USA and Canada 2007

In October 2007 Kathy sang with the Kansas City Chorus in the International Competitions, held in Calgary, Canada.  This was the second time she had sang with the Kansas City Chorus but, this time, she was accompanied by Celia Rodley, Ruth Giles, Bern Smith and Chris Constable. 

The ‘Kiwis’ left New Zealand in August so they would be able to attend practices and retreats and were joined a month later by Ross, Dave Rodley and Phil Williamson.

Here are some of the highlights of a wonderful trip!

18 - 23 August 

Kathy, Celia and Bern flew with Qantas (which was very good) and Ruth and Chris with Air NZ, arriving in Kansas City within hours of each other.  We were met by Eileen Huyck and Jo Kraut and it was a wonderful reunion. The next few days were spent recovering from the journey and adapting to “Kraut Time” (breakfast 11am, lunch 4pm, dinner 10pm).  We went to our first rehearsal and it was very exciting to get on the risers and sing with KC chorus again.  One night we had a sing-song around the piano with Jo and Chris taking turns playing which was a lot of fun.


24 - 26 August

Chorus retreat was awesome.  Jim Arns was the coach and it was very exciting indeed.  The Kiwis taught the chorus how to play the Maori stick game and it was hilarious watching them try it out.  Afterwards a number of chorus members went home and chopped up their broom sticks so they could practice!  Watch the Maori stick game here: Maori stick game.




After retreat Kathy went with La Donna Cheatham to her lake house for a night and had a wonderful time getting to know each other.


27 August - 3 September

After rehearsal on Monday night all 5 set off for a 3 hour drive to Iowa to spend a week with Jayne and Ron Morden (and their gorgeous dog Angel) at their house on Lake Panorama.  There we had time to relax and take in the beauty.  Jayne took each of us for a ride on her jet ski, which was a first for us all. We were fed amazingly including Ron's smoked turkey which was absolutely mouth watering.  Jayne is a fabulous cook and we were treated to a number of her specialties including Iowa steak, which has to be the best steak we have ever tasted!

4 - 7 September

Kathy and Celia spent the week in Kansas City with Jo Kraut and her crazy cat called Treble (who likes to attack feet!).   We were able to spend time with all the Kraut family. Karla came over and cooked us a delicious meal. Karla’s daughter Kristin got engaged, so she came over to show off her ring.  Kim and Kristin attempted to play Maori stick game - with mixed results.

One evening we went to Kimi Ruder’s place in the country where we cooked marshmallows on charcoal and then put them, with chocolate, between two biscuits.  These are called s’mors because once you have one you always want s’mor’!


8 - 10 September

This weekend the chorus went to Topeka (State Capital of Kansas) where the chorus performed both the semi- finals and finals package to an audience for the first time.  The finals package is set in an Emergency Room and is very hilarious.  After the weekend Kathy and Bern went to stay with Sue Fulcher, who lives in an historic house in Eudora.  All the furniture in the house is antique.  



11 - 17 September

All 5 kiwis flew (very early) to North Carolina to spend a week with Kate and Joe Veeder.  (Kate is a NZ Sweet Adeline, Joe is American).  The Veeder’s ‘cabin’ is set in the mountains near Asheville and has the most amazing views, which are changing all the time.  Highlights of the week were:

  • having dinner at ‘The club’ and eating the most amazing desserts!
  • shopping for bargains
  • meeting the people Kate and Joe took on a tour of NZ earlier this year
  • driving a golf cart on a tour of the golf course
  • meeting up with Bob and Carol Couse and visiting the Biltmore Estate (owned by the Vanderbilt family)
  • singing Hine e Hine to a real estate agent who was very moved because she recognised the words from her prayer language, even though she had never heard or learnt Maori!

Once back in Kansas City Kathy and Chris stayed with Eileen and Richard Huyck and waited for the guys to arrive. 

18 September - 3 October

There was great excitement when the guys arrived from New Zealand!  Ross joined Kathy; Dave joined Celia and Phil joined Chris.  We stayed with Richard and Eileen Huyck, then with Tim and Diana Duff, Fred and Betty Smead and finally Ralph and Susie Pruente.  It was so lovely staying with these folk and getting to know them.  The mid-west hospitality is legendary!





The girls continued with their rehearsals and we all enjoyed the final dress rehearsal when the whole ‘package’ was performed. 

We also had time for:
  • a BBQ at Kimi Ruder’s (with more Maori pois and stick games)!
  • lots of shopping
  • plenty of eating including some impressive Kansas City steaks
  • visiting the World War 1 museum
  • attending a lecture on ‘Brown vs the Board of Education’: a landmark civil rights case which ended segregation in schools in America

  • Ross playing golf
  • visiting the Precious Moments chapel and museum
  • going to Branson, the ‘live entertainment capital of the world’, with Fred and Betty.  We went on a (hilarious!) time-share presentation to get free tickets to Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede show (with dinner including a whole chicken!); saw the famous violinist Shoji Tamuchi, and enjoyed the singers at the Hard Luck Café.
  • attending Fred and Betty’s United Methodist Church which has 15,000 members.  They normally have a full symphony orchestra for the services but we only had the youth orchestra!  The Church is so big it even owns a donkey for the Christmas pageants!
  • looking for deer in the woods outside Kansas City and seeing 8 of them!
  • attending a dinner theatre to see the show 'The Church Basement Ladies'.
  • going to the Steamboat Arabia museum to see the old boat that was carefully raised out of the Missouri River
  • visiting old Shawnee Town, and learning about the Santa Fe Trail.


3 - 5 October  Chicago

We flew from Kansas City to Chicago and had a lovely couple of days there with Dave and Celia.   We took the train from the airport (which was an adventure in itself!) to our hotel which was situated right on Miracle Mile.

We wandered around the lovely Millennium Park and went to a violent movie (The Kingdom) which left us wondering why we went at all!  Next day we took the Gray Line double decker bus tour of Chicago and saw many of the major sights around the city centre and Miracle Mile.  These included Navy Pier, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.  The weather was beautiful and we really enjoyed the ambience of the big city.



5 - 8 October  Calgary and the Canadian Rockies

We took the train back to the airport and flew to Calgary, Canada to meet up with Chris, Phil, Ruth and Bern. 

Next day we all went on a ‘Calgary City Tour run by Hammerhead Tours.  It was excellent and gave us a great orientation for our week in Calgary.  We saw Heritage Park, Olympic Park, the Bow and Elbow Rivers, Fort Calgary and then went to the top of the Calgary Tower.  From there we could see the Saddledome and Arena where the Calgary Stampede is held each year and where the Chorus competitions were to be held later in the week.


We all then went on a wonderful 2 day ‘Discovery Tour’ with Hammerhead Tours up into the Canadian Rockies.  Our tour guide, Peta was excellent and showed us the Rockies at their very best, including:

  • seeing the lovely resort town of Banff
  • going up to the top of Sulphur mountain on the gondola
  • seeing the beautiful lakes: Lake Minnewanka, Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, Moraine Lake, Lake Louise
  • seeing the Athabasca Falls and many other waterfalls and glaciers
  • travelling up the amazing highway to Jasper
  • staying overnight in Jasper then going up Jasper Mountain on the gondola
  • taking the bus and snowcoach up onto the Athabaska Glacier which is part of the monstrous Columbia Icefield

We really really enjoyed this tour and would recommend Hammerhead Tours to anyone!  We had been to many of the same places in 1999 but it was worth going back again to see the breathtaking scenery.

9 - 13 October International Chorus Competitions, Calgary

At last the competitions!  A full-on week of barbershop with rehearsals, quartet and chorus semi-finals, special concerts and then the quartet and chorus semi-finals.





Kansas City Chorus is well known for their creativity and for their concern for the people in the chorus, rather than on winning at all costs.  Once again, they didn’t disappoint!  The Chorus got into the final 10 and so were assured a medal, and to be able to present their creative ‘package’.  The two semi-finals competition songs were There goes my heart, and I never knew, and their finals package was a hilarious parody based on an operating room, with songs from William Tell, Down the hall and If I give my heart to you.

This year Kansas City Chorus was placed 5th and everyone was very pleased with this result.  The quartet competitions were won by the The Four Bettyes and the chorus competitions were won by Harborlites.  

You can watch Kathy singing with the Kansas City chorus here: Kansas City Chorus

14, 15 October  Vancouver

We flew from Calgary to Vancouver and were met by Marjorie Mapleton, daughter of Bettie, who was a long-term penpal of Kathy’s mother.  Marjorie and Bettie live side by side in a big apartment complex and it was great to catch up with them.  Bettie had made a wonderful scrapbook for JJ (which he loves!).


The fall colours in Vancouver were beautiful and we had a wander around Lynn Valley Park (in the rain!) to appreciate them.


16 - 21 October Oregon

We flew to Portland and were met by George and Sandy Reay, friends we had met by chance in a hotel in Wanganui (along with Rich and Sarah Kaufman).  George and Sandy showed us around the Oregon Trail museum, Lake Oswego, the Columbia River, Multnomah Falls and Mt Hood (where it snowed!).





We then went out to Cannon’s Beach on the rugged Oregon Coast and met up with Rich and Sarah. We all visited Fort Clatsop (and learned about the Lewis and Clark exhibition that explored all the way from Missouri to the coast and back in the early 1800s), Astoria and the Columbia River Maritime Museum.  Next day we headed south and saw Cape Meares and the Tillamook Cheese Factory and the Tillamook Air Museum.

Oregon turned on a variety of weather for us: wind, rain, snow, thunder and lightning, and beautiful sunshine.



Meet George, Sandy, Rich and Sarah here: Oregon Coast

22, 23 October Washington

We spent a lovely couple of days with Carol and Bob Barton.  They live just outside Portland on the Washington side.  They have a very friendly dog called Riley, and Bob restores hot rods. 

Carol and Kathy are ‘pinpals’ and share Prue Blythe’s Sweet Adeline pin when they perform.  They had only met briefly in 2003 so it was great to finally spend some time together, and remember the events that brought us together around Prue’s pin.  You can hear the amazing story of Prue’s Sweet Adeline Pin here:  Prue's pin   

It's worth a view!




We had a look around downtown Portland and recorded the story of Prue’s pin for a newspaper article, meeting up, again with George, Sandy and Ashby (all important players in the story!). Next day we went on a long drive to view Mt St Helens, where the enormous eruption took place in 1980. The mountain is building up again!


You can see our trip up Mt St Helens here: Mt St Helens

24 October  San Francisco

We flew to San Francisco and were picked up by Vijay and Tripta Gupta, who live close to the airport.  We were able to spend a little time in downtown and caught the cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf and viewed the familiar harbour, including Alcatraz and the Bridge.  It was great to catch up with Vijay and Tripta, then it was onto the plane for our long flight to Sydney. (14.5 hours).


26 - 29 October  Melbourne

We arrived in Sydney in pretty good shape having had a few hours sleep on the plane.  We missed our connecting flight but were soon in Melbourne to be met by Debbie and JJ.

30 October  Home 

We caught the flight home and were picked up by Phil.  It was nice to be home but unfortunately our house had not sold so we are now faced with trying to get it sold while preparing for our move to Paraparaumu.

This was another amazing trip!  The overwhelming memories will be of the special relationships we made with so many people as we stayed in their homes and in sharing so many varied and interesting activities. (plus of course a 5th place medal!).

Most of our other trips were in bus tours. The added personal dimension of this trip made it quite different and we now have lots of new friends all over America and Canada.

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