Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Day 33: New Orleans to Winston Salem

Today was the final day of the 2017 Winston Salem Grand Western Tour. We have traveled this beautiful country for 33 days, driven 10,000 miles, rode through 25 states, stayed in 20 hotels, created 51 new best friends, and made memories to last a lifetime! 

Driving back to Winston Salem was certainly bittersweet. The group has created such a bond with each other and it will be difficult to part ways. There was also excitement in the air to be home, see family, share experiences, and sleep! 

Our loading crew packed up the bus one last time and we left New Orleans before sunrise. I don't think anyone had slept a wink last night and were all asleep within minutes of hitting the highway! Luckily we have trusty ole Clarence to get us home safe and sound!

We stopped for breakfast at a McDonalds in Greenville, Alabama and then for lunch at the Varsity right outside of Atlanta, Georgia. "What'll ya have?" they yelled. Hot dogs, hamburgers, French fries, onion rings, and milkshakes were the top picks. And of course many of the kiddos had to pick up souvenir hats and t-shirts!

Nathan even got to see his brother Stephen at breakfast! 

We have had a wonderful summer traveling this amazing country and getting to know each of the tour members. They now share an experience that means more than words can describe! We hope they will remember and cherish the Grand Western Tour for the rest of their lives! 

Below are some trip highlights! Many thanks to all of the families and friends for your support!

Day 32: New Orleans

The last stop in this Grand Western Tour takes us to "The Big Easy!" The Holiday Tours bus made its way down I-10 to New Orleans, full of excited and energetic teenagers not quite ready to end their fabulous summer adventure. By now the crew has fallen accustomed to creating comfy spots in their bus seats. We feel very blessed to have had such a smooth and comfortable ride for the past 32 days on board! 

Our breakfast stop at McDonald's gave kids time to be kids.

From Baton Rouge and bayous, Atchafalaya and andouille, this state is pretty unique in its French influence. New Orleans is a unique city and the group got to experience just a small taste.

 We stopped in Lake Charles, Louisiana for lunch. Many of them were super pumped to see Chick-Fil-A. They acted like they'd gone through withdrawal without it for so many days! 

More snacks

Speaking of taste, Huck Finn's Restaurant on Decatur and Iberville hosted a 3 course meal for our group. The guys and gals dressed up in their best to show off for their last night of the tour. We chose from a variety of New Orleans inspired dishes and enjoyed the fellowship and food at this quaint hole in the wall locals spot not far from our hotel. From there, we walked down Bourbon Street, famous for its bar and entertainment scene. A few blocks over is perhaps the city's more famous icon, Saint Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. The group enjoyed delicious beignets, deep fried pastries covered in powdered sugar, from Cafe du Monde, a local and tourist requirement when in the French Market. 

The group was given more time to spend hanging out with their friends before the final curfew and 3:45 departure call. This trip is definitely one of constant socialization, and this group completely dove right in and ate up every minute! The friendships formed, lessons learned, and memories made will surely last with each teen forever. It's been just as exciting to experience along with them and watch as they begin to open their eyes and minds to the incredible scenery, terrain, history, and cultures surrounding us right here in our great country. It's been another wonderful year, 53rd to be exact. Onward home! See you at the Brookstown Inn!