America: You’ve been CROSSED!

After an epic journey spanning Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada, with pitstops at the surreal salt flats and sensational sierra nevadas, we made it to sunny San Francisco! Poor Josh and Juliana were sick for most of the drive, but they’ve mostly recovered now. We even had to make a 3 AM stop at the emergency room in the middle of Nevada for Juliana because she accidentally ingested cheese and had a pretty severe allergic reaction. She’s perfectly fine now, though.

salt flat creatures

Molly and Sairuh explore the salt flats… it’s pretty much another planet.

Last night we had a great show with two awesome bands, Honey Moon Tree and Stitchcraft. We performed a few of our acts, added circus to some of their songs, and were generally atmospheric. It was a high energy, enjoyable night for everyone. The venue we were at, Amnesia, happened to be right across the street from 826 Valencia, which I’ve idolized for years, and was Jacob’s inspiration for his Division III thesis project. We contacted them a few days ago, and this afternoon we’re going to go there and do circus workshops with kids! Tomorrow we’re doing a show in Dolores Park, then it’s off to the great Pacific Northwest.

california sunset

Milo napping, Lucy driving – en route to the west coast.

-Molly

making our way west…

st. louis was awesome.

so awesome our bus, manfred, didn’t want to leave. but we had a wonderful time with our new friends at CAMP (even the kids who liked our bus so much they locked us out of it, with themselves inside) and also with our lovely hosts at the bolozone who let us crash at their traveler’s sanctuary while we waited for jacob & lindsay to work their magic with some charitable bus mechanics.

music on the bus

sairuh, lucy, james and tara making music on the bus

one very very flat state, a few lightning storms and golf-ball sized hail later, we are quite enjoying boulder, co. manfred doesn’t particularly like the mountains, but we do! (oh, so excited for the rockies tomorrow…) our filter system is totally under control, with an ingenious bag-and-bucket method that is reliable, only moderately messy, and doesn’t take forever. the indoor venue show yesterday fell through, but we had a good time putting on a enthusiastic though shaky street show at the pearl street pedestrian mall. as I write, we are all having a relaxing bonding dinner party at the house of ukulele loki (our boulder benefactor), our first chance in days to spend some non-traveling, non-performing time all together.

every once in a while it hits us that we are a traveling… veggie-fueled… circus. despite hiccups & our many ‘learning experiences,’ we are living our dream. we are doing what circus is known for: the unlikely, the impossible, the incredible, the magical. we are making real connections with each other and with people all across the nation, doing what we think is necessary and important for ourselves and the world.

grease collecting 2
tara, milo, sarah, and james collecting grease

– tara (& molly)

(p.s. lots of new pictures on flickr, because I finally got a new card reader. also, *ahem*, new troupe bios…)

How Iowa helped Criss Cross get its groove back

The Circus bus made a screeching, groaning halt in Iowa City, Iowa for two reasons. The first was the need for more used vegetable oil and the second was the fact that it was no longer going to drive properly, if at all.

As some of our troupe filtered vegetable oil, and some of our troupe made a trip to the auto mechanic the musicians decided to practice on the street next to the bus. This was a very fortunate decision. We attracted some local circus folk who pointed us in the direction of an awesome little park where – a few hours later we performed twice. We met some amazing people including book store owners, a man with a tiny kitten, jugglers, break dancers, hoopers, unicyclers and even some higher-up circus folk who were happy to give us some performing tips. We made a decent amount of money and some other unexpected loot including coupons for free ice cream, a crystal, and blessings from born-again Christians.

For not being on our tour at all – Iowa City was still one of the best places we have stopped thus far, and it was a necessary Awesome Day after a string of difficult ones.

Just to give you a gist of what our tour on the whole has been like thus far: Filled with amazingly awesome people. Just about everyone we have interacted with has been beyond friendly and helpful. We have put ourselves in some tight spots, but so far someone has been there to help us out every time. Occasionally it has felt as though this tour is more about 11 college-aged kids learning how to run a grease-bus across country tour instead of a Circus tour, but the past few days has really broken that down. We have performed four times in the past three days, and we are actually beginning to see a very teeny tiny small amount of money… which will probably need to go straight back into the bus.

One other amazing thing I like to call the Big Blue Bus Effect is this: It feels as though enormous quantities of people are encouraged to come and speak with us randomly on the street due to our giant blue bus. It makes us very accesible to the public at large, having a big blue bus certainly seems to be one wonderful conversation starter.

-Lindsay

Iowa RULES!

What an unpredictable turn of events!

Minnesota was almost a bust – it was rainy all day and we didn’t get to do our noon show in the park.  We were shown some incredible hospitality by the parents of one of our Hampshire friends, and finally figured out a fast and simple method for filtering grease.  Despite the rain, people showed up at 5:30 to see circus, so we gave them a show!  It was an abbreviated version, under a gazebo in the rain, but it was fun and the crowd loved it.  Though morale was a little low last night when we didn’t find any grease…

Today we stopped in Iowa City for what we thought would be a brief grease excursion – but we started street performing, met several other circus folk, and people started asking if we were going to do a show.  We collected a TON of grease, did a lot of filtering, and decided to do an impromptu show in a nearby square.
It was probably one of our best shows yet!  In fact, it’s so great here that we’re about to go and do two more shows  tonight.  We met a lot of amazing people, and the most adorable tiny kitten ever.  All quite serendipitous.  Alright, time for me to stop blogging and go do another show!

Tomorrow: St. Louis.  More pictures will be up soon…

-Molly

greaseventures

We are still in Chicago. Grease has been more of a debacle than we expected… We’ve actually had little trouble collecting grease though, there are plenty of restaurants willing to give it away.

A sample phone conversation might be like this: “Hello, I was wondering if you use vegetable oil in your cooking? No no, I don’t want to order anything. Could I speak to a manager? No, I don’t want to make reservations. No, I don’t want to sell you oil, I just want to use it after you’re done with it. Could we just pick it up from your grease dumpster out back? You see, I use it to run my blue hippie school bus full of circus performers going across the country… No, I DON’T want to order anything…”

Filtering the grease has been our major setback. Jacob, Lindsay, Milo, Sairuh and others were working all day yesterday experimenting with new systems to filter it. It’s been very time consuming, but it can be pretty fun – creative problem solving is what we Hampshire students excel at!

I was going to upload some great pictures I took the other night of collecting grease, but my camera card reader broke so it will be a few days until those are up. For now, enjoy this picture of one of our first tries at filtering grease, at Oberlin College. We have enough grease to Minnesota, so we are headed out within the next hour!

grease filtering 1

Lindsay, Jacob, and Milo.

-Molly

the Journey to Chicago

The past few days have been a real whirlwind! After leaving Boston friday night, we made a stopover at Hampshire for a few hours to filter and dispose of bad grease. It felt like such a stealthy heist, running around campus at 2 AM when no one else was there with toxic Zen Garden Grease.

We spent all friday night and saturday driving, and when we realized we wouldn’t make it to Chicago by saturday night, we stopped over at Oberlin College to visit our circus friends there. Unfortunately we just missed a show of theirs (we walked in as they were taking their bows), but it was fun to see them and they helped us find a bunch of grease.

Sadly we had to miss our show saturday night in Chicago because of miscalculating how long it would take to drive and how much grease we needed. But we got to Chicago sunday morning, and got straight to rehearsing with Le Vorris and Vox, the UChicago circus. Our joint show was a ton of fun, and our troupes had a really great energy together. We made some new friends, and they generously offered to take us to their dining commons and host us in their apartments for the night.

Today brought an overhaul in our overall organizational structure, tasks were re-delegated, schedules were made, information was gathered, streets were performed on, and grease was collected. Our plan at this point is to leave for Minnesota tomorrow morning, so we can have a full day of street performing and show development before our show on thursday.

I just updated our flickr account with a ton more pictures, check it out!

troupe group 1

-Molly

1 city down, the rest of the country to go!

We unveiled thhe new, almost complete version of our show last night at the Lily Pad in Cambridge. We had an audience of 40-50 friends, family, and strangers who turned out for an hour-long performance of Circapocalypse!  The venue was perfect, and the show pretty much went off without a hitch.  We sold a lot of merch and made some good connections with people.

Jacob and Lindsay are pretty much our heroes.  We finally got all our bus insurance stuff worked out – maybe more details from Lindsay on that particular adventure later.

Now we are off to Chicago, hopefully with a pit stop to visit our friends at the Oberlin Circus along the way!

-Tara & Molly