Column: Getting back on the bus

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 19, 2006

This past Friday morning two employees of the Albert Lea Tribune found themselves in a time warp.

Adam Hammer, staff writer and photographer, and myself were up early and on a school bus for the first time in over 20 years.

The destination was far better than any I remember during my previous school bus riding days &045;&160;we were heading to the Metrodome in Minneapolis &045;&160;but space seemed to be at a bit more of a premium.

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I am not a tall person so I noticed a difference, but it was Adam who was quick to point out &8220;I haven’t been on a bus in years&8221; with his knees firmly planted in his chest.

If you ever need a reminder that you are getting older I might suggest taking a ride on a school bus.

Instead of fighting for the back seats of the bus, something that was key back in the day, it no longer seems important.

I also found out that bus windows are a lot like loud music to many parents.

Who knew you could get wind burn sitting on a bus?

Two other quick bus observations: still smells the same, but with new and improved emergency exit windows.

The ride up to the Dome was what you would expect for a trip started before the sun came up &045;&160;quite.

When we got to the Dome I found myself to be a lot like many of the players who were there for the first time.

It was exciting to walk onto the synthetic grass and looking up at some the pictures of the Twins greats like Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek and Tony Oliva that hung from the ceiling.

Being on the field this year was even more memorable given Kirby’s recent passing.

Although the Dome wasn’t packed with people both Alden-Conger and New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva put on a good show.

Joe McGuire touched 80 pitching off the mound where Johan Santana has made himself one of the best over the past couple of years, Taylor Holland came close to a home run and Greg Opseth made it within a breathe of an inside-the-park home run.

There are lots of things to be impressed with when you go to the Dome, but the thing that impressed me most was the NRHEG coaching staff and players.

I have to say thank you to head coach Jeff Reese for letting two reporters tag along with his team with camera and camcorder in tow.

Both the Panther and Knight players represented their schools well. Conducting interviews on a bus can be an interesting task &045;&160;which it was &045;&160;but all the players were good sports about it.

You can learn a lot just by getting back on the bus.

One final note about the trip to the Dome.

I am a bit of a slob when it comes to picking up after myself whether it is at a game, in a movie theater or even at my apartment.

However, after watching the small army of a clean up crew work in the Dome Friday I swear I am a changed man.

The amount of garbage that they sweep out of the rows is astounding.

I have a new appreciation for their job and let me say thank you to anyone who helps keep public areas looking nice whether it is in the Metrodome, Albert Lea or in your own back yard.