There's nothing quite like waking up at 2:45 AM to leave for a nineteen day Ivy League Connection adventure to Yale/the East Coast. I expected to follow up that first sentence with something snarky like, "It's a perfect kind of hell - the wind chill burying your body in a blanket of cold and ice-o-lation." However, I got up relatively easily, well, for sleeping 4 1/2 hours, and grabbed some quick bites of homemade banana bread before leaving the house. I took extra care to check my room one more time - I wouldn't be seeing it for a while.
After we all arrived and filled out our paperwork, we took our departure group photo (so graciously provided by Don to you a couple posts below this one) and headed off. Our airport shuttle driver rolled in at 4:25 - five minutes late - and proceeded to ask us where he was taking us. After Tracey graciously mentioned to him that since he was an airport shuttle driver, he might want to take us to SFO (San Francisco International). We all thought that sounded like a great idea. I said my last goodbyes to my dad (who'd stayed up all night) and Don (short-sleeved Hawaiian shirt and shorts waving in the soft breeze), and we headed off, one of the only vehicles insane enough to be driving in the middle of the night, a low wind dabbing the shuttle and the hum of whatever makes noise at that hour.
After informing the shuttle driver what airline we needed to be dropped off at ("Geez, how much is the ILC paying for this?" were one of the many thoughts running through my head), we waited in line to drop off our luggage - a half hour line. "Why are so many people here at five in the morning?" I asked everyone. No one had a good enough response.
And so began our aerial odyssey. We had all been told to meet new people and have new experiences on the plane rides there, so I was interested in what interesting and exciting people I would meet. On the first flight to Chicago, I sat next to an Asian man who promptly stashed his carry-on below the seat and closed his eyes. So much for conversation. While he dozed, I indulged myself in on-demand episodes of my favorite TV show, Parks and Recreation, and reviewed through some Yale readings. If you learn nothing else from my bloggings (though I hope you do), please make it a point, if you watch TV, to catch Parks and Rec. It's the comedy version of The West Wing and a brilliant political satire (which makes it sound boring, but it's actually the funniest show on TV). In one episode I watched, the main character, Leslie Knope, sets up a rival girl scout troop to the existing boy scout troop, but chaos ensues when the boys want to join the girl scout troop because it looks like more fun. The commentary on "separate but equal" doctrines and Millennial attitudes actually gave me lots of food for thought for an upcoming lecture on Frederick Douglass and seminar on social capital. So it goes.
I ended up having a short conversation with the man after he woke up as the plane headed to the gate. I started talking to him about the Ivy League Connection, but he asked me if I knew an Andrew Goo. He was a big tennis fan, he said, and he wondered if Goo went to my school. I conceded that Goo actually went to the school two blocks away - in the Albany district. The unfortunate turnaround of my ILC pitch to the amazing Albany was sadly humorous, but I went with it. Don't worry, Albany, you have a special place in my heart; you just didn't in that conversation.
We had just enough time to grab a bite to eat and then get in line just in time to board our connecting flight to Providence. I sat next to a tired-looking mom who threw her carry-on under the seat and shut her eyes. I later found out that Damian and Liam had gotten to talk to a Navy veteran who worked in a nuclear submarine and went under the North Pole to spy on the Russians. Of course they sat next to him. For more on this fascinating man, check out their blog posts!
We walked through the beautiful, but small, Providence airport and got our bags (of course, at the end of the carousel), proceeding to the exit. I expected to be blasted with hot East Coast humidity. Luckily for me, we came out to an 82 degree sunny day. The humidity wasn't as bad as I expected, and it would be wonderful if it stayed like that for the next eighteen days. The shuttle from the hotel never showed up (What was up with transportation today?), so we took a taxi to Hotel Providence.
Tracey asked us to choose between the 5th floor and the 6th floor room. Liam and I decided on the 5th, and headed up to...the Herman Melville suite! We walked in to a luscious living room, followed by two comfy looking beds and two televisions. I could get used to this. I unpacked and started looking up the Providence dining options that I had gotten earlier in the day. (Muchos gracias to my dad, David Ko, and my aunt, Donna Ko, for taking time out of their day to get those to me!) It turns out that Liam and I were the only ones to get a suite - the odds were ever in our favor, I joked.
After little debate, we decided on, well, we couldn't decide, so Tracey and I used the electronic concierge assistant in the lobby to pick Cav, a short fifteen minute walk away. As we walked there, thanks to Google Maps, we noticed how eerie the streets were. There were hardly any people walking
around anywhere. I joked that "the population of Rhode Island must be, what, twenty?" We eventually made it to the restaurant and walked in to - one table occupied. "Where is everyone?" I thought to myself. Well, regardless of patronage on a Tuesday night, the food was sublime, especially after eating that soggy mess of a lunch - a "Chicago-style hot dog." Was the soggy element inspired by the Chicago rain? Anyways, we decided to start off this more delectable meal with two appetizers: pistachio crusted crabcake with Sriracha aioli and taro root chip, as well as the butter poached Maine lobster with crispy noodles, shallots and sauteed Shittake mushrooms in a lobster sherry fumet. The crabcake was light and went well with the aioli, while the lobster was poached with great flavor.
|"When was the last time you did something|
for the first time?"
As we went through the bread and butter while waiting for the main courses, we reflected on the day's travelventures and proceeded to head into random conversation-land (which, if you read yesterday's post, is in the same vicinity as Nowhereland). My entrees were pan seared scallops and shrimp, finished with lobster butter and balsamic reduction, served over lemon zest risotto with julienned snowpeas. I'm an East Coast fan because I'm also a seafood fan, so it was a treat to dig into fresh seafood! The risotto was a little rich for me, but it still went well with the scallops and snowpeas. We closed off the evening with dessert - and I went with the blackberry merlot sorbet. To say it was short and sweet should say enough.
We walked out of the restaurant, all of us content with our first official meal together. We walked down the alley and through the quiet streets of Providence, ready to blog - and realizing that my joke about the population of Rhode Island being only twenty five might not be too far off.