Thursday, January 8, 2009

Phoenix or bust...


It was a whirlwind of an adventure, getting to Phoenix. If you know me at all, it's no stretch of the imagination that I didn't sleep at all the night before we left. In my defense, we left in the middle of the night. I spent the day before running errands and doing laundry. After a quick dinner (thanks for the take-out, honey), it was time to get serious about packing. I couldn't help but be reminded of the numbing panic I felt the night before we left for China. I would love to be one of those people who has everything done in advance...every item on their to-do list checked, laundry washed, folded and put away, house cleaned from top to bottom, suitcases packed way ahead of time, an early bedtime...but I'm not. I'm REALLY NOT. Even when I want to be. So I finished packing about 1 am. I straightened up a bit...not exaggerating the bit...made a conscious effort to ignore all the unchecked items on my to-do list, wrote a hurried note to my family and jumped in the shower. I managed to drag Mindy out of bed after her 90-minute nap around 2 am, and we were out the door shortly after 3 in the morning.


Ahhhh...palm vacation icon...

Pardon the blurry bus window...

Even with a slight snag in the plan...a forgotten item of major importance by my usually organized daughter...we made it to school by the appointed time. It was colder than we had anticipated, and Mindy and I had packed our winter coats in our suitcases, so Jon gave us a quick kiss, snapped a picture and sent us inside. One by one, the drumline stumbled in. I passed out name tags, and we loaded the bus around 4:30 am. The absolute minute we opened the door, a snow squall straight from the North Pole smacked us in the face. I just about froze to death in the time it took to figure out where to stash my suitcase and board the bus...remember, no coat. Let's just say that between the gaggle of high-schoolers and the pre-dawn hour, it was not an organized effort.
By the way, you'll note in the picture from this post that I traveled quite efficiently by own standards on this suitcase, one lens bag and my laptop bag. My bag even weighed in five pounds under the weight limit. Gasp! Having been exposed to legendary stories about my luggage habits from our treks to China and Disney, Mindy's boyfriend, Alex, had been warned that there would be NO comments about my luggage. He heeded said warning. He's a very smart boy.

As I mentioned in my first trip post, the bus exhibited signs of trouble before we even left the parking lot. We made it about 15 minutes down the road before we had to pull off and wait for another bus to take us to the airport. Which meant we had to unload and re-load our luggage in the cold, blowing snow. Fun. Seriously. We managed to get everyone checked in, through security and to the gate with minutes to spare and were headed to Denver for our connecting flight by around 6:30 am. We made a quick flight change in Denver and headed south to Phoenix. By 11 am, we had claimed our luggage, loaded the charter bus and were headed to a local fashion mall for lunch. Might I mention it was 11 am in Phoenix. And I was in some serious need of caffeine. Mindy and I headed straight for the Panda Express. Some delicious Chinese food, an exhilarating encounter with a Coca-Cola Classic, and a hug from my teenager, accompanied by the words, "I'm so glad you came on this trip with me", and all was right with the world.



To his credit, Mindy's boyfriend, Alex, was good-natured

about visiting an overpriced girly shoe store,

but it didn't take him long to find a comfy sofa to pass the time.

We perused the upscale shops of the fashion mall and then loaded the buses again, bound for a local high school for practice. Which meant all the equipment had to be unloaded and assembled. Now, I've seen some of this behind-the-scenes stuff, but never to this extent. Make no is no small effort to move this band from one place to the next. Every performance is a major production. Within minutes, the parking lot was covered with drum cases and equipment. We have almost 30 kids, just in our drumline and pit, and they come with a LOT of STUFF. They just kept on making trips into the truck to unload more and more instruments! I was amazed, though, at how the kids just pitch in and methodically work through their routine. They knew exactly what they were doing. In less than an hour, they had unloaded the trucks, transported and assembled all their equipment and were slathering on sunblock...some under protest...Alex...before practice.




A nap sure sounded good right about now...



It was a tough practice. They were all tired. They had all just eaten lunch. And the delightful Phoenix sun made for a tempting nap invitation. It was all I could do to stay awake, just watching them. And this was only their second full-field practice in about two months. It took them a while to work out some of the kinks and get in their groove. By their final run-through, though, the magic was back. Late in the afternoon, they called it quits, packed up the equipment and loaded the buses for dinner. We discovered that things are very spread out in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area. It took over half an hour to arrive at Rustler's Rooste, perched high on a hill overlooking the city. The view was beautiful, and it seemed like a really nice restaurant. I kind of wish we had visited there another day. We were all so tired that it was a bit difficult to appreciate the surroundings and enjoy the atsmosphere. I took just a couple of pictures, and looking at their website, I realize I missed out on some really cool shots.



I took this last one without flash...

a bit blurry, but so were my eyes by then...

Our adventures weren't over for the day. On the bus ride to the hotel, one of our students started acting peculiar, and we pulled over to call 9-1-1. All ended well. I think it was a combination of exhaustion and dehydration. Aside from our concern about the student, though, I think we all felt like the day would never end. Our ride from the restaurant to our resort was another 30-45 minutes. Then we had to have a chaperone meeting, distribute room assignments and do bed-checks. Just as I was preparing to climb into my pajamas and collapse in my comfy resort bed, the phone rang. An entire room full of girls was missing. My roommate and fellow chaperone and I grabbed our coats (when the sun goes down in the desert, it's COLD), and started searching rooms. We eventually realized that the room assignment was incorrect and found the girls. For the most part, it was a harmless situation, although we did discover some incidental errant behavior along the way. And then I closed my eyes and slept like a baby. End of Day One. Which was actually two days. Amen.


For those of you who have traveled, specifically in China,
remember how hard those beds were?
These beds were the complete opposite of those beds.
I could have slept forever...


Donna said...

Wow! What a day! Jimmy Choo, palm trees and praise from a teen - yowza!! If you chaperone again, our kids actually get taped into their room - one piece covering both the door and the frame and initialled by the roving night chaperone whenever they go by. Keeps everyone where they're supposed to be!
Can't wait to hear more!!

Kristi said...

So with the weather you had and the good times, I now find myself wondering why I didn't find a reason to go with you...
Oh, wait, that's right ~ I don't do mornings well!

Cindy M said...

Yeah, me neither. It reminded me of my Army days when I faked my way through a lot of early wake-ups. Wish you could have been there, too!