The Arizona Cardinals Show Team departed on a three week Pacific Circuit Tour Monday, January 28th. Throughout their journey they will be checking in with azcardinals.com. Here is the first installment of Show Team Tour Diaries.
What an adventurous day!!
We have arrived, but not without a few minor road bumps. To begin, our flight out of Phoenix was delayed, which meant we'd miss our connecting flight from San Francisco to Seoul. Luckily the airline was able to reroute us, but we weren't sure if our bags would make it. This is a good example of why we pack all of our costumes in our carry on bags! Once we landed in San Fran we had to quickly run to our gate to board for our 13 hour flight to Seoul Korea. The flight was easy, although the food wasn't too good. I slept most of the way, along with watching movies and reading. Everyone's bag made it safely, except for our coaches, she'll be getting hers tomorrow. Once we landed we were greeted by our contact, Shirley, and taken to our hotel. We are staying at the JW Marriot while here in Korea. It is a beautiful hotel, more lush than some of the girls apartments! We had a quick practice to go over everything for tomorrow, but most of the girls were half asleep while doing it. Who can blame them, It was 6am Arizona time, although it's only 9pm here. Tomorrow is a busy day, so I better get some sleep for now!
Today was our first full day in Korea visiting the troops, and what a day it was! The team was divided into two groups, A and B. The first group left at 8:45 and the second group left at 10:00 (we got lucky!). My group (the A group) started the day by driving to the Youngsan Army Base, where we would depart via blackhawk to the other Camps. Enroute to the Base we had the chance to better view our surroundings, including the Hahn River, which is a short distance from our hotel. When we arrived at Youngsan, I was excited to ride in a Blackhawk helicopter. Our first destination was Camp Red Cloud. While there, we ate authentic Korean lunch (bulgogi and kimchi), visited with the troops and performed a mini performance. The soldiers were extremely grateful and we had a great time sharing stories and getting to know them. From there it was off by blackhawk again to three Detachment posts. These posts were all remotely located and mainly accessible via the helicopters. It was piercing cold at the detachements and snow covered the ground because they were so high up. I was having a hard time signing because my fingers were so numb! We didn't have the chance to stay long at these detachements as they were spread out and we had to visit three in a designated time. During the short stops we were briefed on each posts mission, introduced to the troops stationed there (there were only 4-10 at each detachement), and signed autographs. At one of the stops Inessa battled one of the soldiers in guitar hero, which was a fun time had by all. Our final stop for the day was Camp Stanley, where we ate dinner with the troops, performed, and signed autographs. We met so many people from all over the United States, serving various lengths of times in Korea and specializing in numerous jobs. To finish the day, we all drowsily, but still just as excited, climbed back into the blackhawk for one last ride back to our beginning destination. It was an amazing day with many firsts. I was honored to meet and thank the soldiers for all the work they do and for selflessly volunteering their lives to defend our freedom. Many of them are away from their families for years at a time, so hopefully today we brought each one of them a little piece of home!
Stay tuned for more from our tour!
Today we got off to an early start, we were all up by 6 and out of the hotel and on the bus by 7:30a.m. We rode the bus to the Youngsan flight pad. We were all a little surprised when we learned we were not flying via Blackhawk but via Chinook or what they call "The Big Windy". This is a much larger helicopter and I must say its not the smoothest ride. We had a few girls get sick, but I cant complain too much because this is a very fast copter.
The first stop we made was at Camp Eagle for lunch. This was a smaller base but all of the soldiers were very friendly and the 3rd Commander gave us all coins and shirts. Shortly after we went over and saw some of the fighter helicopters and actually got to sit in them and take pictures. Next we went to Suwan, again on the Chinook, and performed for about 25 people that acted as though there were hundreds of them. We ended with an autograph session.
Finally we were off to Kunsan Air Base. This is where we were going to have our BIG show! Inside the gym where the performance was going to be held, was freezing!! There was no way we could get ready and perform in this cold. But, sure enough, once the show got going we warmed right up. We learned that we had to keep up the energy in the backstage as much as we did on stage. This was a fun performance with a great crowd. We finished by taking pictures with the Air Force Firefighters. Before we knew it, we were back on the Chinook, heading for the bus to take us to the hotel. The days are long and a lot of work but they are all equally interesting and enjoyable at the same time.
After spending an amazing few days in Korea, we are off to Japan! Our travel day started with an hour and a half bus ride to the airport. After quickly unloading all of our heavy luggage we checked in for our flight into Japan. While we waited to board the plane we shopped for souvenirs and snacks. A few us enjoyed a traditional Asian lunch. We ate steamed pork dumplings, spicy beef soup....it was delicious. After a 2 hour flight, we arrived to Narita airport to discover that it was snowing in Japan! We didn't pack our winter coats so we are expecting to be a little chilly, but plan on making the best of the situation. We are excited for the days ahead and are so blessed for the opportunity to give back to our troops. Most of the military personnel that we met don't get to see the things that we saw or experience the things that we experienced. We all feel very blessed and fortunate to be on this tour and hope we have brought a little bit of joy to each soldier we have met. Stay tuned for an update of our experience in Japan.
KONNICHIWA!! Wow! Happy Super Bowl MONDAY! Today the team is watching the game from several bases across Japan. Nicole and I are with the soldiers and families at Yokota Air Base. This is a special treat for the two of us because we actually grew up here! We started the morning off early since the game started at 8:00 am. Our first stop was the Enlisted Club. Breakfast, and prizes were offered during the game while Nicole and I signed posters for the men and women. After the 1st quarter was over we made our way to the Officer's Club to watch the 2nd quarter and half time. As the game continued we signed posters and engaged ourselves in friendly banter with the officers. Next we headed to the Yujo Community Center where we were greeted by young Giants and Patriots fans. This was exciting to see all the young football fans and reminisce when I lived on the base and was once one of those kids. By the end of the game it was fun to be surrounded by fans of both teams engulfed by the excitement and anticipation. After the game ended Nicole and I had some free time before we returned to Camp Zama to meet up with the rest of the team. We decided to tour the base we once lived at and make a couple stops at some local shops we frequented in the small city. The first stop was the high school. I didn't think there would still be teachers teaching at the school, but I was wrong. My Cross Country coach and mentor had no trouble remembering the twins. This was definitely a moment I will never forget. But how could we go to our alma matter and not sign some posters? As the students passed from one class to the next, Nicole and I signed posters and chatted with the high school students now attending YHS. I was happy to do this and hopefully be a role model for the current students. After leaving the high school we made one last stop to a Japanese food market where we picked up some Japanese foods that we grew up enjoying. We weren't able to show the team around Japan or take them to our favorite places, so we decided to bring it to them! It was bitter sweet leaving Yokota again, but we still have so many more exciting places and troops to meet on our trip. This was the experience of a lifetime and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to meet the people I have met. Each soldier has impacted my life in some way and taught me something invaluable. Continue reading as we begin heading towards warmer whether!
Feb 5 - Travel Day from Japan to Guam
We departed Japan after a short but very memorable Super Bowl Monday and are now off to Guam!! We had a 3 hour flight and were absolutely delighted to be back in the warm weather! On our ride to the Naval base we had a very knowledgeable tour guide who enlightened us on some facts about Guam. The island of Guam is 30 miles long with the widest area being approximately 12 miles. The average temperature is 75 degrees and the lowest recorded temperature is only 70 degrees, but the humidity is always very high. The indigenous people are known as the Chamorro which is a cultural blend of Spanish, Micronesia, Asian, and western influences from the last 300 years. Knowing some of the cultural background of the island, some of us went off base for dinner to a Thai restaurant and to see a little more of the island.
Feb 6 - Day 1 in Guam
Hafa Adai from Guam! We had a great first day which started with a tour of a submarine, the USS Buffalo. During our tour of the sub, we were able to see the extremely tight sleeping quarters, control panels and sonar equipment used to detect the subs surroundings, torpedoes and how they are launched, and we were all able to look through and operate the periscope. Next, it was on to the USS Frank Cable which is a huge ship used to assist submarines and battle ships. This vessel can support up to 4 subs at one time and with it's 1200 person crew can do anything from repairs to refueling to medical attention for the sailors. The views were gorgeous from the ship, the water is turquoise and so clear and the mountain areas so green and plush! We performed for the crew in front of the USS Frank Cable which made for an amazing background. We had about 200 people watching on ground level and another 300 or more watching from an aerial view on the ship!! It was an amazing site!! We then had lunch on the ship with the sailors. It is always an amazing experience to sit with the sailors and soldiers and hear their stories, why they joined and thank them for all they do for us! The rest of the afternoon we were off to explore for the island. We headed the southern part of the island to a beach area that had water enclosed in some rock formations and Savannah and I were the first to jump right in!! It was extremely salty but so refreshing. After some time on the beach we headed to Chumorro Village which, on Wednesday nights, is a festival with local cuisine, shopping and performances. We tried the banana lumpia which is a local favorite, enjoyed a cultural song and dance show put on by the local children, and picked our own fruit such as star fruit, mango and papaya. Next, we headed out to Tumon which is the village near the resorts and houses all the high end, duty free shopping you desire. From Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Cartier to Coach, the best of the best shopping is at your finger tips!! We ended the night at Sam Choy's, a fun Pacific themed restaurant with aquarium tables and a very entertaining cover band. Although the band was doing a great job, we couldn't let the night go by without coaxing Inessa to get up on stage to sing one song with them...let me tell you, I always knew this girl could sing, but I think she blew everyone's socks off when she sang Alicia Key's Fallin' with this band!! One word, PHENOMENAL!!!!!
Feb 7 - Day 2 in Guam
Today we headed up to the northern part of the island to Anderson Air Force base. We started with a tour of the B-2 Bomber (Stealth Bomber) which was incredible. Because of its extremely sensitive classification, we were not allowed to take our cameras on the tour, however, one of the commanders took a team camera for us and took the shots he knew were appropriate for civilian consumption. It was amazing to see how huge this aircraft really is! We saw the missile and bomb compartments and sat in the cockpit. The capabilities of this aircraft are so incredible and it is the most expensive aircraft in the world costing approximately 2.2 billion dollars to build. Next, it was on to see the F-18's were we watched the crew prepare themselves and the planes for take-off. We also hit the fire station and the police station to visit with the soldiers and got a demonstration of the K-9 unit capabilities. It was incredible seeing the significant impact and assistance the K-9 can give the officer. Our next stop was lunch where we were able to mix and mingle with the solider and help them feel a little sense of home. Unfortunately the soldiers who don't have their families here with them in Guam don't get many opportunities to go home because it is so expensive. It is nice to know we bring a piece of home here! Next, it was on to the air control tower where we experience the training simulator and got to go to the top of the tower and witness a take off. We stopped by the weather center and then to the AAFES exchange where we had an autograph signing and then to the youth center for a short performance and Q&A with the kids. We finished up our day with an evening show in the fitness center and it was a blast! The crowd was great and they seemed to have a ton of fun!! Whew, what a day! We packed a lot in but it is worth it to meet all these wonderful soldiers and show them our appreciation!
Hafa Adai Greetings from Guam! Today was our last full day at the Commander Naval Base. The morning started out with some well-deserved time off. We all got some rest and ate food on the base to recover from the non-stop agenda we've been keeping! We met a bit early to go over the routines that we would perform later that evening, then piled in the vans to visit the Youth Center on base. The kids were so fired up and excited to meet us! We did a quick performance for the 50 kids gathered there and answered their questions about what it's like to be a cheerleader! We signed autographs and took pictures with them, and I know the kids will remember our visit for a long time to come. Our next stop was Nap's BBQ for a quick dinner and ate some really great pulled pork sandwiches and sweet tea! Our last performance for the day was at the All-star basketball game, taking place at the King's Gym Rec Center. We provided the halftime entertainment on the court - it's been a long time since I cheered for basketball! We had a high energy performance for the audience and threw some t-shirts into the crowd to get them pumped! After the game, we signed more autographs back at Nap's BBQ for the families there. It was a fun day to buzz around the base and say thank you to the many families stationed here. We ended the night signing Karaoke together at Tarague Beach and playing beach volleyball with more of the troops! What a great way to cap off our Guam experience!
Good morning! We had at get up at 4:30 AM Guam time to make it to the airport in time, our flight leaving had a scheduled departure time of 11. We all got checked in okay, no one had an over weight bag (finally!) and then we were off to the gate only to wait around for an hour. This terminal had a very different way of boarding the flight. We handed our boarding passes to the lady, waited in an hour long line, checked in with customs, and then you got to board the plane. This ride was fairly short for most of us because we were so tired from the night before - we slept most of the time! I woke up with the screen announcing to me that there was an hour and 45 minute flight remainder until destination, which I was not upset to find out.
Once we arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii at 7:30 PM (the night before we had left), we retrieved our bags, and then we were greeted by our escorts with beautiful leis (which smelled unbelievable) and an "Aloha!" This was such a treat to be back on American soil and to be welcomed with such appreciation, when really we were so thankful just to be here with the troops! We loaded up the luggage truck, made ourselves comfortable on the shuttle bus, and it was off to Pearl Harbor Naval Base where we are lodging while our time in Hawaii.
Today we had a meeting time of 10:45 AM. Any time before then was left for our own "free-time", and I know that some of us went to the gym, slept in, grabbed breakfast, anything we felt appropriate to fill that time gap. Once we met, we loaded on to the trolley (the convertible of buses - which is extremely appropriate in Hawaii!) with our driver Doug, escort Darlene, and a MWR photographer. Doug took us around the Naval base and Hickam Air force base a bit showing us his stomping grounds, then our first stop was at a car wash where we handed out Mahalo Bags to those in line for "Customer Appreciation Week". Then we had an hour and a half time slot of us to sit and sign posters at the BX at the naval base. This went quick because we had an overwhelming line of fans waiting for our autographs! Then lunch time, a little shopping, then off to the beach!
On the way to the beach, we realized that a few of us were without a towel so we made a pit stop at the base lodging to get those. We all ran to our rooms, put away our uniforms (since they were no longer needed on the beach, swimsuit time!) and grabbed our towels. Once we were about 15 minutes on our way to the beach, Brooke happened to look at her phone and noticed that Audrey (our showteam captain) had called her three times. As she is about to turn around and ask, "Audrey.... why did you call me.... uh.... where is Audrey?!" We had left her back at the hotel! We urged the trolley to turn around to get her, and by the time we got there (probably 30 minutes later) and she had a crew of pilots she had recruited to take a picture with us and the trolley who scolded us for leaving her behind- we felt horrible! We love you Audrey :)
Now with a complete team, we were truly on our way! We got to the beach, signed a few posters and handed out a few more Customer Appreciation Week bags, and then we had our free-beach time. We got split in to groups; a few of us went kayaking and the rest of us on a little speed boat around the harbor. This was great to be able to see the island from a distance! Once we were finished, we headed back to the hotel, got dressed in to our best island wear, then we headed off in a Hummer-limo out to a sushi place for dinner. It was delicious and we all enjoyed the night out on the town!
Tomorrow it's off to Pro Bowl so we have quite an exciting day ahead of us - and we get to see our wonderful Pro Bowl cheerleader Kathy which I know we are all excited for! Good night Arizona - we all miss you and are looking forward to see the desert again in six more days!
This morning we all met at 7:00 and headed to The Northshore. Half of the girls went sky diving and the other half we to Sunset beach. I went to the beach. It was so beautiful! The waves were crashing right at in front of us. It was our first bech experiance at Hawaii. I was loving it because in Arizona we don't get much of the ocean. When we arrived to pick up the girls from sky diving we were able to see people landing. It was so neat to see how fast they were coming down but how smoothly they landed. I think seeing that made us all regret not going! They said that while falling 12,000 feet they went over the ocean and saw whales. Now I know I have to come back to Hawaii and go sky diving!! Later that day we headed off to the Community Center to teach a cheer clinic. We performed for them, played some games and taught them a dance. They were all so excited we were there! Then we went to JR Rockers and ate some delicous food and mingled with the people that won Pro Bowl tickets. I think my favorite food here is the juicy pinapple for sure! After JR Rockers our trolly picked us up and took us back to our hotel. We are excited to get some rest for our day off at the beach tomorrow!!!
Today is our first and pretty much only full day off. We are all so excited. You may ask what's on the agenda?.....that's easy, just a little R&R. We are headed to the beach at Waikiki. The only real plan we have are dinner reservations at Dukes. The sunset view right on the beach is supposed to be amazing!
Tomorrow we have the morning off. Half of us have decided to parasail while the other half is going snorkeling. From there we are holding our kids clinic and doing a fun meet and greet at the Navy Bowling Alley. We are all having a great time with many mixed feelings about going home this weekend after three weeks of hectic yet life changing memories made and enjoyed.
Today was a very exciting day. Around 10am we all went to NICTAMS PAC for a BBQ outside at a picnic area with the sailors. We played a few games of beach volleyball and our team was. . ."RED HOT". After volleyball we headed over to the Dole Plantation and went into the shops. We all tried the pineapple chocolates, icecream and cinnamon macadamia nuts. After a quick stop we loaded back into the van and went to tour Pearl Harbor.
We were given a very thorough tour of what took place on December 7th, 1941. We all were able to walk inside the USS Arizona Memorial. Some of the sailors explained to us how the ship was hit, and what it looked like before and after the torpedo hit it. It always gets me emotional when I see how many lives were lost on that day. The tour was such a great experience I will never forget.
Next stop in the late afternoon was over to the LIP which stands for Liberty in Paradise. We had a meet and greet over at the LIP, and we gave out posters. I had a great time playing pool, video games, and ping pong with the sailors. They got me hooked on a few games that I have never played before and I will definitely continue playing when I get back home.
To complete our day we traveled to the Beeman Center for the Dating Game. The sailors were very entertaining and a few of them got up and serenaded us to beat out the other sailors and win the game. We all asked them a variety of questions to keep it interesting.
This tour has been such an unforgetable experience. I have met so many wonderful men and women. At each stop we were greeted with appreciation, applause and comaraderie. We are all so honored to be doing this, and we hope that we were able to bring them well wishes from home. This trip has definitely made me understand and appreciate the sacrifice each of them make to keep us safe at home. Hope everyone had a Happy Valentines Day!!