This post is a continuation of part 1 of the tour.
Part of the original intent for a west coast tour was to have Best Friends sing at Disneyland. They had sung at Disney World the year before. So, we planned for Disney and a stop in Victorville, CA to be the foundation of this stop.
We sent in our audition materials for Disney and received a phone call back within a couple of weeks. We were denied. Not because of our quality – because of our group size. The minimum group size for performance in the park is 12. Seems rather silly, but they have their rules. So, that was out the window.
Had we gone to Disney and sung, we still would have had to pay admission to the park. That also seemed silly. Instead of paying to go to Disney anyway, we decided to look at other options. Universal Studios had just opened up their new attraction, Harry Potter World. That was the end of the discussion.
Big Bear Lake, CA
After securing tickets to Universal Studios, our date in Victorville fell through. That left us with a big hole to fill and Jim Quinn from Victorville stepped in and helped us fill it in a big way. His suggestion was Camp Tanda in Big Bear Lake, CA. Tanda is a Church of Christ youth camp that did not have any campers coming in until late June. After a few phone calls, all was arranged. When we finished the event in San Diego, we headed cup the hill to Big Bear.
This is no small hill. Once the mountain actually started, it was a 30-mile jaunt with constant switchbacks and turns. It was quite a challenge in the van and trailer. Over the next few days of going down and coming back up, we saw two different cars that had been flipped. We also drove through be a fog soup so thick you could not see 5 feet in front of you, which is pretty scary when you’re 7000 feet up the mountain side and constantly driving in what seemed like figure-eights.
The camp turned out to be delightful. It was a little more rustic than Pine Springs Youth Camp, but it was situated in a forest area just inside Big Bear Lake. I expected isolation. We got Ruidoso, NM. Big Bear Lake is a 4-season resort town with just about everything you can think of. Other than the crazy drive up and down the mountain, this turned out to be the perfect destination for some time off. We were able to go shopping for abundant groceries at one of the two grocery stores, pick up medication at CVS, hit Kmart for birthday supplies, go bowling and wash clothes at the big laundromat. A very big thank you goes out to Jerry Kettinger, the camp manager, was very gracious to us.
On our first Sunday (the first actual full day) at the camp, we attended worship services at the small Church of Christ in town. Attendance from the previous week was a total of 7 people. Obviously, we more than doubled their size. All the guys in the group participated in services with communion and leading singing. Afterward, Best Friends sang a song for them and everyone had a good morning.
After almost a full week at the camp (with a few trips into the big city and the beach), it was time to resume the tour and head for LA.
As was mentioned in part 1 of this article, we previously had a stop in El Paso with Paul Gonzales. Our first stop down the mountain and into the LA area was in Ontario with one of Paul’s son, Carlos, at Inland Valley Bilingual Church of Christ. This beautifully integrated church is doing a wonderful work in Ontario and the surrounding area.
We had a great crowd and a chance to sing some of our music in Spanish, which was a treat for them and us. We look forward to returning to Ontario.
After Ontario, it was time to head northwest… to Utah. That continues in part 3 of our story.