It's amazing how much we've done since we last wrote. The corps started out in Minnesota at the end of June and we are now in Iowa preparing for the Drum Corps Midwest Championships. In between, we have performed in seven shows in 10 days and have had some great opportunities to improve our show. Of course, we couldn't have done any of this without some free time along the way to clear our minds and rejuvenate our spirits.After touring the South and competing in DCI shows, we met up with the rest of the DCM corps in Minnesota. We almost expected Minnesota to be kind of chilly and comfortable, but to our surprise, we were met with more extreme heat and humidity than the south. The performances in Minnesota went rather well, despite one interesting event. During the quietest moment of the second movement of our show, Ryan left his podium at the back of the field to come to the front to conduct. Little did he know that it wasn't locked in place, and as soon as he stepped down, the entire platform collapsed with a loud crash. This was just the first of many "attempts" on Ryan's life this summer – but more on that later.After two shows and a practice day – all in weather that hovered around 100 degrees -- the corps was ready to kick back and relax with some much-deserved free time. We escaped the heat after the performance in Hastings, Minn., by renting out a local swimming pool for an hour and a half. It didn't take long for the belly-flop competition to begin off the diving board (check out our website – www.cavaliers.org - for pictures coming soon!). The next day, we were able to spend about 10 hours roaming the Mall of America -- eating, shopping, and watching movies, checking out the roller coasters and just being in the air conditioning. About 20 of us even decided to treat ourselves to a new "aqua massage," which is kind of like the Popiel pocket fisherman, only it looked like a tanning bed that your head stuck out of. It was great! The Cavaliers may work hard, but we play even harder.Two more stops in Wisconsin and Illinois gave us more opportunities to increase our confidence, as well as our stamina. Both shows were very solid and we were pleased with the progress we had achieved. With the 4th of July was just around the corner, we were all glad to make our way back to Chicago. We did our usual four parades in the hot sun, and made many new fans along the way. Afterwards, we cooled off and headed to Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Ill., for dinner and a movie. On a side note, we both give the film "Minority Report" two drum-major-white-glove thumbs up.Continuing our Midwest stops, we moved on to the Phantom Regiment's home show in Rockford, Ill., and then to our own home show in Michigan City, Ind. Both crowds were very entertained and we feel that we have been increasing our connection with the audiences. The Michigan City show was probably our best performance so far. We were all very excited to have the home crowd see what we're up to. It was great to see so many of our alumni, and they seemed to be very pleased with what they witnessed and heard. We spent a lot of time sharing stories and catching up with old friends after the show (with the help of a nearby Dairy Queen). We then headed to Racine, Wis., to perform in one of the oldest drum corps shows in the country. During rehearsal, we began to put the new ending to the show on the field. This was when the second "attempt" on Ryan's life occurred. As he was conducting on the back podium, an assault of water balloons was launched over the neighbor's fence and the back stands. Maybe this was payback for the water cooler that was dumped on Brandon on his birthday back in Minnesota. The investigation is still in progress. Anyway, we added about 12 new charts and learned new music to help solidify and energize the end of the show. It's not quite ready to be performed yet, but we'll have it ready to go by the end of the week. There are a few more shows in Iowa before we head to Dekalb, Ill, for the Drum Corps Midwest Championships on July 12 and 13. We are all looking forward to one of our best DCM performances ever, as well as the opportunity to further our success.