A Thanksgiving Odyssey: Bands, Buses, and Big Bad Balloons (Completed!!!)

Discussion in 'DIS Dads' started by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

    GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes Dis Dad #469 . . . . "Nation Ford", SC

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    Thanksgiving Odyssey



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    Bands, Buses, and Big Bad Balloons




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    Table of Contents:


    Chapter 1: Five Buses
    Part 1: Were Off!!

    Part 2: Space Management
    Part 3: El Camino
    Part 4: No Place Like Home

    Chapter 2: Rock This Town
    Part 1: If You Show Me Yours...

    Part 2: Uncharted Territory
    Part 3: From On High
    Part 4: A Change in Direction
    Part 5: Walking to Memphis

    Chapter 3: Taking a Bite Out of the Apple
    Part 1: A Place of Healing

    Part 2: The Fruits of Other's Labors...
    Part 3: Getting Our Fill
    Part 4: Rumblings of Mutiny

    Chapter 4: Balloons Over Broadway
    Part 1: Zero-Dark-Thirty

    Part 2: Inside... Looking Out
    Part 3: Meanwhile, Back at Tesla Corner...
    Part 4: Celebrities I Do Not Know
    Part 5: A Bit of Americana
    Part 6: The Blink of an Eye
    Part 7: The Study of Pressure and Time
    Part 8: Giving Thanks

    Chapter 5: Remembrances
    Part 1: What Is and What Was

    Part 2: A Substantial Edifice
    Part 3: The New Colossus
    Part 4: Beneath the Surface
    Part 5: Reflecting Absence
    Part 6: The Last Hurrah

    Chapter 6: A Whole Different Animal...




    That's All Folks!!






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    When Homer... and before you say it out loud, I’m talking about the classical Greek writer, not the nuclear energy tech from Springfield.


    Anyway, as I was saying…

    When Homer first put quill to papyrus with the intention of jotting down a few thoughts about a guy who needed to go out for a few days on a business trip of sorts, I don’t think that he intentionally set out to create the literary trash genera of Travel Books. That was the farthest thing from the mind of this great epic poet as he was writing one of the books that every high school student (much to their chagrin) is now compelled to read:

    The Odyssey.



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    No... what he had in mind was adventure, intrigue, grand sweeping vistas, monumental struggles, catastrophists and stunning turns of fortune, pivotal confrontations, exhilarating victories, bitter sweet moments and of course& jubilant homecomings.

    But, if you think about it& these things...
    these ideas...
    they are the exact same elements that are required to tell even a run of the mill travel story.

    With that in mind...

    I am going to try my best to tell you a story: a story about a group of folks that embarked on their own Odyssey. An adventure that was the culmination of nearly two years of planning and became an amazing finally to what was an extraordinary summer and fall in the lives of a group of very dedicated young people and their families.



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    It’s quite the tale, but it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. First off its not a Disney story (which is why I didn’t post it in the TR section of the boards). But there were many aspects of the trip that closely mirror a good Disney TR (and believe it or not, Mickey will be making a couple of brief appearances).

    Hopefully you’ll be able to find something interesting in the midst of the mindless blather that is to follow. I do promise that I’ll give you fair warning when I’m about to make a left turn into terra obscura. That way you’ll be able to quickly hit the back button and be spared the needless loss of brain cells. If you do choose to stay... you will learn entirely too much about high school bands and marching competitions; the care and feeding of teenagers; fundraising and deluxe bus travel; accommodations in the Hackensack area and whirlwind tours of NYC and most importantly... a behind the scenes look at one of Americas modern holiday traditions: The Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade...



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    ...and just what it takes to be one of the very few units that actually performs live music during the event.



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    If you’ve had the opportunity (or misfortune) of reading one of my previous TRs, you will already have some insight into the kind of dementia and generally unfocused meandering that is likely to take place here. If not... you might want to take a look at my past efforts and use them as a guide for determining whether you really want to take on the burden of deciphering the broken and disconnected thought process that make up my written musings. Here’s a couple of links to those literary disasters; you can go check ‘em out for yourselves...




    Experiment-627
    (A Caribbean Double with a Wilderness Chaser)





    Youre writing a TR... Really?
    (Christmas at POR, 2010)





    I hope you decide to follow along and I’d really appreciate it if you’d also join in the conversation. Feel free to toss out questions, comments, observations, criticisms, witticisms, or any other ism that crosses you mind. And while I’m here, I want to thank you in advance for even checking in here in the first place. This was a once in a lifetime experience for my family and many others in the small town that I call home. I only hope that given my meager literary abilities; I can give this story the presentation it deserves.

    Like it or not though...
    I’m going to be making the attempt.




    Just maybe I’ll be able to get somebody to listen.


    [​IMG]

     
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  3. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

    GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes Dis Dad #469 . . . . "Nation Ford", SC

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  4. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

    GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes Dis Dad #469 . . . . "Nation Ford", SC

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    Flash Backs

    This is something new that y’all have to contend with in my current TR.
    The trip to New York and the parade are only half the story…
    The events that lead up to the trip were an adventure in their own right.



    01: The Big Reveal
    02: You want us to build what?




    :cool2:
     
  5. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

    GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes Dis Dad #469 . . . . "Nation Ford", SC

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    Just one more

    :rolleyes1
     
  6. Captain_Oblivious

    Captain_Oblivious DIS Dad #257

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    I'm in! Looking forward to it! popcorn::

    Awww...

    Anyway, as I was saying…

    Add in some explosions and fart jokes and it sounds like the perfect story!

    (see, I can bring any conversation down to my level)
     
  7. theduck619

    theduck619 DIS Dad #188

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    Count me in :thumbsup2
     
  8. FreezinRafiki

    FreezinRafiki Cold enough for ya?

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    I'll listen!

    Unless Mark starts telling fart jokes, then I'm outta here.
    Just kidding, I probably have a few of my own to contribute. And long bus rides are the perfect place for them. :)
     
  9. afwdwfan

    afwdwfan DIS Dad #460

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    D'OH! :headache:

    And a cyclops... don't forget the cyclops.

    Now that looks very intriguing.

    I don't think that will be a problem.:lmao:

    You're welcome in advance.

    Or at least to read.:rolleyes1

    Yeah, what he said. :thumbsup2
     
  10. Grooovertoo

    Grooovertoo DIS Dad #572

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    You had me at Trip Report...popcorn::
     
  11. baseballmickey

    baseballmickey DDC #644

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    I have a leather-bound copy of the Iliad and Odyssey that I have read several times, without any gun pointed to my head nor threatening glare from red pencil wielding authority figures.

    Will this TR be written in the style of epic poetry??? will every character have an epithet???

    Even if it isn't and they don't, count me in!
     
  12. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

    GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes Dis Dad #469 . . . . "Nation Ford", SC

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    Are you dragging it down, or bringing it up to a level that will be more suitable to more dads?

    (…being as I don’t think I’m going to get too many of the ladies to follow along. Most of them wouldn’t be seen over here in our corner of the boards. The beer cans and graffiti alone would send them into conniptions.)

    Welcome aboard!



    Consider yourself counted (specifically, you second)
    Welcome sir.



    It’s a Trap!!!

    I should believe this?

    That’s more like it. Add all the embellishment you like (it certainly couldn’t hurt).
    Welcome to the fray!



    Who let you in here? The place is already disreputable enough with out having to deal with a certified nemesis…

    Against my better judgment (as if I had any judgment), I suppose I’ll even welcome you to the party.
    A Cyclops you say. Hummmmm… I’ll have to look into that possibility.
    It was interesting to see, that’s for sure
    I didn’t think it would be (I need someone to add some interest to this pending disaster… even if it’s coming from you).

    Well… that’s a good start on the “smart-a**-isims”. You’re already having a positive influence on the TR (which is not very nemesis like… you’re supposed to detract, not add).



    Then you’re easily had.
    You may want to consider raising your standards considerably.

    Welcome aboard!


    Apparently you have excellent taste. Sooooo…
    What the heck are you doing signing on to this potential disaster?

    Epic poetry? Not quite. More like in the style of “South’rn Conversation”.
    Me and poetry (epic or otherwise) don’t much cotton to one an’other.
    Here… let me demonstrate:

    Roses are Red…
    Violets are blue…
    I hate rhyming…
    Zerba!


    See what I mean.

    The idea of epithets might be entertaining though. I could refer to myself as “Mangler of Language” (I don’t foresee anyone rushing in to defend me from the implications of that moniker). In any case… consider yourself welcomed to the adventure.
     
  13. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

    GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes Dis Dad #469 . . . . "Nation Ford", SC

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    Chapter 1: Five Buses
    (Day 1 - Monday)




    Part 1: We’re Off!!
    (and we’re leaving this morning as well)







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    According to the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics:

    “The Thanksgiving holiday period is among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year. During the 6-day Thanksgiving travel period, the number of long-distance trips (to and from a *destination 50 miles or more away) increases by 54 percent.

    Most long-distance holiday travel, about 91 percent, is by personal vehicle, such as by car. Only 5 to 6 percent of holiday trips are by air, while 2 to 3 percent are by bus, train, ship, or other mode.”


    Welcome to the world of two percent! It is estimated that of the USA’s 308 million soles, about 42.5 million got enough gumption to pack a bag or two and actually set out from their nice safe warm homes to travel toward parts known and unknown during the 2011 Thanksgiving Holidays. Using the Transportation Departments statistics, we know that about 850,000 of them were traveling via “bus, train or ship/other”. Just for arguments sake, we’ll divide that number up equally between the three categories and now we have about 283,000 fools that decided to take time out of their holidays to travel to where ever it was that they were headed on a bus. I can personally vouch for about 290 of those fools.

    I was one of them.


    As you already know (having mistakenly read this far already), we’re heading to New York, New York to take part in this little soiree…


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    Well… our kids are actually going for this reason. The adults are traveling along as teachers, chaperones, support staff (my particular category), and a few who were just tagging along for the once in a lifetime experience.

    This odyssey began at 3am in our house with the sounding of a rather obnoxious alarm clock. By 4:30 we were in front of the local high school setting our bags on the curb and staging all the gear that had to make the trip with us this day.


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    The buses should be here by 5:00, but since we have a little bit of time, let me introduce you to the players taking part in this little effort. First there’s this rather questionable collection of ragamuffins…


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    Of all the young’ens current attending Nation Ford High School (referred to as “NaFo” by the students and locals) in my home state of South Carolina, better than one in ten of them are taking part in the instrumental music program. That’s a fairly high percentage for any school. But these kids also have a penchant for working very hard. No, really… That’s how a group from a mid-sized school that is only just starting its fifth year of operation succeeded in getting the folks up at Macy’s to invite them to participate in this undertaking.

    Now, being as there are better than 160 kids in this outfit (and better than 120 other travelers), there is no way I can tell the story from everyone’s point of view. So you’ll have to settle for hearing it as one small part of the group remembers the events that are to follow. To be specific, this group here…


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    The boy on the left there is Max; sixteen at the time, and a proud member of the clan of Low Brass in the tribe of NaFo. The lovely girl on the right side (near that rather tall building in the background) is Tamara, proud mother and the stable rock around which my world revolves. That just leaves the scruffy guy there mucking up the middle of the photo. That’d be me… Rob. I could add a few superlatives to describe myself as well, but the bulk of them would be fairly derogatory and won’t really add much to the overall effect of the story (so I’ll just let you draw your own conclusions based on what you read through the rest of the TR). This time around we also had an additional person join the party…


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    The girl in the back row there is my sister in law: Elaine. Like the rest of us, she felt that this was just too rare an event to be passed up, and figured she might as well follow along. Well that’s the major characters in this “epic”, now I can see that the buses are here so I suspect that I ought to get to work. I’ll send the girls off to find us a decent spot on one of the “parent” buses, while I take care of a few “administrative tasks”.


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    If you hang on for just a minute or two I’ll tell you a bit more about that “administrative” process, throw out an explanation on the way this TR will work, and give you a look at the drive into the unknown (well… unknown for most of us anyway), but in the meantime, I’m in charge of packing Bus-2 over there and we want to be on the road by six, so I’d best get moving.







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  14. afwdwfan

    afwdwfan DIS Dad #460

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    I'd ask if the 2% went to Wall Street to visit the 1%, but I don't want any spoilers. :lmao::rotfl2::rotfl:

    Wow... you were .3% of the .1% of the 33.3% of the 2% :faint:


    How appropriate.
     
  15. theduck619

    theduck619 DIS Dad #188

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    I hope there will be a pic of you dancing on the Paino toy at FAO like Tom Hanks in Big :lmao:
     
  16. cj9200

    cj9200 DIS Dad #412

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    Ahh, school road trips. The joy of getting up at insane o'clock to drop the kid off at the school so she can get on the bus.

    Notice I said, "drop the kid off." Never stepped foot on one of those buses let alone let them close the door behind me. You are much braver than I am.
     
  17. Captain_Oblivious

    Captain_Oblivious DIS Dad #257

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    And even though they are all traveling at the same time as millions upon millions of other people and refusing to alter their schedules, they'll still all blame the DOT for traffic jams! :thumbsup2 But I'm not bitter or anything.

    What's the "other"? Hovercraft? Jitney? One of those two-person push-rail cars? :confused3

    Speaks well for the student population...

    :lmao::rotfl2::rotfl:
     
  18. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

    GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes Dis Dad #469 . . . . "Nation Ford", SC

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    :lmao:
    We did get a chance to head down toward that part of Manhattan, and while I’m sure that there were a few 1%-ers in the area, we were on a different mission. One that was more sobering and contemplative (but that’s not until Friday, so I’ve a good ways to go in this tale before I get to that spot on the map).

    I almost took the numbers on down to that extreme, but it started to make even my head hurt. Better you then me.

    I have a firm grasp on just exactly who and what I am.



    That would have been good… but… we just didn’t have time to get up to FAO Swartz on this trip, so that one didn’t happen (but I did get to poke around in a shop that has more in common with these boards then a Hollywood film)



    As an accomplished diver and a veteran of multiple trips to The World (in the company of variously sized gaggles of teenage girls)… I’d say that you have earned your “bravery stripes”.

    Welcome to this very un-Disney TR… I’m glad to have you along for the ride.


    BTW: I like “insane o'clock”… it’s about as good as “0-dark-30”. I may have to add that one to the vocabulary.




    Accepting responsibility is not very American. As a society, we’re glad to point out the failings and foibles of others (that IS… the American way), but the possibility of even considering… just for a moment or two… that we ourselves… may possibly be, shall we say, ummmm…. less then perfect…

    Weeeeelllllllll…

    But, it beings two great quotes to mind:
    “Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.” – Mark Twain
    "We have met the enemy and he is us." – Pogo (Walt Kelly)

    Thought just maybe you could shed a bit o light on that one. I was hopping it was Magic Carpet or something else as exotic as that, but I suspect it’s a combination of walking, hitch-hiking and parcel post.

    Thanks, I’ll pass that compliment on to the kid that earned it.

    School starts midway through August, but band starts in mid July. At the same time that the ball players begin doing two-a-days, these kids start a week and a half of all-days. They work (out in the SC sun & heat) every day during school and three to four hours after school three days out of five. They also give up two to three Saturdays in September for all day rehearsals.

    True Story…
    On several occasions (and I do mean “several”) various new coaches have recommended to our directors that their kids probably needed to be doing some distance training or weight training to build up their endurance. Our director always meets this suggestion with an invitation for that coach to come out to one of the afternoon rehearsals and see if they can keep up with his “non-athletes”. Most except the challenge, all have at least come out and watched. All of them within an hour of arriving came to the same conclusion… that just maybe some of their kids needed to come out for some extra “band training” to build up their endurance.

    There are two groups at school that get it though. The administration staff (because they see them working all afternoon out their windows), and the ROTC officers and cadets (because they’re working out of a similar playbook). Not every program is like this… but both of the schools in our town are, and our kids are the better off for it.
     
  19. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

    GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes Dis Dad #469 . . . . "Nation Ford", SC

    Joined:
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    Chapter 1: Five Buses
    (Day 1 - Monday)




    Part 2: Space Management​

    (Well… then we’ll find a way to make it fit…)







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    Most anyone that has ever been to a live concert has at least an inkling about the heard of trucks and small army of roadies required to entertain an audience just for an evening. If you or your children have ever been a member of any kind of band or orchestra, then you’ve likely seen firsthand that moving a group of musicians from point-a to point-b can be quite the undertaking. For those that have never really had to worry about such bits of minutia, let me take just a minute to show you what I’m on about here.


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    That last picture is our group of young musicians as they were getting set up to perform during one of this year’s competitions. You’ll notice that on top of having to get 165 kids to this local, we also had to get all the rest of the gear that you see there moved as well. That includes instruments, uniforms, props, hardware, food and even a “gator” (which is cross between a golf cart and a tractor) to move everything around once we arrive. It takes a tractor-trailer to move most of it and sometimes we need extra trailers as well. Here are some shots of the load out after that particular competition…


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    Now imagine that you’re going to move the same outfit several hundred miles for a one-week trip using only buses to haul everything (which now also includes clothing and personal items). That’s not something that’s going to happen without a plan (and a good one for that matter). One thing that helped was that we no longer needed to move any props and we were not bringing any of the xylophones or marimbas. That’s a good thing, but we still needed to pack all the horns, the rest of the drums, uniforms and any other miscellaneous gear that might come handy (and all that had to get stowed under the buses before the luggage could be loaded).
    How on earth…

    Well, we’re pretty lucky to have dedicated volunteers to help with this kind of problem. One of them is a retired engineer who took time to travel over to the bus garage and measure the storage bays on the buses that we were hiring. He then came up with a load plan to best use the space that we had available. That first picture at the top of this post is part of that plan (specifically the one that stuffed the five bass drums, six field-snares and the rest of the percussion into a single bay). Here’s another page from that same playbook…


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    That’s the plan I was assigned to execute which loaded 26 low brass horns into another one of the bays. It took two more bays just for the tubas; two for the uniforms, another one for the “shakos” (the type of hats that go with our uniforms) and then the rest of the horns and bags had to fit into the space that remained. To pull this off we meet up at the school the day before.

    While the kids were going through one last rehearsal…


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    …we were inside packing everything up.


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    This is one of those times when “the plan” actually did come together. Once the buses arrived, we had the whole shootin’ match loaded up and everyone aboard in about 45 minutes. Not too shabby.


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    Now before we let off he breaks and hit the gas, let me take one more moment of your time to talk about a slightly different kind of space management; the space that will make up this here TR. If you’ve read any of my previous trip reports (and that’s not something that you have to admit to in public), but if you have… then you are aware that from time to time I will through in an aside that has been dubbed: “A Bonus Feature”. These are posts with additional information (or sometimes a free gift) that I decide to toss in along with the rest of the story. There is no rhyme or reason for when these will appear or for the content of said feature. It just depends on what strikes my fancy.

    As such you’re welcome to ignore them.
    I mean… how would I know if you do?

    But it seems only fair to warn you that with this TR, you will also run across an additional annoyance:

    “The Flashback”.


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    This is not just the story of an effort to spend a couple of hours strolling down the middle of several Manhattan thoroughfares. It’s also the story of how we got to this point and the more important work that took place prior to the expedition. These will cover a bit more ground per post then the parts of the actual chapters, but the back-story is just as compelling (well… to me anyway) as the trip to NY. You’ll get the full effect of what these will entail soon enough. Feel free to treat them with the same deference that you’d reserve for the Bonus Features.


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    I can ask no more than that.



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    Well… I see that Max has found himself a spot along with the rest of his cohorts on Bus-3 so it must be time to get this circus train off the siding and on down the line. I found that the girls had settled in as well and staked us out a spot about halfway back on Bus-4. So for the next twelve hours or so, my field of vision will pretty muck look like this…


    [​IMG]


    It’s 5:54am… the buses are just about to pull out onto the interstate, and I don’t think we could realistically stuff anything else into these big lumbering land-barges. It must be time to roll.





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  20. afwdwfan

    afwdwfan DIS Dad #460

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    Wow, an engineer was able to come up with a plan to load everything??? :scared1:

    and they still can't design a decent road.:sad2:

    :thumbsup2

    Oh fantastic. You're writing a trip report in the style of LOST. I just hope your TR has a better ending.:rolleyes1
     
  21. Captain_Oblivious

    Captain_Oblivious DIS Dad #257

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    It's not very human, let alone American. Hence the Good Lord's instruction about removing the plank in your own eye before worrying about the speck in another's. I still have trouble applying that one. :guilty:

    I like the Magic Carpet idea. I'd say it also includes rocket sleds, guinea-pig-powered rowboats, and traveling by map. :thumbsup2

    That's awesome!

    Behind-the-scenes people never, ever get enough credit for what they do.

    Let's hear it for engineers! :woohoo::cool1::banana::yay:

    Impressive. :darth:

    I do love it when a plan comes together.

    Really? Hadn't noticed. :rotfl2:

    Cool! Special effects!

    As Andy mentioned, it would also be appropriate to use flash-forwards, a la LOST. As long as you don't end up in Purgatory at the end.

    Hopefully they have some good movies on this bus.
     

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