Monday, June 1, 2009

The Drive Part 1

This is a long blog so buckle your seatbelts and strap in, its going to be a ride. The past several days have been a whirlwind! On Thursday at 11, I finished up my Child Pschiatry rotation. Pretty wild to have finally finished! I have to admit that although I am incredibly excited about my upcoming adventure, I am also a bit sad to be putting on hold some of my professional interests here in Charlottesville. More on that later though.

Thursday night I spent packing and running errands. Not only am I just packing up for the trip, but I am also packing all my other belongings up as I will be living back in CO for the rest of the year. So my truck needed to be expertly packed so I could get all of my “stuff” in there. I also decided to give a little thank you gift to my roommates so I undertook the impossible; cleaning the bathroom in our apartment. I am pretty sure that was harder than anything I will encounter on my trip.

Later Thursday night, Brett (my roommate) and I headed over to McGrady’s Irish Pub in Charlottesville, a local haunt, for a going away party. Jim (my other roommate) had organized a final get together at McGrady’s. I was really touched by the number of people who showed up to send me off. One of the highlights was a cake made by Des (a med school classmate) which showed me paddling down a giant blue frosting river. It was pretty bittersweet seeing all of the folks that I had spent the past three years with, knowing that I wouldn’t see ‘em for awhile. As the party started winding down, Brett and I rolled back to our apartment.

Friday morning. Wow. The last day in Charlottesville. My dad had driven down from Washington D.C. late the night before after flying in from Denver, Colorado. We met up early and grabbed some food at Bodo’s and then started on the packing/shopping finalities. We picked up some food from Kroger which I then repackaged(again When I mentioned that packing and planning for a trip of this size was fun in a previous blog I was being sincere, but by this time I was starting to get ready to hit the water. ).
My dad and I then walked into the med school where I met with my Dean, Dean Pearson. After signing my departure papers, Dean Pearson sent me off saying “make sure you send me some photos.” I certainly will!

The rest of the afternoon was filled with packing until about 4. This was when the fun started, and was perhaps the most memorable 5 hours I had until this point in Charlottesville. My dad, Brett and I went to El Puerto, a local Mexican restaurant and snarfed some food. This joint has been a mainstay of my roommates and I in Cville, and eating there was a really fun treat. After gorging ourselves(I am still arguing that I need to put on weight for the upcoming adventure), we got a ride over to Fridays After Five. For all the readers not familiar, Charlottesville has a fantastic summer tradition of afternoon outdoor concerts, that occur each Friday. This Friday was special for a couple of reasons, but one notable reason was that the Gourds were playing.

For those not familiar, the Gourds are bluegrass/rock band that are commonly associated with hits such as Honeysuckle and Gin and Juice(a Snoop Dog cover). They also have the distinction of being the favorite band of my Uncle Michael, who lives up in D.C. who drove down Fri afternoon to see me off and to see the Gourds.

Just to recap, by 8 pm on Friday, the following nebuli had coalesced into an air of awesomeness. My dad was out from CO, my best friends from Cville were out, my aunt Betty and uncle Michael had driven down, a great band was playing, and I was going to head out on the trip of a lifetime. The following hour was really memorable, especially when the Gourds closed with Gin and Juice. Unfortunately, everything that is good must come to an end. After the Gourds finished, I had to say goodbye. It was really hard to say goodbye to the folks whom I had spent so much time with, and so many experiences (both good and bad) with over the past three years. The challenges, experiences and changes that I have experienced with these folks have certainly had a positive impact on my life. I love you guys!

Now not everything could be happy and cheery in this blog. As my dad and I were getting dropped off at my apartment I had a sinking realization. I had lost my keys. After frantically searching, no keys surfaced; apparently my dancing had been that extreme. So, we had to head out with a set of spare keys, a set of spare keys that did not have a key to the camper bed. Anyway, we drove north for about 2.5 hours before stopping.

The alarm woke my dad and I oh so early on Sat. morning. Our goal was to drive to Saline, MI to surprise my grandfather. We were also going to stop by and say hi to my Aunt Carol and Uncle Dave who had been proponents of the trip from the start. Now my grandfather has known about the trip for a long time, and we had a chance to talk the weekend before when I had driven up to Alexandria, VA. However, he had no idea that both my dad and I were going to surprise him and show him the boat. My grandmother had been very stealthily keeping our arrival a secret, so my grandfather had no idea who was knocking on his door at 5 when we showed up.

It was really great to see my grandparents again, and I think they really enjoyed seeing the kayak. After a great dinner, we went outside and took a look at the Storm GT while I explained a bit about the boat. Before too long, it was again time to say goodbye. My grandfather and grandmother gave some hugs and their blessing, and we were on our way.

After getting around Chicago late in the evening we stopped just before the Wisconsin border. Our plan was to meet up with Chris Ford, my dad’s college friend at his weekend house. We spent a little bit of time exploring Chris’s place, and hanging out and eating before heading on.

The rest of the day consisted of driving, and driving, and driving. Today(5/31), we drove from 8am to 12pm, adding a time zone in the process. I am tired and ready for some paddling.

We have several other adventures planned on the way out(one of which is going to be getting a key made to get into my truck bed), and then put-in! Will keep you all updated-Joe

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