This week we wrapped up the first half of our summer tour at Drum Corps Midwest and began our final stretch of Drum Corps International shows. With only four more weeks until Madison, things are really starting to heat up. We began the week in the blistering sun of Iowa, and we are now headed farther south for a long stay deep in the heart of Texas.Charles City and Dubuque, Iowa, concluded our final shows on the DCM tour. Both shows were met with appreciative and enthusiastic audiences. It seems like everywhere we go, people are very intrigued by what we do. We have taken a lot of pride in the complexity and depth of our program. After Iowa, the corps moved on to Dekalb, Ill., to prepare for the Drum Corps Midwest Championships.We had the entire day on Thursday to polish and clean our show, as well as work on the new ending that we had been preparing all week. DCM Prelims on Friday night was the first opportunity to unveil the new drill and music that we learned back in the first week of July. The performance on Friday night was technically accurate, but lacked the energy that we had hoped to bring to such a large venue, so we knew that we had to really reach out to the audience on Saturday. Of course, after another day of rehearsal and some adjustments to our "performance level," we came out and played an incredible show for nearly 8,000 people at DCM Finals. It was clear that The Cavaliers truly own the Midwest, capturing our ninth DCM title (our fifth in a row).The day after DCM, many of the corps members participated in Individual and Ensemble events. Everyone who participated did an outstanding job. Several Cavaliers scored very well, and a few managed to take top honors (contra, baritone, flag). However, the drum majors didn't walk away from this day without some excitement. This time, the bad luck was on Brandon, as his podium was totaled after a "hit and run." An unidentified senior citizen driving through the campus of NIU drove over the front podium and sped off innocently past the stadium. Understandably, it's easy to point the finger at her and ask how she could do such a thing. But many of us wanted to know why the podium was in the road in the first place!After I and E, we traveled to the village of Rosemont, Ill., for a "homecoming" of sorts. Our annual parade and picnic at home was a great opportunity for the corps to relax and enjoy the day with family and friends before heading off to Alton, Ill. In Alton we rejoined many DCI corps, including the Crossmen, Boston Crusaders, and the Magic of Orlando. It was good to meet up with all of them after being with DCM corps for three weeks. With surprisingly cool weather, and a borrowed podium from Bluecoats, the corps had an incredibly energetic performance. Everyone was pleased that our intense rehearsals during DCM finals week paid off on this evening. Apparently the judges were pleased as well, because we broke 90. We still know that we have a lot room for improvement. More than 500 miles later, we arrived in Enid, Okla. We were all expecting unbearable weather, but temperatures of below 90 degrees pleasantly surprised us all day. We spent the day in the stadium doing a clinic for about 300 students and band directors from all across Oklahoma. The audience was very appreciative when they were able to come down onto the field and take a closer look at each of the sections. The corps didn't lose any rehearsal time despite the clinic. Many changes (mostly visual) where made during the day, and showed up during the performance that evening. The most exciting part of the evening was the appearance of our first contestants in the FANATIC FAN COMPETITION. The competition is explained on our Web site (www.cavaliers.org), but in short, at each show, the fan that dresses up the craziest wins a prize from our souvenir booth. A couple of girls actually painted their bodies green to show off their support of the Green Machine. Besides winning their prize they were able to meet their favorite drum majors after the show, not a bad deal at all. We were glad to see that our little contest was off to a great start, and we are looking forward to seeing more Fanatic Fans in Texas this weekend. They say that everything is bigger in Texas -- only time will tell! By Brandon Barrometti (Cavaliers drum major) and Ryan Ling (Cavaliers assistant drum major) Barrometti and Ling are both 21, are both from Ohio (Cincinnati and Wilmington, respectively), are both aging out at the end of the season, and are both Cavalier veterans. On Wednesdays this summer they'll be contributing diary notes for our "From the Road" feature. Ling, a former baritone player, is in his fifth year with the Cavaliers. Barrometti, a former tuba player, is in his fourth year. "I think this has been the most fun pre-tour yet," Ling said of the 2002 Cavalier season. "A lot of us are looking forward to doing something different this year," Barrometti said, noting the new feel of the Cavalier show.