While one doesn’t have to leave home in order to go on a journey, travel seems to always result in a journey of some kind- both literal and figurative. Our blog entries over the next while will capture our journey. Sometimes the blogs will be more detailed in the travel activities and sometimes the blogs will be more about our inner journeys and lessons learned.
The writers of our blog will vary- we’re going to try to have everyone write something at some point. HtH exists for its participants. To that end, our blog entries of this trip are a written response to our travels and experiences. The trip has been so intense that we have intentionally chosen to NOT have this be a daily blog of the day’s events. We hope you will enjoy our stories and that you will enter into a journey of your own as a result of reading them.
Our journey begins at the Calgary Airport, early in the morning, on Saturday May 25th, 2013. It was a day that had two components: Travel and Intro to Winnipeg Tourism. Here are a few perspectives of this first day…
Beth McLean Wiest: Travel Logistics
There are so many details in planning a trip for 16 travelers. It is very exciting to have no issues. We were greeted and escorted by an agent in charge of group travel who was delightful and we were checked in much more quickly than any of us had anticipated. We were off to a relaxing start. There was no one else in line so we decided to sing for the check in agents. Arriving in Winnipeg, all luggage made it and so it was off to get the rental vehicles.
And there we encountered our first glitch: their computer system was down. So the wait was long. But memorable. A few from our group ended up outside playing Frisbee- not your normal activity at an airport terminal- others played games. And eventually… we got an upgrade on all three of our rental vehicles! We were now traveling in style in three SUVs- for the price of three standard cars! Hooray for Hotwire.com!
Alanna Watton: Initial Discoveries
Today was a grand adventure that started with us gathering at the YYC airport. This went smoothly and we even got to share some music with the lady who helped check us all in. After a brief stint in the air we landed in balmy Winnipeg. Wearing our newly acquired HtH swag, we looked highly presentable and ready to rock. After getting vehicles and settling into our room, we headed off to The Forks…which is a super cool historical area location right next to downtown. We were then let loose to explore the area and discover what Winnipeg has to offer. Some of our highlights of the afternoon were exploring Union Station and the train museum there found. We proudly represented HtH as we explored the inner workings of fine locomotives and the history that went along with it all. It was cool to see the different architecture that exists downtown as well as to learn about a bit of the history. It was also really neat to see the cultural diversity, the vibrancy of the area, and the First Nations influence on public art. All in all today was relaxing start to our adventures. We’re looking forward to all the learning and adventures these next weeks will hold!
John Vooys: Ultimate Frisbee
Our time spent at The Forks included a lot of moseying around, but the musicality of this part of Winnipeg stood out. There were a lot of “busk stations” set up, which allowed performers to stay in a designated area for 30 minutes, and many folks took advantage of them while we were there. I was impressed by how much music went on here – far more than in Calgary. Two guys we met while walking commented that The Forks required a special busking license, and you didn’t need one to busk at random around town; more musical than Calgary indeed! Later, we gathered near The Forks’ skate park, and played a game of Ultimate Frisbee with a random stranger named Tyler. The soundtrack to the game was a live punk rock band, and later a hardcore metal band, all gathered to entertain the skateboarders and bikers and raise money for cancer. As a finish to our time there, we watched Peter and Shaun headbang with the other audience members and join the mosh pit.
Peter Vooys: A Metal Concert at the Skate Park!
I had a lovely, pensive afternoon of walking through St.Boniface, a francophone borough that is part of Winnipeg, on the other side of the Red River, where I visited a Cathedral and the grave of Louis Riel, and stared over the vastness of the Red River at buildings that bore the tang of Quebec. After a little wading in the Red River, I headed back to take in the sweet sounds that beckoned me across the bridge back to Forks. The sweet resonant smacks of a bass drum, and little snatches of electric guitar and high-pitched, nasal tones of melodic punk rock. That we could happen upon a punk rock concert on the day we ended up at the The Forks was a blessing!
I was distracted repeatedly on my way back to the concert area at The Forks. There were more places in the general area to see, more interesting local colour to observe and absorb before I had to meet back with the group at 6:45. I went into the Market and had an empanada (don’t if you’re here, they’re not that great). I was tempted to browse in the stores upstairs in the market before I was reminded of who I am. Am I a shopper? Definitely not. Am I a rocker? Yep.
I went back outside, hoping to hear the next band onstage. It seems like some sort of festival had been going on, as there’d been an assortment of sounds coming from the stage; ska, rockabilly, melodic punk rock, etc. I noticed a lot of buskers in the area as well, many of them quite good. This is what the Eau Claire Market area should be like!! After affirming my affection for Winnipeg’s public art culture, I started to walk toward the stage again. And what I heard made my heart beat faster. My eyes started to widen and I started to smile. This sound wasn’t punk rock. This was better. This was Metal…
The closer I got, the more I realized that this wasn’t screamo, this wasn’t metal-inflected melodic emo-punk. This was just straight up Metal. And it was amazing! I saw that a bunch of kids were gathered around the stage and that the stage was, in fact, in the middle of a skate park. There were even kids moshing. Sick! I saw the HtH group playing Frisbee. Beth and Shaun were sitting by the group. I was glad to see Shaun. He’s the one guy in HtH who is more into metal than I. I asked if he wanted to go mosh. He said “yeah, I kinda do”. We went up to the stage and had our faces melted off by a band called Waster. Their music was immediately enjoyable, reminiscent of 90’s thrash kingpins Pantera. They had energy to burn, and we showed our appreciation through some moderate headbanging. The moshing had stopped, though, before we got there.
At two key points, the band took it to another level, and their groove-heavy power-thrash, and some exhortation from the singer convinced us to get a circle pit going. It was time to mosh! A circle pit is a mosh pit where concert-goers mob around in a circle, flailing elbows and pushing each other. If you don’t know, moshing is a fixture at good heavy music concerts. The participants flail at each other, slamming into each other good-naturedly. At times it can be violent, depending on the crowd and the band, but today’s crowd were fun skater kids, and most metal fans are quite decent folks, and take care of each other in the pit.
As the band prepared for their second last song, the singer commanded the crowd to move to the front of the stage. A few of us rose to the instruction, and we were hit with a blistering groove. Our head-banging now was more profound and had some full-body involvement. Neither Shaun nor I had enough hair to whip around, but at this point it didn’t matter. It was ON!
The moshing started again. I got smoked in the face by another dude’s head and we smiled at each other. As was well. If you’re reading this choir blog, I’m going to go with the odds and guess that you aren’t a metal fan. I could try to explain it to you, but that must wait for another day down the road. Shaun and I had a wonderful time in the pit.
If you walked by the stage, you might have thought, “what’s that horrible racket?” It turns out the whole rock/punk/metal concert was called Skate 4 Cancer, and was a fundraiser for a local cancer society, put on by a local skate shop. Their t-shirts might scare you, and the tattoos, or hair might put you off. The lyrics are sometimes brutal, the music can be pummeling, and you might want to write off metalheads when you see them. But despite the rough edges, they are decent, lovin’ people, and I was happy to be slamming into them bodily, incurring some bruises, and feeling blessed and surprised that Day One of our choir trip involved a metal concert! And the moshing was made all the better by the involvement of my friend and fellow tenor Shaun Paulson.
Thinking back to when the band tore into its last song, I say to myself “There’s something I love about Winnipeg”, and pray “Thanks God, for such a day that brought me to a Cathedral, to Louis Riel’s grave, and to a metal concert. It was a wonderful day. Thank you Lord!!”