October 19, 2011
This past weekend, I chaperoned the marching band trip to Sandusky, Ohio. It was a special trip for the band as they got to perform at an OMEA competition at Perkins high school, stay at Castaway Bay hotel, and go to Cedar Point amusement park.
It was an early morning call time on Saturday-6am. We loaded the trucks, trailers, and buses and got on the road around 7am. I was one of two chaperons on bus number 3 (which is apparently the cool kids' bus) and we headed out. Unfortunately, we watched as bus number 2 blew a tire about 45 minutes into our trip. Thank goodness buses have 6 tires, as 5 of them still went round and round. However, I guess there are rules about driving a long distance on 5 good tires while the 6th makes the same sound as when you drive over those grooves on the side of the road. You know, the ones that wake you up if you are catching some zzzzs while driving and start to head for the abyss on the side of the road? So we pulled into a truck stop to switch buses.
Grace was with us as this only took 90 minutes and high school kids have the ability to stay out of trouble for 93 minutes. I am not sure why Grace Kelly was there, but she is always welcome.
Therefore, we made only one more stop the rest of the way (at McDonald's in Mansfield, Ohio) and made it to Sandusky's Castaway Bay around 1:30. The 90 minutes we lost were supposed to have been part of 3 hours free time the kids had at the hotel, so we were not in danger of missing our competition time.
We met for food and a precompetition talk at 3:30 and I found one of the motivational speeches quite interesting.
When your band gets judged at a competition, the judges use tape recorders during your performance. They then make their comments available to you afterwards. Apparently, one of the judges at a previous competition had said that they should play their music so well that the crowd would want to throw their babies in the air. I am not sure where this judge grew up or if this actually a common practice anywhere, but it was a memorable critique.
So one band member got up in front of the group to give his motivational speech and remembered this comment. He tied things together very well for the group as everyone was expressing concern about the 30-40 mph winds. He explained that they needed to play so great that when the crowd threw their babies in the air it was worth it since there was a possibility that the wind would blow their baby away and they may not get it back.
The band played so well that they brought home 7 trophies. My favorite two were the best percussion for their class and best overall percussion out of all the classes. I beamed with pride at my freshman percussionist out there. Sure, I was happy for the whole band, ecstatic even, but it is always gratifying to see your own kid and his line mates win big when you know they have worked so hard for it. Yay!
Then, Sunday, we went to Cedar Point. I have never been, but have heard it to be better than the local amusement park, Kings Island. I found this hard to believe since KI is a bit more nationally known. Evil Knievel performed there, the Brady Bunch did a show there, and KI has been mentioned on CSI and other shows. Still, plenty of people have told me the coasters are better at CP. It turns out to be true, at least for me. In general, the coasters are faster, longer, and a smoother ride. At 46 that last quality is important. The weather was pretty crappy on Sunday, but that kept the crowds down, I got to ride 6 or 7 rides in the 5 hours we were there. This would not have happened on a good weather day. I truly enjoyed the rides even though it rained while I was on a couple of them which makes it feel like you are getting hit with ice pellets during the whole ride. I would have even been willing to throw my baby in the air on a couple of them.
On the bus ride home I was revelling in the day. The win, the behavior of the kids, not sharing my seat on the bus, and my life in general; when suddenly I noticed the bus driver's head bobbing. HELLO!! From my angle, it looked like me driving late at night with the nodding off every 10 minutes head bob thing. Alarm bells went off in my head as I remembered the safety instructions he was required to give me before we started the trip. Pull the red button and the bus will stop. I had laughed it off when he had told me this, but suddenly it seemed really important. I repositioned myself such that I could spring into action from my seat two behind the bus driver in case I had to jump up and grasp the wheel.
I eventually, scooted up close to the driver and asked if he was okay. He said that he was, that he had to keep checking stuff, and thanked me for asking. I returned to my seat and watched him some more. From my angle, I could not tell if whenever he looked down, he was checking his side mirror or closing his eyes. I wished I had watched him more on the ride up the day before. I was more worried as he adjusted his window and air conditioning as that is what I would do if I were trying to keep myself awake.
Fortunately, we were only 100 miles from home, so I only had to watch him for 90 MINUTES.
As you may have guessed, we made it home safely. I was not called into action, but I assure you I was ready the entire time.
Therefore, I would like to thank some individuals personally: Mark and Cherri for organizing the trip, CJ for behaving himself and making me proud, Zane for surprising me with his stellar conduct, and the good Lord for making neither Billy nor me a hero on Sunday. I am truly blessed.