Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Alrighty, Michigan.

I arrived in Michigan late Labor Day night (er, early September 2nd, really) and stayed until very early Saturday morning, September 6th. It was a pretty relaxing week, overall, now that I think about it....Basically my entire visit to Michigan can be summarized by a few interesting activities:
*Watching a decent number of movies
  • Life Size (twice)
  • Office Space
  • some weird Munsters immigrate to the U.S. movie
  • a movie about an woman adopting her niece after the parents' sudden death and thus falling in love with guy who threatens her job as famous chef (name being...?)
  • one about saving the world from aliens, with Will Smith, whatever that's called
  • The Family Stone (one of my favorites!)
  • and probably more that I can't think of at the moment...
*Attending a MSU Block and Bridle meeting for the free food (lol) and meeting some of Benjamin's cool, awesome friends.
*Visiting/touring a real dairy for the first time. ...Benjamin's friend, Gail, and her roommate, Erin, work at the dairy (at really strange times, like 2:30 a.m.) and live in the nearby Hog Shed (house with strange name on dairy grounds? idk.). Because I'd never been to a dairy before or been very up close and personal with dairy cows, he convinced the girls to give me a tour. It was so much fun! The girls even did the whole little flight-attendant-acting-out-the-process drama. Quite entertaining. I only wish I'd had my camera. And, a few days after the initial tour, we went back for home-made mint chocolate chip ice cream! It was divine! ...The home-made beef jerky wasn't so bad either. ;-)
*Adventures driving Benjamin's car alone, in East Lansing...all for gas and goodies to make a very tasty Cajun Dinner! ...Yeah, I made jambalaya using the Zatarain's mix that comes in a box (I'd brought it from home), and easy king cake (using cinnamon rolls and food coloring-dyed sugar). Danielle (Benjamin's roommate), Gail, and another female friend of his joined us to enjoy the goodies. Of course, I cheated, because none of it was made from scratch, but that's okay. Their Cajun food experiences can only get better, right? hehe.
*Biking across the Michigan State campus only to sit through a very foreign (to me) genetics class. ...Biking as a form of transportation is definitely a new phenomenon, in my world, but apparently one that I should get used to, as I don't have a car here in Idaho. As for the class, I played sodoku the entire time and listened to Benjamin, Gail, and the other classmate friend of theirs, crack jokes the whole time. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. :)
*Thursday night Bull-a-thon. ...It's apparently tradition within Benjamin's circle of friends to go bowling for free every Thursday night from 8-10 at the bowling alley in their Union's basement. (Bowling alley in the basement? craziness. be fair, LSU has one It was actually a grandly fun experience; I had a good time meeting everyone and really liked all of their friends. I'm only sad that I won't be able to hang out with them all again. (The name, I think, is based off of the fact that these are all "ag kids," but I could be wrong...)
*A very late night and VERY early morning departure from Detroit. ...Yeah, my flight was scheduled to leave DTW at 6:45 a.m., and since East Lansing is two hours from Detroit, we had to leave very early. We asked Gail to ride with us to Detroit because I was worried that Benjamin might fall asleep at the wheel on the drive back to EL, so we left Benjamin's apartment at 3:25 a.m., picked up breakfast (yes, a 24-hour McDonald's near campus?), and met Gail around 3:35 a.m. ish. They made coffee, and then we were off to the airport! I DJ'd the ride, using Benjamin's laptop, and it was just a grand ole much as it could be for 4 o'clock in the morning, lol. At last, the pair dropped me off at the airport, saying their goodbyes, and that was the end of my Michigan experience... :-(
Travels and arrival, settling into Idaho will come next...
'Til then,

Monday, September 15, 2008

Surviving Ohioooo

Much to all of your concern, I-am-alive. Yep, that's right, I made it through the storm, up to Idaho, settled in, and have since completed a whole 46 hours worth of my internship. What about in between? I realize it's going to take a while to write about all that's happened in these last three weeks, which is part of the reason it's taken me so long to write anything at all. However, there is plenty to write and for both your and my sakes, its about time I get to it. So, here goes...
  • (On my way to) Ohio
I never did write about my adventures before even arriving in Ohio, did I? Well, on my way out of Thibodaux on August 26th, I realized I'd forgotten my phone in my car, so we had to turn around to go back and get it. It would have been really horrible for me to be traveling without a phone or important numbers. Because of this, I arrived at the New Orleans (MSY) airport at 5:21 p.m., with a flight scheduled to leave at 6:05 p.m. This meant that I had roughly 10 minutes to get out of the car, stand in line, check in, and go through security.
Luckily, there was absolutely NO ONE in both the check-in and security lines. When I checked in, I noticed that the flight had been delayed 'til 6:15, which made me feel better about things time-wise. However, by the time I made it from the check-in counter to my gate (maybe 10 minutes), the flight had been delayed again--until 7:15 this time. I made a few phone calls, letting people know that I'd made it to the airport, and would possibly be delayed but that all was well. Sometime while making these phone calls and grabbing a bite to eat for dinner, the flight was delayed again to 8:50 p.m.! Eek.
By this time, I'd become worried about missing my connecting flight in Atlanta, but I knew there wasn't much of anything I could do about it. My best defense was notifying friends in Ohio of the situation, making potential sleeping arrangements with a friend in Atlanta, and putting my "do-your-Delta-magic" friend Chris from Georgia on alert for flight changes, etc. To make a long story short(er), our flight ended up leaving at 8:15 p.m., and after a "hustle" in the Atlanta airport, I did actually make my connecting flight (thanks to its 30 minute delay) to Ohio. Thus, I arrived in Ohio at 12:30 a.m. on August 27th.
[I should note that this is the day that the FAA had some crazy computer glitch that caused flight back-ups across the country. I didn't get to see the news but I heard it was nuts.]
  • (August 27th - 29th in) Canton/Akron/Cleveland/Columbus, Ohio
Kayleigh and Domenic, two co-workers from heart camp, picked me up from the Columbus airport, and we drove two hours back to Canton, as I planned to stay there with Kayleigh for my first few days in Ohio. We made it back to Kayleigh's around 3 a.m., so Domenic stayed the night in her basement, because he lives in Cleveland which is an extra hour away. [Yes, they have BASEMENTS?!?! oh em gee.]
Wednesday, Kayleigh and I got up fairly early because I had an early-afternoon meeting with a graduate program at The University of Akron, which is about thirty minutes away from Canton, if I remember correctly. Needless to say, navigating a city and university campus that is completely unfamiliar can be quite a challenge, but we did make it to the meeting on time, thank goodness. Child Life was the graduate program of interest at UA, so we met with a faculty member and two graduate assistants/students in the program. The students were very helpful and informative about the program, its curriculum, and life as a GA. They even shared their contact information with me in case I had any more questions or concerns...and now that I think about it, I really should write them about how all the hurricane stuff turned out... Anyways, it was a really poopie day weather-wise, but I felt rather accomplished after that meeting, so yay.
After the meeting, Kayleigh and I had a late lunch, then drove up to Cleveland to meet Domenic. We had tasty ice cream at his family's ice cream shop and then went to see Lake Erie. Yes--I've seen a Great Lake! Woot. Again, the weather was was all gray, foggy/misty, and rather chilly...but hey--I SAW LAKE ERIE! Yayyyy.
That night, Kayleigh, her sister, mom, and I ate at Milk-n-Honey a really quaint hole-in-the-wall restaurant. We all had ice cream for dinner, which was just pretty much amazing. If you haven't ever eaten a true waffle sundae, you're missing out. It was absolutely delcious! :)
Thursday was a rather lazy day; Kayleigh and I slept in and then roamed around Canton for most of the day. She showed me some of the schools that she and her sister attended, cool buildings downtown, and we ate at a tavern (Domenic insisted that I see one, since "there are no real taverns in Louisiana," grr), and then went back to Kayleigh's. She had to work for the evening, so Domenic met me at her house to entertain me for a while. At this point, Hurricane Gustav had become a pretty powerful force in the Gulf, and so I was mostly glued to the TV. Kayleigh's parents took us to another quaint restaurant for dinner, and then we watched The Princess Bride (worst movie EVER!).
My mom called that night to say that I really needed to reschedule my flight for Sunday rather than Monday (Labor Day). I attempted to make arrangements with Delta that night, but after getting disconnected four times, and then talking with a crazy foreigner, I gave up. It was extremely frustrated and I was just so stressed out and upset that I couldn't do it anymore.
Friday morning, we woke up way before it was light out, and left around 6:45 a.m. with hopes of making it to Columbus before 9:30 a.m., since my meeting at Ohio State was scheduled for 10 a.m. On the way to Columbus, I spoke with a very friendly Delta representative who rescheduled my flight without any problems. We had a few extra minutes, so Kayleigh drove me around her school, Otterbein College, on our way to meet Mike (also co-worker from heart camp). Mike attends graduate school and is a GA at Ohio State, so I figured he'd be the best person to show me around and give the graduate student's prospective. We didn't have much time to talk before my meeting, but it was really nice to be able to bounce ideas/possibilities off him afterwards.
My visit to Ohio State was a jam-packed four hour session. I met lots of faculty members, went over the curriculum requirements for a Master's Degree in Agriculture and Extension Education, discussed assistantship options, and even toured the brand new Ohio State 4-H Office, which happens to be a very nice GREEN Building. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and they were really interested in me and my experience, especially since I was from Louisiana, a state with a very strong 4-H program. They seemed to really "want" me there, and were willing to do whatever they could to make it work for me attending their program. It was a really cool experience, to say the least. [I must also note here, that I felt really bad when I later realized my National 4-H Conference collegiate facilitator friend, Katrina, works in the state office and I didn't get to see her while I was there. I did see her the next day, though, thank goodness.]
After the meeting, Mike and I spent some time catching up with each other; he didn't work at camp this summer, so we really hadn't gotten to spend much time with each other in the last year. It was good to have some time to really talk in person and things like that. I definitely see Mike as an older brother figure and appreciate the closeness we've developed over the last few years. As kind of a nostalgic Louisiana treat, he and I made red beans and rice together...though I guess I should say that Mike made red beans and rice, and I watched. lol. It was fun, nonetheless...and his Ohio friends sure liked it, hehe. [For curious minds out there, Mike is originally from Nacadoches, TX, but attended LSU for graduate school, and now lives in Ohio, so he's rather capable of making tasty Louisiana red beans and rice.]
I spent the night at Mike's apartment, and Saturday morning we walked to the little market a few blocks away. Basically it was an open market set up on the side of the street with various home-grown fruits, vegetables, and beautiful flowers for sale. Finally, the Ohio weather had begun to cooperate with my visit, so it was a gorgeous day outside. After returning from the market, it was time for me to pack up and get ready because Benjamin was on his way to pick me up; the plan was to visit his family and stay at his house for my last night in Ohio.
  • (August 30th - September 1st) Just outside Columbus, Ohio
Benjamin, another National 4-H Conference collegiate facilitator friend, lives just outside of Columbus in Lewis Center/Africa. He came to visit Louisiana in May after returning from a semester in Europe, and so it was my turn to visit. We hung out at his house, playing video games with his siblings for most of the afternoon. His younger brother (Jacob-10), Benjamin, and I, played in the pasture with some air soft guns for a good bit, too. Surprisingly enough, it was pretty fun, lol. It was also cool to see some of his sister's (Katherine-17) sewing projects and study sessions for their upcoming county fair. Ohio 4-H in comparison to LA 4-H is a very interesting specimin, that's for sure. For dinner, we all went over to his extended family's house for a cousin's 11th birthday. Katrina and two other active Ohio 4-Hers came to visit, too. It was really cool to finally see Katrina and I think we all had a pretty good time catching up with each other.
Late that night, my mom called, worried about me getting stuck in Atlanta the following day due to Hurricane Gustav. She said I needed to decide whether I wanted to risk getting stuck in Atlanta or just stay in Ohio indefinitely, until I could make it out to Idaho for my internship. Of course, I was really upset about the idea of not going home before Idaho, because I never got a chance to say goodbye to my family or to pack up important papers and adequate clothing for three months away. When it came down to it, I decided that it was probably safer to just stay in Ohio with people who loved and supported me than to chance being stuck in a city where I know only one person (a person who happened to be very busy with her senior year of high school).
Thus began another late-night adventure with Delta representatives. Fortunately, however, this foreign representative had no clue what she was doing and somehow refunded my entire ticket to and from Ohio, meaning I ended up with a free trip to Ohio and plenty of Delta credit for a flight home from Idaho in December. It was pretty much amazing. Benjamin asked if I was Irish, because of my luck with airlines. ...I must say that the exceptions made by Delta for hurricane situations are really great; and I still love Delta, despite the occasional frustrations.
Sunday morning, I went to church with Benjamin and his family, ate at Bob Evans for the first time, we hung out a bit, and played some more air soft. Air softing is so much fun; even though I'm not very good at it, I only got shot once! woot. It was a pretty laxed day. I layed around a lot, watching the maps and listening to the storm unfold via (Lafayette news channel). I also did some searching for airline tickets, because Benjamin invited me to go up to Michigan with him for the week (he goes to MSU), and I thought it sounded like a cool idea.
Monday, was also relaxed. We woke up pretty late and I listened to the hurricane for a while, too. Ms. Beth, Benjamin's mom, helped me search for airline tickets, and we finally decided on the Frontier Airlines flight out of Detroit early Saturday morning. We all went to eat at Cracker Barrel for lunch, which was a fun outing. Most of the afternoon involved Benjamin shopping for food and other stuff to take back with us to Michigan. There was another family dinner (at his house, this time) that night; we hung around waiting to see everyone and eat before heading out to Michigan, a 4-hour drive ending at nearly midnight.
As this is the end of stories from my trip to Ohio, I think I'll stop here for now. Expect another entry from the visit to Michigan and my internship adventures in Idaho. As far as reflecting on Hurricane Gustav, it's hard to put into words all of the emotions I felt that crazy week. And now, it's especially difficult because we've since gone through a second storm, Hurricane Ike, and everything just really all blurs together. Plain and simple, hurricanes suck. Sometimes things can be exciting, but the devatation far outweighs the fun stuff. Louisiana is one special place, that's for sure.
And with that, I bid adieu.