Petoskey was good to the boys this morning. As we were leaving the small but abundant town, the boys told Stewart all about their stays. Two separate host families woke up their boys in a unique way: they serenaded them. One man made our gentlemen wake up to a song he always sung to his own sons: the national anthem. Another man sang “O What a Beautiful Morning” from the musical Oklahoma. Other boys stayed with retired librarians, received silver dollars, talked about D&D, danced to music when the TV didn’t work, learned what it meant to be a “plantaterian”, attempted to play with a big fuzzy dog, and stayed in the summer home of the famous American writer Ernest Hemingway. Their final stay at host homes was a great one on which to end their tour. Many memories were made, not only with last night’s host families, but with all of their host families throughout their 18 days on the road. The boys will remember their stays for ages, and will benefit from meeting so many people in so many states and countries.
We left Petoskey for Rothschild, WI. It was a bright sunny day with just enough chill to either wear pants, a long-sleeved shirt, or a make-shift blanket with what you have on the bus. The boys enjoyed their games while Charlie drove them safely from the Lower Peninsula to the U.P over the 5 miles of the Mackinac Bridge. The weather was still beautiful, and the boys could see the blue waters of Lake Michigan glistening up at them from high in the air. Many boys took pictures in awe of the majestic bridge, but were soon back in their seats playing games as the bus touched ground on Michigan’s northern half.
We stopped at a park in Manistique, WI for lunch and a couple hours of playtime. The boys enjoyed their homemade lunches of turkey sandwiches, gooey chocolate banana bars, and Haribo gummy bears. Spread out throughout the playground, marina, and grassy field, some boys played ultimate frisbee while others played on the swing sets and slides. There were teeter totters in the playground, and there was at least one boy who had never played one before. You know, from the first taste of calamari to the first ride on a jet boat, I and the staff are so pleased and honored to be part of these boys’ lives. This tour had a lot of “firsts” for some boys, and it’s so amazing to witness those minuscule but landmark moments with them.
We continued our travels to Rothschild for another 4 hours. The boys voted on a movie to watch. Much to Stewart’s chagrin they chose “School of Rock” over “Nacho Libre” and “Nacho Libre 2”. Saddened by their choice, he went to sleep in the front row while the boys enjoyed Jack Black teaching young students to “stick it to the Man.”
Near the end of the drive I interviewed Chris Hess, the 5th graduate of this year. This tour is bittersweet for him. It’s sad because it’s his last year, but it’ll be nice to get back to swimming. He planning to do Cambiata, and participate in a field study with the herpetological society. Here are his answers to my questions for the graduates…
What has been your favorite moment as a Choirboy? “When I got that call from Aaron telling me that I was in the concert choir.”
What was your favorite activity on tour? “Hiking was fun.“
What was your favorite Choirboy event this year? “Broadway, Beatles, and Boys”
Have you ever sang Happy Birthday to yourself? “Not at choir. Because my birthday’s in July. One time I went to Joey’s house for D&D, and he made me sing it.”
What is your favorite book? “‘Scorpia’ from the Alex Rider series.”
Is there a character from any book, game, or movie that you think about sometimes?
“My character from D&D Drak Skarfold. He’s a bounty hunter, and he’s a lizard folk.
What is something that worries you? “Grades”
Who inspires you? “Steve Irwin. I’ve loved him since I was little. He’s really smart.”
Tell me something about this year that you never want to forget. “The day I came to my audition. There was a boy who was super nice to me. I don’t remember his name, but he was very nice to me.”
Chris, thank you so much for being part of the choir.
We crossed into the Central Time Zone on our way to Rothschild, and got into town in time for dinner. The staff found a local Pizza Ranch, and we drove the boys there for dinner. By this time the boys were a bit testy with each other. I’m pretty sure they were hangry because once they got a sizeable amount of delicious buttery-crusted pizza in their bellies, they were happy singers. The staff at Pizza Ranch thoroughly enjoyed how well-behaved the boys were. We celebrated two birthdays today: Josiah and Reece. We shared cake and songs with the staff. They sang Happy Birthday to the two birthday boys, and our gentlemen sang “Morokeni” for them and the patrons at the end of the evening.
Now, the boys are falling asleep in their hotel rooms, having had some pool time for their last night of tour. They’re ready to come home tomorrow, sing for everyone, and then rest well in their own bed petting their own dogs, being tucked in by their own parents.
See you at the concert. Goodnight.