Chapter IV  Load ‘em Up – Head ‘em Out


The morning started out very early.  I awoke at 4:30 AM to make sure that everything was in order for the trip.  Most of the packing had been done the day before but I wanted to double check everything was included.  I had to pack my uniforms and make sure the uniform that I was going to wear that day was ready. of the joys I had working with Robert on his church choir tours was that I could include members of my family.  On this trip, I was able to include Carol, my wife, and Mark, our youngest son.


Carol does a great job of looking after me.  She also works with the other chaperons and helps take care of the incidentals that evolve on a trip of this nature.


Carol and I have three children.  Two of our children were choir members so they were included as part of the group.  Cathy, our oldest, was a junior at L D Bell High School and was a member of the senior high choir.


Robby was in the 9th grade and a member of the junior high choir at First Euless.  He was accepted by the senior high choir boys because he worked with them on the luggage.


Mark, our youngest son was only 10.  He served no useful purpose on the tour other than to make the girls laugh and the boys blush.  He was an outgoing young kid and loved to be included on everything.  Mark was 5 years younger than his siblings yet that never stopped him.  He considered himself as old and involved as they were.


My past experiences on choir tours with Robert convinced me that arranging my sleeping accommodations was the only way to go.  On one particular trip in the past, the home I had been assigned was a young couple who were still putting their furniture together.


My bed that evening consisted of 4 chairs being placed together.  Needless to say rest was not possible for that evening and yet I had to drive the next day.  The young couple’s heart was in the right place – just their accommodations were lacking.  I set a new rule; I would take care of my own accommodations in the future.


I would stay in a motel near the church and get proper rest for the evening for the next day.  Carol and Mark stayed with me while Cathy and Robby were provided accommodations through the host churches.  Carol was a tremendous help as she entertained Mark while I took care of my paperwork and went to bed.


I had Carol take me over to the charter company to pick up the coach.  We did not want to leave our car on the company yard while we were gone.  We got to the yard about 7 AM that morning.


I checked in with the office; picked up advance money for fuel and expenses; and received last minute instructions on the coach that I was assigned.


Eagle15.gifOverland Stage Coaches was one of the charter companies I was using for the church tours.  They had just purchased new 1986 Eagle Model 15 coaches that were the finest coaches in the metro area.  The coach I was assigned only had 5,000 miles on it and this was the first out of town trip that it was dispatched.


Model 15 Eagle coaches were 40’ in length and 102” or 8’6” in width.  Prior to the release of the Model 15 new coaches, the allowed width was only 8’.  With the new models, there was more room inside; more luggage space; and ease of maneuverability inside while traveling.


Air conditioning was fantastic on the new coaches.  Problems of the past coaches had been modified with larger fans and increased BTUs which gave you a comfortable coach even in the midst of extreme hot weather in the summer.


A charter group from Vernon, TX had been assigned a coach by another company without the modifications for their trip to Florida.  By the time they got to Dallas, TX they had decided they were going no further unless the problem of heat inside the coach could be rectified.


A driver at their charter company told them about Overland Stage.  The transfer was made and I had the opportunity of driving that charter to Florida.  I had just come in from another tour and was the only driver immediately available.  Leaving Dallas, the Vernon group could not believe the air conditioning. 15 Eagle coaches had restroom facilities for the comfort of the travelers.  It kept us from having to stop intermittently.  The new Model 15 was extremely nice and we got many words of appreciation for our on-coach amenities.


The new coaches also had tables near the rear that could be used for games.  The rows directly in front of the tables could be turned around to face the tables to the rear giving a game area for 4 people to face each other with a table.


The coaches also had TV monitors spread throughout the coach connected to a control DVD for showing movies while traveling or videos of the presentation from the night before that had been taped by the host church.


Robert was able to tweak the presentation using the video and make changes for future events each evening.  Quite frequently, it was a time for the kids to see themselves on video and usually brought laughter at their antics forgetting they were being taped.