It’s taken me a whole week to get this down but boy oh boy, oh boy… the Orchestra trip to Portland with my youngest daughter lots of fun and had some very scary parts at the same time.  The day started far earlier than I would have chosen and we took a charter bus that had pulsing breaks and a very rough ride – seemed like the trip took forever – but we did arrive in Portland just in time for dinner.

Our first meal in Portland was in Chinatown at an amazing Chinese restaurant and the meal was served family style (they put large plates of food on the table and everybody serves themselves), it was fabulous!  Fried rice, mandarin chicken, beef and broccoli, garlic green beans, salt and pepper shrimp, egg drop soup and even more dishes that I can’t remember the names of but all yummy!  Afterwards the kids were given about 20 minutes to wander downtown.  One group of students (NOT the group I was with) found an X rated donut shop and one of them came back with a donut shaped like, ahem,well, like a twig and berries… and it was a guy who bought it – I mean come on, seriously?

The group I was with saw what I believed to be the camp of Occupy Portland and homeless people were everywhere.  One of the homeless men shook hands with one of our beautiful young girls (again, not in my group) and wouldn’t let her hand go until he managed to get a hug out of her.  That was scary for me to hear after she got back on the bus and exactly why I stayed so close to my daughter.  There were only 4 chaperons for about 35 kids so the kids were supposed to stay in groups of 4 or more – I don’t know what her fellow students were thinking or why they didn’t stop him, or did she just wander off alone?  Teenagers can be so oblivious sometimes… At any rate she came back unharmed and didn’t think it was any big deal.

This morning the old bus driver tucked his shirt into his tighty whities, which were unfortunately riding higher than jeans – oh my eyes!  He was a nice guy, old enough to be my father, maybe even my grandfather but boy, oh boy, did he need help with his clothing for most of the trip!

I brought the board game “Quelf” and it was soooo much fun to watch 8 kids play with a bunch more watching.  If you haven’t played it you’re really missing out.  It’s very random and goofy – great for bringing a group that doesn’t know each other very well together or making family time better.  It was worth every penny!

The Chamber Orchestra was the group that went and they also had 2 String Quartets.  One of the String Quartets placed 2nd in the entire thing, they scored 97.5 out of 100 and the school that beat them was from a great big giant school in the Seattle area so we felt like we did pretty good!

We wandered around Downtown Portland from 7:30 pm – 10 pm on a Saturday night.  My daughter was trying to convince me that I didn’t have to stay with her every moment of the trip and that she should be able to go with the other kids… without me. Heck no!  I personally don’t see how any teacher, much less two of them could think it’s a good idea to turn a bunch of teenagers loose in downtown Portland and trust them to find their way back on the light-rail system to the charter bus… but I remember when I was in high school the same exact thing happened to me, I was with a group of kids from my high school and we made it to a premiere music event and the folks in charge let us roam the downtown streets of the state capitol until 10 or 11 pm…  It’s strange to see how much more evil is in this world now than there was 20 years ago and yet all the kids still made it back to the bus safely.  It’s just not something I would do if I were in charge, that’s for sure!

Sunday we “slept in”, ha, ha and then boarded the bus for the long trip home.  I spent most of the bus ride watching the series “Taken” by Stephen Spielberg.  We came home and went to bed early, my daughter had to go to school the next morning but I had wisely taken the day off and so I think I went to bed at 9:30 pm Sunday night and didn’t get out of bed until 5 pm Monday evening… It was wonderful!

I received a thank you email from the orchestra teacher – she said I was an excellent chaperon and she was glad to have me.  That was really nice because I felt like I kind of “forced” my way into being a chaperon because of my daughter’s medical issues and she would have rather had someone else be there.  The teacher even said she would recommend me to another teacher to be a chaperon on the next trip my daughter would be taking with the Jazz Band/Jazz Choir, whoo hoo!  It’s nice to do something right!

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