Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The things they will carry

I found my sleeping bag today, which is a really big deal. As much as I was anticipating sleeping under the stars wrapped up tightly in a sheet during a Montana summer snowstorm, I figure that I owe it to dad and my lack of health insurance to not get sick.

I live in a dirty house that is cleaned appallingly infrequently. Thank god I have my own bathroom (and sisters) because I've heard that men miss, often. Well this quality translates to our kitchen trashcan. I had dragged out the vacuum cleaner (that drone!) and sucked up what onion skins and tomato stems I could, but old grapes and wilted greens of weeks past had melded into the floor leaving dark, tacky residue--at least we eat well. That required hands and knees and heavy scrubbing. Good thing I was already sweaty and in my running clothes.

Oh! But the sleeping bag!

Well two Mardi Gras' past, I accused my little sister (who will be a frequent player in this blog) of walking off with my Mountain Hardware since I couldn't find it anywhere after putting away all the blankets our guests had used during that five day blur of bad hygiene and questionable decisions. She blamed it on her best friend, Kasey Munson. Regardless, it was gone. For two years. Until I jammed that vacuum cleaner back into an overstuffed closet of junk. Lo and behold a stuff sack slowly rolls out and that familiar purple winked out.

I guess I should vacuum more.

(Score: 1 alumni mention (besides family), 1 product mention, 1 literary allusion)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tangipahoa, Alumni Trip 10.23.09

Here's a little story about a trip we took, and what the bus did.

No outing club trip is truly great without a minor disaster. Maybe we shouldn't have insisted on the bus picking us up in New Orleans, but we all like attention and trouble, and that bus attracts both. First sign was when we stopped to get gas and the bus wouldn't turn off. So, we put it in with the bus still on. Then we took an exit that brought us south into the middle of the marsh, rather than north towards the river. Which turned out to be fortuitous, considering that the bus stopped going any faster than 35 mph, and something started burning. We pulled over into a boat launch parking lot and checked it out. Something was smoking all right. We decided to keep going. But it kept smoking. We found a gas station and called James, who knows about bus mechanics.

Every gas station is different and they're always fun in these situations. This one had hot dogs that you had to pay for, but you could put as much chili and cheese as you wanted on it from the nacho machine. For free. But I digress.
To fix the bus, you find a hammer and use it to bang on the misbehaving part. It worked (to stop the engine from smoking, although we still couldn't turn the bus off), so we got back on the road and hit the river at sunset, rather than our midday estimate.

At the campsite, under the stars, we feasted on 200 raw oysters (which, by the way, explode when you leave then on the fire long enough).

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I've had a few questions, such as, "What does your dad do?" "Why is he going on that trip?" and "Who are those alumni that he's visiting?"

To be explicit:

Cabell Tutwiler is a veteran teacher at ESA. A scholarship fund has recently been created by the school entitled The Tate/Tutwiler Scholarship Fund, which honors both dad and Dr. and Mrs. Tate (also long term teachers). Dad is taking a year-long sabbatical for the purpose of adventure and to raise money for the fund so that more worthy but underfunded students can all enjoy the amazing experience that the rest of us alums have had. And he's planning on going to EVERY SINGLE alumnus' house/apartment/boat/tent. (And apparently there are two in Alaska, and as he said, "Katie, since we're going to Seattle anyway, it's really not that far of a drive to Alaska." And I thought to myself, "Oh boy, in a school bus. Didn't I recently see a movie about a boy who lived in a school bus in Alaska and died a miserable, cold death?"

So consider yourself warned.

Oh and when I asked him where we'd be staying, he said that it would be shameful if we weren't put up by the same people that we're going to be squeezing money out of.

PS. Really glad I spell checked.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

ESA, the Outing Club, and the Bus

A little explanation:

ESA is the Episcopal School of Acadiana: a small, private school that tranquilly rests beneath the shade of live oaks amidst sugar cane fields in Cade, Louisiana. It currently consists of a lower, middle, and upper school.

The Bus belongs to the ESA Outing Club, an organization that takes students on a variety of outdoorsy adventures, including canoeing, kayaking, biking, hiking, and sometimes, when all things go wrong, gas station hopping. These range from weekend trips to nearby states to epic month long summer trips out west. The club is run by dad, thus him taking the bus.

Dad aka Mr. Tutwiler aka Cabell is the head of the English department and has been teaching at the school almost since its inception in 1979. Some of the basic facts about him, which all students know, which may or may not be true: He loves moon pies and RC Cola (HELLO FIRST ENDORSEMENTS!), once shot his television, and quite often dresses in drag for Halloween.

The BUS or bad news bears: I'm not entirely sure when the Outing Club got its grimy hands on this bus, but over the years there have been many transformations. However, I'll merely try to explain the bus as it exists today. The interior consists of three segments.
1) The front section still somewhat resembles a typical school bus with seats and a floor and a place for the driver. These seats only go about three rows deep. From this point to the back of the bus, all the seats have been removed.
2) The middle is an open area that is good for setting up a social seating zone with camping chairs, ice chests, and sofa cushions taken from unsuspecting parents. Here students can adequately play cards and make lunches.
3) The back is for storage and napping or prostrate reading. Some genius of engineering rigged up a wooden loft for these dual purposes. Below, the bus can be loaded from the back with all the gear necessary for the trip. Above, the wood is padded with gym mats and old moldy pillows for the passengers who lie at about window level.

Throughout, the bus is decorated with paintings by students, book shelves, and whatever other found objects that the members have decided are fitting.

Exterior: the top of the bus has been outfitted with a custom roof rack than can hold the major equipment that goes along on these trips, often canoes and rafts. The sides of the bus are painted as well (I see hand prints and western vistas when I close my eyes). Above all, the pride and joy of this bus is the cow skull strapped to the front grill.

For next time, a tale of bus function..........