Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Just a LITTLE Off-Part II

Just before falling asleep, Christie mentioned to me that she was pretty sure some of the Road Scholar info she needed for the event was in Dan's locker. As we were pulling out behind Mr. Kamp, I remembered this and asked Chris and Dan if they'd figured it out. Upon figuring out that they didn't have the info, I pulled back in the parking lot so they could go find it. As I waited for them with Dominic, Mr. Kamp came back in and asked if we wanted him to wait so we could follow him. I had a map that looked reasonably easy for someone to give me directions from, and Mr Kamp really needed to get to West Ottawa to get everything to work as far as registration and stuff. For those reasons, I told him that we would be fine, to go ahead. He agreed, and left. Dan and Chris came out without the necessary info, and we left without it, hoping that the other people on the event had it. I called one of the other people and they did end up having it.

With that minor crisis delt with, Christie and Dan were named navigators, since I can't read a map or tell direction if my life depended on it, esp. if I have no clue where I'm going. They directed me to the highway, and we were off. Apparently I'm not a very even driver. I slow down and speed up alot, and supposedly i'm not very good at staying in my lane. Christie was reading to me about capacitors when I noticed how PRETTY the land we were driving through was. I commented that I don't remember noticing it last year when I'd ridden out there. It was about 8:15 when I decided to call Coach P. to see what exit it was that we had to get off, since the directions didn't really say and I had no clue where exactly we were.

He answered his phone and upon hearing my question, asked where we were. I looked up at that exact moment to see a sign that read Big Rapids, one mile. Big Rapids is about an 45 minutes north of Grand Rapids, about an hour and a 1/4 away from West Ottawa. I almost had a heart attack as I read this to Phil. "YOU'RE WHERE???????" he bellowed. "PLEASE tell me you're kidding." "Umm actually not...CRAAAAAAAAP!!!!!!!!" was my spazzed out reply. I got off at the first available exit and pulled into a gas station. I was NOT happy at this point. Phil wasn't either. He told me I was DEF. going to need more gas. Dominic got out and pumped $20 worth of gas into my tank, and I handed the phone to Dan for Phil to give directions to. Apparently we had taken 131 North instead of 31 north!! ONLY 100 off.

We were supposed the be at West Ottawa in about 45 minutes at that point. All devices had to be impounded by 9 a.m. Since both the robots and the scramblers were in my van, there was NO way that was happening. This fact did NOT make any of us happy. Dominic and I both had events at 9, and Dan was supposed to run his scrambler at 9:30. With all this in mind and new directions in Dan's possesion, we set off back to where we were supposed to be. I set the cruise control at 83 and crossed my fingers no cops would be around. Chris was laughing her slightly hysterical laugh, and Dan was convinced he was going to get a urinary tract infection from having to pee so bad.

It was around the time when we realized there was NO way we were going to make our 9 o'clock events that Christie's voice cut the tension...."Erika, SLOW DOWN, there's a COP car!!!" I was NOT happy with this turn of events. "I do NOT need a ticket on TOP of all this!!" I bellowed back. Dan and Dominic where looking back at the cop we'd just flown by. He was pulling out after us...and I was pretty much hysterical at that point. I could have sworn I saw his lights go on, too. Thankfully, he must have needed a donut or something, because he didn't follow us. I called Phil again, this time inquiring about impounding. I found out that they weren't going to let the robots run for points, but that they would let the scramblers run, and probably just push back Dan's run time so he would be able to make it. This was pretty much devestating to me. I'd spent HOURS the night before on Brutus and Gwinniper, and now that was all a total waste. NOT cool at all.

We were supposed to get on some other highway at that point, and I followed Dan's directions, figuring that it would seem we were going the right way. By now it was a few minutes before 9. We were supposed to get off at exit 55. Glancing at the signs we saw exit 36-ish, and figured it would be awhile. We drove on, still in a state of disbelief about everything that was happening to us. It just didn't seem fair!! After a few minutes, Dan was the first to notice yet another problem...the numbers were going DOWN!! We had reached exit 25 when he pointed this out. This resulted in another call to Phil. “So Phil, we’re supposed to get off at exit 50, right?” “Yeah…” He replied warily. “Ok, so if we’re at exit 24, how come the exits are going DOWN??” “Hang on, 24?? Where ARE you???” “Well, the exit coming up says Marne…that isn’t right?” “NOOOOOO!!”

There we were, going the wrong way yet AGAIN!! We had taken 196 instead of I-196…or something like that. So we got off at the next exit, and Phil once again gave Dan directions to get me to wherever the heck we were supposed to be next. By this time, it was after 9, and my frustration and that of everyone else in the car was mounting. FINALLY though, we were pretty sure we were on the right track. The only major issue at that point was that we ALL had to pee.

As Dan and Christie directed me, I finally recognized exactly where we were. It was right by Phil and Paula and Amos’s houses…if someone had just TOLD me to go toward their houses it would have been SO much easier. We were on the right road this time…Phil had made the directions VERY clear this time. Chris, Dominic, Dan and I by this time were despairing of making the 9 o’clock event at ALL by this point as it was nearing 20 to 10. Christie was spazzing out because she and Abbs were in Write It/Do It, an event that REQUIRED two people. Abbs isn’t on the team, so it would be her only chance to compete in that event. Chris REALLY wanted to be there for it. Dan was supposed to run the trebuchet for Storm the Castle at 10:15 and he really needed to be there. We were definitely all a bit stressed, to say the least.

We saw the sign that announced Holland within a reasonable amount of time. Now all we had to do was end up on 31 (NOT 131!!) and turn off of that onto something and then somewhere else, and then get to the school…theoretically it wouldn’t be that hard, right? Hopefully by now you’ve realized that nothing is easy for those of us in that car. The directions specifically mentioned shopping malls that we should have seen on our way in. Somehow we were in the middle of downtown Holland by the market or something and we’d never seen any malls.

Of course this led to yet another panicked call to Phil. At this point he turned the phone over to Mr. Ash, who knew the area better. Then Chris Blok called Dan’s phone to ask about the trebuchet charts for Storm the Castle. Mr. Ash gave Dominic directions, and Dan had Chris get people to be waiting for us at the door of West Ottawa. We pulled into the school at about 10:10. We’d totally missed the 9 o’clock events and were late for the 10 o’clock ones. Mr. and Mrs. Ash, Phil, Chris, and I think a couple other people were waiting for us. I grabbed my bag and binders and went flying inside, Christie and Dan followed suit. Mr. Ash was so gracious as the park my van for me, and Chris and Phil and stuff helped Dan get everything where it needed to be.

I arrived at Chem Lab, my 10 o’clock event, huffing and puffing and about to keel over…I’m VERY out of shape, let me tell ya!! I walked in, only to discover that Amber, my partner in the event, had grabbed Ashley and brought her in at the last second for moral support since I wasn’t there. Rather dismayed and disappointed at having missed two of my four events, plus the robot that I wouldn’t get to run, so really three of my four events, I slunk to the team camp. Paula Lou, my faithful sidekick, was there to give me a big hug. That started a few tears…the stress, sleeplessness, stupidity, and unfairness of it all caught up with me for a second, lol. But after letting go for that instant I pulled back together and went to watch the other spectator events, since Astronomy, my last event, wasn’t until 1.

The trebuchet was entertaining. Chris and Dan forgot to adjust the angle of some pin thingie or other, so it flew BACKWARD…not quite what they’d had in mind. Then too their charts were in feet, when they actually needed to be in meters. Minor setbacks, to be sure. The scramblers were both quite a spectacle. We had been worrying about them hitting the table super hard…we shouldn’t have. They went about 7 feet and stopped. Thankfully no one had very high hopes for them to actually work. Bri saw the name…Cleopatra…on the laucher and about had a breakdown. We told him that as coach, if he’d been there to control the actions of the night before he would have been able to stop the decorations. There really wasn’t a whole lot he could say to that.

Rumor had it that they might let us run the robots, and word came to me that it was a TRUE rumor. I went happily out to get them from my van and Brandon, the guy who I was going to have run the robot, and I went and impounded Brutus and Gwinniper. Brutus’s left wheel was about to break at any minute, as the last second repairs Nate and I had made the night before were by no means professional. I warned Amos, who would drive him, of that little qwirk, telling him that Brutus could well just break down in the middle of the run. Gwinniper pretty much gave me heart failure yet again when I realized that one of her wheels didn’t run. Brandon solved the issue temporarily by just pulling the controller a certain way.

I went off to do my Stars test with Scott pretty soon after that. We ran out of time and didn’t know how to do a couple of the things, but we felt pretty good about it. Since I was in stars when Amos ran Brutus, I didn’t get to see how that went. He reported that the wheel had broken part way through, but he’d managed to finish despite that. Brandon ran Gwinniper at 3:10. We weren’t trying to accomplish much else beyond pushing a few things around and calling it good. We accomplished that goal easily.

The rest of the time was ours until the awards ceremony at 4. We sat around and chitchatted for awhile about the events of the day. I had about 5 gazillion people offer me maps, directions, and navigation systems, and another 5 gazillion tell me that 31 and 131 are 100 off…I KNEW THAT ALREADY!! We packed everything up a little before four and headed to the gym for the awards. No one was overly optimistic. Several of the study events were pretty sure they’d totally bombed. Those of us in building events KNEW we had.

Our fears were realized in some areas, but greatly wrong in others. Since it was an invitational, there were only 33 teams present. Also, no matter what the overall score was, everyone was going the Regionals, the official first competition. Many of the schools present had more than one time, for example we had Plymouth Silver and Plymouth Blue. In Astronomy, Scott and I got 6th place, which was kind of disappointing, but acceptable…to me at least. Neil, on the other team, got 3rd, which was really good, too. Dan and Brandon got 2nd in Dynamic planet, for which I was VERY excited for them. Christie and Abbs managed to medal 5th in Write it/Do It, as well. Chris and Dan both totally deserved to do so well after the chaos of the morning. Neil and Amos were VERY happy with their first place in circuits, the event that I was on with Scott at 9 but I’d missed. Scott didn’t medal, but he got 8th in it, which is amazingly good considering he was by himself and we hadn’t learned how to do stuff in 2 of the 3 problems!! Paula and Joel surprised themselves in getting 3rd in Forensics, which was the event they said they hadn’t even had time to finish!! Lauren and Meg got 4th in Health Science, an event that had them nearly in tears when they walked out of it. Several other events medaled, as well. Overall though, it wasn’t good enough for the Blue team to be in the top 6. The silver team, however, got 5th overall, which was quite impressive. The lack of medals, however, will hopefully inspire everyone to work harder.

On the way home, only Dan and Dominic rode with me. Dan was pretty much the worst backseat driver ever. He quite literally told me when to speed up, slow down, turn on my signals, and he and Dom made it their personal responsibility to do my head checks for me so I could stay looking straight ahead. I followed Mr. Kamp back out of town, never once letting him out of my sight. The way he went out was def. NOT the same way we’d come in. I have NO clue how we made it from where we had been!! We made it back to school in less than 45 minutes…a far cry from the almost 3 hours we’d been in the car on the way.

It was a day that taught us all a lot. We had a lot of fun in some of our events, and made memories that we’ll never forget. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard or been so frustrated since…Mission Possible in 9th grade and last year. This was only West Ottawa…I can’t wait to see what happens before Regionals!!


Blogger Darselo said...

If West Ottowa is any indication, Regionals oughtta be worth watching. I'm sooo gonna be there... :D
When is it, btw?

3:06 PM, March 01, 2006  
Blogger scarlatti said...

erm, wow, erika. doesnt sound like youve ever had much direction in life... harhar. any how, that was funny... gotta run! (i got a haircut today. its funky, but i like it. so does my fam. its longer in the fron than in the back... hard to describe, youll have to see)in case you cared

11:56 AM, March 02, 2006  
Blogger Erika said...

Petunia, we do indeed. When Gwinniper is all done maybe i'll post some pictures. She's gonna be BEAUTIFUL!!

Chuck, obviously u were correct. 'twas a mess!!

Darci, they're gonna be awesome. They're at GVSU on Saturday, three weeks from today...so the...25th?

Scarlett, glad to know ur alive!! I ALWAYS have direction in my life u fruitcake!! Looking back its hilarious, but at the time it was anything but!! I def. wanna c pix or something of ur new haircut, too btw.

1:49 PM, March 04, 2006  
Blogger eChuckler said...

I *knew* it had to be that, Ms. van Unknown. Hehe... ;)

9:34 PM, March 07, 2006  

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