Thursday, December 27, 2012
Eastern US and NYC 2012 Tour Diary
Our 2012 Tour took us through Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York City. Along with the diary are lots of pictures and a 5 minute musical slideshow.
DAY 1: Scranton, PA
We had a fun first day on the bus traveling through Pennsylvania! For lunch, we stopped in a friendly small town of Milton for lunch in two groups - one went to McDonalds and the other went to Subway.
Arriving back to the bus from lunch just minutes before a big rainstorm with lots of wind, we watched the storm from the comfort of our new bus as our skilled driver Matt navigated through to better weather near Scranton.
Here, we spent time browsing shelves, trying on funny hats, and even doing some singing at a BAM bookstore before heading to Peace Lutheran Church in Scranton, PA for a warm welcome. Here, our hosts allowed us to rehearse, fed us a nice dinner, enjoyed our concert, and opened their homes to us for an evening of new friend-making.
DAY 2: Simsbury, CT
Today we reconvened after our first home stay with our wonderful hosts in Scranton, PA, and headed to nearby Tobyhanna Army Depot, where they celebrated their 100 year anniversary with an open house to the public. We took the opportunity to enjoy exciting humvee rides, take a walk through rows of military vehicles (and some very well maintained civilian vehicles), and pose for some interesting photos.
As we made our way toward Simsbury, CT, we encountered some stand-still traffic, but managed to make the best of it and share sandwiches, fruit, drinks and desserts that were generously provided by our Scranton hosts - and that alone allowed us to reach Simsbury on time, where composer Dorn Younger and wife Patty met our bus.
Rehearsal and dinner followed - lasagne and salad provided by our new Connecticut hosts, as well as delicious ice cream sundaes. Our concert followed, including some of Mr. Youger's music - sung by the choir and played on the piano by singer David K. These were very much appreciated by Mr. Younger.
After the concert, we met our new two-night home stay hosts and parted for another evening of getting to know new people.
DAY 3: Simsbury, CT
Today started, rather than finished, with singing as we participated in the worship service at Simsbury United Methodist Church after breakfast with our home stay hosts. Lunch was then served by gracious church volunteers, allowing us to spend more time with the Youngers.
Afterward, we headed to Simsbury Farms for an afternoon not of farming, but rather swimming at a very nice outdoor swimming facility. Next, we headed to the Little City Pizza restaurant for some delicious pizza (and cupcakes).
Rounding off the evening was a tour (by Mrs. M) of a local cemetery with headstones dating back as far as the 1600s. Then it was back to our home stays for one more evening - but this time our hosts were not strangers, but new friends.
Day 4: New York City and Chatham, NJ
Today started with an early departure from Simsbury (and a send-off by the Youngers) to head to New York City. Although our drive was a rainy one, the weather managed to cooperate fairly well, allowing us to see (by bus and water taxi) some spectacular sights with Mike the tour guide, including Battery Park, the breathtaking 9/11 memorial, and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (both viewed from the water). We walked through beautiful St Patrick's Cathedral and sang on the front steps amid a bustling city that actually took notice, stopped for a moment to listen and applauded after we finished.
Afterward, we crossed over into New Jersey via the Lincoln Tunnel and had dinner at the Park West Diner before checking into our Holiday Inn in Totowa, NJ for a good rest.
Day 5: New York City
Our day started with a very good breakfast buffet in the hotel followed by a big day of shopping - first on 34th Street (Herald Square), and then in SoHo. Afterward, we got a good taste of NYC traffic while waiting to go through the Holland Tunnel to eventually arrive at our concert venue at St Patrick Church in Chatham, NJ. Our hosts prepared a great dinner for us and we filled a beautiful sanctuary with beautiful music. Then back to the hotel with thoughts of the Lion King in our heads - tomorrow's destination.
Day 6: New York City
Today started out with breakfast at the hotel, and a not-so-early start on the road. We arrived in Times Square in time to break into our chaperone groups for lunch and some quick sightseeing before heading over to the theater (in our dressy clothes) for a real highlight of the tour - The Lion King.
It's hard to describe this amazing experience - be sure to ask your singer about it. Our seats were incredible, with many of the characters walking right by us on their way to the stage. We'll never forget it.
After the show, we dined at the Hard Rock Cafe Times Square amid guitars, signed pictures and other items from famous rockers, and then topped off our New York experience with more shopping and walking in Times Square.
As the non-seniors returned to the hotel for the evening, the seniors headed out to the diner for some delicious desserts and sharing of stories with the choir managers and accompanist.
Day 7 - Meadville, PA and Conneaut Lake, PA
Today we departed our hotel in Totowa, NJ to travel all the way across Pennsylvania to Meadville to perform an evening concert at the New Beginnings Church of God. The church welcomed us with a delicious dinner, and we prepared both musically and emotionally for our final concert of the tour - and the final Touring Ensemble performance for our graduates.
The concert was well received, and the singers did their very best to communicate their musical message despite the tears that inevitably came for the singers (and adults).
We returned to the bus and traveled a short distance to Hank's Frozen Custard where we relaxed and enjoyed that magical elixir. (A certain choir manager particularly liked the black raspberry).
Then we were off to the Hotel Conneaut - filled with history, mystique and a belief by some that it is haunted. As if to punctuate that last point, we were treated to a lightning storm, which kept the excitement level high for a while. However, the long day had its way of allowing sleep to come.
Day 8 - Conneaut Lake, PA and Home
Our last day began with a continental breakfast in the hotel (which seemed much less threatening in the warm sunshine). The morning was relaxed, with exploration of the hotel, the dock area, and the Conneaut Lake amusement park, which was closed during the time that we were there.
Around lunchtime, we boarded the bus for lunch at Eddie's Footlong Hot Dogs which we enjoyed at picnic tables, followed by ice cream at Casey's.
We then traveled to our last stop - a spillway where we fed bread to fish, ducks and geese, causing a feeding frenzy so thick with fish that the ducks could walk on their backs.
The final leg of our journey included that much-anticipated point of the tour where the newbies are sworn in as full-fledged veterans! After some very kind recognition of staff and chaperones and a showing of the tour slideshow, we arrived back at Coventry High School glad to see our family and friends, and grateful for the opportunity to make new friends, get to know other choir members, and feed the souls of others (and ourselves) with beautiful music.