It was late afternoon in the Carolinas, and the school group was awaiting a travel bus for their trip out west. All of the 8 leaders were gathering the group of high schoolers to do a head count. Everybody formed a straight line as the bus arrived in the parking lot. Excitement grew over the group as they marched inside the bus to find their seats. Before the bus took off, a couple of the leaders stood in the aisle and commenced with a short spiel. Applause followed from the passengers. Faces were glued to the windows as the bus traveled onward, and the sun slowly started to set.
The next morning, the bus arrives in a town that is a couple of hours from the Mississippi River. As the bus circles around a restaurant, the hungry passengers await their turns to exit. A loud puff of air indicates the bus has come to a stop. One by one, the group marches out. Exhaust fumes quickly dissipate into the air. As the group enters into the restaurant, a look of exasperation appear on the restaurant staff. The staff moves quickly to seat the ravenous, hungry crowd. As they await their breakfast plates, the occasional crumpled up napkin “ball” goes flying through the air onto another table of the same group. A loud cheer commences when trays of food come out of the kitchen. The hungry high schoolers gobble down their plates. The group leaders have a more leisurely meal, until one looks at his watch and ushers the others to get moving. The entire group go in shifts to prepare to hop back onto the bus, in which the driver has been taking a rest. Once again, a head count is conducted and slowly the bus rolls onto the highway.
Later that evening, the bus stops around the Kansas/Missouri state line at a hotel for the night. The weary travelers pile off the bus and enter the hotel building to claim their rooms. Once they get freshened up, the school group walks next door to grab a quick bite. Then they retreat back to the hotel because the next day the trek continues towards their destination.
As the bus rolls through Kansas, the travelers beg the driver for a stretch break. The driver finds a stop to allow the group 30 minutes to walk around. The itinerary is to reach the destination which is Colorado Springs. The school group rejoin at the bus and are eager to get on the road again. Fortunately, the weather holds out and there are no hiccups in the traffic route. As they get closer to Colorado Springs, a couple of the leaders discuss the events for the next day. Eagerness and excitement spread throughout the bus. The bus rolls into the destination a little before twilight. The driver informs the leaders that the elevation is higher than what they are used to so everybody should take caution. That doesn't stop some of the school group as 2 of them grow lightheaded as they rush off the bus. The leaders break up into sections and tend to the 2 passengers. This change of events prompts a revision for the next day.
The next day arrives and the group begin to trickle into the lobby at the hotel. The first day is to explore the downtown area which consists of shops, restaurants, and historic architecture. The leaders break up the group where it is smaller and manageable. They all agree to meet back at the hotel in the late afternoon. Questions and suggestions arise as they go on their ways throughout town. When they all convene back at the hotel for the day, it is decided that the zoo and a national park are next on the agenda. The leaders let the school group have free time and wind down to get ready for the next day.
The zoo which consisted of African and other habitats was a big hit amongst the group. The location of the zoo let the eye see all it could see as far as a backdrop. The leaders advised the school group to load up on water and snacks. Pictures and selfies galore were taken all throughout their time at the zoo. The zoo gift shop was their last stop for the day.
The next day, the group met a hiking specialist at a national park to learn and explore about the area. The weather could not have been better and the air was clear. They learned about the twists and turns of the terrain and wildlife. The hiking specialist warned the group to stay on the marked trail in a single file line. Fortunately, no hiccups such as sprained ankles or trips and falls happened as the specialist said to walk at an even pace with no running. After the round trip hike, the weary but pleased group piled onto the bus and headed back towards town.
Other events on the agenda to round up the trip out west was to visit the Olympic Training Center and the Air Force Base. Both of the tours were informative. The leaders had to inform the group to refrain from pictures at both of these places.
The last day in Colorado Springs was a free day where the group could either spend it at the hotel with the pool or bopping around the downtown area again.
Getting the school group back on the bus to head home had its challenge. On the way back through Missouri, they would stop off at the Gateway Arch. The 630 foot structure made selfies awkward, but the view from above made every structure below look like a diorama.
The next stop was Nashville for the night. The school group enjoyed their very brief stay in Music City, USA.
They arrived back home in the late afternoon the next day, greeted their families, and talked incessantly about all of the people and places they encountered on the trip.