It should have started a year ago, but here we were nearly a quarter into our Senior year when we started thinking about colleges we were interested in attending. I can comfortably say “we” because the daughter in question has for the first time in my life made me a “helicopter mom” in this endeavor. Prior to this year, she had managed quite well on her own, learning how to cook, how to drive, and even working 2-3 part-time jobs without any help from me, myself and I.
Suddenly, however, trying to find a college that 1) interests her and 2) that we can manage with the help of lots of student loans has become nearly a full-time job for me.
While this article may not seem relative to post on the Red House site at all, in fact there are some instances when it actually is the perfect place to rant, I mean, talk about a college road trip. Why? Because,
#1 Doing a college road trip involved being able to stay at the Red House (thus saving $ on a hotel room).
#2 One of the colleges (note the use of the word one, as in single, as in uno, as in the only one) was a mere 1.5 hours from the Red House.
Which is how at 6:30 a.m. on the Sunday morning before the Thanksgiving holiday, we found ourselves in the car and heading towards Rhode Island. But first, we needed to stop at the local bagel store. Unlike, one of my fellow bloggers (that would be you, Dad), who does not like to eat while driving, I’m quite happy with noshing as I drive.
It turns out that this would be quite a day for noshing, since after we finished our bagels, Rachel curled up in the back surrounded by enough pillows and blankets to keep her warm in sub-zero weather, and fell asleep. But when she woke up, she reached for a box of Ritz crackers and pretty much ate the whole thing herself!
Since we had left so friggin early in the morning, we got to college #1 (in Rhode Island) in under 3 hours. We walked around campus and it was eerily quiet which led me to think the kids were already on Thanksgiving break. This however was not the case since when we ventured into the student union, a friendly staff member told us that the kids simply like to “sleep in” on Sunday mornings. Oh yeah, I had almost forgotten what that was like (at least to “sleep in” past nine anyway).
We continued on. It was still early and we decided before we drove to see college #2 in Providence we would make a detour to Newport. I love Newport! When the kids were little, Lynn and I would often visit the town when we needed a quick getaway. Rachel had been to Newport before (we had taken her to see The Breakers) but alas, she didn’t remember it.
So although she was impressed with all the mansions she was seeing in Newport (Mom, why can’t we live in one of those?), she wasn’t too keen on getting out of the car. I persuaded her it was a gorgeous day, let’s do the cliff walk.
I even saw her sneak a picture or two of the ocean, so I knew even though she had complained, she thought it was pretty.
We kept driving. And got lost once we hit Providence. Now, Lynn and I have been to Providence a couple of times, hitting a particularly good restaurant one afternoon, but this day it seemed we kept driving in circles and the town seemed kind of dead. All three of us wanted a cup of “chowda” and maybe a lobster roll if we were really lucky. We were! We stumbled upon a bistro-type of place that made a decent New England clam chowder and did a Lobster Club sandwich with fries that was pretty darn good.
After lunch we visited college #2, were not terribly impressed, and got back in the car. We had planned that night to stay at the Red House and once again, overestimated our driving time. But I have to segue here just a bit. I know I’m probably the only mom ever to take a cooler filled with food on the college road trip circuit. (And I’m not talking about lunch!) That’s because I had visions of us reaching the Red House after 10 p.m. (when nothing would be open). We, in fact, arrived shortly after 6 p.m. That meant we had ample time to finish the few remaining Ritz crackers Rachel had not consumed in the car and a nice piece of Brie.
From the cooler I took out a couple of steaks I thought we could put on the grill, a tupperware container filled with roasted rosemary-flavored potatoes I had made the night before, and some lettuce for a salad. The potatoes I was able to warm up in the wok, and the steaks we put on the grill. What we didn’t realize is since we had been grilling all summer, our propane was seriously low — so low in fact that we decided to only light one side of the grill, thinking we could conserve a little fuel that way. It was too dark outside to see what we were doing anyway, so we just left the steaks on the grill until we were really hungry. Let’s just say, they were done enough.
We ate, we drank and then it was not even 8:30 and there was nothing much to do. Remember, at the Red House, we have no TV, no DVD player, and believe it or not, I had not brought my computer up with me. (A real vacation!) It was too early to go to sleep, and since Rachel had slept most of the time when we were driving anyway, I figured she was good for another 6 or 7 hours! That’s when I was introduced to “Words With Friends” which is kind of like playing scrabble except you play it on your i-phone! This lasted about an hour and as you can see from our scores, Rachel was very determined to beat me. Oh yeah, note the words “poor” which is what we will be after this college experience but hopefully not “poor” enough so we can still “eat”!
Road Trip Day #2
For some reason, breakfast just tastes better at the Red House. I made a huge ham and cheese omelet for the three of us to share, warmed up some mini bagels in the toaster oven, made a big pot of coffee, and it was a late enough breakfast to last us through a visit to college #3.
I absolutely have to mention that this is the outfit Rachel slept in at the Red House (this year’s Halloween costume) and wore to breakfast! “Mom, it’s warm and fuzzy,” is what she said to me.
Obviously, we were having way too much fun here. Perhaps she should pursue acting? Why were we looking at colleges with Criminal Justice/Psychology programs anyway?
When we finally left the house a few hours later, I have to admit I cheated a little. I really want her to go to college #3 (state school, lovely campus, nice town) so I took the scenic route. That would be the one that goes past lots of pretty little lakes and charming towns filled with antique stores. She slept the entire way.
We were early for our tour, drove around town, then walked around most of the campus ourselves. We stopped to have a cup of coffee and split a piece of cake. We finally had the tour (us and only one other family), and this campus was empty, too, not because the kids were sleeping, but in fact everyone had already gone home.
It was nearly 3 p.m. when we got back on the road when Rachel decided she was hungry (again) so we stopped at a Mickey D’s (don’t tell anyone!) and got fries and cheeseburgers for the road.
After our trip, I felt as turbulent as the waves I had seen on the cliff walk 24 hours prior.
I was wondering how many more colleges we would be visiting in the next few weeks…and all the money we would need to come up with to make this happen for her. Because I’ve realized one really simple equation:
College = No Money for the Red House
But I’m good with that, who needs a kitchen anyway?
P.S. This week we found out Rachel was accepted to a college which was not one of the three we visited that weekend. It is also the most expensive one.
P.S.S. Have I ever mentioned how very much I like my one burner? I think so.