Day 17: Short and Sweet

Good evening all you anxious people awaiting the arrival of your favorite choirboy!

Today was  another very relaxing day on the Western Lights Tour! We were awakened by a rather intense thunderstorm with hail and flooding. The cool thing was that it started at exactly the time the boys were to wake up. No need for the Stewart and Tristan to go around to all of the rooms – the boys were awake! Outside we found several piles of hail and the maintenance man was catching catfish with his bear hands and throwing them back in the pond behind the hotel.

The boys had a good breakfast. Even Charlie made himself a waffle! We all hung out in our hotel rooms until it was time to go – not until 11:00 a.m. today.

We made our way a couple of miles up the road and stopped at a rest area where they had, in 2016, dedicated a new statue called “Dignity”. We took a few photos and back on the road we went.

Our total drive today was a little over 2.5 hours. We stopped in Mitchell, SD to have lunch and then continued our journey to Sioux Falls. We checked into our hotel and relaxed for a bit before heading to Trail Ridge Senior Living Community for a performance.

The audience was very appreciative and I was thrilled to be able to see my Grandfather and his wife. The boys enjoyed cookies and we were off again, back to the hotel.

We ordered pizza from Marcos! It was delicious! We had some left over cookies to gobble up and then it was off to bed.

Tomorrow will be an exhausting day for all. There will be nervousness, anxiousness, joy, tears, smiles, laughter, hugs and good-byes. We are excited to see our families and to share our stories of the Western Lights Tour!

Not sure what has happened to the Jake and Sam Vlog (shoulder shrug). Oh, well, perhaps they muster up a concluding vlog for tomorrow.

We hope to see many of you at our Homecoming Concert at St. Joseph the Worker in Maple Grove. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

Until tomorrow…

To be continued…

Day 16: Wall Drug or Bust

Good evening you wonderful fans of the Land of Lakes Choirboys!

We are just a few hundred miles from home and just a few short days from our BIG Homecoming Concert on Thursday. Today was a very casual day. The boys gathered at the church with their host families who had nothing but GREAT things to say about the boys. One host family commented about how punctual the boys were. She said breakfast would be at 7:30 and they were there one minute before. Word is the community already wants the boys to come back! Pastor Scott offered a standing invitation for us to return any time we would like. Thank you to all the folks in Spearfish who came together to offer our choirboys such a wonderful evening!

We boarded the bus and we were off to Wall Drug! It was just a short drive and we were there. The boys broke into groups to conquer the stores and wrap up their tour shopping. Many of them took their turn climbing on the Jack-a-lope that resides at Wall Drug. We spent about an hour shopping and then we were on our way for lunch.

We stopped at a rest area for lunch. When we loaded the bus back up to continue our journey we watched a movie. We arrived at our hotel around 3:30 p.m. CDT and the boys quickly unloaded the bus, got to their rooms and headed to the pool.

The boys swam for a little over an hour, returned to their rooms to shower and get ready for dinner. We headed to Al’s Oasis Restaurant for dinner. We ordered the boys some appetizers to share: fried green beans, fried pickles and chislic (A South Dakota staple – deep fried cubes of beef).

Now the boys are getting ready for bed. We have a late start tomorrow and short drive to Sioux Falls.

Good night!

 

To be continued…

 

Day 15: Getting Closer

Good morning all you who waited up last night for a blog post. So sorry. I left the camera on the bus and it has a majority of our photos on it.

The boys gathered this morning at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church with their host families. The boys were in a good mood! We thanked our host families and boarded the bus to begin the drive to Devil’s Tower and then on to Spearfish, SD. The drive to Devil’s Tower was just a mere three hours. As we approached “America’s First National Monument” John F. shared with us the legend of Devil’s Tower. You can read it here.

We stopped at the Devil’s Tower Trading Post and parked the bus. The boys grabbed their lunches and headed for some nearby picnic tables. After the boys were done eating they posed for a group photo with Devil’s Tower in the background. We then hit the gift shop. Those prepaid cards are getting down to almost nothing for most boys. We have one more stop for shopping – of course it’s Wall Drug!! That will come tomorrow.

We, again, arrived early into Spearfish, so the staff checked into their hotel. We then drove through town to Spearfish United Methodist Church where we were greeted by our host, Mary, and one of the local 4-H clubs who prepared us dinner and who are making our bag lunches for tomorrow. We got a tour of the facility and Tristan S. and Luke I. went out to instruct the boys what would need to happen. The boys took care of their tour jobs, warmed up for the concert a bit, then enjoyed hamburgers, beans, pasta salad, chips and fruit.

Tonight we had some extra time, so we took our graduate photos. Stewart, Tristan and Camden are collaborating on our Tour Video (which we show during intermission of our Homecoming Concert). We are collecting photos of our graduates when they were just newbies! These photos are so fun to sort through!

We had a good sized audience for our concert and they were very engaged in our program. The applause seemed to last longer than at previous concerts and the boys soaked it all in. Braeden commented that they were busier than normal at the merchandise table!! That’s great news!

Following the concert, I had the opportunity to speak with several concert-goers. Many applauded the LOLCB for the work they do with the boys. They can really see a difference in these boys. One audience member taught middle school music for 35 years. He said he was so impressed that he almost wanted to go back into teaching middle schoolers!! We also had the director of choral studies from Black Hills State University in the audience. He commented on the sound of the choir as well as the repertoire we presented. It is always great to get feedback like this from those in the choral/music field.

The boys took care of their tour jobs in under 15 minutes, met their host families, grabbed some cookies and lemonade and made their way off to the host homes. Tomorrow, we have a day off and will spend some time in Wall, SD and then make out way to Oacoma, SD for a hotel stay.

Here is the latest edition of the Jake and Sam vlog for your enjoyment…

To be continued…

Day 14: Back into a Routine

Good evening all you folks who love the opportunity to share in the fun and excitement of the LOLCB Mobile Unit!

We are now in Casper, WY! This morning we left around 8:00 after a wonderful night’s stay in Spanish Fork, UT. The host families were wonderful and one even baked cinnamon rolls and was kind enough to bring one for Charlie!

Today was all about continuing or getting back into the routine. There was a lot of bus time. Many games were played, books read, music listened to, poker played, and much more. We stopped in Rawlins, WY at Bolton Park to eat our lunches and play on the playground for a bit. Then, it was back on the bus to travel to Casper.

Aiden has been having some pain in his ear, so we stopped at an urgent care clinic to have it checked out. Sure enough…ear infection. Poor guy! He’s been in good spirits and hasn’t missed a performance.

We were a little late in arrive to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, but they had everything ready for us when we arrived. Pulled pork sandwiches, a few different pasta salads, vegetable salads, chips, lemonade, iced tea, brownies with ice cream and more. These boys sure do get spoiled when they travel!

Following dinner we rehearsed a bit in the church. I was talking with the boys during warm-ups about how, if they listen to the church, it will speak back to them and let them know what will work best in the space. I have always been a believer in the importance of using the breath when singing and allowing the sound to carry on that breath. This church definitely reminded the boys of the basics of tone production and the need to breathe out their sound. Once they paid close attention to allowing this to happen, the space filled with their sound. I asked if they noticed the difference, and they definitely did. Okay, enough of the technical stuff.

The performance was excellent and the boys were well-received. During the question and answer session the boys were able to answer questions about what their favorite some was, what they do outside of choir, if there are siblings in the choir, what they have learned most from being in the choir and more. I commented about how much they take care of each other. This group of graduates does an amazing job taking care of the younger boys. They make sure their ties are correct. If they are missing something, they work with them to try to find it. They are very encouraging and are great role models for the younger boys. I am very proud of them and so should their parents be.

We didn’t take many pictures today :(, but we were able to go Facebook Live during the second half of our concert. We hope you were able to tune in and watch. We are just four days from our homecoming! Help spread the word. The boys will arrive at St. Joseph the Worker in Maple Grove around 5:00 p.m. Their concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. We’d love to have a great crowd for their final concert of the season.

Now, to make up for our lack of photos today, here is the latest addition of the Jake and Sam Vlog, S1, E10…

 

To be continued…

Day 13: Running from the Heat

Good evening all those of you who enjoy staying up late awaiting the latest from the LOLCB Mobile Unit.

Today was a good day. The boys were up, fed and on the bus by 7:30 a.m. We were ready to get out of the heat of Las Vegas. The A/C was roaring and we were ready to cruise. The boys had a lot of code green today as we had about an eight hour drive. We made our first stop for lunch in Beaver, UT where we enjoyed DQ. Their $5 Buck lunches are just right for these boys. Following lunch we had a great rest period. The boys slept for almost two hours.

We arrived in Spanish Fork, UT a bit early so we headed to the hotel where the staff would be staying so they could check in early. The boys changed into their travel uniforms and we were off to meet our host. Christine is a friend of Troy Jordan, one of our awesome choir dads. She was delightful. She greeted us at the church, showed us around and then led us to the pavilion for dinner.

Our host families had provided a potluck. The food was plentiful and delicious. The boys met their families first and then sat for dinner with them. There’s something different that happens when the boys meet their host families first. A connection is made and then, later during the concert, they have someone in the audience whom they know. It makes the concert feel different.

Following dinner, we headed back to the church to prepare for the concert. We had to be creative, logistically, due to the area from where the boys were singing. We spent about 10 minutes going over a new formation and the boys adapted brilliantly. We worked through a few sections of a few songs and then I told Tristan S., head chorister, if all the boys get their ties tied nicely, they could perform without sweater vests.

In the dressing room, they were determined to get their ties correct. Older boys were helping younger boys, Stewart was helping a few and I was helping as well. They looked sharp. During the question and answer session, one of the audience members even commented on how nice they looked. The boys performed very well. After the Les Miserables medley, the audience clapped and clapped.

Following the concert, the boys changed, took care of their tour jobs and were ready to go “home” with their host families. The cool breeze had settled in and the air was fresh. The boys departed and are now sleeping, or at least should be…

To be continued…

 

Remember, tomorrow evening we will go Facebook Live. We are looking at probably around 8:00 MDT (9:00 CDT). We will try to give you a good warning before we begin.

Day 12: City of Lights

Good evening all you good people and fans of the Choirboys!

Today we had a late start! Since Las Vegas or Lost Wages was only a 4 hour drive from Ontario, CA, the boys were able to sleep in until 8:30 and then hangout in their rooms until 11:00 a.m. This gave our prefects a chance to finish up a few of the room’s laundry. We sure are lucky to have prefects who are willing to stay up until all hours of the night to take care of these boys. Due to the long break between host homes, the boys needed to have their clothing laundered. So, for the past three nights, our prefects have collected the boys’ dirty laundry and spent hours washing and drying their clothes.

On the road, the temperature started rising quickly.

As the temperature rose, our A/C could not keep up. After a bit we decided we needed a break. So we stopped off in a little town and picked up some DQ Dilly Bars. We ate the ice cream bars in the little bit of shade provided by the building, but the heat was close to unbearable.

Back on the road, we continued watch Paul Blart Mall Cop, which won more votes than Night at the Museum and the ever-present Nacho Libre.

We arrived at our hotel around 4:30, dashed to our rooms to change into our nicer clothes, scampered down to the lobby, re-boarded the bus and drove to the Luxor. We entered and the boys were mesmerized by all the lights. We went through a portion of the casino to get access to the Shoppes at Mandalay Place where we had reservations at the Burger Bar, owned by the famous chef Hubert Keller. The boys enjoyed some very delicious burgers and fries and then, we were off to what, I think, has become the highlight of the tour – Blue Man Group!

Pictures were not allowed during the show, but we snapped these before and after. The music was loud and pounding, the humor was simply delightful and the toilet paper was aplenty! After the show we walked to the bus via a little bit of the strip. It was still very hot out, even at 9:00 at night.

Charlie drove us down a bit of Las Vegas Blvd. where we saw all the lights and famous casinos and hotels like the Flamingo, the Bellagio, Trump Tower, Caesar’s Palace and more. The fountains in front of the Bellagio were performing the light and water show and there were hundreds of people gathered to take in the sights.

Finally, we arrived back at the hotel, the boys have all showered and are now asleep in their rooms. We have an early departure tomorrow as we head to Spanish Fork, UT for a concert. We also lose an hour as we get a little closer to home.

Reminder: we will go Facebook Live for the concert in Casper, WY on Sunday. Watch our Facebook page for the specifics.

To be continued…

 

Day 11: Turning East

Good evening all you adventurer followers! Today we made our turn to the east for the first time in 11 days.

The boys woke early this morning to load the bus, enjoy some breakfast and head to the wonderful traffic of Los Angeles. First, we had to tell our fearless navigator, Camden, farewell, as he flies home for work. He will see us again at the homecoming concert. Charlie says he already misses him!

We departed the hotel near San Diego for the smog and heavy traffic of Los Angeles. Charlie did an outstanding job of dashing and braking and dodging and slowing as the crazy drivers around him wove their way through the lanes to get one car ahead in the thick traffic. We arrived at our destination a bit early so the boys balanced their spending money, updated their journals and wrote letters.

At last the time for our tour of Warner Brothers Studios was upon us. We watched a short film on the history of WB and then boarded three different limo style golf carts to tour around vast property housing facades of buildings from ER to Batman to Fuller House (which was filming while we were there and some of the boys saw the dog from the show).  There were tons of studios and much, much more. Here are some of our photos…

Following our journey through the campus of Warner Brothers Studios we headed toward Ontario, CA for lunch/dinner. To my fault, the timing with traffic and the tour threw us off our normal schedule so we missed out on lunch and took an early dinner at the Golden Corral. I don’t think they left anything behind. Here’s what took place during code green today (code green means they can do pretty much anything they want)…

 

 

We finally made it to the hotel and spent a little time letting the food settle before hitting the pool.

Once again, at the end of the night, the boys got their mail, we had some cupcakes to finally celebrate Henry’s Birthday (formally), and now the your little cherubs are sleeping.

We have a late start tomorrow since we only have to drive 240 miles. That’s a really short drive for this year’s tour. Las Vegas is our next stop. The boys seem to be excited to see Blue Man Group. Should be a great day and evening tomorrow.

Lastly, here is the latest episode of Jake and Sam’s Vlog.

Don’t forget…our Homecoming Concert is just one week away!!! June 28 at 7:30 p.m. hosted at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Maple Grove.

 

To be continued…

 

Day 10: The World Famous San Diego Zoo and La Jolla Beach

Good evening all those who have been following our journey to the west coast!

Today was a busy day. We started off with a great breakfast here at the Best Western in Miramar. The boys lined up to make their own waffles, eat scrambled eggs, toast, cereal, pastries and more. The eating area is rather small so the boys carried their things back to their rooms.

After breakfast we headed for the world famous San Diego Zoo. Charlie delivered the boys right to the front and dropped us all off. He ended up parking the bus clear in the back of the parking lot. The boys don’t know how good they’ve got it having Charlie as their bus driver. He’s makes a lot of sacrifices for them. Not only time away from his business, but time sitting on a hot bus waiting for them to finish their adventure for the day. This day, however, Charlie was able to come into the zoo with us. That is always a treat.

We split the boys into five groups and off we went in separate directions. The San Diego Zoo is massive! There are so many things, plants, animals, etc. to see. Some of the groups chose to hop on the Guided Tour Bus right away to get a flavor for the zoo and then determine what route they wanted to take the rest of the time. The boys spent time seeing the  insects, reptiles, elephants, birds of all types, lions, koalas, tigers, bears, jaguars, hippos, rhinos, etc. Several of the groups took the tram ride from one end of the park to the other. From high above the zoo you can see all the happenings below as well as the beautiful San Diego skyline. It is definitely worth bringing your family to see. I hope to bring my family some day.

We spent about three hours exploring and discovering before departing for lunch. Today we ate at IHOP or IHOB or whatever they call it now (marketing nightmare is what I call it). Anyhoo, there was one waitress and one cook on duty when we arrived. I walked in first, as I typically do, to let them know we had a group of 31 and then explained how we work things on our end. She laughed, like she didn’t take me seriously. Then she said, “noooooo” with a laugh and a smile. The boys entered the restaurant quietly and took their seats. Then began the menu distribution and ordering of beverages. There were lots of ‘please’ and ‘thank yous’ handed out during our entire meal. The boys ate up breakfast meals, burgers, unlimited fries, pancakes and so much more.

As I was paying the bill, the waitress told me this was probably the most well-behaved group she has ever had in the restaurant. She told me about a youth basketball team that had come in the week before. Those boys were running all over, shooting straw wrappers at each other, being very loud and offering no ‘pleases’ or ‘thank yous’. In fact, one of the team members bumped into her and knocked an entire tray of food on out of her hands. I must admit, our boys are pretty extraordinary.

After lunch, we headed back to the hotel (it was pretty much across the street). There we changed into our swimming gear and headed over to La Jolla Beach! The day had been mostly sunny while we were at the zoo but became rather cloudy and cool as we landed on the fine sands of the beach. Those overcast skies are called June Gloom here in San Diego. It happens in the mornings and in the early evening. The temp was right around 64 deg. as we hit the water. Many of you joined us on Facebook as we streamed from the beach. You saw how we run things at the ocean and saw how cold it might have looked. It really was that cold. The water temp was right around 67 degrees. Brrrrrrrrrrrr!

After drying off a bit and spraying the sand off our feet we boarded the bus to return to the hotel. We ordered in pizza and the boys are now in bed. We have an early morning tomorrow needing to be on the road by 7:30 a.m. as we journey through Los Angeles traffic to get to Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank.

Have a lovely night! We’ll chat again tomorrow.

To be continued…

Day 9: Difference in Temp

Good evening all you who music and boys love! Today was a great day of sight-seeing, eating, driving, sleeping and performing. We hope many of you were able to join us for the live stream of a portion of tonight’s concert. The boys did a fine job and receive many, many compliments. More on that in a moment.

The morning started with a cool swim in the pool at Palm Canyon Resort. Remember, the front manager allowed us a late checkout. The boys gathered around 9:00 a.m. after enjoying some cereal in their rooms. The water was cool and refreshing and quite a treat for the boys. They splished and splashed and zoomed down the water slide (it had closed down last night before we hit the pool).

Following the pool we changed into our travel uniform and loaded the bus. We were delayed slightly as I had roped Charlie and Joseph into attending a time-share meeting. Hey! Don’t laugh! They scored two 7-night stays at any Diamond Resort and $250.00 for the choir. That’s almost 1 tank of fuel! Once they joined us we were off to the Palm Springs Aerial Tram.

When we arrived, the temp was approximately 97 deg. When we ascended this picturesque tram ride the temp was 62 deg. at the top of the ride. It felt very refreshing. Once we got to the top, the boys dined at the Pines Cafe where they had salad, two vegetable sides (mixed veggies, mashed potatoes, roasted fingerlings or corn on the cob) and a main entree (vegetarian lasagna, BBQ ribs, or baked chicken). It was delicious.

We then ventured out to view the scenery. The view was magnificent. We know some of you were able to see us live for a moment or two. The boys love it when they have viewers interacting with them, so thank you for tuning in. I have pictures of the Tram Ride, but I left the camera on the bus. I will try to include them tomorrow.

Following the tram ride down we boarded the bus and continued west toward L.A. and then south to San Diego. As we were driving the temps continued to climb. Then, uh-oh, the A/C stopped working. You know it! I tell ya we need to stop coming to California. Luckily, the boys were sleeping and didn’t really notice. The further south we went the cooler it got and then the A/C started working a little. The temps began to dip into the low 70’s so by the time the boys awoke it was fairly cool. More on this in a bit…

We checked into our hotel, headed to Carl’s Jr., its right next door, changed into our concert uniforms at the hotel and then headed to Torrey Pines Church in La Jolla. Although the audience in the church was small, our viewership online was a nice size and both were very appreciative. While we were performing, Charlie was talking with alum dad Alan Carlisle, who helped Charlie with the A/C issue. As of now, all is back to working. Thank you, Alan! It’s so great to have folks like you willing to help the Choirboys out!

I spent a little time this evening interviewing a few more boys. I hope you enjoy their responses to the question of the day: If you could open a store, what would you sell?

And, lastly, here is the most recent episode of the Jake and Sam’s Vlog. Enjoy!

 

To be continued…

Day 8: Driving, Desert and Darkness

Good evening all you wonderful Choirboy fans! This evening’s blog will be rather short for a couple of reasons. 1) We are having poor cell and wifi connections and are just trying to get something up for you all and 2) we pretty much spent the day on the bus.

We depart the great state of Utah and drove through Nevada, passing our hotel where we will stay during our night in Las Vegas. They boys even saw the Luxor with the large mural on the outside of Blue Man Group, the show we are seeing in a few days. We made a few stops along the way to get out and stretch and to make our lunch.

We arrived at Palm Canyon Resort around 5:30 p.m. PDT and checked into our rooms. The rooms are all two bedrooms with two bathrooms and a full kitchen. It is also a time-share resort. It’s rather nice! We ordered pizza from a local joint and gathered in one room to enjoy the pie! Just before the pizza arrived, we walked down to the lobby/registration area to sing for the staff.


The boys were a big hit and the Front Desk Manager asked if there was anything we needed. So, I asked if we could get a late check out since check out is at 10 and we don’t really need to leave until later. He said, “Sure thing. I will mark your rooms down for a later checkout.”

Following our dinner we headed to the pool to swim in darkness. The pool was open until 10:00 PDT so we let the boys stay in the water as long as possible. As I type, the boys are showering and getting ready for bed. They will get a good night’s rest as we head to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for a tram ride and lunch at the top. We will then make our way to San Diego for a concert. A portion of this concert will be live streamed on Facebook. The Concert begins at 7:00 p.m. PDT (That’s 9:00 p.m. CDT).

Jake and Sam appreciate your suggestions for their blog and are trying to incorporate them as best as they can.

To be continued…