Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunkist Old Guy - My Trip to Flagstaff

Yesterday, DramaMama and I were chaperones for the high school marching band road trip to Flagstaff where they participated in a multi-high school band performance alongside the Northern Arizona University Band during halftime at the football game with Dixie State College.

Our day began at the wee morning time of 2:45am. We were instructed to be at the high school by 3:30am to assist in loading the huge trailer with band instruments and other necessities.

At 3:15 I woke up the Large Drummer Boy. His reponse was less than coherent. I finished getting ready, then at 3:30 when we should have already been at the school, I went to check on him again. He was still asleep. We made it to the school by 3:45. We found out that everyone else was told to be there at 4:00.

The trailer was loaded, and we waited for the buses to arrive, and waited... We were all under the impression that we would have a nice touring bus, but this illusion was squarshed when two many-wheeled twinkies pulled into the parking lot. One of the band members pointed out later that everyone on board was white, so we were the cream filling. This kid was called "Frenchy", but we'll get to him later. We were assigned to be in charge of the second bus.

DramaMama suggested that I get on board our bus and score the front seat so we could have some leg room. yeah right. I soon discovered why certain of my body parts were never designed to interact with each other. I got back out but staked out our "claim" with DramaMama's bag/my man bag because I carried it a lot.

As the trailer was loading we discovered quickly which of the students were most likely to make us insane and pitch them out the window Napolean Dynamite style. There was one kid, whom I will refer to as "Stick Boy", that came off particularly annoying. Both DramaMama and I prayed that he was on the other bus, and it turned out he was. He was about 6'2" and looked to weigh no more than 50 pounds. What he lacked in girth he made up for in volume and irritation. I imagine if we put a pointed hat on him, that a giant could use him for a toothpick.

This bus was hardly designed for highschool kids, let alone big ol' me. Finally all of the band members were crammed into the bus, and I reinserted my knee into my nasal passage. DramaMama was over the wheel well which required that I scoot over to allow her a spot for her feet. My left knee was crammed deep into the partition between us and the bus driver, my right cheek was unsupported and in perfect aiming position to blast offending youngsters, and my right leg was sticking straight out in the aisle.

We finally got underway somewhere around 4:45am. We were hardly out of Phoenix when reports came forward that Gilbert was gonna hurl. We radioed the lead bus with no response. "Gilbert really needs to stop." We passed back the garbage can. "Come in Lead bus, we have a sick kid."

Finally they responded, and we made it to a gas station where everyone piled out and made a toidy run, Gilbert in the lead. Several of them were already feeling ill from motion sickness.

20 minutes later we were rolling again. We soon discovered the bus driver was still single, so DramaMama set to work lining him up with my niece.

All-in-all, the kids were pretty well behaved. The seasoned band boosters threatened to send back the "big guy" (me) if they misbehaved. Apparently that worked.

Soon, "Frenchy" who was sitting right behind us, made himself known. This kid was a crack-up. His buddy was talking about oysters, and DramaMama started chuckling. "I think he's talking about 'Rocky Mountain Oysters'."

"There's no such thing!" Frenchy said.

"Oh yes there is!"

"What are they then?"

whisper whisper whisper

"AWWWWWW! I'm gonna throw up!"

I turned around, "Aim at him!"

Then we ruthlessly regaled Frenchy with one-liners related to these Rocky Mountain Oysters to egg on this new found nausea.

"I hear they are kind of chewy."

"AWWWWWWWW! I'm gonna hurl!"

"Kind of like a superball."

"AWWW Stop it!"

"Wouldn't you just love to be the guy that harvests those?"

"How do they do it?"

"They wrapped a rubber band around them, they die and fall off."

DramaMama turned to me, "Oh that's sick!"

"I'm serious, that's how they get rid of them."

"You were serious? AWWWWWW!"

Meanwhile the single bus driver is looking at us in the rear view laughing.

A little while later we passed a herd of cattle.

"LOOK! An oyster farm!" It was Frenchy.

We stopped for a restroom break at Camp Verde. I was in charge of counting heads. We had 46 kids on our bus by the way. Several of the kids got drinks. Once we were back on the bus, spent drink cups and other trash began being passed forward to throw away. After awhile Steve, the bus driver got on the squawk-box and told them to hang on to any more trash, because the can was full. Not having anywhere else to put their drink, one of them set it in the over head rack.

Somewhere down the road, said drink toppled. We discovered this because all of the sudden Frenchy yelled. "AWWWWW!" One of the seasoned band boosters said, its only condensation from the air conditioning. "AWWWW it got me right in the crotch." You can imagine the response that got. DramaMama was having a good laugh when all of the sudden Steve applied the brakes and "AWWWWW! I'm getting rained on." I grabbed a cup from the garbage and yelled, "The bus is peeing on us!"

Steve grabbed a towel and it was passed back and forth from DramaMama and Frenchy depending on whether the bus sped up or slowed. Someone finally discovered the offending drink cup in the rack and removed it.

We soon discovered that Steve was trained by Nascar as he pulled up behind a big rig travelling fast, a vehicle passed us on the left, and just before we hit, he swerved left.

"Yes!" I hollered, "That was awesome!"

Meanwhile the female seasoned band boosters (one of which was also a bus driver) were freaking out. "STEVE!" Steve just chuckled. I liked Steve.

At last we pulled into Flagstaff right on time. At one intersection, we made a turn, and there was a girl standing there. Steve honked at her. "I know her!"

Once we found a place to park, everyone got out and headed to the breakfast provided by Toys for Tots. Then they got ready for the parade. Drummer Boy's real dad showed up looking like a homeless man. Hair down the to the middle of his back and a long scraggly beard. If he hadn't been with his new wife, we may not have recognized him. We later found out that he was acting in an independent film and was playing... a homeless guy.

The parade was short, but good. the NAU band led the way followed by the 11 high school bands in alphabetical order. Our band (Red Mountain High School Marching Pride) looked very sharp. At the end of the parade, all of the bands met and one band at a time performed a song or two. At the end of this, they all played together. It was pretty cool.

We had some free time after that for lunch so we wandered around to some of the booths that were set up in the park. We got some Navajo Indian Fry Bread. MMMMM! I got honey all over me.

At 1:00 we piled into the buses and headed for the Snow Dome at NAU. In the parking lot there, we were tormented by the worst band in the group continually playing the same song over and over and over. The sousaphone player was the most annoying, because his instrument was tuned too sharp. Our band leader was about ready to smack him. "Press the right valve!" He got on our buses and made it crystal clear that our students were not to add to the caucaphony of noise out there. "DO NOT PLAY YOUR INSTRUMENTS!"

They obeyed and got all ready to go. During our wait to go inside, we were entertained by some college students being college students. There was about 5 guys up on a hill, one of which had on a bright red helmet. We could see another of them holding a video camera. Then out came a red Target shopping cart. Many of our students began cheering them on. On the first run, he got part way down and crashed in the grass off the side. Uproar from the parking lot.

Up the hill he went again, higher this time. He went for it. He was cruising, farther and farther... then someone stuck a tree in his path and POW! he rolled over and splatted on the ground. He lay there for several minutes, his buddies gathered around him, then he jumped up and pumped his arm in the air, reminiscent of Evel Knievel. A huge cheer rose from the parking lot. They all headed off up the hill. The cart, which we assumed to be broken, was left down in the gorge where it fell.

Finally, one band and one section at a time we were led into the Snow Dome. The bands were seated right in the middle of the stands, we were clear on the side by the end zone.

At 3:00 the game started, and what an odd start it was. Dixie State College kicked off, the NAU player ran it back for a touch down. NAU kicked off, they downed it in the end zone. First play from scrimmage, DSC passed and scored. DSC kicked off. 4 plays, 3 kickoffs, 2 touchdowns, in less than 1 minute.

From there NAU took over and dominated the game. Within a couple minutes, NAU intercepted a DSC pass and ran it in. By half time the score was something like 49 to 14. Of course everytime NAU scored, the band was required to play the NAU Fight Song. We got rather well acquainted with that tune. Remember that there were 12 bands participating in all of the music during the game. The drum beats shook your innards.

At half time, the NAU band took the field and played a few pieces. They were nothing short of fantastic. Their sound was gorgeous. I was very impressed. The 11 high school bands joined them and played two songs. Then all of them sprinted to the end of the field. You know, I dont think I would run while wearing a sousaphone!

The game finally ended in the gang spanking of the DSC team, 66 to 14.

At the end of the game, the NAU team grouped in front of the NUA band who played for them. It was actually quite moving. The music was fabulous and the two groups, the players and the band showed each other respect, it was amazing. Did I say I was impressed with the NAU band?

We finally made our way to the buses, one of which was not there. Some bonehead had parked his truck in from of the hitch to our trailer, so we couldn't hook the truck up to it. Finally the other bus arrived with Steve in tow, and he was able to move our bus so that the truck could angle in to the hitch. Just as we were about to pull out, the truck owner arrived, and yelled at US. Whatever.

The trip home was long and mostly uneventful, except for the spilled drink that ran down the length of the aisle making it nice and sticky. Oh and as we were pulling out of the NAU campus, Steve saw a girl at a different corner, opened his window and asked what her name was.

We unloaded the buses and the trailer, then went on our way. We arrived home at 11:00pm. A rather LONG, but very enjoyable day. It really felt good to escape and think about new things for awhile.

Now to the title of this blog:

I live in Mesa, Arizona where the temperatures lately have been in the low hundreds. You might expect that I would have issues with sunburn or at least a tan. Nope. I went up into the mountains of Flagstaff where it was easily 25+ degrees cooler and got baked like a Lays chip.

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At September 17, 2006 1:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At September 17, 2006 2:13 PM, Blogger Shane said...

I'm still trying to figure out how to make money from your blog too. heh heh

funny story. gotta love insane teenagers.

At September 17, 2006 2:47 PM, Blogger serenity said...

I too want to earn money from your blog. :)

Great story. And you are right, getting away in a totally different environment, even with insane teenagers, can really refresh your perspective.

Have a great rest of your weekend.

At September 17, 2006 3:16 PM, Blogger drama mama said...

We had a good time! I was pleasantly surprised! I am still waiting to get feeling back into my legs though.

BTW.....It's the Sky Dome at NAU. Supposedly the largest of it's kind east of the Mississippi. At least that's what I heard some guy say.

At September 17, 2006 5:39 PM, Blogger Dave said...

I myself would like to make money with my blog. Come on you guys, cough up! :)

At September 17, 2006 6:09 PM, Blogger Jillian said...

Hey, I want in on the money making bit.

You call that a "very enjoyable day?" My friend, you're NUTS! I feel exhausted just reading about it. Ugh, and you've brought back all sorts of....shudder....BAND MEMORIES.

Like our bus trip to Toronto.



At September 18, 2006 9:38 PM, Blogger serenity said...

Yay, a picture!!! *claps and jumps up and down at Dave's new picture!!!!!!

Waves at Dave and DramaMama and spreads hugs and smiles and love all around Dave's blog just because I'm in that kind of mood.

At September 19, 2006 3:34 PM, Blogger Brittany said...

Gosh, Dave. Why am I not getting any money out of your blog? I feel quite depressed now.


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