It’s safe to say that for all 59 students on the Chicago music tour, it was a pretty wild experience. Between Mr Paulson nearly getting arrested and the plague, Chicago was an experience we will not soon forget. Of course, the wildness of this trip partially came from the inherent nature of taking 59 high school students anywhere, but in this case, the elements kicked in as well.

On Monday, we arrived at school at 4:15 am. It was freezing cold and we stood outside waiting to be allowed on the bus. Some related the experience to be like when they wouldn’t let the third class up the stairs to get to the life boats in Titanic. We finally were able to board, and that’s when the adventure began. After a few hours of a dead silent bus, we arrived in Eau Claire for the clinic. There really was nothing like sitting around for two hours at a time listening to the reasons why we are terrible musicians. Of course, I am kidding; They gave us useful tips to be even more amazing. Afterwards, we were forced to endure a terrifying and frankly soul-crushing rendition of the classic road trip song “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” that I am at least 97% sure made Mr. Paulson die a little inside. Six hours later and we finally arrived in the “big city”. Well, kind of. We were actually at a Quality Inn in Schaumburg, IL, 40 minutes outside of Chicago.

The next day, we went to the Shedd Aquarium where we learned that we were terrible people if we use straws. This is because the plastic is non-biodegradable so it all just ends up in the landfill. Therefore, I say to you: Don’t use a straw if you don’t need to and save a dolphin. Anyhow, shortly after, we walked to the Field Museum and graced confused patrons with our beautiful sound. We were giving the opportunity to walk around the giant and very exquisite building and become more enlightened about the natural world. By the time we left, it was a good time for dinner and therefore we proceeded to the finest dining option in all of Chicago: the Hard Rock Cafe. At this establishment, we were graced with a fine cuisine and in retribution, some of the freshmen managed to break the revolving door. At this point, we were all sorts of tuckered out, but it was time to head to a real banger of a concert and see the DePaul University Orchestra. In all seriousness, they did an amazing job, and I sort of wish I could be them.

Wednesday rolled around, and it was time to finally hit the streets of the big city. Coming from small town Minnesota, we were all in awe of the grand spectacle of buildings more than 3 or 4 stories tall. Mitchell was finally able to realize his dream of going the Gucci store. We were really able to explore Chicago with the help of Gilbert, our tour guide, an Old Navy enthusiast, and a man who illegally buried his cat in the park. During this tour, we visited the famous Bean statue. Under said statue, the choir decided to give an impromptu performance, as one does. However, it was discovered that one needs a permit when one decides to grace Chicago with the sound of real music. So we had to evade the law and leave. Next, we were brought to Chinatown and shortly after, a partially empty zoo, due to the cold weather. That night, we played at a retirement home to a roaring crowd of 8 people. By this time, the sun had set and it was time to see the lights of the big city from the tallest building in Chicago: the Willis Tower, otherwise known as the Sears Tower if you’re not a fake fan. Finally, we feasted like kings at Bubba Gumps, a decision some would soon regret.

Now, as I am sure you’ve heard, on this trip, there was the plague. This plague was thought to be a stomach flu and left many incapacitated. The infected endured a series of throwing up, nausea, fatigue, and lack of appetite. I am one of the fortunate ones who managed to stay healthy.  Before that Thursday, a few people here and there had been sick, but nothing like that day. During the night, many had fallen ill and already knew they were going to be unable to attend the functions the next day. By the time we had left, a couple more people had fallen ill and were chartered back to the hotel. The activities were fun and all, but for the most part, the day was spent wondering if you were next. Hand sanitizer was being passed around obsessively. People kept having to go back to the bus because they too had caught the plague. Nobody felt safe. We couldn’t trust each other. The next day was the day we were set to leave. By then, about half the people were sick. Those people sat in the back of the bus whilst the healthy resided in the front. I don’t imagine that ride was fun for the ill.

All-in-all, it was fun trip. Between long days and the plague, it definitely tired us out, but the stories made it worth it. I would like to give a shoutout to our trip planner, John. He really gave an effort in trying his best to make us laugh, even if unsuccessfully. I would like to give an even bigger shoutout to our legendary bus driver, Phil. There is no better driver than Phil. He owned the streets of Chicago. Overall, the trip was definitely one we won’t forget.