The past three days were supposed to be a wonderful experience for those of us attending the last bell Choir Conference in Medford, Oregon. The lady in charge of it had been doing it for 26 years and she was retiring as a director of it. She was not retiring from playing bells. . . there just weren't going to be any more conferences in Medford.
Bell choirs from Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Idaho attended -- 500 of us this year! In the past, when I have attended ( three other years), there has been just over 300 in attendance from three states. It was truly an inspiring conference and a wonderful way to celebrate the last "Rogue Valley Handbell Festival" in Medford, Oregon. A new director has stepped forward and will be taking over but at the request of the first director, they have changed the name of the Conference Festival. I can't remember what but we are glad it will continue. Our church has players that haven't been doing it long so we are called the Tins, along with a few hundred other players from other churches. It's just as exciting for us tho so we keep on trying to get better.
Ok. Here's the story of our adventures. . .
Just three of our players from our church attended this year. One was the director of our bell choir. I rode to Medford with her. The other lady went with her husband. We needed two cars becaue we had all those bells and one table with pads and coverings with table drapes and our banner stand to take besides our luggage for three days. AND you know how hard it is for us ladies to pack a small bag for three days --might as well be going for a week since we wouldn't need any more things!
Finally, we headed south across the Columbia River on the I-205 for our 5 hour drive. The weather was perfect, after so much rain here the past week. Yes there were some rain clouds and we did hit a few showers but nothing to worry about. In fact, we saw a rainbow prism reflecting out of a cloud and I actually got out my digital camera to take a photo from inside the car through the windshield. I didn't know if it would turn out but I tried. Now home and seeing the photo, it didn't show us the prism as well as we saw it through the windshield.
As you can see now that I have the photos loaded, the color of the rainbow did not show up well. . . but those vertical lines in the middle of the clouds were a pale red, blue and yellow and it was certainly unusual to see for us.
We made it to Medford in good time and without too much rain, stopping only at Wendy's for lunch. Arriving at our destination, where the sun was shining brightly and we had nothing to do for an hour an a half, I almost went on my "hike for Iris then." Instead we just settled in and visited with the other group for a bit. Then we decided to get a snack from WINCO instead of going out to eat dinner. I found some delicious jumbo strawberries for $1.29 a carton! They were great! Our room had a microwave and refrigerator in it so we also bought some croissant sandwiches to nuke.
Then, it was time to go to the high school to set up our table and bells and meet some others we knew were attending. Then we met the 6 guest music directors and practiced our songs for the first time --all 500 strong! I wish I had thought to sneak off and take a photo from the balcony . . . guess it will just be one of those photos in my memory. There wee some presentations to the director of the concert who had been doing it for 26 years. . . the guest directors had emailed each other and written/composed a song we played for her. It was 6 pages long! They all signed the first page and framed it. Then they gave her a copy of the whole song in a nice album. We thought maybe that was it but we were surprised later. You see they had to do something to reveal this song to her since it was not in the program and we were playing it! Her own choir that she directed at home had to be sneaky and practice it without her before we came to the conference.
After the practice and presentations, we were invited for punch and cake to honor her. We quickly had some drinks and got out of there since we had an early morning to prepare for a big day. Not all the people traveled as far as we did . . . a few traveled further tho.
Saturday morning was finally here, along with my planned hike. Liz slept another hour while I walked. I began my trek at this park that has a trail around it. I had to cross a river to get to the park walking trail and this waterfall greeted me as I crossed over the bridge.
I headed first for the skateboarding ramps enclosure. No, I was not taking up a new sport at my age. . . the outside edge of the fencing around it usually has some gorgeous Iris in several colors. I love to take photos of them. What a disappointment to see only one plant in bloom. But it was a beauty! I saw a few other flowers and took a photos of them too.
I continued my hike on their trail and around the Bear Creek Park area
where I also saw this leaning tree trunk that I think is so unusual because the trunk is growing sideways but the branches are growing up:
Just before the end of my trail walking, I saw a sign for the park:
Shortly after that, I was at the end where I had to return to regular streets to get back to the hotel in time so I walked through a bit of the city of Medford that I call hotel alley and fast food row. . . Not anticipating any more flowers to photograph, I put my camera in my bag. God had a little suprise for me -- maybe to make up for the disappointment of a single Iris where usually many are in bloom. . .
In front of a hotel. . . MORE IRIS IN BLOOM!!!!!!!!!
There was one more and I took a photo f it even tho it was not open. . . but it was black!
Soooooo, my little hike turned out better than I first thought after seeing just one Iris in bloom. I got back to the hotel and roommate was ready to head for bell conference in a few minutes so changed hiking shoes and got ready. It would be a long day of workshops and practice, practice, practice with the whole group. All the guest conductors were very patient with us and we sounded pretty darn good. AND all that was that was just before lunch!
They served us a wonderful vegetable soup with mini hamburger balls in it. I ahd never had hamburger in soup before and it turned out to be quite a delicious soup. We also ahd a salad bar and I had a BIG plateful of various goodies and a glass of lemonade. They outdid themselves in the luncheon this year. Ü
Following lunch break, there was a hand bell concert put on by a few really good players from various towns. The program was excellent. We had some wonderful, experienced bell players amongst us!
Then it was back to more practice and another workshop to learn about bell playing. At 4:00 PM we had our final rehearsal with all the bell choirs in attendance. It sounded pretty darn good. We left to get a bite to eat before the concert at 8:00PM knowing we would be hungry if we didn't. You always play better on a full stomach! Following dinner, we went back to hotel and changed to our black pants and concert shirts.
The concert went well. Many relatives and townspeople came and filled the grandstands and balcony. The concert went well and we got lots of applause. In the middle, they made another presentation to the director for 26 years. . . she got a Memory Book and a plaque. We had all signed pages of the Memory book an they planned to add photos from the last gathering when they got developed.
Then it was time to put our bells away in their carrying cases and breakdown our table, followed by hauling them out and packing cars. We had a busy day and were getting tired and looked forward to a good sleep before heading home after a church service the following day. It wasn't meant to be-- not for Liz and I anyway.
We got back to the hotel after stopping at WINCO for a few snacks for traveling the next day and were surprised when my bed was not made fully and the toilet was plugged. Trip to the office told us they had no one to come fix our toilet. We had paid for two days and they didn't have anyone to help us out. We tried plunging it with a weird plunger they gave us but it did nothing. They had only one room available with a single bed to change to. We asked if we couldn't sleep where we were and shower in the other room. Of course they said no because then we would have two rooms. I told them I would bring them the key after we used the bathroom and I showered and pick it up again in the morning. They said no, we couldn't have two rooms because they were sure to get another customer in the middle of the night and they would need that room.
Can you believe it? Now if we had changed rooms, the "new" middle of night customer couldn't use our room since they had plumbing problems and it wouldn't be cleaned after us because no maids were on duty then. They didn't care. We got our money refunded and packed up and left after reserving another hotel in Grant's Pass, a half hour away but heading towards home. Poor Liz was so tired. Before we left we went back to WINCO and used their facilities. lol
We had to trudge up a flight of stairs with our baggage at the new hotel. Liz went right to sleep and I got my shower and waited for my hair to dry some before I could curl it for church in a few hours. They only had one service at 10:00 AM so we did get to sleep in a bit and had time for breakfast at McDonald's too. We still had 40 minutes before church services so we parked in the church lot and went for a walk. I could not believe it but I left my camera in the car!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so mad because we saw roses and iris and Rhodies and more. When we got to church, the bulletin had a note about someone going into the hospital and Liz knew them from a previous school where she taught. Small world! While she was visiting with them, I found some lilacs in the church yard:
When we were finally ready to leave, Liz told me she would drive me around where we walked and i got some photos after all.
In Grants Pass.
When we arrived in Vancouver around 4:00 PM we unloaded the bells at the church and headed home. It was good to be back. To top it off, the weather was also beautiful here! Now we have a break in playing bells until fall. . . but a couple of us are going to go over to church and practice on our own IF we can find some time this summer.