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Live Blogging the Circle School Field Trip to the Festival of Native Arts

The kids from Circle, a few other brave adults, and I are going on a field trip to Fairbanks for a few days. We're attending the Festival of Native Arts to perform out traditional Native dance and to see other groups perform. I will be posting updates on our activities whenever I have the time and the internet connection to get it done. I will just keep adding to this one post, so keep checking back until we make it back home safely on Saturday.

5:15PM Thursday

This morning went fine. I drove the bus out the road to pick up the kids and bring them to the school. Sandra made pancakes for breakfast and the kids ate while I attended to those last minute details. We left at 9:15. We saw about twenty caribou from the road and stopped to let the kids look and take pictures. It took three hours, forty five minutes to make it to the McDonalds on Airport. Lunch at McDonalds went great. So much better and happier and easier than last year. Everyone was having a good time.

6:50PM - Back from Taco Bell

Dinner at Taco Bell. All went well. Some of my kids are having nicotine fits, but we’re making do. Now everyone is back in their rooms getting ready to go to UAF to see all of their friends and cousins. Oh yeah, and to dance.

11:58PM - In for the Night

Our final dance time was 9:30. As we were lining up to go on stage we had to stand in the wings and wait for over 15 minutes. As the excitement began to wear off, all of the kids were showing signs of exhaustion. Big yawns and droopy expressions.

When it was finally time to go on, they did great. Lots of energy and volume and a couple of deer-in-the-headlights mistakes, but the crowd loved it. Particularly some of our energetic, jiggin’ young men. We’ve got a third grader and a fourth grader who can really cut a rug.

After, we took the younger kids back to the hotel and let them get to bed. They all crashed immediately. The older ones stayed to watch other dance groups and to socialize with all the cousins from all over. At eleven, I got the older kids and took them back to the hotel. Now everyone is in their rooms, and hopefully on their way to sleep. I’m sitting here in the hall watching and waiting.

Breakfast tomorrow at Denny’s. I’m already looking forward to it.

8:08AM - At the Hotel

Last night I sat out in the hall as long as I could, but I was tired. And I figured my kids were tired too, so I gave it up around 12:45. I set my alarm for 8AM, but woke on my own at 4, 5, 6, and 7AM before finally getting up. I just called every room, and now we’re getting ready to head to breakfast. And that’s good ‘cause I’m hungry.

9:15AM - The Northern Most Denny's in the World

We’re at Denny’s! Everyone has ordered and now we’re waiting. Of course everyone wanted ice cream sundaes and cappuccinos. I was willing, but the other adult chaperones vetoed the idea. I am reminded of the time my brother took me camping when I was about ten. We went to a diner for breakfast and he let me get a hamburger and a Dr Pepper for breakfast. I loved it. People are acting silly and taking pictures. We’re having a good time.

10:52AM - Barnes and Noble

The Big Dipper ice arena was open, but they are in the middle of league tournaments, and so no free ice time is available. That’s okay. We’ll have time to skate when we go to the Ice Art Park later today. Now we are at Barnes and Noble, letting the kids have time to browse the books. I really don’t think most of them have spent much time in a book store, or in any print rich environment besides school, and this is a good one for that kind of introduction. I’ve already heard lots of remarks about how cool this store is from the little kids. That’s a win, and we’ll take all of those we can.

Just now, as I was browsing the isles with one of my little guys, I had the thought, “Man, I’m at work right now. How cool is that?!”

1:06PM - Back at the Hotel

Barnes and Noble was a hit. Even my jaded high schoolers enjoyed sitting in the deep comfy chairs and reading magazines. Not everyone wanted to take something home (surprisingly), so we got out of there without having to sell the farm.

Now we’re back at the hotel. It is cold and windy today, so no one is really interested in the ice art exhibit or skating. It’s too cold. The little kids are resting in the rooms, watching cartoons. The older kids are also resting or walking around aimlessly as teenagers do.

Breakfast was good and big and recent, so no one wants to go to Subway for lunch. That’s fine. We’ll eat an early dinner later. Next up: the "mall."

4:47PM - Post Mall, Post Food

All of the kid have been getting more and more anxious to get to the Shangri La of all underage Fairbanksans: The Bentley “Mall.” As a kid who grew up in mall-land, I can’t believe that the word mall can even be applied to this place. I am used to five levels, five hundred stores, three thousand people, ice rinks, food courts, mayors, etc. There are malls in Dallas with GDP’s higher than all of Fairbanks. I was kidding when I wrote that, but now that I think of it, it might actually be true. Anyway, today we went to the Bentley Mall. Nestled between a Safeway and a Michaels, this place has about fifteen stores. All the usuals: Claire’s, Lidz, Gamestop, Hot Zone, American Eagle, and about seven or eight vacant store fronts.

From there we went to a Chinese Buffet. It’s no surprise to me that the biggest handful on this trip are our three youngest. They really aren’t old enough to be traveling on a trip like this, but we’re making do. Now we hotel side again. We’ve got an hour to get all dolled up for UAF again. We’ll go there about 5:30 to give us time to see and be seen, watch some other dance groups, and browse the Native wares.

Movie tonight. If conditions are right, I might score a nap.

12:29AM - End of a Long One

We went to the Davis Hall around 6. We turned the older kids loose and divided up the younger ones. I ended up with four of our boys, two of whom simply did not have the wherewithal to walk on their own, and so, we ended up holding hands as we walked the whole time. None of us enjoyed it, but that was the way it had to be.

Our group was scheduled to dance at 8:20, but by eight o’clock, they were already more than an hour behind. So we had to wait for what seemed like forever. It was after 9:40 before we got on stage. Waiting in the wings, it was apparent that our little kids were just too tired. It had been too long a day. They didn’t have it in them to stand or sit quietly for more than a few minutes. We tried to corral them, but it was no use. They were too exhausted and wired. Nine, nearly ten o’clock is too late to keep kids up in any kind of public setting. Next year I will try to make sure we get one of the earliest times available.

We had scheduled a 10:15 movie for the older kids. But by the time we were changed, loaded, and on the bus, it was ten thirty. Everyone was tired and wanted to just go back to the rooms. So that’s what we did.

After dropping off the kids, I went to gas up the bus and get some snacks from the store. It’s COLD out. Five below with a forty mile per hour wind. It’s crazy. I’m just hoping that passes are clear for the ride home tomorrow. We all wanna get HOME.

Jamiee’s birthday is tomorrow. Wish we could all be together.

3:47PM - Home at Last

This morning we checked out of the hotel, went to Fred Meyer for breakfast and shopping, Wal Mart for shopping, and hit the road.

We were nervous about crossing the summits, because it has been unbelievably windy in Fairbanks. And we heard the passes were bad too. We stopped at the Montana Creek station to talk to the road crews. They said there were plow trucks up there, and that we’d have no trouble, so we pressed on. It was windy. And there were drifts. But the blowing snow kept me from seeing the drifts until I was in them and fully committed. And so we forged ahead, kicking up a swirling, enveloping cloud of snow. But we made it.

As with any trip, it seems like the last 6 miles were the most arduous. The kids had endured as much as they could, and some of them were near full blow meltdown. After three days the kids were getting on each others’ nerves. And maybe they were getting on the adults’ nerves too. That’s part of what traveling is all about, I suppose. But home at last. I dropped each one at home at last.

I had fun. I think most everyone else did too. And we are home safe and sound without incident. It could have been otherwise. And now for a long nap on the couch. Here endeth live blogging.

Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2008 at 07:54AM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | Comments4 Comments

Reader Comments (4)

Brian, today we're going home to see your family and the other kids. Reading this makes me homesick just knowing how much we missed them and YOU. May God continue to bless you for having such a big heart for these kids. Love you very much and take good care of yourself. Dad
February 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDad (JLR)
It has been good reading about the trip. Thanks for keeping us all informed!
March 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWife
I bet you now have second thoughts about what you said on having them as your own kids at the end of the trip. :-) Glad all went well. Steph said it was different experience altogether last year when Ms G was still there.
March 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDad (JLR)
Your love for children (everybody's children) is evident in your words, expressions and story telling. I feel as if I had been on the trip with you.
March 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMom (Lizabeth)

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