ON THE ROAD WITH TOUR CHOIR #6
Monday, February 16, 2015
Dear families and friends,
Today finds us at the end of our World Ski Championships adventure, and I am writing from the bus as we make our way up a snow-packed Vail Pass. Fortunately, we are in excellent hands with our veteran driver Andrew. As we passed dozens of trucks pulled over, chaining up, just east of Vail, Andrew pushed a magic button on the bus and the chains automatically started circling all of the tires. He can only go 20 miles an hour until the process is completed, but then it’s done, as he said, it sure beats laying in the snow under a bus! We were behind a few cars with inadequate snow tires for a while, causing the usual back-ups, but we now seem to be past that as we approach the summit and we’re looking at blue sky trying to push through the clouds. It really is beautiful, though I will be glad to get home with our precious cargo!
And speaking of the kids, they are happily belted in, eating yet more chocolate, and watching cartoons. These last two days have been a whirlwind. I believe I last posted from the Back Bowl in Eagle, where we had lunch and spent the afternoon bowling. The Sunday race winner was Mikaela Shiffrin, so we sang the US anthem Sunday night and, as predicted, the crowd went wild. Between the holiday weekend, a hometown win and CeeLo Green on stage following the medal ceremony, there were thousands of people packing the plaza. And our performing space! People were amazingly bold…or perhaps rude would be a better word…as they attempted to secure the best spot for the concert, and if you weren’t right up in front of the stage, we had the best seats in the house. The staff was literally forming a human chain to keep people from crawling right up on the risers, or just making their way right around them to stand in front of the kids.
Immediately following the anthem, we took 15 of our kids to assist with the “bib draw” for Monday’s race. In order to get from our risers to the podium, the kids made a chain, holding on to me and one another, and I literally bulldozed our way through the crowd, with people telling me, “You can’t go there!” the whole way. Oh, yes we can. And we did! The top 15 skiers go up and draw a number, designating the order in which they will start the next day. One by one, we went up the podium with appropriate bid, stood there and smiled as the skier was interviewed, then scampered away. It was very exciting! Then we had to bulldoze our way back through the crowd, picking up the rest of NTC along the way, and fight our way out of the plaza and up to the bus. We did it, returning to the bus with 36 kids…always a plus!
One of our best friends, Steve Strachan, who was president of our board when we agreed to take on this challenge, has a home in Vail and has been faithfully following us, down in the plaza, at EVERY medal ceremony. He also generously opened his home, both last week for RTC and then again this week with NTC, for a party honoring the kids and thanking sponsors. Andrew again successfully navigated the bus up the short windy road to the house, and we partied hearty! Delicious food, in a beautiful setting, and many friends to meet and greet. Our young troupe was at their ambassadorial best, charming everyone in the room, first with conversation, then with song. We are so thankful for all of our sponsors, starting with Mr. Strachan and Strachan Exploration; Hugh Davies and ACFEA, our tour company; Jansen Legal; Industrial Integrated Controls; Laramie Energy; The Harris Law Firm; Qualcorr Engineering; Seattle Fish Company; HEI CIVIL; Evolving Systems; Uprise; and Claymore Oil and Gas. We had a grand time celebrating and didn’t get back to the hotel until 10:30 – shockingly late for us!!
Sunday morning we slept in, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, and then did a bit of journal and map work. Mrs. Proffitt, tutor-extraordinaire, brought along world maps and, given our repertoire and activities this season, we had a lot of things to find on those world maps:
Anthem countries – Austria, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy, Canada, Liechtenstein, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Russia, and US.
Our upcoming tour – Sweden, Estonia, Finland, and Russia.
One of our songs, “Geographical Fugue” – Trinidad, the big Mississippi, the town Honolulu, Lake Titicaca, the Popocatepetl, Malaga, Rimini, Brindisi, Tibet, Nagasaki and Yokohama.
We are truly children of the world!
Mrs. Crile, along with grads Sammi and Aitana, joined us for this leg of the tour, as we left Ms. Burke and Mr. Branam at home to tend to Concert Choir in Tosca with the Colorado Symphony. This two weeks had definitely been a divide and conquer effort for our staff, and I am so grateful to be surrounded by such amazing, talented, competent colleagues. I can’t think of another group of people with whom I would want to share the amazing adventures we tackle. Two weeks on the road and, while we are definitely ready to get home, everyone is still smiling…and speaking to one another!
Back to Sunday. Final Medal Ceremony and Closing Ceremonies in Red Tail Stadium at the bottom of the Birds of Prey race course. And, for the first time in two weeks, it was snowing. We have been unbelievably lucky with the weather. Eagle sits in a little valley, elevation 6000 feet, so it was actually balmy most days, in the 40’s and 50’s. And though it was always colder in Vail at 6:30pm, it was still quite comfortable. So we bundled up in our cold-weather gear and headed up the mountain. We were asked to be there at 1:00, so Ms. Smith wisely scheduled our lunch in Beaver Creek Village for 11:30. Full of cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches and tacos, we continued up to the slopes on a shuttle bus. And then we waited…and waited…and waited. Fortunately, we were able to be in the Media Center, so the kids journaled, played cards and drank hot chocolate while the staff fretted about the closing ceremony and waited for the race results. We sang the anthem of the country in first place as the race progressed. Germany! Nope, now France! Russia! Yes, yes, go Russia! We can sing the anthem! Not that we don’t love Austria, but we were really hoping to sing a different anthem. And…it was France, with Germany in a close second!
Out to the slopes, in the snow. It was very beautiful, and not cold, as we were dressed appropriately. We sang the French anthem, one of our favorites, then moved into places or the closing ceremony. We were joined by our friends from the awesome a cappella group Face, and Hazel Miller. Hazel took her place on the gold medal podium, and the kids spread out with Face. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” was never so fun!
And just like that, our Ski Championships adventure was over. We sang only five of the anthems we learned, but that’s okay. We will proudly sing the Swedish, Finnish, and Russian anthems when we travel in April. Their skill in both music reading and foreign languages has increased exponentially. They will remember not only the anthems, but this entire experience, the rest of their lives. They are definitely richer for the experience, and the entire staff has never been prouder, feeling extremely fortunate for having had the honor of traveling this road together.
We picked up Qdoba on the way back to Eagle, slammed down those giant burritos, and hit the pool with the biggest splash you’ve ever seen. “Do Re Mi” never looked better – check it out on our Facebook page if you haven’t already seen it. Several synchronized swimming routines were perfected, new records were established for underwater swimming and gymnastics, and I’m pretty sure I saw several mermaids glide by. Showers, a good night’s sleep, our last breakfast at our new favorite home-away-from home, the Eagle Suites and Lodge, and we were on the road by 9am. It is now 12:30pm, and we are still on the road! We’re close though, just coming up on the Evergreen exit and traffic is moving nicely.
With a giant BRAVO to the most amazing Tour Choir EVER, a heartfelt thanks to the parents who so readily share their children with us, and a salute to the best staff in the world, I am signing off for now. Stay tuned for further adventures from the road, coming to you in April!