For eight short days after commencement, members of Big Bing Theory, Gonzaga’s a cappella group, toured the West. Three cars caravanned to the members’ hometowns and nearby cities in Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada. Catherine Van (’12) agreed to document the journey.
Day 1: Pasco, Wash.
The tour begins. We were so anxious to start – will the crowds like us? How long will the car rides be? Will we want to attack each other by the end of tour? Fourteen singers, three cars, countless number of bags, and an immeasurable amount of emotions and energy – sounds like a recipe for disaster, but not for BBT. We were more than ready to take on Pasco, Wash.; Reno, Nev.; San Francisco; and Corvallis, Ore. The excitement started building at DeSmet Circle, where we all met with tightly packed bags in hand and smiles on every face as we slowly reunited after a night of graduation fun. Once we filled every inch of space with sound equipment, merchandise, personal belongings and our bodies, we were ready to face Pasco.
So what do you need on a road trip? Snacks are essential ESSENTIAL and we’re not talking healthy food like carrots, but rather BBQ flavored chips, candy, popcorn and hot dogs. Heart attack, here we come. A mix of tunes is also needed to keep up the morale and keep the driver awake. As we were driving, we broke the number one rule of road trips – there must be at least one other person awake to keep the driver from falling asleep. Whoops. Good thing the drive was only three hours long.
Because BBT loves eating so much, we decided to do something unusual this year – a group weigh-in. We wanted to see how much weight we’d collectively gain (or lose) during tour. So BBT as a whole will begin tour weighing 2,341 pounds. We still have several more families to spoil us with food. They are merciless. It was great to finally eat a home-cooked meal after a year of COG goodies. After stuffing ourselves with chicken, salad, asparagus, mashed potatoes and the most amazing pie we had ever tasted, we crashed. We went to bed around 11. Our moms would’ve been proud. We needed to get well rested for our 12-hour drive tomorrow to Reno, Nev. Here we come!
Day 2: Driving to Reno, Nev.
Brace yourself for the 11-hour drive. That’s what each of us was saying to ourselves at least. Most of us were dreading the drive through the glamorous, flat desert lands of east Oregon and Idaho, but arriving in Sparks, Nev., was worth the long trip for the three Nevadans in the group. We ran into a couple of bumps before the drive began – we didn’t have directions. We had to rely on Aryn’s GPS system that she had never used before. After about 20 minutes of fumbling with buttons, she got it to work and we were on our way to the biggest little city in the world – Reno, Nev.
In an 11-hour car ride, you need something to keep you entertained, especially when the scenery is less than eye pleasing. Aryn’s car, the car I was in, played every car game known to man including Grandma’s Trunk, spelling words and Hot Seat. None lasted longer than 20 minutes. But through those games we learned new things about each other and bonded. Some of us tried to sleep to kill some time, while others read books or listened to music. We made a couple of pit stops, but after eight hours we were all hungry for a real meal.
After a few hours of digesting the delicious meal, we sprawled out on the living room with our Aerobeds and sleeping bags just talking, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.
Day 3: Sparks, Nev.
Three concerts awaited us today. Let’s hope our voices can handle it. BBT got to sing at the place where Alexa, Danielle and I fell in love with music and performing. We were very excited for everyone to meet Mr. Lorentzen (Rentz), our old choir director, and experience Reed High School as we remembered it. We had two concerts there in the afternoon.
Our first concert was one of the best performances of the year. The energy was high, the crowd was welcoming, and we had so much fun. “The Medley” and “Uptown Girl” were crowd favorites. It was surreal performing on that stage that the three of us have known too well with another singing group. It was pretty sweet.
The audience at the second concert was tripled and people were spilling in from the hallways. We were feeding off their high energy and enthusiasm. We felt like rock stars. All the girls were swooning over Joey; it was adorable.
We rushed out of Reed, satisfied with our performance and sales, to my house for some authentic Chinese cuisine. After our lunch break we drove 1.5 hours to Susanville, Calif., to sing at Sam’s hometown.
Day 4: Lake Tahoe and Lafayette, Calif.
After singing 30 songs the day before, we were ready to just relax and hang out and more importantly, let our voices rest. BBT went down to Lake Tahoe, one of Nevada and California’s most prized treasures. We spent a good two hours at the beach, throwing rocks and picnicking. It was a gorgeous sight.
It was refreshing to drive by luscious green trees and hills on our way to Lafayette. The three-hour car ride was a cakewalk. Once we arrived at Joey’s house, he took us to the Buddhist monastery on top of a hill. It was a good idea for us to get some exercise, anyway. The view on top was amazing, so peaceful. I can understand why the monks pray up there.
We experienced the most epic moment of BBT history today. Joey took us up to Grizzly Peak where we saw the best view of the Bay area. Whoa. The view was absolutely breathtaking. We wanted to leave our mark. Suddenly, we all burst into “Circle of Life.” Colin’s opening cry echoed throughout the city. The feeling was indescribable. Some of us were close to tears. We were on top of the world singing one of our most epic songs. This is something none of us will forget. It was then when we realized we only had a few more days left with each other so we needed to make them count.
We experienced the glories of nature today. Indescribable – incredible and unforgettable.
Day 5: San Francisco
The day at the Bay. We were really excited to go to S.F. today. It was one of those three-performances days, so we needed to preserve our energy and voices. We began the day by performing for Joey’s high school at Acalanes. The stage was enormous and the high schoolers seemed to have liked us enough. It’s still really neat performing for so many different crowds every day – spreading Gonzaga and BBT love.
We had to rush out of the school, unfortunately, so we could make it in time for our gig at Joey’s sister’s middle school. Roosevelt Middle School is for children in low-income communities. The students seemed to have a great time. They were very inquisitive about our school and a cappella singing. It’s times like this when we are reminded of why we sing and perform in the first place – to spread joy and BBT love.
Afterward, we had a few hours to spend at Fisherman’s Wharf. The first thing we did was find food. You can’t leave the wharf without feasting on clam chowder, fish ‘n’ chips and crab cakes.
We then found our way to Pier 39, tourist central. We slyly stood in the middle of where all the action was taking place and performed “Circle of Life.” People slowly began to congregate around us, including the police. Luckily, they let us finish our song before shoeing us away. BBT can be rebellious. The audience was very receptive. We could tell by the smiles on their faces that their day just got better.
Two epic BBT moments in a row. Awesome. As we walked outside the pier, we saw another a cappella group performing. Colin and Alexa knew the song and ran up to sing with them. There was no animosity, but we couldn’t resist a little competition. Sing-off, sing-off. But time was not on our side. Due to rush hour traffic and a hefty parking garage ticket price, we had to leave.
Our last performance of the day was at Joey’s girlfriend’s house in Lafayette. Her house was probably the biggest and most amazing house we had ever seen – on top of a hill, with an incredible view. We sang for friends and family and then helped celebrate Joey’s 21st birthday. Happy Birthday, Joey! We love you!
Another great day.
Day 6: Corvallis, Ore.
Today was yet another day of long driving – six hours to Corvallis, Ore., home of Ian. It was another day of car games and snacking. Unfortunately for me, I had some weird infection in the right side of my gums so my jaw swelled up like a golf ball. Perfect timing…not. Luckily, I had good company, naps, ice and ibuprofen to distract me from the pain.
After we arrived at Ian’s house, we showered, ate and got ready to go the meadow. Last year we played an awesome game of Ultimate Frisbee. This year, we were going to go stargazing.
When it was around 11 p.m., we ventured out to the meadow with blankets, a guitar and a cooler full of refreshments. Upon arrival, Ian and Nick began playing some tunes ranging from Old Crow Medicine Show, to Tenacious D, to O Brother Where Art Thou on the guitar as we sang along. We snuggled up to each other and enjoyed the night. It was nice to sit and do nothing except enjoy one another and some simple acoustic beats.
Day 7: Corvallis, Ore. to Pasco, Wash.
We started the day early and hit up downtown Corvallis to do some shopping. It’s a BBT tradition to exchange gifts among each section. The sopranos buy for the basses, basses buy for the altos, altos buy for the tenors and the tenors buy for the sopranos. The gifts are meant to be silly and basically little inside jokes we have with each other. We had forgotten it was Sunday so most of the stores weren’t even open. Ugh. We had to improvise and went to Rite-Aide and Goodwill instead.
Our concert today was in Ian’s living room. We even had a couple of opening groups perform before us to set the mood – The Unmentionables, which featured Ian’s younger sister Heidi, and The Aviators. It was great to see how much energy they had; it was clear they love a cappella music as much as we do.
We had to leave right after our concert to make it back to Pasco, Wash., before midnight. This was the most enjoyable car ride because the scenery was like something you’d see on Planet Earth – gorgeous and green.
The people in Nick’s car wanted to cross the Bridge of Gods so his car strayed from our caravan – Probably not the best idea. Nick was driving the freeway in the dark, and out of nowhere a deer ran right in front of his car. It wasn’t good news for the deer. Nick’s dad rescued them from the freeway and everyone returned to Nick’s house unscathed, physically anyway.
Day 8: Pasco Back to Spokane on Our Final Day of Tour
It’s so surreal to think that our tour is ending. What’s worse is the idea that we might not get to see some of the members again. Depressing. We kept our spirits up for the first two concerts for the day at elementary schools in Pasco and Spokane. The kids were adorable and so enthusiastic. It was an absolute treat to perform for them.
It was so weird to be back in Spokane. It felt like we just left for tour. The week flew by, and none of us could believe it. We were almost literally in a different city every night. Life on the road was fun, but exhausting. We were happy to be back in Spokane for our final concert at Ionic Burritos. Before the concert, we gathered at Aryn’s house to do the BBT traditional placemat signing. At the beginning of the year retreat, each member receives a personal placemat at dinner labeled with their special nicknames. At the end of the year, each of us signs every member’s placemat sort of like a yearbook. It’s a time for us to recollect all our memories and feelings and turn them into words.
Our last concert was emotional to say the least. It probably wasn’t the greatest sounding as half of us were sobbing, but it certainly was the most heartfelt. The seniors got to sing all their solos and favorite songs one last time with BBT. While we sang, we reminisced about all the good times we’ve had this year – the good, the bad, the fun, the sad. By the time Cheyenne sang the last song of the year, “Won’t Back Down,” most of us were complete messes. That song especially, meant a lot to Rebecca, Aryn, Colin, Sam and me because it was the first song we had ever learned in BBT. It was very emotional, which made it really difficult to get through the song. Hand-in-hand we got through it together and then embraced each other.
After the concert, we headed to Aryn’s for one final night with BBT. Words can’t even begin to describe the feelings circulating. Lots of tears, love, celebration and hope. All good things must come to an end, so we must remember not to cry because it’s over, but to smile because it happened. Boy, are we glad it happened. This was one of the most memorable tours, not to mention year, I have ever experienced. I love you all.
The torch has been passed to Colin and Rebecca to lead the group next year. We’re all very excited for what the new year brings.
Goodbyes sound so permanent…let’s just say goodnight instead. BBT love.
[Editor’s Note: To find out more about BBT, visit http://www.bigbingtheory.com.]