Scotland, marching band and, oh yeah, terrorists

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Tiffany Asher, [email protected]

The year was 2006. I was in high school. I loved taking my art classes. I played in the school band (I played the trombone), played video games and hung out with friends. I was just a clueless little girl that loved life.

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As the year rolled on, we were introduced to Wyoming High School All-State Marching Band (WHSASMB). I had missed out on the opportunity to go to the Rose Bowl a few years prior with some friends and I was not about to miss the experience of a lifetime this time around. This time, we were going to Scotland for The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Festival. After asking and pleading with my father, he finally agreed and started saving money for me to go. We got passports. I also got my first debit card. Everything was awesome!

In the summer months leading up to Scotland, I was learning to march with my instrument and going to parades across the state. After training and practicing, we traveled around Wyoming. We were in parades in Cody, Sheridan and Rock Springs. I would travel with my father in some instances and when he could not take me, I would travel with my good friend Jarrod (he also played trombone). I hung around people that I got to meet across the state and learned some amazing things about them.

I remember the last thing I did before I left for Scotland. I went to the County Fair in Rock Springs with my boyfriend (now husband). He won me a little stuffed duck and I told him to hold onto it until I came back. Which he did.

We all started our journey at the Denver airport. Since there were so many of us, we had two separate flights to get us to Edinburgh, Scotland. Our flight going to Scotland was basically seamless. The other group, well, not so much. Those issues ended up landing them in London – 8 hours away from us – where they had to drive a bus basically nonstop until they reached us in the night.

After that we were all together again in a big group, we toured Scotland. We spent most of our time in Edinburgh and culture shock is a real thing. I needed to use the restroom and when I asked where one was at a mall, no one there knew what I was talking about! When I finally said toilet, the lady was like, “Oh yes, and we also call it a water closet and a few other things in case you need to ask again.”

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We were able to see the crowned jewels from the Edinburgh Castle and see the massive cannons they have that could shoot into the sea, back when the castle was in full use.

We toured Sterling Castle and even were able to perform there. I remember a few Scots talking to each other, asking if we were professional musicians. Another Scot piped in and said, “Naw, they are just Americans.”. Silly Scots. The countryside was breathtaking there with wooly cows (also known as highland cows) and green scenery as far as the eye can see.

During our time there, I was also able to see different cathedrals and the Glamis Castle, which is beautiful in every aspect. Another place we went to was Glasgow. To travel, we took their bullet trains back and forth. I had never been on a train, but I welcomed the new experience.

Our last stop was St. Andrews, the birthplace of golf. I think we only went here because the music teachers wanted to golf. It was beautiful. There were the St. Andrews Castle that was burnt down where we were able to walk around, an aquarium we got to go through and the beach.

Finally, after marching in the streets of Edinburgh, playing at Sterling Castle and just enjoying ourselves, our fun had to come to an end. Literally.

The morning to return home, we were greeted with AK-47’s and Scottish Military EVERYWHERE!

At the time, none of us knew that terrorists had been caught at the airport in London, trying to blow them up with liquid drink explosives. They had been arrested only hours before we had arrived at the airport.

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In the airport, there wasn’t a single place they weren’t at. We had no idea what was happening. It seemed like a madhouse, and all we were told was that due to unforeseen circumstances.

We had to put all our luggage under the plane, which for us, meant no carry-on for an eight-hour trip across the sea. We were reduced to a clear plastic bag that held reading glasses, prescriptions, personal items, money and your ID/passport.

It took a least three hours to get through customs and be searched thoroughly. It might have taken longer, but I try not to remember that.

When we thought we were in the clear, the guy getting the plane in place smashed the jet ramp against it. There were no other planes to use, so we had to wait another six hours in the airport for the plane to be repaired.

We landed in New York City and slept on the floor of the JFK Airport. We caught our next plane to Chicago where, luckily, I was able to get on a plane from there to Denver and then to the airport in Rock Springs.

While in the little skip jumper airplane, I remember hearing a lady talk about how she was happy she wasn’t overseas near everything going on before I passed out from exhaustion and the crazy trip I just went through.

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