It didn't start out so badly. After a wonderful Friday night filled with lots of enthusiastic dancing, I packed my bags, went to sleep around 2 or 3am, and dragged myself out of bed at 6:54am. A quick trip to the ice arena, loaded my bags into the bus, and climbed aboard with snacks, a blanket, and a pillow. The trip there was peaceful. I napped for a few hours. I read a great book. I watched a couple of movies. I talked to some people, I munched on snacks, had McDonalds for lunch.
We made good time, and arrived in Beaver Dam Wisconsin with enough time to check into our hotel and get settled and changed before our team dinner. The team dinner was at Ponderosa, because the original place we'd selected turned out to be too small to accomodate us. I'm glad I ate decently, because this turned out to be the only "real" meal of the entire weekend. (By real, I mean it wasn't fast food, and it wasn't fruit, crackers, cookies, or chocolate.)
We went back to the hotel and napped for awhile, then got dressed to go skate. We were scheduled for two practices, one at 9:40pm and one at 11pm. Because everybody was so worn out, we consolidated them into one shorter practice and left by 10:30. We were in bed shortly after 11, relieved not to be skating again.
Sunday morning I got up at 7:30am. Getting ready for competition is complicated, because you have to not just changed into the tights, skating dress, and outterwear, but you also have to carefully slick your hair into a tight bun, and you have to do heavy makeup. Anyway, I did all of this, plus had some coffee and fruit.
The competition went well. My nemesis, the back-lunge pass, was fine, thank goodness! We placed first, although with just one other team it wasn't very challenging. Then we went back to the hotel, showered, climbed back into our bus, and left around noon.
We drove about 2 hours, then stopped at a rest stop that had a Wendys and a Baskin Robins. This was just before Chicago. I had grabbed a burger before we left though, so I didn't buy anything to eat. The plan was to drive past Chicago then stop at a restaurant, Cracker Barrel or something, to sit down and eat dinner. I was looking forward to that, so I resisted the ice cream and chicken nuggets calling to me at the rest stop.
It was probably another half hour into the trip when things fell apart. Not literally, at least not on our bus. But on one of the other two buses traveling with us, carrying another skating team. (My club has 6 different teams. 3 were sent to this competition, each team in its own bus.) After much discussion among the people in charge, it was decided that my bus would turn around and go pick up the people stranded on the broken-down bus. The bus company couldn't get a new bus to them until midnight, they were our teammates (the little ones too, it was a bunch of 7-year-olds and their parents), and we couldn't just leave them trapped at the gas station the broken bus had limped its way to. Unfortunately they were about 1.5 hours back the way we had come.
One of the most frustrating things about skating synchro like this is the feeling of helplessness. It's not a democratic process; it can't be. Far too often you are just doing what you are told, going where you are forced to go. So we turned the bus around. Worse yet, our bus seated the 25 people on board quite comfortably: we each had our own double-seat to stretch out in. The stranded bus held 35 people.
We made the best of things, spreading out as much as we could on the trip back, enjoying our comfort while it lasted. Then when we got to where they were, we consolidated. The little kids sat 3 across the double-seats, and each of the adults got one seat. We survived, but it was cramped and far less comfortable.
Clearly there was no longer any time to stop for a nice sit-down dinner as planned. Instead, we stopped at that same darn Wendys/Baskin Robins that we'd stopped at 4 hours earlier. It was a very surreal feeling to be there again, having gotten nowhere in the past 4 hours.
We finally, gloriously, made it back to our ice arena at 1:15 this morning, 12 hours after we'd started our "7-hour trip", with over twice the expected people completing the journey. But at least we were home, and we were safe.
I was lucky enough to have today off of work, due to Presidents Day, so I've been able to rest and recuperate somewhat. But what a frustrating journey!