyone in the audience stayed for an autograph which was great.
Found out my dear friend Steve Sargeant is here in Seoul on business. Had I known yesterday, we could have visited with him. He was busy tonight and we leave this area tomorrow. Bummed that our visit didn’t work out!
Going to bed so I can get up early and answer emails before our 7:30 am departure to Camp Casey and ultimately the DMZ.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 21ST – DMZ TOUR:
What a GREAT Day we had today. I’ve toured the DMZ many, many times over the past decades but today’s tour was one of the best ever. Almost as good as the time General Sargeant arranged for us to have lunch with the Swedes up at the DMZ.
Got up at 4:30 am to answer emails, work out, shower and depart Yongsan to Camp Casey. It is about an hour drive that takes two hours due to traffic. Our rooms were already ready for us to check in so we dropped our bags as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, two of the group were given rooms that were under construction. Not only were the rooms torn up, there were ladders, drills, etc. in the rooms. Got those switched out and made the 1 hour drive up to the DMZ. SSgt Suarez who took such great care of us when I was there with the Wrestlers in August was “in charge”.
First stop was the “theatre” where U.S. military and ROK soldiers were waiting for us. Bucky and Kristen each sang a couple of songs and then signed autographs and took photos with everyone. Dano – the “boss” – is not here this visit because he is having jaw surgery. After the performance, we went to the DFAC for a terrific lunch. SSgt Saurez gave us the briefing this time and did an excellent job.
We were able to go into the building at the JSA where we are allowed to cross over into North Korea. It was very “quiet” there today and we didn’t even have any North Korea soldiers come down from the North and stare at us in the windows. We were told that North Korea is asking for a “peace treaty”. An armistice was signed after the war ended and is still in place but a peace treaty was never negotiated after all these years!
We took the drive that took us past several check points, Propaganda Village, Freedom Village, and the Bridge of No Return. A special treat this visit was a visit to OP Dora where we had two more briefings. The final stop was at Tunnel 3. This is the one where in August, MWR did not book the “tram” to take us down into the tunnel. It is about a mile long trip down and a mile back and we had an amputee from the Afghanistan war with us. It was terrible for him. This time I made sure that they booked the tram. We all put on our “hard hats” and rode the tram 300 meters down inside the tunnel. Then we had to walk the final ¼ mile or so and every 30 seconds or so, someone would crack their head on the ceiling or pipes hanging down. Kristen and I laughed every time we heard the “thumps”. Of course, I managed to hit mine 3 or 4 times too.
Our visit ended with a visit to the souvenir shop and museum. The group learned so much about Korea and “why” we have troops deployed here. It’s so important when the entertainers donate their time that they understand the history of Korea. Special thanks to SSgt Saurez and all her staff for making this the highlight of the tour for the group.
We arrived back at lodging at around 6:15 pm and walked over to some nearby restaurants for dinner. Then we made a quick stop by the base exchange.
My room was FREEZING and I asked the front desk how I could turn on the heat. The girl at the front desk was rude and “ignorant” about everything we asked her. Apparently, this is one of the older buildings. They turn the entire air conditioning system off at a certain date and the entire heating system back on at a certain date. There is no way to control the temperature inside the rooms. I’m sitting here in 3 layers of clothes right now. And to make matters worse, I must have dropped my purple fleece jacket on the walk back from the Exchange last night. I have a feeling we are all going to be sick from this experience!
Tomorrow we start the day with an AFN interview and then sound check and an outdoor performance.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22ND – PERFORMANCE AT CAMP CASEY:
What a miserable night. It was absolutely freezing in my room. I had to get up and use the hair dryer on my feet to warm them up so I could sleep. I had a sheet, a blanket, the bed spread, and another blanket on top of me. I wore socks, yoga pants, a t-shirt, and a long sleeve shirt for my pajamas. I am NOT going through that again tonight.
I told the Front Desk but all they can do is say “Sorry” because they have no control over it. I asked for a small space heater and was told, “No. Those are prohibited”. So, I hiked over to the Exchange and purchased one for $20 bucks today. If they throw me in the Brig, be assured my heater will be clutched to my chest. J
Got up at 4:30 am to answer emails. Then worked out, showered, and met Kristen and Bucky at 9:40 am to go to AFN for an interview. Really nice men and women working there. We got the “tour” and then they were “on the air” for an hour. Took photos and signed autographs and finished up at 11:00 am.
I went by lodging and got Johnny and took him over to where the CAC cards are issued on this base to see if they could figure out what is wrong with his. Got to see my friend that I met here last time and wanted to have lunch with her but just couldn’t make it happen. No one could figure out why Johnny’s card works just fine for base access yet doesn’t work at the Exchange!
By the way, someone found my fleece and gave it back to me. J
I went over to sound check with the musicians and the production company was much better prepared today. Bucky went over early and knocked his out and Kristen went at 1 pm and was finished before 2 pm.
Had a couple of hours between sound check and dinner to “work”. Loving my little heater. J We met at 4:45 pm and drove a couple of blocks to the Golf Course for dinner. I had a Korean dish with beef, chicken and stir fried veggies. But, they served it over rice, which was not mentioned on the menu. I just ate everything but the rice. Lt. Colonel Gardner – who is the base Commander – was in Seoul at a conference and left and drove all the way here to attend tonight’s performance! He joined us for dinner and everyone really enjoyed spending time with him. He presented Bucky and Kirsten with coins and beautiful plaques!
The show started at 7 pm and at first there were only a few people in attendance. Then they all started pouring out of the nightclub. Even though it was really cold, we ended up with around 400 people which was GREAT for a Thursday night.
Kristen had a great show and got the audience on their feet and crowded around the stage. Bucky did the same and at one point had several people on stage dancing! The show ended at around 8:45 pm and then the autograph session lasted another 1 ½ hours. The weather had turned really, really cold by show time.
Since Carco served here in 1966, I’ve arranged a “driving tour” for him tomorrow morning at 8 PM. The Lt. Colonel said there are some old quonset huts over on Camp Hovey which is connected to this base. I’m sure Carco will enjoy that little tour.
Going to bed very soon and get up early again tomorrow so I can respond to emails! I have been on the phone with T-Mobile for over an hour. I can’t make or receive phone calls! Very frustrated with them!
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23RD – PERFORMANCE AT OSAN AIR BASE:
Was SO excited when my phone rang at 3 am. That mean my cellular service was working again! When I got up at 6, I was able to make phone calls and send and receive text messages. I assumed T-Mobile had fixed the problem. Then about 2 hours later, everything died again and I realized it was only working because I was on WiFi and had enabled WiFi calling. L
Carco got his bus tour today for about an hour and he and Renea said it was great. Yesterday he even found the space where his Quonset hut had been located way back in 1966. It wasn’t still there but at least he found the location.
The smog is unbearable here this visit. It looks like thing fog all day long. And, it’s really causing problems for everyone with allergies – especially me.
My little heater was awesome last night. Kept the entire room pleasantly warm. Today I gave it to our bus driver when we departed since I won’t need it at Air Force Lodging at Osan these next two nights.
I had a message last night from our contact at Osan asking if I knew what had happened to the equipment truck. He had “heard” that it was broken down. I had no phone number or way to contact the Production Company and couldn’t find anyone who did. Then, this morning, I had a message from the Production Company saying they arrived at the gate at Osan on time but no one had given the gate their access roster, so they were not allowed to go on base. That means our sound check time is delayed again today.
It took longer than the 2 hours we anticipated for the drive from Camp Casey to Osan Air Base – because the traffic was horrific. Like 24 hour a day “rush hour” traffic!!
Our rooms were ready when we arrived at Lodging which was a surprise since check in time isn’t until 2 pm. But, it did take forever to get us checked in! And guess what? The air conditioning and heat is turned off in this building, too. Our rooms are about 150 degrees in them but we do have a ceiling fan and portable fan. My room is even hotter because I am next door to the “guest laundry” and the dryers run non-stop in there. L
Everyone in the group was so excited because I told them there is a Chili’s restaurant next door to lodging. They immediately headed that way but I had some work to do. When I did walk over, everything was under construction. I knew there would be a mutiny if Chili’s was closed. Fortunately, it was open. I checked on them and then walked to the food court and got a smoothie for my lunch.
Kristen, Johnny and I went into the “town” to do some shopping. Johnny wanted to order a couple of suits, so I hooked him up with Mr. Oh. He got measured and goes back tomorrow for his first fitting. The fabric is a blend of wool and cashmere and we got the price down to $500 for both suits. Not bad.
Johnny and I went by the stage and everything was set up and ready to go. But, we were told that the sound crew had to leave at 4 pm and go get “checked back” into the base! That would have been right in the middle of our sound check! Fortunately it was only one man who had to do this.
I hiked back and forth between lodging and the venue about a dozen times getting things set up. We had to “pre-order” our dinner, too, so had to let everyone look over the menu. We finished sound check and had about 45 minutes before meeting at 6 pm for dinner. The base “brass” – Colonels and Lt. Colonels – met with us and presented us with coins. I had met them in August and they all remembered me which was nice.
Dinner was nice except they forgot to serve me my entrée. HA. Got that taken care of and we finished with about an hour before show time.
Kristen took the stage at 8 pm and I think this may have been her best performance yet. She had everyone up on their feet dancing in front of the stage! Bucky had his usual high energy show but involved the audience on even more songs this time. There were two little kids – a 6 year old girl and a 3 year old boy – that he brought on stage to dance. It was awesome.
Bucky and Kristen signed autographs and took photos with everyone after the show. I came back to the room and emailed the tech at Apple Support who had given me her information. She called my room about 30 minutes later and we tried a couple of things on the iphone to fix it. It worked!!!!!! So happy to have my service back up and running!
It’s almost 1 am here so going to bed very soon.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24TH – PERFORMANCE AT CAMP HUMPHREYS:
Got up early again to answer emails and work out even though we aren’t departing to Camp Humphreys until 2:30 pm today. Met Johnny at 9:45 am and rode over to Mr. Oh’s Tailor shop for his first fitting. He loves his suits and even purchased a 3rd one. Of course, they won’t be ready before we depart tomorrow at 6 am but Mr. Oh will mail them to him in a couple of weeks.
I walked over to the exchange and got some gifts for the kids. Not what I was looking for but better than nothing! Bought another smoothie for lunch and walked back to lodging to get ready for the 30 minute drive to Humphreys.
Ryan and Daniels picked us up right on time. When we arrived at the venue, once again the production company did not have everything set up. They had arrived on base at 8 am that morning and it was 3:15 pm and they were still not ready. I don’t think he hired enough people to work for him to handle our shows.
Once we were able to sound check, it went quickly. We finished early and rode over to the base exchange for a few minutes. We all noticed the lack of advertising for the concert on the base. When I questioned this, Ryan said they use social media instead of posters and banners. From the light turn out for the show, it felt like a “secret concert”! Dinner was catered into the venue which was very convenient.
The audience that did attend had a great time – dancing in front of the stage the entire evening. Lots of little kids that also had a good time. I believe everyone who attended the show stayed for an autograph and photo which was great.
We were back at lodging by 9:30 pm and no one had made arrangements for us to store our equipment. I also have been unable to reach the MWR rep on the phone to confirm that the bus will be here at 6:00 am tomorrow. Sure hope we don’t have problems!
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25TH – KOREA TO NASHVILLE:
This may be my shortest Road Report in history. Got sick just as I was going to bed last night and honestly didn’t think I could make the flight home today. Loaded up on Phenegran and made it down to the lobby. A large bus pulled up and I went outside to see if it was ours. However, the driver didn’t speak any English. I asked the front desk and they said that bus arrives every morning at 5:30 am. I finally called our escort and he confirmed that it was our bus.
We arrived at the airport on time and got checked in with time to spare. The flight to Detroit was full. I took a double dose of phenegran and slept the entire flight except for a couple of visits to the restroom….no food, no movie, no reading, no work, and no WiFi — even though it was available.
Landed Detroit and all our bags made it. Still wasn’t feeling good and slept all the way to Nashville!
Everyone is home and glad to be back. But it was an awesome trip – a great country music concert for the fans in Japan and a “piece of home” for our men and women deployed to Korea. Many thanks to Bucky, Kristen, Tony and all the musicians for making these events possible.