Road Trip: Next Stop – College

29 May

GOOD LUCK with the college visits. My heart is soaring and sniffling for you, my friend Julie emailed me before we left for our Memorial Day weekend college tour road trip. She nailed it. (As she always does.) In one year and two weeks Chandler will be graduating high school. Two months after that he’ll be heading off to college. Out of our home forever. Or at least until Thanksgiving break. My heart is indeed soaring and sniffling all at once.

Teaching him how to tie his shoes, how to cook (or at least how to make a grilled cheese sandwich), and (especially) how to properly clean a toilet has all led up my casting him off into the world to survive and thrive outside of our household. It’s enough to make me want to vomit. Happy vomit of course. If there is such a thing.

Thursday afternoon, right after the kids got home from school, we left on a 1400+ mile, three day road trip to visit three universities. Go big or go home right? (Or rather stay home in this instance.)

 

First Stop UCSC

Chandler wanted to start off driving so I buckled down in the back seat with a semi-cranky why-do-I-even-have-to-go-on-this-stupid-college-tour-trip Marley. We battled Santa Barbara traffic, chowed on Double Double’s in Atascadero, and arrived in Santa Cruz about six hours later.

back-seat-of-car

Hangin’ in the back.

 

We can’t afford two rooms -in fact this was a budget travel trip with coolers packed full of sandwich-makings and our rooms booked on Priceline- so we slept boys in one bed and girls in the other since our children refuse to sleep together. We weren’t expecting much from our $50/night 2-star hotel, but it was clean, had enough towels, and the free breakfast included a make-your-own waffle station, so we deemed it a success. (Even though the coffee -if you could even call it that- was incredibly weak.)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the university and didn’t know if Chandler would really like it or not. We chose UCSC because of the D3 athletic program (Chandler wants to compete in college athletics, but isn’t sure he want to at a D1 level), the majors it offers, and the beautiful location. But it has a reputation for being a bit of a hippie school and Chandler is 0% hippie. Well, he’s an environmentally-minded liberal, but a buttoned-down, rule-following, environmentally-minded liberal.

The campus was amazingly beautiful. It felt more like a mountain resort than a university.

UCSC

This feels more like a vacation than school!

 

“I think going here would be great,” Chandler said to me halfway through the tour. “I love everything about this school, except for this view.”

UCSC Beach View

Yeah, this view sucks!

 

“You’re crazy,” I told him. “The view is amazing.”

“Yeah, but the school looks like it’s in a forest and the view of the ocean doesn’t really fit.”

(Have I ever mentioned that Chandler is a little quirky?)

 

UCSC trees

Trees like this cover the campus of UCSC.

 

In my world forest meets ocean equals perfection. But apparently in Chandler’s world forest meets ocean breaks some kind of rule. And as I said, he’s a rule-follower. Wow, is college going to be an eye-opening experience for him.

 

Second Stop Humboldt State

You might think that taking our 0%-hippie, rule-following, buttoned-down, quirky son to Humboldt State with its reputation of schooling hippies with a capital “H” an odd choice. Possibly. But we do want Chandler to consider a state school. And since he has expressed a possible interest in environmental studies, apparently wants to go to school in some sort of forest, and would like to attend college out-of-state, we though that Humboldt -which is an environmentalist’s wet dream, has a 20,000 square foot forest attached to it, and is closer to Seattle than to Los Angeles- deserved a look. Plus we thought the idea of embarking on a seven hour, 356-mile journey that included driving through San Francisco at 5PM on the Friday of a three-day weekend sounded like lots of fun.

The two things (semi-cranky why-do-I-even-have-to-go-on-this-stupid-college-tour-trip) Marley requested of this trip was to see the Golden Gate Bridge and to swim in a hotel pool. Of course it is our goal in life to bitterly disappoint her (just ask her), so we made sure that even though we had to cross the bridge she couldn’t really see it.

Golden-Gate-Bridge-Fogged-in

 

We arrived in Arcata close to midnight, two hours after the pool closed, screwing Marley once again, and headed straight to bed.

Our tour of Humboldt didn’t start until noon, so after more waffles and weak coffee we decided to check out the town of Arcata and happened upon the 45th Annual Kinetic Grand Championship taking place in the town square.

What is that you ask? It is a 3-day, 42-mile bike race over land, sand, mud and water. Which means one must convert their “bike” to be able to successfully handle land, sand, mud and water.

kinetic sculpture bike

 

And the crazier the conversion, the better.

pig-kinetic-sculpture

 

Coincidentally I went to this race with my mom and brother 31 years ago with a “why-do-I-have-to-go-on-this-stupid-trip-on-a-holiday-weekend” attitude and ended up having an incredible time, so I was thrilled to happen upon it again. Unfortunately Marley was even more determined than me (at the peak of my teenaged surliness, I might add) to hate everything about our trip and sat on a bench claiming the kinetic sculpture race lame. But she later told my mom it was “kind of cool,” so while not as big a win as make-your-own waffles, I’ll take it as a minor victory.

 

shark-sculpture

This sculpture was called “Bite Me.”

 

After our tour of Humboldt, Chandler met with a coach and liked him a lot. He also liked the dorms.

Dorms-at-Humboldt-State

Yeah, I could see Chandler living here.

 

Marley loved Humboldt and decided she must go there. Plus we went to a really cool record store where she bought two posters (bonus – one of them I absolutely hate) and we both claimed the Ryan Gosling doppelganger who rang us up super cute.

 

Third Stop: UC Davis

After leaving Humboldt we drove three hours to Red Bluff with me taking most of the time behind the wheel. We got there in plenty of time to enjoy cheap delicious Mexican food from a place called La Corona (thank you Yelp) with a big ol’ margarita for me (hazzah!) and plenty of pool time for Marley after dinner. (So, Marley found her future college, talked to a cute -way-too-old-for-her- boy, and got to swim all in one day. Maybe Dave and I aren’t the worst parents in the world after all.)

margarita

It looks a little toxic, but it was pretty damn good!

 

Chandler popped out of bed at seven o’clock on Sunday morning ready to head down to the make-your-own waffle station before it got too crowded prompting us to get shaking and get started with our day. He was mostly excited to visit the Capital in Sacramento, but our first stop was Davis. I think he may have been overwhelmed by its size. And while there were plenty of trees, it was certainly no forest. He did not love it. But they have a viticulture and enology major (translation wine making), so it is my new goal in life to change Chandler’s mind and have him go to Davis. I think he owes me that.

UC Davis

The Mondavi Performing Arts Center at UC Davis

After touring Davis we took a tour of the Capital building and Chandler was in heaven. I know I’ve stated that he’s expressed an interest in the environment, and that is true, but he loves history so much, I think his calling is probably political science. With a minor in viticulture and enology environmental studies. Maybe.

After touring the Capital we had a (very) late lunch at a dive bar on the Delta called Wimpy’s where I was once accidentally abandoned Home-Alone-style by my family when I was a teenager. (That is a true story, but a story for another time.)

Then we headed home.

We’ve now toured five colleges total. I hope to have Chandler tour at least five more. This next year will no doubt, like his entire childhood, go by at warp speed. Six months from now his college applications will be complete. Ten months from now all of the acceptance (and rejection) letters will have arrived. Eleven months from now his decision will have been made. Fourteen months from now my son will be going off to college.

My heart is soaring and sniffling.

11 Responses to “Road Trip: Next Stop – College”

  1. juliecgardner May 29, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    Happy vomit. Yep. That says it all!
    (And I’m right behind you, lady so the next round of toxic margaritas is on me.)

    Also, I need to hear the Home-Alone story.
    STAT.

    • charleneaross June 2, 2014 at 5:55 am #

      Will definitely write that Home Alone -or rather Dive Bar Alone- story soon! :)

  2. My Inner Chick May 29, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    Ahhhh,
    Bitter sweet, Charlene. Right?
    that Margarita looks AMAZING.
    XXXXXX LOVE and kisses from MN.

    • charleneaross June 2, 2014 at 5:56 am #

      Yes, bittersweet for sure Kim. Kisses right back to you from sunny SoCal. xoxo

  3. misslaurel May 29, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    Can I go back and be an enology major? ?? I think margs are the official bev for this year. I’m taking notes for the future! !

  4. Susan May 29, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

    I am soaring and sniffing too. This does not seem possible

  5. Kim Tracy Prince (@kimtracyprince) May 29, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

    As un-fun as it might have been for Marley to have that attitude, she sure makes for some great stories!

  6. Rina May 31, 2014 at 7:32 am #

    What a great time in your life. It’s funny you’re retracing the footsteps of your teen years too with Marley in your wake. Everything sounds so amazing! Great job Mama!

  7. midlifebloggers May 31, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    Can’t speak for UCSC or Humboldt, but Davis is a great choice for a rule-following environmentalist. My stepson and daughter-in-law are graduates, so I know the campus–which has lots of trees. Academically, Davis has long billed itself as the (wannabe) Harvard of the West, so they’ve paid lots of money for some academic stars.

    • charleneaross June 2, 2014 at 6:07 am #

      I think Davis would be a great choice for him Jane. I know a few kids that go there and they love it. And yes, there are a lot of trees! One thing is for sure, this next year will be very interesting. :)

  8. BananaWheels June 4, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    I can’t imagine what an emotional adventure this must be for you. Margaritas seem like a wise coping mechanism. They all seem like great options!

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