11:00 a.m. Monday, August, 29th
by Allijah Motika '14
Welcome to the "Don't Worry, Be Happy" blog ... those four words have definitely been something that I've had to remind myself so far.
First of all let me just say that getting here was the most insane travel experience of my life. Due to Hurricane Irene my original flight was canceled and I had to find another way to get to Rhinebeck, NY where the workshop is being held. My friends Kat Tierney and Meghan McLaughlin (both Catawba graduates) also ran into the same problem and we all decided to drive together from Charlotte, NC to Rhinebeck yesterday.
Driving up was the most beautiful travel day any of us had ever seen. There were clear blue skies, we never saw a drop of rain, driving conditions were perfect, and we kept commenting on how we weren't seeing any effects of the hurricane. We left at 10 a.m. from Charlotte and the GPS told us that we'd be there around 9:30 p.m. without stops so we figured we would arrive around 10:30 or 11 p.m. This was all true until we tried to cross over the state line into New York. There every road was closed due to flooding. Literally every road. And even the roads to try and back track and swing around to the West were blocked.
We were being led by Meghan's trusty GPS "Judy Garmin" and she was working hard. We kept running into closed streets and unhelpful police officers and we continued to press the detour button, asking Judy to take us a different route. After about eight dead ends and no luck we somehow got back the first blocked road we had come across (I-87/I-287) and caught our first break. I've broken down our lucky breaks into four checkpoints:
Checkpoint 1: Cop in the brown uniform
This was the first helpful person we'd come across. He told us to drive through the traffic cones to get out of Suffern, NJ which we'd been driving back and forth in for over an hour and he pointed us in the right direction.
Checkpoint 2: Bald Angel number 1
This was the second nice police officer that we had found. He wasn't sure how to get us to Rhinebeck but he directed to Poughkeepsie via 304/9w south and got us going in the right direction. Unfortunately somewhere along the way we missed a turn on his directions and ended up being welcomed back into New Jersey by one of those big cliché state signs. At that point we turned to Judy again to get us headed the right way. She got us back on track until eventually we came to another blockage and she didn't know where to go from there.
Checkpoint 3: Bald Angel number 2
At this point we had come to another dead end and it looked like we were in the middle of nowhere. At the dead end there was a police officer who told us that he knew a bridge across the river that was open and he could point us toward Poughkeepsie and then past that to our final destination of Rhinebeck. He gave us wonderfully detailed directions to Bear Mountain Bridge and he said that once we got there we'd see a toll booth and they would be able to give us the further directions to get us to Rhinebeck.
*These past two checkpoints have been labeled "Bald Angel number 1 and 2" because both of these police officers were bald and two of the most helpful people we have ever met when we needed incredibly helpful people. At these two stops we started to feel like there were angels watching over us and guiding us to the Omega center and two of them were these police officers, who happened to both be very bald.
Checkpoint 4: Toll booth
At this point hope was finally starting to creep back in, the directions that our second bald angel gave us had all been correct, easy to follow, and avoided any road closings. The toll booth operator was very confident that we could get to Rhinebeck and told us which way to go so we wrote down his directions and programmed the Omega center into Judy Garmin again and kept on moving. We ran into a few blocked roads but Judy always found us a way around.
Finally at 2:30 a.m. after being in the car for fourteen and a half hours we finally pulled into the Omega Institute and got our keys. The stars here are amazing. At night it looks like you are sitting in a planetarium. They stretch from horizon to horizon and there are more of them than anywhere I have ever been. Although the stars are amazing there are a few things that are not quite as beautiful.
It's cold here. It's wet here. At the Omega center you rent linens and towels for $5 and since we came in so late last night I had no way to get them and slept without sheets. The beds here are hard and the rooms don't have much heating at all. Our workshop's morning session was cancelled because Bobby McFerrin's travel plans were delayed (which is actually a blessing because it gives me time to relax and de-stress after yesterday's travels) and the workshop will begin this afternoon at 1:30.
I could be upset about all of these things but I'm not because I am here. This has been the most difficult traveling experience of my life and this looks to be the most rewarding, exciting, and fulfilling week of my life. At 1:30 today I will be learning from Bobby McFerrin. After listening to his recordings religiously for the past year Kat, Meghan, and I have decided that he doesn't have a set vocal range. Bobby McFerrin is the man that sings all the notes, sometimes two at a time if he feels like it. In two and a half hours I'm going to study with the man that sings all the notes. How could anything really get me down right now?
Needless to say, I'm excited. I can't wait to share more of this week with whoever is reading this blog.
I hope that all of you at Catawba College and elsewhere have an amazing day,