Day 3 – Wednesday, June 19
Sunny Buck strikes again! It’s cloudy and rainy. We walked to breakfast in the rain. We loaded the bus in the rain. By the time we were seated and ready to leave, most of us were damp and bedraggled. Philip Donaldson (and his crew) have done an amazing job every day loading and unloading our luggage, especially on this soggy, dreary day. I am impressed with the dedication and work ethic. It's a difficult and backbreaking job, especially since some of us ;) have over packed. But the bus is finally loaded and we take off. Just as Tom had told us previously, as soon as we left Buckhannon, the weather cleared and the rain stopped. It‘s kind of like a private West Virginia prank played on the people who visit Buckhannon!
Our morning Greeters were Caleb Black and Anja . It’s so nice to get an early hug to wake us up! Then came the exciting part of the morning. Fork Stories! We had several contestants today. David Hembrough started us off with a story that took place during yesterday’s free time after lunch. He and some friends had walked into the Shoe Carnival store to look around. Just for fun, David tried on a pair of sparkly stilettos that fit him perfectly. Troy dared him to walk around the store wearing them. They played a dare game called “What Are The Odds” and David lost, so he had to walk all around the store wearing stiletto heels with people staring at him. Even now, that image has not left my mind.
Gregory was next. He told a story of how he went into the Men's Room last night to take a shower. He hadn't heard the announcement that Beth Taylor had made on the bus about switching bathrooms because of logistics, so when he came out from his shower, the Men's Room sign was gone and in it's place was a Ladies Room sign. He was so confused and embarrassed! The final contestant was Bryce Taylor and Cole Vlasic. They had decided during their free time yesterday to do a little “Father/Son” shopping (Bryce being the father.) They both went into Kohls and visited the luggage department. Bryce spotted a very large pink suitcase and wanted to see if Cole would fit inside. Cole agreed to do it only if Bryce would buy him a -Kai backpack that he spotted on the Clearance rack. Bryce agreed and Cole climbed inside! Apparently he was completely zipped up inside except for a breathing space at the top. Cole was happy because he now had a new backpack, which he proudly displayed to all of us. This was the story that won the coveted fork!
After all of the laughing from the fork stories , everyone settled down for an hour until we stopped for a gas fill-up and took a break. Everyone returned to the bus carrying drinks and snacks to tide them over until lunch time. Since we always have new Greeters every time we get back on the bus, it was time for the “wheel” to choose a new set of kids: Angela Nardone and Connor Dennie.
Next on the agenda were award presentations, given out by Helena Colborn from the Sunshine Committee.Fritts the “On Top Of His Game” award for always being organized, on time and ready to go. The “Dynamic Duo” award was presented to Ryder and Admira for always making good choices and doing the right thing. Reid Taylor was given the “Best Troll Award” for always annoying Helena and distracting her during rehearsals. Finally, the “Living Incarnation of Careless Whisper” award was given to Joseph Worrell (Careless Whisper was a song originally recorded by George Michael, and Joseph's saxophone solo at the Nursing Facility last night touched everyone’s heart in the same way that song did.) The most hysterical award went to Cole Taylor. Apparently, when he came out of the river from swimming yesterday, he had tiny leeches all over his legs. His award was the “Tastiest Body to Leeches” award. For his acceptance speech, he said, “What can I say? I have a tasty body.”
After another hour of driving, we arrived at the Heritage Farm Museum in Huntington, WVA. This outdoor living history museum is owned by Laura and Perry, college friends of Tom and Polly.on display. Our youth gathered back at 2:00 on the steps of an old church building within the village and sang a few songs for a grateful small crowd, and then it was time go.
This final leg of this trip would be the longest yet, several hours long as we headed for Berea, Kentucky. Emma Baldridge and Gregory started us off as Greeters. We crossed the state line into Kentucky right as they began, so it became a “Welcome to Kentucky!” greeting to everyone. Philip Donaldson gave us a few fun facts about Kentucky such as this one: Did you know that Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis and Jonathan Colborn were all born in Kentucky? That’s right, our own JC was born right here in Kentucky. He told me that even though he lives in MD and loves MD, there is a special feeling he gets when coming home to Kentucky. It will always be near and dear to his heart. We had just enough time when we pulled up at the Holiday Inn to drop off our luggage, change into concert clothes and jump back on the bus. The good folks at Union Church had a pot luck dinner waiting for us and our youth were hungry! The pot luck was wonderful, with a smorgasbord of delicious home-made food. Salads, vegetables, side dishes and fried chicken were featured. One of the locals told me an interesting story about the fried chicken. I noticed that the succulent pile of chicken was in a box that said Lees but it looked just like the KFC chicken that we all love. She told me that Lee was a nephew of Colonel Sanders who used to work for him. They had a falling out and parted ways, but Lee knew all of the secrets of making chicken from working with the Colonel for so many years, so he opened up his own business. They are now in competition with one another. Family drama in the world of chicken! Who knew?
The youth filed upstairs to the sanctuary to rehearse. The sanctuary was still decorated for Pentecost with beautiful red banners, which were hastily being taken down by the Pastor.Teri Adkins daughter and Sue Suddath’s granddaughter) and her fiancée were there. Charlotte and her family were there. Melissa Flowers was there. Walt and Peggy Edmonds were there. In addition, Tom Baldridge’s parents were there and Jonathan Colborn's brother and mother were there. What a warm feeling to know that so many people drove long distances to hear us perform! I think it boosted the confidence level of the youth also, because they gave a dynamite performance. I looked around the room and saw expressions of joy on the faces. Every person watching was thrilled and there was a standing ovation at the end. In that moment I felt like I was the proud mother of every one of those youth. That’s the beauty of tour. It is so much more than a singing concert. It builds a family, in spite of all of our faults and shortcomings. It's what has kept bringing me back as a parent chaperone for the past 15 years. It binds us together. It builds lasting friendships. It makes us laugh. It makes us grow. It touches the hearts of those who listen. It gives us strength. It gives us responsibilities. Most importantly, it draws us closer to God. That's what tour is all about. It is a life affirming experience. If your child is traveling with us right now, know that they will come back a better person because of it. And what more could we want for our children?
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