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!

Good evening all you great and wonderful fans and supporters of the Choirboys!

Today was the day! We had watched Rocky I, II and III on the way out to Philadelphia and today, TODAY we made it to the Philadelphia Museum of Art where we were able re-enact the Rocky run up the steps. Perhaps you caught it on our Facebook page today but, if you didn’t, here is a video of the first run.

Let’s back up. This morning the boys were awakened by their wonder Prefect, Camden. They readied themselves, ate some breakfast and headed for the bus. We had to take our three rentals back today. We were so happy to see our bus returned to us in better condition than we had last seen it. Even the shaken steering is gone and Charlie is in heaven!!!

We headed east on I-76, stopped at the Enterprise Rental Story and then continued our journey to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

When we went to take our victory photo with the Rocky Statue a gentleman was there to share with a little information he had. He shared that when the fateful meeting of the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles took place a few years ago, there were some 4,000 Vikings fans who descended upon the stairs in front of the art museum. When they moved down to the Rocky statue, they dressed it up like a Vikings fan. The Vikings would then go on to get DESTROYED by the Eagles. This gentleman said, “The moral of the story is that no one messes with the iconic Rocky statue.”

Following a few snapshots, we made the 5 block walk to the Eastern State Penitentiary, perhaps the most famous prison in the USA. This was where Al Capone was held for 7 months. The Choirboys picked up their audio guide headphones and set off on the 10-stop tour learning all about the penitentiary.

 

The Choirboys spent a little more money at the gift shop and then boarded the bus for the ride back to the hotel. Once we arrived, the Choirboys had lunch in their rooms and then a rest period before changing clothes and heading off to St. Katharine of Siena Catholic Church to sing for a service. The choir is sounding pretty good. We didn’t get any video, but managed to snap a few pictures during warm-ups.

Following the service, we came back to the hotel where the Choirboys worked on their journals, packed up a number of their personal things and started preparing for our departure tomorrow. Dinner was at the Mexican restaurant next to the hotel. The boys got desserts after their meals and Caleb M., who has a birthday tomorrow, even got a free dessert as we sang Happy Birthday!

Back to the hotel we went. The Choirboys received instruction from Camden and then it was off to bed. Tomorrow we have a church service at St. Thomas of Villanova at 10:30 and then we begin our westward trek toward Minnesota.

Off to bed for this part-time blogger!

Good evening, or should I say, Morning since it is currently 12:40 AM as I make this entry into the Tour Blog.

Today was another great day. The Choirboys got up this morning and share in the cereal they had purchased the night before. They then made their own sandwiches for lunch, packed them in bags and met down at the cars for our journey in the rush traffic to arrive at the National Constitution Center. After jig jagging through the Philadelphia traffic, we managed to find the center, park and move indoors for this rather interactive and well-done gallery and theater. We started by touring the main gallery and Hall of the Signers. Then we were able to watch a live narration of how we got to the point of United Stated needing a constitution.

After the National Constitution Center, we sat outside for lunch before walking down Independence Park to see Independence Hall and then on to the Liberty Bell.

We made our way back out of Philadelphia and spent a few minutes rejuvenating our bodies so we could head to Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish where we had some sense of normalcy as the good people of the parish made. The sandwiches were chicken and, of course, Philly Cheese Steaks.

The Choirboys then prepped for their concert and were in good voice tonight as they sang for about 20 people in-person. Following the concert we took some time to check in about tour jobs (every Choirboy works on a team this year), talk about stay healthy for the remainder of tour and to work to maintain healthy relationships now that we have hit mid-tour. Also, after the concert, Charlie and I headed back to New Jersey to fetch the repaired motor coach. We are thrilled it was able to get repaired.

Tomorrow brings an early rise with the need to return the rental cars and then make our way to the Eastern State Penitentiary!

Thank you for choosing to spend some time with the Choirboys as you read this. In a few days we will turn back toward the west and continue with our plans.

 

Good night, friends!!!

Good evening all you fine fans and supporters of the Choirboys!

It has been a rather unusual day today but, as the title says, we must never give up.

Today started off as any other day may have started. The Choirboys awoke from their slumber and eventually made their way to breakfast and then to the bus by 8:30 AM. By 9:00 AM we were on our way to Harrisburg for our scheduled tour of the National Civil War Museum. The short 40 minute jaunt with directions from our GPS gave us a nice tour of some residential neighborhoods in Harrisburg, which were not built for 42 foot buses to be driving through. However, we did get to see some of the areas of Harrisburg and, even though we had narrow, one way streets with cars parked on both sides of the street, Charlie never gave up. Eventually, we found our way to the museum on roads designed perfectly for the size of our motor coach bus.

We were greeted by Dane, one of the experts of the Civil War, who offered a presentation on slavery during this time period. The boys asked questions about the war and a bout slavery and Dane answered them all. We were then off to the various galleries to see and learn about the various phases of the Civil War with much emphasis placed on President Abraham Lincoln. The museum has a beautifully designed lobby area where we were invited to sing. The Choirboys did not disappoint and performed several songs for those who had gathered:

 

Following a stop in the Gift Store, we boarded the bus and were off to fuel the bus and to stop for lunch. Many of the fast food stops in Harrisburg did not have their dining rooms open for seating and, can you imagine taking the bus through the drive-thru? We decided to try a new place called “Friendly’s”. This was a small restaurant with a great server who single handedly served all of us with burgers, sundaes and more. The server even commented that we had a great group of boys.

After over eating, we returned to the bus to continue journeying our way to the east.

Now, many of you have heard about our blown out tire from a few days ago. Well, since then, we have been dealing with a constant alarm sounding while we are driving. There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the bus, but we had a few issues that need to be taken care of. We drove to Bryn Mawr, PA where Charlie dropped off Joseph and I to pick up two of our three rental cars. Why, you ask? Well, you see, there are five MCI (which is our brand of bus) Service Centers in the United States and one of them happened to be near Philadelphia. So, we have made arrangements to have them look at the bus. However, we have several performances and sight seeing commitments this week and we we needed to have a mode of transportation. If we had planned to take the bus in, we needed rental cars with enough seating for 20. Well, the rental place managed to find us a mini-van, a SUV and a 12 passenger van.

The rental place near our hotel only had two of the three vehicles we needed, but made arrangements for us to get the 12 passenger van from another location. So, Joseph and I picked up two of the rentals and drove to the hotel.

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One at the hotel, I picked up Charlie and we started on our 56 minute drive through rush hour(s) traffic of Philadelphia to retrieve the third car. On our way, we noticed the time and distance remaining. It indicated we would arrive by 6:15 PM. I called the rental location and they were scheduled to close at 6:00. Oh no! I asked if the representative would be willing to stay until 6:15 since we were on our way and stuck in traffic. She said she would only stay until 6:15 and if we weren’t there, she would close down and we’d have to pick it up in the morning. Well, this was not an option. We continued on our bumper to bumper journey and watched the ETA increase…6:17, 6:19, 6:22, 6:24. We felt there was a slim chance we’d make it on time and thought about turning back. But, I remembered the song the Choirboys sing, “Sizo Bambelela” which translates to mean “You must never give up”. We decided to stay the course and, by golly, we made it to the rental shop at exactly 6:15 PM. The representative motioned us in and we signed the paperwork and were on our way back to the hotel.

Upon returning to the hotel, we met the boys. They unloaded the bus while I checked us all in. We all got our things off the bus and into our rooms. Now, we will be staying at this one hotel for three days, so everything had to come off the bus since it was going into the shop. Once we got the go ahead to take the bus, Charlie and I embarked on our 45 minute drive to Blackwell, NJ to one of only 5 MCI Service Centers. There we met Steve who took down all our notes. It was now a little after 9 PM when we dropped off the bus. Charlie and I started our 37 minute return trip and arrived back at the hotel around 9:45 PM.

While we were gone, the Choirboys were able to get settled in and spend some time in the outdoor pool and enjoy some pizza for dinner.

After returning to the hotel, it was now time to take four boys shopping for lunch items. Again, while I was gone, Camden had each room make a plan for their lunches for the next three days. They had to agree on all the supplies. They then designated one member from their room to come with me to shop for their supplies. Each boy had a list of items. After arriving at Walmart, each boy got a cart and we walked the aisles to get our food supply.

 

The four boys loaded up the car and delivered their groceries to their rooms.

It is now 12:10 AM. All the Choirboys and the rest of the staff are sleeping. I am headed there, to0.

Tomorrow, we head into Philadelphia for most of the morning and part of the afternoon before heading to Bryn Mawr for a 7:30 PM concert. Be sure to tune in to Facebook to watch the boys perform for their second live, in person audience.

Good Night!

 

 

Good evening all you fans and supports of the Choirboys! We hope you are enjoying taking this virtual tour with us as the Choirboys continue their way east.

Today was a day all about Minnesota! We got up this morning, got down to breakfast to gain some energy and then departed St. Clairsville, OH for Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. For any of you who have travelled to Gettysburg, you will recall the winding and hilly and mountainous terrain to get to the small town of Gettysburg. The Choirboys thought perhaps Charlie was giving them a taste of what Cedar Point is going to be like with all its roller coasters and tummy turning rides. After about a 5 hour drive and a stop for lunch at Dairy Queen (Henry’s choice for his birthday – tried to stop yesterday but the dining area was closed at that DQ). The Choirboys enjoyed their meal combos with blizzards and sundaes on the side.

We made our way out to the Visitor Center and met up with our tour guide, James. We were in luck because the COVID protocols have relaxed enough that he was able to ride on the bus with us like the tour guides usually do. Initially, in making our reservation, we were told we would have to follow our guide. James did a great job engaging the Choirboys in the history of Gettysburg, marking all the important battles and, of course, highlighting the importance of the 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment in connection with the Union’s victory.

After thanking James for a great tour, we headed back into town to spend some money on some great souvenirs. They Choirboys got a lesson in shopping rules and we split into two groups to get our shopping all done for the day. We walked back to the bus and headed out toward York, PA where our was for the night.

After just a short 40 minute drive, we arrived at the Best Western in York and got checked in. We decided dinner would be at the restaurant next door – Quaker Steak & Lube! They had some great food – burgers, ribs, wings, and more. Henry even got a shake for his birthday. The Choirboys were torn between three different happenings during dinner. First, a police officer had pulled someone over in the parking lot, so many were enthralled with that process. Some were focused on the MMA match on one TV and others were into the start of the Canadiens vs. Knights NHL playoff game. I’ll let you spend time to guess which boys were into what event.

We ended the meal and our waiter asked if we would sing. The Choirboys chose to sing one of the South African pieces. The other wait staff came over to listen. One said to me, “I wanted to cry. And, I’m not joking.” Our waiter said, “Tell those boys they were awesome. Their singing made my night.”

The Choirboys are all tucked in now. Camden does a great job going room to room to give them instruction, make sure their suitcases haven’t exploded all over the room and turn off their lights each night. Tomorrow, we’re on to Harrisburg to the National Civil War Museum and then on to King of Prussia, PA where we will finally get some swim time.

Hope you’re all looking forward to hearing the Choirboys sing again this Friday at 7:30 PM Eastern. They are definitely looking forward to getting back to singing.

Signing off for tonight!

Good night!

Good evening all you wonderful fans and followers of the Choirboys. You might be wondering why our blog post is so late this evening. Well, we’ll tell you in a moment.

The Choirboys were awakened from their slumber around 8:30 AM so they could slip on down to the Best Western breakfast buffet before it closed down at 9:00 AM. Today’s plan was to have a leisurely drive across the state of Ohio. No real schedule, but we wanted to let the Choirboys sleep in a bit before hitting the road. After everyone was nourished with waffles, eggs, cereal, fruit, bacon and more, the suitcases were brought out to our home on wheels. While the Bus Crew loaded our luggage the Facilities Crew went back in to check all of our rooms for anything left behind. This is our usual routine each morning. We got the go ahead from the Facilities Crew and we headed across town to fuel the motor coach bus. While fueling, the Bus Crew took some time to wash the windshield for Charlie – she sure is a beauty! Finally, we were on the road heading east toward Dayton.

We made a pit stop along the way before arriving for lunch at the good ol’ Cracker Barrel. We even saw our first Cicadas.

After a late lunch (intentionally planned), we board that big, beautiful bus, again, to continue on our casual, slow-paced journey for the day. We managed to make it past Fairborn and nearly to Springfield when BOOOOOOOMMMMMMM. UGH! Charlie quickly moved the bus to the side of the road and, sure enough, WE’D BLOWN OUT A TIRE!

After about 15 phone calls to tow companies and tire repair shops, we finally managed to find a place that could get to us within 45 minutes. The service guy got right to work and had us back on the road. We are still dealing with some of the aftermath of the blow out. It was much larger than the 2019 Tour and caused a little more damage to the bus. Nothing a little duct tape can’t hold until we get home. We think a wire was torn out, which has now caused some alerts to stay on permanently, but the bus is back up and running! PHEW! We are so grateful to have a staff that was able to act quickly and find a solution to our problem.

While the tire was getting repaired, the Choirboys played a little game of Name That TV Show based on the lyrics of their theme song. The Choirboys didn’t do too bad with it and even surprised a bit at knowing some of the answers.

As we continued our journey toward St. Clairsville, OH for a hotel stop, the boys chatted away, read some books and played some games. We then stopped for dinner at Hardees until finally arriving at our hotel around 11:30 PM. We had hoped to arrive around 8:00 PM so the boys could hit the pool. Well, we guess we will be waiting for another day for the water and our prefect is no too sad about that, LOL!

Well, it’s now 1:00 AM and I am headed to bed. We’ll be back on the road in 7 hours and are looking forward to our tour of the battlefields at Gettysburg!

Good Night!

 

Wow, finally settled all into our hotel and the Choirboys are sleeping. Time for me to lay down some wordage and photos so you all can enjoy the journey we are on. There are at least three “I’s” to talk about today.

The first is Iowa! I never thought I’d see the day we are on tour and the weather is cooler where we are than at home. It’s nice to be away from the heat of Minnesota and into the nice summer days of mid-80’s temps with a slight breeze. The Choirboys were up early this morning to get some breakfast at the hotel, load up the bus and continue the journey East. The boys offered a Facebook morning greeting as well as a recorded birthday wish to Mrs. Mary Moen, an LOLCB friend and artistic director of the Central Minnesota Boys’ Choir. We departed the great State of Iowa to cross the river and enter Illinois – the second “I”.

As we traveled eastward, we had planned for a lunch stop in Champaign, IL at a Cracker Barrel. When we make such plans, we try to call ahead to simply give advance warning that a particular restaurant is about to experience a group of boys with great manners and behavior. Well, despite our call, when we arrived at the Cracker Barrel, there was wait on lunch seated for a good 1.5 hours!! Well, needless to say, we launched a Google search to fine a new option for lunch. We landed on Red Robin!

The Choirboys ordered mostly burgers and steak fries and devoured most of what they ordered. Our server, Brandi, stopped at the staff table and said, “This is the nicest group of boys I have ever waited on. They all said please and thank you.” It’s a proud moment for the LOLCB when we hear these compliments and we try not to take them for granted. The Choirboys demonstrated their appreciation for the amazing service by offering a song (can be seen on our Facebook Page). We then boarded the bus and were headed further east to Lafayette, IN.

During the drive we began our educational process about Philadelphia by watching almost all of the original Rocky movie. (Can you even go to Philly without running up those stairs?) The Choirboys found a few other things to do during the drive, as well.

 

 

We made it to Lafayette a little early so we stopped at a local park for  break. Some of the Choirboys got out a frisbee, others got out their baseball gloves and others wandered around the park a bit to take in the beautiful weather – 83 degrees and slightly breezy. We journeied to the church and were greeted by Pastor Lisa Hood, pastor of the First Baptist Church. The team at the church helped us get the things we needed for the concert and even allowed us to use their live stream equipment, which brings me to my third and fourth “I’s” with Indiana and In person – yes, we had our first in person audience. Although small in number, they thoroughly enjoying the Choirboys.

We had decided we would snack before our concert and then head out for pizza afterwards. The local favorite pizza is from Pizza King. We called over to the restaurant only to learn their dining room closed at 9:00 PM and it was already past that. However, the manager offered to keep the dining room open just for the Choirboys. We ordered our pizza and breadsticks and waited for a bit to get our pizzas.

The pizza was really good and the boys filled up like it was going out of style or something! In true Choirboy fashion, we sang a song of appreciation to the manager before leaving for the hotel.

Tomorrow will bring a longer drive but a free day so we can leisurely cross Indiana and Ohio.

Stay tuned for more Choirboy updates.

Pleasant dreams.

Good night!