The Perfect Fieldtrip

It involved Shrek, Haiku, Van Gogh, Buddha, virtually no LA traffic, seven daring parents, and 89 teenagers.

Of my ten years teaching, I have taken six groups of students on a field trip up to Los Angeles. Previous destinations include the Museum of Tolerance, the LA Museum of the Holocaust, the Norton Simon Museum, and the Huntington Library and Gardens. All of the trips were generally received well by the students, making it easy to go through the hassle of organizing it again the next year. However, last three trips involved a lot of traffic. And when I say a lot of traffic, I mean two or three times more time on the bus then off the bus. Two years ago it took almost four hours to get to the Norton Simon Museum – almost twice as long as it takes without traffic. Then, on the way home, one bus got stuck behind a big rig that had decided to jack knife, adding another hour and a half to their trip home (I was on the first bus and missed it).

Last year we went to the LA Museum of the Holocaust. While nice, the exhibit did not include as many artifacts as I had hoped and hardly seemed worth the six hours on the bus. This year I decided to pair up the Norton Simon and Huntington.

After this year I should quit. It was the perfect field trip.

The buses arrived on time and were bigger then I was told, giving us a little room and some flexibility to let students change buses to be with their friends. The only traffic we faced was local. No LA traffic. Now, I live just outside San Diego and of the dozens of trips I’ve made through or to the City of Angels, I can only remember one where there was no traffic. It was almost midnight and even then we slowed near LAX. I couldn’t even mumble a curse about how much I hate Los Angeles. Just quiet awe.

Unlike two years ago, we made our tour at the Norton Simon. All the tour guides were outstanding and the students seem to really appreciate the art. There are few places in the world where you can see ancient Indian and Chinese art AND Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Monet, and Degas.

For lunch we stopped at Pasadena Central Park and walked up to downtown Pasadena. I had some of the best orange chicken at a small restaurant. Most of the students avoided the Cheese Cake Factory and Subway and tried something a little different.

Our next stop was the Huntington. The weather was a little warm, but definitely bearable. In large groups they students wandered through the art galleries, the library (with an authentic Guttenberg Bible and early copy of Canterbury Tales), and the beautiful gardens. In the Japanese Gardens, I had the students write Haikus. Most had fun with it. I’ll have to post a few.

Then we headed home. Stopped for dinner at a mall. Again very little traffic. Weird. We were in LA, right? Not some parallel universe?

For the first time, I didn’t feel like the day was never going to end. In fact, it went far too fast.

Throughout the day the students thanked me and said they were having a great time. One of the biggest reasons I do this each year is that I love to get the students out of their comfort zone and into a place that they probably wouldn’t go on their own or with their parents. Now I can’t show my students the world (that would be fun though), but I can show them some culture in Pasadena. When they love it, it’s icing on the cake.

By the way, we watched Shrek on the ride home. The other bus watched Nightmare Before Christmas.

3 thoughts on “The Perfect Fieldtrip”

  1. Sounds like you had a fabulous time on your field trip. I wish we could take our students on more field trips. Living in rural Vermont is beautiful, peaceful, and nice, but it is not the whole world. Sadly, to some kids, it is.


  2. We had our perfect trip this year. Our entire 8th grade – 130 kids – went across the river to the Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Absolutely perfect day, no foul-ups, kids were outstandingly amazing.

    This year, our school budget was defeated. No more trips.


  3. I have a pernicious fear of field trips. I emit some strange elctromagnetic field that causes the bus to break down nearly every time I’m near one.

    But how did you watch movies on the bus? Isn’t the extension chord for the VCR and TV a trifle short to reach all the way to LA??? Or do they have really fly school buses in your part of the world? Ours are doing good just to run, as I mentioned above.


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