Taking a Trip…and Hell to Pay

Posted: 2002-07-30 in General

Boy oh boy oh boy….You know it always seems that when you treat yourself to something special, you pay for it later? Robert Heinlein was one of the first to discuss it in his novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress when he defined the concept of TANSTAAFLThere Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. It's pretty much true, especially when it comes to this past week.

Things started off really nicely….DeeDee and I and the rest of the folks in our program (I'll call us LDS-ers (for Leadership Development Students, not our real acronym, but good enough)) were going down to a conference in the Maryland-DC area. A group of 5 of us (DeeDee, myself, and three girls who are also LDS folks) decided to drive down rather than fly with the rest of everyone, so that we could do a little road-trippin' and travel on our own time (and to our own destinations). DeeDee and I drove down in my CRV, with a humongous load of luggage in the back, and the three other girls, who I'll call Baloney (nickname, don't ask), Jenya and Terria, all drove down in Jenya's sporty little Volkswagen Cabrio convertible, which barely has room for 4 people, let alone any luggage. Good thing Junior (my car, in case you haven't figured that out) could fit most of 5 people's worth of luggage, or else we would have been in big trouble.

Anyway, our plan was simple – drive down early Saturday morning and go through Baltimore, check out the inner harbor, the aquarium, etc, and then head down to the conference hotel in the evening and spend an extra night there at the hotel before the conference started on Sunday. Come noon on Friday, we'd jet north to Atlantic City and spend two evenings at a Holiday Inn we reserved rooms at, have some fun there, and make it back safe and sound to Syracuse by Sunday afternoon. Sounded simple, fun, and we were all looking forward to it. Things didn't go quite according to plan, but we managed to make the best of things and have a really good time.

We headed out of Syracuse (generally) on time and had a pretty uneventful trip down to Baltimore. I brought my Motorola walkie-talkies that I got as a promotion when I signed up for RoadRunner last year, so we kept in touch between our cars and got into some pretty silly discussions on the way down there. We got into Baltimore around 1pm and were all STARVING, so we found a parking garage right near the inner harbor and walked over to the nearest restaurant, which happened to be the Cheescake Factory. Of course, it was PACKED, with an hour and a half wait, so we scratched that idea and went upstairs to the Pizzeria Uno, which had a much more reasonable 20 minute wait for us starving folks. After scarfing down some food we decided to make our way over to the aquarium, and got there only to find that all the tickets for the rest of the day were either sold out or only available for times WAAAY later than we wanted to stay, so we turned around, walked along the pier/boardwalk, and ended up going to the Baltimore Science museum. We checked out the Space Station 3D IMAX movie (it was actually really cool) and wandered around the museum for about 3 hours, and then decided that dinner was definitely in order. We had directions to a really good crab-house restaurant, and decided to walk, since it didn't seem that far. It only turned out to be about 12 blocks away (instead of the 5 that we first thought), but the real pisser was the fact that it was located on the other side of the inner-harbor projects. We managed to make it through unscathed, but it was definitely freaky, and I wouldn't want to come anywhere near there after dark. We all started almost freaking out when this really old man came up to us on the street and asked if we knew where we were going. The girls all figured he was implying we were in somewhere we shouldn't be, and I had to marshall 'em all back into some sort of facade of calmness so we could make it through without appearing to be frightened tourists who really didn't know where we were going. Of course, we could be screaming inside, but I figured it'd be better if it didn't show on the outside.

Anyway, the steamed maryland blue-crabs were fresh, hot and spicy (mmmm, delicious!) and we made it back to our cars by way of taxi without any other "incidents". Traveling down to the hotel, we fought a little to stay awake, but made in in by 10 and pretty much crashed (yeah, you try staying up late when you get up at 5:30 in the morning!)

Sunday Through Friday
The week-long conference was a good time. We got to meet lots of other LDS folk, went out partying in DC in the evenings, and even got a chance to learn a thing or two from the seminars and lectures we attended from 8-6:30 every day. The days were long and tiring, but we made it through okay…

Friday Afternoon
Here's where our first payback began. The girls (all except Baloney) wanted to go shopping in Georgetown. That, in itself, was fine. The timing was the big problem. We went into Gtown and found some parking spots off the main streets, and managed to walk about halfway to the French Connection UK (FCUK) before it started pouring down rain, soaking us pretty thoroughly. About this time, I started envying Baloney, who had stayed in the Cabrio and was taking a nap while the other gals went about finding "cute", overpriced clothing at the shops in the area. After shopping about for an hour or two, we got a frantic call from Baloney (who had requested to be locked in the car with the car alarm armed) saying that someone had parallel parked right behind Jenya's car and had bumped it hard, 3 times, trying to park. We rushed back to check and see if there were any damages (nothing, but I have absolutely NO idea how the buick behind the cabrio managed to squeeze into the spot it was in!) and decided to get on the road….by this time, it was about 4:00 PM, and – you guessed it! – Washington DC was welcoming the most hallowed of all traditions to its famous Beltway – RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC.

For those of you who have never experienced a big city's rush hour traffic jam (or crawl or stall or whatever you want to call it), you can go practice on your own: Go get in your car, and start driving about 5-10 miles and hour. Next, have a team of cross country runners surround your car, continuously moving from the sides to the front to the back of your car, all running at varying speeds (but never faster than 10-15 mph). Have them stop suddenly without warning, or open a space in front of your car right before they cut you off again. This pretty much sums up about an hour's worth of driving (to get maybe 30 miles away from Georgetown?). We thought we might be in the clear, but we were only driving along the tip of the iceberg, baby. We hit the rush-hour traffic in almost EVERY major city we passed on the way to Atlantic City – Baltimore, Philly, Wilmington, etc…To make a long story short, we were exhausted when we arrived in AC, and were ready to just crash, hard, when Lady Luck and her motivational cohorts gave us a boost of energy and spirit and enabled us to hit the casinos for a quick (and nice) italian dinner and an hour's worth of gambling.

Saturday and Sunday
The rest of Atlantic City was a blast. We went out on the beach, got henna tattoos, gambled, ate delicious food, gambled, and generally had a blast. We left mid-morning on Sunday and got back to Syracuse after a (grueling) 5.5 hour drive, just in time to wave good-bye to Baloney, Jenya and Terria, head home to do a quick spritz-up of our place, and invite our other co-workers over to (*WARNING*: Here's where we really begin pay for our fun) study for our last test of the semester for our Complex variables class. This was the ugliest study session I've ever seen, as none of us knew what the hell was going on, and half us weren't awake enough to even grasp the concepts when we DID figure them out. We stopped studying a couple hours later, convinced we were going to fail our test the next day.

Nobody wanted to go into work on Monday, and I actually would have been justified in not going, since my boss wasn't around to catch me up on what I had missed over the past week, and nobody else could possibly fill me in, since they didn't have a clue what was going on. Actually, to tell you the truth, I could have skipped work today, too, just as easily, since I STILL haven't seen my boss around! But I digress: we left early to go talk to our Professor and ask (beg, whine, etc) him about the material we didn't understand. Over a two-to-three hour cram session with him, we managed to figure out the majority of the concepts, and then followed it up immediately after with the test. Needless to say, none of us did really great on it, but we didn't care at that point, because we were finally DONE with that hell of a class! As a means of celebration, we decided to go back to work and meet with everyone else to do our homework due for our other class….*sigh*…a student's work is never done, especially if he/she goes to Atlantic City the weekend before.

Anyway, that pretty much brings me up to the present. I've spent the last hour or so writing this recap of the week, since I have absolutely nothing to do, and now I'm going to go out and enjoy the nice weather. Let's hear it for negligent bosses, and the wonderful flexible-time-scheduling policy my work has!


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