Tour Blog

Our intrepid team chronicles the plight of our brave choir boys as they travel hither and yon experiencing life on the road – and having a blast!

Yesterday, we departed our friends in Evansville and head north through Chicago to St John’s Brebeuf in Niles, IL. As we’d were pulling in to the parking lot, the older boys started telling the younger boys, “this is THE church.” Interesting story, several years ago when the choir was on tour in the Las Vegas area, we were hosted at a Presbyterian church in Henderson,  NV. The music director at the church was Marek Rachelski. We had a great stop. A few years later, I received an email from Marek, saying he had moved to Niles and would love to have the boys come some time.  Well, we have now been to St. John’s on three different tours. We are hoping maybe some time we can stop in during the regular choir season instead of in the summer on tour. Anyway, St. John’s has become known as THE church not only because of the acoustics and design of the sanctuary but because we get to see Marek!

The concert went great. By the end of their singing, the Choirboys were receivingnhoots and hollers from their audience for a job well done. Off to do tour jobs and enjoy some refreshments and then they retired for the evening to their host families.

This morning we had some extra time before heading to Six Flags in Gurnee. So, what else would we do but have a suitcase check. The prefects worked to be sure all the suitcases were in good order before we boarded the bus and started making our way toward Six Flags.

Having already doused the boys in sunscreen, upon arriving, we divided into several groups according to which rides they wanted to go on (i.e. extreme rides, medium rides and smaller rides). After about and hour a rains trom moved close enough to cause the rides to shut down due to lightning. We decided to take advantage of this down time to eat our lunches. After lunch we divided into groups again. This time one option included the water park. We ended our time at Six Flags with some shopping.

‘We departed the amusement park and began our journey to Portage, WI. Here the boys enjoyed dinner at Dino’s and serenaded their servers and restaurant staff before retiring to their hotel room for the night. They are now all fast asleep for the final stay before being able to rest in their own beds tomorrow evening.

We are very excited to be heading back to Minnesota tomorrow after a great 16ndyas on the road meeting people from all the different stops and sharing our music with audiencesof all types. Tomorrow night, of course, we share our music with our favorite audience, our family snf friends. Hope you can join us at 7:00 pm at St. Joseph the Worker, 7180 Hemlock Lane Northe in Maple Grove.

Here is one last episode of Jake and Braeden’s vlog. Enjoy.

To be continued…

On day 13, which was yesterday, we made our arrival in Evansville, Indiana. This is the home of one of our choirboy’s grandparents. The boys unload at the bus and we were greeted with a wonderful home-cooked meal. Halloween dinner, the boys prepared for their concert. The boys performed very well learning themselves a standing ovation.  Following the concert there was a reception with cookies and ice cream. The boys left their host families and they were off for the night. (This is typically where I would insert pictures from our concert, however, I have forgotten the camera on the bus.)

Here is the vlog for last night.

 

This morning, the boys arrived back at the church, readied themselves for the church service and then enjoy the pizza and ice cream for lunch. Halloween lunch you’re off for a pool party. It was a beautiful day to be out in the sun and in the water.

During one of our breaks from swimming we had mail. I also took some time to interview Heaston, the last of our first year tour boys.

The boys took to the water again and some went out to play volleyball and ultimate frisbee. We are very grateful for the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Hall. We wrapped up our time with a dinner of fried chicken, Mac-n-cheese, baked beans, fruits, vegetables and salad. Then, it was back to the church to meet our host families.

We leave you this evening with one more episode for Jake and Braeden.

To be continued.

Last night we got to bed early as we were waking the boys at 5:30 this morning. My apologies for not getting a post up.

Yesterday was a fun and relaxing day. The breakfast area at the hotel was very small so we had the boys come get their food and return to their rooms to eat. After a quick bite to eat we were on our way too Cajun Encounters for a swamp tour. We briefly stopped to pickup some bug spray at the recommendation of the hotel staff. We arrived and all the boys got a bracelet, which indicated the boat they would be on. We were divided into two groups. Once we boarded the boat we were zooming away down the river. Those boats can really cruise. Our tour guides gave us the history of the area, how the river is formed, the different vegetation we’d see and the impact of Katrina on the ecosystem. We learned a lot about swamps, deltas, and the bayous. Along the way, the tour guides stopped to “play” with the alligators.

 

After seeing much of the river vegetation and wildlife, it was off to the gift store. We then headed back to the hotel for a rest period. The boys were getting awfully tired and needed to catch up on some sleep. After rest period, we headed over to Cracker Barrel. Due to a late breakfast and the need to get in an early lunch, we arrived around 3:00 p.m. The service was great and so was the food.

 

With full bellies we were off to our concert at First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans. The audience was small but appreciative and the boys gave the best concert of tour. We were able to broadcast a portion of the concert on Facebook Live so check it out on our page.

we drove back to Slidell, where our hotel was, but stopped off for ice cream before heading to our rooms. It was a good day.

This morning, as I said earlier, we woke the boys at 5:30 so we could be on the road by 7:00.  We stopped at Beignets at Lait and then hit the road.  We were making good time, stopping for lunch north of Jackson, MS. We devoured our lunch and hit the road. We were on a time mission to get to the performance venue early. Well, that came to a sudden halt when one of our drive axle tires gave out. Charlie managed to get us to the next exit where there happened to be a repair shop. The first shop had only one tire and, due to tread and other tire related things, we tho9ught we’d need two. They made a call for us and we were off to shop number two. Upon arriving, the manager looked at the tires and determined one would work well. Within 35 minutes, they had the tire changed and we were back on the road.

Back on the road, we were a few hours from Memphis. We made good time. Stopped for dinner at Cici’s Pizza Buffet and then to the church. St  John’s  a beautiful church with great acoustics and the boys filled it with their beautiful singing.  The audience was very happy and asked some good questions. For this concert, as for the one last night, we didn’t have just homes so the feel after the concert is more steady and calm and not so rushed. Tonight we listened to smooth jazz while we journeyed to our hotel.

Grant and Tristan are gathering the Choirboys’ gray concert pants and washing them this evening. Tomorrow, we don’t have such a loner drive so the morning will be a little calmer.

Here’s the latest installment of the Jake and Braeden vlog.

 

To be continued. . .

 

 

 

 

Choirboy fans, so sorry for missing a blog post last evening. Turns out a little piece from inside my computer is missing and my computer will not charge. I am using a different laptop tonight, so we are in good shape.

On Day 9, the boys started the day off with a deluxe breakfast on the 11th floor of the Best Western overlooking Corpus Christi Bay. We then loaded up the bus and started toward the Houston Area. We stopped for lunch at one of the boys’ favorite restaurants, Cracker Barrel. The restaurants are always in disbelief when I come in and say I have a party of 31. We make it very easy for them and, in the end, we received several compliments about the boys, the way they handle  themselves, and their manners and behavior while at the restaurant. Even other patrons in the restaurant will stop to comment. This is something we’ve come to expect, but do take in and enjoy the moments when the boys are excelling at what they do.

We continued down the road to the Houston Space Center. This place was packed and, due to rain, the tram tour was backed up for a while. We decided to let them explore the main building in pairs and then we lined up for the tram ride our to Rocket Park and the Mission Control Building.

After the tram tour, we had a little more time to explore before hitting the gift store and then heading back to the bus. We had just a short drive to the hotel where we ordered up some Papa John’s and hit the pool.

Cole, Archie and Henry decided to try out the hot peppers that come with the pizza. We all retired for the evening. The boys were tired and needed a good night’s rest. We even let them sleep in until 8:00 a.m. this morning.

Rising late for breakfast, we boarded the bus around 10:00 a.m. When I checked out, the front desk clerk said she didn’t even know there was a group in the hotel, let alone a group of boys! I must say, the Choirboys do a great job in hotels. They are quiet and courteous to the other guest and respect that they are not the only ones in the pool or in the hotel. Great job, gentlemen!

We headed toward Louisiana and faced the increasing humidity and heat. Oh, boy! It was a tough one. The A/C lasted most of the trip and then it just gave up. We drove for awhile until a quick stop at a truck stop. This allowed the boys time to cool off and switch seats. We reset the bus computer and the AC was back to running. The rest of the ride was much more comfortable. Along the way, we stopped for lunch at a Jack in the Box and then stopped at a Louisiana Visitors Center. The boys serenaded the staff with a song before heading to the alligator viewing area. We saw two of the three alligators and several turtles. Chris H. gave us a lesson on the type of turtle and that it was an invasive species.

We made it to our hotel around 8:30 p.m. Ordered up some Popeyes chicken and now the boys are in their rooms getting ready for bed. Tomorrow we will head to the swamp tour, sight see near Jackson Square in the French Quarter and hold a concert at the First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans.

 

Have a great night!

 

Today was a day all to ourselves. We had our own schedule and our own list of things to do. Our first stop was the USS Lexington, a retired WWII aircraft carrier. The Choirboys divided into three groups and each ventured off with their own tour guide.

After learning all about life aboard this carrier, we stopped off at the gift store and then headed for lunch at the original Whataburger.

We then headed back to the hotel to change into our swimsuits and drove to Mustang Island to go swim in the Gulf of Mexico. The waves were big and the wind was quite gusty, but the boys endured and had a blast splashing in the wave and swallowing salt water.

We spent a good 2-2.5 hours at the beach.

Earlier in the day we called in to Joe’s Crab Shack, which is right across the street from our hotel, to let them know we’d like to come for dinner at 7:00 p.m. It has become a tradition for the Choirboys to each at Joe’s each time we are in Corpus Christi. After swimming we rode back to the hotel, showered and changed into our nice clothes for dinner. We walked to Joe’s but when we arrived they said they couldn’t seat us for 2 hours. That would have put us at 9:00 for sitting down to order. We quickly came up with a second option, and boy were we glad we did.

We found an awesome steak and seafood restaurant called U&I. The food, no kidding, was the best food I and many others there had ever eaten. After a special song for our Margarita Mommas and Dos Equis Dads (this is an event where parents can pay to gather for some socializing during tour and the boys made a video to send to them, as well as call for a live video feed – parents present could see the boys but not the other way around) we enjoyed, burgers, steak, fish, shrimp, calamari, homemade bread, salads, soups, mozzarella sticks, fried pickles and so much more. The wait staff was amazing and the food, again, was phenomenal. To thank the staff, the boys sang another song for them before departing.

Wewalked back to our hotel. Before bed, the boys gathered to chat about tour and turning the corner. Tomorrow marks the mid-way point of tour. We handed out loads of mail and the boys held their second vote for Choirboy of the Year.

They are all tucked in their beds now, sound asleep. We have a fairly early morning tomorrow. But, before I doze off, here is another episode of Jake and Braeden’s almost daily, daily vlog. Enjoy!

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

Thank you all for your patience. I know you are anxiously awaiting the blog to see what type of things the Choirboys have been up to. It’s been a busy couple of days, so let’s journey back to Saturday morning…

The boys met back at St. Thomas Aquinas around 9:00 a.m. They were very appreciative of the later morning arrival time and the fact they did not need to bring all of their bags with them. After all had arrived, we boarded the bus and headed to the Carpenter’s home, just a few minutes from the church. Upon arriving, the boys headed to the backyard where Evan led them in a quick practice of the Ave Verum chant they needed to sing for Sunday’s church service. He did a good job with them going over notes and words. Charlie and Mr. Carpenter tended to the bus. As you may recall, the AC does not like the heat and humidity of Texas. Charlie had an idea that perhaps the condenser unit was clogged. He pulled the bus up to the driveway and used a power sprayer to clean it out. He said there was quite a bit of dust and dirt that came flowing out. We crossed our fingers that this might solve our AC problem.

The boys, waiting to get into the water of the pool began to realize something as we talked through the day. You see, we had them come dressed in their swimming suits and pack their shorts and polo shirts for later. One Choirboy came to me and said, “Aaron, I think I forgot my…” I knew exactly where he was going. And, yes, about 10 of them forgot to pack their underwear. Those boys, before jumping into the pool, had to phone their host families to ask if they would bring a pair to the Carpenter’s home. Of course, the wonderful host homes we had, delivered them all and into the pool all the boys jumped. They had a great time splashing and sunning in the overcast skies.

When the boys started getting hungry, Mr. Carpenter started up the grilled and made us up some burgers and hot dogs. Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter put out the spread for the boys, but before they go there food, we sang happy birthday to Caleb M. and Anthony.

 

After filling our bellies full of goodness we were ready to head to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. Once we arrived the boys were allowed to walk the library with their partners.

They completed their discovery mission and did some shopping in the gift store. While we were waiting in the atrium one of the volunteer greeters approached me and said, “This is one of the best behaved, finest group of kids I’ve ever seen come through this library. Thank you for whatever it is you are doing with them.” He mentioned a few of the other volunteers throughout the museum had said the same thing. Way to go, gentlemen! The boys gathered their things after shopping and couldn’t help but notice the wonderful acoustic space of the atrium. They asked if they could sing. I inquired at the information desk and they said, “Absolutely!” The boys got into their formation and sang the Ave Maria. You could’ve heard a pin drop in the room. People came from inside the library, from the gifts store, everywhere and stood to take in the wonderful sound of the Choirboys. When they completed their last chord, the place erupted in applause. These are some of the best moments of tour.

Back to the church we drove. When we arrived, we headed to the church to practice a bit. Our host families then treated us to an amazing potluck.

We wrapped up dinner, headed to change and offer a great performance to a wonderful audience. Those photos are on my other camera, however. I’ll try to get some posted to Facebook soon.

The boys retired to their host homes, but only after I heard compliment after compliment from their audience. The stop in College Station was a bit unusual in that the boys were able to meet and stay with their host homes before their performance. This creates a bit of a bond with their “family”. I even heard from one family that they just had such a sense of pride in the boys they hosted when they saw them singing. They felt so honored to have been their “tour” family for two nights.

This morning, Sunday, the boys had an early morning church service and, again, followed it with an amazing meal put on by the church’s Knights of Columbus. Before they ate, the boys sang a song for the men since many of them were unable to attend the concert the evening before.

We loaded the bus and had a quick garment bag check and then we were on the road again. Destination – Corpus Christi, TX. Heading further south we stopped in La Grange, TX to eat lunch. After lunch we popped in a movie, Rogue One, and the boys relaxed for a few hours.

We arrived in Corpus Christi, checked into our hotel and headed to dinner at the Golden Corral. On our way back, Charlie dropped us off at a beach area near our hotel. We walked the rest of the way making a few stops to listen to the waves and enjoy the breeze coming in off the water. It was a great walk and a beautiful evening.

The Choirboys have now fallen asleep and will continue their adventures tomorrow with a trip to the USS Lexington and then swimming at the beach. Check back in tomorrow to hear about our day. In the meantime, enjoy this new episode of the Jake and Braeden almost daily, daily vlog – a Seagull Production.