At the Circus!

It has been a very long time since the last time we went to a Ringling Brothers Circus; boy has the spectacle changed. The shear size of it and the number of performers was the most noticeable difference; it was a great time. Some interesting facts about Ringing Brothers Circus (data referenced from Wikipedia):

  1. In 1875, Dan Castello and William Cameron Coup persuaded Barnum to lend his name and financial backing to the circus they had already created in Delavan, Winsconsin. It was called “P.T. Barnum’s Great Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome”. The moniker “Greatest Show on Earth” was added later.
  2. Independently of Castello and Coup, James Anthony Bailey had teamed up with James E. Cooper to create the Cooper and Bailey Circus in the 1860s.
  3. They eventually agreed to combine their shows in 1881. In 1882, the combined “Barnum & Bailey Circus” was successful with acts such as Jumbo, advertised as the world’s largest elephant. Barnum died in 1891 and Bailey then purchased the circus from his widow.
  4. In 1884, five of the seven Ringling brothers had started a small circus about the same time that Barnum & Bailey were at the peak of their popularity. Their circus rapidly grew and they were soon able to move their circus by train, which allowed them to have the largest traveling amusement enterprise of that time. Faced with the new competition, Bailey took his show west of the Rocky Mountains for the first time in 1905. He died the next year and the circus was sold to the Ringling Brothers.
  5.  The Ringlings purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1907 and ran the circuses separately until 1919. Charles Edward Ringling and John Nicholas Ringling, the only remaining two Ringling brothers, decided that it was too difficult to run the two circuses independently, and on March 29, 1919, “Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows” debuted in New York City.
  6. In 1957,  John Ringling North and Arthur Concello moved the circus from a tent show to an indoor operation.
  7. In 1967 the Feld family bought the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus for 8 million dollars. They continue to own and run it today.

The way it was before the circus moved into indoor venues. While I do not remember such huge tent conglomeration, I do remember two or three large tents. The feel of the circus inside the big top was something very special.


Before the show started, several acts were displayed on the main ring and attendees could go down and tour them and even participate in some activities they had in place for their amusement. The show we attended was held at the Greenville Bon Secours Wellness Arena; it seats about 15,900 people, but under the circus configuration it would be more like 11,000 people. Nice, but not the same as the big top which had a view all the way to the top. This indoor venues have lower ceilings and you feel boxed in these type of events. They work well for concerts and sports, but just Ok for a circus acts.


Once they had cleared the stage and were getting ready to start the show, what better way to keep all entertained than a few clowns doing their clown things.


The show started with a review of the whole cast; and a big one it was. This is only a portion of it. Music and pageantry was really elaborate; do not remember this big of a production in past shows I attended.


The show lasted almost two hours, will only show a few of the acts. This one has been a popular one for many years, and they seem to cram more bikes into it than I remember. In this instance they had 7 bikes (one ridden by a woman) at high speed inside this sphere; crazy.


One of my favorite acts has always been the lions and tigers. I have seen some close calls before and often wondered how many of those were part of the show. In this picture, the lioness close to the tamer decided she had enough and did not wanted to be pushed around any longer. So, she gave the tamer a very loud growl and looked like she wanted to pounce on him…do not worry, all went to “plan”, tamer calmed things down and the show went on. Now, I do know that sometimes accidents have happened – so you never know. I guess that adds to the tension of this act. Regardless, I give the tamer huge credit for getting inside with this wild creatures; you never know when they will decide to revert to their normal instincts.


All was well I told you; see? Not the same animal, but a make up kiss never the less.


As we were entering the venue we saw several protesters displaying signs against cruelty to animals. Not sure what the real story is, but the animals in all the acts seem very well taken care of. Click on this picture for more information as to how Ringling & Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus takes care of their animals.


These wonderful and gentle creatures seemed happy and very tidy. I must say, never saw so many animals and not one single dropping – hummmm. maybe they do not feed them before the acts? I am sure that will not apply to the lions and tigers.


Like I said, the variety of animals and the lack of dropping was noticeable…at least to me.


This poodle was a real star!


A high wire act that gave all a few thrills as they sped up and down the cable, and even rotated on its axis as the ladies performed their acts on their bars.


Another favorite of all, including myself, was the aerialists in action. Yes, they had the safety net at all times and I was glad they did. I do remember the days when many did not use the safety net; that was way to nerve raking for me and totally unnecessary in my opinion.


This family performed many scary and tension filled acrobatics culminating with the quadruple somersault – it was competed on the second attempt.

We had a very nice time as we took a step back and remember how much we liked the circus when kids. In many ways, we just never grow up.

So Thankful

When we made plans to have 14 family members join us for Thanksgiving, we had no idea how we could fit them all. Additionally, the house was still a meswith unopened boxes from our move. Thanks to my wife’s organization and “gentle” push for me to get going, we were able to be ready to receive our guests to celebrate the 2013 Thanksgiving. This was to be a special celebration for several reasons. Amongst them, several of us have not seen each other for as long as 22 years; and Stephen (my niece’s husband) was to be deployed once again – this time to Kuwait – a few days following our reunion.

Having 14 additional persons come to your home and stay for a couple of days can present some challenges. Happy to report that we had a great time and talk, laugh, celebrate, eat and reminisce. We were surprised how well the house accommodated all. Having three full bathrooms does help and all seemed to be very comfortable with their sleeping accommodations. We had cold weather for Greenville, but outside of a very brief snow shower, we had good weather to get out and go around downtown.

As usual, I am posting some pictures below, the difference this time is that I am adding a few old pictures of some of us – boy do we change in some ways, but at the core we remain much the same.

For my cousin Victor (green vest) it was the first time he saw all the little ones. Just all getting re-acquainted.


When I was a kid I remember spending lots of time with my cousin Victor, he used to fly (flight attendant for Braniff) a lot and went to so many places outside of Peru; I always thought is was super cool to hear his travel stories.


This is my cousin Victor with me, my mom (right) and my Aunt Blanca…a long time ago.


My cousin Victor and his god-daughter Natita; the last time they saw each other was 22 years ago.


My cousin Victor with Natita during her baptism.


My oldest daughter Sarah anticipating eating beef. She is not a turkey meat fan so we cooked the roast beef especially for her – can you tell she is happy to see it?


My youngest daughter, Jocelyn, with her boyfriend Andrew. Jocie is being goofy, Andrew is probably wondering…what are you doing crazy lady?


Sarah and Jocelyn a few years back. They always got along real week. How can’t you love them to pieces?


My wife and I love cooking, so getting the big meal ready was fun. We also had great help setting the table and getting the decoration just right.


Andrew expected to have a lot of Turkey; well, not this much Andrew. Put it back…


yum, everything come out well, but the best was to chat and have a great time together.


My niece, Rafaela and her husband Stephen; both in the Army. Stephen was to leave for Kuwait the following week. God guide you and protect you Stephen; thank you for your service to the both of you.


This is Rafaela a few years back in Peru. Cutie, hey!


Meet Victoria, Rafaela’s oldest daughter. She has her mother’s eyes for sure. Yes, those little morsels on the plate are Peruvian empanadas. My sister made 50 delicious empanadas…yum. yum and more yum. A favorite of all.


Cutest smile from my great grand niece Valentina. Valentina is Rafaela & Stephens’ youngest.


Ok, my cousin Victor is on the right and my sister in the middle…see next picture. The young man on the left is Natita’s dad.


Here they are today; they always had a especial relationship. It was great seeing them together again and doing some heavy duty reminiscing – I am talking … until 2:30 am on occasions.


When we bought these hats we figured they would embarrass our daughters, but ended up being a big hit with everyone. Just about all had a picture of themselves with one of them. We thought they were way funny.


Natita and her husband Leandro. We will be visiting them next year; happy they are not too far from us (Florida). The next three pictures show their three wonderful children.


First the oldest; Francesca. As beautiful as they come.


Next is Lucia. She has the sweetest face and smile on her 99% of the time…


…and then, Lucia’s twin brother Luca. This was not the norm for him, but reflects how tired he was at the time.


Lucia’s favorite pose (touchdown) – she did it quite often and had most of us doing it with her.


However, I must give Valentina first prize for the most enthusiastic touchdown of all.


The younger crowd ready for bed! It got really quiet after this…lol.


Here we have the whole gang. Must do it again next year. Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

Chuck - March 30, 2014 - 9:34 am

Just catching up on your blog — this is the essence of what photography as a hobby can add to family!

Pepe Montoya - January 3, 2014 - 9:52 am

Me imagino lo contentos y preocupados que estuvieron ustedes como Anfitriones para que todos disfruten su estadía. Todos demuestran mucho entusiasmo y alegría.
Efectivamente, reunir a tantos a la vez después de no verse por años debe haber sido fenomenal.
Te felicito primo.
Feliz Año a toda la familia.

admin - December 14, 2013 - 4:42 pm

We are visiting the girls in Indianapolis for Christmas, we will leave on the 20th and plan on returning on the 30th. How about you guys?

Christa Marchiondo - December 9, 2013 - 5:36 pm

What a wonderful post Carlos! Thank you for sharing your Thanksgiving holiday. What are the plans for Christmas???

Rafaela - December 8, 2013 - 7:13 pm

I’m glad you guys made the roast beef. I dislike turkey too, not many people know I kinda keep it as secret, I always thought I was weird for not liking turkey (everyone likes turkey). Glad to know there is someone else in tthe family that doesn’t eat turkey 🙂

Jan carpenter - December 8, 2013 - 6:00 pm

Certainly shows the joy of your Thanksgiving gathering. So glad you shared. God bless.

Linda - December 8, 2013 - 4:54 pm

LOVE LOVE LOVE all the pictures and comments. It’s so wonderful when families can get together because it’s so hard to make it happen! Pictures are beautiful — like you and Bethe!

Yep, our first rodeo…

I have seen rodeos on TV, but never live. Crazy sport/entertainment with roots in Spanish cattlemen known as vaqueros of the early 1700’s; what you see in a rodeo today is largely what the vaqueros did on their daily routine and, in competitions amongst themselves during idle times. It was not until the railroad expanded to the west, that the need for cattle runs virtually stopped; this change forced cowboys to seek alternative ways to make a living. Some turned into performers in “Wild West” shows that started to showcase the best of what they were famous for – roping, horse breaking, riding, herding, branding, and much more. One of the most famous Wild West show organizers was Buffalo Bill Cody.

Rodeos are not unique to the US, they are popular in countries like Australia, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Canada amongst others.

Back to our first rodeo experience…as with other sports you watch on TV, seeing them live brings a more exiting dimension to it; this experience was no exception. Below more on what we saw and some facts about rodeos.

Rodeos take place outdoors and indoors. This one was an indoors event and happened to be the Southern Rodeo Association finals. The SRA finals took place over two days, we attended the first day. Here you see the arena about an hour before the start of the event.


The SRA finals include Junior and Senior riders. Within the Junior category the age groups are divided as – Pee Wee (6 and under) compete in Muttin Bustin, Goat Tying, Barrel Racing and Pole Bending. Junior ( 7-10) compete in Calf Riding, Breakaway Roping, Goat Tying, Barrel Racing, Pole Bending and Team Roping. Senior (11-17) compete in Calf Roping, Breakaway Roping, Team Roping, Chute Doggin, Steer Riding and Bull Riding. Sounds tough to me. Here we see some Juniors that competed in their event earlier in the day. Just hanging and hoping to learn something from the season veterans that will be riding in a few minutes.


A fitting start of every rodeo, parading the Stars & Stripes to cheers from the crowd, singing of the National Anthem followed by a prayer.


I am not sure what they are called, but there are two riders that assist bronco riders in dismounting and releasing the flask strap from the broncos once the rider’s time is up. They are very skilled riders and can rope a bucking bronco with amazing accuracy.


The next few pictures show different bronco riders and their styles.

Some like to come out of the chute leaning as far back as possible.


Some have a more upright technique.


Regardless of what technique you utilize, the bodies of each rider is violently thrown in every direction imaginable. Holding on is the goal and many end up eating dirt before their time is up.


How do they get the broncos to buck? They do need some encouragement to buck to provide the rider with the most difficult experience. To make them buck a flask belt is placed right in front of their hind legs and tightened. Since this is not a normal feeling, once released, the bronco bucks trying to release the unusual pressure. As soon as the ride is over, the riders (you see one in the background) get besides the bucking bronco and releases the flask strap. Almost immediately the bronco calms down and is led out of the arena.




The faces on most of the riders are just the best part for me. You can clearly see that they are holding for dear life and they have no idea as to where their bodies will be thrown on the next bronco jump.



They literally look like someone has tied a rag doll to the broncos and away they go.


Many make the 8 seconds that will qualify you for a score; many do not. This rider is in visible trouble as he still has 4 seconds to go. Eight seconds do not sound like a long time, but must admit that while watching these riders, eight seconds seemed to go by a lot slower than normal.


A familiar scene even with the experienced riders in the SRA finals.


We saw many scenes like this. Several riders barely got up and limped slowly back to the chute area. We were amazed at the number of close calls where hoofs closely missed fallen riders just like in this picture.


Girls Roping Event

A lady contestant warming up as she is next on the Break Away roping event.


The Break Away event is a form of calf roping where a very short lariat (rope loop) is used, tied lightly to the saddle horn with string and a flag. When the calf is roped about the neck, the horse stops, the flagged rope breaks free of the saddle, and the calf runs on without being thrown or tied. 


The next few pictures show the sequence of breakaway roping





Mens Roping Event

The men’s roping event starts like the women’s, but once the calf is roped, the riders quickly dismounts and must hold the calf and turn it on its back. Then the rider takes the smaller rope he holds on his mouth and must use it to tie one front leg to the two hind legs of the calf. As in the women’s event, the one with the quickest time wins.


Steer Wrestling

Also known as “Bulldogging,” is a rodeo event where the rider jumps off his horse onto a Corriente steer and ‘wrestles’ it to the ground by grabbing it by the horns. This is probably the single most physically dangerous event in rodeo for the cowboy, who runs a high risk of jumping off a running horse head first and missing the steer, or of having the thrown steer land on top of him, sometimes horns first. (description taken from Wikipedia)

The rider on the left of the picture is to keep the steer from running away from the rider on the right. As you can imagine, great timing and coordination for the two riders is paramount.


I was lucky to be seated at an angle that allowed me to take this sequence showing how the rider trying to wrestle the steer times his approach.



You can see the rider on the right- has his hand  just about to grab one of the steers horns.


…and BAM!!! Got you! Again, quickest time wins.

As with all other events, everything does not always go to plan. In this case, the steer runs by one of the riders and their chances to score points disappears as quick as this steer did.


We might be seeing a future roping champion here.


How about a future cowgirl? There were many youngsters having a blast just having fun amongst themselves.


As we get ready for the cowgirls barrel races, the guys get together and seem to be reviewing strategies for the upcoming bull rides.


Barrel Races

Three barrels placed in a triangle formation and spaced about 50 or so feet apart. The object is for each rider to start at a predetermined spot, circle each barrel in the same sequence (cloverleaf shape) and return to the starting point. The fastest rider wins.


May look simple, but as with any timed event,  you see how technique, agility, experience, timing and overall finesse can make a huge difference. Knocking barrels down loses points.


Unfortunately, this rider’s horse lost its footing which resulted in a nasty spill and disqualification. You never know how things will go at any of these events; this uncertainty kept us glued to the action. The horse and rider were both uninjured.


Ok, this rider has cleared the three barrels. The third barrel is furthest from the starting point; so now she must race to the starting point before her time is scored.


There was some brief entertainment between events. The clown that did some funny skits and then changed into this fat suit. The mix of music the way he made the suit move had the crowd roaring.


Bull Riding

We were told that bull riding is considered the main event. The most dangerous of all the events- as the bulls are huge and can thrash the riders more violently than broncos can. So here we are, the chute team ready to release the bull and rider for the obligatory 8 second ride…


…away we go. It was very noticeable that the bulls rotated a lot more violently and unpredictably than the broncos did. Not as tall as the broncos, but they made it up with shear mass and speed.


Did you see the movie “8 seconds”? We have not, but have read about it. It chronicles the life of Lane Frost and how dangerous this sport is. I do not want to spoil the ending for you, so will keep it at that (have read about it while researching for this posting). The movie supposedly does a great job chronicling life of rodeo riders.




Is that guy in front of the bull crazy? Nope, his job is to make sure the bull and the rider do not get hurt by crashing into the chute rails. Here he is waving the bull away from the rails.


No thanks…he is facing a 2,000 pound bull that is pretty much pissed off at the world at the moment.


This riders 8 seconds is up and now must dismount a still bucking bull; not as easy as it looks or may sound.


Going, going…


…gone. Once on the ground, there is still high danger of getting hit by one of the bull flying hoofs.

 Hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for visiting!

admin - November 16, 2013 - 9:46 am

That is funny Vicky. Hope cowboy hats were worn by at least the management team.

vicky - November 15, 2013 - 2:02 am

The theme of the family day this year is “Cowboy”.


Our plan was to have a patio as part of the build of our new home. Unfortunately, due to weather and contractor timing the patio could not be installed before we moved in. Well, we finally have it in and we are really enjoying it.

Many asked me if I was going to install the patio myself; not likely. Since we wanted a 16 by 29 foot patio the amount of material I would have had to move was approximately 50 tons. No, I was not going to do it by myself. Here you see what it took to put this patio in, and yes, those are pallets with the pavers that will go on the patio and walkway. Congratulations to all those who did them themselves; I figured I would rather ride my bicycle for exercise.


The workers started early morning by digging the area of the yard the patio would be placed on. I was really not happy about them tearing my yard all around this area, but could not help it.


Thank God for Bobcats; these wonderful machines can move a massive amount of material very quickly. Luckily, this bobcat traction had tracks instead of wheels; wheels would have really dug my yard a lot worse than the tracks did. Here you see the area ready for rock and rock dust mix.


Three to four inches of rock and rock dust mix down and ready to be compacted down. The base was slopped slightly away from the house to assist with drainage.


The contractor used two different size compactors; this one is the bigger one. I must say, after they finished compacting this first layer it was as hard as concrete already.


Once the first layer has been compacted, a layer of fine rock dust was added and leveled with rods to assure the proper slope was maintained across the patio.


Preparing the base for the patio took the longest of all steps and I can see why. Once the base was ready, laying the pavers took a little over one hour. Well, there where four to five workers laying them.


Once the pavers were laid down, fine sand was added on top of them and spread around assuring it went into the space between them. The sand was swept off the top of the pavers and the smaller compactor was used to go over the patio for about three passes. This assured the pavers were well seated on the top base and locked to each other. That was it for day one. Day two, they came back and did some paver cutting to fill the gaps between pavers and house foundation; that took some time and the cutting created a lot of super fine dust (could not believe the workers had no masks while doing this. Their excuse? … the boss does not buy them for us… crazy. Shared some advice, but doubt they will heed it.


The lawn around the patio and the area the bobcat used to transport material over and over again was in really bad shape. I had to get 3 yards of loam and sod to repair it. Back breaking work with 86 humid degrees; but it was good when done.


My lovely wife having fun planting some bushes and flowers next to the patio. She really loves this stuff…can you tell?


We debated on adding a fire pit to the patio but we settled with a table that has one built in. Great compromise as we have a very nice fire pit that doubles as a great table.


Taking a brief break from adding finishing touches to our new patio. The patio furniture is super comfortable. We tried it out a couple of weeks before at a house of friends of ours and could not believe that after 3 hours of sitting on it, enjoying a nice fire, your body felt that you just have sat down. We had to get the same and are happy we did! 

Now, to check if this is true you must come down and visit us!

admin - November 7, 2013 - 8:57 pm

Summer, thanks, we are very happy with the patio. We have had several late evening/night fires on the fireplace; really nice. The patio set is design to stand weather well. The seats are water resistant and the frames come wit a 7 year warranty so no problems there. Just in case we also purchased covers for all of it; we will use them in the winter.
Thanks for visiting.

Summer - November 7, 2013 - 8:39 pm

Congratulations, the beautiful patio finished finally. It looks really nice, as well as the patio furniture. P.S. The patio furniture can survive in sun-shine /rain /snow? haha, I am just bit worry about the nice furniture. 🙂

Vicky - October 30, 2013 - 10:05 pm

It looks so nice and comfortable! Good place to have BBQ. 🙂

F o l l o w   U s