Monday, January 12, 2015

Weekend with Hannah

As I excitedly announced last week, I was able to spend this past weekend with my best friend! She is going back to the Republic of Georgia this week, and then she won't be back until some time in July, so I'm glad we were able to make our schedules work.

Still not the state!
Her only Internet access there has been a 45 minute walk away, so communication has only been infrequent Facebook messages. Considering we used to eat dinner together almost every night in college and text all the time, this has been a huge bummer. But Hannah learned the wifi password for somewhere much closer right before she left, so hopefully we can talk more this time!

Any way, the weekend initially got out to a bit of a rough start. Hannah is from West Michigan -  where lake effect snow is a huge problem. My original plan had been to leave right from work Friday and spend two nights at her house. However, a huge snowstorm started Thursday night, and it didn't stop in her hometown until early Saturday morning.

The roads here were clear by Friday morning, but Hannah was reporting white-out conditions by her. I still thought about going (and taking my time, obviously), but then three major highways were closed Friday during the day due to fatal accidents. (The one on I-94 even made national news; you might have seen it - it was the one where 40,000 lbs of fireworks were set off from a crashed semi!)

We both decided this was way too dangerous for me to drive in. None of the accidents affected my route, but I worried that the highways I needed would be in similar condition. All was not lost, and we did have an awesome three hour Skype session! We hadn't talked since August, so there was a lot to catch up on.

The next morning I slept in until about 10 and then took care of a quick work task. Hannah texted, saying visibility was back and local roads were plowed. The Michigan State Police website reported my route had some snow and ice, but there was no significant drifting, which had been a huge problem Friday. (Some of the whiteout in West Michigan was due to blowing snow, not new snow!)

I set out, podcasts and music in tow, for however long the drive took. To get from me to Hannah, I have to cross Michigan and head down the western coast. I didn't expect the coast to be in good shape, but I wasn't sure either if the county roads I take across would have been plowed.

To my great surprise, all the roads were in great shape until I got to Grand Rapids, and even that wasn't bad. In fact, other than a few intersections close to Hannah's house, I was able to travel at normal speeds. The drive was a bit tiring since I couldn't use my cruise, but I'm glad it was safe. I jammed to my Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast (highly recommend!), so it wasn't even boring.

After shoving a sandwich into my face in about two seconds flat, Hannah took my downtown to see an ice carving competition. Her house is really old and cute and a quick walk from downtown. I do love my apartment's location, but I forget how nice it is to be in a truly walkable area.

The temperatures weren't too bad (at least compared to the past week), but the wind was pretty biting, so we did a quick walking tour. Some teams were still in the process of carving, which is always fun to watch. I'm so impressed by anyone with artistic talent, but I can't imagine what it would be like to take a chainsaw to a block of ice and turn it in to something awesome.

Once we were sufficiently numb, we warmed up by getting froyo. Hannah took me to a new-to-me chain, since the local franchise is owned by a family friend. Hannah is from a heavily Dutch-influenced area, so they even had stroopwafel for toppings! (Runners - I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Honey Stinger waffles are just marked-up stroopwafel. When I told Hannah people use them for fuel, she about died laughing.)
In the Netherlands, you buy them from vending machines.
The place was pretty dead (wonder why!), so we did some more catching up. Afterwards we walked back to Hannah's house and ate dinner. Both Hannah and her mom are super good cooks, so it was delicious, and obviously an improvement over my normal "meals."

I think we spent probably about five hours after dinner just talking some more. I had a ton of questions about Georgia. I've been keeping up with Hannah's blog, but she isn't able to post as much as she would like. Some interesting facts I learned:

-Georgians always tell time in relation to the upcoming hour (ie, it is not 15 minutes past 9, but 45 minutes before 10), so British/American time-telling is incredibly hard to teach.

-Women typically have white-collar jobs, while men have blue-collar jobs, so Georgians assume the pay gap in America is that women make significantly more than men.

-Very few Georgians have central heat (and none where Hannah is), so it's only about 10 degrees warmer inside than outside. Hannah said Georgians native to the region will admit it's cold, but are generally unfazed.

-Wedding receptions are held about a year after the wedding ceremony and are paid for by the groom's family and served potluck style.

I really admire Hannah for doing all sorts of adventurous globe-trotting. (She has studied abroad in Turkey twice, as well as for a summer in Azerbijian.) She knows all sorts of uncommon languages, too. We did have an interesting discussion about this, when I said I sometimes wished I had the courage to do things like her, but she assured me doing the 50 States is plenty adventurous. I thought it was an interesting reflection. I guess I immerse myself in so much 50 States stuff that it's my "normal," even though other people don't think so.

After staying up super late (I'm talking like 11:30 here, people), we slept in and had a lazy breakfast Sunday morning. Hannah then took me out to a local park on the waterfront. Again - it's so cool that she lives within walking distance of so many fun things! All I walk within walking distance of is a liquor store.

I will admit I did not quite come prepared clothing-wise.
It was about 10 degrees warmer than the day before with almost no wind, so it was quite pleasant out. I was comfortable in my peacoat and hat, but Georgian winter-adapted Hannah ended up stripping to just a hoodie and was still hot.

I do have to give props to the men out ice-fishing. I can't imagine sitting on ice and being exposed to the air. Without the 20 degree warmth bump running gives me, I'm a total cold weather wimp!

After this walk, it was unfortunately time for me to leave. I don't particularly like driving on the county roads after dark (especially when road conditions are iffy), so we had to say goodbye for seven more months. I am excited that Skyping (and maybe even texting!) will be feasible now, so the separation won't be quite as bad. I'll just think ahead to how fun it will be to catch up for twice as long this summer!

What's the most adventurous thing you've done?
Have you ever been cut off from a good friend for a long time?

1 comment:

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