Or an all you can eat buffet…
It wasn’t until I visited the fifth (or sixth if you include the layover in Charlotte) place that my cousin suggested that I was on a cruise without water (unless you include snow) or the all-you-eat buffet (unless you include the way people seemed to keep feeding me.) Her suggestion gave me the brilliant idea of amusing you with my journey. All complaints can be directed at her. Ha. Without further ado, I present my itinerary.
9:30am I started the morning by singing in a concert (which took the space of the church service–a cantata of sorts if you will) at St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church where I sat 25 feet in front of John Goodman. We performed with a small orchestra and some marvelous singers I am blessed to call part of my ever expanding choir family (it ranges over three states now!)
2:45pm Hannah (housemate) and I were picked up by Layne (site coordinator) and taken to the airport. During security procedures, I was selected for the fast lane and didn’t need to remove my shoes or have my liquids ready to be examined. This meant that getting checked-in and getting to the gate took me approximately twenty minutes. Did I mention that I left at least an hour earlier than the suggested time frame because Hannah and I were flying out just an hour apart and it was easier to get one person to take both of us to the airport? Yeah. So I sat in the airport for a while. And my flight was delayed by about twenty minutes. By the time I got on the plane, I was wayyyy ready to be off the plane.
6:30pm Finally on the plane, we encountered a lot of turbulence due to the downpour that was happening through most of our flight path. Cue motion sickness, or in the case of a cruise, sea sickness. Luckily I had planned and properly medicated with Dramamine.
10:00pm Running through the Charlotte airport is a great way to panic yourself if you’re trying to catch a plane that’s due to take off five minutes after you arrive. Yay delayed planes & connecting flights! Cue more consumption of Dramamine and bumpy ride.
11:30pm Discovered while on the runway in Pittsburgh that an old friend was on the very same flight. He waited for me to get off the plane and we walked to the baggage claim together catching up on why two kids from middle-no-where-Pennsylvania were on the same flight from Charlotte. Y’all know I’m a YAV in New Orleans. Turns out he was flying in from SEATTLE where he works for Microsoft. Cue the “Small World” theme song. We parted ways at baggage, my sister tackled me in a hug and we drove home.
Spent the day lounging at my dad’s. I regret nothing. I guess this is akin to the lounging on a deck chair all day and watching the water.
Spent the day at my dad’s. My sister stopped in to visit, we harassed each other while thoroughly enjoying the other’s company, I played with her spoiled dogs (you can see that in the Christmas portion) and then went to church with my dad.
And then I surprised my niece and nephews by having Santa drop me off at their house for Christmas Eve. (again, pictures in the Christmas portion)
Spent the morning opening presents with the kids. It was great fun. All in all Mia received 18 Monster High Dolls and 2 My Little Pony Equestria Girls among some other things. Brandon got a 2 foot tall Power Ranger and Toothless the Dragon paraphernalia. Will got a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine toys. And Creamsicle, the cat, got a box.
I didn’t stay at that port very long. My brother and his family had two other
ports family houses to visit. My mom picked me up and I spent the day with her. My cousins came to visit and we had a delicious dinner. Then she took me back to my dad’s, where I found my sister visiting. And we lounged out on deck chairs with umbrellas in our drinks, watching the water. Or something like that.
My sister-in-law picked me up and I got to visit with my niece and nephews some more. Goodness do I love & miss those kiddos.
I got to have lunch with my dear sorority sister, Emily. It was marvelous and we ventured to Lawerenceville to a delicious little place called “Nied’s Hotel.” Yum. Then I returned to my deck chair and watched the water go by. Or something like that.
My sister met us in Cranberry (yes, it’s a real place) and we traveled to the Grove City area where I grabbed some items I left in PA, and introduced my dad to a new friend, the gracious woman I lived with before becoming a YAV. We had lunch at King’s–the most elegant of all the food I ate on my cruise (an All American Burger)–and then they dropped me off at the half way point where I
caught the next boat visited with my dear friend Dora, visited the exotic Walmart in search of exciting souvenirs and played a Scooby-Doo board game with her family. And then my cousin picked me up and transported me to the next port–Port Stow in Ohio.
I’m pretty sure I spent most of the day in my swim suit, on a deck chair, umbrella drink in hand, watching the water roll on by. Or something like that.
Loosely translated, that means I played Disney’s InfINity for the Wii with my cousin’s son, loom knitted a hat, lounged in my pajamas, made a poinsettia out of Hershey’s Kiss wrappers (only seven Hershey Kisses were harmed in the creation of the flower) and observed whether or not it was snowing. It was marvelous. Well, I did get dressed later in the day because my grandpap, aunt, and uncle came by. But then it was back to lounging on that deck chair. I guess that was the formal dinner where we got all dressed up and ate… spaghetti. Ha.
I GOT TO SEE “SAVING MR. BANKS.” If you don’t know, I’ll tell you now: MARY POPPINS IS MY FAVORITE MOVIE! Do the CAPITAL LETTERS make it seem like I’m yelling? Because if I were telling you, it would be in a really loud manner with some singing and a lot of bouncing from excitement. Really, imagine it being yelled so excitedly that all the words run together. It should probably look more like this:
My cousin and I both love Mary Poppins so it is only appropriate that I went to see “Saving Mr. Banks” with her. The only other person (Meg) I could see myself seeing it with wasn’t
on the cruise in the same state that I was now visiting so that wasn’t going to work well.
Then we went to eat PIZZA at my aunt & uncle’s house because it was my uncle’s BIRTHDAY!!!! It was probably the second most elegant food eaten on my cruise. I got to spend time with my pap and his bird, Spike. I miss those two guys a lot.
What better way to spend New Year’s Eve than by hanging out in pj’s most of the day only to get showered and dressed around 6pm, go shopping for a bunch of appetizer/snack like things and then play InfINity and watch the ball drop in Time’s Square??
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Spent the morning sleeping, and woke up to the Rose Parade. It was peculiar to sit on my deck chair and watch flowers float by in the middle of the ocean. But I sipped my umbrella drink and watched them float on by. And as they made their way around the ship for the second time, a five year old came by and we decided to play InfINity. Later, we returned to my aunt and uncle’s for dinner, worrying about snow. The snow didn’t happen until…
4:00am time to wake up and get to the airport so that I might reach the next destination, Port Montreat, North Carolina. This is where the snow happened. It was falling, it had accumulated, and my deck chair was not the place to be because it was COLD.
6:05am We made it safely through the snow to the airport! HOORAY!!! AND, MY FLIGHT WASN’T DELAYED! HOORAY!!! Once through security, I only sat in the airport for half an hour.
7:05am The Dramamine did its thing and I happily slept my way to Charlotte, NC.
9:45am Again, a great way to panic yourself is by running through the airport hoping that your flight hasn’t been delayed. Good news, it wasn’t. But the gate did change. Unfortunately, the gate I arrived at was going to Fort Lauderdale (or some other sunny part of Florida) and I was not. Who wants to go to sunny Florida when you can go to the frigid mountains of North Carolina? Surprisingly, a lot of people. I was one of them. So, I waited at the correct gate, E3 (not E9. E9 directly to Sunnyville. Nope. Chillville for me please!) and boarded a tiny itty bitty plane to Asheville.
10:30am Upon my arrival in Asheville, I retrieved my luggage, found a lounge chair, and watched the water roll on by. Until my peeps came to pick me up that is.
This time will be further detailed at a later date. I got to spend time searching for bear grenades. I had the opportunity to observe college students and the dynamics between the students and the elder generation of the church. I also was able to experience what it looks & feels like to be in conversation with both groups, and learned about interfaith dialogue at Montreat’s College Conference.
The cruise was over and it was time to go home. TWELVE hours in the car equals SIX Dramamine spaced throughout the trip, pitstops to try and find where I left my land-legs, and roughly 9 hours of sleeping sprinkled throughout.
I am so glad that January 6th, 2014 was a Monday. I have Monday’s off. Which means I got an extra day before diving back into the real world and seeing how well my wobbly land-legs would hold up.
Still, I felt a bit like this when I got home.
I’m certain that everyone has stopped reading by now. There’s not much meat to this, just an itinerary that doesn’t really resemble a cruise at all (though you tell me, cause I’ve never been on one.) For the .01% that finished reading this entry, bless you. Here is your reward:
Through all the visiting of family and friends, I realized how totally and completely I am meant to be here in New Orleans. I will return to Western Pennsylvania and those people in August. But right now, God has this great plan and purpose for me here in New Orleans–serving Him by loving each person I encounter: Will Smith, John Goodman, New Orleanians, my volunteers, my coworkers, my housemates, my friends and myself.