Chapter V  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. 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.


Robert requested 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 entire trip.


Special instructions 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.


PASystem.gifThe 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. 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.


Robert made 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 group.


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 meal.


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.