Hi Gang! We were at a wedding this past weekend down in Wilmington,
North Carolina, where my old quartet, Kudzu Krooners, sang during
the ceremony. Our baritone's son, Jason, was finally getting hitched,
and it was a grand affair. On Sunday we left Wilmington and started
on the long drive north towards Montreal.
We travel with two kids, age 14 and 11, who are well versed in long
car rides, and have equipped themselves admirably for the journey.
We have a TV/VCR system lashed to the top of a plastic milk crate
behind the two front seats of our mini-van, and added a DC-AC
converter for their X-Box game system. Now they can watch TV, VHS
tapes, DVDs, or play video games with this setup. They also brought
books, personal CD players, games, and other stuff to occupy
themselves. Throw in a couple of shopping bags of junk food and a
cooler of soft drinks and we're ready to haul!
In spite of all that, we are really not road warriors. We tend to
drive no more than 6-7 hours a day, so we ended up stopping Sunday
afternoon in Linthicum, Maryland. We had a nice night there, being
sure to stay at a hotel with a pool for the family to blowoff some
steam after the trip.
On Monday we resumed our northward trek up I-95, and braved the
harrowing highways through New Jersey and New York City, popping out
the other side onto the New York State Thruway, headed up along the
Hudson River. We stopped not too far north of Albany, in Clifton
Park, New York. A nice little town just off the Northway (I-89), we
found a miniature golf place down the road and had a fun evening in
gorgeous weather, playing into the sunset on a warm summer night. We
grabbed a late dinner at a TGI Fridays and fell into bed soon after.
On Tuesday we were on the road by about 10, and with only about 4
hours to Montreal, we took a detour off the Northway and cruised up
Route 9N through the resort areas of Lake George, Bolton Landing,
Ticonderoga, and onward along the western shores of Lake Champlain.
Absolutely beautiful country up there, and the tourist spots were
busting out all over with summer vacation-goers. The lake was
spectacular! And driving through the Adirondacks brought back many
fond memories of family camping trips in northern New York, where I
We further delayed our entrance into Canada by making another detour
to Ausable Chasm, a wonderful gorge dug out of rock over millions of
years by water, forming a beautiful and amazing sightseeing spot. We
hiked the trails through the woods and joined a dozen others in a
rafting ride down part of the river, getting soaked in the process as
we bobbed and weaved through the rapids!
Finally, we got back on the highway and beelined it for the border.
Our kids were nervous as we approached Customs, assuming that we
would be strip-searched and our luggage turned inside out by the
officials as they inflicted upon us their high security procedures.
The pleasant border guard commented on our unusual "QUARTET" license
plate, and noted that we weren't the first barbershoppers that had
passed through his checkpoint. He asked us a few simple questions and
sent us on our way into Canada...our kids were stunned that he didn't
even ask to see their North Carolina picture ID cards that we had
them get ready to produce if asked. Ah well. We'll see how easy it is
to get back into the States!
Another 48 KM (no more miles for us north of the border) and we were
in downtown Montreal! We followed Rt 15 over Pont Champlain (bridge)
and then took Route 10 into the city, which plopped us right next to
the Bonaventure Hotel, our destination!
Check in and parking were quick and easy, and we were soon settled
into one of the top floors of the massive blocklong building, with
the rooftop pool just outside out window, a back door leading from
the room to a rock pathway through the plantings and onto the deck of
the pool. It was raining when we arrived, but we jumped in the pool
anyway, and had a nice swim.
We dressed after and hit the streets for dinner, walking a few blocks
up to Rue Ste-Catherine and finding an interesting deli-pub
restaurant for a late dinner.
When we got back to the Bonaventure the annual Salem (Oregon) Senate-
Aires extravaganza to benefit the Larry Ajer Fund was already in full
swing in one of the hotel ballrooms. The family dropped me off there
and went back to the room, and I found a seat in the huge crowded
room and listened to a bunch of great quartets and a few choruses
entertain the appreciative masses, who opted to kick in $5 (US) to
benefit the fund instead of taking in the Rockapella concert which
was also going on at the same time at the Bell Centre.
I missed a lot of performers but caught some good stuff by Metropolis,
Revival, Nightlife, Toronto Northern Lights, Max Q, Noise Boys,
Gotcha!, Fortissimo (College Quartet), Riptide, Saturday Evening
Post, 3 Men & A Melody, Northeast Connection, Wheelhouse, Late Night
Barbershop, Cambridge Chord Company (BABS) and others.
Several performers dedicated various songs of support and
encouragement to Rob Henry and the rest of Gas House Gang, who were
unable to attend due to Rob's illness and to his brother Jim opting
to stay with his family at this time.
As the show got out around 1:00 AM we spilled out into the hallway and
heard multiple quartets wailing tags in various corners, as others
milled about with drinks in hand, listening, or headed to their rooms
for some much needed sleep. And after filing this report, that's what
I'm about to do too. More later!