Wednesday, November 18, 2009

To Chicago and Back

It was a long trip.

Driving from Newport News, Virginia to Chicago, Illinois is not often attempted in a day's time. But we were determined.

Lambda Pi Eta is the Communication Honor Society here at Christopher Newport University. The club applied and won "Best Chapter of the Year" from the National Communication Association, and had beat out other prominent undergraduate programs. We had been invited to the conference, and couldn't resist the offer to visit to the "windy city."

Being the President of LPE, I had the fun and easy job of organizing our trip within a week and a half... not overly complicated, but technologically tiring. Still, communications majors certainly know who to communicate. Twitters, emails, and text were filling up my many in-boxes. But a plan was finally underway!

Two members, Kiara and Billy, would be accompanying me to the awards ceremony, where we would also meet our advisor, Dr. Meyer. Our group would stay with Jenn, one of Dr. Meyer's friends from college who lived near the city, and who would take us to the conference the following morning.

So we began the journey at 8:30am Eastern Standard Time, and arrived at 1:00am Central Standard Time. But along the way we found a few interesting American landscapes. Old diners, West Virginians in overalls, and Ohio nothingness were just some of our interesting discoveries while in route to Chicago.

Once we arrived, Jenn showed us to the basement we would be sleeping in. After driving all day, I passed out within five minutes, and didn't move for at least eight hours.

It was glorious.

The next morning, we rode the train into the city. Excitement was building as we exited the underground station and saw our first Chicago skyscrapers. We had made it! Now we just needed an award to take home with us...

After a business meeting discussing national matters for LPE, the ceremony began. While receiving the award was quite an honor, my favorite memories might have been when several extremely intelligent LPE Presidents approached Dr. Meyer and asked how "we did it."

"Hi, I'm from (insert big university here) and I was just wondering if you could give us a few pointers on winning the Chapter of the Year award. Do you mind if I take notes? Do you have contact information? Could you be our mentor???"

I would have liked to have said, "No she is our mentor - back off you LPE nerd." But instead I smiled as Dr. Meyer politely gave her business card to Mr. I-wanna-win.

We had won; I had to be nice...

So I held back "competitive Britney" as my family calls it, and switched into celebration mode. It was time for a toast! So we explored the city, ordered drinks at a classy bar, and bowled at an ally with a dress code and dinner tables. Billy, Kiara, and I loved being out of the car and in the city, stretching our legs and seeing new sites.

Of course... there was the whole we-have-to-drive-home thing.

But 16 hours isn't so bad... right?

Best Quotes:
"Third-wave feminist, post-structuralist critique of Katy Perry vs. Lady Gaga. Go!"
"I hate them both."
-Jenn to Dr. Meyer

"This is it!"
-Kiara and I for every part of the trip there and home. It was never "it."

Best States to Drive Through:
-Kentucky with rolling green hills.
-West Virginia with mountains and little towns.

Worst States to Drive Through:
-Ohio with nothing to see.
-Indiana because it was such a loooong state.

State with the Most Roadkill:
-Kentucky. So many dead deer!

Best Accent Heard:
-At the Arbys in Kentucky on the way home. Hae actuwaly tawked laike theis.

Best State overall:
-Virginia. Of course.

Some pictures from the trip:

At The Gage after the awards.

Yummy Cheese plate.

Chicago at night.

You know you're in a city when...

Dr. Meyer in Hard Rock Cafe.

Pulling it off.

He gets a shirt in every city.

So patriotic.

Water! I didn't like not being on the coast, so every time there was water we
screamed about it a little bit...

Some city traffic.

Virginia! Still home for me. This was the Chicago Tribune wall that had bricks
and stones from around the world.