DC in a few words
by Thomas Doyle
With the 2013-14 academic year behind us and our season neatly wrapped up now, I take a minute to reflect on the past trips – largely the weather patterns in this blog effort! For many years now I go online and check The Farmers Almanac – – and although I feel parts of the prediction can be vague and other parts overkill – – again this year I thought the prediction was (again) eerily right on target.
We enjoyed another temperate December and January in DC & NYC but then Old-Man-Winter roared through between February 10 and March 17. It almost seemed as though he was making up for lapsed-snow-days over the Holidays. But in the face of wintry-mixed-forecasts we didn’t skip a beat in touring. Our groups who were lucky enough to be there (before the Springtime crush of groups) got to see the fluffy white stuff and they were truly delighted.
Dropping the agenda rhythm in order to fit in time in one of the many, many snow covered historic parks for the students enjoyment wasn’t even a short discussion. I would just wake up, week after week, knowing that time needed to be allowed! We covered all we needed to cover on the agenda’s, allowing a little less time here or there, in order to make the magic happen and let the students free-for-all in the snow.
Although we faced one day with the news of a government shutdown (all federal employees told to stay at home) I kept an eye on my trusted smart-phone for news of other site closures. That one morning in particular we boarded those Annett buses and we went forward on our ‘seek and destroy mission’ (to see the Monuments in their winter-splendor)! We achieved our goal plus fit in more that we could, and then we stopped for that first snowball flight through the air.
Through the weeks some snowballs were launched from Lafayette Square (across from the White House and even from the middle of the grand pedestrian-only Pennsylvania Avenue), others hurled while in the shadow of the Smithsonian Museums and even others tossed about along the banks of the Potomac River. Florida students left their marks with creative snowmen and one snow manatee (that bunch didn’t seem to understand the concept of building the snow up, they piled it and then shaped it and I have to hand it to them – they did a great job creating a fat, happy manatee form in the snow!)
Again and again, the students warmly thanked me for creating time for them to get off the bus and get in it. It was week-after-week of snowfall and many of the Florida students I toured with had never seen snow before. There was a lot of: “…I am so glad I’m here and that it snowed for us when we got up here…” Such a gratifying feeling. I write this with a grin on my face.
April and May were met with the typical excited crowds of student groups. Springtime is a beautiful time to catch the city-sites. Because of the unusually long winter the Cherry Blossoms were about 10 days late to peak. We had three groups in the District while they were at peak and they were amazed at the abundance and beauty of the blossoms. Thankfully there hadn’t been as much rainfall as in the past couple of years so the blooms were on the branches about a day longer than usual. The flowers in the beds came through on time – – tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, etc – – all reaching for the sun adding even more beauty to the city and sites.
We wrapped up the year with our annual multi-bus Safety Patrol tours from Citrus, Duval, Gilchrist, Alachua and Levy Counties. Between May 31st and June 27th we planned for over 3100 students and chaperones on 63 buses. The groups enjoyed more milder June weather this year with our hoteliers and tour guides awaiting their arrival week after week.
Overall the touring year was a complete success from my perspective. Not only did I lead tours through our Nation’s Capital but also to our State Capital and I even got to NYC w/a couple of groups. I kept a hectic schedule but worked through those calendar days away from the office with a consistent step and pride in the knowledge that all other trips were running as smoothly as those I guided (there’s a shout-out here – – to the office support staff and the tour guides I rely on!) I especially want to thank the sponsors for taking the time to coordinate payments, roomlists, health forms, etc – – all that goes on (not un-noticed) behind-the-scenes from your campus. I hope you’re enjoying a relaxing summer ~