Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Day 33: New Orleans to Winston Salem, North Carolina 

The Winston Salem Grand Western Tour is coming to an end and today’s that day. The travelers have been gone for 33 days, driven over 9,000 miles and been in 25 different states as well as made lifelong friendships and seen a great majority of this beautiful country we call home, the United States of America. 

Loading crew loaded the bus at 3:15 a.m. and the hugs, tears and stories began to roll as the group has truly became a family. It didn’t take long for the chatter to cease and everyone was asleep as the majority of us didn’t sleep last night. Breakfast was in Greenville, Alabama at McDonalds and lunch for today was at The Varsity located on the north side of Atlanta on Jimmy Carter Blvd. Hotdogs, hamburgers, french fries, onion rings and milkshakes were the top choices for our group. Oh and you know we had to do a little shopping and pick up Varsity souvenirs.

Over the past 33 days we have had an unbelievable time traveling our country and getting to know each and every one of the travelers. We all share one thing in common now, we are members of the 2018 Grand Western Tour and have stories to tell and pass on to our families and friends.

Here are some pictures to recap our adventure! Thank you to everyone who has been involved for your support!!

Day 32: San Antonio to New Orleans, LA

Our day started pretty early by loading the buses at 5:30AM. Many in the crew had stayed awake a lot of the night previous to get the full effect of a "haunted hotel" so we had some pretty sleepy travelers. 

Along the way we stopped for breakfast at a McDonald’s just outside Houston and lunch in a mall food court in Lake Charles, LA. During the lunch stop some of the group took advantage of the time and did some shopping before coming back to the bus. 

Upon arrival at the Hilton in New Orleans, LA we checked into our rooms and took time to prepare for dinner. The group really knows how to dress for an occasion! We headed out on the town with some beautiful ladies and handsome gentlemen. Our walk to dinner took us to Coderie Restaurant and Oyster Bar where each person got to pick from two starters and three entrees (below you will find a picture of the menu); all were given bread pudding as dessert.

Following dinner we led the group on a walk through the French Quarter, down Bourbon Street, to Cafe Du Monde, then finally to the riverside. The tears started flowing as the group realized they had just completely their last group dinner and activity. Tomorrow will likely be an emotional day as the buses head northeast to North Carolina! 

Note from the chaperones of the 2018 Grand Western Tour: We have truly enjoyed getting to know the tour participates. We have loved watching them experience new things and see new places. Their sense of adventure and excitement was contagious. We hope all travelers return home tomorrow with many wonderful memories and new friends. Thank you for sharing this summer and your children with us! 

-Glenn Jordan, Nathan Zigler, Josh Madison, Amber Wilson, Haley Kidd, and Kristen Robinson

Monday, July 16, 2018

Day 31: San Antonio, TX

Today was our second day in San Antonio at the HAUNTED Menger Hotel. We started our morning off by grabbing breakfast at multiple places. Some went to Starbucks and others chose local eateries. 

We then all met up at at the IMAX theatre to watch a movie about the Alamo. It was a great movie that detailed the importance of the battle to the independence of Texas and the importance of the Tennessee volunteers (go vols!). We all then walked over to the Alamo to explore the grounds and learn more about the actual site.

Afterwards, we spent some time exploring the city of San Antonio. Some of the activities enjoyed throughout the day were shopping, touring the riverwalk, mirror mazes, haunted houses, and ice cream shops. We then all met up at the movies again to watch either Incredibles 2, Ant Man, or Uncle Drew. From there we walked over to Fudruckers to enjoy some burgers and chicken sandwiches. Afterwards, the kids enjoyed a couple more hours of free time before returning to one last night in the haunted Menger Hotel.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Day 30: El Paso to San Antonio, Texas

If you can sleep on the bus, today was the day to catch up on some rest as Howard and Ray drove us from El Paso to San Antonio which is about 550 miles. To be on the bus most of the day, the travelers did a great job of passing the time by listening to music, sleeping or watching movies like Land of the Lost, The Shallows, Taken 2 and The Greatest Showman. Those that were awake saw the western part of Texas that included Big Bend and Comanche Country. We also lost another hour, so we are only 1 hour behind North Carolina and our loved ones. 

We arrived in San Antonio around dinner time where we checked into the Menger Hotel which is located downtown across from the Alamo. What most interest the travelers about the hotel is that the hotel is unofficially labeled as "The Most Haunted Hotel in Texas". There’s a few of us that probably won’t get much sleep, so be thinking about us. Then, travelers had a chance to check out the Riverwalk District and grab dinner in groups of at least 3 before curfew.