Things really started to heat up this week as The Cavaliers headed further south for a string of Texas shows. These competitions brought us face to face with corps that we hadn't seen since late June. It was our first true opportunity to meet up with many of the top 12 corps at the first DCI regional of 2002. From Texas, things head north on the way to Madison, but not before stops in Baton Rouge, La., and Kennesaw, Ga.We began our Texas tour with two incredible rehearsal days in Dallas. Our design team took the opportunity to fly down and make some adjustments that have made the show even better. We really took advantage of the time and we came away a much stronger corps. Both nights at rehearsal, we managed to attract nearly 300 people. We were all pretty amazed, considering there was actually a DCI show at Lake Highlands High School, only a few miles away!From Dallas, we moved on to the heat and humidity of Houston. Our normal show day schedule was modified quite a bit because we put on the clinic at Rice Stadium. By the time we got inside the stadium, the sun was already beating down, and it continued to get hotter throughout the day. We were able to get some rehearsal time in before the clinic, which proved to be very beneficial. The clinic went very well and was well attended by many area students. Our brass staff, which is mostly made up of Texans, was a big hit with the locals. After the clinic, we were surprised by a severe thunderstorm that lasted for most of our dinner break (thanks to Hank Wahrmund for the great food!). The show went on after the skies cleared, and The Cavaliers owned the field once again. Later that night in the parking lot, our favorite Assistant Director, Mr. Bruno Zuccala, was surprised with a Happy Birthday gift from a beautiful belly dancer. Keep in mind it was all in good, clean fun -- as just about everyone in the parking lot can attest.We arrived in San Antonio the next day well rested and ready to work. We were all extremely excited to finally have our first Regional competition. Despite all of the excitement, we never lost sight of our goal -- to perform our best and make ourselves better. The Alamo Dome is always such a great venue to perform in. With a great crowd in attendance, The Cavaliers gave another incredible performance. We were all amazed with the sound and the resonance that the dome created -- it was one of the most beautiful performances we've heard all year. After four days of hard work in Texas, it was time for a well-deserved free day in Houston. The corps "slept in" a bit on Sunday and then split up to go do laundry. Afterwards, we were all dropped off at The Galleria, a high-priced, fancy mall in the middle of downtown. It didn't take us long to realize that this place was a little out of our league. Gucci, Armani, Tiffany and Co., and other "upper crust" establishments made us realize how young and poor all of us were. The highlight of the day was when Shaquille O'Neal came up to us and asked us for our autographs because he saw that we were with The Cavaliers – OK, just kidding. We did actually see Shaq, twice, but it was more of the other way around. He was just walking through the mall with his kids, minding his own business. The only question -- what the heck was he doing in Houston? We thought he was going to follow us to LSU (his alma mater) for the show the next day. We weren't going to get our hopes up.Baton Rouge was debatably the hottest, muggiest day we had seen this summer. The run-through was tough to finish, but we explained to the hornline that when the temperature and humidity is the same as your body, you are at "equilibrium" with the atmosphere (we'll make up anything to get them to perform well!). We were all anxious to perform at "Death Valley" on LSU's campus. The stadium was full of about 5,000 energetic fans, and they were very receptive to our performance. We were both surprised by the attention we received from adoring fans after the show.On our way to Alabama, we experienced a few mishaps with our transportation. The guard bus was the first to have problems. The front right tire was about to blow and was literally hanging on by a thread. Later that night, the equipment truck experienced a similar situation with one of its tires. If that wasn't enough, the transmission blew out on our volunteer bus and everyone had to move to one of the other four busses. Finally, our souvenir truck almost got a ticket for running through a red light to keep up with the rest of the caravan. All in one night -- never a dull moment with The Cavaliers!