Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 12 Sheridan, WY to Lander, WY

Wednesday, we left Sheridan for Lander, WY by way of Thermopolis, a hot springs. After lunch, we went swimming in the pool/hot springs. Once again, it was a beautiful day. We have been so luck with the weather during this tour. We arrived in Lander at First United Methodist Church and were greeted by Larni’s mom (Patty), Matt’s mom (Pam, and Forrest and Wes’s parents (Eric and Marit). This was the church the Sawyers attended before moving to Salt Lake. It is a beautiful church, and there were many of the symbols that we have learned about in the stained glass. Kaelyn Wazel, a WBR alum, was also at the concert, and got to play on Celtic Farewell. Tomorrow we head for Salt Lake City and the Handbell Musicians of America, Area XI Festival.

Notes from the Ringers…

I really enjoyed going to Lander and playing in front of my friends. It was great because I got to stay with my friend Nick, which was fun. I also liked being in my old church.
-       Wes
I really enjoyed being in Lander, my host was a full Native American and she has some amazing stories. It was fun to hear them, as listening to the great stories my hosts have is one of my favorite things about tour. In addition to the great host home, the picnic we had before swimming at Thermopolis was awesome! I also had a lot of fun seeing my family, Forrest’s family, Pam, and friends I have made from Lander at the concert. This tour was great and I am sad it is already almost over! I am definitely looking forward to next year!
-  Larni


Kaelyn Wazel, a WBR alum

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 11 Rapid City, SD to Sheridan, WY

On Monday (June 18), we left Rapid City, SD on our way to Sheridan, WY.  We started in the Black Hills worked our way through the prairie grasslands to Sheridan (near the Big Horn Mountain Range). In the morning we stopped at Mt. Rushmore. It was absolutely breathtaking. After an hour of exploring the visitor center and museum, we traveled on to Devil’s Tower for a short stop. Forrest told the story of his parents climbing to the top on their honeymoon. Very cool! We arrived in Sheridan, WY for the evening concert at Sheridan HS. This concert was sponsored by the Sheridan Arts Council and the Sheridan Ministerial Association. We were able to eat dinner with our hosts. Tomorrow morning we leave for Lander, WY by way of Thermopolis, WY.

Thoughts from the Ringers…

We are currently traveling through this beautiful mountain pass in Wyoming. There are still some bits of snow outside and groves of evergreen trees among the rocky ledges and curving road. The landscape is spectacular and distinctly reminds me of traveling through Glacier National Park on my first tour.
The Wesley Bell Ringers has been a remarkable journey these past four years. I have seen, heard and been immersed in all different kinds of culture. I could not imagine a better way to spend my high school years; I have made friends with people I adore, and accomplished things I would have never even seen as possible.
I am going to be attending Haverford College next year, so these are the final days to my final tour. At Christmas time I was sad and reflective, but now I do not feel that way. Bells has been a major part of my life the past four years and I am so grateful to have been a part of this, but it is time for me to move on in my life. I will forever cherish my time in the choir, but it is time to pass on this wonderful opportunity to next year’s kids so they may learn to love the choir and have their own fond memories.
Thank you to all of the alumni who have kept this tradition going for so long, to the older kids I have idolized and later tried to emulate, and of course to Terry for dealing with me all this time and making this journey possible.


This is my first tour and it has been a really good experience. I love traveling and seeing different things. Today on our way to Wyoming we saw Mount Rushmore. I was really excited to see Mount Rushmore because I have always seen it in pictures and movies but I’ve  never seen the real thing. It was really exciting. All of the states we have traveled to I have never been to so it was really new for me. I have also loved getting to know everyone better. Host homes are when the most bonding happens. I have loved tour so far but I am also really excited to go home and see my family.




Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 10 - Travel Day - Iowa to Rapid City, SD - Chuck Wagon

There's lots of corn in Iowa.

The Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD

Meet Mike, the bus driver. He's awesome!

From Iowa to South Dakota

Visiting Wall Drug Store, SD
The band at the Chuck Wagon, Rapid City, SD

Audience participant Steve

Day 9 - Kayaking - Le Mars, IA

On Sunday, Day 9, we left New Ulm for a kayak ride on the Blue Earth River. This river starts in Iowa and actually flows north. The trees lining the river were very green and there were a few Class I rapids.  We were so lucky to see 2 adult bald eagles flying overhead near their nest, and also saw a juvenile bald eagle as we finished our kayak trip. We were also very fortunate in that the rain didn’t start until after we were out of the water! Then we traveled to Le Mars, IA, home of Haley Berner’s grandparents and assorted relatives, including a new cousin who Haley had not met. Le Mars is the Ice Cream Capital of the World and we had an ice cream snack and most of us had an additional late snack of ice cream with our host families. This is the concert where David Haun arrived. Dave was a ringer in the late 1960’s with Terry. Dave shows up each year on his motorcycle at a WBR concert. He lives in Austin, TX, so this was a big motorcycle ride (900 miles!). Once a Wesley Bell Ringer, always a Wesley Bell Ringer.
Sunday night we played in the United Methodist Church of Le Mars. The stained glass in the sanctuary was absolutely breathtaking and the Ringers   looked and sounded great. It is so rewarding for the Ringers and the adults on tour to see so many different parts of the United States, and to witness audiences so attuned to both the music and the emotions of the teens as they express the music.

Thoughts from the ringers…

In my years as a bell ringer, I have made some of my greatest friendships, toured around the United States, and had some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The bell choir is unique in the sense that the dedication and love towards the group as a whole directly reflects what you take from it; it’s like contributing to a cycle that provides endless rewards. It’s hard to explain exactly what each ringer takes from their experiences in the choir, but I know for a fact that they’re worth it; otherwise they wouldn’t come back each year.  Even the quietest among us tend to find a way to express themselves. The bell choir functions as a family; we cry with each other, laugh together, we play music together. Once one becomes a Wesley Bell Ringer, they will always be a Wesley Bell Ringer. We will always hold a little thing we like to call “bell pride” deep down in our hearts, and we will forever express it to the world. I love the Wesley Bell Ringers and I am so thankful to have been a part of such an amazing organization.
-          Jeff Wood

I thought last night’s concert went great! We played in La Mars, Iowa which is the ice cream capital of the world. So before the concert we all went out to the Blue Bunny ice cream place and got yummy ice cream! Larni and I stayed together in a host home last night, in a house built in 1918, it was beautiful! When we got to the house we watched Sherlock Holmes 2 in their theatre! I’m really enjoying this tour, just like all the others I’ve been on and I’m really excited for the hotel night tonight and Mt. Rushmore! See everyone in about a week!
-          Catherine Knapp

Yesterday we went kayaking on a river in Minnesota.  It was tons of fun!  To me it was the best thing we have done so far.  Most of us were in single kayaks, some were in double kayaks, and others were in canoes.  We stopped at a place called devil’s gulch.  It was super pretty and covered in moss.  The next place we stopped had a waterfall.  I stood under the waterfall and got all wet.  We kayaked for like nine miles.  We saw like three bald eagles.  I had to pee so bad I went pee in the river.  It was so much fun!
-          Alicia Simons


Ed Duncan with WBR alum Dave Haus
Haley with her Le Mar relatives