This day began in a small church in Santa Cruz, a few blocks from the ocean. The morning was a kerfuffle of packing, assembling, and getting underway. The location of the church was ideal for our first concert; we had a mere fifteen minute bus ride to the location of the performance. Mountain Elementary, our port of call, was a small school in the Santa Cruz Mountains with an enrollment of less than 150 people. They were determined to be the best audience on our tour and certainly fulfilled that intention. The attitude, respect, and enthusiasm of the students were incredible, and the infectious positivity of the crowd spurred us on to one of our best performances. After the performance, we met some of the students, played some songs, and took some pictures. The faculty, especially the music teacher Ket, were very caring and kind to us, and urged us to come again as soon as possible.
Following the performance, we returned to the bus for the hour-long drive to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The route that we took provided gorgeous ocean views, bracketed by verdant groves of eucalyptus and sweeping vistas of salt and sand. The sun, which had so far been shrouded by clouds, shook off its mantle of mist and shone brightly, much to our delight. Upon our arrival at the aquarium, Kip and Esmé’s parents Elin and Andy provided us with lunch (we devoured delicious burritos the size of our heads). We split into smaller groups, and were unleashed upon the aquarium.
The lovely galleries and exhibits were a wonderful way to interrupt a schedule full of high energy concerts and long bus rides. After being on display in so many concerts, it was ecstasy to observe something calmly for a few hours. In the time we had, the aquarium was a veritable haven of beauty and majesty, and was loved by all. We loaded back onto the bus, and began the long drive to Los Angeles. The fields of strawberries and artichokes of costal California gave way to rolling hills, occupied by ranches and vineyards. The difference between the various areas is staggering, and provides an endless source of interest and discussion. The two members of our group who have lived in California before kept up a running commentary of the difference between the lush hills that we are seeing on this trip and the scoured land of the previous few years of drought.
Kip, Chris, Owen A, Owen K
Hey y’all, senior girls coming at ya!
After a somewhat restful night on the unforgiving floor of a church that we were so kindly allowed to stay in, we walked next door to our first school performance where 500 children sat with anticipation of our impending arrival. After an energetic concert, we were served a pleasant lunch from the kind teachers at the school. Once we were stuffed, we loaded up the bus and headed to San Francisco where we hopped on a cable car and explored Lombard Street. Few of us had ever experienced a cable car before. The thrill of standing on the outside edge, gripping onto a mere metal post while the car whipped up and down the streets of San Francisco was oh so enticing. We got to explore the hefty San Franciscan hills with our own burning legs through our speed walking to the crookedest street in San Fran. We then broke into smaller groups and explored Fisherman’s Wharf including Pier 39 and various other famous shops. It was an absolutely beautiful day with blue skies and lush greenery following up the immense downpour of the previous evening. Once our time was up, we continued to the Alcatraz Landing and boarded the ferry to Alcatraz. The ride provided us a spectacular view where the San Franciscan skyline, rolling hills, bridges and architecture were all clearly visible. The tour of Alcatraz was both frightening and informative, exposing to us the truthful history of the island and rightfully giving us both sides of the story: guards and prisoners alike. The experience was all so engulfing; inside the prison we could feel the ambiance of what had come to pass, hearing the stories this place had to tell through our self-guided audio tour. Once back outside, we hurried back to the boat. Watching the island fade into the mist looking like a lush paradise, but knowing of horrors hidden inside gave a new perspective of the infamous island of Alcatraz. Once we returned, we split up to grab a quick dinner. Linnea, Demaris, and Tina, on a spontaneous whim, decided to get an exceptionally fun Kabuki Cab ride instead of walking. We (Mrs. Tina) hooted and hollered at the group as we sped past them, Owen A. started racing us and our biker was motivated to pick up the pace in order to make it well ahead of everyone. Shout out to Noodle Yodeler for making it out to meet us! After dinner we got back on the bus and our fabulous driver Earl drove us up to our next church we were staying at in Santa Cruz. Us seniors went on a little expedition to the nearby beach that night. We climbed the fence to the sandy shore and frolicked in the surf. Socks were lost, laughs were shared and most importantly we had a ripping good time with each other. Upon returning to the church we washed up and enjoyed a much needed, refreshing sleep on the concrete floor of a church. Classic Island Ukuleles.
Miss you all lots,
Demaris, Patricia, Linnea, Nicole, Jasmine and Azure
Day 2 began with an alarmingly loud, obnoxious ring from the telephone to wake us up. Luckily, we were getting up to have a deliciously prepared breakfast from the hotel. After packing our things we embarked on another long bus ride down the western United States. We thought that riding on a bus for nine hours would be dull and boring, but it was truly interesting. Sight seeing the farms and mountains of Oregon and California, spontaneous singing and playing, and talking with our friends kept us occupied on the long ride to San Leandro (Oakland). Our drive was broken up with a couple of rest breaks where we were able to stretch our legs, get some food (thanks to Ryan for some amazing sandwiches), and Earl and Matthew could clean the bus systems. Before arriving in San Leandro, we made a quick stop in Berkeley to visit the Da Silva Ukulele Company. Michael Da Silva’s ukulele shop was stunning and had a really nice feeling to it. Michael showed us all the steps of building his beautiful, custom ukuleles and then he also gave us an entertaining history lesson about the ukulele. To thank him, we played a short concert in our blue tour t-shirts which he and his ukulele students really enjoyed. Then we went out for dinner at Taqueira Los Pericos, a wonderful Mexican restaurant that enjoyed a song from us at the end of the night in exchange for a nice discount on our dinner. After all that excitement we drove to a nice church in San Leandro that allowed us sleep there and use their kitchen facilities that night.
Lots of love, the not so junior girls.
Our day started bright and early meeting Earl (our driver), Julie, Missy, Levi, and Everly at Oak Bay ready to load our gear and get on the move. After the gear was all loaded and we were ready to go, Mrs. Tina made sure to wave goodbye to everyone there to see us off.
We got to the COHO Ferry (albeit a little earlier than needed) and had some time for some ferry terminal practice!
After a breezy quick trip through customs pre-clearance in Victoria, we were on board the COHO and ready for our adventure. Because the COHO Ferry gave us a wonderful discount, we were very happy and excited to provide on-board entertainment for the ferry passengers.
After getting off the ferry, we very quickly cleared US Customs as the two Border Agents were very nice to our group and we headed off down the highway towards Tacoma, Washington. After two hours, we arrived at the Asia Pacific Cultural Centre to share in an awesome Polynesian experience.
After some very yummy food, we got back on the bus and made our way to to our first hotel night in Eugene, Oregon.
More photos from our day are below with more to be added as they come!
Island Ukuleles will be travelling to California this year at spring break (2017). The group will partake in many wonderful activities and sights including the famed Disneyland! More information will be posted soon!
Day 7 started with a 7:30am wake up call to get ready to leave Invermere and head to Golden. We arrived at Alexander Park Elementary School in Golden and started to prepare our last official concert of the trip. This was a neat concert because we were able to have some special guests join us; Tina's niece, nephew, brother, and sister in law were all able to make it to the concert. That was cool for all of us but a very special moment for the Horwood's.
After our concert, we started on our way towards Salmon Arm. Along the highway, after Revelstoke but before Sicamous, there is a really beautiful chateau on a lake. We stopped at the Three Valley Gap Chateau and Ghost Town to experience a bit of what BC's past was like. It was very cool to see all of the old buildings and artifacts at the ghost town. From a church, to saloon, to school house, Three Valley Gap had it all!
We then got back on the bus to head towards our trail rides in Salmon Arm. Along the way, Matthew explained about a small place called Craigellachie, the site of the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was a term of BC's joining of the Dominion of Canada and officially connected the land coast to coast.
We drove up a tight, narrow, dirt road towards High Country Trail Rides. Everybody got to experience horseback riding up and down a long trail that gave a spectacular view of Salmon Arm. When groups were out riding, the others played games of Bocce, roasted marshmallows and hotdogs, and enjoyed a nice fire. Many of us got our ukuleles out around the fire and sang and jammed away! We then got to our last hotel of the trip, the Salmon Arm Comfort Inn & Suites to rest up before our long drive towards the ferry.
After a night of sleeping on the gym floor, day 6 started with a concert at J. A. Laird Elementary School in Invermere. The students here were a fantastic audience and really enjoyed seeing what we can do with our ukuleles! We then went to Windermere Elementary School for another great performance on our day. Our concerts are getting better with each performance that we give!
We then got to go visit the Fairmont Hot Springs. It was a nice set of warm pools for us to lounge and play in. There was a dive tank with a 1 and 3 metre diving board that was the site of many dives and tricks for our group. It was fun watching what everyone could do off of the diving boards!
After the hot springs, we went back to J A Laird to get some time in on their awesome climbing wall. Everyone had such a great time climbing up the wall to ring the bells placed up there! Then we got to have an awesome practice and exchange with the Silver Strings ukulele group from the school. It was lots of fun!
After getting into Calgary late last evening, we were excited to be able to go experience the Calgary Zoo! It was neat to experience varying wildlife from around the world all in one space. One very special highlight is that Kioja, a gorilla at the zoo, has recently had a baby and both mother and baby were out and visible to the public (although they were sleeping).
After visiting the zoo, we headed of to Banff for some sight seeing and shopping! We first visited (went by on the bus) the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel; a beautiful hotel that caters to the rich and famous. Then, some students and chaperones stayed in town to shop while others went on a bike ride by the Vermillion Lakes. The bike riders had the thrill of seeing a black bear on the roadside as they were on their bikes!
After that, it was a visit to the gorgeous Lake Louise. It was an awesome place to get group photos, friends photos, and of course, selfies! After that brief visit we were on our way to Invermere to prepare for concerts the following day.
Today was an early start, up at 6:30am and driving by 7:30am. We drove a half hour to our first school performance of the day at York Elementary School. The 200 students were very excited to see us perform and it was visible in the way they reacted to the music. They were clapping and singing as we played with great enthusiasm; so fun!
We then drove a few minutes down the road to Mount Royal Elementary School. Here we were met by the Assistant Principal, Tim Petkau (he set up all three of our concerts for the day). Mount Royal is an Arts Core School, meaning all students have a large part of each day focussed on the arts rather than standard curriculum. The students at this school were an excellent audience, well behaved, and participated when asked. It was such an awesome show and all the songs sounded great!
Our third stop of the day was at Virginia Park Elementary School. This school is also an Arts Core School and the students here also a fantastic audience! The school principal and music teacher set up lunch for us before this performance and gave us ice cream and freezies afterwards! It was a great way to finish our concerts for the day.
We then headed back to the mall to take on the Galaxyland Amusement Park. Tons of rides for everyone to enjoy the last part of our time in Edmonton. Some of the students went to Dragon's Tale Blacklight Mini Golf and Crystal Labyrinth. All in all, everyone had fun at West Edmonton Mall.
We then got on the bus to make the drive to Calgary where we will visit the Zoo on Wednesday prior to heading towards Banff, Lake Louise, and Invermere.
It was the first of our two days in Edmonton and all of us were up and couldn't wait to meet with Scott Leithead of Kokopelli Choirs. We drove to a beautiful church in downtown Edmonton to have our workshop with Scott and his exchange student director, Nelson from Namibia. We learned two new songs from Africa that we absolutely love and couldn't wait to add to our performances! It was such a fabulous way to start our day!
After meeting with Scott, we headed back to our hotel in preparation for going to West Edmonton Mall and more specifically, the World Waterpark! There is a giant wave pool, massive waterslides and drop slides, tube slides, ziplines, a human-size hamster ball, hot tubs, food, and all we could drink coca-cola products! It was an incredible time of challenging ourselves and others to conquer fears (135 foot drop slides including one with a an upside down loop), building friendships, and enjoying all that the World Waterpark had to offer. During the day, some of us found time to go shopping and take in other attractions such as the sea lion show.
After our day at the mall, we hopped back on the bus to head downtown. Earlier in the day, Scott Leithead had invited us to stop by a rehearsal of 5 of the best youth choirs in Western Canada. It was so awesome to sit and listen to beautiful music created by youth from all around Western Canada. They were rehearsing for Podium Conference, a national conference of choral music educators to be held in Edmonton with their concert being Wednesday night. They were working on a beautiful arrangement of the song Alberta Bound, by Paul Brandt. It was an excellent way to end our day!
The second day of our trip began with a nice game of road hockey at our hotel and a hot breakfast provided by Don and his team at Don's Social House in Valemount. After a nice breakfast, we headed 15 minutes up the road to Tête Jaune Cache (Yellow Head) in preparation for our whitewater adventure. It truly was an amazing day filled with an exciting whitewater adventure down the Fraser River. Tyler, Jim, Ben, Dan, and Neil from Stellar Descents Whitewater Rafting were just amazing with Island Ukuleles. After a good introduction to rafting and all of the safety briefings we were ready to put in to the mighty Fraser River.
We started at a spot where we had the most stunning view of Mount Robson (the highest point of the Canadian Rockies) so it was a great opportunity for a group photo. After putting into the river, we had a nice calm section to practice our paddling techniques for the rapids ahead. About 10 minutes into our adventure we started in on our first rapids which got some of our group their first taste of the cold river water. On our adventure we would be challenged by Class II and Class III rapids and we even had a chance to see what a Class IV Plus rapid looks like in the form of a "step waterfall". It was an amazing opportunity for photos, some of which you will see below!
After our adventure down the river, we headed off on the 5 and a half hour trek to Edmonton. It was filled with incredibly beguiling views of the Canadian Rockies, wildlife such as the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, and a beautiful sunset. We were dropped off at our hotel, the West Edmonton Mall Inn. After being dropped off, Matthew, Caleb, and our driver Bob headed to the airport to pick up Jasmine who had flown in from her basketball tournament in Seattle.
Day 3 will have an amazing workshop with the director of Kokopelli Choirs, Scott Leithead and an adventure day at the West Edmonton Mall.
Well, we're off on our big adventure to Edmonton and Calgary with our longest driving day of the trip. After meeting in Victoria and loading the bus, we headed off for the 11:00am ferry to Vancouver. Then we all gathered back on the bus to make the 7-hour drive to Valemount, BC. We stopped along the way in just west of Hope, enjoyed Costco dinner in Kamloops, stopped briefly at Wire Cache Provincial Park (check this link for a bit of historical info on Wire Cache), and made it into Valemount at 9:30pm.
The hotel is very interesting with odd room configurations that allowed for some neat opportunities for rooming such as all the boys getting to hang out in one giant room! The hotel manager was nice enough to put on a campfire for the seniors and parents last night which made for a relaxing finish to the day.
Along the way, there were so many beautiful photo opportunities and chances to learn small bits about BC history. We discussed the 2003 fire in Barriere that destroyed many buildings and a sawmill and why many of the trees in the area have still yet to replenish and begin growing. We also passed by the "Elevator Mountain Fire" that swept up the mountains near Wire Cache in 2008.
Today, we are heading out to Stellar Decents White Water to experience some beautiful scenery and a paddling workout as we try some mild class 3 rapids. There will be lots of time for us to swim, take pictures, and really enjoy the morning before our 5-hour drive to Edmonton.
Check back here for more updates and photos as they become available!
Island Ukuleles is off on Saturday, May 14, 2016 for a one week concert tour.
We will visit:
Valemount, BC - White Water Rafting in Tête Jaune Cache
Edmonton, AB - West Edmonton Mall (Shopping, Water Park, Amusement Park), Workshop with Scott Leithead of Kokopelli Choirs, 3 local elementary school tours
Calgary, AB - Calgary Zoo
Banff, AB - Banff National Park, Lake Louise
Invermere, BC - Concerts at two local elementary schools, exchange with the Silver Strings at J. A. Laird elementary school, largest school climbing wall in BC, Fairmont Hotsprings
Golden, BC - Concert at local elementary school
3 Valley Gap, BC - Ghost town tour
Salmon Arm, BC - Horseback riding adventure
Tune into this page for a photo and brief trip update each day that we are away!
Island Ukuleles is hoping to make it to Edmonton, Alberta this year! If you are an Island A's or transitional student, please ensure you get your deposit in ASAP!
Today was a very early start for the few of us that chose to have a morning surf. After that, we hopped on to the bus to the KoAloha ukulele factory, which a couple of the members remembered visiting on the trip five years ago. We got to see how ukuleles are made, and how strong they are by getting Rylan to stand on one of the ukuleles. Next, the family who owns the small factory played us a tune on their ukuleles, and we played them four in return. One of the family members got so emotional from our song that he almost cried! There where even more tears when the factory presented the group with three brand new ukuleles to give to members with broken or beat up ukuleles. After that, we went to check out Pearl Harbour and learned a lot about the history of the Harbour and even got to take a small boat to see Arizona memorial. Next we headed on over to our much anticipated final diner, which most of us dressed up for. For a couple days prior to the diner, the seniors and some of the intermediates where working very hard to fulfill a very special island ukuleles tradition. The tradition is to make up a reward for each member of the group and present them with a gift and a mini speech. It was a great last day we will be sad to leave behind. See you tomorrow Victoria!!
Today we woke up at 5:00 am to hike up Diamond Head State Monument (Le‘ahi). It was a long and tiring walk but when we got to the top the view was amazing. Although we were tired, the thought of eating some nice cold shaved ice enticed us to get down. Then, we proceeded to head to Sea Life Park. On the way we stopped at Makapu'u Lookout to take some groups photos with a beautiful ocean in the background. We decided to take a video of us playing and while we did we were constantly photo bombed by Japanese tourists. We then continued to Sea Life Park where we got to do everything from feeding and petting birds to touching stingrays to petting a shark. The dolphin show was incredible to see and some of us were fortunate enough to ride and kiss the Dolphins. After our amazing time at Sea Life Park, we headed back to our hotel to play a concert. Everyone from the hotel gathered around to watch. It was an amazing concert; everyone loved us and at the end of the concert Patricia's number one fan, sandy donated $250 towards the island ukuleles program. In return, our next ukulele project is to make a DVD. Wow! Another great day with friends fun and sun in Hawaii.
(Ethan and Patricia)
Today, a pretty small portion of the group went surfing and had one of the best days yet! Many of the others were too tired and took the time to sleep in a little bit. We had a quick breakfast and then went to the flea market at the Hawaii State Warriors Stadium. Lots of us bartered and bought stuff that we liked! After enjoying the flea market, we went back to our hotel for some lunch before heading out to the massive Ala Moana Center (shopping mall). We played on a really nice stage and had a nice sized crowd around for the whole show. Everybody said that we sounded awesome, including some of the local girls who thought we were pretty cool. When we were finished, we had time to enjoy ourselves while we went shopping! We celebrated Jacob's birthday by watching him devour his banana split sundae and sang to him and Tim (it was Tim's birthday, too!). When we came back to the hotel, we had a group circle time where we all got to share our favorite moments of the trip so far!
(Christopher and John)
Today, many of us went surfing again this morning but the surf wasn't quite as good as the day before. We went to see the amazing Bonzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach with massive breakers! (We saw a chicken In the parking lot and Caleb and Tim climbed an 18 foot tall tree!). We also visited a small town called Haleiwa & Waialua on the north side of the island of Oahu; it was really cool to see what small town Hawaii looks like. After stopping in Haleiwa, we continued along the north shore towards the Polynesian Cultural Centre. We participated in many traditional games and saw the exhibits from all around the Polynesian islands. We visited many of the different exhibits and got lots cool souvenirs such as coconut leaf headbands, baskets, and plates! All of us took in the canoe pageant that displayed all the different clothing styles and a few of the traditions of each culture. After experiencing the many cultures and traditions, we got to have an amazing buffet with awesome food and nice deserts! We performed an awesome concert at the Hukilau Market Place. Then we went to large scale production of "Ha: Breath of Life". It is a show that follows the life of Mana, who grows up learning the different cultures from all of the islands. There was great music and awesome fire dancers!
(Owen, Nate, & Sebastien)
Today, most of us went surfing! We caught some amazing waves and had lots of fun; some got big rashes from rubbing on the surf boards (especially Kyle, his whole stomach was red). Everyone did amazing! After, we all had breakfast and went to Pohai Nani Good Samaritan Retirement Community. We had an interesting concert. Everyone appreciated our love and talent of ukulele, which made it an amazing concert. After that concert, we packed up, met a few interesting new people and left for Enchanted Lake Elementary for our next concert. We set up and then had an amazing lunch organized by Aunty Lin and Uncle Mel and we sat and met some kids who were really excited to meet us. The best part of that concert was when we were playing Crazy G. Nicole, Ethan, and Tina were explaining to the students about when to yell (to make the song go faster). When Tina practiced turning around, they screamed like crazy! When they were 'supposed' to be quiet, they were still screaming like crazy.
After that, we went to the ocean. The view was so beautiful and the water was this cool shade of blue. Some of us built sand castles, others played football, and then went into the waves for some swimming! After the beach, we went to get shaved ice from Island Snow (President Obama's favourite shave ice store). It was so good! On the bottom, there was vanilla ice cream and then there was shaved ice with the syrup of our choice! We all enjoyed it so much. There were flavours like Snazberry and Godzilla Grape and a whole bunch of other silly names!
After we finished our delicious shaved ice's, we went to Fat Boy's Bistro for our final concert of the day (three in total!). We delivered the gear and had this free and really amazing dinner there! We played a great show for a really appreciative crowd that had actually paid $15 per person to be there! Our final song before the "Hana Ho" (encore) was Hawaii Aloha (regarded as the second national anthem for Hawaii). The crowd stood and held hands while singing to our rendition. It was truly an incredible feeling of warmth and "Ohana" (family). We listened to Uncle Mel's band to end the evening and had a nice ride back to our cozy little hotel in Waikiki!
(Kiera and Sujean)
Today was a pretty mellow, laid back day. Our easy morning turned into a fun filled day! We started off by going to the pool at the Sheraton which has an awesome water slide and great Jacuzzi! We packed our bags, said good bye to the hotel and boarded the bus. This bus wasn't just any bus, in fact it was a nice coach bus; we would have the honour of being its very last passengers before it gets shipped to Chicago. We joked about drawing and writing our names on the side of the bus with sharpie however, our driver Alana (the manager of the school bus division) thought that would not go over well with the company. We stopped into Kailua-Kona and saw where we would have stayed had we not been lucky to get the Waikoloa Marriott and Sheraton Keahou. We then went to the airport where the fine folks at Hawaiian Airlines allowed us to check our sound gear and big luggage for free! We stopped to have a bit of circle time at the airport gate which allowed us to share our favorite trip moments and concert moments so far. After the short and scenic flight from Kona to Honolulu, we got to have a fun shopping experience at COSTCO. We had to shop for our own breakfast and lunch foods for the week as rooms! We arrived shortly thereafter at our cozy pink hotel, the Royal Grove. This hotel definitely isn't like the past hotels we were at; lets just say at had few more years on it compared to the Sheraton or the Marriott. After settling into the new hotel, we mostly just played around the pool area. After dinner we got to go to the beach and check out a flea market. Well, off to bed as we have three concerts tomorrow!
(Kyle, Jacob, and Mr. Martin ;) )
Today was yet another crazy busy day. After a filling breakfast, we had a short hour to organize a few things and be ready to leave for concert #5 of our tour. This one took place at the Waikoloa Elementary And Middle School. Our audience was a bit more excitable and rowdy than previous ones, but they did settle down when they needed to. We performed two pieces with a few of the students from the school, which was fun to do. We even got to have lunch with the students. After a quick pack-up, we headed to the beach for some epic body surfing. We all had a whale of a time but ended up with salty...well salty everything. But the water was such a variety of different shades of blue, it was completely worth it. On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at Costco for a huge pizza dinner, with lots of leftovers. The very second we got back to the hotel, we were rushing again. We had about 20 minutes to unpack the bus, change into uniforms, and set up for a quick concert in the hotel restaurant. After that, we were all absolutely exhausted. I'm not even sure how some of us had the energy to go for a late evening swim, but we did. Thank goodness we get to sleep in tomorrow before flying to Oahu!
(Azure, Maddy, and Nicole)
Yesterday we had a concert kealakehe school. As we were warming up, all the kids were so enthusiastic and cheered even before our concert. At the beginning of each song, the crowd erupted. We played great and got to share with the sixth, seventh and eighth graders, who were all so energetic and stared in awe at our ukuleles. After sharing a couple of songs, we said our goodbyes and headed to the hotel. We dropped our gear off and headed to the catamaran. On our way to captain cook bay, we spotted some spinner Dolphins and a humpback whale. We saw many beautiful fish, including the state fish, humunukunukuapua'a. The beautiful coral in different shapes and colours were amazing to see, and close enough to touch in some places. We were lucky enough to see a sea turtle and many other exotic animals. On the way back to the harbour, there were huge waves which excited most of us. A few people were up on the front nets, getting soaked, while Kiera laid in the nets, having a sea water shower with every roaring wave. It was a great way to end the busy day of our first school concert.
(Jasmine and Alysha)
Due to a mix up with the catamarans, we had to change which tour we took because there was not enough space on the boat. Four of us; Nicola, Rylan, Caleb and Matthew got to do night snorkeling with manta rays. Which was incredible! On the way to the bay, we practiced surfing on the nets as a gorgeous sunset lit the sky in vibrant colours! The Rays were massive, they came within two inches of us, while spiraling up and down in the lights trying to catch plankton. The first time the Rays came towards us it was literally breathe taking as water filled our snorkels but we were too distracted watching the Rays glide across our stomachs. Gasping in amazement we inhaled some delicious salty water.
(Nicola and Rylan)
The day started early and ended late. It was our first truly busy day. It started with a mix up with our bus driver, he called in sick 15 minutes before we needed him. This caused us to end up with an awesome bus driver/tour guide Terry, who stayed with us for the entire day driving us in a full circle along the cost around the Big Island. Our first stop, besides the waterfalls that we slowed down to look at, was Umauma zip lining. While waiting for our zip line tour to start we cracked open coconut, bread fruit and vanilla beans, all of which tasted delicious and hiked up to a lookout over the falls and to a cinnamon tree. Zip lining was absolutely amazing. We went on four zip lines where we soared across the sky at high speeds reaching up to 80 mph. The scenery was beautiful, with many unique looking trees and breath taking waterfalls. Some of us thrill seekers went upside down and did flips while going down the zip line. The guides were very encouraging and helped all of us have tons of fun while being safe. It was a once in a lifetime experience for us. After that we all packed back on the bus and drove to the Hawaii volcano national park where we started off by watching a video about the creation of Hawaii and the wildlife here. We then drove up to Jagger's Point which had a little museum and a nice view of the crater. Our next stop was the underground lava tubes. We walked for 4-5 minutes and then we stopped and sung the river. Other people going through the tube stopped to watch a few minutes before continuing through the crazy lava tubes. At that point it was rainy out and we had the option to either stay at the volcano till dark to see the lava or go down to the black sand beach. We chose the black sand beach which was probably for the best. Half an hour after we got there it stopped raining and got a bit nicer out. Then we headed to the famous black sand beach, it was about an hour drive from where we left the volcano. The beach was like nothing I have ever seen, the sand had a different feel to it... It was like nothing I have ever felt, it was truly an amazing thing. At first none of us wanted to go swimming, but with a little convincing Scotty and Caleb managed to get everyone in the water. The water was your typical Hawaiian water; nice and warm. We managed to find a turtle and circle it and get some amazing photos of it. Chris unfortunately got stung by something, we are not sure on what actually sung him. His whole foot and leg swelled up, we had to take him to the hospital on the way back to the hotel. When we got back to the hotel we had just enough time to go for a quick swim before bed and finish packing for our next hotel.
Sr. Boys signing off.
We started our day with a wonderful workshop with the famous Roy Sakuma, who we met by chance at our hotel the day before. He mentioned us in his workshop to the crowd. Next, we got into our uniforms and got ready to perform at the great Waikoloa Ukulele Festival. They treated us to a free lunch of loaded sandwiches and drinks instead of a $100 honorarium. Much more valuable! We caught the tail end of Kris Fuchigami who was incredible! It was awesome to be able to perform on the same stage as ukulele legends! We broke the record for the smallest stage we have ever preformed on in the Queens Marketplace. It literally only fit four small chairs across the stage. After the concert we enjoyed an impromptu workshop with Kris out on the grass by the market. In our free time we went shopping in the Queens shops and listened to ukulele legends. After that we had the opportunity to listen to and learn from the "crazy ukulele girl" or "hot ukulele girl" to the boys. She was a fun, spunky, young, half-Samoan girl that played upbeat flamenco songs. We even learned a lesson in performing skills from her. At nighttime, the seniors enjoyed learning to squirt water across the hot tub from some local Hawaiian boys!
Aloha from the senior girls
We woke up with an exquisite view out the balcony! Blue sky, swaying palm trees, and the bright sun. We started the day by eating breakfast at 8:30am and we rehearsed at the lobby. We practiced over an hour and then learned how to hula dance from Healani! She taught us how Ipu (Hawaiian gourd drum) are made, and she also taught us how to hula dance to E Huli! After that, we were practicing ukulele again, and we had a surprise visit from Roy Sakuma. He was a great inspirational guy and we absolutely loved him! And finally we had free time after we ate lunch. We went to the Queen's Market place, and also visited the pool. Marriott is a lovely place and it was such a beautiful day! Thanks to John, dinner was very lovely! In return for a fabulous buffet meal, we performed in the lobby of the hotel. Hotel guests and staff definitely enjoyed having us! We enjoyed it, too, of course! After performing, we went to the pool again and stayed in the hot tub. After swimming we were all exhausted, so we just knocked out!
(Written by Lily and Nayeon)