On the Road Again
I knew the first day
of the tour would be hectic.
Getting the luggage on the coach was always a challenge. The kids were given the number of
bags and suitcases they could bring but there were always girls who had
to have more. Moms would plead
their case to get their luggage on the coach.
Plus the first time
loading set the stage for all the future loadings. I instructed the young men who were the
loaders what was expected. They
knew the importance of not leaving behind any luggage. They carried out the instructions
quite well after getting by the first loading.
I arrived at the
church at 8 AM and spotted the coach for loading. The church coach had already finished
loading the sound equipment.
They were ready for me to spot near the door where the luggage
had been left.
We had already determined that personal luggage
would go on my coach and the sound equipment would go on the church
coach. I instructed the boys to
put the hard luggage on the bottom with the clothes bags on top of
them. Any overnight cases were
to be placed in holes that develop between the hard luggage and on the
open spaces at the top.
We had the kids look
around the loading area and the area where the luggage had been left to
ensure that we had gotten everything.
After a great deal pushing and shoving everything was loaded.
everyone to go to the choir room in the church for a last minute
meeting to discuss any changes in the details for the day. Change lists were distributed as to
who served in each back-yard group.
There was a group leader for each group. Final seating assignments for each
coach were distributed.
Carol, Cathy, and
Mark were assigned to my coach and Robby was assigned to the church
coach. He was looking forward to
it. The loaders always bonded as
a rowdy group and were assigned to the church coach. They were going to have fun the
regarding the material that was to be shared in the back-yard Bible
groups was distributed and the kids were instructed to get fully
familiar with it in transit to Hagerstown. After a brief question and answer
session, the kids were given permission to board the coaches.
The kids loaded the coaches in an orderly
manner. They settled in for the
first day of travel. Robert had
assigned himself the seat up front directly behind me.
As he entered, he
was given the PA mike and he asked if there were any last minute
questions. Getting none, he told
me I could pull out.
With the mike in
hand, Robert led the group in a prayer for the trip. He prayed for the concerns that the
kids might have concerning being away from home for two weeks. Even though some had traveled before,
there were still those who worried about leaving their parents.
The parents who were
able to be with us until we pulled away shouted their ‘goodbyes’ and ‘best
wishes’ for the trip. You could
tell that there was a slight amount of anxiety as they were witnessing
their precious children starting to leave the nest. They recognized this as one of many
times they would experience this.
I pulled off the
parking lot making sure the church coach was behind me. We moved toward the intersection that
would place us on the interstate system.
My coach was
performing great. The coach was
cool. The loss of cooling while loading
everyone did not affect any change in the temperature. I looked forward to a great trip as I
knew Robert had covered all his bases.
One of the greatest
features of the Overland Stage Coaches was the air conditioning
systems. The latter part of June
and the first part of July were considered the hottest temperature of
any charter trip across the country.
The trip to Hagerstown, MD was not going to be an exception.
As the lead coach, when I receive any special or
change instructions from Robert, I passed them back to the church coach
via CB radio. We coordinated the
changes together and made them work.
The system worked flawlessly.
decisions regarding breaks and for feeding the group. Most of our breaks always included
fast food operations.
Occasionally, we stopped in shopping malls and some would go to
cafeterias to eat. You could
always look for the chaperons to meet there.
Drivers on charter
coaches receive free meals by eating establishments. In addition to the drivers, the tour
guide, and the tour coordinator received free meals as well. I reminded Robert. It was his responsibility to follow
suit. Being an industry standard
you don’t want to change the system for other tour guides on other
charters by refusing to accept their hospitality.
I knew that I could
get free meals at fast food chains as a driver. I also knew that I could get whatever
I wanted. I even had managers
come up and say to me to be sure and order the best they had. They appreciated me bringing in the
I explained to
Robby, my son, that if he knew of anyone that might be have trouble
with money that I could help them by ordering additional food and
sharing with them as opposed to them having to spend money for every
Robby said that he
would check around to see if anyone might need help. At the second stop, he approached me
and the additional food started.
I never asked who he gave it to.
I just knew he would give it to someone who needed it.
We settled into the
work before us. We went through
Dallas, across Lake Ray Hubbard on toward Texarkana on I-30. Arriving in Texarkana, we stopped for
an hour at McDonald’s for lunch.
After lunch we continued toward our destination of Jonesboro, AR
for the evening.