It was a tough trip.
The weather was raw, rainy, and snowy until the last day.
Trying to deal with two buses on the same itinerary is something I have never advocated, but I was obliged to do so, juggling it as best as I could. Tour Bob was a great help.
Roads were slippery and sometimes flooded, which slowed our progress.
My driver was ill.
While the hospitality was wonderful at each place, there were some disappointments with step-on guides. (I don't normally engage step-on guides, but these were supposed to be specialists on the Underground Railroad and the Civil War in New York State.)
The kids were terrific, real troopers! I couldn't have imagined a better group to travel with. They were having fun and had even enjoyed a good old-fashioned snowball fight in front of the Baseball Home of Fame. ( It was a first for them as many had never seen snow before!)
Then we were all affected by the shootings at Virginia Tech. We didn't say much about it, but it became the elephant in the parlor.
It's not just that I had over 70 eighth-graders who are impressionable, half of them were either Korean or first generation Koreans who took it personally. And then the guide on the first bus (me) lived in Virginia with some connections to VT through friends and a few relatives who had been teachers. Visions of September 11th, 2001 filled my thoughts.
The Statue of Liberty was closed, making the line to get on the ferry to Ellis Island longer because of heightened security. We didn't go to the top of any buildings because of security concerns. CBS canceled our appearance since they thought the outside activities would be disrespectful. (We hadn't received word of this decision and the lot of us were waiting in the cold and drizzle for the CBS Fun Bus, which like Godot, never came.) Tour Bob and I had to scurry to find a place to feed 84 STAT! (Which we did!)
The bright spot on the last day was a walk and shopping opportunity along Fifth Avenue. For expediency, I suggested that everyone meet and eat at the underground concourse at Rockefeller Center. (Mendy's is my favorite place to get kosher sandwiches!) I was working on auto pilot and did not realize that the annual orchid show was there. Mrs. C-C had a severe allergic reaction to the orchids and had to seek medical help.
After getting her stabilized, Tour Bob, Mrs. C-C and I had lunch at Dean and Delucca right across from the NBC studios - well away from those poisonous orchids!
I then went down to retrieve the entire group and encountered what can only be described as a bee hive of activity surrounded by orchids. While it was a stunning sight, it was difficult to gather the kids. (Actually, it was the adults we were having trouble with!)
After getting the correct count, I was about to board the bus when one young lady, smiling, presented me with a bunch of daisies!
How did she know?
She chose a bunch of the happiest and most resilient flowers; they put the high maintenance orchids to shame and reflected the mood of the group.
I nearly cried!
They're on my table and are a reaffirmation of my career choice.