Happy Thanksgiving to all who read my blog. May your day be filled with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and all that comes with a delicious turkey dinner.
Now, on to the Overnight Trip.
I drove the High School FBLA members to their Fall Leadership Conference. The drive took approximately 5 hours one-way including stops for food and restroom breaks. When we arrived in the city where the Conference was being held, I navigated the 40-foot bus through the most narrow streets and places. It’s a wonder that I didn’t damage a mirror or any of the bus by pulling through some of the spots. I did end up taking out quite a few curbsides, but its better to hit the curb than to hit a vehicle.
We pulled into the hotel parking lot and unloaded the bus in the hopes our rooms were ready. The rooms were not ready yet, but the hotel graciously stored our luggage so we didn’t have to haul it from where the bus would later be parked. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, right across the street from the Conference Center. This Hilton offered a Dinner Grill and Room Service that included food made to order. The Breakfast Buffet was better than your standard continental breakfast and included eggs and omelets made to order as well as a large bar of fresh produce, cereal, and other standard items you would find in a continental breakfast. The prices for dinner were reasonable and breakfast was a standard $10.95 charge for the custom made plates. A large fitness center and swimming pool (puddle) were also available for guest convenience. The lobby contained a full service bar and near the guest check-in desk was a small pantry with a myriad of items available (for a price of course) to the weary traveler.
The hotel was located in the center of downtown with easy walking distance access to restaurants and stores. After we unloaded the bus, I was given vague instructions on where to park the monster. I circled the block once and found a very nice security guard lady who told me where to go. I was under the impression that we would be parking underneath the Convention Center and that when I would take the elevator, it would bring me directly up into the Convention building itself. I was also given the impression that it was a very large parking area, well marked and well lit. I eventually found the parking lot and paid 20 dollars (provided by the trip coordinator) for two days worth of parking. I swing the bus around and find the parking garage is pretty well packed with other buses and no one directing traffic. I managed to squeeze my bus between the brick wall (taking out the curbside) and another bus. I literally had approximately 5 inches of space available on either side. I figured if there were no space underneath the garage, I’d circle the block and come back for another pass. I get in the garage and there is very limited space, I pull over to evaluate the situation and find out that my rear-end is blocking one of the inner garage exit points. I decided that its probably not a good idea for me to keep on blocking an exit point and rather than risk a ticket, I pulled forward. I found a pretty decent parking space further down the line.
Now I had to find out where the elevator was. I saw some FBLA students from another county walking past my bus, and figured they knew where this fabled elevator was. I shut and locked my bus and walked in the direction they went. I found there was no elevator in that vicinity and ended up walking up the hill to figure out where I was. I saw a building and made my way towards it. I found the fabled elevator inside, only this elevator was not warm and cozy as I had expected, but it was a random elevator within a cold parking garage. About halfway up the hill, I realized I had forgotten my jacket, but since I didn’t want to hike back down the hill and back up again, I decided to keep on trucking. When I got inside the elevator, I rode it down and figured out where the elevator was located in relation to my bus. Then I rode it up to street level and walked the rest of the half-mile to the hotel in a short sleeve shirt in 35-degree weather.
I begged the concierge to let me get my sweatshirt out of my backpack that was stored with the rest of the luggage from the group. He graciously allowed me to do so. I then set in search of lunch. I found this quaint Japanese Sushi place just across the street from the hotel. After a meal of Sushi, I wandered back to the hotel in hopes that we would be checked into our rooms shortly. My friend from 7 years back was on her way to visit me at the hotel and I was hoping we wouldn’t have to visit in the lobby, but in the privacy of a hotel room. I got back just in time to pick up my luggage, room key, and I found my room. I got lucky and did not share a room with anybody else. In overnight trips, one may be expected to share with the kids, a chaperone, or be placed in an individual room. My room had a king size (very comfortable) bed, a mahogany desk, and a beautiful HD 30+ inch flat screen TV. (Yes!!! High-life here I come!!!) My friend made it and we visited and reminisced, then she left and I went in search of the pool and dinner. I discovered the pool was nothing more than a 3-foot deep puddle approximately the size of a 20 by 10 foot bedroom. Having nixed the pool idea, I ate dinner in the hotel lobby after contemplating whether or not to order room service. I slept on the most comfortable bed known to man!
The next day, I had to leave the high-life of a custom made omelet and retrieve the bus from the cold parking garage. Not wanting a repeat performance of yesterday’s parking garage fiasco, I inquired at the front desk about a shuttle to the lower parking garage. They graciously obliged and I retrieved the bus after a short panic worrying if it had been towed. We then toured around town and saw some of the historical sites. We went to the mall where we had a close call with a motorist (I can’t say much here for fear of being identified), and then drove down “frat house lane” on the college campus before we headed back to town. On the way back, we got stuck behind “Pokey Pappy” (the traditional old guy in a truck that refuses to speed or go the speed limit) for a while, but eventually made it back in one piece.
My next adventure takes me on a personal trip to Indiana where I have to testify in a court case Dec 1-3. Be watching for updates regarding that adventure.
The Bus Driver