Salt Lake City, UT:
- Thursday, 7 May 2009, I was awake at 5:15 am to make it to my 7:30 flight.
- I barely made the flight (I was ready to throw a fit if they didn't give me my boarding pass while the plane was still on the ground), and had a fairly uneventful journey of about 90 minutes.
- A two-hour layover in Denver gave me plenty of time to read (A Separate Peace), but I was way too antsy to even think of trying to get some sleep.
- An under two-hour flight and a somewhat bumpy but safe landing and I was in Indianapolis.
- I was greeted by Julie, in pink, a sight for sore eyes at the end of the walkway. The night before we had bid an unemotional adieu to the webcam and MSN forever (at least as a primary method of communication). The countdowns are finally over.
- We visited the elaborate and exciting children's museum in Indianapolis with Julie's sister and her two kids, and Julie's mom. Dinosaurs! Mini dioramas! Politically-correct displays! Water toys!
- A short drive later we were in Bloomington.
- We were in Bloomington from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon.
- I spent nights at Julie's roommate's boyfriend's apartment. Thanks again!
- Friday morning Marci, Julie and I went for a great run up and down the rolling Bloomington streets.
- We ran some errands and went shopping, picked up some graduation regalia and had a fairly relaxing evening.
- On Saturday morning I brought Julie some breakfast and helped her get ready for the big event.
- Julie's family came back from Indianapolis, where they picked up her dad who came in on a later flight, and we all headed to Cascades park for a walk before heading to graduation.
Too bad that small child was in the way! Although I guess this contraption is actually intended for small children...
And then all in the family joined in the fun.
- That afternoon we headed to the top of the balcony to be seated in time for commencement. There we watched as probably a thousand graduates filed into the stadium and wondered if they were going to call every one by name (and admittedly glanced at our watches once or twice). In the end, they asked each group of graduates to stand according to their major, but only called the Ph.D. recipients by name. Swine flu paranoia was in full swing as they had instructed graduates not to shake hands with the faculty as they passed, but just "doff their hats." It was quite the game of Where's Waldo, but we were able to find Julie and her roommate Marcie sitting among the sea of black caps and gowns. I can't help but mention the speech given by the guest speaker and honorary degree recipient, Australian High Court Justice Michael Kirby. Things were just fine until he started spouting some of the most unfounded and outright propaganda I've ever heard delivered to a body of young adults. I should have expected this a little more, I guess, since IU is the alma mater of Alfred Kinsey (even though his work has elsewhere been discounted and debunked in the world of psychology). Julie's family and I just listened in amazement at such an irrelevant rant that was met largely with applause, but some weren't quite as enthusiastic. Anyway, other than that, it was a really nice ceremony. We took abundant photos and had a glorious celebratory dinner at Olive Garden.
- Julie and I went to see X-Men Origins: Wolverine and were both sorely disappointed. She was mostly upset that they strayed so much from the origin story, but as for me, unfamiliar as I am with the backstory, I was just frustrated with how bad a film it was. Too many and underdeveloped characters (mutants for the sake of mutants, largely), flimsy plot, rotten script, poor Wolverine seemed out of character the entire time, and the effects were surprisingly quite bad. His blades were floating around his knuckles at some points! Epic disappointment.
- On Sunday morning we headed to church at the Bloomington singles' branch and it was nice to get to meet so many of the branchies I'd heard so much about. It's so funny to visit a singles' ward with your girlfriend, you suddenly become super-interesting.
- We finished loading up the cars with Julie's entire collection of material belongings and after a tearful goodbye to roommate Ann, we headed westward for the first leg of our roadtrip: Bloomington, IN to Rolla, MO, 339.24 miles, approximately 5 hours, 50 minutes.
- After deservedly catching up on some sleep, we began the several-day process of sifting through Julie's stuff to decide what was necessary to bring with her right away for her move to Utah so we could fit as much as possible into one car.
- We helped out around the house and yard in anticipation of the promised thunder-storms and tornado warnings (there did end up being one pretty good rainstorm, but it was in the middle of the night anyway, boo).
- We had many plans of seeing Star Trek (its reviews were much more favorable than Wolverine's), but they never quite materialized.
- We of course had the local cuisine: Imo's Pizza, "A Slice of Pie," Kyoto sushi.
- We took several walks, including a nice footpath to a park that the kids liked, and a visit to the Maramec Springs fish hatchery (ew, sooo many fish, they were like little slugs slithering all over each other in the water).
- We watched the LOST season finale and (OMG) were blown away. Maybe Marci and Julie weren't quite as emotionally affected as I was (Juliet!!!). I'm a little annoyed with how much people, even fans, are complaining about LOST. First people were getting bothered by how LOST never gave any answers and things were too spread out, but when they start actually answering questions and giving us a non-stop season without hiatus, people start to complain that it's going too fast and isn't as fun. Come on, people. It's still the best on TV. Ever.
- We were quite diligent in getting plenty of rest so we would be ready for the final, longest part of our major roadtrip.
- Early Friday morning we were up and loaded in the car by 6:30 am and headed out of Rolla. Easily the longest period of time I've ever spent behind the wheel in one day, we crossed from Missouri to Kansas by mid-morning, were through to Colorado by late-afternoon, and finally rolled over the Utah border just before midnight. We stopped a couple times for gas and food (no fast food chains for us--we stopped at local eateries, such as Salina, KS's Brayard's Cafe, and New Castle, CO's New Castle Diner). The company was great and the conversation was always pleasant. We took turns choosing music and enjoyed seeing the sights along the way. I even did the state-crossing and time-zone shift rituals, reminiscent of my roadtrip from Utah to Maryland with Jake several years ago. The time even seemed to pass fairly quickly, until the last couple hours, which seemed relatively laborious (those Colorado mountains are a beast when it gets dark). Wedgewood Drive was never as welcome a sight as it was at around 2 am local time when we finally rolled into the driveway at home. Rolla, MO to Pleasant Grove, UT: 1323.89 miles, approximately 20 hours, 30 minutes.
Pleasant Grove, UT: