Our all island trip is shaping up! We need a $125 deposit per attending student in ASAP to help us get things booked for our adventure. Please bring a cheque payable to "Island Ukuleles A Music Society" to the next rehearsal. Thanks, Mrs. Tina.
More student day by day writings will be posted shortly with more photos for your viewing. We are currently in Sacramento, California for the overnight and will be off towards Salem, Oregon in the morning. It has been a very fun trip and the students are tired from all of the amazing activities they have been taking in. See you all soon!
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.