Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Omaha to Delaware

Trying to catch up on our trips is always interesting. Usually after a trip, I put it out of my mind and start thinking about the next one. But we did have a couple interesting trips in June that I haven’t reported on yet.

First, I had an advisor retreat in Omaha, NE. Omaha is really a wonderful city—there are a lot of interesting sights, forts, and signs that at one time this was a major stopping off place for Native Americans, traders, explorers, and settlers. The campus I was on was an old fort—Fort Omaha. It has wonderful old brick buildings and a huge parade ground in the middle. We actually stayed in one of the building that used to be an officer’s quarters. The college has a horticultural program, so the grounds are beautiful, with many flower beds.

One night we went out for supper in Old Main—the old part of town. It has cobbled streets and small brick buildings with lots of interesting shops. You could really feel the old west. After supper we went to a small theatre to see “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks”. It was really a great play--about an older lady who wanted to get dance lessons. She was the widow of a Baptist Minister. The person she hired to give her dance lessons was a young gay man. They rubbed each other the wrong way most of the time, but ended up becoming very good friends. One of my favorite lines came when they were talking about her husband, who would have disapproved of the young man. She said her husband could quote from any part of the Bible. “I often thought he did, because he had no original thoughts of his own.”

From Omaha, I flew directly to Baltimore to go to the Honors Institute that was at Newark, Delaware. Bob had flown to Baltimore earlier, so he picked me up at the airport. Sometimes I wonder what we did before cell phones. They sure are handy. (What color car are you driving? I’m standing by door #5. OK I see you!)

We had all day on Sunday in Baltimore—so we went to the Inner Harbor and wandered around that area. We bought a pass for the Water Taxi and took it around. It was really warm on that day, but much cooler out on the water. We went to a great little local restaurant and ate outside in the shade. That night we drove over to Delaware to get ready for the Honors Institute.

Monday, we set up for registration and all the exhibits and then Bob and I did registration all afternoon and in to the evening. I really like doing registration—you get to see everyone who comes to the Institute. There were 350 people registered for the Institute and it was fabulous! Great speakers, great food, and lots to see and do.

Tuesday, we had an advisor luncheon—which I was responsible for. It turned out really nice. I had some Liberty Bells and copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that I used as table decorations. I had talked with the College Conference Staff and they said they would have a bud vase at each table. I asked if they could have red, white and blue flowers and they really looked nice. They also used red, white, and blue napkins—so it really looked patriotic—which is what we wanted, since our topic is Power this year and we were going to Philadelphia the next day.

The speaker we had was Ed Okonowicz, who teaches at the University and had written quite a few books on ghosts of Delaware and Baltimore. He tells ghost stories at the old Fort Delaware (which is said to be haunted). He was really funny and had some great slides and really told some funny stories—but all with a historical background. He sold several of his books and I was the one who helped him, so he gave me a book. He talked about how small Delaware was and one time said, “It’s half way across the state—of course that’s only 40 miles away!” He also talked about the Delmarva Peninsula. I didn’t realize how funny the borders of those states are, but if you look at a map the Peninsula that includes Delaware, it also has a little bit of Maryland and also a tiny bit of Virginia. He said one year, the state map for Virginia forgot to put that part of the state on their map.

After all the ghost tales that we heard, we wondered about our car. We had this strange noise in the back of the car—it was like someone was knocking on the trunk. A couple times, both Bob and I would stop and look behind us to see if someone was there. There never was… Spooky!

On Wednesday we had a field trip to Philadelphia. We had eight greyhound buses full of students and advisors. It was a little over an hour bus ride (going in to town—more like two hours coming back, due to traffic.) We wandered around—walked over to the river, saw the Liberty Bell, ate a Philly Cheese Steak, went to Constitution Hall, picked up the free tickets for Independence Hall, but ended up not going. It was really a great time. We had been in Philadelphia two years ago and had done a tour and gone through everything at that time, so didn’t feel we ‘needed’ to see anything.

Then Friday we had an R & R day. Since we had a car, we drove over to the coast and went for a walk along the beach. There were lots of biting flies, so we didn’t stay too long there. Then we drove to Lewes and took a car ferry over to Cape May, New Jersey. I think that’s the first time I’ve driven a car onto a ferry. It was a two hour ferry ride and really nice and warm and sunny. We were outside all the way over. About the time we got to Cape May, it started to rain, so we never did go swimming, but did drive around and look at the town. It has some great Victorian Houses and lots of bed and breakfasts. I think it would be fun to vacation there. We did eat at a restaurant right on the beach. It had a porch with an awning over it; so we were out of the rain—but it did really cool off.

On the way back, the wind and rain was coming down, so we stayed in side for most of the trip. They had concessions, so we had a giant pretzel and some pop. A few places dolphins would be swimming right next to the boat.

Our flight home on Sunday wasn’t until 6:30 pm, so we thought we would have some time to explore Baltimore a little more. BUT, it was raining (actually pouring) all day long. So we mainly drove around and looked at different things through the rain. We did find a neat looking restaurant right on the water, so decided to eat lunch there. When we walked it—they met us by saying, “I’m sorry, our electricity has just gone out. We can still serve you things that have been cooked on the gas stove—it may take a little longer.” We had lots of time, so it worked fine.

So we get to the airport fairly early, because we didn’t have anything else to do. The plane coming in was a little late, so we hardly waited until they were off before we hurried to get loaded. Both Bob and I were upgraded to first class—so that was sweet—although we were across the aisle from each other. So we got loaded up by 7:15—and I was thinking it was iffy whether we would make our connection in the cities. We waited, and waited, and waited. Pretty soon the pilot came on and said, “You may be wondering why we haven’t pushed back. Well there is a storm system going over and we have been delayed—in fact, nothing is taking off right now.” So we waited some more.

Finally we got the OK to get in line to take off, but there was a long line by this time. We waited for a while longer. Then the pilot came back on and said, “The good news is that we got our flight plan OKed, the bad news is we are going to have to take on more fuel—so will have to go back to the gate for that.” So we drove back to the gate. By this time, it was about the time our flight to I Falls should be leaving—so we knew we had missed it.

When we got back to the gate—there were some huge cracks of thunder and lightening. So the pilot came back on and said they pulled everyone off the tarmac because of the lightening and safety, so we couldn’t get fueled. They opened the doors of the plane and some people got off to see if they could find something to eat—everything was closed.

We finally got going around 11 pm (rather than 6:30). We did get a meal since we were in first class, and finally got to the cities at 12:30 am. We went to a motel for a few hours of sleep and finally got home Monday morning. And we heard about the huge storm and flooding that happened all over the east coast.

Bob and I thought it had to do with the ghost that was along with us—knocking on our trunk, putting out the electricity in our restaurant, and having a storm right on top of us.

Even with all the problems, it was a great trip—lots of great people to visit with, lots of wonderful speakers, and so much to see and do.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I love New England!

I love New England. Not only are there a lot of quaint towns, trees, and mountains, but the ocean is close by—what more could you ask for. So we were scheduled to go to New England in June—the first time we had been there in the spring. This should be pretty exciting. However, as we were driving into the airport at 9:45 am for our 11 am flight, I got a call saying that the retreat had been cancelled—didn’t I get the e-mail? NO!

So instead of heading to New England, we headed home and started painting the house. I think I would have rather been traveling. Oh well, it did feel like a gift of time—and we got several rooms painted.

One thing that really disappointed me about this trip being cancelled is that my college roommate lives in NH and we had made arrangements to visit them while we were there. And we were going to visit ‘Castle in the Clouds’, which sounds absolutely wonderful. I guess we’ll have to get there another time. Wahoo, an excuse to travel….

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