Monday, August 11, 2014

Life List: All The Bad Things That Happened to Matt in Virginia

"I know this is EXACTLY what you want to hear right now, but this trip is going to make a GREAT story."

That's what I told Matt after the cop let us off with a warning for not having our headlights on in the rental car after 10 p.m. (In our defense, Blacksburg, Va., is very well lit.)
Highway between Roanoke and Blacksburg. Watch out for those flying cops.

A couple of months ago, Matt was invited to present at a seminar at Virginia Tech. Whenever he gets invited to go to conferences and seminars, I always joke that he never invites me to go with him, so he gets to see all these places that I haven't been to (AHEM, Baltimore, Atlanta, Seattle). So it's kind of a miracle I was in the car with him at all. At the time he received the call, I was interviewing for jobs, but didn't actually have anything nailed down yet, so when we found we could both go to Virginia with the help of some airline miles from Matt's parents, I was pretty pumped to be invited for once.

But as soon as we landed in Virginia, everything that could possibly go wrong, did. It was kind of hilarious.

We didn't check any luggage, but you know how some of the smaller planes have little overhead compartments? Matt's suitcase got taken away after our first flight, and he was promised it would land in Roanoke when we did.

So, of course, it didn't. Matt spoke to the airline counter and they promised to have it shipped to the place we were staying — the Inn at Virginia Tech.
The stonework on all the buildings is how I imagine England is, based on watching a lot of Downton Abbey.

Matt wasn't that worried. His suitcase got delivered within a few hours. (I was more worried. That suitcase contained diabetes supplies. No insulin = dead husband.)

So what did we discover the next morning? Matt didn't pack enough insulin. Of course.

But Matt wasn't that worried. He spoke to his doctor in Texas and had his prescription faxed over to the CVS in Blacksburg. (I was more worried. Before he had the prescription confirmed, he was talking about eating only meat for the rest of the trip, in order to avoid carbs, so he wouldn't run out of insulin. That sounded like a terrible idea to me.)

That night, with plenty of fresh insulin (or whatever, I don't know, I'm not the one that uses it), we stopped to get frozen yogurt after Matt finished practicing his presentation. We commented about all the things we had yet to see — I haven't seen a Chili's! Why does this town not have a Target?! — and one of them was that we hadn't seen any police cars in the whole time we'd been in town.

… they said as the cop's lights flashed behind them.

And that's when Matt started to get worried. The next day, he was presenting. Would the pants of his new suit split? Would he forget the things he wanted to say? Would his wife get lost in the rental car on the way around town and never be seen or heard from again? (Okay, that was only my worry. I am just that bad with directions.)

But he said his presentation went fine, and otherwise we had a pretty awesome vacation with minimal drama.

We drove all over campus to see the pretty stone buildings. It's ridiculous how beautiful Virginia is.
Campus map = awesome idea. Every university should have one of these.

We toured Smithfield Plantation, these old historical grounds where some important Virginia people — William Preston and family — used to live and entertain.

I got to do one of my favorite things: take pictures with mascots! These Angry Birds (erm, Virginia Tech Hokies? whatever that is?) were ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE.
We ate delicious food, most of which I forgot to photograph, because eating > pictures.
Though if you're ever in Blacksburg, you should eat at Gillie's because it was amazing, and vegetarian, and also they have this fun Elvis bust. Matt refused to look pensively out the window with him.

We hiked the Cascades, a four-mile round-trip to a gorgeous waterfall. (And I don't hike! When we went camping earlier this summer with Matt's family — in Texas, in July — I think I threatened to kill Matt when he asked me if I was okay, and then I volunteered to not go hiking ever again.) But when the weather is only 70 degrees and the hills aren't too steep, it turns out hiking isn't so bad.
We drove up to the star at Mill Mountain in Roanoke, and then because we're cheesy tourists, called Matt's parents so we could wave at them on the webcam that's planted at the bottom of the star.
View from Mill Mountain

We stopped at a botanical garden at a community college in Roanoke, and went through a Harry Potter-esque hedge maze.
After all that fun, we headed back to the airport, and bad things started happening again. We had two flights get canceled, one due to a flat tire on the plane, and we ended up re-routing through Philadelphia. Somehow we made it back to Dallas, but then the wall of heat hit me and I was reminded that Texas in August is awful.

What's the worst thing that's ever happened to you on vacation? Anyone else like being a cheesy tourist?


  1. Katie @ A Beautiful Little AdvAugust 11, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Other than the air travel drama, sounds like a good co-work trip! VA cops are the most brutal! Loved all your photos. My mom's luggage got lost on the way to Jamaica - took it three days to show up! So so stressful! I wish flying was more easy.

  2. Ugh, so sorry for all the things that went wrong, but it sounds like you still had a great time! And 70 degrees in August is amazing. I am seriously jealous. When we were in Ireland, Ryan accidentally bumped the side mirror of another car when the guy opened the door as we drove by (we were in a rental), but the plastic part popped back into place and the guy didn't get too mad.

  3. Sean and I definitely ate at Gillies on our way to Boston. I still have dreams about their homefries. SO GOOD! Virginia was easily my favorite state on that road trip. I'm glad you guys were able to enjoy it in spite of all the mishaps!

  4. Sounds about right--we almost always have one "adventure" on our trips which usually involves getting lost/turned around or, you know, taking the scenic route. (This is probably why Todd gifted me a GPS for the car last Christmas...)

  5. Hahaha, none of that was mentioned when I spoke to Matt about the trip!! It looks so beautiful - I'm glad that aside from a few snafus ya'll had a good time. :)

  6. How are the cops brutal? I had never been to VA before! And I can't imagine being stranded without luggage for three days, that would be horrible!

  7. Oh gosh, an accident in another country would be so awful! Thank goodness it wasn't anything big!

  8. I think, given more time, I could have happily eaten my way through their menu. I spent the first three or four days convincing Matt that we should try it, but it wasn't until all the university people recommended it that he even considered it! Hrmph.

  9. Ha! Has the GPS helped you to get lost less often? :)

  10. Of course not! :) But really, we did have a great time and none of the problems were that big a deal, it was just funny how it all happened.

  11. It has come in VERY handy and the only time we get in trouble is when we choose not to believe the instructions it's giving us :P

  12. Katie @ A Beautiful Little AdvAugust 12, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    From my experience and my friend's experience the state troopers in VA seem to be much more harsh, like we got a $400 speeding ticket for going 6 over on our way to the beach a few years ago. Another time my friend had to travel the 5 hour trip back down to go to court and go to traffic school for her speeding ticket. I'm glad that it seems (hopefully) that the good outweighed the bad for you!