Faithfully Following Directions Leads Us Astray – With Amazing Consequences!

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Jambo Journal – Day #2, Monday, July 26, 2010 Arrival.

Yesterday’s entry: Eternal Answer Finally Revealed

After a night of no rest, we turn 795594_46981410_Danger-Do-Not-Enter_Sign_stock_xchng_royalty_freeinto the large McDonald’s (complete with McPlayground) at 6:00am Monday, a full hour behind schedule. Wait! No, it’s the wrong one. We leave with another of the five buses and head down the road to the McDonald’s we phoned ahead to warn.

We get there and wonder if the busses will be able to park anywhere. Man, is it small. In fact, it’s about the size of one of Ray Kroc’s original franchises. Don’t worry about not having a playground, it barely has room for two registers! And the seating capacity? Let’s just say a family of four would find it comfortable – barely.

We have two buses of hungry boys (and leaders), each equipped with a magic $10 bill. We could spend it any way we desire. Most of the boys order some smoothie or frappe concoction. I order the usual – egg and cheese with bacon on a biscuit. And one medium Hi-C orange drink. Of course, the woman taking my order doesn’t know it’s the usual, but, then again, neither do most of the other McDonald’s who tend to mess up the order whenever I drive through.

(You know what I mean here. You place an order at the Drive-Thru window, wait an excessively long time, impatiently grab the order when it’s ready and speed off to the appointment you’re already late for, only to discover, 2.8 miles down the road, you got sausage instead of bacon and orange juice instead of Hi-C orange drink…

…yeah, I figured you knew what I meant.)

At this particular McDonald’s in Spotsylvania, they get it right. It’s good. It’s so good I actually feel sorry for the regular customers pulling in so very early this morning under the false belief they’ll beat the crowd. I can almost see the emotion change on their faces when they first notice the two chartered buses and the line extending out of the tiny fast food restaurant.

As our line ever so slowly marches through the eatery, several cars rush into the parking lot. I’m thinking, “Can’t they see the line?” Their McDonald’s uniform explains the answer. The manager must have called in the reserves!

The last boys finally go through the line shortly after 7:00pm and we’re on the road within 15 minutes, still 45 minutes behind schedule. As we pull into the large parking lot of the original (wrong) McDonald’s, we see the other busses have been waiting for us. Seems like the wrong turn paid off right for them.

By 7:30pm – still an hour behind schedule – the fleet of busses head back for the expressway and the final leg of the long journey. Suddenly – and unexpectedly – we start seeing temporary road signs flashing before us, telling us where Boy Scout Jamboree attendees should turn. There’s a moment of confusing at the helm. We’re the lead bus. All the other busses depend on our able driver and the contingency’s trusty navigator to get us to the correct gate. After all, we’ve been thoroughly warned going through the wrong gate can have severely negative implications, including delaying our entry onto the army base.

Another insisting signs blinks before us, urging us to turn soon. This will lead us to the north end of the base. Our directions tell us to head for the south end – a full 30-45 minutes away in the circuitous route we’ve been assigned.

A third flashing highway alert seals the decision. We turn, throwing our best laid plans into the hands of fate. As we approach the gate, the military police stop us. We see a whole line of Jamboree staff behind them. The MP informs us we’re not on their list. “We know that,” we tell the officer, explaining we were only following the orders of the highway traffic signs.

Fortunately the Sargent is a native-Western New Yorker and he quickly arranges for someone from the Jamboree staff to board our bus and personally escort us through the base and to our subcamp. We arrive and begin unloading at approximately 8:00am – fully an hour AHEAD of schedule.

Our early arrival allows us to erect our troop camp during the not-as-hot morning hours. So, while all the other contingents around the country continue to arrive, we happily begin planning our next nine days, knowing our camp stands ready for use.

My son Peter volunteered to be a Hometown News Correspondent (through Channel 13 WHAM). He has to report in so I travel the slow motion bus with him to the place where they give him credentials. The 30 minute walk turns into a 60 minute school bus ride. When we get there, Peter goes into what amounts to two hours of quick training and I begin typing these journals.

While there, I meet a man by the name of Kevin Rudder. He’s a volunteer on the print side. It turns out he writes for several community newspapers in Massachusetts, including one in Mendon, MA. I mention I once owned a community newspaper in Mendon, NY, which was named after the Mendon of Massachusetts. What a small world.

Of greater interest is the national news story Kevin tells me about. It seems Fox News (whose big satellite dish is staring me right in the eyes) has reported there was a two hour wait at the southern gate – the gate we were originally intending to go to.

Sometimes, a wrong turn is just what you need to succeed.

Stay Tuned for Tomorrow’s Exciting Journal Entry: What do Dehydration and an Extra Parka have in Common?


  1. Sue Santini says

    Hello Chris…… I am the Mom of one lead bus passengers… Eric Santini. I truly enjoyed reading your blogs to date. The only communication I have had with my 16 year old was a reply to a text that said, “it’s good, we r in line now”. Your writtings are keeping me informed. Thank you very much ! ~ Sue

  2. Chris Carosa says

    Sue, thanks. Bear with me as the posts may be a little delayed.

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