My Grandma Joan's strategy for life is simple: you have plan A and if that doesn't work, then you best have a plan B (and C, D, E, etc). The more plans you have, in theory, the more prepared you are for when life comes at you and changes must occur.
It's day two in Pasadena, and I really can't complain. Beautiful weather, a nice hotel (good location and a BEAUTIFUL pool), and night baseball.
This morning I got a little swim in before class. Our class period was devoted to book reports over the third book we all chose. Everyone picked some different so it's fun to hear what other people read. The books we selected also help to fill in some of the gaps that our history book might gloss over or not dig into as much detail. The trend is for our conversations to be long so it was a little after noon once we finished three reports. Lunch was a group lunch and we walked about a mile to a place called Blaze Pizza. It was recommended to us and as soon as we walked in the door, we knew we had come to the right place. The restaurant is a build your own pizza. Essentially a Subway of sorts, just for pizza. They throw your individual pizza into a large brick oven and it cooks in only a couple of minutes. We were stuffed but it was so good!
Yesterday, we were up early and on the road. Our destination was Los Angeles to see the Dodgers play. While Route 101 was highly recommended (it goes along the coast), the additional two and a half hours that it would add to our travel was not appealing to our group. We instead took Route 5, which took us through central California, which was also beautiful. We saw huge, rolling hills and as we got closer to LA, the highways started to widen to accommodate all the traffic.
Our hotel is in Pasadena, and on the Rose Bowl Parade route. For me, the Rose Bowl brings back some heavy Wisconsin pride (despite the fact the Badgers haven't been too successful there the past couple of years). The hotel is beautiful and our room overlooks the outdoor pool. The girls decided to go for a quick swim before heading to the game. Excellent life choice.
Tuesday was our "free day" and I made sure to jam pack my day with things to do. In some way, the exploring began on Monday night. We are staying in Alameda, CA, an island which is about an hour and a half east of San Francisco (and a great city). Monday night, a few of us walked down to the local movie theater to see the newest X-Men movie. What we didn't fully realize was how historic the movie theater was. When we walked in, we were greeted with an ornate and beautiful theater. The movie was excellent and I won't forget that theater any time soon!
Tuesday morning, my day began with meeting up with my great aunt and uncle (and avid readers of my blog), Doug and Debby, for breakfast. They live about an hour away from San Francisco and stopped by for a visit. Our hotel is in Alameda and so for breakfast we went downtown to a cute diner called Ole's Waffle Shop. Not only were the waffles delicious, it was also amazing to see and catch up with Doug and Debby. We had a wonderful time and I was so glad things worked out.
Post breakfast, I spent some time wandering Alameda, checking out some of their shops (including this amazing bookstore and another vintage/used store with books, movies, and records), spending some time laying in the sun on the beach looking out at the bay, and even a little swim at our hotel pool. All in all, an excellent day. The group regrouped and before heading to the coliseum, we needed dinner. At yesterday's game, the grand slam by the A's meant a local pizza joint would give us a free personal pizza. We stopped by, ordered pizza and ate it on the way to the stadium. Our seats this time we in the bleachers and we sure had a different perspective on the game.
While we didn't relocate our housing, we did change our ballpark yesterday. Instead of the grueling, stand still traffic into San Francisco, the group instead had about a 10 minute commute to the O.Co Coliseum. This giant concrete structure serves both the Oakland A's and the Oakland Raiders (football). We got to the stadium pretty early and found ourselves surrounded by a lot of families celebrating Memorial Day at the ballpark.
O.Co was unlike any stadium we had been in previously. The seats were extremely close together and the way the sun was coming in made our 75 degree day feel like we were in the 90s. These hot conditions really changed how the fans participated in the game; the stadium was sold out and we saw a lot of movement as people in the direct sun (like us) moved into the shade every once in the while for some water. Thank goodness for sunscreen -- I did get some sun, but didn't burn too badly.
The crew headed back to AT&T Park for another game of the Giants vs. Twins. We had already discussed how different this ballpark felt from the others. Sitting in the bleachers the night before, we felt that the fans were there for the social aspect, not necessarily for the baseball. At our afternoon game, we got a much different feeling from the third tier.
After another six hour or so drive, our group finally ended up in California. The sun was shining as we pulled into the parking lot of our hotel. We'll be in the same spot for four days (our longest stretch) and this hotel has more of a suite style set up. We have our own living room, kitchen (if we need to use it), and then a bedroom and bathroom. The girls even have a deck!
We grabbed our stuff and headed out for the ball park. Traffic into San Francisco was horrible, I have never been in such stand still traffic. Slowly inching along, we passed the tolls and hit the open road. Our travels took us across the Bay Bridge and into the city. Finding parking, we walked several blocks to AT&T Park. The stadium was packed, filled with a sea of orange. Our seats were in the bleachers, behind left field. Over 41,000 people attended the game and the air was filled with energy.
Yesterday, the group got up early and hit the road by 6:30 AM. We have a night game tonight in San Fransisco and needed to make the approximately 20 hour drive between Friday and Saturday. As we began the drive, I knew topography would be the theme of the day. Colorado stretched out in front us, with high mountains and beautiful cuts through the rocks. Then we entered Nevada, "Life elevated" (motto on their welcome signs). We stopped at a rest stop to go to the bathroom and play a little catch. Took this beautiful picture of the landscape around us (very different from Colorado)
It was day two in Colorado and as I ate breakfast in the room off the hotel lobby, it seemed like a perfect summer day. The sun was out and the hotel's outdoor pool was being serviced to open up for visitors this weekend. While our group had seen the possibility of rain in the forecast, it seemed impossible based on what we could see out our windows. Nevertheless, I still threw my raincoat in my bag before hopping in the van.
We arrived at Coors Field about two hours before game time. Before going into the stadium, we had hoped to visit a museum about a block away from the field which featured different ballparks and items from these ballparks. However, the front door was locked and the lights were off -- apparently they weren't open today. We ended up in Coors early, which gave us the ability to wander around the park, snap some photos and enjoy the bright Colorado sun.
The game got under way and all seemed fine. Our view was from the third balcony, on the third base/left field side.
Tuesday we were still in Kansas City. Our day began with a trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in the jazz district of the city. It was a great museum and as I wandered through the exhibit, I was reminded of my May Term last year when I spent two weeks exploring museums. Kansas City took a lot of pride in their role as supporting the Kansas City Monarchs, a team that was part of the Negro Leagues. The exhibit was full of photographs, quotes, fun facts, and even a few videos.
The Negro Leagues Museum sat on one side of the lobby and on the other was the American Jazz Museum. Our tickets got us into both and the jazz museum and the contrast between the two was large. The Negro Leagues Museum had the Americana theme running throughout, focusing on the timeline as a whole, both in the United States and for the league. The jazz museum was flashier and focused more on the greats, such as Louie Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald. However, both museums were proud of both their accomplishments and that these events occurred in the United States.
With facts floating in our heads, we walked a few blocks down to Arthur Bryant's BBQ. We couldn't be in Kansas without having authentic BBQ. The place was hopping and we all waited in anticipation for our sandwiches. There wasn't much talking as we ate, BBQ sauce getting everywhere. For me, eating at Arthur Bryant's was sentimental because my great aunt and uncle live in Kansas and every Christmas a Kansas Sampler would arrive with this BBQ sauce. It was neat to see the home of the sauce!
We headed back to Kauffman for game two. This time, we got a little closer to the action with seats on the third base line.
Just for the record, I'm quoting a music lyric from Lorde's song, "Royals."
This joke was cracked several times during our trip today, especially once we got to Kauffman Stadium. Our hotel was pretty close to the stadium so we didn't have to suffer through Lorde jokes for too long.
It was a pretty good game as well. Some odd things happened (like when Chicago White Sox player Ramirez slid into first base, well actually he slid but missed the base by several feet) or when the Royals attempted a stolen base in the ninth only to be picked off as the runner made his way back to second base (although he had no hope of making it there). The Royals were up until the fifth when the White Sox brought in three runs with a homer from Konerko. It was definitely unexpected but hey, that's why you play the game.
The weather was also beautiful. No rain and no freezing temperatures made all of us very happy campers.
Arriving back in Cedar Rapids late Friday night, I had the chance to catch up on sleep, laundry, and even get some packing in. The weekend went by way too fast and suddenly, it was Monday morning and I was in the van ready to head west. I'm still struggling to wrap my head around the fact I'll be road tripping for three solid weeks. It's going to be fun no doubt, but also a lot of time in the car.
Today our trip was relatively easy: Cedar Rapids to Kansas City. It was fairly good weather (other than on odd rain storm near Des Moines). We had a picnic lunch at a rest area somewhere between Des Moines and Kansas City. I even got a nap in and I was *lucky* enough to have one of my peers capture my...gracefulness.
|Can you pick me out in my red Kohawks hat?|
Also, I want to direct your attention to two other Kohawk May Term blogs (you know, in case you get bored with hearing about baseball or just want a change of pace). My buddy (and avid reader of this blog) Bryce is visiting Serbia and fellow Writing Center consultant, Felicia, is with a group in Vietnam. Both have excellent blogs and are worth checking out.
Lucky for us, it does not take five hours to get from our hotel in Germantown to Wrigley Field. We actually got to sleep a bit, eat breakfast, and comfortably pack our bags before heading out. On our trip, we have three students from the Chicagoland area and they knew the route to Wrigley well.
Arriving a little after 10:30 AM, we had the biggest task of finding parking near Wrigley. After a few failed attempts (and Chicagoans politely telling us we couldn't park there), we found a street with parking regulations we could obey. And it was free! Since Wrigley didn't open until 11 AM or so, we ended up grabbing lunch in a McDonalds across the street from the stadium. The McDonalds was hopping, with Cub and Brewer fans. It was fun to watch everyone interact; each fan was more than willing to pronounce their love for their team (and for Cubs fans, they were more than willing to proudly say, "Next year is our year!").
I also might add that it was overcast, rainy, and only about 40 degrees outside. Our group was pretty well bundled up, and I know for me, the hope of warm sunny California weather in the coming week kept me internally warm (it will ALL be worth it, I kept saying to myself).
Our seats at Wrigley were in the bleachers in the outfield. The group decided that center field was our best bet. Since we were there early, we got good seats and had fun dancing to the pre-game music and watching the groundskeepers prep the field. Since Wrigley is celebrating 100 years this year, we also got Babe Ruth bobbleheads (another reason we made sure to come early).
As the 50-50 raffle man told us, "This isn't rain, it's a pre-game blessing." While the rain did stop before the first pitch, it wasn't quite enough of a blessing for the Cubs to win. The Brewers took the game 4-3, but the Cubs did put up a fight.
What was even more interesting was to listen to the fans around us. I knew Wrigley could get pretty rowdy and I know for a fact I did not see the rowdiest Wrigley. They loved to heckle the center fielder (especially Logan Schafer playing for the Brewers). Logan took the heckling all in good stride, ignoring the fans most of the time and when he thought about throwing us his warm-up ball, the largest grin spread across his face as he faked throwing it to us and then threw it back to the right field side. It was priceless.
Once the game ended, it was back to the van and then back to Cedar Rapids. Dinner was at Portillo's, a Chicago favorite. I had never been and I will say that the expectations set for this restaurant were exceeded. Good food and good atmosphere. On top of that, I even got to see an old friend. The Portillo's we stopped at was only a few blocks from my friend Krista's house. Krista and I were fast friends freshman year at Coe and I hadn't seen her since freshman year. I don't think words can express how wonderful it was to see her and attempt to catch up in a short period of time. We made plans for adventures in the near future and with one final hug, it was back to the van.
The group got back late Friday night and it was glorious to go back to my apartment and fall asleep. We have the weekend off. Lots of laundry, reading, blogging, and writing to do! We hit the road 9 AM on Monday, headed for Kansas City.
Yes, this blogger was up pretty early this morning, 3:45 AM to be exact. Also factor in that I went to bed around midnight, so that's not even four hours of sleep. Am I ever thankful for Kwik Trip cappuccino in Black River Falls, the ability to sleep in 15 passenger vans, and the complimentary coffee at our hotel in Germantown, Wisconsin.
The night before we were at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis. It was chillier than expected (or wanted). The stadium was beautiful and we had seats in the upper decks where we could look down on home plate. These were great seats as seen by this photo I nabbed.
We take off early for Chicago tomorrow and arrive back in Cedar Rapids tomorrow night. And that will conclude our Midwest tour. Cannot wait for game three seeing the Cubs and the Brewers face off at Wrigley.
Let the 2014 May Term begin!
So the day after graduation, I began my next month-long adventure. MAY TERM! I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in my third May Term. It's another Writers Colony, like the one I participated in May 2012. Except no Lake District or sheep, instead, baseball.
Here's our schedule, slightly altered now, but relatively accurate.
At Coe, graduation is a full weekend event. I was lucky enough to have my dad, grandparents, aunt, brother, and sister attend the weekend festivities. On Saturday, the day began early with Honors Convocation. I formally received the Charles Cannon award as the distinguished English major, as well as the Delta Eta Book award for my hard work both in and out of the classroom.
The weather was great on Saturday and it was nice to casually walk around campus, running into many of my friends. I showed off the caf cuisine to the family before we headed to the library for the Phi Beta Kappa initiation ceremony. As soon as I walked in, I saw my good friend Ashley, who had arrived earlier in the day for graduation. Ashley and I are English major buddies and we also roomed together in NYC. She graduated in December and moved out to New York. I hadn't seen her since December so needless to say, we were thrilled to be reunited. The initiation ceremony was very nice, complete with signing the Phi Beta Kappa member book and learning a secret handshake. After the ceremony, my family and Heidi's family got to chat and take photos. Haley joined the bunch and bam! it was like we were back in freshman year. It was so good to see both of them and celebrate graduation together.
The day didn't stop there. The next event was Baccalaureate. We donned our robes and motorboards and lined up behind Sinclair. It was the first moment where it really felt like, yeah we're graduating. Baccalaureate itself was very nice. Our speaker was Reverend Wayne Meisel. He was an excellent speaker along with the student speakers. They all talked about all the potential our futures have and all the good memories we have from our time at Coe.
Then the day gets a little crazier. My dad, brother, aunt, and I hopped in a car bound for Mt. Horeb. My younger sister, Hannah, was on the junior prom court. The prom just so happened to be graduation weekend (because that's how my life works, everything happens at once). We got back just in time to watch court walk and to see my sister crowned the prom queen! I was one proud sister.
|English majors unite!|
|Angela and I|
|Hayleigh, Hailley, and Kyle|
|Ryan and I|
|Alison P. and I|
|Ariana and I|
|Hailley and Heidi, roommates for three years! :)|
The last time I wrote, I was hard at work preparing for finals. Since then, lots has happened. I spent the first weekend in May studying for my stats test, working on my final French project, and finishing off my English seminar paper on Jane Eyre. It was a hairy weekend, with nice weather and using my study breaks as a way to sneak out and enjoy the sun.
My stats test on Monday went by without a hitch. My clarinet jury Tuesday afternoon went well and it was hard to believe I won't be taking lessons again this fall. I worked for my final shift in the Writing Center, a bittersweet moment as I took my mug back to my apartment, the label on the side proclaiming, The girl who never leaves, now inaccurate. I can't tell you how much I am going to miss the Writing Center (that's probably one of the hardest things to let go with this whole graduation thing). Tuesday night was my final French class, where myself and my peers presented our individual translation projects. Post class, myself, Millie, Angela, and Chloe got off campus to camp out at the Perkins. We ordered coffee, eggs, and pie and got to work. We all had things due on Wednesday and our study breaks consisted of more coffee and having life chats. Hands down, my favorite part of finals week.
I worked late in Tuesday night/early into Wednesday morning. I made the decision to get a couple of hours of sleep, then woke up early to finish off my final English paper by 8:30 AM. As I sent the email to my professor and realized that I was done with my senior year and time as an undergraduate, it didn't quite hit me. A very anticlimactic moment. However, it did feel good to be all done. A huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and it was time to relax and celebrate my impending graduation!
The celebration began on Thursday with the annual Senior Dinner. It was held at the Cedar Rapids Country Club, the space place I had my Clark Merit dinner earlier this school year. Everyone got to dress up, eat a fancy meal, and hang out with fellow seniors. We had many speakers at dinner, such as Janet from Financial Aid to discuss paying back our loans and Professor Kensky, a religion professor who had been awarded the Lynch Outstanding Teacher Award the previous year. The other exciting part of the dinner was the announcement of the Alumni Association Outstanding Senior Awards. A male and female win the award each year and are selected by faculty and staff on campus. I'm happy to announce that I selected as the outstanding female. I feel honored by the award and am proud of all the things I've accomplished on campus. Overall, it was a great night and definitely a perk of being a senior!
|L to R: Sarah, Hailley, Kat, and Millie.|
|Hailley and Ariana looking good in blue! :)|
In some ways, I'm sort of surprised I haven't been more emotional this week as I complete my "last [insert thing/event/item here]." I've maintained composure and probably some of this "cool" front is due to the fact that a) I'm going on May Term so I'm not moving out on graduation day and b) I'll be working on campus this summer since I have a few month gap before graduate school.
Overall this week has been great, both filled with stress yet also reminding me of all the reasons I love Coe and all the people who have made Coe wonderful. I think the best example of this occurred on Monday at my final Writing Center staff meeting. We deemed this meeting our Writing Center Talent Show meeting, which was probably one of our all time best ideas.
Earlier this year, I realized that not many of my writing center peers knew I played the clarinet (which of course you readers knew). When the talent show idea came about, I said to myself, "I should play the clarinet."
Which I did. I resurfaced the Brahms piece I played my sophomore year because it's probably my all time favorite piece to play and I think it really shows off my tone and talent as a clarinet player.
I was first up at the talent show and I had quite the set-up. I had forgotten a music stand and taped my music to the movable whiteboard. Next to me, I had my laptop to play my accompaniment.
It was a good performance. In that moment, I could feel all the support from my peers. They applauded for quite some time when I finished and I had my classic wide grin spread across my face. It was one of those nights where everything felt right. That the past four years led to that moment and the feeling of a community and family. It was pretty incredible.
Well, better get back to studying. Finals are almost here!