Good evening, ya fine folks. I am perched on my bed as I type this, gingerly leaning against the wall and hoping against hope that my somewhat broken bed does not come crashing down off its wobbly pedestal. It has been known to do that, you know. I had my fine friend the Little Kumquat come visit me and first thing, as soon as she sat on the bed and leaned against the wall, SMASH, the whole operation came crashing down. Clearly I’m good at hospitality. I realize I could just buy a new bed, but what would be the fun in that? I shall continue to gingerly lean and think fondly of the bed I slept in this past weekend. A full size bed, solid as a rock, on which I could spread my lengthy arms and legs and toss and turn and even bounce without any repercussions! Hotels, how I love you.
I’m trying to get around to telling you about my choir trip this past weekend- forgive me for getting stuck on the bed detail. *stares dreamily into the distance and remembers the joyous bouncing…* Okay, I’m back. So here’s what happened.
When I joined the choir about a month ago we were told that the whole choir tries to take about one trip per year, but that we newbies couldn’t go on the upcoming one to Kentucky because the arrangements were already made. Of course, that seemed fair. I certainly didn’t join for the trips- I was just stoked to be singing at all, and to find out about the cruise we’re going on next year. (On that note, if anyone wants to go to the Caribbean on a cruise with us next year, let me know!) So you can imagine my surprise when Carol’s assistant pulled me aside and asked if I’d like to fill in for someone who had to cancel. Um, yes please!
Now you may be thinking, a trip to Kentucky? What’s so exciting about that? Well, sit down and let me tell you. Some generous souls put out funds to pay for everything for the whole choir to go sing at a concert at the Ark Encounter. And when I say everything, I mean, chartered plane, lovely hotel accommodations, almost more meals than we could even eat, tickets to see the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum- the whole lot! The mind boggles a bit.
Having received my ticket and my list of songs to listen to (we were told we would not have lyrics), I made my way to LaGuardia, the armpit of New York, very early on Thursday morning. Even as I was taking the bus to the airport, I began to meet the choir en route, and for all those of you who know just exactly how I feel about mornings, boy, wouldn’t you have been proud of my cheerful face at that hour of the day! We boarded our very loud chartered flight along with one extra gentleman whose mind I would very much have liked to read as the plane load cheerfully chatted and we had prayer over the intercom. Imagine being on standby and being told you could make the next flight, only to find yourself in the middle of such a jolly group as the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
We landed in Cincinnati and were shuttled to Cracker Barrel where we filled up the place with loooong lines and large appetites. Grits. They had grits, people. I never thought I’d have culture shock going to Cracker Barrel but the decor and the prices astounded me almost as much as the simply massive plates of food. Who knew food is so cheap outside of New York City! But my favorite moment at the restaurant was when the sweet little old lady at a table next to me pretended it was her birthday to try to convince us to sing for her. With our stomachs full of biscuits and fried chicken and grits, we were then shuttled to our hotel to settle in and spend the rest of the day as we liked. Naps, impromptu practice singing sesh with feet in the hot tub, a lovely chat with Carol and a few friends at her dinner table, so many new names and smiling faces to memorize… I aim to learn everyone’s name in the choir if I can, but boy, it’s taking me a while!
The misty Friday morning dawned as all Friday mornings do eventually, and we ate an early breakfast then loaded up and headed to the Creation Museum. Have you ever been there? Although the displays were fascinating and the 4D theater quite an experience, my favorite part was the botanical gardens, with paths winding through banana trees and bamboo and lush vegetation enough to soothe any city soul. Also the llamas, because who doesn’t love llamas? After lunch at the museum we all dressed in our matching black and white and we were off to the Ark to do sound check.
We were greeted with enthusiastic smiles and after our sound check, fed “light refreshments” which really consisted of a whole meal. Southern hospitality is no joke, y’all. Finally the time for the concert arrived and we filed onto the stage to sing our hearts out for two hours alongside the Collingsworth Family and TaRanda Greene and our very own Durell Comedy, back with us from Charlotte NC. The concert was difficult for me! It was a challenge to hear the whole choir with the layout, and being in the back row, I had a little trouble seeing our director, and several of the songs I had listened to a bunch, but never actually sung with the choir before, and I told you we had no lyrics for our hours of music, right? Whew! But this challenge is exactly what I signed up for, and it was such a pleasure to praise Jesus with this group as it always is.
Concert over, we were led into the green room again where the staff fed us yet another late night meal. Fourth meal of the day, if anyone’s counting, and it even included brisket which made this slightly-Texan girl very happy. I told you they fed us well! And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Also, side note- it is incredibly relaxing to be on a trip where someone has planned every detail for you down to the flight, and all you have to do is show up and eat the food and sing the songs and enjoy your cushy life. Having been on the planning side of countless events and parties and trips myself, I couldn’t get over how much fun I was having just going along with the flow. A huge thank you to the tireless music ministry staff at Brooklyn Tabernacle; you guys rock!
Saturday morning was our chance to tour the ark so after breakfast we were loaded up again and shuttled back to spend several hours touring the incredible structure. The ark smelled faintly like my Amish grandma’s house, and I was enthralled by the massive number of huge wooden beams everywhere. I also really liked the living quarters and the kitchen, even if I did wonder if people contained in such a small space for so long should really consume as much garlic as was pictured. Doesn’t seem quite like the thing to promote family peace and all that. There is also a small zoo on location where one can take camel rides and walk through the kangaroo pen and gawk at the ostriches. And of course, as you may expect by now, the choir was given free pass to the MASSIVE buffet which in itself could have kept me busy for about a week.
Entirely too soon, the afternoon wound to a close and we shuttled back to the airport where I had my first non-eventful flight into LaGuardia in far too many months. And so the weekend ended with airport goodbyes and happy sighs over our own beds awaiting us. Because even if it’s wobbly, there’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed, you know? First choir trip = smashing success.
A Year Ago:
Regretless (One of my personal faves)