Well, my summer driving for team USA has come to a close and I'm writing this back out on the farm. I sat on my couch this morning and all I could hear were the bugs buzzing outside. I sat out on the patio this afternoon with my bunny and the sound of tons of birds up in the tree just chirping along. It's a much different pace than what the past few weeks have been, but I couldn't be happier to be home.
Here's how the past two weeks went down..
8/19 and 8/20 we worked and drove afterwards.. We were in Pennslyvania then Hunt Valley, MD and then we were back in Silver Spring, MD.
Thursday night after work we went to the Washington Redskins vs. Detroit Lions game. It was my first NFL football game, so it was really cool to see! We had an event so that was probably the fastest tear down we did. Hustled over to the game, just in time to get poured on when we sat down. Good thing we had our nifty little BMW rainjackets to help us out. Luckily, it didn't last too long and I enjoyed the game.
8/21- We went out for a team dinner to the Capital Grille for dinner. Brian's birthday was Saturday, so it was where he wanted to go for his birthday dinner. Everyone got all dressed up and we got lucky because it was restaurant week, so we got a little break on the prices. The steak was SO delicious. We somehow ended up staying there for over 3 hours. It was the last time we got all fancied up and went out for a team dinner, so it was a really good night.
8/22- we worked and then I was a huge bum. I was super tired from the week, so I layed in bed most of the night and slept. So much fun, I know!
8/23- I drove back to Annapolis to go to church with the Napppiers'. Then afterwards we went to the grocery store and hung out at their house for the afternoon. We played catch with the lacrosse sticks and swam, and they took me to get the famous Rita's frozen ice. It was delicious! Then we enjoyed some food on the grill. It was such a lovely day and it was nice to be out of a hotel and in a good church and home for the day. The kiddos are so adorable and so much fun. They're just overall the most incredible and sweetest family. At a random Embassy Suites in Jacksonville, FL I just so happened to talk to them at the pool, and I would have never guessed that I'd have just met a family that'd welcome me into their home and make me feel at home when I was so far from my real home. It was nice nice though and I'm so thankful to have gotten the chance to spend some time with them again.
8/24- Marie and I went to downtown Annapolis. We walked around the Naval Academy and the downtown area. She hadn't been there yet, so we of course had to make a stop at my favorite Chick & Ruth's Delly. I may or may not have eaten there 4 times in total. Okay, I definitely did. The crab meat was the absolute best, so I couldn't pass up an opportunity to go back! That night we took our final trip back into DC for a drink at the city's oldest bar, Old Ebbitt Grill. It's been around since 1856, so it was neat to see it. Then we went and said our goodbyes to the beautiful monuments. I felt like I lived there for a while since I was in driving distance of it for 3 weeks, so it was a little weird having to leave!
8/25- I went and grabbed some coffee and then stopped to see the kiddos before I headed out to New York. Their family is the absolute sweetest and it was hard to go! After a few hour drive, I was finally in Newark, NJ. It was as if I came full circle. I flew into the Newark airport at the beginning of the journey, and I ended up in a hotel in the same area at the end of the tour. We didn't do much that night, just hung out in the lobby then Marie and I watched a movie and fell asleep.
8/26- I was a big bum most of the day and laid around. Then in the evening, Brian took me into the city. We rode the Staten Island Ferry in and that goes past the Statue of Liberty, so that was awesome to see. We hit up all of the obvious touristy spots since I was a first timer. The Rockefeller center, Radio city music hall, NBC studios, Times Square, Bryant Park, Grand Central Station, Broadway, and Wall Street. Good thing he knew how to maneuver around the city because there's no way I would have been able to do that. There was alot going on everywhere, alot of interesting people to see, and people who walk so incredibly fast. People SPRINT onto the metro.. It goes through every 5 minutes, but you'd never guess that.. It's like it only comes once every hour the way they hustle through everywhere. Brian kept getting on my case because I'm not one for walking super fast, I like to enjoy the scenery and ya know, just stroll through, but he told me I had to walk fast in the city. One tip I'll definitely remember next time.. Wear tennis shoes when you're going into NYC. I made the mistake of wearing flip flops and by the end of the night, my feet weren't happy campers. We ended the night having a drink with his two friends, then took a few metros and the ferry back to the island. It was a fun time and I'm glad I can finally say I've been to New York City!
8/27- Event and then we drove to Queens to our next hotel. I could never live near this city. Too. Much. Traffic. The drive was awesome though, the sun was setting and we had to drive over the George Washington Bridge, so I was able to see the skyline with a pink sky background and it was pretty incredible.
8/28- Event and then we had our final team dinner.
8/29- Final event and then we had to say our goodbyes to one another because the guys were all dispersing. I probably got a little emotional. Four months ago, I flew into an airport where I knew absolutely no one. I was paired with 8 other people from all over the place. We had one of the most diverse groups- LA, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas, and Connecticut.. We were literally from everywhere. We always compared it to the Real World. We get thrown onto a team and have to work together for 4 months. We should have had our own TV show, because it was one of the most amazing time, and some of the things that happened to us.. Well, you wouldn't even believe it if I told you! We started as strangers but from the first night in the hotel lobby, I knew we were going to mesh well. We might be from different states, but as I hugged everyone goodbye, I knew it wasn't really goodbye. I'm stealing this quote from Brooks' insta because it's so true.. "40 cities, 50+ events, and 5000 miles later, we started out as strangers and today.. We fly home as lifelong friends. #thedreamteam" Now I just have an excuse to travel to all over the U.S. :)
After we got all the emotional stuff out of the way, Marie and I took our last drive together in the convertible to dinner. Then we just hung out in the lobby with our product facilitators.
8/30- I had to depart with my 650 convertible and hop in an Uber to the airport. I flew from NY to O'Hare, had a 2 hour layover, then a quick 30 minute flight to Peoria. My parents were waiting right outside security when I got there. Best feeling ever was wrapping them in a huge hug for the first time in 3.5 months! They were waiting with me to get my luggage when I saw my dad wave at someone. His best friend had came with his wife to surprise me. Then when we were walking out to the cars, my brother popped out around the corner. He told me he had to work and wasn't going to be able to make it, but I should have known he was foolin me. We went to eat at BWW (yes, I did jokingly nag my parents for making me eat out again.. The airport is 45 minutes from home and I didn't arrive until 6:40, so it was understandable. She made up for it with dinner tonight ;))
Today I definitely binged watched all of the Catching Life episodes I've missed this summer and did a few loads of laundry. Just trying to get unpacked and settled in and caught up on my sleep before the busy time of Hog Days arrives. Woot woot. Mom cooked me steak and twice baked potatoes, corn and watermelon for dinner so my belly was especially happy.
It hasn't really officially hit me that I'm done and back in Illinois. Driving down Main Street last night was all sorts of weird.. My brain can't process that I'm actually here yet. I'm happy though. I've missed my family and friends and the calm streets where I don't have to pay for parking. Being able to see the stars and hear the crickets at night.. Oh, the country life.