Today started out a little different. My Grandson, Aiden, spent the night with Jagger and I here at the Coach in Mesa, Arizona. When my alarm went off at 6:00 am, I called out to Aiden, “Time to get up, we need to leave here at 6:45 am for school.” We both got ready, Aiden was filled with excitement as today was the beginning of his “Sixth Grade Camp” experience.
After getting ready we all, yes Jagger too, loaded up in the Workhorse and left our home for school, which is about twenty miles from our camp in Mesa. As we sat in a short line to get on the freeway, I mentally compare the traffic to what it was last year at this time. It’s definitely more, but still moving, unlike some other major cities in the USA. Arizona definitely keeps their roads and infrastructure in good shape. When I am here anyway, it seems they are always building and repairing the roads.
The first stop is McDonald’s for a quick drive-thru meal, then back on the trail. We arrived at the school about thirty minutes early, for which I’m thankful. Especially due to the size of the Workhorse, parking was readily available and filling fast. We parked and unloaded all of his bags, including the pumpkin muffins Nana had prepared for him. He and I then carried the load over to the three buses waiting patiently for their precious cargo.
Is This Contraband?
Our first stop was to talk with one of the teachers. She appeared to be slightly tense, but holding her clipboard of typewritten names, seemed organized. I thought to myself, there is no way I would be going on this trip with one hundred and fifty Junior Highers! I’m sure Junior High teachers are mostly angels in disguise. We asked her a few questions, she said Aiden would be riding on this bus, which is Bus #3 in the caravan of large privately owned buses. She also directed Aiden to place his baggage in the basement of Bus #2. There all of the boys would store their cargo. We were also directed to talk with one other teacher and eventually another teacher. Aiden was bending the rules a little as he wanted to take his “Go Pro” for filming the event. Eventually the teachers agreed he could. Privately I’m thinking, by the smile I see on each of their faces, they would each be borrowing Aiden’s contraband before the trip was over to film their classes having fun at this life changing event. I hope so.
As we pass from bus to bus during this process, many young classmates would chirp; “Aiden, what bus are you on”? Most looked disappointed when he responded, “Bus #3”, as they would not be riding with him. Once we arrived back at Bus #3, the teacher in charge of the bus greeted us once again. “Did I check you off my list?”, She queried. “What was your name?” “Oh, apparently not,” as she put a big red check in the box next to his name. I was surprised as he gave me a half hearted hug, I understand the guys may be watching. He said goodbye and climbed aboard Bus #3 for his journey of several hours to a camp where he will grow up a little more.
I went back to the Workhorse with Jagger and sat there, waiting for the buses to pull away. While soaking in the moment, some nice people who had parked next to me came back to their truck. As Jagger and I watched out our window, the man squeezed in between our trucks, avoiding the large mirrors. He politely said, “good morning” then told me while pointing at Jagger, “he’s a nice looking dog”. As he started to reach his hand in my window to pet him, I quickly said “that’s probably not a good idea, he is not very friendly when he’s in his truck, but thanks anyway”. He pulled his hand back quickly, smiling. I always hate to do that, but I don’t want to take a chance. Jagger looks so innocent with his nose over my shoulder, never barking or growling. I’m unsure what he will do at this point. He will growl at a few people he seems unsure about, but mostly he’s friendly. Maybe I will trust him again someday, but for now we still have some work to do.
A few minutes later the buses start to pull away. As Bus #3 passes, I see my grandson sitting tall in his seat with his head above the young boys and girls surrounding him, this is because he is easily 6 inches taller than most of his peers. I’m sure the next few days will be full of new adventures for them to share upon returning to family. The time is quickly approaching that they will branch out to create a life adventure of their own.
Just as in life, somewhat sadly, but proudly, I get in line following the caravan of buses carrying my grandson and his friends to highway 101 North. It seems like yesterday when I said goodbye to each of my children as they left for their Sixth Grade camp. They too came home with a sense of a little more independence and some pretty entertaining stories! For a few more miles I follow along before I break off from the herd by turning my direction South on Loop 202 for our trip back to our camp.