The concerts were beautiful. Our host choirs and their communities welcomed us and fed us wonderful meals. Best of all, on Saturday we visited the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. We picnicked at the Cant Ranch museum, with a lovely view of Sheep Rock. We met a real live paleontologist (that's him in the picture) at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center and got to watch him painstakingly work at removing a fossil from a rock. We went on a nature hike along the Blue Basin trail, which has an up-close look at the greenish rock you can see in the hills and has partially embedded fossils covered with glass display cases and left for hikers to see. One of the parents along on the trip is a geologist, so we had a personal tour guide at the bus mike, in the museum, and on our hike. On Sunday we at our picnic lunch in the Painted Hills. Breathtaking.
I can't wait until the gents are just a bit older so that we can spend a few days hiking and studying the rich geological history in this area. I would travel across the world to see what we saw this weekend.
Thirty-some grade school choir girls.
Lovely young ladies, all. I was responsible for four of them. Honestly, when I first saw my list, I thought, "Oh boy." I got three pretty challenging girls, one of whom was mine. It was a perfect match. They listened, checked in, looked out for one another. What a treat to get to spend time with them.
I miscounted. There were eight concerts, six on the first day. The girls were pretty tuckered by the end of the day. All of the concerts were wonderful, but my favorite concert was the evening concert in John Day with their choir, the Little Singers. The girls were dusty from hiking, shirts untucked, hair unbrushed, clothes didn't match, but their voices were lovely and the audience was gracious and welcoming.
Eight concerts. The Oregon Children's Junior Girlchoir also has a marimba band made up of girls in the choir, and they play at every concert. The marimbas are a real crowd-pleaser. The marimba girls know three songs, and the marimbas are by nature repetitive. On Sunday, the bus driver told us a story: One year he took his teen daughter on a trip with a friend. Every time she saw a Wal-Mart truck, she'd say, "I looove Wal-Mart!" He told us that for weeks afterward when he was falling asleep he'd hear that little voice: "I looove Wal-Mart!" He asked the girls to guess what he heard in his head the night before: The marimbas.
I still have Gaudeamus Hodie playing in my head. (If you follow the link you can listen to the song, it's lovely and catchy.) I catch myself singing, "Oh, be joyful, Oh be jubilant" as I go through the day. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing to have playing in one's head, come to think of it.
Eight chaperones (including me).
I miscounted here too. I didn't count the choir director, the geologist parent, the dad who drove the truck with the marimbas (and who bribed his daughter with ten dollars if she didn't cry the second night, which was worth every penny), the choir administrator/head chaperone, the choir parent in charge of feeding the girls (a dad), or the tag-along mom. What a lovely group of men and women. Aside from one woman who apparently had no idea that my lovely lady has a disability, and therefore thought I just have a kind of bratty drama queen, and decided to kind of take me to task about it, we all got along very well. The head chaperone is just a gem of a woman. She was kind, firm, and fun with the girls and with the chaperones, and really made the trip run smoothly.
A big bus, equipped with a DVD player (thank goodness).
And a lovely gentleman of a driver. He's been driving a tour bus for thirty-eight years. At the end of the trip the girls sang to him, and he thanked them because he'd enjoyed the trip so much. We watched several movies. The trip ended in the middle of Daddy Daycare, a movie I had no interest in watching. Now I want to know how it ends, so we may have to rent it next weekend.
Two sleepovers, in sleeping bags, in school gyms with those thirty-some girls, some of whom have never been away from home.
My neck still hurts. Next year I'm chaperoning the trip with the older girls so that I can sleep in a hotel.
It was fabulous. I was kind of dreading the trip, but the girls were lovely, the hiking was fantastic, and the concerts were wonderful.
Wish me luck. And that someone will bring me coffee in the mornings.
We got our coffee every morning and lovely breakfast to boot. And it was wonderful. I'd do it all over again. Maybe not next weekend, but I'd definitely be up for another trip with this group, anywhere. Only I'd bring my pillow and an air bed. And earplugs.