Tag Archives: College Road Trip

Ghost Stories

I don’t really know if I believe in ghosts or not. I suppose that sometimes I do — especially if I’ve seen a scary movie or read a scary book and am home alone. Also if someone I trust tells me about seeing a ghost herself or maybe her close relative saw one — then I get goosebumps and believe again. For a while.

I was a real skeptic until some friends of ours told us their story. They rented a home in the country and a number of strange things happened while they lived there with their children. Let’s call them Richard and Laura.

  • A large fan that was usually in one room was moved to the top of the stairs — no one in the family admitted to moving it. In fact the house was empty and Richard came home for lunch — that’s when he noticed the fan had been moved from where it was when he left in the morning.
  • They often heard footsteps on the stairs as if there were children playing on them. One day Laura’s sister, Rosie, was having coffee in the kitchen with Laura. She heard the footsteps and asked what it was — since she thought Richard and Laura’s were in school. Laura remarked that it was “just the ghosts”.
  • One night when Richard and Laura were asleep in bed they felt the bed move as if someone sat down on it.
  • Richard and Laura’s daughter also had stories of someone sitting on her bed.

Even my husband, who has never believed in ghosts, said that the story made him wonder. I was no longer skeptical and believed in ghosts after that, but didn’t really give it a lot of thought.

The other night my son and I checked in to a college-owned hotel in Ohio so we could be close to the campus where he had a 9:00 am interview with an admissions counselor. We got to the hotel late, but were able to get a quick dinner in their “pub” at around 9 pm. I had two glasses of red wine — taking the second glass to our room when we left the restaurant. Andrew spent the some of the evening researching the college to prepare for his interview, then he watched some television. I read email and logged onto Facebook. I decided to call it a night and fell asleep around 11. I don’t know when Andrew finally went to sleep.

I woke up somewhere around 3 in the morning — something I often do if I drink wine late in the evening. I got a drink of water and turned on the air conditioning, which I had turned off earlier because we were cold. Then I got back into bed and tried to sleep. I know I slept because I dreamed that I was at my mom’s house and it had snowed. I saw a cat outside and ran to help it, but it was somehow killed — maybe a dog was involved. Anyway in the dream I brought the cat back in the house and for some reason put it in bed with Clare who woke up and, understandably, freaked out.

Clare’s freaking out in my dream woke me up, I remembered where I was and could feel the foot of the bed on the bottom of my feet (I scrunch down in bed and usually hang my feet over the bottom). I heard the air conditioner fan and felt the cool air. I pulled the blanket up to my chin. I felt, what felt like a cat, jump up on the bed near my feet, pad around my feet and come up near my face. I thought it was Annabelle, but remembered that I was not at home. Then I felt the mattress push down behind my back (I was lying on my left side, facing towards the middle of the bed) as if someone were sitting behind me. I knew it wasn’t Andrew because I could hear him breathing in his bed. I turned my head and saw a large white mass over my hip — I thought it was the blanket bunched up. Finally I felt myself being pulled off the bed as if someone had hold of the waistband of my pajama bottoms and the collar of my t-shirt.

Then I woke up. It was 5:30 am. All that was a dream — but a very vivid one.

I’ve had dreams like that before — where I feel like I am awake and know where I am (they mostly happen when I am not at home). The other times I’ve had these kind of dreams I see someone standing at the foot of the bed. This time it tried to pull me off the bed.

This dream, has pushed me back into being skeptical about ghosts. While it doesn’t explain the footsteps on the stairs at Richard and Laura’s rental house, it might explain the nighttime occurrences.

Of course, when we checked out of the hotel I did notice that our door opened right next to the stairway to the attic…

Rupert Rising Bread

Rupert and the Sunrise
Rupert and the Sunrise

Sometime ago Indigo Bunting wrote a blog post that mentioned getting a sandwich on Rupert Rising Bread. Of course the name made me research it because of my Rupert and I hoped that someday I could taste some of this bread.

Before we headed out on our trip to the North East to visit colleges I did a few searches about Rupert Rising Bread. I found their website that said they provided bread to local restaurants and shops. I thought we might be able to make a detour to the town of Rupert (for photo opportunities as well as bread) but didn’t know if I could actually buy the bread at the bakery. While in Vermont I kept a keen eye out for signs of shops that sold the bread or made sandwiches out of it. I nearly asked the folks at Carol’s Hungry Mind Cafe if they knew where I could buy some in Middlebury but was a little too shy.

I was resigned to not get the treat of Rupert Rising Bread as we headed to Parts West to visit Indigo Bunting and Lali. I knew we would probably chat a while and would not have time to visit the town of Rupert, Vermont.

So I was surprised and delighted when Indigo Bunting mentioned that she’d bought us a loaf of Rupert Rising Bread (which then caused all kinds of chaos while Rupert was brought out to meet Indigo Bunting, Lali and the God Cod).

After we left Parts West we thought of how to best honor this loaf of bread. Indigo Bunting warned us that it should be eaten soon because it had no preservatives so about an hour after we left Parts West we all had a chunk of bread. It was delicious and made us think even harder about what to have it with when we got home.

I suggested Vichyssoise since it was quick, but then remembered we had no potatoes. Dean suggested canned soup. I thought it should have something other that lowly canned soup. I suggested spaghetti with “red sauce. Dean suggested spaghetti with clam sauce. This went on and on and when we got home we were not all that hungry anyway so our first real meal complimented by Rupert Rising Bread was bread and cheese and tomatoes.

Rupert and Rupert Rising Bread
Rupert and Rupert Rising Bread

The next day we planned a better meal — eggplant Parmesan. Dean and Andrew also made sandwiches with it. Tonight we have a few small pieces left and will use it to sop up extra cheese from our au gratin potatoes and gravy from the Easter ham.

It was a rare treat and hopefully someday we’ll get to taste it again.

Thanks, IB. It was well appreciated and not one crumb was wasted.

Casino hotels and college tour guides

After leaving Parts West, Vermont we headed to New York State and our final two colleges. In planning the trip I really only looked at hotel chains that were relatively close to the first school of the day. I’m partial to Hampton Inns. Their beds are comfy and the rooms almost always immaculate and they serve a decent hot breakfast as part of the hotel stay. They also offer decent discounts for AARP members and I get points for staying at Hamption Inns through their hhonors program, although I’m not sure what to do with the points or how many I need for anything.

While there were Hampton Inns near the final two colleges we’d planned on visiting in central New York State (Colgate and Hamilton) their prices were more than I wanted to pay. I checked the college web pages and found a hotel that had good reviews which was cheaper than the Hampton Inns in the area. I figured if a prestigious college suggested this hotel it couldn’t be that bad. The only drawback — it was part of a casino. I asked Dean if he minded staying in a casino hotel and he thought it would be fun so I booked it.

Vernon Downs is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. We’d hoped for a decent restaurant, but the few eating establishments we passed were either closed, too far from the hotel or didn’t look appetizing. We checked into our hotel and were told that the buffet was closing in a little over an hour. Dean was sort of excited about the buffet. He had expectations of huge slabs of roast beef carved by men in white coats and tall white chef’s hats. I expected a cafeteria with gray food laden with too much salt.

To get to the buffet we had to walk through the casino and since Andrew was younger than 18 needed an escort. We got a friendly escort who told Andrew to save his money and buy a car instead of gambling. He added, “Look at these people. Do they look happy to you?”

When we arrived at the buffet we were told that in order to get the over age 50 discount we needed to have a “players card”. I was ok paying the extra $4 each, but Dean wanted the discount, so we left Andrew in the buffet (with his orange wristband) and walked to the desk where they issued us each a plastic “players card”.

The buffet was more like I’d expected, except with a little more variety. Dean was disappointed since he thought it would be more fancy. I hate casinos. I hate everything about them. At least this one was smoke-free. There’s nothing sadder than watching old, wrinkled women sitting at a slot machine with a cigarette in one hand and pushing the slot machine buttons or pulling the lever with the other.

Rupert and the Sunrise
Rupert and the Sunrise

In the morning we awoke to sunshine — and since we were on the side of the hotel facing east, we got to see a beautiful sunrise. We ate the free breakfast and headed south to Colgate University. (Andrew nixed Hamilton based on its tagline)

Dean and Clare had visited Colgate and only stayed for the information session — both feeling that Colgate was just not for Clare.  Andrew liked the information session enough to want to go on the tour.

We were lucky to get the tour guide we did. There were three tour guides: two perky sophomore girls with long lists of accomplishments and one slightly geeky Latino science major named Julio. He was the best tour guide we’d had on the trip, except possibly for the rugby-playing girl at Wesleyan. Julio told it like it was — told us what he liked about the school, what he didn’t like about the school, told us his story and really genuinely seemed happy to be there. He had a quirky sense of humor and was just an everyday person — someone with whom many high school juniors could identify as opposed to the many overachieving tour guides we’d encountered.

After the tour and an ice cream sandwich treat from the admissions office, we headed back home to Bethesda. Andrew had become a slightly different person since we left home 5 days earlier. He now had a good idea of the type of college he wanted to end up at and a plan for how to get there. He’s a cool kid and any college would be lucky to have him.