Wednesday, May 20, 2015

2015 Greater Colorado Tour – Day 7

Monday, May 18, 2015

Its Monday readers. Boy… is it Monday. I’m up early to tackle a “To Do” list before I head to pick everyone up. I’ve got some music to copy, some emails to send and have to get gas in the pseudo-Yukon. While some tasks are completed with efficiency, I cannot say the same for the things that take place in the world outside of my control. It’s raining like mad, the road to get where I need to go is flooded and once I do get on the highway, traffic is an absolute mess. Not exactly the ideal way to start out tour week #2. I’m more than 30-minutes late to pick up Taylor, which means I’m late to get the rest of the group too. Oh well; I always pad the departure schedule with about ½ hour of wiggle room just in case things like this happen.

By the time I get to the house to pick everyone up, they are ready to load the cars and go. Since we no longer need the Romeo & Juliet set, props and costumes, some of the Young Artists took them out of the van and put them in the guy’s house. While it’s nice to have the additional space, Road Manager Brett and I are pondering why the items are spending the week in the house and not in the Yukon (you know, the one that isn’t allowed to come on tour; where those items will live the last week in May as we complete the season). Perhaps they are house sitting… Whatever. At least they were productive while waiting for me to show up.

By this point, we’ve become experts at packing. We even have about 5-inches of space in the back that does not contain an item. Look at us, being minimalists. We begin the drive out of town and into the mountains again and this time I manage to make the correct turn! It’s a good thing because the weather does not look promising. The clouds are really low and before long, I’m driving in questionable visibility, trying to keep Andrew in my sights as he follows in the van. Though it’s tricky driving, the scenery is amazing. As we get higher into the pass, it starts to snow, looking like a fairytale; we’re surrounded by snow covered trees. The conversation in my car has been all over the place this morning, but currently it involves dogs. It seems like a favorite topic that we keep coming back to. Brett has assigned a voice to one of Taylor’s Golden Retrievers whose name is Beau. It’s what we imagine Beau would sound like if he could talk. I wish these blogs had sound clips, because Beau is quite entertaining. Leah offers to tell us another one of her stories, but we decline, still not quite over the last tale which involved a car ghost.

We’re on our way to Nathrop, Colorado where we have an Arias & Ensembles performance this evening at the Mt. Princeton Resort. However, before that, we have an important stop to make. We’re going to meet up with Joyce and Dirk deRoos. Dirk is on Opera Colorado’s board and Joyce is our volunteer coordinator. They invited us to stop and have lunch with them. They have a cabin in Jefferson, Colorado and it’s literally on the way, so I jumped at the chance to spend some time with these fabulous people who are incredibly supportive of what we do. The weather does not go easy on us, but we manage to make it to the turn off. Once we get off the paved road, things get very interesting. I’ve got 4 wheel-drive in the tank, but the van doesn’t. The dirt roads are basically frozen mud and incredibly slick. We take it slow and, somehow, reach the cabin right on time. We are greeted by Joyce, waiving us in. My hands are shaking from gripping the wheel so tightly and Andrew’s jaw has frozen in a clenched-tooth smile, but otherwise we’re fine.

Though the clouds are covering the mountains, the view is stunning. There are elk in the valley just below the cabin and Aspen trees on all sides. Inside, everything is warm and incredibly cozy. This is a place that just begs you to relax. Joyce has been busy cooking and as we get ready for lunch, Dirk arrives, having driven in from Denver. We also have a furry friend joining us who enjoys ear scratches, which dog whisperer Taylor seems especially good at.

Lunch is delicious. The company and conversation is even more wonderful. To add to the ambience, Brett has built a fire in the living room (in the fireplace folks, not the actual room – he’s handy, not destructive). After lunch, I step outside to enjoy the view and the doggy comes with me. I’m immersed in watching the clouds roll in and I hear a loud warble to my left. Bigfoot? Dirk says they’re up here but if you give them cookies they leave you alone. Alas, I am sans cookies. But there’s no bigfoot in sight. It seems our furry friend is in need of rescuing, he’s gotten stuck on the steps and can’t get up or down. I grab him and go back inside. Some of the group are relaxing while others choose to get adventurous. Dirk and Joyce have traveled extensively and he’s picked up some interesting things along the way. One of these things is called an At-latyl. It’s a spear throwing device used in many different cultures. Dirk offers to teach us how to use it and Brett and Daniel jump at the chance. The rain has now turned to snow, but opera singers are brave; the elements do not stop them. Unless you take into account our recent production of The Magic Flute and then The Elements stop everything… But, I digress. No, the elements do not stop these opera singers. Especially not when your lovely hostess provides fuzzy hats and warm jackets.

The goal is to throw the spear about 30-feet and hit a hay bale that Joyce has set up for this as well as archery. What ensues over the next 30-minutes is a combination of fun, fear and awe. Fun, because it’s delightful to watch Dirk teach the guys how the contraption works and because they are truly enjoying themselves. Fear, because they are holding and throwing something with a pointy tip and I am in the vicinity. Awe, because they actually do it; and do it well. Brett has great form and after just a few tries, gets the spear into the hay bale. Daniel’s form is reminiscent of the Olympic Games of old. He lofts one of the spears so far that we have to join forces to find it. As Joyce, Daniel and Brett search the forest; I find it covered in snow just inches away from the hay bale. This is a “finders keepers” moment that I will let pass…

The snow is really coming down now and we decide to move inside. Andrew looks like a mountain man on hiatus and Leah and Katherine have curled up in a chair by the fireplace and are very cozy. So cozy that Leah has fallen asleep. The rest of our party spends the time talking and listening to Dirk tell stories about the history of the area. Let me tell you, our Mr. deRoos can weave a mighty fine yarn (it’s a way of saying he’s good a telling stories, not actually turning fibrous materials into yarn). It’s absolutely fascinating and draws forth even our sleeping beauty Leah. Joyce has one last treat in store. She’s pulling out all the stops. We’ve got ice cream and all the toppings. While we are enjoying our treat and the hospitality, the weather begins to clear. *Sigh* It’s time for us to leave and head to Nathrop. I snap a group photo to commemorate the afternoon and then we say our goodbyes. How do you thank people for sharing their home with you? Their hospitality? When you live the nomadic life of an artist, it’s times like this that provide that sense of home that you miss. They are rare, which makes them all the more precious. We are deeply grateful Joyce and Dirk. Thank you for a wonderful afternoon.

We hit the road and, though it’s still raining, the weather has lifted a bit. We make a pit stop in Buena Vista for groceries for the next several days. We’ll be making Nathrop our home base and driving to locations all around for performances. It just so happens that we’re staying at a place that has natural hot springs. As part of the arrangement I made for lodging, we’re performing an A&E for the guests tonight – well, maybe. I got a call earlier today telling me they can’t locate a keyboard. I got that call after we had already left town, so we can’t even offer to bring ours. It’s kind of an essential item for opera. They called again at the grocery store and it’s not looking good. I haven’t said anything to the group yet; I’m still hoping it works out. Groceries purchased, we drive to Nathrop and get checked in. As we get settled, I connect with my contact here and they haven’t been able to find a keyboard, so tonight’s performance is off. We can’t reschedule either as the location is already booked for other events on the nights that we’ll be here. Boo! They’re disappointed and honestly, so are we. It would have been fun to perform in a new location for new people – that’s part of the reason we’re staying here. The manager promises that we’ll try again next year. They have plans to buy a piano or a keyboard for the new reception hall. She also says that our agreement for a lodging discount still stands. Well, that makes things a bit better. The gesture is appreciated. We try very hard to make thoughtful decisions about our budgets. Lodging expenses are a necessary part of tour and they can add up quickly. I try to find opportunities to lessen the cost of lodging so that the funding we have can go as far as possible.

With an unexpected free evening, everyone does their own thing. There is no cell service here and limited internet, so even I have to take some time off and unplug. Leah, Katherine and Brett decide to go to the hot springs, Taylor grabs dinner at the restaurant on-site and then also partakes of the aquatic amenities. Andrew and Daniel decide to drive to nearby Poncha Springs and visit the Elevation Brewing Company. I… decide to finish the blog for the day and then read. A luxury, I assure you. As I sit in the lounge area and blog about the day, the quiet little space I had set up for myself suddenly becomes a din of chaos. We’re being invaded… by teenagers. Busloads of them. They’re on their senior trip. I decide to head to my room and tuck in – quietly laughing at the hormonal energy of teens on a co-ed trip to the hot springs. Readers, there is an entire blog in what I witnessed.

Tomorrow we head to Fairplay to perform at the elementary school. Our performances the next 3-days are being sponsored by the Breckenridge Music in the Schools program. The weather is supposed to be pretty dicey overnight, so we’re hoping we don’t get all of the snow they’re predicting. We’re got kids waiting to see opera!

Today has been a day of wonderful memories with special people and an evening of unexpected downtime. The downtime is ending; the memories…? We’ll continue making those. We’ve got a full week of performances and workshops ahead of us and on Thursday, lunch with Young Artist Liaison, Steve Dilts. The rain has picked up again and the temp is dropping. I bid the others goodnight and turn in. Like the proverbial At-latyl, it’s time for me to hit the hay.

Have a good night readers,


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