If you thought your day was busy, check out what National Tour Choir accomplished on Wednesday in Hermiston, Oregon:
-Survived a prank by the 8th grade girls (who had help from Ms. Smith!)
-An impromptu baseball game
-A poetry reading session
-An evening performance
Whew! Good thing we got a nap in there.
Once again, this group proved they have no creative limits. When the kids had some free time at a nearby park on this windy Wednesday afternoon, a small ball of tape and a stick resulted in a baseball game with about half of the group. No one really knows who won, but it provided some pretty good entertainment.
Once we returned to Hermiston High School, the site of the workshop and performances on Wednesday, the kids read their poetry about the state of Washington for National Poem in Your Pocket Day. The audience of Tour Choir members snapped their fingers in approval for each poem read.
After a long day of work and play, on Thursday we’re back on the bus and headed to Caldwell, Idaho for a two-day stay. It’s the site of the final performances on tour this year. It hardly seems possible-it’s gone by so fast!
Enjoy the slideshow, followed by another Tour Letter from Mrs. DeSantis!
ON THE ROAD WITH TOUR CHOIR #4 (April 27)
Dear families and friends,
It’s been a busy two days since I last wrote, though I see on the blog that you have been able to keep up with us quite nicely! As promised, we made it to Bremerton, WA Saturday evening in time for dinner at the Family Pancake House. Alas, no pancakes for dinner, but our choice of a hamburger, chicken sandwich or taco salad. It hit the spot after a long day of driving. The Bremerton Comfort Inn is HUGE, with the pool under a gigantic dome that, alas, also houses the bar and special events area. As Smithers and I checked in, we noticed lots of activity throughout the hotel. The hotel manager came out and told us not to worry, the rugby teams would all be gone by tomorrow morning. Hmmmmmm. Not a good sign. I decided to check out the pool area, and it didn’t take long to determine that swimming was not in the cards for Saturday night. Fortunately, as per usual, we had NOT told the kids about the swimming plan, and we quickly switched gears to a relaxing evening of TV and card playing in our rooms. By the time we got checked in and to the rooms it was 7:30 anyway, so that worked out just fine!
Sunday morning we enjoyed a great breakfast in the hotel lobby, with enough seating for all of us at the same time. No rugby players in sight, which was not surprising given the noise of the night before. There were some young baseball players on their way to a tournament, much to the delight of some of our girls! We headed out to Port Ludlow, happy to be back at “work” for the day. One day with no performing is nice. By the end of day two, we’re all chomping at the bit to get back on stage. It is why we’re here, after all! The drive to Port Ludlow was stunning. Mountains in the background, water all around us. Sailboats, ferries, drawbridges, tankers – not the usual fare we see in Colorado. Port Ludlow is an exclusive retirement community, beautifully cared for and with every need tended to by one committee or another. We arrived at the Bay Club, met our sponsors and walked through our performance in the community room. A small stage, but with side steps, space on the floor and decent acoustics, I knew it was going to be a fine show.
The lunch committee had outdone themselves. The tables were decorated with stuffed animals and flowers. Each colored lunch bag had stickers on it and was like a bottomless pit of lunch delights – veggies, fruit, cookies, chips and a sandwich. Water and juice glasses were filled and we were instructed NOT to clear our own tables. We were feeling quite spoiled. After lunch, we did a workshop for children from surrounding communities. Nine brave souls learned “Monkeys in the House” and “Do Re Mi,” and they were very excited to be returning for the 3pm performance.
A quick walk around the beautiful grounds, and we were ready for the performance – a sold-out house! 36 amazing performers sung their way into the hearts of Port Ludlow by the end of “Make a Joyful Noise,” the first song on Act I. After that, we just had fun. I could hardly make my way to the dressing rooms during intermission, as everyone stopped me to say how fantastic the kids were, how beautiful the music was, and how much they were enjoying every minute. Act II was even more fun. We witnessed several agreeable disagreements over which team we should be rooting for in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” eventually deciding everyone could root for whomever they wanted, as long as it was long and loud. Even at that, I would see men jabbing one another and women holding their hands over someone else’s mouth so that they couldn’t cheer for their team!
The workshop participants joined us for the grand finale, with wide smiles, and the cheers were loud, complete with standing ovation. The audience joined us in the lobby after the show, and it was hard to get the kids away. We bussed up the hill to the Snug Harbor Café for dinner, then back to Bremerton and SWIMMING, with the pool all to ourselves.
Yesterday was another day off, but included a boat ride instead of a bus ride. We drove north to the charming little village of Port Townsend where we boarded the Glacier Spirit in hopes of hunting down some whales. It started out to be a beautiful day, sunny and pleasant, even out on the water. Captain Pete and his crew, Sarah and Ashley, were very gracious and knowledgeable hosts. We headed north from Port Townsend for about two hours, up and around San Juan Island to Friday Harbor, while Sarah and Ashley served us the famous Glacier Spirit Blueberry Buckle and hot chocolate or cider. Mmmm. It was windy, but sunny out on the deck and we scanned the horizon anxiously for any sign of anything. Unfortunately, the whales didn’t get the memo regarding their command appearance. We saw harbor seals, otters, and a bald eagle looking down on a gigantic nest complete with eaglets (on Smith Island), among other assorted birds, tall ships, and coast guard cutters. Captain Pete gave us the 411 on each island we passed, each with varying degrees of habitation. We learned that, up until just a few years ago, many island children traveled to school in a school boat as there was only one school for all of the islands.
The weather continued to be pleasant as we cruised into Friday Harbor. We walked up the pier to a small park where we enjoyed the lunch provided by Sarah and her mom. The village of Friday Harbor is a quaint little place, still a bit sleepy this time of year, gearing up for the summer tourist season. There were several shops open, with just the right merchandise for our little shoppers. Purchases included a much-needed camera, a snow globe and a camera for Thomas; t-shirts for Makayla, Jennifer, Sophia, and Whitney; a necklace and keychain for Zac; hats for Jason, Sammi, and Banjo (a whale!); Friday Harbor water bottles for Hillary and Vaughn; a pin and “glass thingy” for Alex; sunglasses for Sydney; postcards for Zoe, Brendan, and Andi; and shot glasses(?!) for Jalena, Anna, and Nick. My staff group stumbled upon a beautiful little gallery full of native Inuit art. If we had just a bit more spending money, you’d be getting amazing gifts!
We climbed the stairs up to the Whale Museum and spent some time pretending we were in the boat seeing real whales in the water, translating our voices into “whale,” and marveling over the size of our brain compared to a whale brain. We’re either not as smart as we think, or we just know how to use what little we have very efficiently.
Back on the Glacier Spirit, around Lopez Island, south toward Port Townsend…and still no whales. I think Captain Pete was feeling a bit guilty about the lack of excitement, so cooked up a bit of a squall instead! As the waters started getting choppy, we called the kids in off the deck, and boy did we start bouncin’. It was short-lived-but-fierce, with the appropriate screeching from all aboard. Fortunately, everyone who needed it (or thought they might) had taken their motion-sickness potion of choice that morning, and we were doing just fine…until the squall. But really…two out of 36 isn’t bad at all!
We drove back to Bremerton in the rain, ready for the calm and warmth of our hotel rooms. Most everyone was in bed long before we called for lights out, and snoring shortly thereafter.
Today (Tuesday) found us up and checked out of the hotel by 8:30am, on the road to Chimacum School, between Bremerton and Port Townsend. We did a school show for their 500+ K-5th grades, again sponsored by the Port Ludlow Arts Association. We’ve been on the bus since lunchtime, back over Snoqualmie Pass, to the desert in Oregon. We already miss the sea air! But we’ve been busy, as usual, with math beginning to take over the bus. Even Mr. Branam got into the action today, quite proud of himself for solving a problem. Science is driving Hayden crazy, Zach is trying to write a report on America in the 1920’s, and Jeremy made the following announcement, “Today is Poem-in-a-Pocket Day!” Who knew?? Never one to pass up a creative opportunity, and with our newfound knowledge and admiration for the beauty of Washington State, we explored the many options for poetry — haiku, free verse, sonnet, limerick, acrostic, cinquain – and set to work. Let the poetry readings begin! I’ll publish some of our offerings in a later letter.
We are now about one hour out of Hermiston, looking forward to an exciting over-the-border-crescendo as we cross the Columbia River into Oregon. You’ll probably hear us! This is day seven of the tour and we’ve passed the half-way mark. Our young travelers are doing extremely well. They don’t whine – well, sometimes, but I know they’re just giving me a hard time! They perform like pros, with unbelievable consistency. They tackle their homework willingly and with diligence. They write thoughtfully and creatively in their journals. They support one another and negotiate the travails of middle-school-angst with grace and maturity. They work hard, then play with abandon. They are curious and polite and very sweet. I am extremely proud of each and every one of them.