June 4, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Track Team Changes Bus Twice Getting to PVCs.

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Ms. Richards recently stated that it was unfortunate that, with the development of modern transportation, travel has become less about the journey and more about the destination.  This may be true if one is traveling by plane; less so if one is in an old schoolbus.

Last Friday, the track team got on a bus at 12:30 to attend the Penobscot Valley Championships in Dover-Foxcroft at 3:30.  The trip was uneventful until, halfway through the journey, the bus began to make sputtering sounds, and pulled over at the side of the road.  As the driver checked the engine, the track team observed their surroundings (field, duckpond, house) and collectively agreed that they were in the middle of nowhere.  Someone with a phone concluded that they were somewhere in Orland, but all of Maine can be accurately described as “the middle of nowhere.”  Some students suggested walking the rest of the way; some, less motivated, suggested walking back and forgetting about PVCs entirely.  Calls were made to parents, asking for rides, but they turned out to be unnecessary.  The driver got the bus running and drove towards Old Town for a replacement bus.

The John T. Cyr & Sons bus yard was a deserted-looking lot at the side of the road, surrounded by tall dark pines.  A team hike in the woods was halfheartedly suggested.  The opportunity to pee in the bushes was gladly taken advantage of.  After lugging all their equipment into a new yellow bus, the track team was again on the road.  All windows were opened to let in the hot breeze, an action which was repeatedly regretted as the bus drove past farm after farm, each smelling of a different variety of manure.  A rusty tractor junkyard confirmed that Old Town was even more nowhere than Orland.

Spirits were low as the team approached Foxcroft.  Those with early track events began to worry that they wouldn’t have enough time to warm up.  Then, a few miles away from the school, a mere twenty minutes of driving, there was a horrible, grating, ripping sound as the left rear tire shredded.  Upon examination, they had left half the tread somewhere back on the road in a cloud of powdered rubber.  The bus was not going anywhere.

Busloads of small Foxcroft children drove past on their way home from school, laughing at the team’s misfortune.  Four buses and ten minutes later they were aided by a busdriver who’d finished his rounds.  Shannon morosely recognized him as the crabby substitute who used to drive her home.

The third bus was an oven. “Don’t steal the backpacks,” the driver warned, “and don’t bother puttin’ down the windows, you’ll just hafta put ‘em back up in a few minutes.”  The latter comment was ignored, and all the childlocked windows were pushed down as far as was possible (an approximate 5 inches).

Upon arrival at the Dover Foxcroft School the 4×800 team was due at the start in eight minutes.  It was a scramble as runners checked the schedule, but nobody missed their events.  A makeshift tent was constructed from tarps, bags, and duct tape to block the oppressive sun.  The meet progressed rapidly.  Ruby was successful in removing her nose stud.  Lianna’s name was repeatedly announced over the loudspeaker throughout the afternoon.  Nobody died of heatstroke.  Ben Plohr was a gazelle and consistently outran all his competitors.  Vika’s name was mispronounced (as usual).

The meet continued without a hitch until lightening flashed through the sky, effectively ending all activities.  The 3200 meter was canceled in the middle (though Sam Stahnke was definitely going to win).  After retiring to their respective buses and waiting for half an hour, all teams were informed that the meet could not continue, and would be completed on Tuesday in Bucksport.  The GSA track team drove home in their fourth bus.  Four-way texts were soon underway.  The team stopped at a Pizza Hut and spent the rest of the ride daring each other to eat Vika’s Spicy Buffalo Wings.   Nicki Dillon described the experience as being like “the devil is playing tic-tac-toe on your tongue.”  Kids dozed off against each other’s shoulders listening to Sam’s Soul Children play their MPBN gig on the radio.  After a day of rain, sun, and thunder, a thick mist had settled in, and the bus’s fog light flashed eerily, illuminating the dark roadside trees like a strobe.  The road from Blue Hill to Foxcroft was more of an adventure than the Penobscot Valley Championship itself.

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