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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    Care to comment of that one Mark?


    Well… I can guarantee that you won’t end up in purgatory.

    Actually… I called that one. I watched the pilot episode along with the rest of America, and didn’t find anything that engrossing in the story to begin with. I said that evening that it looked to be pointless to me and I wouldn’t be investing any more time it. Obviously, they’re already dead and we’re just going to watch them work out the end of their lives and determine where each one will end ultimately up. I have witnesses to prove it. I just didn’t expect it to take seven years to be proven right, and I was more disappointed then satisfied to ultimately be correct.

    Sad…



    Traveling by map you say… let the adventure begin

    No… but that’s not why we’re doing it either, so I guess it’s a bit of a wash.

    You need to be paying more attention

    We’ll see….
     
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  3. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

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

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    Bonus Feature 1:





    Jamie Wants Big Boom




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    For my first Bonus Feature, I’ve decided that it would be best if I were to satisfy a request form one of my more dedicated readers. I have so few dedicated readers that neglecting them would be foolish. But it would be even more foolish to ignore a dang good idea as well. And lets face it… I’m already boring y’all with my little TR on a topic that doesn’t suit the masses and also has precious little to do with Disney in the first place.

    So… when Mark requested that I add copious amounts of explosions…

    I mean really… just how could I resist such a request.



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    The first one up there is one of the best compilations from one of my favorite programs that pays regular tribute to the concept of rapid oxidation: Mythbusters.

    These folks do such a fine job of mixing, mayhem and science that they really do deserve out attention. And so… we’ll give them some. Here are a few of the more entertaining conflagrations and bits of high-speed disassembly.


    First… one of the most famous: The Cement Truck

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    Next… a look at the exploding water heater. What these puppies lack in the ability to generate a mushroom cloud, they make up for in “elegant carnage”… especially on extreme Slo-Mo.


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    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


    Well… since I mentioned the concept of mushroom clouds, it seems only fitting that I present you with one. So here you go… one “Big Boom”


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    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


    An now for something completely different, but just as visually devastating (not to mention: entertaining): Snowplow Evolution. Even Darwin would and been struck dumb by the intensity of this collision.


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    And nor for something even more completely different… but related… and funny.
    That’s a win, win, win in my book.

    Y’all enjoy and I’ll put up another part of the actual TR in a little while.


    [​IMG]

     
  4. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

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

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    Flash Back 1:





    The Big Reveal​

    (April 15, 2010)



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    Now first off… I don’t really expect you to actually watch that video up there. But… if you do (boring though it may be…), then you don’t really need to bother reading my first “Flash Back” post. However, it’s kind’a like choosing between a hanging and a firing squad… the outcome in either case is not particularly good for your continued wellbeing. You may want to choose option “C” and ignore this post completely.



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    The Process…



    The folks that in charge of putting together the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (and there is an entire department of the company devoted to this exercise) receive reams of applications yearly form different groups that want to take part in this modern American tradition. A lot of them are local groups that apply regularly. A lot more are from farther afield and have either big dreams or an interesting back-story. Either way, there is a lot of paperwork and accompanying film and videos that the organizers have to wade through before coming up with a preliminary list. Generally applications need to be in their hands by the day of the parade to be considered for the one that will kick-off two years from that date.


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    Along with the balloon volunteers, the troops of clowns and the dance and acrobatic ensembles that want to join in (celebrities are invited and don’t have to apply), one of the largest groups applying are the collage and high school bands. This seems obvious, as bands are traditional parade fair…


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    The trick is that while several hundred will apply annually, only about ten will be accepted in any one year, and… they’re mighty picky about the ones they choose.



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    The Art of Rejection…



    It’s that last tidbit back there, that “picky-ness” thing, which lead our teaching staff to put in an application in the first place. Their intention was not to be selected, but rather to be turned down.


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    Now why on earth would you want to be turned away?


    Answer: to get the critique documents. Here… let me explain a bit farther.

    Nation Ford HS opened as a school in 2007 with just freshmen, sophomores and juniors (a fairly common practice for new high schools). This was a bit traumatic, as our little town has had only one high school for the prior century or so years. But growth in the whole area had reached the point where two schools had become a necessity. Like all other aspects of the school, the music program was a work in progress. That being said, they had accomplished much in two years including: two second place finishes in the marching seasons (while also taking 1st place in the music performance categories both times), two consecutive superior ratings in the spring concert festivals, high percentages of students earning spots in the region and state honors bands, and two consecutive OBA’s (SC Outstanding Band Award) and that last one takes everything else into consideration and is not easily achieved. At the time the application was turned in (one quarter of the way through their third year) they’d added to that list: a state championship in the 2009 marching season and a respectable first appearance in a national marching competition (competing against 97 other programs from across the country; three quarters of which were two to three times the size of our school).


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    All that sounds impressive, but there is still a lot of room for continued growth and improvement. The more you expect out of your kids… the more they will produce. There are very few parents (much less teachers) that will disagree with this.

    By submitting applications to a national or international caliber events, those organizers and judges will do you the favor of explaining the points where they believe you can improve your program. They’ll tell you exactly what kind of standards you should be aiming for and what type of items need to appear on you résumé. That’s useful info for a staff that is trying to build the best music program possible. It’s basically a checklist of the kind of activities and accomplishments that will garner your program national attention and a road map of the things you’ll need to do to get there.


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    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly




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    So it was with no more then a goal of getting a few opinions in mind that the directors submitted an application in late November of 2009 (just under the deadline wire) and then just got back to business. There was a lot to do yet in the spring of 2010. We didn’t expect to hear back form that selection process for a while as our understanding was that the “Thanks for Applying” notices generally go out in late April or May. But that’s not the way it turned out. Instead of the critique list we wanted… A fell’a showed up and said that the kind of production and growth that our kids had shown in 2.5 years was phenomenal; especially for a school with a medium sized student body from a smaller town. Given these assets, the Macy’s folks wanted to invite us to bring the kids up to be part of the 85 anniversary Thanksgiving Day Parade in November of 2011.


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    That’s the Good! Now there’s the bad. Well… really it’s the unfortunate. It was the current group of upper-classmen that did the bulk of the work it took to get to this point. These kids would be graduating and heading of to collage in barely two months. Needless to say… they were heading on toward bigger and better things, and weren’t going to be able to be part of this little party. For the most part, these kids were good with that. They’d had a great run, they’d just been on a major trip this past year, and it was time to move on. In general they may have been just a little disappointed, but mostly they were happy for the younger folks.


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    So all was right with the world… right? Nope. We had a problem. This was where the ugly came in. To be able to pull this off… we needed to get busy right now on the process of raising the funds needed to pull it off. On the up side we had about a year and a half to get it put together. The whole process was going to require a concerted effort one the part of all the kids. Especially the rising seniors…

    who themselves would be graduating…

    in 2011…

    in June of 2011…

    Ummmm… “Huston, we’ve had a problem”.


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    Now that’s just not right!

    Like the current seniors, the junior class was instrumental (yah I said it… go ahead and take your shots at it), in accomplishing the goals that got us invited in the first place. The first thing that took place after the invitation was received, was a meeting between the directors and the administration to figure out a way to have a senior trip up to NY for the kids in the class of 2011. To the credit of our principal and her staff… they immediately agreed that this was both fitting and proper and that it would be done.



    So now… All was right with the world



    [​IMG]
     
  5. afwdwfan

    afwdwfan DIS Dad #460

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    KABOOOOM!!!!

    Wow, I have a hard time just planning 2 days in advance.

    Hmmm... interesting concept.

    Looks like somebody screwed up and did too good of a job on the application. :lmao::rotfl2::rotfl:


    It's a shame that they missed out... at least they can take pride in the fact that they were the foundation upon which a top tier program was built.

    :headache: Money... why does it always have to be a limiting factor in everything?

    When did that trip take place? Was it for the entire senior class or just the band?
     
  6. Captain_Oblivious

    Captain_Oblivious DIS Dad #257

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    :sad1: <---Tears of joy

    I don't know how I can thank you enough! You picked some of my all-time favorite episodes, too. The water heater one is an all-time classic. It's so rare when a myth is not only confirmed, but confirmed in such spectacular fashion. And the rocket sled has a special place in my heart as well.

    I can see why you were helpful in this regard--it's like making ADR's at Disney World! :thumbsup2

    Sounds counter-intuitive, but your explanation makes a lot of sense.

    If only more practiced that philosophy...

    :eek: :woohoo:

    That is a shame. I guess they knew ahead of time they were applying for 2011, though.

    Ultra-classy move right there. :thumbsup2
     
  7. Captain_Oblivious

    Captain_Oblivious DIS Dad #257

    Joined:
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    :sad2:

    I think farming has been around eons longer than road engineering, and yet they STILL haven't found a way to make vegetables taste good.
     
  8. FreezinRafiki

    FreezinRafiki Cold enough for ya?

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    Ok, Rob. I've caught up on my trip report, and I've found time to catch up on some others, namely yours. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a band geek by any stretch of the imagination. I took up the trumpet for about 4 months in 5th grade and that was that. But, having watched my girlfriend (whom I eventually got around to marrying) perform in the marching band, I know the effort that goes into the production. Of course, she played the flute so her equipment load was significantly lighter.

    Anyway, congratulations to the Nation Ford (is he any relation to Gerald Ford?) High School Band! I can't wait to read about the rest of the adventure!
     
  9. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

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

    Joined:
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    Merry Christmas


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    Trombone Tony decided to drop by this morning and wish all y’all a very merry Christmas!

    And just maybe I’ll get a little bit more of this here TR put some time this week end as well​
     
  10. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

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

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    Gesundheit! And your welcome.

    So do we… like everything else in life… we just sort of muddled through.

    The folks in charge of the program are very creative and very good at what they do.

    You might say that. It’s certainly not the result we were anticipating.

    Very true… on both counts. It will be interesting to see what adventures they head off on after Max graduates.

    If I could come up with an answer to that one…
    Well…

    I just wish I could come up with an answer to that one.

    This was for the rising seniors (juniors at the time of the announcement). They took about thirty of them up during the Spring break (March 2011) and from all accounts, they had a marvelous time. It also gave the staff and some of the chaperones a chance to figure out how some aspects of the larger trip might play out.
     
  11. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

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

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    And you are welcome sir. As one of my mentors in the “art of TR construction”, it seemed only proper that I honor such a perfectly reasonable request.

    There was much about this entire expedition that was reminiscent of a trip to WDW.

    Much…

    I will say this a lot in the confines of this TR, but the directors, support staff and administration at this school are amongst the finest folks working in public education. They all deserve better then to be political punching bags.

    ::yes::

    We knew… everyone applying has the same problem. If you’re accepted, it will be for the festivities at least eighteen months into the future. We try to do some type of major trip every other year so that there are opportunities for every young’en to experience something new and be able to perform somewhere other then home.

    Ultra Classy lady… our principal.




    Well as another of my mentors in the “art of TR” I’m certainly glad to have you along. Like my TR on cruising, this one is meant to be “instructional”. You don’t have to “get it” to read along, and if I do this correctly, everyone will “get it” or at least understand it by the time I arrive at the end. Who knows, one or all of your young’ens may have additional musical talents just waiting to be pulled out by one or another fine teacher of the arts (sounds to me like it’s in your family’s blood already). Before you know it, you yourself my well be sitting in a booster club meeting of some type saying… “They're going where… to do what… Really!?!?”

    After the panic subsides, it’s actually quite the rush.


    :rotfl:

    Hummm… I know your just being “Barry” here, but you’ve stumbled onto a point of frustration for us. We have a hard time getting people to even say the name of the school correctly, much less understand why it’s called what it’s called (and there is history involved so folks naturally tune out once you try to explain). I may have to add one of my dreaded Bonuses Features on this topic...

    (My... but that little joke may now prove to be costly :lmao: )
     
  12. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

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

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




    Part 3: El Camino​




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    Elwood: ”It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark... and we're wearing sunglasses.”

    Jake: ”Hit it.”





    How do you make a twelve-ish hour bus ride seem to be entertaining?
    Hummmmm… let me think about that for a moment…


    [​IMG]


    Well… short of adding in a cross-country chase and wrecking about seventy-five police cruisers…


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    I don’t know either, but that’s the task I set for myself.
    If I were y’all, I’d be skipping this update (and probably the entire TR for that matter), but me, I’ve got no choice in the matter. Like any good curse, I’m both eternal and reoccurring. So… out of a need to meet that standard, I have to put up an update for the next part of this journey.


    The first phase of the mission can actually be summed up pretty easily: “It was dark”.

    OK, just to add a bit more detail... We pulled onto north bound I-77 just three miles shy of the NC boarder at about 6am in the midst of rain, fog and oppressive blackness. Most of us were still three-quarters asleep, and the rest were tired form stuffing all the gear into the cargo bays, so the two hours it took to cross North Carolina were little more than a caffeine deprived blur. When the sun did finally make an appearance, it had little effect on our surroundings as the Southern Piedmont was still immersed in fog and mist.


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    We made the Virginia boarder by about 8am and stopped at the welcome center for our first stretch of the legs.


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    And an opportunity to solve any other problems that may have arisen now that everyone was more or less awake…


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    Once we’d collectively gotten a little bit of relief and clambered back onto the buses, we found that we had new drivers. The first group had made the drive from the garage in Spartanburg SC (nearly three hours to the west of our starting point) before picking us up and then made the drive up to Virginia. Legally, they weren’t exactly at the ragged edge of their daily driving limits, but there was no way they could make the entire drive up to Hackensack and this was the easiest spot on the map for the bus company to orchestrate the switch. With the administrative tasks cleared up, we headed back onto the interstate and started climbing.

    It’s right about here on the map that the foothills come to an abrupt end. The next fifteen to twenty miles of highway travels more up then along and the road hugs the edge of the mountain sides. On a good day, there are some spectacular views of the farms and small towns in the valleys below (I’ve seen it many times while traveling up the WV to visit relatives), but the fog was still smothering the countryside and there was little to see this morning except the tops of the mountains rising up out of the mist.


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    That’s not a lake in that last picture. It’s the top of a fog bank that was probably a half-mile or more deep and engulfing the valley below it. Shortly after I snapped this picture, we reached the plateau around Wytheville and turned onto North I-81. We’d spend about half of the day on this stretch of asphalt basically traveling up the Shenandoah Valley.



    Lacking any better entertainment, it was at this point where something Disney would make its first appearance in this non-Disney TR. This would be in the form of a movie. Now, we happened to br riding on the first of the two “parent” buses, but in truth they were “family” buses. A decent percentage of the passengers were younger siblings along for the adventure, so with age appropriateness in mind, the first film of the day was the Pixar adventure:

    “The Incredibles”


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    Yah… that’s a bit blurry, but buses bounce around a good bit and that’s pretty much how it looked as I half watched, half listened and half stared out the window (that’s the new math at work there). Regardless of the calculations involved… this film did a fine job of making the ride up to Stanton Va. fairly painless. This spot on the map also provided us with another rest stop and our second chance to hop off the buses for a spell.


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    Unlike the first stop along the way…
    this one was just a might less - shall we say - hospitable…


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    I’m sure that once they're done remodeling the facilities here, it'll be a very nice place to take a break, but for now at least, we had to make do with what was available.


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    Well… it certainly beat the trees and bushes, but still…

    Anyway you could also tell that as a group we were starting to get a might punchy…


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    What do y’all think… would Dennis make a good hood-ornament or not?
    I like it myself.

    While were stopped, let me introduce you to Dave…


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    …the fellow in charge of Bus-4 and a fine driver.
    Believe me, anyone who can maneuver a tour bus through downtown Manhattan during the Thanksgiving holidays and not lose their sanity (or our lives) wins the right to the title.

    Dave earned the right.


    Well, as the old punch-line goes: “Alright, everyone back on your heads!”
    It was time to get back on the highway. Low and behold, Disney made another appearance at this point. Well, Pixar did. The film for this part of the trip was “Up” (and if you can watch the first bit of this film and not shed a tear or six, you ain’t gots no feeling at’all). Entertaining as it was (and it was), it still only lasted a couple hours, so we spent a good bit of time looking out the windows.

    As my son pointed out latter on…
    this is what Virginia looks like:


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    That pretty much sums up the whole state (at least the large chunk of it that is traversed by I-81). You could have closed your eyes for a half hour and opened them back up again and the scenery would basically have been the same. In a word… “pastoral”. Nice enough, but like most other Interstates, there just was not too much visual stimulation to be had. After a bit we left VA and entered a twenty-mile stretch of W.Va. and then hit Maryland. We all rather liked Maryland; it wasn’t that the state was all that amazing; it was just that we got to stop for lunch.


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    Chick-Fil-A anyone?
    Well that’s where our bus came to rest.

    We split the five buses up across all the various fast food venues in the general vicinity of Hagerstown, Maryland to make the stop as short as possible. Fast-food chains aren’t high up on the list of new experiences, but they do know how to quickly handle a busload of people. Forty-five minutes and a couple of chicken sandwiches later and we were back on the road.

    Five more miles up the way and we hit what for many of us was an almost earth shattering experience…

    We crossed the Mason-Dixon Line.



    You scoff…

    But for folks that were born and raised in “The South”… that’s almost like losing a small part of your sole. We were strangers in a strange land now. It was almost as if we’d actually landed on Mars.

    I mean... well, here…
    just look for yourselves…



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    Hummmmmm… you know…
    now that I’m sitting here looking at that again…

    It looks a whole lot like Virginia did (and that looked a whole lot like South Carolina). Ya’ know…. just maybe it wasn’t all that Earth shattering an event after all. But then again, I wouldn’t be much of a South’rn Story Teller, if’n I didn’t make-out that at least some otherwise minor detail was a matter of life and death…

    now would I?

    About an hour-ish into Pennsylvania and we crossed the Susquehanna River and entered the outskirts of the state capitol: Harrisburg.


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    No, no, no, no… not that river!

    This one…


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    (that was actually a lot prettier than it looks… the mix of gloom, bus windows, motion and camera came together to make it less impressive that it might otherwise have been.)


    It’s about this spot on the map that several things happened. None of them were particular noteworthy in and of themselves, but being board out of our skulls, any kind of change was welcome. Now as I was saying, several things changed, First we left the now mind numbingly familiar confines of I-81 and begin traveling via East I-78 bound for the Lehigh Valley
    (odd… the landscape didn’t really change much.)


    [​IMG]


    Save for the Hexes painted on the side of that barn, it looks a whole lot like the rest of the country we’d just traversed. The other couple of things that changes were the movie (which was now the still family friendly “National Treasure”), and the weather. Rain began coming down in earnest about here and we really wouldn’t see the sun again for the rest of the day.

    Truth be told…
    we wouldn’t see the sun again for nearly three days.

    Long about the time that Nicolas Cage was finding a vast treasure hidden beneath Trinity Church (a real spot that we’d be getting a better look at in a few days… the church that is… not the treasure… dang…) as I was saying, it was along about this time that we crossed into New Jersey (but I did take a moment just before that to wave at Dave as we drove through the Easton / Nazareth area). We made our next stop of the day just inside Jersey…


    [​IMG]


    (Nice eh…)

    …and then picked up I-287 heading north toward a rendezvous with Interstate 80 (the sun was long gone by now and there really wasn’t much to see at this point except billboards and taillights).

    After this last northward sojourn and a little bit of eastward progress on the “Eight-O”, we pulled off to partake of a bit of dinner. So… what exotic new type of cuisine would our collect of bleary-eyed Southern travelers encounter now that we were completely ensconced in that mythical foreign realm previously known to us only as: “The North”?

    Why fast food of course.

    Surprised?

    Yah… we weren’t either.

    The five Cross Country Lines buses pulled into the Willowbrook Mall, conveniently located in scenic Wayne, NJ (07470), and commenced to disgorge their human contents directly into this fine gourmet establishment’s well stocked food court.


    [​IMG]


    Well… we’re finally just about done traveling for the day. From here it’s only about another fifteen-ish minutes until we arrive at our designated base of operations for the rest of this expedition. So, if y’all will excuse me for just a bit here… I’m going to go on in and grab me a bite to eat. Then we’ll get back to the story. For now, the only question is whether I’m just in the mood for "toasted white bread" or hungry enough to down "four whole fried chickens and a Coke"…

    I s'pect I'd better "Think" about that one for a moment or two.



    [​IMG]
     
  13. afwdwfan

    afwdwfan DIS Dad #460

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    :scared1: I think the bus driver made a wrong turn! :rolleyes1

    Movies... lots and lots of movies.

    Oh, and pranks... especially when somebody falls asleep. Not that I'd know anything about it.

    Hmmm... That would be entertaining too.:thumbsup2

    Wow, you pulled over to use a port a pot? Why not just go on the bus. I'm sure they had facilities.:lmao:

    In what way?:confused3

    He's no Lotso.

    Is there really a choice to make here? Four might be a bit much, but I'd give it a shot. :thumbsup2 :lmao:
     
  14. FreezinRafiki

    FreezinRafiki Cold enough for ya?

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    That's kind of what I was going for. You see, I'm what they call an "enabler". :thumbsup2

    Vent the tailpipe into the passenger cabin. That's really the only way.

    Or that. :thumbsup2

    Sounds like some very good scenery...
    ...but you still got to see more of that that I have of the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. Every time we drive from WI to FL, we hit that stretch in the dead of night. :headache:

    Cool!

    "Baseball is 90% mental -- the other half is physical." -Yogi Berra

    You're in some fine company there, Rob.

    Maybe for the womenfolk, but I'd just as soon use a bush.


    Welcome to Civilization!
     
  15. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

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

    Joined:
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    Could be, but these busses have a similar turbo drive as that found in Barry’s van, so we were able to correct for the error without too many folks realizing what had happened.

    I ain’t buyin’ it.
    We need to hear some of the stories that go with that comment.
    Yes… yes it would (have been)

    True, but… while each bus certainly had one onboard port-a-pot… it would have to be shared by 55 to 60 people per bus (and much more importantly) wouldn’t be emptied or cleaned out until after we got back home at the end of the week and the busses returned to their garage.

    It was in our best interest, to not use them if at all possible.

    From my perspective… it would have been the same. However, when viewed from the perspective of the 160 or so women and young girls...

    Granted…
    But I know the guy and I think he’s reading along with this as well, so I’ll have to say, that he can be just about as diabolical as Lotso (sorry about that Dennis, but I had to throw someone under The bus here).

    It depends… I’m more like Jake when it comes to my choice of dinning offerings, so I’d probably be going with the chickens as well.




    Yes you are… but do you really want me to go into a Bonus Feature on something as esoteric as colonial trade routes, river navigation and crossings, railroad development in northern SC and the history of the local Indian tribe?

    It’d put the lot of ya’ into a trance that Prince Charming couldn’t break.

    Good point.


    you need to go on your own Rust Belt Road Trip
    (and for that matter… so do I)


    Yogi and I are kindred spirits (I think it has something to do with the number 12)

    I do believe that you spotted the root of the problem right off there.


    I suspect that most of the folks on these busses, would beg to differ…


    Myself, I’m originally form a boarder state so I can just sit back and watch the rest of ya’ savage each other (it’s at least as good as reality TV)
     
  16. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

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

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Messages:
    6,099

    Chapter 1: Five Buses
    (Day 1 - Monday)




    Part 4: No Place Like Home ​




    [​IMG]





    As Dorothy would finally figure out… there is no place like home. And our final destination for the day fit the category in so much as this was no place like any place that any of us would normally call home. Until now that is. For the next several days… this was home.

    Welcome to the Hilton - Hasbrouck Heights


    [​IMG]


    Well… that’s how the folks in charge want you to see it anyway. Those images are from the official website, and show you exactly how the building, lobby and a standard room do appear. But we always saw it from the perspective of the back packing lot and the entrance to the “Terrace Level” facilities. Now don’t go readin’ in that I’m complaining about the place. No sir-re-bub… as hotels go, this was pretty nice and honestly the folks running the place did good by us. It’s just that given the size and nature of the group, we didn’t see much of the front door or main lobby (fine by me).



    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


    New Digs




    The buses pulled into the back lot at about eight thirty Monday evening and being one of the folks handling the gear I was one of the first off the coaches.


    [​IMG]



    The kids and the tag-along family members were asked to cool their heels on the buses for just a few more moments while the crew busted open the cargo bays and got busy. The bags were put to the curb while the horns and gear got staged over to the breezeway. While this was going on, one of the managers came out to welcome us in and just happened to catch me first. He offered to show me where they were planning to have us store the gear, and being as that’s exactly what I was needin’ to know at that moment, I told him to: “Lead on MacDuff”.

    If I haven’t said this enough, let me repeat it again… our directors are amongst the best around. Martin Dickey, the head director, has been in the business for nearly thirty years teaching in Tennessee, and the Carolinas. He’s done a good bit of traveling with band kids and he’s gotten rather good at it. Having over the years taken high school kids as far as the Rose Parade in Pasadena and even to Hawaii to perform at the USS Arizona Memorial (man I’d liked to have been part of that last undertaking), he has learned how to plan ahead and take care of his kids and staff… very well. Case in point… He found and booked us into this hotel early enough to also be able to reserve a great deal of additional space for this little excursion. The first thing the evening manager showed me was one of the largest of the terrace floor conference rooms. He said that since these doors could be locked, this was where we could stow the gear. Compared to the storage facilities we have back at home… this was a virtual palace. Here’s how it looked after we got all the heavy gear in the door…


    [​IMG]


    I was just floored by the space available… we could have brought every single bit of gear we owned lock, stock and barrel up from SC and still had room left over in here. If we packed it right. This alone was going to make the job of getting everything in, arranged and handled a cinch for the entire week.


    [​IMG]


    Then to top it off… The fell’a pointed out that we also had exclusive use of the next two attached conference rooms for “relaxing and recreation”, and the entire grand ballroom for meetings, meals and indoor rehearsals if necessary.

    Recon mission completed… I got my rump back outside and let the rest of the crew know what was up and where everything could be stowed. It was also just about now that everyone else was jumping off of our humble chariots and hunting down their individual bits of baggage. They had orders to tote their stuff inside, line everything up along the walls in the hallways outside the grand ballroom and then grab a seat inside said ballroom. While this was going on, the members of the Pit-Crew finished loading and organizing our fine new storage cavern (as “room” was just completely inadequate as a description) and then we retreated on toward the ballroom ourselves. I found Tamara and Elaine toward the back just as the directors were starting to explain the ground rules for the week.


    [​IMG]


    Basically… we’d be doing all our gatherings here in the ballroom and this would include breakfast each morning. Secondly, once someone was assigned to a room, no one really had any business being on any floor other than their own or down here in the basement. This being the case, none of us would be bothering any of the other guests. To make things easier to control, all of the girls were bunked on the seventh floor and the guys and “tag-alongs” were pretty much spread out on five and six. This arrangement also insured that it would be immediately obvious if anyone were in the wrong place.

    Now that we all knew the law, it was time to get settled in. Starting with the girls, they called out names four at a time, handed out room keys, and sent each group on their way. The kids all had a chance to put together their own quartets up front, and anyone left over was grouped randomly after that. When the master list got down to the group that included Max, those four fellas ended up in room 634. Once the kids were all squared away, they started handing out room assignments for the adults and family groups. As it turns out, we ended up in room 630, just two doors down for Max. What this meant was that we could keep a bit of an eye on him, without having to be overtly watching over him. Truth be told… we really didn’t need to worry about it. The kids were so well behaved in general across the entire week that you’d have never known you were staying on a floor crowded with teenage boys. I’m told that it was a bit nosier up on seven… but only early on during the first night. The chaperones got all of that foolishness straightened out in short order and things settled into a proper routine pretty quickly.



    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
    A Room With a View




    As it turns out… room 630 also happened to be on the east side of the building. Why is this even a concern? Because it meant that we’d actually have a decent view of midtown Manhattan just across the Hudson (an added bonus the likes of which you’d be paying extra for were this WDW). But… having an opportunity to experience something does not guarantee that you will experience something. The weather was still miserable and mist and fog obscured everything. As for the first evening… we’d certainly have a fine view… it was just a fine view of buses spread across a wet parking lot.


    [​IMG]


    I’m sure you noticed that there are a few more than five buses down there. For now, just remember that you saw ‘em there and I’ll tell you more about it a bit later on.

    Since there wasn’t much to be looking at or taking pictures of, we set about getting the room in order. Well… the girls got to that particular task. I had other business to attend to.

    Business, business.

    In order to be allowed to travel during the Thanksgiving holidays at all, I had to inform my employers way in advance. This I did, but that didn’t ensure that they would ultimately allow me to actually use that reserved vacation time. There are a number of processes that take place around this time of year which require my time and data processing skills to organize and deal with. Normally the function that was at issue in this instance is supposed to be dealt with by early October, but things got pushed back into November. On the Thursday before we were to leave I was informed that this chunk of data would be ready by Monday evening and that immediate turn around was a nonnegotiable necessity
    (apparently, there was no way they could even consider waiting one more week).

    “So… a failure to plan on your part translates into an emergency on my part!”

    I was so ticked off that I actually said that… out loud… in a rather angry voice… to my immediate manager… while standing on the work floor around the rest of the folks I work with. Obviously… this is not something that you really want to be doing if you intend to remain employed in the US (did I remember to say that I was just a might ticked off at the time). As it turns out, my manager basically agreed, but this did not change the fact that “we”… meaning “I”… had a problem. The “solution” was that I had to agree to bring my antiquated work issue laptop along for the ride and check for these files of doom as soon as we arrived.


    [​IMG]


    If they were available, then I had to get all the information handled, turned around and available by the next morning. This would end up being a major pain in the… well… shall we say: it was an inconvenience. Worse, it ended up being a waste of time as well. In their brilliance and obvious super-human perfection, the higher powers who were so concerned about the turnaround time for this critical data, still couldn’t finalize said data (which was supposed to have been finalized back in September in the first place and still would not be ready until early December as it turned out).

    OK… rant over, and I do apologize for going off like that, but it was a major part of my evening for the first few nights. There’s actually more to this story, but you’ve suffered enough, so let’s just say that once I was done wasting my time, it was also about time to call it a night. Oh, well… tomorrow’s another day…



    Wait a minute… that’s the wrong movie!



    Besides… it won’t really be until tomorrow that we’d realize that we’re not in Kansas any more
    (nor South Carolina neither).





    [​IMG]

     
  17. cj9200

    cj9200 DIS Dad #412

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2006
    Messages:
    3,959
    It really stinks that your employer demands that you work on vacation. Especially when it is just a waste of time.

    Great update. Bet valet was happy to see you guys pull up. I remember one of the "rules talk" during one of DD's trips was a warning to not put your socks in the microwave to dry them off. Seems the trip before, some of the boys did that and started a fire. Needless to say they were asked to change hotels the next time.
     
  18. afwdwfan

    afwdwfan DIS Dad #460

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    10,834
    That would be quite the epic experience... either one of those, actually.

    Wow, he plans for a band trip the way a Dis Dad plans for a Disney trip!

    That's great! Usually you'd be well aware who you were surrounded by in a similar circumstance.

    Leave it to the girls...:rolleyes1

    So what was it? I'm guessing you either boarded the wrong bus or loaded band equipment on the wrong bus. :lmao::rotfl2::rotfl:

    :headache:

    Understandable

    Sadly, I understand.

    Great... as Dave says, it always runs downhill, doesn't it?:sad2:

    Well, as long as the powers that be get to enjoy their holiday, who cares, right?:sad2:

    Well, I guess it is a small victory just to have him agree with your point.:confused3 Doesn't seem to fix anything though. You didn't refer to the waste product of a bull at any point though and that would have probably been my reaction if I were in that situation, so I think you handled it very well.:thumbsup2

    Antiquated as in you had to use dial up?

    That would have set me off. If it needs to be done and I have to do it, I can deal with a deadline... but if somebody else doesn't want to follow through.... :headache:

    Eh, the rant was justified.
     
  19. Captain_Oblivious

    Captain_Oblivious DIS Dad #257

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Messages:
    8,408
    Catching up...

    Drive at Ludicrous Speed!

    Awesome picture! We drove through Shenandoah last year and really enjoyed the scenery there. Even though it was March and none of the trees had leaves yet.

    So nobody wanted to watch "Speed"? :confused3


    [​IMG]

    I've driven through Virginia, and yeah...that's how it looks.

    You sure about that?

    I thought he was trying to be a superhero. But he might want to turn around if he wants to stop the bus.

    I seem to watch that part in dusty rooms for some reason.

    And I could have taken you to an awesome Philly cheese steak place if you'd stopped in Delaware. Just sayin'. :rolleyes1

    Although that's not a bad backup plan.

    :eek: Did you suddenly start craving Pepsi and decide buy a Prius?

    I can vouch for the fact that the Susquehanna is indeed pretty scenic. Nice view at the I-95 crossing as well.

    Barry welcomed you to civilization, and then you left it so quickly...:sad2:

    My wife and daughter are in California right now, having gone to the Rose Bowl Parade yesterday. It's interesting to see this in a "behind the scenes" context.

    Wow! There's like, room to walk and everything!

    I remember one band/chorus trip when we had a massive water-gun/water balloon battle raging in the hotel. The chaperones may have been involved. :rolleyes1

    NY looks more orange than I expected.

    :mad::headache:

    Oh man, I feel your pain. My job is the same way--I feel like we bust our butts doing tasks that end up being a complete waste of time, over and over again. Sorry you were put in that situation. I feel your pain.
     
  20. KatMark

    KatMark DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2007
    Messages:
    41,418
    Okay, I found you...and am now subscribed. Be back later to catch up. :goodvibes
     
  21. GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes

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

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Messages:
    6,099
    Yes… yes you did…

    But this one is just getting started (and it’s non-Disney) If you want a better idea of just how badly I can mangle a TR, then click on “Experiment-627” down there in my sig.

    But… welcome to this TR as well
     

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