Adventures on the Bus

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The Botanical Gardens in D.C.–beautiful, yes?

I rather want to talk about the trip Choraleers took to Charleston yesterday, but in order to give that adventure some context, I think I’d better recount one of the incidents that occurred during tour. You see, as I mentioned in my previous post, the choir went to Washington, D.C. for a Spring Break tour through North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland, singing—or at least, attempting to sing…more on that later—in different schools and churches at each stop.

Touring in D.C.

This year, something we did that we’d never done before (at least not during my time in Choraleers) was to sing at different high schools along our tour route. One goal in making these stops was to recruit musically-inclined new choir members, but it also turned out to be a lot of fun to sing in the schools because each of the high school choirs we visited sang for us as well. (Much as we love to sing, it’s always neat to sit back and listen for a change.)

We began tour by performing at the Church of the Holy Comforter in SC on Thursday night and then headed to our next concert in Virginia Friday morning. We hit a bit of a snag Friday afternoon, however, when the bus began to have…issues. Although we had left that morning with several hours to spare, the time remaining before our concert that night began to dwindle rapidly when the bus began to experience mechanical difficulties.

Virginia landscape

Our arrival time of 3 p.m. or so was quickly converted into a hope that we would at least make it to the church in time for dinner. Another unfortunate side effect of the bus’s problems was that the air conditioning soon ceased to work—not particularly pleasant in 75 degree weather when over forty people are on a bus together. I’m normally cold on buses and bring socks and a coat to bundle up in, but by the time we made it to Virginia even I felt as though we were in a sauna. (Not exactly the place one wants to spend her time right before changing into a long formal choir gown.) At one point we even ended up stopped and sitting in the middle of the highway for a bit as cars zoomed past. In the end, though, we made it to our destination unscathed (aside from a bit of perspiration), and we all walked out into the crisp, cool Virginia-countryside air with oos and ahs of pleasure.

Library of Congress

On Saturday, we had a wonderful time exploring D.C. and saw everything from the Botanical Gardens and the Library of Congress to the National Art Gallery and the Holocaust Museum. Then, on Sunday morning, we sang in church services at several different locations and spent the night at the Holiday Inn, little anticipating the rather untoward “adventure” that was to be thrust upon us by circumstance the following day. On Monday morning, thinking the bus was fully repaired and ready to go, we boarded and began to make good time, completing about two-thirds of our journey to Gastonia, NC in only a few hours. After lunch, though, we encountered…a hill. And the bus couldn’t handle it. It coughed and sputtered in a pitiful effort to conquer the sloping incline, but unlike “the little engine that could,” to no avail. Thus, we stopped by the side of the road and begged some water for the overheated vehicle from some kind denizens of a nearby Virginia farmhouse.

Hanging out in Denny’s during our unintended detour

We continued on our way, limping along at an average of two minutes between stops. Incidentally, I was actually so exhausted that I stretched across two seats and the isle (where some kind friends, noticing that I looked tired, set me up and handed me a pillow before telling me to sleep) and napped through the series of jerky starts and stops. Unfortunately, after about thirty minutes of this, the bus simply gave out entirely. Left with no other recourse, we stopped at a rest area where we essentially took over the Denny’s restaurant adjacent to a gas station. After about two hours there, our time before the concert was running short, and our director, Dr. Nabholz, decided that we would postpone dinner and sing in our casual clothing instead of changing into concert attire. By the time our replacement bus arrived over an hour later, though, it began to be clear that we simply weren’t going to make it to Gastonia in time for the 7:30
concert.At about 8:40 p.m., we finally made it to the church and were served a scrumptious dinner by the patient 1st ARP church members waiting for us. Afterwards—singing on a full stomach? Don’t do this at home, kids—we gave an abbreviated concert for the host families before heading home with them for some much-needed rest. (On a side note, does it puzzle anyone else how exhausting sitting on a bus all day can be? I’ve always wondered how sitting still can possibly be so draining.)

Lisa taking a spare moment during on of our gas station stops to get some homework done–yeah, girl!

In light of this experience, though, when Dr. Nabholz announced a couple of weeks ago that we would be riding a bus to and from Charleston on April 13th, there were quite a lot of playful groans and joking expressions of premonition. I am happy to announce, however, that the trip yesterday didn’t involve a single bus mishap. Hurrah!The next day, another delightfully glitch-free bus came to take us home, and we finished out the tour without further bus difficulties. And that was our adventure. It certainly made for some Choraleers bonding time, if not for a particularly comfortable ride. As G.K. Chesterton once noted, “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” Nevertheless, I must confess that I am more or less liable to take this maxim truly to heart depending on how sleepy and hungry I am. In which case, I suppose, an inconvenient adventure becomes an opportunity for character building. We had some great conversations on the bus, at any rate.