Tuesday, May 31, 2011

An Arm and A Leg ~ My trip to Colorado and Utah May 20-26 2011

Two years ago I purchased tickets to see U2 open the last leg of the US 360 tour that was to start in Salt Lake City in June of 2010.  Well, that did not happen as Bono had back surgery last summer and needed to postpone this part of the tour.  It was disappointing last year, but I am sure glad I had an extra year to anticipate seeing my favorite band in Salt Lake City.

I left Boston on Friday May 20th aboard a SouthWest flight that was direct to Denver.  As per usual it seems with this airline, it was late in leaving the gate.  For me, that was not that dramatic, as I did not have a connecting flight.  For some people, there was some anxiety.  

My arrival in Denver later than expected, got settled into the hotel.  I heard the last bit of a private concert that U2 was playing inside of the stadium.  It was weird, I thought it was just sound checking, but I was later told it was a full concert for some VIP's.  I guess I must have left my invite at home.  I then decided to check out the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Denver.  Luckily the hotel had a shuttle service that took me there, and then I took a cab back.  I had my usual, twisted mac & cheese with chicken.  I also got my collector pins, and Steve's t-shirt.  They had a U2-tribute band there playing, and it was great to watch the last few songs.

The next morning woke up leisurely and went to the Four Seasons Hotel for Brunch.  It was called THE EDGE.  Go figure !  I think I had the best Corned Beef and Hash I have ever had.  It was amazing!  Service was excellent ( as would be expected).  Celebrity sightings:  Bono's daughter, Bono's Brother, and Joe O'Herley ( their sound guy for past 30+ years)

Got to the GA line around 3:30pm, waited in line until they let us in around 5-5:30pm.  Found a great spot on the rail inside of the inner circle on Adams side.  Awesome show !  It was wonderful to see U2 perform again, my last concert was in September 2009 in Foxboro.  Where I was, I think the tallest guy on the floor decided to stand in front of me with his white hat and TALL ARMS !!  That is OK, I still had an amazing time.  Nothing could ruin this, even that stupid drunk guy that tried to get by me and ended up falling on me, luckily he did not have a beer in his hand. ( always a bright side)

The next day I trekked to the famous Red Rock Amphitheater.  It was everything I expected, only I did not imagine it was going to used a a gym.  I had to laugh seeing YOGA being done on the same state where U2 performed in 1983.

It was this stage that I fell in love with U2.  MTV was just beginning in the 1980's, and I remember vividly seeing Bono marching across the stage at Red Rocks with a flag singing "Sunday Bloody Sunday", and it was love at first sight. ( Hey, I was 18 years old !)  I will always remember that feeling seeing them on TV.  I had heard of them, and I believe even had a cassette, but never had I seen a video of them until that moment.  

After visiting this hallowed ground, I went to the surrounding town of Morrison.  ( I should have worn my THE DOORS shirt, but I wore it the day before to the U2 show!).  Had brunch at the BLUE COW. OMHeck, another fabulous dish of Corned Beef Hash.  Now I am confused.  I am not sure which is better, this one or at the Four Seasons in Denver.  Both were the YUMMIEST I have EVER had & that is saying a lot because I always order that when going out for breakfast/brunch.

In the small gas station I spoke to a gentlemen who suggested I visit a small town called Evergreen.  It was about 12 miles from Morrison through a beautiful canyon.  What a cute little Western Town.  Looks like I would love to come back and visit with my family !

On my way back to Denver I saw on the highway a sign for Buffalo Bill's Grave Site.  WOW, I am SO excited, and this was SO unexpected !!!  William Cody is a co-author of one of my prized collectable books, "The Great Salt Lake Trail".  It was amazing & I am glad I went back to visit where he was buried and the small gifts shop that was there that was full of great information on the life of Buffalo Bill. This was one of the best spontaneous stops that I have come across on a trip.

Before I checked into my hotel, I had been thinking a lot about visiting Columbine.  Twice in the past few years we have had Craig Scott, a survivor from the Columbine school shootings visit our high schools and present Rachel's Challenge. ( www.rachelschallenge.org).  I felt that since I was soooo close, that I should go and pay tribute and say a prayer at the memorial for the children that were affected in that school shooting.  The reverence of the memorial was amazing.  It was surrounded by fields where kids were playing all sorts of athletic activities, yet in that memorial one could feel a sense of respect and reverence.  I was truly happy that I made that trek.  I am not sure when I will be in that neck of the woods again.  I am thankful for the town of Columbine for recognizing the need for a beautiful place to remember the lives of some ordinary kids that have effected the lives of so many now.

Checking into the airport hotel for a nap...flight leaves in 5 hours !!!

6:15 flight to Salt Lake City UTAH !!  Last time I was in Utah was in 1988.  I know, TOO long ago.  Hopefully I will be back before another 23 years pass by !!

My first stop was Temple Square.  I had never been to the Salt Lake Temple.  It was amazing to behold inside.  I stand all amazed at the sight.  I can see why it took 40 years to build.  After my session of service in the Temple I had a nice lunch at the Nauvoo Cafe in the Joseph Smith Building.  Yummy soup and sandwich with Mormon Mint Brownie Squares.  Oh, yes, it had been SOOO long !!

I made my way to my new found friend home, Julie Newsome.  This is our first meeting & I am staying at her home.  She does not know me, other than a few messages on Facebook.  How do I know this lady?  Well, her son was a missionary serving in the Plymouth area for about 9 months ( great kid), and he once said that his mom & I would be great friends.  He was right !  ( THis whole story is a longer story, but this will suffice for now!)

Julie & I chat like we have known each other for years !  We then go out to dinner with her 2 friends for Mexican Monday.

Next morning, wake up, have a great nights sleep in Elder Newsome's room ( no worries, Elder Newsome is still on his mission), and Julie & I ran some errands.  Yummy yogurt, delicious chocolate and a drive up to the Bountiful Temple. WOW, she is my kind of friend !  We ate lunch at The Red Iguana, a famous Mexican restaurant in Salt Lake City known for their Mole' sauces.  It was hard to choose.  They brought out a sample plate, which made it easier.  Now I want to go back & try them all! 

Now, what we have been waiting for !! Off to the University of Utah to see U2 ! !  We got to the GA line around 4pm after finding a great parking spot FREE in the VIP parking.  Yes, my MOJO was working!  Got into the inner circle of the floor, and we were about 10 people from the main stage, and about 3 people from the outer stage.  An amazing spot.  It was Julie's first time seeing U2 live.  I think it was my 32nd time, but who's counting?  

The people around us were amazing.  This is the first concert that I have EVER been to that is alcohol free!!!  AMAZING  !!!  NO drunk people !  WOW !!

OK, so here comes the part about the LEG !!  ( I bet you were wondering when I would get to that part) A lady near us was looking for her husband, Jonathan.  She could not find him in the crowd.  Right behind us was this guy in his twenties, and a bit tall.  Girl asks this guy if she will "hold up her leg" because her husband will then be able to find her.  WHAT?  YES, she takes OFF her prosthetic leg, proceeds to give it to the guy to hold up, meanwhile she is leaning on her friend to give her balance.  So all of us around her then in unison shout " JONATHAN", he yells back, he is across the stage on the other side.  They find each other, she then puts her leg back on.  Weirdest thing ever happened at a concert.... SO it doesn't end here !  I am taking photos of the show, and guess what?  After the show I am showing Julie the photos while we are waiting in the traffic in the parking lot, and low and behold I see said lady's leg ( with clog) in my photo.  Not only that, it is with Bono and it looks like leg is kicking Bono.   I think this is my FUNNIEST photo !

So there you have it.  
Arms in the way in Denver, 
and Leg in Salt Lake City.  
My ARM and a LEG story.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Italian in ME.

4 Generations of Carbones:  
LtoR  Deb Betz, Spencer Betz, Stewart Betz, Mel Carbone, Guiseppe Carbone
Photo taken Christmas 2001

On May 13, 2004 my father Mel Carbone lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.  It was a hard and tough fight, but nevertheless, Gods' will was done and he returned back to heaven.  It was sooner than everyone had expected, he was only 59 years old.  It was not his first bout with this deadly disease.  In fact, he was a medical miracle.  He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1993, 11 years before he passed away.  He was blessed to have that many years with our family.  He was able to meet his two grandsons, Stewart was born in 1996, and Spencer in 1998.  Both boys adored their grandfather.

Now it is 7 years later.  I am in an ugly court battle with my fathers brother. He was my uncle, but now he is not a person who I consider a family member.  He is truly an evil man.  He was the executor of my fathers estate.  On April 13, 2011 he was suspended as executor for "his self-dealing and mismanagement of estate funds as its fiduciary".

On the anniversary of my fathers death, I have been named the executor and I have finally received papers.    I am not happy to have this position.  My fathers brother has expended about 90% of the estate proceeds and has allocated SO much money to himself, his daughter and his son as well as other family members.

I ask why?

There is no answer.

They feel I am not Italian enough, and I do not deserve the money.

LUCKILY, however the courts in New York disagree.  Justice will soon be served.

I know there is the Italian in ME, I look in the mirror and see it everyday.  I look and I see Mel Carbone. I also look at my son Stewart.  He is the spitting image of my father.  He received those handsome Carbone genes.

Many of my friends have suggested I write a book about the crazy events that have happened over the past 7 years.  It is SO out of the park, I could not make this stuff up.  One friend said she would pay to go see this at the movies.

Maybe that is my "revenge".

"The Italian in Me" by Deb Betz

Sounds like a great book !

Let the typing begin......................

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Breathe, THEN shoot.

Let me start by saying that I have NEVER held a GUN, and NEVER have shot a gun before tonight.

( I also am not sure of the names of the guns, so please excuse the lack of details about the guns)

Tonight was the night I have been anticipating for about 2 months.  Half of our class met at the Police station, and the other half went on the tour of the County Jail.  We started with about an hour briefing on gun safety.  The Sergeant went over basic marksmanship:

After familiarizing us with the weapons we were going to shoot, we loaded into the police van and headed to the Gun & Rod Club in Plymouth.  http://www.plymouthrodandgun.org  We all put on our bullet proof vests, ear protection and eye protection, and listened to more safety instructions.

We arrived at the range and there were 4 stations, 2 pistol station, 1 rifle, and 1 shot gun.  Each station had a police officer there handling the gun and going over complete safety instructions again.  It is all about safety.

Most of the class was down at the pistols first.  I decided to go BIG and start with the shot gun.  I think it was an A 25 ?  At first I was a bit intimidated at the size of the gun.  The metal was heavy.  With the help of the officer, I loaded the gun, took aim and shot the gun.  There was not much kick back, what shocked me was the loud noise of the gun.  I think I jumped big.  Everyone around me laughed & I did not know what they were laughing at.  I shot another 4 rounds for a total of 5 rounds.  By the end of this station, I felt comfortable with the gun and had a bit of a rush.  Can't quite explain it, but I gotta say I did enjoy it !  It is no wonder that this is a powerful and loud gun.  Seeing the size of the ammunition one can only imagine the noise and the strength of this powerful weapon.  After 5 rounds my arms were tired.  This is a heavy piece of machinery.

Next up was the hand gun.  The Smith & Wesson 45 pistol.  The Sergeant was at this station.  He kept reminding me of my grip and the having the thumbs together.  I do not know why, but I was more nervous shooting this gun than the shot gun.  It was hard to keep my arm locked and straight.  The gun clicked up as I shot the weapon.  I did not like that feeling.  It was harder to feel the control of the metal when it was so far away.  I preferred the up and close contact with the shot gun.

Lastly was the  semi-automatic rifle.  This by far was the easiest to shoot for me.  Again though, I think it was the loudest as well.  The metal was not as heavy as the shot gun.  By this point I had shot a shot gun and a pistol. I felt more conformable with the fact that this one you could shot repetitive shots and no need to reload.  I can see why this would be important in an emergency situation.

My ears are still ringing.  I did not think it would have been so loud, I cant even imagine if the range was full of people practicing.  There were only 4 guns going off, and not always all at the same time.  

It was amazing.  An experience I will not soon forget.