Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Welcome to Providence, Rhode Island

2:00 AM, Pacific Standard Time, my radio clock goes off. It startles me not because it is an alarm going off, but because of the fact that the radio announcer is speaking Spanish. I could have sworn that I set it for another station, but I suppose that it must have gotten stuck there. 

I jump out of bed, full of energy because I know that today is no ordinary day. True, I don’t usually get up at two o’clock in the morning but that is not what makes today special. Today I know that I am going to go the East Coast for a once in a lifetime opportunity. I know that phrase is used a lot, but I cannot think of any other way to describe the experience that I am going to have in the New England area. I think to myself, “For the first three days I’ll be touring world renowned universities and then my cohort and I will actually be studying in a world famous university!” I rushed to the shower, got ready, and before I knew it, it was two thirty. Got my hair ready, checked my luggage to make sure I had all that I needed, and then at three my parents, sister and I left. I said goodbye to my grandmother who had been working very hard these past three days hemming some shirts that were a bit too big for me. We drive and my sister and I talk a bit about video games, her boy band, and how later today her concert will start. I hope she has a good time.

We arrive at three twenty, the first ones there, besides Don and Tracey. I’m happy that we have some time to kill. Don checks my bags, I sign a form, and I move my luggage to the shuttle pickup area to throw it in the back. We shoot the breeze until all the boys arrive. The bags are weighed, Don gives us a pep talk and a few warnings, and then we take some pictures. They came out pretty nice, even though I’m sure each one of us was pretty sleepy. Then the shuttle arrives, and I know that it is time to depart. I say “See you later” to my mom, dad, and sister. I don’t like to say goodbye. It implies that I won’t see them again. But I will, and so I boarded the shuttle. So my adventure begins.

On the way to the airport, though, the driver asks Tracey, “Where are we going.” I don’t know about you, but I kind of like to know that our driver is taking us where we want to go. Tracey tells him, and then he is quiet for the rest of the drive. I look out the window, seeing the West Coast pass me by and ready to embrace the East. The drive doesn’t feel that long, and we get there at about five.

We join this long line to check in our bags, with all sorts of characters around us. There was this man behind us with this wild hair and mopey face, but I just thought it was too funny. After check in, there is another big line at security. We wait patiently get through, and at six we head over to our gate. We literally just sit down when we are called to the line. We board Southwest for Chicago, Illinois and then we will transfer to a flight for Providence, Rhode Island. We leave at about six thirty, and man do I love it when a plane takes off. The G-forces you feel as you are thrust into the sky is just surreal. That we can literally be across the country in one day is amazing.

The Indian man that I sat next to was nice enough, and mostly slept for the flight. We also talked briefly about my Kindle Fire, but nothing more. He mostly just wanted to keep to himself and read his four or five newspapers that he had brought. To each their own I suppose. Then we landed at Midway airport in the windy city. We got a bite to eat, a drink, and then boarded our next flight. Damian and I sat near the back next to this Navy veteran who had served from 1958 to the late 1970’s. He is a wise man, yet very outspoken; he was fun to talk to. His name was Boyd.

Damian and I talked with him about politics, wars, China, submarines, and Boyd’s family. He told me a lot about the various 60 Minutes episodes that he watches and where he learns quite a bit about the world, definitely more than the news. He talked about how his submarine was sent to spy on the USSR during the Cold War in 1958 after Sputnik had been launched to keep the US informed. He was also on duty in a submarine when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He was in a submarine that could fire ICBM’s with up to five thermonuclear warheads. If they received the orders, they would attack the USSR and potentially kill hundreds of thousands. The day after the assassination they were put to battle stations, and Boyd was ready for World War III, should it come. Thankfully it was just a drill.

He was the engineering chief on the submarine and was in charge of keeping the nuclear engine running. We then shifted over to talks about drone warfare, pulling out of Afghanistan, and how wars aren’t going to be fought the same way as when he was serving. I liked hearing what he had to say on drone warfare because that is one of my seminar classes and to hear someone who was in the armed forces talk about it gives me another pair of eyes to look through. It was fantastic to hear this man’s stories about Beijing and Hong Kong, how he met many different Chinese women, and how five US dollars at the time could get you a lot in China. I wish I could have kept talking to him. But alas, all good things must come to an end. We landed in Providence, which I was excited about, said “until next time” to Boyd, and we went our separate ways.

We then grabbed our luggage, and headed outside. The air was humid, but not as bad as I had imagined. I like it to be more humid than it was, but my comrades were happy just the way it was. The air was sweet smelling and reminded me of visiting the Oak Alley plantation just outside of New Orleans.
A shot of the Providence area. I love all the trees around here.
We got a cab and checked in to the hotel, killed an hour checking out our rooms, and then went for dinner.
Off to dinner!
We found this place called CAV, which in Italian means antique and small food, or at least that is what the first page of the menu said. We talked, ate, and had a good ol’ time. I had poulet aux poires, which is French for chicken with pears. The chicken was so flavorful, grilled not to be too dry and it had a hint of rosemary. The pears were soaked in red wine that gave it a nice pear-wine fusion of taste. Finally, it had sautéed Asian chive dumplings which are so unique. The exterior was crunchy and covered in a thin, sweet film that added so well to the chives. It was magnifique as the French would say.

For desert, I had crème brulee which just melted in your mouth. It wasn’t too sweet and just had a creamy texture where I loved every bite.
But overall, I got to get to know my fellow travelers a little bit better. We walked home, and Damian had been saying that the streets in Providence were so empty.
Where is everybody?
I figured it was because all of the college students had gone away for the summer, but even at night they were still pretty lifeless. We got back to hotel at about nine o’clock Eastern Standard Time. I would like to note that for the remainder of my trip until I return I will be giving time in Easter Standard.

All in all, not a bad first day. The planes were loud, but the company was good. The lines were long, but the wait was worth it. The time it took to get our dinner ready was longer than we expected, but that allowed us to savor it all the more. Tomorrow, we will go on a Brown University tour. I can’t wait, but getting up tomorrow will be tough. With the help of my friends though, I’m sure we’ll push through. Good night and see you tomorrow.
The town at night.

1 comment:

  1. What your seat-mate told you about their alert after Kennedy was killed was less like a drill than as a real preparation to a nuclear war. This was a time when we really believed that a nuclear war could be won. We even had contingency plans for delivering the mail after the bombs detonated.

    A couple of years back I found some pamphlets from that time where our Governor was outlining how a housewife should stock her pantry to prepare for a nuclear war.