Get on the Bus, Gus
And now it's time for another round of nostalgic navel-gazing fun! If you're not down with the whole navel thing, worry not; there's a DVD-related entry coming later.
This past weekend, the community orchestra I play in did a concert in Marshall, MN. Marshall is several hours drive from here so most of the group got there on chartered buses. I should say that this whole thing was generously paid for (as well as a sizable monetary donation to the orchestra, which does not charge admission for its concerts) by the Schwan Food Company, which is based in Marshall. Of course they're a big corporation, but it was a nice thing to do and the community really turned out to support us. It was a very positive experience.
While we were on the way home the other night, I couldn't help but be reminded of the past; bus tours and trips. I assume that many people have negative associations with passenger bus travel. Since I haven't had to make a long trip on a regular bus with all the stops, I am free to think of your average Greyhound bus in a more positive, rose-colored fashion. Although I haven't traveled by bus on conventional trips, I used to take many trips on chartered tour buses. Since my Dad was a high school band director, I pretty much grew up going on at least one band trip a year. As far as I can remember, I always liked going on them and true to my nature, was fascinated by the bus itself. It didn't matter to me that this was a pretty mundane piece of machinery, it seemed cool. The smell of diesel exhaust still reminds me of this. I remember being impressed watching these guys drive handling the giant steering wheels that allowed them to maneuver these massive vehicles, as well as all those mysterious controls that didn't seem to exist on the family cars. The Grey Line drivers (who were really great guys, especially Don Wickler) we usually had were cool about letting me check out the gear and answering my questions about what all those controls did. To this day, I have this cache of knowledge regarding motor coaches that is a bit out of place in my collection of A/V geekery. This is all pretty much due to me talking to the drivers all those years, as well as a great deal of observation. The buses that run now are larger and have more comforts, but seem mostly the same as the ones I grew up riding (some of the Grey Line coaches were built in the 1960s, back when GM was still manufacturing them).
The thing about those bus trips, whether I was tagging along as a kid or part of the group on the tour, was that we were riding with people we knew. We had a reason and purpose to where we were traveling. It could have been a marching band competition, an orchestra tour of the state of Wyoming, or an all-state band/orchestra/chorus trip (where I got to know Hunter). There was always the anticipation of getting to the event and the inevitable downward slide on the way home. The other night I was glad to be getting off when we pulled in. In the past, there was always a pang of disappointment when we got off. I'm sure I'm forgetting a number of times when I would have rather not been stuck on a crowded bus, but hey, that's the beauty of nostalgic haze!