Sunday, June 21

Day 13- Evening Farewell Party

Day 13-Farewell Party Part of me was observing, while another part just wanted them all to grab the pizza quickly, then go away. I didn’t feel like I was actively participating in the party. I doubt anyone cared if they ever see me again. Not a lot of the students said ‘bye to me. I did my job. I brought them all home safely after showing them as much as possible for 2 weeks.
Roomie and I hosted the party in our large room. We spent over an hour getting ready for it. We pushed the party back 30 minutes since the pizza was coming late. Roomie cleaned and set up much longer, but she’s neat and I’m a slob. We tried to put our personal items away. The kids came in quickly. We had a sofa, 2 armchairs, desk chair, vanity stool, and 2 large benches at the foot of each bed. The kids flopped on the floor, on the beds, just everywhere. Roomie had several people on her bed at one point, and I think she twitched. I know she twitched when she mentioned all the empty water bottles left over all flat surfaces. They took over as usual. 50 people in a large hotel room is still a lot of people.
The air conditioner didn’t work properly, and it was very stuffy and hot. Security did put in an appearance, of course. All that meant was the door was closed to contain the noise and they banged the door going in and out. Some of them sat in the cooler hallway. Most of the kids had journals or flags, and were busy signing and trading pins and cards. Driver got a lot more pins than me, and he decorated his straw hat with them. He told me he wasn’t ever going to wear the hat again, but keep it as a memory. He took a lot of photos with his phone the last day. I think the kids really touched him.
I think most of the kids had drifted out by midnight, we cleaned up a bit, and the trip was officially over. I told the maid we had a lot of leftover food to leave for the employees. She had me write a note giving her permission to take the items we left in the room. Good thing I talked with her; I’d hate to see all that go to waste.
Clothing: I wore jeans and a sweater until Bouder City most of the time. The weather was unseasonably cool. Last year, I brought 2 pairs of jeans, 3 skorts, 2 pairs of shorts, 10 shortsleeved shirts, 1 long sleeved shirt, and a light sweater. This year-2 jeans, 3 skorts, 1 pair of shorts, and a thin cotton skirt I wore once. (I’ll never wear it again. I had Spanx on under it, and apparently the skirt rode up so the Spanx were visible for who knows how long. The kids said they ‘didn’t notice.’) I never wore one of the skorts. I wore the shorts rafting only. I brought a lightweight Eddie Bauer black cardigan that could probably walk to the washer by itself now. I think I wore it daily. I didn’t bring any long sleeved shirts, and 7 short-sleeved shirts. I could get away with 6 shirts. For the second year in a row, I brought my swimsuit and brought it home without wearing it.

Day 14 Travel Day

Day 14 Travel Day. Roomie’s flight was 9:40am, while ours wasn’t until 2:25pm. I thought I’d say ‘farewell’ to her, and go back to sleep. I woke up, waved to her, and that was it. Zonked backed out.
I woke up to a door knock a few hours later. She sent one of the kids up to get a meal ticket. I missed her. I didn’t think to call, I went back to bed. The maid knocked. Doug called. Another kid rang the doorbell needing a meal ticket. (giggle. I was in a room with a doorbell.) I dragged myself out of bed at 10. I was looking forward to sleeping in for the last week. Whine. Bitch. Complain.
The kids were all on time. They all wanted to go to the airport together. I told them they wouldn’t all fit in the shuttle bus. It took 3 trips. They sobbed and said ‘good-bye’ at the hotel, on the bus, before checking in, after checking in, and by then heartless me had enough and went through security. They’re miserable, and I’m just so happy to be going home. It’s rude of me to be so happy while they are mourning the loss of new friends and friends with benefits.
We had a fabulous ticket agent. He didn’t charge any of the kids overweight baggage fees. The agent next to us had people repack their suitcase or pay for being a kilo overweight.
First call was a boy didn’t have a flight home and was on standby. Next was a stop at the United counter, but the kids fixed the problem on their own. Our little nerd carefully checked baggage penalties and fees before going to the airport. His third bag, a set of golf clubs, should’ve cost him $200.00 to check. The counter agent told him $400.00. When I left, it was down to $250.00. One of the kids lent him the fifty dollars. He had asked me for two hundred; I hesitated as he was flying home to Europe.
Our flight left on time. Roomie called, she was stuck in Phoenix overnight. Our flight was late arriving to Las Vegas, and the airport was crowded. All flights to and from Chicago were cancelled, and the airports were all screwed up. Some of the kids called. 2 girls’ flights were delayed at least 2 hours. A large group was going to be stranded in Seattle overnight, and one was going as far as Anchorage for the night. Our flight was an hour late leaving-they didn’t have a crew to work the flight. Thoughts of an overnight stay in Vegas with 11 exchange students pounded through my head. Wouldn’t that have been fun? The flight was overbooked, and they offered incentives to people for giving up their seats. Not us.
We’re coming home.
There are no empty seats on the flight to Cleveland. We boarded as a group of 12 during ‘family’ boarding. I wanted them all together. We’re on SouthWest without assigned seats. None of the kids wanted to sit in my row with me. Little bastards.

The kids thought I was too strict. I think the chaperones thought I was too lenient. I’m certain I pissed off everyone at least a few times during the trip. I bought a guard’s whistle at Alcatraz for fun. I ended up using it several times to get their attention. It was embarrassing, but it worked. I think all I did was yell for 2 weeks. “Sit down.” “Be quiet.” “We’re walking.”

Held for ransom

Hmmm. Someone's been into the single malt while I was gone.
We are freedom fighters for the country of JDessia. I am holding your tiny computer for hostage. YOU will pay me in "in-kind" contributions upon receipt of your baby computer. or I WILL give it to a Chilean to "FIX"

King dougumbe

I liberated my computer today by bribing the canine guards with roasted asparagus. Good thing everything on it was backed up. I missed my Dell mini 8.

Friday, June 19

Elevator Encounters

Cool-looking grey-haired hippie guy: "Havin' fun?"
"No. I'm chaperoning 50 high school exchange students on their end of the year tour."
"Aw, shit." Then "Bless you."

Guy about 10 years younger than me gets on, and presses the same number I just pushed.
Me-"You're staying on 15, too?"
"Um, yeah."
"I'm in 1553, you may want to call....." voice trails off as I realize he thinks I'm hitting on him. Hurriedly, I say "I'm chaperoning 15 rooms of high school kids, I just wanted you to know in case they're too noisy."
He says nothing, and briskly walks out as soon as the doors open.

Thursday, June 18

Day 12, part 2

We left Mammoth Lake this morning. We skipped the advertised hot springs stop in favor of a stop at the Mammoth Lake Visitor Center. Meh. But they did give away free granola bars. The kids were suspicious of a pee break 10 minutes after boarding the bus, but the chaperones wanted to stop. Next we stopped at Mono Lake. That was a cool stop, and I'll recommend it for next year. I just Googled it, and learned it's close to Yosemite. Neat. We stopped to speak to the park ranger about fees. ($40.00 for the bus, and $3.00pp) He let us in for free since we're an educational tour. We had a fee waiver letter for Valley of Fire, but no where else. I gave him a tour t-shirt for being so nice. Go read about Mono Lake, it's very interesting. The only creature living in the lake-brine shrimp. SEA MONKEYS!! One of my creatures stripped down, and went swimming, then yelped the water was stinging him. Yep, that's all the salt and alkalinity. Something they'd know about if they read the info on the signs along the boardwalk. I took photos of the signs for them.

Wednesday, June 17

Day 12

Mammoth Lake to Reno. Next to last day. Light at the end of the tunnel.
Last first. Roomie took 38 students to the outlet mall. We only have 44 kids. She's the only chaperone with them. She really wanted to go to a particular store. When we passed by on the way to the hotel, she had such longing on her face. I think it's called Sierra Trading Post. I've never heard of it. I'm broke and tired, so I stayed here.
This year, we cut out an optional last night trip to the Reno Rodeo in favor of a group final meal. Last year, only 4 students went to the rodeo. Does that tell you anything about exchange student shopping vs any other activity? They look like pack mules dragging their belongings off the bus at each hotel. It takes longer to unload each time. When we do morning room checks, the rooms are full of empty boxes and bags. You'd think they'd were stuck in Alaska with no place to shop for a year... One of my Ohio girls told me she'd spent no more than $100.00 on the entire trip.
Today's biggest problem was we lost 2 kids for a while.
Personal damage report: Not too bad at all. No broken toes. That's pretty amazing, I usually have at least one broken toe or bruised nail. It's not from wearing my beloved Havaianas, Roomie, it's because I'm a blind klutz. I'm worn out. I've been hatching a kidney stone the last few days, but I think it's gone now. My knees hurt from going up and down the damn bus steps dozens of times daily. It's a tall touring bus. I'm doing ok. Except for that ADD thing.
Back to losing 2 of the little darlings. Again, end of story first. When we counted heads, we only got 42. A boy and a girl missing. The bus pulled out to go to Starbucks 2 blocks away while Roomie went to the bank. She needs her Starbucks. I thought she'd really need it when she found out we lost 2 kids. When we returned from Starbucks, the kids were at the meeting point. They just wandered off 10 minutes ago. They were just talking. They lost track of time. They weren't doing anything. They didn't hear the whistle, bus loading, etc. and all the other whining and excuses. The best one? They were having a discussion about universities in their respective countries. That one was likely true. They didn't have cells with them, hers was on the bus, and his was ruined because it wasn't waterproof. Their plan was to call a friend in Ohio, ask the friend to call hostmom, ask hostmom to call me to tell me where to find them. Did they really think (no) that we would leave them? We count them at least 10 times a day. I was so pissed that I was quiet when I talked to them. I don't want to haul them to the airport with a day and a half left. We will restrict them in some way.
The shoppers are back, with 2 or 3 bags each. I can hear them each time the elevator doors open. "Inside voice" isn't a concept they understand.
More later.

Day 10 Evening in Vegas

We checked into the Tropicana. It's about a half-step above Circus Circus, but in a much better location-across from MGM and Excalibur. The room was really far away from the casino floor. I was so tired that I just stayed in the room until it was time to leave for Tony 'n Tina's Wedding. I was too lazy to go out and return.

We were late. I told the kids that everything is further apart than it looks in Las Vegas. We got to Planet Hollywood, and had to run everyone up and into line. Cast members came through the line and chatted a bit. We had a group photo, then were shown to our 4 tables. We had 2 rounds and 2 long banquet tables, just like a reception hall. We tried to explain the concept to the kids, but many didn't understand until the cast interacted with them.

Tony 'n Tina's Wedding is an interactive musical. We were 'guests' at their Italian wedding and reception. Tina's mom hates Tony's dad, and tried to set up her gay son with some of our girls who were over 18. Tony talked to the kids about his white tux. Tony's father's stripper girlfriend tried to convince a few of our boys to come to her strip club after the reception. The knocked up maid of honor came over to complain about the best man. The bridesmaid was angry that she wasn't maid of honor. The ambiguous sex wedding photographer (Think Pat) took photos, and so on. The MC came to tell me the bar was open, to make a run for it once the kids were seated.

The 'wedding' was performed by a priest who got drunk during the reception. I talked with him, the best man, the stripper, MC, maid of honor, and Tony's mom. They all asked about the kids, where they were from, where had they been, the trip, number of chaperones, etc. Tony's mom told me she couldn't believe I volunteered my time for this trip or Youth Exchange, but by the end of the show she came to me, and told me the kids were really sweet, and she completely understood why I do it.

The reception had a wedding singer who encouraged the kids to dance. They weren't sure at first, then really got into it. They even did the chicken dance. They danced to many exchange student faves including 'YMCA.' One of our girls caught the bouquet, and one of the boys grabbed the garter. They had the kids lead a conga line, and lined up the girls for a Rockette danceline. I think the cast was happy to have an enthusiastic audience. They even pulled me in to dance during the wedding party dance.

The show included an Italian buffet, and Tony's father encouraged the kids to take seconds so Tina's mom would have to pay more. The food was good, and the kids enjoyed it. We even had wedding cake after the bride and groom smushed cake in each other's faces.

After the show, a couple from the UK came to me to say they never saw a student group that 'behaved so well.' With their accent, I wasn't certain if the wife said 'well' or 'wild.' They were very complimentary, as was the cast.

After the show, the students had 2 free hours to shop, then their limo ride. Roomie and I were so tired we tagged along for a ride back to our hotel. The kids had 2 limos, they were huge Ford truck-like vehicles.

It was a good night after a wild day. I received many 'thank yous' from the students for the show and limo.

Tuesday, June 16

Day 11

We left Las Vegas 20 minutes late, then stopped at Sam's Club to stock up for 50 minutes. We were on the road the rest of the day. We stopped at a gross state-run rest area. The girls used the Men's room since no one else was around. When it was my turn, I didn't lock the door since I didn't want to touch anything. Some guy opened the door, and I screeched. He told his wife I deserved it since I didn't lock the door. His wife was standing there when I went in to the toilet.
We arrived in Mammoth Lake, CA about 6:30. The kids watched 'Chicago' on the bus. That'll teach them not to bring any DVDs with them.
The Gang of Five is behaving well for me. The other chaperones tell me they're having problems with their attitude. I also heard them discussing not 'being consistent' with punishment. I told the kids originally they had an opportunity to regain some privileges. (not swimming or swimsuits.) I think they think I should be tougher on the kids. I'm plenty tough on them, I think.
All of the Districts are run differently, and we have disparate philosophies. I think one fundamental difference is food. I see teens, and think 'bottomless pit.' I leave the food out until it's gone. Seconds are freely available. Students and adults eat the same items. I buy baby carrots AND potato chips and cookies. If they want fruit now instead of in the morning, go for it. I don't portion out the food for them, or tell them what or how much to take except to leave enough for everyone to grab something before they go back for seconds. We'll probably have a lot of leftovers in the morning since I cut up all the fruit insteading of saving some.
I want to go home. I miss Doug and the boys.
It's fairly chilly here in Mammoth Lake, but the students are in the outdoor pool. I feel sorry for anyone else staying in this hotel.

Day 10

. We started at 8:30 this morning. It's now 1:00am. Long, long day what with the driver's arrest and all.
We wanted to go to the Valley of Fire first. Actually, only about 10 kids wanted to go, the rest wanted more shopping time in Las Vegas. These kids have shopped their way through the last 10 days. One Brasilian bought 3 pairs of sneakers today-a boy, too.
So we start out for the Valley of Fire. We have a AAA map and 2 GPS's. We get lost. We lose an hour wandering around. There's actually only one road, so it wasn't easy to get lost. We wound up somewhere called Lake Las Vegas, it's a new planned community in the middle of nowhere complete with a Ritz-Carlton.
We find the correct road, and hit construction for 12 miles. No road, just packed dirt. in a 59 passenger bus. We lose more time.
We make a few stops along the scenic route. Kids whine. I wouldn't let them watch a movie. They were supposed to be enjoying the scenery. Kids whine some more. We stop at the Visitor's Center, 7 Sisters, and the Beehives only. Kids whine a lot.
We get back on SR15. No fast food places or grocery stores. We need cash to give them for lunch. At this point instead of a group meal, we were just going to turn them loose in Vegas to forage for themselves. Driver's TomTom pulls up the nearest bank. It's in West Las Vegas. We pull in to the stripmall, parking illegally. Roomie gets out to get cash. The bus is parked perpendicular across the front of the building. There is plenty of parking. There is NO reason for the bus to park across 8 or 9 parking spots. Driver doesn't move. Security comes out. Driver doesn't move. Security returns. Driver gets pissy. Security puts a 3x4 sticker on side window stating 'warning violation' not a fine. Driver gets really pissy. Scrapes off sticker with a razor blade, and throws it to the ground.

ETA: It's 7:30am, and the rest of the story.
Driver went to return the razor blade from the auto parts store he borrowed it from, and somehow he and the security guard get into a verbal fight. Driver gives the security guard the finger. Guard isn't pleased. I'm not sure who shoved whom first. The next thing I saw was Driver bouncing off the plate glass windows. I couldn't open the bus door to get off the bus. A student had to open the door for me. Guard spun Driver around, handcuffed him, and marched him into the security office. I tried several times to go in, but Guard kept telling me to 'Step outside, Ma'am.' (Roomie is still in the bank, blissfully unaware of the excitement.) I told Driver I was going to call the police. Guard said he was calling, too.
I went into the bank. I asked the first worker if she would phone the police for me. She replied that she had to ask her manager. She called the manager (about 15 feet away.) The manager asked 'why.' LIke it happens a lot??? I went to the manager's desk, and she let me call 911. I explained a few times. 911 kept asking about the kids.
Roomie told me later she heard a woman asking for the police, for a bus driver, and thought it surely couldn't be me. Ha!
The police show up. 3 cars. I still can't get into security. Guard told me he isn't just a guard, he's Head of Security for the plaza. Oooh, that makes a huge difference. (Driver was completely in the wrong, but Guard was a jerk.)
We wait. We let the starving kids off to go to the grocery store 2 storefronts up. Police come out of the security office. Policeman orders Roomie and me to round up the kids IMMEDIATELY and return them to the bus. He asked if we were from around here. I said 'Ohio.' He said we were in the worst neighborhood of the worst part of Las Vegas. He said the kids would get 'jacked' in the aisles of the store. He had the 4 chaperones rush into the grocery store and get the kids out to the bus. They all obeyed. It was so weird. (at this point, regular weird is normal.)
The policemen explain the kids weren't allowed off the bus. Like he couldn't have mentioned that before? Then he explained the helicopter flying overhead. A man with a gun was running down this street. They were looking for him, and worried about the kids, too. The neighborhood looked a bit poor, but not too scary. The grocery shoppers were moms and grandmas. I felt embarassed for the store manager. Nothing like telling a guy his workplace was one step above Iraq.
We wait some more. I try to get into security.
We decided to send chaperones in to Iraq to purchase food. They cautiously and bravely went shopping. They made it back to the bus unscathed. They brought rolls, chicken tenders, and carrots. Hurray!
The police come out. 2 of their cars leave. I ask what's going to happen. They will let Driver go with a ticket for trespassing. Soon. Great. Cause the bus is still parked illegally. This is an hour later. I think about moving the bus. Sandra Bullock drove a bus in 'Speed.' If she can do it, I can do it. It's an automatic. Roomie has driven a 27 foot class A motorhome. She's most qualified.
Driver comes out. Moves the bus. Must leave as he's trespassing. So what's he do? Goes into the grocery store to help the chaperones carry groceries. Dumbass.
We continue on our way with kids whining they won't have enough time to shop.
Aww, and remember Driver got the 250 dollar parking ticket in San Francisco? The kids each gave 2 dollars to help pay for the ticket since it was our fault. Roomie and I donated our Disney tickets (we only went 1 day, and they were 2 day tix.) and an extra student ticket. Roomie sold them for $100.00. That money was all presented to Driver as we left Valley of Fire. The kids wanted to know if they had to donate to help pay for this ticket, too. We said 'no.'

Bus is leaving for an 8 hour drive. We went to see Tony 'n Tina's Wedding and then for a limo ride. More later.


I gave the "Gang of Five" a choice-go home or sign a contract. No much of a choice, but it killed any whining about being too punitive.
I really wanted to just pinch the sucker bites on their necks. Four of them signed the contract immediately, number five signed after thinking and some discussion. That student just wanted to give up and go home.
This is the Gang of Five's contract.
1-I understand my actions of 'sexually inappropriate behavior' on Friday 6/12 may cause my early return from the bus trip.
2-If I am permitted to remain on this tour, I understand I am subject to stringent rules. (for the rest of the trip.)
1-No shopping time at Las Vegas Outlet Mall.
2-Segregated bus seating. (Up front away from kids.)
3-No swimsuits or being nears swimming pools.
4-Cell phones 10 minutes per day to contact family or Rotary.
5-10:00pm curfew (no guests in your rooms at any time.)
6-No limo ride in Vegas.
7-No sexually inappropriate behavior. (keep your hands to yourself.)
They have been adhering to their contract quite well. We're in the desert, and they're dying not being able to go into the pool with the others. They have the opportunity to work their way off restriction, but I don't see giving in on the swimming part.
We went over the contract at the Outlet Mall. I do know how to be cruel. We were sitting outside a Forever 21 store, the girls were miserable. The other students returned with bags of bargains. The other kids have been teasing them about swimming. These kids text like crazy, and to only have their phones for a few minutes hurts.
I want them to be an example to the others.

I let them go on the limo ride.

Monday, June 15

sucky internet

internet sucks in boulder city. i've lost 3 posts, and can't get online. i'm using a czech computer, and we are leaving in 15 minutes for valley of fire. we are supposed to go hiking for four hours. we're just driving through looking at the highlights, then on to vegas.
the hotel internet can't support too many computers at once. i had 1bps and connection was good at best.

Sunday, June 14

Day 8

Anaheim to Primm to Boulder City to Las Vegas to Boulder City.
First-I sat the five students down, and told them they had a choice. They could sign this contract or go home. No compromising. They all signed.
I'll edit this later. Too tired tonight.

Saturday, June 13

Day 7

Disney Day! The Happiest Place on Earth! Horseshit.
I'm wiped out, so today was my day to sleep in. The kids started knocking on the door at 8:00am for a tour t-shirt, food, questions, aloe, sunscreen, etc. I gave up about 10:00am.
I walked two miles to Target to buy masking tape for their hotel doors at bedcheck, my other roll ran out. I did take the bus back.
Roomie and I left the hotel about 5:15, and returned by 8:15. Three hours we were gone. The front desk personnel left a message for me to come see them. That's never good. (Remember, we begged our way into the hotel since our reservations were for next week.) Some of our children were asked to leave the pool area for inappropriate sexual behavior. Yeah, did you just fall off your chair? Inappropriate sexual behavior in a family pool during daylight. Couples, threesomes, girl-on-girl in front of children. I counted 11 people in the pool that I think were ours. The hotel let me see the video. It was grainy, black and white, and shot from a distance. I could make out couples, and hugging, but couldn't make out faces. I've never had a group sex problem. The night manager told me the students will be easily identifiable since they all had sucker bites. 5 or 6 were the worst offenders, and they each had several hickies. I'm angry. I'm angry they thought it was acceptable to act like that in public. They also mouthed off to the Night Manager.
I took their cell phones away tonight, and will figure out what to do with them tomorrow.

Friday, June 12

Day 6 Huntingon Beach

Surf City USA. We left at 10:00am this morning for Huntington Beach. It's about 25 minutes away. The weather was cloudy and cool in the morning, but the sun peeked out and it warmed up to low 70's.

Roomie and I ate at an open air 2nd floor Mexican bar/restaurant overlooking the beach. The salsa and guacamole were great. We walked down to the beach to watch the kids. They bought a volleyball, soccer ball, and football to play with. Others were tanning near the water, not too many of them stayed in the water very long. Others just shopped their day away. Boys, too. At least 3 of the guys bought shoes today.

We returned to the hotel about 2:00pm, and turned them loose on Disney. We gave out all the tickets, and told them to return for 11:00pm curfew. I backed it up a half hour because we had escapees from at least one room last night. "I just wanted to buy a bottle of water." KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED doesn't mean me. I am a special snowflake who doesn't understand 'no.' I want them to police themselves.

Little personality conflicts here and there. Lee feels back in high school looking in to the mean girls clique. Roomie and a student clash. I just yap at everyone. Two of the girls were punished by a 10:00pm curfew for leaving their towels on the beach. They had an opportunity to be 'ungrounded' by coming to my room to apologize for their attitudes. Two of the other girls interceded on their behalf. I'm more concerned about their attitudes than the towels. They didn't come down. At that point, it was their decision to stay in their room.

Two more girls had an hour penalty as well. They violated the 'stay together in groups of 3 or more.' rule. I asked where their third was at, they pointed uptown, away from the beach. "At the next store across the street?' no, the beach. I was confused. The beach was 180 degrees from where they pointed. This is why we want 3 students together-no common sense. That, and they're less likely to have a threesome than to pair off. Although I did find 2 girls showering together. (I was mostly jealous they're thin enough to comfortably fit two bodies into a hotel shower.)

Thursday, June 11

Day 6, morning

We're getting ready to leave for Huntington Beach. The high today is supposed to be 65 degrees. The less time we spend at the beach, the more time they have for Disney. Maybe we'll just drive past. ;)
We have some serious shoppers in the group. They can find stuff anyway. I don't know where they will put all of it. It's taking longer and longer to unload the bus as the luggage gets heavier.
I have the worst sunburn so far, and it's just on my face and scalp. I've been putting sunscreen on repeatedly daily. I'm trying all the different samples from Sephora.
The kids were able to stay in the pool here at the Candy Cane Inn until 11:00, and were in their rooms for bedcheck at 11:30. NO complaints from security. Hurray.

Day 5- Hollywood and Universal Studio

We got up, left the hotel early for Hollywood. The kids had an hour to cruise the 'Walk of Fame,' Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and the Kodak Theater mall. Johnny Depp was popular this year, and a few of the boys had their photo taken on Michael Jackson's star. Weird. I took a photo of The Simpsons star.
All back on time for the bus. We all wore our yellow tour shirts. Yellow isn't a popular color this year, so they were easy to find. We went to Universal Studios, and the kids split up in different groups, not necessarily by country, language group, or state. It's nice to see friendships developing.
Lunch and dinner were on their own today, same tomorrow and Friday. Then the rest of their meals are included.
Ok. I know you're just waiting for the problem du jour. This is a good one. We're all tired. We pull into the Candy Cane Inn, and they start making the 'uh,oh' sound. Our reservations were for next week. Iwas calm. I called Tour Owner, and let him make the management decision. Tour Owner asked if I could find another hotel. Yeah, It's 8:30, in June, close to Disney, sure I'll find another one. I was calm. It wasn't the hotels fault.
ETA: more later.

Wednesday, June 10

day 4.5 meltdown

Just when everyone seemed happy. 9:20pm. phone call from the front desk with 'the first noise complaint of the evening.' They were running in the hall, screeching, banging doors, and making loud noise at the pool.
I went downstairs and about 2 dozen kids were jammed in the hottub. It looked like cannibal soup cooking. I told them what the Manager told me, pool closes at 10, and kids had to be in their rooms at 10.
Remember we gave them until 11:30 last night? I had to back it up 90 minutes. They were pissed. I cried. Crap.

Tuesday, June 9

Day 4, Morro Bay & Santa Barbara

Roomie said 'fuck' today. If you knew her, you'd write it as your first sentence, too. Imagine a younger Martha Stewart-a cool, collected, executive perfectionist. I giggled and giggled. I have no manners. I also yapped on and on because she did the grocery run today, and bought healthy picnic food. No potato chips for me, no ketchup for the kids. She never heard of putting ketchup on a cold cuts sandwich. Ah well, I don't like raw pea pods. We're even.
We left San Francisco early this morning for 4.5 hours of driving. We stopped at Morro Bay for lunch and kayaking. Everyone kayaking except Roomie and me.
I barely have time to type this nightly, I'm brain dead, and not editing. I'm not even reading it. Excuse duplicates. We walked across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It was cool. ADD there.
We drove another 3 hours to Santa Barbara, and everyone has free time tonight to explore. The kids each received $7.00 dinner money and a map.
Me, for the first half of today's ride: sit. sit down. SIT SIT!!! SITDOWN!! SIDDOWN NOW!! Sit means your ass is on the seat! (not too proud of that one, but it was the last reminder for the entire day.)
Only 3 kids brought movies. Sex and the City, The OC, 3rd season, and The Office. Roomie brought movies. The kids enjoyed Finding Nemo. Roomie and the other chaperones enjoyed Waitress.
Oooooh. Roomie told a story about an Ayurveda massage in India. It was a little bit TMI and girly, so it was a good story. About halfway through, one of the girls said "Vicki, the microphone is still on."
That's my day. Hollywood tomorrow.

Day 3, San Francisco

All good now. Kids are tired and well-fed.
We started the day by touring Alcatraz. Some of the students were off the island in an hour. They had 6 hours to shop, and didn't want to waste any more time on edumacation. Another student had to practically be dragged off 2.5 hours later. She read every caption, listened to the entire tour.
We had a birthday today, another tomorrow, and the final one Thursday.
After Alcatraz, the kids had free time to shop. Some of them should be broke by now. Five and six bags, even from boys.
I returned about 1:30pm to SF, while Roomie went to Costco for bus supplies. I was just about to place an order for tea when my phone rang. "One of the students had an emergency, please come quickly." I walked as fast as possible where I just came from-about 3-4 blocks away. (from the sea lions on pier 39 to the Boudin bakery.) One of the boys felt ill, sat, and passed out. I took him to the ER, and he's fine. It was a vassal vagal reaction. One of the girls told me it happened to her several times, as recently as a few weeks ago. Greatttttt.
Roomie and I finally met up about 5:00, then met the kids at 6:00 and went to dinner. Everyone was on time, and now I am multi-tasking by having 2 computers running while doing laundry.
The girls who were annoying at the beginning were good today. I only yipped seriously at one girl who must jump like a cheerleader for photos. She wants the photo taken while she's in mid-air, so it takes several shots. She was doing it on the middle of the lane in the middle of the road leading to the prison. She actually made faces and mumbled enough that people looked at her, and I told her to 'knock it off.' She said she's done that pose all over the world. All that means is no one else ever told her to grow up and behave in public.

Monday, June 8

Day 2, hotel

We were called to the front desk last night for pool problems. The pool area closes at 10:00pm. The Manager gave the students some extra time, but had to shoo them twice. When they still weren't moving at 10:25, they called our room. Roomie went to handle the situation, as the Manager mentioned a student mimicked her when she told them they had to leave the area.
By the time we arrived, one student was still in the pool, and the others were around it. They argued she 'just' told them for the first time to get out, and no one mocked her. Damn hotel employees, just trying to get the kids in trouble!
We assured the Manager there will be NO pool issues from our students tonight. I think they will be grounded from swimming. Speaking of grounded, the 6 swimmers were told to go to their rooms and stay, I used the word 'grounded' all the others were so interested in a grounding 15 minutes before curfew. Big punishment there!
Two of the girls switched rooms and were forced to switch back. I think they accomplished their mission about 2 minutes before curfew. They didn't have time (whiny voice) to do it earlier.
It's only the beginning of day 3. It's just a few strong personalities that are causing difficulties, but we'll have to stop it, or the rest will challenge us, too.

Sunday, June 7

Day 2, San Francisco

I just seem to have Alcatraz problems. Last year we went to the wrong pier, and almost missed the ferry. This year, our reservation was for next Sunday. That was embarrassing; everyone off the bus, everyone back on the bus.
We are going to Alcatraz tomorrow morning. We flipflopped part of the schedule. We did the city tour today, not that any of the kids cared about it. They liked the stop at Twin Peaks, the highest point in San Francisco. They enjoyed stopping at the Pacific ocean for a beach fix. Many were shocked that the water was freezing. I mean, this is California, the beaches are all supposed to be perfect.
We had a fubar at Lombard Street. (crookedest street in the world.) The kids were supposed to leave the bus, walk to the top of Lombard, but to the bottom of the zigzag part. A bunch of them walked all the way to the top. I had to YELL SUPER LOUD to get them to move their asses down. Our driver got a parking ticket for $250.00 for waiting too long. I could've killed the kids. Oooooh. speaking of killing, 2 of the girls switched rooms last night without permission, and lied that they were allowed. When caught, they weren't apologetic at all, just pissy. I yipped at another girl for leaning across some one's Mercedes. How entitled are you to think it's ok to lean on someone else's vehicle?
After we got caught back up with our schedule, we went to the Union Street Fair. I enjoyed it more than the Haight Ashbury Street fair. This one was all about natural, vegan, art, and jewelry. It had a slightly older, much cleaner, less smelly crowd. We got free tote bags from Kashi, Kashi samples, organic apple sauce samples, Starbucks, Myers cleaning products, Science Diet dog food, and probably more. Roomie had a vegan lunch, she was having broccoli withdrawal. I had a feta, spinach, and tomato crepe, then a dessert crepe with coconut and banana. Yum.
We next went to Chinatown for about 90 minutes. The kids are supposed to stay together in groups of 3 or more, and needed lots of reminding.
We stopped at Grande Avenue near the hotel for dinner. About half the kids wanted Chinese, and the rest wanted Mexican, so we split up. The bill for the Mexican place was only $140.00 for 25 of us. It was great. The other half of the bus enjoyed the Chinese.
We're back at the hotel, and I think that's it for now.

Day 1, San Francisco Orientation

We made it, hurray! One of the last things I saw on Facebook Friday night was a student's update of "I'm going to Las Angeles tomorrow." Oh my. Las Angeles isn't on our itinerary. She arrived on time. Whew.
Our first flight to Charlotte was late, and we only had 35 minutes to get from one end of the airport to the other. The kids basically had a choice-bathroom break or food. I managed to do both, so shared my sandwich on the flight as did the rest of them. We were the last people on the completely full flight. The kids were super well behaved on the flight. I was very impressed.
We picked up 3 more students at the San Francisco airport, and by 6:00pm everyone was present.
So many of the students arrived before 3:00 this year, and walked to Wendy's for lunch, so we thought that Wendy's for dinner was just too much. We called for pizza and salad delivery. 9 16' pizzas were not enough, but the pizza was very good. Kids wiped it out, and made a big dent in the 2 catering trays of salad. (This is a 'remember for next year.')
Roomie, the two new chaperones, and I were tired, so the kids were tired. We told them curfew was at 10:00pm, and not one student argued. They were honestly tired.
I don't have time to write more now. I'm not on my computer. I miss my new baby Dell. Doug, please Fedx it to me when they send it back from repair. (It's 5 months old, and died last week. "Operating System not found." wasn't what I wanted to hear a week before leaving.)