- (On my way to) Ohio
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
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 nasty...it 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
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 Katc.com (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.