Field trip!

Thursday morning, and one by one, bleary-eyed kids slowly showed up to board two tour buses bound for Page, AZ and Lake Powell for the annual science field trip to observe one of the great landforms on Earth, Glen Canyon, the entrance to the Grand Canyon. The buses left the school parking lot at 6:14 a.m. and we, kids, teachers, and chaperones were on the way.

After the Maguireville rest stop, the dreaded phrase, “are we there yet?” echoed repeatedly through the bus. Teachers rolled their eyes. This soon?, we thought. We have three more hours to go … We put another movie in the bus’ DVD player. The kids snacked and watched. Someone spilled a whole box of Gobstoppers (jawbreakers) onto the floor, and from then on, the little round candies rolled through the bus, back when we went up hill, forward when the driver braked. Jelly beans were rolling around as well. I think next year we will ban round candies on the bus!

The Hwy. 89 detour through Tuba City, and then northwest from there, wasn’t as bad (or long) as I’d thought. We had to detour because the road, which always hung precariously (in my opinion) on the side of Echo Cliffs, gave way during the early morning hours of Feb. 20. I thought of things like, who found it, and how did they not fall into one of the crevasses made when it happened? Imagine driving along a road during the dark cold hours of the morning and suddenly finding there is no road in front of you, just eternal blackness. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but now the road is closed indefinitely. In the photographs, it looks very ‘unfixable.’

We arrived in Page, and the students got their first look at Glen Canyon Dam. There were shouts of “There it is!” and “Whoaaaa!” It’s amazing to see it in person instead of  in photos! We visited the Carl Hayden Visitor’s Center, then went down to Lake Powell Resort.

At 4:00, we took the Antelope Canyon boat tour. This part is usually a favorite, but this year it was not. We had to share a tour boat with some crabby old people who didn’t want kids on the upper deck with them. Of course, being in the bottom means they didn’t get to see the beautiful scenery as much as they would have if they’d been able to take turns going up on top. This is why it is usually planned that we are the only people on the boat, so we don’t ‘bother’ others. Apparently, someone didn’t get the memo, and that was messed up. The boat’s captain was in a bad mood, and he started screaming at his crew when they didn’t distribute the life vests to the kids fast enough. Good grief.

Despite all this, the kids enjoyed being on the boat, hanging out with their friends. Some even appreciated the spectacular scenery, and one of my sweet, smart girls said she felt bad because the captain was explaining everything and sharing information about the canyon, but the kids were too loud on the bottom to hear anything. She would think of that. She is always considerate, and thoughtful.

Following the boat tour, it was pizza party time. By now, it was 6:30, and the kids were hungry. The resort kitchen crew made a fabulous salad, and many pizzas. The kids ate them up! I begged for coffee for the adults. It was bitter and strong, but it was coffee. Several of us suffered without it all day and were glad of anything by that point.

After some time in the souvenir shop where the kids looked at all the overpriced t-shirts and trinkets, we took them to their hotel rooms for the night. In the morning, they woke up to a beautiful day, a fabulous breakfast, and the smooth-water rafting trip. Four boys came over to where I was sitting and presented me with a gift: a little keychain in the shape of a stylized Kokopelli motorcyclist! I was grateful, of course, because they are so kind, but I didn’t want them to spend so much money on me! Such sweet kids.

Sunrise on Lake Powell, Navajo Mountain in the background:

I know they had a great time looking at all the scenery in the canyon, peering up at the 500-foot walls. They were tired when they came off the rafts in Lee’s Ferry. The bus was quiet on the way to Cameron Trading Post, where more trinkets and souvenirs were available, and a lot cheaper! Another one of my sweet kids bought me a lollipop in the grocery store because he knows I like them.

Our bus driver put the hammer down on the way home, and we seemed to fly down I-17 toward home. Many of the kids, and adults, slept soundly. I walked back to check on them several times. Once when I walked to the back, E. was sitting up, blinking.

“Mrs S!” he said. “I thought I fell asleep for 10 million-billion hours, but then it turned out I was only asleep for six minutes!” I smiled. So cute.

After cleaning up a little motion sickness, and then collecting trash from the bottom of the bus (for the 100th time), I was glad we began our winding descent into the Valley, and home. The kids started calling their parents and giving them an ETA, and we were actually home 15 minutes sooner than we’d thought. All the anxious parents were waiting anyway. For some, this was their kids’ first big trip and first time away from home without parents. Everyone came home safe and sound.

I breathed a sigh of relief, and finished unloading the extra water and ice-filled coolers from the bottom of the bus. After the other bus finally arrived, and then everyone had gone home, I went home, too. I didn’t feel too tired, but I sure slept well once I got to bed!

It was another successful field trip, and I am sure all the kids had a great time, and most importantly, have memories that will last a lifetime.


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