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First College Visit

Day #5

Most of McDaniel’s peers starting going on college visits years ago.

She just didn’t have much time to visit any place last spring since she was busy with track or this summer because she was busy nannying three children.

So McDaniel, Monte and I decided to make the few hour drive to check out this small, Christian school on our own and attend a football game to get the vibe of the school and student body.

Once we left the city limits there was a whole lot of nothing on the state road we were traversing.

And we were hungry.

We had promised McDaniel a quaint diner for lunch.

I was thinking a quaint diner in a cute small town.

We weren’t even seeing small towns.

Just fields and trees.

We saw a sign for a family style restaurant and pulled over to see not one, not two but THREE charter busses in the parking lot.

No, thank you.

I noticed a few train cars with a sign that said DINER up on a hill off the exit.

Oh yeah, there was a teepee and a Native American on a horse too.

I’m not sure it gets more quaint than a diner INSIDE of a train car.

We were greeted by an older man who said it would be 20 minutes after we ordered.

Still better than the charter bus mess at the other restaurant.

We ordered sandwiches and fries and started looking around.

There were two booths that you had to climb up into with a great view.

The people sitting at a normal table next to them told us it was unbelivably hot up there and that they had just relocated from one of the tables.

I noticed all the sweat on the man's face so we decided to climb up for pictures only.

He was right.

It was at least 20 degrees warmer up there.

Great view.

The decor was very much The Ohio State Buckeyes.

Ignore my face. We were eating in a train!

Each table got a choo choo train with a number for our order.

The french fries were homemade and amazing!

McDaniel was thrilled to find they served raspberry ice tea--her favorite.

The wait for our food allowed her to refill her cup several times.
McDaniel with her raspberry tea.

She was a bit jazzed on the rest of the car ride.

We pulled onto campus pretty desperate to find her a bathroom because, well, so much raspberry ice tea.

We looked for a student union or something that would have a restroom.

Monte pointed to a pretty brick building and said something about the nice balcony.

That’s when I noticed all the wheelchairs and I read the sign that it was a nursing home.


We found the library, ran in, asked the two front desk girls to point us to the restrooms and we ran upstairs.

It was on the way back to the front of the library that we realized that there was NO ONE in the library.

Not. One. Person.

Except the two girls at the front desk.

We walked around the campus and found the same thing.

NO ONE was out playing frisbee 
or walking around 
or sitting on benches talking.

It was almost as if the campus was closed.

We walked into building after building seeing only the people that manned the front desk.

I’m pretty confident there were more people on that 
nursing home balcony than on the entire campus.

We rationalized that maybe it was because everyone was at the football game.

The university’s stadium was getting renovated so we had to drive to a high school down the road to see the game.

The high school was HUGE.

Bigger than the college campus we just left.

We walked to the bleachers and could not seem to locate the student cheering section.

Everyone sat down and watched the game.

This is not how it is at McDaniel's high school.

The students stand the entire game.

The parents sit.

McDaniel was disappointed.

There were very few cheerleaders that no one cheered along with.

A mascot was no where to be found.

And too bad because their colors were the McDaniel-approved 
red, white and blue.

It seemed as if there were more people on the football team than sitting in the stands.

Half-time came and the opposing team’s marching band came onto the field.

The announcer informed us that this performance had been written by a student and was an “emotional journey” that he’d like us to take with him.


A tall boy on the xylophone banged out a sad and almost eerie tune as the band joined in. The music felt like we were walking into a dark room looking for whatever went bump in the night.

The music crescendoed with all the drama of being chased by the boogie man when McDaniel and I noticed Monte beside us swatting frantically ON BEAT TO THE MUSIC 
at several bees swarming around him.

It was the perfect dramatic expression for the orchestration.

We couldn’t help but laugh.

We decided to walk around before the “emotional journey” made it to joy.

We noticed off in the grass a group of young ladies practicing a dance in long red satin skirts.

“Oh this is going to be good,” McDaniel and I agreed.

We looked at some t-shirts for sale until the red satin-skirted ladies walked onto the field with their marching band.

Or whatever you’d call the very small grouping of instruments.

What’s slightly more than a quartet?

A gathering?

The girls jumped and twirled and switched sides of the field with all the timing of free form jazz.

McDaniel and I were momentarily distracted by an attack of bees coming out of a trash can on the side of the field when we noticed a girl walking off the field holding a big pile of red satin.


And we missed it!

Stupid, stupid bees.

We sat in the bleachers in the end zone long enough to see one guy get hurt, scream bloody murder and then walk off the field.

Then we saw two players from the same team, run right into each other, drop the ball, only to have the other team pick it up and run almost the entire length of the field for a touchdown.

Clearly this isn’t a football powerhouse school.

And that isn’t really important when looking at schools.

Yet to McDaniel, school spirit is.

Having people stick around on the weekends and not go home every chance they can is important to her.

And to us.

We are encouraging McDaniel to spread her wings and fly from the nest.

Sending her to a campus where everyone runs back 
to the nest every weekend wouldn’t be a good fit.

We left disappointed.

We found a cute Dairy Freeze on the way home that had the same kind of peanut butter ice cream I remember from childhood.

Then we walked up the hill behind the Dairy Freeze and bought white pumpkins from an Amish boy that couldn’t make change.

We decided on the way home that the best part of the day was the railroad car diner and the Dairy Freeze.

One school visit down.

One crossed off the list.


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