Friday, June 18, 2010

Tour 2010 - Day 1 - West Virginia

Day One: So, the day began with the usual organized chaos of assembling 75 adults and kids, 3 vans full of instruments, music, luggage, food, water, music stands, concert clothes, and - oh, yes - puppets and stage props! Label the instruments, number the music books, tag the luggage with red/blue and silver/gold ribbons, find out if you are in the green, yellow, red or blue group and if you are in Section 1 - 20. Make sure you check in with your section leader, get with the right color group and on the right bus. As parents waved goodbye from the church parking lot (smiling the kind of smile that says “boy I’m glad I’m not on that bus”), the youth and “tall friends” quickly settled into excited chatter. From the buzz of conversations, it sounds like we averaged 4.5 hours sleep last night. Which sounds about right for the next 10 days!

A scenic drive through western Maryland and W. VA on a delightful, sunny day got us off to a good start. First lesson learned: middle-aged, coffee laden bladders are not equipped to travel four hours without relief. So, it was with great relief that we arrived at our lunch spot in Clarksburg, W.Va. It is always a logistical challenge to maneuver the buses in these quaint towns. Like where do we park the buses? Paul, the driver of the Silver Bus, dropped us off and thought he’d found a great place to wait. Come to find out it was a bit of a tight squeeze. Too tight, in fact. When he tried to pull out, he had Cameron rearrange the poles in the parking lot that were blocking his egress. Apparently not cool with the local police, who were quickly approaching on their official Police Segways. Paul deftly maneuvered a slalom through the poles, and as the authorities closed in, he quickly accelerated, opened the door and yelled “Cameron, quick, jump in!” And with that, they made their daring escape. As they pulled off, Suzy Renauer chimed in, “Now is the time I suggest you flip the switch that changes your license plate.”

Not to be outdone, Johanna - driver of the Gold Bus - managed to pick us up directly in front of the pavilion. It was too late when we discovered the mud moat separating us from the bus. Ken Koeritzer gallantly helped passengers aboard, but those of us with short legs could not quite make the stretch. Just ask Peggy Edmonds, who bravely fought the mighty forces of the dreaded quicksand, which violently laid claim to her shoe. Not prepared to concede defeat, Sir Kenneth valiantly retrieved the shoe and like a scene out of Cinderella returned it to its rightful owner.

Whew! With all the drama and excitement, it will come as no surprise that we found ourselves slightly behind schedule. But with only minor delays, we reached the destination of our first venue - Cross Lanes United Methodist Church. Just in time to unload the 3 vans of instruments, music, luggage, water, concert clothes, music stands, puppets and stage props; rehearse; eat the fine Mexican dinner provided by our gracious hosts; and do our quick change from grungy teens to sophisticated performers.

Just a word about Cross Lanes UMC and the wonderful network of support we at DUMC enjoy. Our host coordinator here was Linda Nesbitt, who is the mother of DUMC’s own Kelly Shiflett. Curt and Kelly Shiflett, soon to be parents of twins, were married at Cross Lanes UMC, and Walt traveled here to officiate that ceremony. Cross Lanes will be remembered by us for their tremendous hospitality, their fabulous food and one of the largest (nearly 200) and most appreciative audiences we have ever had. We could not have asked for a more wonderful start to our Tour.

Click Here for Photos from Day 1

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