Monday, March 16, 2009

Good Morning from New Orleans!

Greetings from Camp Hope in New Orleans, Louisiana!

The Viking Expeditions team arrived here at approximately 7:45am, after a nineteen hour bus ride. It goes without saying that the group was rather enthusiastic about vacating the said bus, considering the rather uncomfortable sleeping conditions we encountered. While we are on the topic of long bus rides, I would like to paint a quick picture for you...

We encountered some rain storms last night. Nothing extreme, but a rather steady downpour for the majority of our evening. As far as I am aware, the storm did not present a problem for our driver, but rain like that late at night can provide a passenger with a fairly startling realization of just how harrowing control of a bus can be. On to my story... Sometime between 4:00 and 5:00am, I awake to complete darkness, save for the headlights on the road in front of us. We are somewhere in either Alabama or Mississippi--I am not sure which, it is late and I am confused--and we are the only vehicle on the road. Everyone around me is asleep, or trying to be, and the rain is coming down in sheets. I look forward and see our driver, drumming on the steering wheel. I look in front of him and see ten feet of road, sheets of water and our light beams--nothing else. A full 360 degree scan reveals nothing. It feels like our bus is floating along in a world of wet emptiness. It was a pretty startling experience, and leads me to tossing some serious kudos up to our driver for getting us here so quickly and safely. Those were some tough conditions, especially when you (our driver, in this case) are in many ways the only person around.

So, about Camp Hope and the rest of today...

Breakfast was provided for us, in a large cafeteria type place. The food was not bad, but it also was not anything to write home about. (So, why am I writing about it?) At this point it really does not matter, most of our travelers just want to nap.

Our facility is a converted middle school. It is a rather spacious complex with several buildings. The classrooms are converted into dormitories, segregating males and females. Cleveland State's men are in Room 1 on the second floor, with the ladies in Room 25 on the first. There are shower facilities inside and outside (in trailers) of the building. They were rather cold when we arrived today, alternating between "Cool Spring Mist" and "This is what Antarctica feels like." Alas, I suppose it is better to have cold showers than none at all (or in last year's case, cold showers that are 20 minutes down the road). Tomorrow, I will try an early morning attack to see if I can discover hot water...I will be certain to post those details.

Several TV lounges, and a computer room adorn the building, so there will be plenty to do when we have downtime. We have easy internet hookups, so you can hear from me even more often. Don't hold back your excitement. Really.

Right now it is about 10:00am and we will be relaxing at Camp Hope until 1:00pm (or possibly later if the information I just received is correct.) The group really needs a few hours to recover from the journey. At 1:00(ish) we are going to New Orleans for the remainder of the day. As someone who has experienced the French Quarter, I could not be more excited. It will be fantastic to be back there again--especially with some folks who have never been.

Rob Morabito forgot to bring a towel, and I have been very entertained watching him search through piles of lost (or left) linens to find one. Nasty, nasty stuff.

This is all I have for right now. I will certainly post some New Orleans pictures--I am sure Heidi will take about 7 zillion--when we return from the city tonight, as well as update you on the happenings of the day and our plans for tomorrow. I hope you find this enlightening and informative. Spread the word...we would love to have all the readers we can get.

Until next time.

-rjm


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