Thursday, February 28, 2008

best 10 consecutive days in years

feb. 15- After being back home from the field for only an hour, my friends Vicky, Drew and Derek and I repacked our bags and loaded into Vicky’s car to embark on a 2080-mile road trip. it was originally just going to be a college visit for Derek in Philadelphia... but after we dropped him off for the campus tour, drew and Vicky and I high-tailed it to see the ocean. needless to say, I was ecstatic to see my old friend, the Atlantic.
feb. 16- We were still driving through Pennsylvania, but at some point in the wee hours of the morning, had acquired a new passenger: Rowdy the dog. Although he looks real, especially with his ears blowing in the wind in this pic, he was, in fact, just a plush, life-sized, toy dog. In fact, the manufacturers worked so hard at making him seem realistic that he has steel rods in his legs to help him stand up... So you might imagine how crowded the car got.

feb. 17- We returned to St. Louis at about 10 p.m. and were exhausted! It was a lovely trip, though.

feb. 18- Snow day! I spent a much-needed day of rest, at home with Ouizie. I am teaching her how to spoon with me when I take naps. It's adorable.

feb. 19- (Happy birthday Mom!) Back to work... but good news! I got sent to SEMA (state emergency management agency) in Jefferson city to take a course in emergency donations management. We stayed in a really fancy best western with an indoor pool and hot tub, an exercise room, continental breakfast and queen sized beds for everyone! Not only did SEMA pay for our lodging, but we also feasted like kings and queens on our $36/day SEMA food allowance. We found it a tad bit difficult to spend all that money every day, but it wasn't too painful... :)

feb. 20- More SEMA training, feasting, exercising, and enjoying the hot tub!

feb. 21- Due to impending "severe" weather (less than an inch of snow), our instructor rushed the completion of the course so we could get back on the road ahead of the incoming storm. Our director ended up calling and telling us to stay put. So after a leisurely lunch, we found ourselves in a new class called "training the trainer". We learned what a MARC (multi agency resource center) was, how it worked... and were then told to write a manual on how to set one up that would be easy to read by volunteer agencies, as well as John Q. Public. Holy cow!!

feb. 22- We stayed in Jeff City (still on SEMA's dime) and did some more work on the MARC manual and I made a pretty
spiffy pamphlet out of what we learned from our emergency donations class. Not only was my AmeriCorps boss impressed with my work, but so was the director of SEMA!! He was so impressed, in fact, that he is pushing to have it mass produced so we can pass it out to the public in times of disaster, so they will know how to actually help, instead of only feeling like they are helping. yay!! (click the numbers to see close-ups of the pages. 1 2 3 4)

As soon as I got back to St. Louis, I rushed to my apartment, packed up some "bear necessities" and hurried off to the airport for my birthday weekend in Texas with Cody! We spent the night in the fanciest hotel I’ve slept been in, located right on 6th street. Even the stone inlay on the headboards was worth a second look.

feb. 23- We woke up super early and drove to an undisclosed location west of Austin. (Cody wouldn't let me spoil the surprise for myself, so everything that weekend was very hush-hush.) I found myself at Enchanted Rock! (pics to be posted soon.) We climbed the big rock and scrambled around in between smaller ones that made cave-like structures and explored around until our knees started creaking like the floor boards of an old boat.

Then we drove into Fredericksburg and checked in to the Hangar Hotel. So cute!! (you GOTTA visit the website... my words won't do it justice.) Every detail down to the notes typed in courier font saying things like "urgent message from the front line: please use these towels to remove makeup" was intended to make you feel like you've just stepped into the 1940s. Mission accomplished.
In Fredericksburg, we went window shopping, ate gourmet chocolate, checked out a classic car showroom... and eventually found our way back to the hotel to get cleaned up and explore around the various parts of this fascinating place! The captain's lounge (pictured left) was just the spot to feel extra swanky in our snazzy duds while sipping a couple of cocktails before dinner. Later, we had some delicious German food at a brewery/restaurant in town. When we settled in for the night, we had the pleasure of leaving the windows open and enjoying the cool Texas breeze from the comfort of our pillows.

feb. 24- In the morning, we went down to the airport diner (also in immaculate 40's decor) for a hearty breakfast, and a nice show of little private airplanes coming and going right outside the window. After breakfast, we made our way back to Austin, where we did some more shopping, and finally spent a lazy afternoon at Zilker park napping (Cody) and reading (me) in the cool shade of a rock outcropping. By 4, I was already back at the airport and ready to start missing my beloved Texas... oh. right. I'd miss my beloved Cody too ;)

Sigh... it was nearly as much of a whirlwind to write this blog entry as it was to live all that in 10 days!!

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