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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Spreading My Wings

Today's prompt actually puts a smile on my face because for the first time in years I did a bit of traveling.

December 22 - Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year? (Author:  Tara Hunt):
Okay, so I am not much of a traveler to begin with.  It is not that I am opposed to exploring new places mind you.  I have a number of cool places on my bucket list like:  Venice, Italy for a gondola ride; Acupulco, Mexico to watch the cliff-divers; and Tahiti to sleep in a hut cabana over the water.  It is not new places I shy away from, but the transportation and time it takes to get there. 

When it comes down to it, I am afraid of flying.  The last time I took an airplane flight was two weeks after 9/11/2001.  Not exactly the best time to fly.  We had an all-expense paid trip to Disney World for ten days.  This was the first time our boys had the pleasure of visiting Disney and we had to go.  Their excitement and sense of wonder in being on an airplane for the first time ever calmed me down and erased my sense of fear once we were up in the air.

During 2010 I did not go on an airplane but I did travel by car and stayed within the confines of the state of North Carolina.  And, I was happy with that.  The most extensive trip this year involved our college-visit road trip.  We visited Greensboro, Boone, and Cullowhee over the course of four days.  No, it wasn't a fancy trip; we didn't go to the spa or an amusement park.  What made this trip memorable was the purpose and the people.  

The fact that my son, Justin, was accepted to college(s) was a wonderful accomplishment.  It was refreshing to have a choice of universities to go to.  I must recommend that you visit the college campus before you make a decision of where to spend four years of your life.  It is preferable that you visit while the school is in session so that you can get a feel for the student population.  This will give you a feel for whether or not you will fit in with the environment.

Greensboro exceeded my expectations.  Before we even left I had a pre-conceived notion that it would end up last on my list.  Surprisingly, it ended up first on my list.  I loved the diversity of the student population, the feeling like the campus was a community within a larger community, everything was within walking distance, the proximity of being in a city with all of the amenities, and the fact that it was only one and one half hours away from Raleigh was a bonus.

I had high expectations of Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.  I  heard a lot of great things from my dental hygenist and strangers I met.  It was the most academically competitive school from our list of options and had the specialized major of Music Therapy.  Boone is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is about three hours from Raleigh.  I anticipated that the scenery would be breathtaking.  But, it really didn't impress me.  The green mountains in Vermont are much prettier.  The quad area where all of the students hang out between classes was filled with preppy white students throwing frisbees and playing hackey sack.  I felt like I was back in Old Greenwich, Connecticut.  The only friendly students were the handful of minority students that we encountered.

Western Carolina University is in Cullowhee, North Carolina which is about an hour from the Tennessee border.  It is not high on a mountain like Appalachian State, rather it is in the valley.  The campus was nicely organized and buildings and amenities were in good shape.  Unfortunately, we visited during their spring break and we were not able to see the students in action.  On our long drive home we all realized that the school was just too far away and beyond a comfortable driving distance for holiday pick ups.

After Justin chose the University of North Carolina in Greensboro we adopted Greensboro as our weekend getaway city.  We visited a number of times throughout the year. We stay in the same Best Western,  in the same room.  We go to the same restaurant when we visit, Smokey Bones.  By joining their 'clubs' we have already benefited from some of the perks.

When Nicolas and I travelled to Charlotte a couple of weeks ago for his first paid acting gig, I was able to use the points I accumulated for a free night at the Best Western.  This was another trip we made that encompassed the weekend but was a memorable experience.  At the last minute we hopped into the car at 8:00 p.m. on a Friday night and drove three hours.  We arrived at our hotel by 11:00 p.m. and after working a long day all day Saturday decided to stay another night to rest for the ride back home.

While we didn't make it to the east coast of North Carolina this year it is definitely on our radar for next year.  I anticipate that we will visit Wilmington for an audition or two.  We'll probably take a weekend to go to our favorite hotel on the beach at Carolina Beach, The Golden Sands.  It is definitely possible that we will visit one or all of the following cities:  New York, Atlanta, or Los Angeles.  When that happens, I'll just have to suck it up, hold my son's hand, close my eyes, and open them when we arrive at our destination.  Wish me luck.

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