Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Zombies and Shopping

Day 6
      Act 6:

And now for something completely different. 

The scene was set for Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, but due to the forest fires an impromptu decision was made to deviate from the aforementioned plan and head to nearby Manitou Springs for s-h-o-p-p-i-n-g, shopping!  Everybody with the exception of the adult males was thrilled.  This nearby, eclectic, town boasted an old western main street feel outfitted with a variety of shops and eating establishments enjoyed by all. 

It just so happened that the first encounter with Manitou Springs once we disembarked from the buses was the town’s Zombie crawl.  This is a serious event in Manitou Springs.  3 to 4 blocks of Zombies were seen walking in a single file line down the main street.  Cathy D relayed that from a distance she thought that these people really had scars and blood only to realize, upon closer inspection, that it was stage make-up. What made it so realistic was that they were moaning, groaning, howling and growling.  Some were dragging their legs; some with arms outstretched. And some of the younger boys were actually dragging themselves up the street and hissing at the onlookers.  Bizarre and weird are the words most commonly used to describe the scene.

The beautiful June day was perfect for a wedding.  Perfect, in fact, for two weddings.  The stone Episcopal Church in the middle of Manitou Springs was the ideal setting.  The morning wedding consisted of a bridal party in cowboy boots carrying Sunflower bouquets while the groomsmen donned Cowboy hats and string ties.  The bride (also carrying Sunflowers) and groom for the afternoon wedding were seen riding up and down the main street in an antique fire truck, siren and all.

Turning attention to the important theme of this scene it is worth noting that the purchase of the day goes to TJ Murray.  TJ found a Native American poncho. Everyone seemed to get a kick out of TJ’s enthusiasm over his purchase.  Other purchases of interests were, of course, lots of local jewelry. Huckleberry and Prickly Pear Cactus tea were also popular. Cody Swigart sported a new hunting t-shirt that entertained the group as well.

Shortly before heading to the buses it seemed everyone had the same great idea, ice cream.  Unrehearsed and without direction, the majority of the group congregated in front of one ice cream shop.  All shapes, sizes and flavors of ice cream were enjoyed this fine afternoon.

As the shopping trip draws to an end, the happy shoppers head to the buses showing off their purchases along the way.
 Interlude two:

What do you get when you put a bus load of hungry kids in a Golden Corral equipped with an ice cream bar complete with chocolate fountain?  You get two buses loads of kids on a sugar rush that lasts for hours.  “Walt was heard over the Silver bus microphone, as we approached the 1St United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs, that we were all representing Damascus United Methodist Church and that everyone needed to calm down and act accordingly.

This Act ends with the arrival of the buses at the 1st United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs.  Soon everyone is paired up with their host and head out to another chapter in this Colorado adventure

Click here to view photos from Day 6

Saddle Up! Day 5.

Day 5


      Act 5 Scene 1:

The time is 7:30 in the morning.  The sun is shining across the beautiful Rocky Mountains providing an amazing view that has yet to grow old. Loading up onto the buses the course is set to travel east en route to Salida.  Today’s journey will take the company, once again, across the Continental Divide.  A fond farewell is bid to our wonderful hosts of Montrose as we hit the trail aboard our steel horses, “Colorado Gold” and “Hi Ho Silver”.

Following another enjoyable round of  morning greetings, the breakfast and  weather reports, Graham Taylor delivers the first monolog of the day bestowing the trials and tribulations of failing to consume enough water.  Will the cast heed Graham’s warning?  Stay tuned as this under current theme develops.

The buses climb Monarch Mountain to a height of 11,307 feet to cross the continental divide. Tidbit of trivia de jour: Aspen trees thrive above 7000 feet.  The locals call them “Quakees” because of the way they shiver and shimmer in the breeze. The vein of the Aspen leaves appear gold from a distance.

Throughout the drive there are many places along the road without guardrails and the danger is evident from the number of cars scattered along the side of the mountain, rusting.  Passing the gold, silver, copper and precious mineral mining camps, James (our Gold Bus transportation engineer) explains that if one discovers gold, a claim can be made to keep the mineral rights.  Several times throughout the 3 hour drive we crossed the Arkansas River.  James adds that there is a lot of gold found in that river.

      Act 5 Scene 2:

Scene 1 fades out as scene 2 opens with the arrival in Salida.  Following two trips around the block, for good measure, the buses reach Centennial Park & Pavilion. The troupe disembarks to enjoy Subway sandwiches, the new Ham on this tour, for lunch. (Writer’s note: Prior to the start of tour there is a mandatory potluck dinner. At this dinner Walt tells the story of Ham.  The point driven home is that no matter what the host home, or church, serves accept it with graciousness and gratefulness, even if it is ham every night.)  As bellies are filled, Karl Allen grabs his guitar to entertain the group with his version of the Beatles Blackbird and Swing Life Away by Rise Against.  Changing into swimsuits most head indoors to the Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center for a refreshing warm swim and an intense game of water polo.  (Writer’s Note: viewing the pictures is highly recommended!)  Those choosing to pass on the swimming are treated to a circus themed birthday party for a local little girl at the park, which included teaching the birthday girl and her friends how to do some aerial moves as well as walking on stilts.  This scene draws to a conclusion as the group dries off and heads for Buena Vista, Colorado.

Act 5 Scene 3:

It is just shy of 4 pm as the buses roll into the Arkansas Valley Trail Rides parking lot in Buena Vista, Colorado. Buena Vista lives up to the name as the scenery is, of course, spectacular. The group is divided in half. Deborah Bowe and Kae Johnson dutifully remind all that sunscreen is a must and to stay hydrated.

A new character emerges from the wings.  Mike, a Colorado cowboy sporting spurs as well as a black cowboy hat, grabs the attention of all with his western whoop.  The chaperones look on in amazement as the group immediately responds to his command by lining up into two groups, one of 35 for their horse assignments and one of 36 for a trip around the area via horse drawn wagons.  The first round of the trail ride goes off without a hitch, well, for the most part.  Rose Hulcher is astride Max the Mule.  Max, being a mule, is shorter than most of the horses on the ranch and all of the horses on the trail ride. As a result, Rose finds that her feet and the bottom of her pants are drenched by the end of the trail from crossing the river (several times). Everyone enjoys the view from atop their steed as the long train of trail riders travel over an hour up and down the hills through the Colorado woods.

Once the first trail ride has finished and the wagons have returned from their trip, Mike jumps into actions assigning group two their horse or mule.  Sue Constantinides is all smiles as she mounts up on Amigo.  The ranch hand assisting her shares that Amigo “is a friend to everyone”.  It turns out that Amigo was not accepting applications for any new friends.  Over halfway into the ride Amigo’s girth (the strap that fastens the saddle around the horse) becomes loose and as the saddle (and Sue) begins to slide sideways Amigo embraces his inner bucking bronco.  Sue, as you probably guess, ends up on the ground.  Slightly shaken and sore, Sue is able to rejoin the group for dinner. We are all thankful Sue did not need a trip to the hospital.  Remember Max the Mule? Susan James was the benefactor of Max for the second ride.  Susan’s experience was more in line with the stereotype of mules - stubborn. Susan reported that Max intentionally tried to hit every branch along the way. She was thankful to have a helmet. Susan also felt the cool water of the Arkansas River lap at her ankles as again, Max was, lets just say, vertically challenged.

Once the dust settled everyone enjoyed an authentic western cookout, complete with beans and potato salad, under a canopy of stars surrounded by a Colorado landscape.  Truly a God moment.  Slightly before 9 pm our, would be, rodeo band heads to the Super 8 in Salida to rest their weary bones.

Click here to view photos from Day 5

Monday, June 24, 2013

Prayer of the Children - USAF Academy Chapel - Colorado Springs

This post is a little out of sequence, but here are the guys singing Prayer of the Children in the USAF Academy Chapel. 


Sunday, June 23, 2013

2013 Tour - Day 4 (Shall We Gather At The River......)

Day 4


The chatter grows as the players assemble. Excitement fills the dinning hall of St. Mary’s Catholic Church as stories of their first night in host homes are shared.  A chorus of tales of beautiful homes, delicious food and friendly hosts grows until the room is silenced by one voice, Tom Baldridge, delivering instructions for the day.  As soon as the group is dismissed for the buses the hum of the chorus resumes.

Act 4 Scene 1:

As the buses depart just after 9 am for Loma, CO, morning greetings are shared.  Kurt Allen and Angela Mansfield lead the Gold bus; Derek Klahre and Kerry Taylor lead the Silver bus. 
Mouths begin to water as Bryce Taylor, Shane Johnson and Christian Murray commenced the breakfast report with a description of the banquet of pastries, pancakes and accoutrements they enjoyed with Walt and Peggy at their host home.  Ralph, a retired professional baker, started baking at 4:30 in the morning to create this breakfast fit for kings from scratch.  Nancy Nickerson, Kae Johnson, Helen Horton and Patty Bass boasted they were served breakfast in bed.

The breakfast report soon transitioned into many sharing their experiences from the night before. Robert Williams, Graham Taylor, Dylan Howe and Preston Henry rode in Porsche Style from the church to their host home. (Did you know that Porsche made an SUV?)  Michaela Bass, Kim Horton, Becca Baube, Kerry Taylor, Annabelle Bonnett, Laura Keegan, Lola Renauer, Wendy Keegan, Beth Taylor and Suzy Renauer enjoyed Colorado hospitality at the Wild Bunch River Ranch.  This ranch bragged a guest house (sleeping 10), a pond stocked with fish and Alpacas. Yes Alpacas, 18 Alpacas to be exact.  As the buses neared Highline Lake Park, a chorus of birthday wishes rang out for Matt DeHoff (18) and Preston Henry (22).

Act 4 Scene 2:

Arriving at the park in Loma, CO, shortly after 10:30 am, all enjoyed a welcomed couple hours of playing Frisbee, swimming and relaxing.  As always, everyone was reminded to wear sunscreen and to drink plenty of water.  (Do you recall the saying you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink?... save that thought for later.)  

Riddle of the day: What do you get when you add Tyler Motter, pickle juice and a $5 bet? You get a Tommy Colborn with $5 more in his pocket. To explain, the pickle juice came from the picnic lunch all enjoyed.  Tyler bet Tommy $5 that he could not drink an entire jar of pickle juice.  Tommy proved him wrong while simultaneously entertaining the onlookers.   This scene ends as the buses depart for white water rafting in Fruita, CO.  Where is Fruita, CO?  Well, Fruita is about 15 miles from the Utah State line (save that thought too. It will become relevant shortly).

Act 4 Scene 3:

This scene opens at RimRock Adventures in Fruita, CO.  The majority of our cast prepares to enjoy a level 1 white water trip down the Colorado River. The few remaining visit the gift shop, enjoy some ice cream, take pictures or nap on the bus.   Down on the river the cast is again split between those that chose a guide to take them down the river in a raft (you guessed it, the chaperones) and those brave ones that used oars to steer themselves down the river (almost everyone else).  The current is mild.  The water is cold but refreshing.  It is not long before water battles with squirt guns and buckets erupt. It must be noted that the chaperone raft was a target of attack.  Katherine Williams proclaimed “Stop splashing us! The Diva has spoken!” Once wet, many take to swimming in the Colorado River and pulling others in with them. Fun was had by all. Noteworthy: observed by the rafting troop are a Blue Heron and two bald eagles (more God moments).

Stage Left:

Recall the statement at the park regarding leading a horse to water?  Well Graham Taylor was the horse.  Upon arriving at Rimrock Adventures it was discovered that Graham was severely dehydrated due to 1 Red Bull and a vigorous game of football at the park.  With much coaxing Graham finally agreed to be taken to a nearby Urgent Care facility by Jane Webb and Beth Taylor.  Hours later, after 4 bags of IV fluids, the trio hastily headed out of Fruita to join the rest of the group back in Montrose.  Now recall the statement of where is Fruita, CO located?  Due to Jane Webb’s incredible sense of direction, they made an unexpected visit to Utah before turning around and heading in the correct direction towards Montrose, CO.  All ended well in this scene as they arrived just in time to meet with their hosts for a second nights stay. 

Act 4 Scene 4

Meanwhile, on stage the buses arrive back in Montrose for another delicious cookout at St. Mary’s.  (As you may have gathered, no one is starving on this tour.) The choir and orchestra then dazzled an even larger audience. The Methodist Pastor that hosted Rose Hulcher and Julia Bratburd stood up and commented on how impressed he was with the manners of our youth.  He commended them for making eye contact, engaging in conversation and never once looked at their cell phones.  Deacon Scott then spoke about the message of the Magnificat as Mary saying “yes” to God and that the congregation can, as well, say “yes” to God by supporting the tour group.  The congregation responded through generous donations (the largest amount collect to date on a tour).  Deacon Scott went on to proclaim that this concert was one of the largest Ecumenical events in Montrose as many faiths were represented in the audience.  A tired group then congregated in the dining hall for brief fellowship and refreshments before departing with their hosts for a well deserved nights sleep.    

Click here for photos from Day 4 

Friday, June 21, 2013

2013 Tour - Day 3, Go West Everyone.........

Day 3



The curtain opens on breakfast pool side. The cast prepares for a long journey.  Each equipped with a fresh water bottle (all have learned this lesson), the troop files onto the bus to head west from Golden to Montrose.

Aboard the Gold Bus, Birthday Girl, Tara Barvir is called to start the morning greeting with Tommy Colborn. It is Tara’s 16th Birthday. Nate Snapp’s bear hug with KaSandra Murray brings the Silver Bus to roars of laughter.  Additional greetings are lead by Carson Erdle and Matt Fitzsimmons.

The trek across Colorado included many noteworthy sites to include the ski runs of Copper Mountain, a training location for 2 time Olympic Snow board Gold Medal Winner, Shaun White, as well as crossing the Colorado River and the popular ski slopes of Vale.   By far, the highlight of the more than 5 hour drive was crossing the Continental Divide. Cast members kept themselves entertained on the bus playing cards and celebrating the Birthday Boy of the day, Derek Klahre (now 18).

      Act 3

Scene is St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Montrose, Colorado. The congregation celebrates the arrival of the weary travelers with a traditional church outdoor BBQ complete with fresh grilled hamburgers and hotdogs and all the fixings.  Following the magnificent meal
the concert opens with Yorkshire Ballad.  Once again, Emma Thompson’s angelic performance in the Magnifcat captivates the multi-denominational congregation, bringing Deacon Scott to tears. Graham Taylor, Thomas James, Tom Baldridge, Ben and Jon Constantinides, Dylan Howe, Robert William and Dan Krotz brought the audience to their feet with their heartrending rendition of the Prayer of the Children. At one point in the program Deacon Scott requested Omnia Sol.  This brought the entire congregation to tears. Marin Williams rounded out the evening’s performance with her beautiful soprano solo in Ride the Chariot (spiritual).

The Serendipitous moment of the day was the stained glass window positioned directly above their heads throughout the concert depicting St. Cecilia surrounded by musical instruments.  Early in the performance the glow of sunshine streaming through the window gave a heavenly glow to the singers below.

Click here to see pictures from Day 3

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

2013 Tour - Day 2

Day 2

      Act 2 Scene 1:

The cast awakes this morning to a burst of sunlight and an amazing view of the Purple Mountains Majesty. After a series of brief monologues, including instructions to wear sunscreen and keep hydrated, everyone grabbed a bottle of water and bid a fair Good Morning to Jim and Tumbleweed as they load onto the Gold and Silver buses. 

The Dance begins. A tour favorite and tradition is the Morning Greeting.  Silvia Otieno and Chris Nickerson lead off on the Gold bus as did Judith Tsoi and Robbie Stevenson on the Silver bus. All smiles and hugs throughout the bus started everyone off in a good mood. Additional greetings throughout the day were lead by Annabel Bonnett and Graham Taylor, Noah Zecher-Freeman and Jennifer Paul as well as Emma Thompson and Matthew DeHoff.

Our Joker on the Tour is Tumbleweed. On the Silver Bus morning begins with a Joke of the Day. The comedy continued when Chloe Lenker, Jack Hembrough and Bryce Taylor presented to the Silver bus breakfast report.  Although it will never be published and the survey was not officially controlled, the general consensus is that cream cheese is the preferred spread for dressing bagels.  Also revealed, is that Bryce Taylor, when left to his own devices, can (and will) consume seven bowls of Fruit Loops in one sitting.  The Gold bus breakfast report was delivered by Bridget Miller.  Bridget told us of the bagel she enjoyed and then later took the microphone once again to entertain us with her woes of sleeping on the recliner instead of a bed.  Turns out it was self inflicted punishment that resulting with Bridget sleeping on the floor for the remainder of the night.  Kurt Allen, our Violist from Denver, jumped right in with his captivating tale of the boat that would not stay on top of his car.  Although quite early in the trip for Fork Stories, Kurt’s tale so entertained the group that he was awarded the first Fork of the tour.

Act 2 Scene 2:

After a quick stop at the Hidden Valley visitor center, the plot thickened as driving to an altitude of over 12000 feet into the Rocky Mountain National Park we channeled John Denver as we all truly felt the Rocky Mountain “High”.  Disembarking from the bus we took a short but taxing hike up the path to climb on top of the rock outcrops to view God’s amazing work. The vegetation and wildlife proved magnificent.  Sue Constantinides captured a picture of a White Tailed Ptarmagin (a snow chicken) and Lichen. In addition a Marmot (looks like a ground hog sized mouse), a Gos Hawk, Elk and Deer were seen along the way. 

What is an adventure without overcoming adversity?  Austin Mollard was overcome with altitude sickness on the hike.  With assistance of fellow cast members, Austin was carried to the Gold bus and we quickly drove to the nearest Ranger station (Alpine Visitor Center, elevation 11,796) where he received immediate medical attention before an ambulance transported him to a medical center.  Julia Bratburd was also seriously affect by the altitude and received medical attention as well.  Both Austin and Julia made remarkable recoveries and stunned us all with their resolve to sing at the first concert in Boulder as many of us were affected by the altitude in less severe ways. 

Before departing the Alpine Visitor Center the troop was treated to a curb side picnic while taking in the ever present breathtaking sites.  As we began to descend from the Mountain back towards Boulder a sharing of God moments from the day began.  It was agreed by most that experiencing snow flurries in the middle of June was one of those moments.

Act 2 Scene 3:

The Ball: Excitement grew as both buses arrived at the 1st United Methodist Church, a landmark in Boulder, established in 1862.  This beautiful church was one of Boulder’s first organized communities of faith.  After a short practice this generous congregation treated us to a delicious Mexican buffet.

With full bellies, and the return of Austin and Julia, the Orchestra and Choir put on an opening performance befitting the joy Mary bestows in John Rutter’s Magnificat.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Day 1 - Arrival in Colorado

Summer Tour 2013: The Colorado Adventure

Act 1 Scene 1:

Two Buses depart DUMC for 2 separate airports only to meet once again in the Mile High City.

Now in every good adventure there is an element of suspense and intrigue.   Cast members Kenny Hunsley, Natasha Lipetzky and Preston Henry arrived at BWI only to find out they were supposed to be with Team Dulles. Not to worry, all three arrived safe and sound in Denver and have been reunited with the rest of the group. The plot thickened when one Viola, belonging to Christian Murray, was inadvertently left at Dulles. Although it will not make it to Colorado this time, it has been recovered.

Team BWI enjoyed in flight entertainment from a serenading flight attendant who delivered a lovely rendition of “A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep” to encourage everyone to take a nap. As we landed, we were again entertained with a new twist on an old Barney classic “We love you, you love us, we are faster than a bus…” 

Act 1 Scene 2:

Upon our arrival in Denver we were met by Jim and Wayne (aka Tumbleweed) our Transportation Engineers for our time in Colorado.  They quickly whisked us to the TownePlace Suites by Marriott in beautiful Golden Colorado.  Jimmy John’s Subs rejuvenated the weary travelers and many found enough energy to take a trip to the outdoor pool before turning in for a good nights sleep. Karl Allen, Violist, of the Denver Young Artists Orchestra joined us at the TownePlace and will travel with us for the remainder of the tour.

Tomorrow morning brings a visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park.  Stay tuned as the action continues in Act 2.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tour Has Begun!

The 2013 has officially begun!  The first bus rolled out of the DUMC parking lot on its way to BWI a little after 12:00 pm today.   Please pray for the safe travel of our mission tour and check back daily for blog updates and photos. 

Tour concert dates and venues are listed below.   If you know people in the Denver area, please let them know about the tour and invite them to come hear our youth:

6/18   -  6:30PM  -  First United Methodist Church  - 1421 Spruce Street, Boulder, CO.
6/19   -  7:00PM  -  St Mary's  Catholic Church  -  1855 Saint Mary's Drive,  Montrose, CO
6/20  -  7:30PM  -   St Mary's  Catholic Church  -  1855 Saint Mary's Drive,  Montrose, CO
6/23   -  8:15, 9:30 and 11:00 Morning Worship.  First United Methodist Church - 420 N. Nevada Avenue,  Colorado Springs, CO 
6/23  -  5:00 PM  -    First United Methodist Church   - 420 N. Nevada Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO
6/24  -  5:30PM  -    Arvada United Methodist Church   -  6750  Carr Street,  Arvada, CO
6/26  -  7:00PM  -  First United Methodist Church   -  1005 Stover Street, Fort Collins, CO  
6/28  -  7:00PM    -  Damascus United Methodist Church  - Homecoming Concert   9700 New Church Street, Damascus, MD

Thursday, May 9, 2013

2013 Tour - 40 Days and Counting

Itineraries are being finalized, plane tickets are being purchased, rooming lists are being compiled, rehearsals are in full swing.....must be getting close to the start of the CWS and ASCYO 2013 Youth Mission Tour.  This year the group is headed to Colorado and our theme this year is "All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed".   

Please be sure to check back to this blog often during the tour (June 17 - 28).