Sunday, June 26, 2016

Day 16 - Homeward Bound - Some Ringers Reflect

Day 16 – Lander to Home

We are stopping off in Park City on our way today for a bit of R&R before heading in for the home concert.  No pictures today – if you don’t know what the home concert looked like – shame on you for not attending.  In their place though, here are some Ringer’s Reflections you’ll enjoy reading as we wrap up this year’s tour.  Thanks for reading the blog!

This tour has been filled with so many amazing moments that it would be impossible to pinpoint a single thing that would be my favorite. These moments started the minute we boarded the first plane to Atlanta where Alicia S. and I discussed our top picks in this season of the Bachelorette. Then we traveled through the South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia and I was able to play in my family member’s churches which was an incredible experience because most of them have never seen me play bells. After all of the family visits we had our three day break in Washington D.C. It was a truly amazing experience to share with the choir. On the third night in D.C. the choir got the opportunity to play at the George Washington Masonic Memorial which was a concert I will never forget. As we have been heading back to Utah the amazing moments haven’t stopped. We have seen the Gateway Arch, the place where they hold the Kentucky Derby and a fantastic hotel night in Denver. I’m sure that the last couple days will be just as incredible as the past two weeks have been. Throughout this tour I have thought about all the things that I love about being in the bell choir and biggest one that comes to mind is the friends that I have made. Some of the people in the choir I would have never meet and they are some of the most awesome people I know and I am so happy that I can call them my friends. The choir has taught me dedication, the importance of teamwork, leadership and many other skills which I am extremely grateful for. This group of people has made my last tour better than I ever could have asked for.  – Kelly

Being a part of The Wesley Bell Ringers for 5 years has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have learned so much about leadership, teamwork and friendship and have definitely grown in my self-confidence. I was very shy when I entered into my first year and wasn’t sure I was going to stick with the choir however, after fundraisers, retreats, and my first summer tour I realized the greatness of this organization. I enjoy spreading beautiful music to people all over the country and bonding with other choir members, creating friendships that will last a lifetime. Some of my very best friends I made from being in the choir and I am so thankful that this organization was created because I am a much more social, confident, and happy person now than I was 5 years ago. I will miss being in the choir and taking part in its many traditions but I am so glad I decided to join and to have stuck with it for 5 years                -Shannon

This tour has been full of new and old memories. We went to a lot of these places on my first tour in 2011, so I got to relive experiences and make new memories all at the same time. Because of this it’s difficult to pinpoint my favorite thing about this tour. But all of these experiences have reminded me just how much this choir has influenced my life and how much it means to me. I have spent six summers traveling around the country with my best friends, new and old. I have strengthened relationships with these people because of all the adventures we have had together. It is because of these people that I have loved being a part of the choir and was so willing to come back for a sixth year. They became my family and helped me figure out who I was in the best way. I am proud of each and every single ringer who is on this tour and I’m very fortunate to have gotten the chance to know each one of them. And because of this I’m excited to see what will happen next for the choir and what the future holds for the seniors and super seniors. I believe that is what the choir teaches us, friendship and how to love a person for who they are. I love you all.  – Alicia S

Being the choir for 4 years now I have learned so much from it that I will hold on to for the rest of my life. This being my fourth tour I have decided I can’t compare it to the others to determine if I had a favorite overall tour, each one has been different and more special then the last. I have gained so many new friendships and grown old ones as well. This tour has been so much fun considering how little of us there is, but harder because of that same reason. I believe that we all have strived to our capabilities with bell pride. I am so proud of this choir for the determination and dedication given the whole year to make the choir continue for another successful year. I am so lucky to have second family, to be there to support me when life throws something unexpected to me. Also, thank you to my second family for making my birthday and past birthday’s a success!! I love them all!  I am so excited to see what comes next for the choir next year! – Alicia G.

What I love about being in the bell choir are the close bonds and friendships you make with the whole group.  When I first started last year I had no idea who any of these people were, but know they are probably my closest friends I have. The bell choir traches you how to work as a team, but improve as an individual as well, which is a very important thing for everyone to learn. 
-#bellsislife –Holdon

Every experience shapes a person. From the day you are born you are formed and molded into your own being. Every life is filled with decisions both big and small, and it is experiences that control how we react to these situations and how we make these decisions. In the past two weeks, we have faced trials and had to make decisions. In the midst of all this though, we have been shown new things and had new experiences that have shaped the way that we all think and feel. From the misty, humid tropics of the south, to the stone-faced concretions of the north, and through the simple sage-green desert hills of home, we have all come a long way. -Jack

Day 15 - Loveland to Lander Wyoming

Day 15 - In the middle of today’s drive we stopped for the choir lunch.  The site was Rose’s Lariat, a tiny Mexican restaurant in Rawlins Wyoming.  It didn’t look big enough to accommodate our group, but in fact they did a great job of getting the food out.  Lunch today was on the choir, a thank you for everyone’s hard work. 

Then we briefly passed through Lander and stopped off at the Sinks, and the Rise. This is a spot where a roaring river disappears into the ground, only to make its way through the earth and bubble up again a quarter mile down the road.  Beautiful and educational and geological.

We arrived at First Methodist in Lander for the concert, enjoyed a wonderful meal and the kids played another great concert.  They earned another mid concert standing O after Stars and Stripes. 

Here are some photos to send you on your way:

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Day 14 - Denver to Loveland Colorado

First, a bit of choir expectations.  We treat hotels just like we do host homes. In the morning rooms are expected to be clean and beds made.  The Wesley Bell Ringers will be back again this way some day, and we want to leave a positive impression everywhere we go.  One pic of a hotel room as we were leaving is included below.

Another choir tradition took place this morning as Katie took all the Seniors and Super Seniors out to brunch since we didn't need as early a start.  Day 13 was our longest travel day of the trip, day 14 the shortest.

Once underway we stopped in the morning for a tour of the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory.  We got a really interesting private tour of the facility, and were released into the gift shop.  The prices were more like an outlet store, so of course we all bought enough tea to last through the next decade.

We then traveled on and stopped for some free time at Boyd Lake State Park.  This was a nice lake and park.  Today was the annual tour picnic.  A selected group of kids go with Ed to shop for all the fixings.  Lunch was great.  The highlight of the afternoon was meeting Joe, a 60's throw back who joined us for a fun game of volleyball.  It was a really nice and relaxing afternoon.

We then made our way to First Methodist in Loveland, which is Steve and Bev Goodier's church.  Steve and Bev remembered many choir members from when they were much younger and it was great to catch up with them.   The choir got ready in the children's hall.

The choir played a great concert to our largest crowd of the trip.  They got another standing ovation after the star spangled banner, as well as at the end of the show.  Jenn, Marco and Ryan all had family and friends at the concert. Former ringer and Katie's friend Annie Wallin also made it to the concert.

Janette worked with Steve at CUMC and then at the District Office and Eric and Janette, along with Alicia and Alexis stayed at their house.  Steve and Bev have been at Loveland for a year and are very happy to be back in a church.  Bev's health issues have been resolved and she is feeling great.

Steve gave a great talk and prayer to send us on our way on Day 15.

In some museums, photos aren't allowed. Fortunately that isn't the case today:

Lucky 13 – A travel day with an important stop. Lawrence to Denver

Day 13 - Today was Alicia G's birthday and she came on the bus to find the birthday fairies had decorated her bus seat, and the choir treated her to a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday to You.

Just an hour out of Lawrence we stopped off at the little town of Wamego.  The Wamego City Cemetery is the resting place of Marsha Vilven, one of the original 9 Wesley’s.  Marsha passed away shortly after graduating from the choir, and funds donated to her memorial we used to purchase a special set of bells.  For many years there were two distinct choirs, the Wesleys, and the Marsha Vilven Memorial Choir.  Later they merged into one, and the Marsha Vilven award was created out of respect to Marsha, who was a hard working and important original choir member.

This is the most important recognition the choir gives, going to the single ringer who did the most this year for the choir, as voted on by the members of the choir.

Following a short devotional by Ed, the story of the dragonfly in the stars, and a prayer by Katie, the choir voted for this year’s Marsha Vilven award by Marsha’s graveside.  It is a secret ballot and the award will be announced at the home concert.  It was a special moment and memorial for the choir.

Seven hours of drive time later we arrived in Denver in time for the kids to be cut loose for dinner on 16th street.  Swimming in the hotel pool followed, and we wrapped up our longest travel day of the trip.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Day 12 - Through the gateway to the west and on to Lawrence Kansas

We started day 12 with a short drive to the Gateway Arch.  We traveled up in tiny pod elevators to the look outs 630 feet above the city.  Our driver Zack tagged along.  The construction of this remarkable monument is fascinating.  Eric got it rocking from one side to the other.

On the way to Lawrence we stopped off in Kansas City, not that one, the other one, for Katie's favorite ice cream - Glace Artisan.  If you ever get there, try the saffron and rose petal, not to be missed.  Gina also offered roadside haircuts, right in front of the barber shop by Glace.

We were greeted warmly in Lawrence and the kids played another wonderful concert to a responsive and appreciative audience.  This is the Walzel's church. Bob was out of town but we were thrilled to see Marcie.

Back when they painted portraits, they just left off the imperfections.  No photoshop needed, not that it's ever needed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Eleventh Day - Cincinnati to Chesterfield Missouri, just outside St. Louis

Day 11 - After the morning drive we stopped at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.  We toured the museum, saw a retired thoroughbred, lots of crazy hats and someone may have taken some dirt from the actual racetrack.  We saw a newly installed movie on a screen that wraps around you 360 degrees.  You sit on a stool that you can rotate to see the movie from all angles.  Very cool.  It is apparently the most advanced digital screen in the world.  Kids, and some adults, dressed up as jockeys and climbed on horses and had a good time.

After a longer afternoon drive, made more entertaining because of a wonderful care package sent by Marci Fjelstad, we arrived in Chesterfield for tonight's concert.  It was another lovely church with a beautiful sanctuary.  The choir is performing in some amazing places on this tour.  We had our first pasta dinner, appreciated by all, and had a goodish crowd for the concert.  

The kids have gotten a standing ovation at every concert, but tonight they got two - the first after their no sheet music rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.  

We welcomed a couple of former ringers to the concert.  Dave Haun, who makes a trip to see the choir nearly every summer, drove up from Texas.  In total he's traveled over 20,000 miles over the years to attend concerts, over 16,000 of them by motorbike.  This year it was an over 800 mile trip by car.  Dave brought his daughter from Texas, and former ringer Stephanie Liebman also attended with her family in tow.

Jenn had friends and family in town for the concert as well, and Terry Waite's mother in law came and said hello to everyone and Mike Hampton's cousin was also in attendance.  

Ed reminded everyone who is really in charge.
See if you can spot the several places in which we photoshopped these images: