WARNING: VERY LONG and descriptive post. Thank you to those who actually read it!
So this weekend, Thursday-Sunday, I went to Atlanta with Phi Psi. It was lots of fun, of course, seeing some people I knew pretty well, getting to know other NC State Phi Psi brothers, and meeting others from Clemson, Georgia Tech, Southern Polytechnic University (Marietta, GA), and Philadelphia University. (except those chicks weren't very friendly at all...oh well...that's there loss!)
Thursday morning, I left from Greensboro with Kent and Brandon... it was three of us in a 15 passenger van. Pretty hilarious, but oh well, it was still fun. Oh, if you're ever bored on the road, play radio roulette. Every 30 minutes, one of us would pick a number from #1-15. Whatever number we chose, you press the "Seek" button that many times. We had to listen to the station it lands on for those 30 minutes. It wasn't bad most of the time, but I'd have to say the worst/most boring result we got was the prayer request/Bible station. It also gave us the most hilarious moment of the day. One of the prayer requests was (paraphrased by me) " to help end the multiple/long-term urinary tract infections resulting from his perverted lifestyle and drug use".
When we got to Atlanta, after a trip to Gary's BBQ in China Grove (Brandon's stomping grounds and damn good bbq), it was sort of a clusterfuck. The hotel had given us 6 rooms with king size beds. Yeah, greaaaaaaaaaaat, Marriot, 3-4 people to a room is gonna work for king-size beds. They ended up finding us 1 double room, gave us 2 suites, and the king rooms had pull-out couches. Anyway, we went over to GA Tech to check in and have a supposed pool party. Check in people weren't there, me and Brandon waited around forever, finally got things situated, and ended up spending 1.5 hours outside for a cookout. In the cold. Because the GA Tech people didn't realize they were having an NCAA swimming competition the same weekend of convention. So I wasted $60 on a bathing suit I didn't need.
Oh well! That night, I did actually end up using my suit...Our hotel had a whirlpool, and a bunch of us State folks decided to have a hot tub party. Then, some of the Clemson guys ran into us in the lobby, and joined us in a few. It was like 10-12 of us in there at one time... Sausage fest like woah - 4 or 5 girls I think, at the most? It's fun, the Clemson guys are so chill and um...anti-professional? (Even when we're not drinking in the evenings...)
Friday was the company tour day... we left the Marriot at 7:45am in one of those huge coach buses...We drove 1.5 hours to Ethicon in Cornelia, GA. They supplied breakfast for us - they had mini quiches! I had already eaten some stupid oatmeal bar on the bus up, so I didn't eat much, but I was impressed there was even SOME protein. They did medical textiles - sutures and stuff like Dermabond (how cool, considering Dermabond is what my doc used to seal me up after surgery! No stitches or staples!) They also have some stuff that's almost like duct tape for the inner body. We toured the company - saw how they made the needles doctors use to sew us up, and all the different suture materials - degradable and nondegradable materials for stitching bodies up. They also served us lunch after a very long tour, and we left. It was 4 hours of Johnson & Johnson (they own Ethicon).
45 minutes later, we got to Tencate. Yay for nonwovens! (major eye roll) Basically, they make geotextiles - materials for putting underneath new roads to keep them stable, putting in big construction (like energy-creating windmills out on the west coast), etc etc. They also make stuff like artificial grass and uh, lots of things. We got to see a really freakin loud factory, making nonwovens. Stuff I pretty much see at NC State but at a MUCH LARGER scale. Shiny polypropylene threads, crimping, needle punching, etc. Yeah, blah-de-freakin-blah.
After another 45 minute drive back into Atlanta, we got to our hotel. As a group, the Raleigh people decided to go to dinner at Gordon Biersch, a brewery/restaurant in downtown Atlanta. (we spent about 30 minutes looking through a guide GA Tech made and a magazine/guide about ATL in our convention packets.) The restaurant is a franchise/has lots of locations, and I'd suggest it to anyone! Two NCSU/Phi Psi alums joined us at dinner, because they live and work in Atlanta. It was cool to see them again and hear about ATL and how much they love it(especially Julie. She's finishing her second year of Teach for America in Atlanta). They have pretty good beers and drinks, from the other 19 people I was with, and great food. Our table got appetizers of garlic fries, fried calamari and crab artichoke dip. I did try a little of all three, since our wait was long. (and they were all good, unfortunately!) I got sesame seared tuna with peanut udon noodles and miso vinaigrette... It was GOOOOOOOOOD. The tuna was still rare inside, of course, and I tried a few noodles - they were good. Everyone else's food looked delicious, and I wish I could have taken the other half of my tuna back with me, but it was tuna and I didn't have an easily accessible fridge. But it was still worth the money ($23 was the menu price).
Saturday morning was the Phi Psi business meeting. One piece of advice - do NOT chug room temperature protein drinks!!! We didn't have a fridge in our room, and I forgot to stick the can on ice Friday night, so Saturday morning, my breakfast was room temp. It stayed down, three gags later, thankfully. I wore my pretty brownish tan suit, brown shirt, and bronze bow wedge shoes, spring green belted rain coat. :D But the shoes killed my feet. I suck in heels, period. Gotta get better at that. Anyway, the business meeting went well - each chapter gave their oral presentation of the past year, and we talked about general happenings with all of Phi Psi. Also discussed, in small groups, the future of Phi Psi as a whole. Very cool.
Saturday afternoon was hell, partially. Some of us wanted to go to the Aquarium, but we found out GA Tech had reserved and paid for tickets to the World of Coca Cola. And we were walking there...from GA Tech. After a change to comfy clothes and shoes, as a 'group' we walked almost 2 miles. Yeeep, take a look!
I started lagging behind the other 40-50 people, and got left when they crossed the street and the light turned before I could make it. So, I was pissed...then Kent (my advisor) and one of the Tech alum, who were lagging, came up next to me. They kept pace with me, which I appreciated, as I huffed and puffed until I felt like my lungs were falling out. We were going to the CNN Center first for lunch, and leaving from there at 1:15. Heh, by the time we got in there, we had maybe 20-30 minutes for lunch (and there were so many cool shops I wanted to check out! They had a Cartoon Network shop. :( ) We walked through the Centennial Park - very cool, except that the drought in Georgia meant all the awesome fountains were drained. Then, the Coke tour. It was pretty cool, I loved seeing all the ads and art and stuff from all over the world. Graphic design might be a job option for me, because I love looking at that stuff! But I felt so sickly sticky sweet by the end of the tour - the very end is the tasting room - 63 flavors of Coke products from Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and North America. It's insanity, that's all I can say. But I got my mom a Coke polar bear and small Coke bottle salt and pepper shakes and a small stuffed penguin keychain for my aunt.
Since Kent is awesome, as is Gary, the Clemson advisor, they offered to take a taxi back to our conversion vans, drive the vans back to Coke and pick us up. YAY THANK GOD NOT ANOTHER 2 MILES!!! Seriously, it was already 3:30 when I finished at Coke at we had to leave for the banquet at 5:45. So, around 4ish, we all got back to the hotel. I ate a bit, and stupidly fell asleep without setting my alarm. Alicia, the awesome chick who was rooming with me, was relaxing too, and around 5:20, she woke me up, not realizing what time it already was. In the course of 25 minutes, I showered, put on pantyhose, dried my hair, put on makeup, switched purses, and did all the other necessary things. It was crazy, and I couldn't believe it. Off to the banquet!!!
The banquet/dance was on GA Tech campus, and it was quite pretty. A good dinner (mushroom chicken, some pasta, salad with caesar dressing on the side, cubes of cheddar, pepper jack and swiss cheese, and some undercooked veggies), and a speaker from Exxon Mobile. She talked about energy, and things like paper vs plastic. It sort of sounded like pro-Exxon bullshit, but she also had some really cool points (like how paper grocery bags take much longer to degrade and take more energy to make...she talked about other things too, but they've slipped my mind). After she was done, the awards started. All the reports have certain requirements in order to be judged and placed. First was the oral report - usually it's a full treasury report from the NCSU chapter along with a formal write up of the events of the past year. NCSU won first!!! Yeah Eta Chapter!!! (that's us, fyi) Next was the photographic archive. It's somewhat like a professional scrapbook, also of the past year's official events. All pics have to be properly labeled and every brother pictured must be identified. I did it last year (and won first) - usually it's done on Photoshop. Eta Chapter won first place again!!! The third award is the oral report - basically a combination of the written report and the archive. You do a formal presentation, with a powerpoint, of what is in the written report. Once again, first place went to NCSU! :D The final award is a new one - I think this is the second year of it. It's Best All-Around Chapter. The advisors judge you on the convention weekend - professionalism, interacting with the other chapters, everything. And guess who swept the freakin award ceremony Saturday night? Damn right the Eta Chapter did!
So, yeah, Saturday night was a fun one. After the awards, we took some group pictures and then the DJ started the fun stuff. Corny white people dancing! Yay! This went on till about 9:30, and then everyone started clearing out. We all headed back to the hotel. After getting out of my fancy clothes quite quickly, I headed up to 802, the party suite. They already had Clemson's beer pong table set up and the room was packed. It didn't take long. :) I will admit I drank a little bit - some rose wine and a sip of a bad drink combo - sailor jerry rum and flattened coke. But, uh, I had food in my stomach and I was good in general to stay away from everything else... There was LOTS of beer, Sailor Jerry, vodka, etc etc etc. I stayed up the latest that night, till about 2am, I think.
Sunday, I got up around 8am, as my roommate Alicia was getting up and ready to leave. There was a van leaving at 9am and another one going sometime between noon and 2pm. I had opted to go later, since I wanted more time in ATL and I didn't need to get home anytime soon. I packed all my shit up (geez did I take a lot), and showered, and met downstairs in the lobby around 10. A group of us had decided to do brunch - it was me, Kelly, Brandon, Andrew, Justin and Jenna and her friend Morgan (she came up the night before from Auburn and had recommended this restaurant). It's called Sun In My Belly, and boooooy was it DELICIOUS! It was a bit of a drive away, and we got a little lost, but Andrew and Justin (who were following) took over...since Andrew has a Tom Tom GPS thing. But, yeah, brunch = AMAZING. I got the Kirkland Breakfast - soft scrambled eggs with herbed Boursin cheese, honey glazed bacon (it was very barbeque-y) and a buttermilk biscuit. I will admit I ate the biscuit, after getting an appropriate amount of protein. It was just....ugh, too good to pass up. I had a teeny bite of challah french toast with a bite of berries (it came w/fresh berries). Yeah, brunch was so yummy. But, Sun in My Belly is NOT a place to go when you're in a rush. For a group of seven, it took about 30 minutes for them to ring everyone up. It's one of those places I want to just go and lounge my Sunday away. Artsy awesome is all I can say. :)
After brunch and making our way back to the hotel, we picked up Peter, who was driving back with us. Jenna wanted to get a t-shirt from the Hard Rock Cafe, so we made our way down town. Of course, there was tons of construction going on, and the main inaccessible block of Peachtree was the one with Hard Rock on it. So we drove around for a while trying to find parking... Well, most of downtown Atlanta doesn't allow parking on the streets. Great for driving, horrible for quick trips. Also, every parking garage we came across had cielings too low for our van. So, we found an open lot place that offered $8 all-day parking. Realizing that there was only a machine you paid at, not a real living person, I volunteered to stay in the van while the group made the quick trip up to HR. If someone came up and bothered me about not paying, sure, I could go pay.
15 minutes of chillin later (with the doors locked and the windows up), Jenna, Kelly, Peter and Brandon returned. No one had bothered me, so yay for free 15 minute parking. On our way out of downtown, trying to get back to 85, we got a bit lost... We turned the wrong way down 10th Ave and ended up down at Piedmont Park. Yeah, that was busy as hell, because it was a gorgeous day Sunday. There was about 30 minutes of getting lost downtown/near the park, then we finally got back near 85. Well, then we couldn't find the right entrance for 85N... Another 15 minutes of driving, and well, we got on the road before 2pm.
The trip was a long one... we stopped about 45 minutes outside of Atlanta at a gas station to get snacks since we didn't have time for lunch. (I got a Lunchables. :) Me, a kid?) Then, maybe twoish hours later, the gas tank was on E...So we made an $80 fill up of the 12 passenger van. Oh, and this was also lotto ticket time, in South Carolina. Peter and the crew he road down with bought lots of lottery tickets on the way down and lost every time, so he bought $1 tickets for the whole van. When I saw that, I decided to buy a $2 and a $3 ticket. Everyone's $1 tickets lost, and so did my $2 ticket, but I made $15 on the $3 ticket! Saweeeeet. So, we kept on the road, and around Concord Mills, decided to stop for dinner (it was around 6 by then, I think). We drove around, in plans to go to Wendy's. Well, we saw this "Cinco De Mayo Grill", and all went "Oooh, mexican!"... But they were "opening soon". And then Brandon, who was familiar with that area, said he knew of a good mexican place a few exits down. So we got BACK on 85, to traffic jams, and ended up down at Casa Grande. I got beef fajitas, very good.
Finally, after dinner, we headed on to Greensboro. It was almost 8pm before we made it to Greensboro, and my mom picked me up at an Exxon right off of 85. Jenna and the van still had another hour+ of driving, along with returning the van to the Motor Pool. Poor gang!
Overall, I had an AWESOME time in Atlanta...I definitely ate some of the wrong wrong things, but I got enough protein in daily to not feel so horrible about my choices... I learned that when food is supplied for you, you often give in to temptation...Or I do. Let's just say all those habits there pre-op are still there, unfortunately. I'm still a sugar monster, and just need to avoid that stuff like the plague. But, otherwise, life is good.