For the first time since we began the tour, our tired crew enjoyed a day off this weekend — well, to be fair, a half-day off.
We drove from Houston to San Antonio on Saturday morning. Most of the trip was spent discussing, in great detail, where we would eat. The rest of the time I sorted through some e-mails on my Blackberry from viewers who had a few concerns of their own. I'll try to answer the ones that keep popping up over and over again.
Question: Where is your accent from?
Answer: What? I have an accent? Y'all, I had no idea! I'm kidding. It's from Virginia/Mississippi and it turns out that the best broadcast voice coaches can't get rid of it.
Q: Are you really driving the car?
A: I am driving in the shots. I am not driving all the time. In fact, my poor producer, Mike, does most of the driving. He calls me "Miss Daisy." I am in charge of directions and the iPod. Occasionally, I branch out and clean up the inside of the car. I'm trying to earn my keep.
Q: How many people are traveling with you?
A: Normally, four other people — sometimes more. Here's the crew:
Mark LaGanga is my fearless and amazingly talented photographer. He is in search of "elevation" all the time. If I can't find him, I generally look up. He's been known to jump on cars, climb up walls, anything for the shot. I believe this has something to do with the fact that he drinks about a case of Red Bull every day.
Jake Barlow is technically our soundman, but he also is an amazingly talented photographer and certainly the crew's comedian. He is quick to drop a line from "Napoleon Dynamite" at any given time and he carries a mini-Napoleon figurine that he photographs at every stop. I'm still trying to figure out how he will check the sombrero he's been wearing at the airport.
Craig Crawford is our amazing editor, but you might not know that because he's been known to wear an old gas station shirt with the name "Jim" on it. (I should mention that all the guys covet that shirt — and I might, too.) He shares my taste in music and has helped me persuade our producer, who is a New Yorker, to allow us to play Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash for hours on end in the car. I am eternally grateful.
Mike Solmsen is our producer. He is in charge of everything and carries the weight of a two-week trip (and often my giant yellow suitcase) on his back. He's a native New Yorker and I am delighted to report that he has learned to use "y'all" properly over the past few weeks. He's probably the thinnest guy in our group and, yet, ate more than all of us combined at our recent barbecue dinner. He's got skills!
Q: Where do you eat?
A: My favorite question! On the first leg of our trip we had too many meals you could order by number — as in, "I'll take a No. 4 meal with a Dr. Pepper." The problem is that we just don't usually have time to sit down. However, here in San Antonio we had an amazing barbecue dinner at a place called the County Line. We all ordered the "Cadillac Special," which was the all-you-can eat option. Based on the number of bones left behind, I think they lost money on us.
I hope that helps give a clearer picture of who we are and what we are doing. It's always an adventure.
Today, we are headed to Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to meet with some soldiers who were injured in Iraq, including two Mississippi guys, Kortney Klemons, who lost a leg in Baghdad; and Leondre Rice, who lost his eyesight. Don't miss this story. These guys are amazing.
We're off — the whole team — if we can find Mark. I think he's on top of the car.