Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Catching up

So here's how it goes. Either there's nothing going on in my life, which means there's nothing to blog about. Or there are tons of things going on but I don't have time to blog about them. Either way, the blog gets neglected. Stinko. The current case is that I have tons to write about, but very little time or energy to spare. I've been burning the candle at both ends, as they say, and my life is suffering the consequences. Email goes unchecked. Blogs go unread. Cars go uninspected. Gifts go unfinished. Groceries go unbought. Where on earth does the time fly? Well, lately it has literally been spent flying. I've been on six flights in the last four days. Cah-razeey!

First I flew to Philly on Thursday morning--6:30 am flight = arrive at airport at 5:30 = leave home at 5:00 = get up at 4:00. Could there be a more ungodly hour? The upside: short wait at security, practically empty flight, no line at the car rental counter. Avis gave me a PT Cruiser which was very exciting for me because I love to try out different cars.

This one had an auxiliary jack where I could hook up my iPod. Of course I didn't have a cord with me, but $4.50 at Target and I was set. Oh, the sound is so much better than through the pitiful FM transmitter thingie.

I had about five hours to kill before my training, so I drove around. I crossed the Delaware/Pennsylvania border like eight times trying to snap a good photo of the "welcome to" signs, just because I could.

And hey, did you know there's no sales tax in Delaware? Sah-weet! After my training (which went fine) I met up with an old friend for dinner in Wilmington. We went to a chi-chi Italian restaurant. You can tell when I'm in a spontaneous mood because I'll order from the specials listed by the waiter rather than from the menu (oh yeah, I live on the edge). The appetizer was some mozzarella thing, and the waiter said if you like cheese you can't miss it. Well I lurrrrve cheese so I ordered it, but it was very disappointing. Yuck-o. For the entree the special was chicken ravioli, which was quite tasty, so that made up it a little. It was delightful to catch up with my friend, because we're both so busy we can never seem to find time to call each other up.
After dinner I drove up to my hotel where I was greeted at the front desk with, "Are you Melissa?" Seems I was the last one to check in for the night! I got settled in my room, which was adequate, and went to bed sooner rather than later. I did watch Grey's Anatomy though. Gotta get my McDreamy fix!

My training the next morning was at 8, and was located about half an hour away, so I had to get up pretty early. The training was not the greatest, because the district wanted their principals to use the system only for sending out emails, but they do not have any email addresses for parents yet. Plus they apparently had made all these policy decisions about when things would get updated and how, but without a strong knowledge of how the system works, which resulted in their decisions being inappropriate. But instead of accepting my offer to give some guidance, they just dismissed me in what felt like a bit of a dissatisfied huff. Well then.

Off I was to visit Crystal Cave. It was about 45 minutes away from the training, and the weather was drizzly and grey, with some fog in areas, but that made for some beautiful views.

Once again the Garmin got me to where I needed to go, but on a somewhat backroads path. Which is fine by me, because you get to see so much more that way. I even came across this giant pumpkin patch!

Driving to Crystal Cave, I was convinced it was going to be some little nothing roadside attraction, but when I pulled up there were several school busses there. The cave was discovered in 1871 and in my opinion a more accurate name would be Stalagmite Cave, but that doesn't have much of a ring to it. I went on the tour with an elementary school group, which wasn't all that bad. The kids were kinda cute in their enthusiasm, and they actually behaved really well. Before the tour, there's a "panning for gems" area where they were all so excited to find "gold" and "rubies" and the like in their bags of dirt.

The tour guide was obviously jaded, and he recited his lines like a reluctant third-grader quoting the Gettysburg Address. But the info was fascinating. It really takes so long for these mineral deposits to form. The drip, drip, drip from the cave ceiling creates stalactites up above, and when the water hits the ground it eventually builds up to create a stalagmite below.

When the two meet it's called a column, but it's very rare. There was one formation that was about four inches from meeting and the guide said it would take like 1200 years for them to join. Wowzers! One of the cool parts of the tour was when the guide turned out all the lights and there was just total darkness. Amazing to think that's what it looked like when the guys who discovered it first went inside. How did they ever realize what they'd found?

After one more training session Friday at 3, I headed for the airport. Now, while I was on the cave tour, some water dripped on my head, and the tour guide said that I would have a year of good luck. Well, that's a bunch of hooey because that night my flight was delayed, my wireless card stopped working so I couldn't even surf the internet at the airport while I waited, and then when I resorted to playing solitaire, I went through like five games straight before I could finally win. I finally got home around 11:30.

Saturday I got a massage and then went to my parents' house where my brother and his family were visiting. They brought their new puppy, Bubbles. She is very cute.

It was so sad to see her limping--I guess she fell off the bed and broke her leg so she had to have a rod inserted surgically. But she hobbled along on three legs without any problems. Being a puppy, she wanted to play, and kept optimistically nosing up to my parents' three chihuahuas, but they were having nothing of it. Lots of growling and yipping, but thank goodness no fighting. Little Cassidy got stung by a bee (what is it with her always getting sick or injured when she visits grandma and grandpa?) but rebounded rather well. She is such a ham. If you say, "Say cheese" to her, she makes the most adorable face where she wrinkles her nose and opens her lips to show all her teeth like a monkey does when it smiles. It's hilarious.

Sunday morning I got up early to go back to the airport, this time for a 9:30 flight to Cleveland. Alas, Southwest does not have a direct flight from Raleigh, so I had to layover in Baltimore, which meant an even longer travel time. But I brought along DVD's since I knew my wireless wasn't working right. I watched Click, with Adam Sandler. Perfect airplane/airport movie. It was very entertaining. Loved it. By the time I got settled into my hotel, it was 4 pm. I'd found several brochures of things I wanted to do, but they were all an hour away, and because it was late in the day, and a Sunday at that, nothing would have worked out. So I looked in the Garmin to see what was nearby. The Boulevard of 500 Flags sounded intriguing, and it was only 2 miles away. Off we go. This is what I found:

Okay, how about the Fairport Lighthouse? Good photo op, plus I get to touch Lake Erie. Kewl.

The foliage in Ohio was the most colorful I've seen. Beautiful and vibrant and abundant.

Although this pic was taken in PA, and it's pretty nice too.

On the way home from the lighthouse I saw a Gabriel Brothers, which my friend Amy recommended to me if I ever came across one in my travels. I checked it out and found it was like a Ross or TJ Maxx, but with even cheaper prices. I'm talking practically thrift store prices. Shirts for $2.99, jeans for $9.99. I got a couple turtleneck sweaters and the world's softest long-sleeved shirt. For dinner I decided on Smokey Bones (a BBQ place). Good call. The take out order was filled super fast and it was super delicious. Plus, apparently there's no tax on restaurant food in Ohio. Score.

Monday morning I awoke to snow on the ground.

Crap. Oh, crappity crap crap. I've never driven in snow! Holy cow. My plan if it ever snowed here in Raleigh was to call in sick. No can do in this situation. So I got dressed and went downstairs for breakfast (kick-butt buffet at the Comfort Inn in Wickliffe, Ohio, by the way). I called my boss and said, "Tell me everything you know about driving in the snow." Pump the brakes, don't follow closely, etc. Okay. Here goes. Turned out to be fine. No big deal at all. Of course, these people actually know what they're doing, because they live where it snows a lot. I bet if it snowed here there'd be a ton of accidents. Anyway, I made it to the training, and that one went well. On the way out I looked out the window and holy snowstorm, Batman, instead of melting, there was more! It was coming down like mad and there were at least two more inches on the ground. My car was even more covered than before! It was really quite a sight.

I was giddy with excitement because I'd never really seen snow falling that much. I'd seen the results of snow falling (i.e., day trip up to Frazier Park or a weekend in Big Bear) and I even lived in New Hampshire one fall and the last two weeks I was there it was snowy. But this was different somehow, maybe because it was a surprise. It was just so pretty.

Unfortunately I didn't have time to bask in the beauty because I had to hustle to my next appointment--this was the three-district training day. I drove not more than 20 miles south and suddenly there was no snow at all. Amazing. It took quite a while for the snow on my car to melt/fly off. The two trainings south of Cleveland went pretty well. The last one took place at an absolutely gorgeous high school. The view from the picture windows in the library was spectacular. Again, most colorful foliage ever. Although I will say we're doing pretty well ourselves here in NC:

After I finished up, it was back to the airport and onto a plane to Baltimore, then finally home to Raleigh. Made it home around 10:30. Can you say "exhausted"?


  1. Oh my friend.... your life is sounding more and more like mine with all of your busyness. You definitely had a week of adventure though. What beautiful places you get to see in your travels... I have probably said that before to you. Oh well. :) I hope to talk to you soon.

  2. I for got to say..... Beautiful pictures too!

  3. Thanks for all the gorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgeous pics! Makes me wnt to be there.

  4. You've having a great adventure, Melissa. It was fun to read about Delaware and PA - my inlaw's neck of the woods.

    I loved how you called your boss for snow-driving advice - quite resourceful! When we lived in Columbus, OH for a year, we noticed the road crews were amazing - they were out there with the big trucks clearing the roads immediately. Driving them was never really a problem - just getting out of our driveway was. We had an SUV and used to shift into 4-wheel drive just for that. :)