Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A (Very) Warm Welcome

This morning I was woken by the shrill scream of my alarm at 2:40 AM. I stumbled out of bed and ate breakfast without ever needing to open my eyes. Well, not quite. But it was close. After a last quick check that everything was packed and ready, my parents drove me down to El Cerrito High School to meet everyone else. While there, we took pictures and Don talked again about what would be expected of us. He took a set of pictures of us holding rolls of quarters (for the washing machines at Vanderbilt), as proof for the accountants that he'd given them to us. Then a limo rolled up to take us to the airport. (Go figure. I wonder how many rolls of quarters that cost?) We excitedly took pictures with it, then climbed into a limousine for the first (and probably last) times in our lives.

At the airport, we snagged a quick breakfast of Jamba Juice and boarded our flight. Taking off was a very fun experience, because Katherine had never flown before and was very excited about everything. "We're going really fast now! Oh my gosh, we're off the ground! We're in the clouds!" It was awesome. The three-and-a-half hour flight passed very quickly, probably in part because we all napped, not having gotten sufficient sleep last night.

We had a lot of fun in the elevator
At the airport in Houston, we stopped to listen for a few minutes because there were four violinists playing. They were very talented, and everyone nearby applauded when they finished. Then, we stepped out of the airport. At first I thought "Oh, this isn't so bad," but then realized that we were still in the flow of the cool airport air. A few steps outside the door and we were hit by a wave of heat and humidity. It could have been worse, but not much worse.

We got a shuttle to our hotel from the airport. We stepped out of the shuttle, dragged our bags into the hotel lobby, and tried to sign in. That was when we discovered that we were at the wrong hotel--the Hilton, not the Marriott. We ended up carrying our bags several long blocks in the heat to get to the Marriott. On the way, I noticed that the trees on the sidewalk had netting wrapped around them to catch the dead leaves. It seemed rather odd to me, but it did keep the sidewalks clean.

We dropped our luggage at the hotel, grabbed a quick lunch, and came back to the hotel for a few hours to nap/start our blogs. Okay, so three people started their blogs and one person napped. (Guilty.)

Mmmm... chocolate!
We met at 6:30 to explore the shops in the nearby town. The first shop we visited was (at my request) The Chocolate Bar. It was overwhelmingly sugary and chocolaty and wonderful, and yes, we were in there for quite a bit of time. Then we went to a shop we'd seen earlier, Chocolat du Monde. (Okay, so maybe I have a little bit of an obsession with chocolate.) Unfortunately, it had closed at 6, so we were unable to go in. By that time we were hungry, so Jenny looked up all the nearby places where we could eat dinner, and we decided on a crepe restaurant. I chose a ham and Gruyere crepe, and it was delicious. Afterwards, we went back to The Chocolate Bar to have ice cream for dessert. 

Back at the hotel, we decided to go sit by the pool. Katherine and Arnold swam a little, but Hummd and I just dipped our legs in as we blogged. 

After an exciting day that started at 2:40 in the morning, I am exhausted, but still excited for tomorrow, when we will tour Rice and then leave for Atlanta!

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