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!

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…