Monday, July 11, 2011

Ithaca awesomeness

Wow...this past weekend was just absolutely fantastic!!   I went up to Ithaca, NY for the Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival (as a team warm up for the World Competition), and planned to stay an extra day to enjoy the great outdoors.  Not only was it my first time to the incredibly beautiful upstate New York...but so many great acts of kindness occured it was uncanny :)  This blog would be neverending if I went into too much detail... so instead a recap:

July 8, Friday: Off to the airport for 4:50pm flight to EWR (Newark, NJ) then on to SWB (Scanton, PA).   The flight is delayed 2 hours though. That's a bummer since I end up missing the connecting flight to SWB :(
The original plan was to fly into Scranton (it was much cheaper than to Ithaca), and drive the rest of the way (2 hrs) with my teamie Gordon who was driving up from DC.  When we realized I wasnt gonna make the flight to Scranton, he was willing to wait around for me if I could get a rental car and drive to SWB from EWR (2 hr) so we could still drive together the last 2 hrs to Ithaca. Wow so nice!!!

A rental car would have been $220 bucks to drive one way 2 hrs (ridic!) though, so scrapped that idea. Plan B became to just fly straight into Ithaca in the morning, knowing I'll miss some races :(

It was about 12:10am when I got back to the terminal (from the rental place).  There's now a flight I hadn't seen before going straight into Ithaca at 12:30am. YAY! I run to the gate, but the gate guy is adament he cant get me on the flight because it's not my original destination and I have to pay a fee and go to customer service to change it. Im basically begging him cuz it's 12:15 right now and there's about 50 people in the CS line... so obviously I wont make it if I have to queue.  No dice.  I go upstairs and see another agent.  She is an ANGEL, does exactly what the first guy wouldnt cuz she is sympathetic to me.  I love her :)  Tell her I'll pay it forward.  The flight eventually gets cancelled anyways, but Im just super happy that someone was so nice to me :) I wrote her name down and plan to send a note in to Continental Airlines about her being the kind of employee who needs a raise :)  Cathy Bannis of EWR-- Thank you!!

Sleep on the floor of EWR... it wouldnt have been too bad except that it was FREEZINGGGGGGGG!!!! Seriously uncalled for air conditioning!  Slept about 3 hours.. good practice for future less-than-desirable sleeping conditions :)

Next morning, Saturday,  Im waiting standby at the gate for the 8am flight. I have tears running down my cheeks as Im explaining if I dont make the 8am flight (the next one is at 1:45pm!) I'll miss all my races which is the reason Im even on this trip. Some lady hears me, stands up, comes over and offers to go later and I can take her seat.  Really?? Wow!! Im floored.  Gate lady says we cant do that, but again Im just so in awe of the generosity. 

(Gate lady was kindof evil becuase she loads the whole plane, then waits like 5 minutes before telling me there's a seat for me!!! Gave her super gratitude in hopes to soften her stiffness for the rest of the day)

So Im on the 8am flight. Phew!  Guy sitting next to me, Kim, hears me on the phone about my airport sob story... He and his wife offer to drive me to the race site so I dont have to get a cab.  YAY!!  I dont have the exact address, so he drops me off at the farmers market where we can see the races across the lake.  Im walking around looking for the bridge, when he runs in and flags me down.  He realized there was no bridge, parked, came in and somehow found me, and took me around the lake to the correct side---  WOW really??!!  I offer him $ but he wont take it. I tell him I'll pay it forward, too :)

I  made it to the race course just before 10am.  I missed the pre-practice, and two races, but still was in about 10 more so it wasn't too bad... in fact my muscles are thankful ;)   This was a good amount of the Team USA crew... so we pretty much won every race :)   Love that! It was fun to meet more of the people.   Since I had just came straight from the airport, I hadn't stopped for supplies, so pretty much mooched water/snacks/ suncreen/ shade all day. Everyone was more than willing to share :)  I love generosity!  It's such an easy way to make a good impression. Im bringing double everything to Tampa so I can return the favor :)

After the races, we're talking with some other teamies about camping.  One of them, Amy, just happens to have a campsite reservation they weren't going to use. Sweet!   We set up camp, went and ate at a delish local diner,  then back and passed out in approx 30 seconds!  I slept better and longer than I do typically in my own bed! This may have been that I was completely exhausted from being in the sun all day, racing about 8000 meters, and lack of sleep the night before, but I prefer to think it's cuz i was so happy I was camping ! oh... and it was MUCH warmer  than the EWR airport!

Sunday:  Woke up to best alarm: sounds of nature.  Went hiking pretty much all day.  I LOVEEE this place, Ithaca.  Started off in Taughannock State Park.  The hike was only 1.5 miles, but took us 4 hours since we were swimming and taking so many pictures.  I, of course, couldnt help myself  and had to jump off  the falls (it was obviously deep enough- dont worry mom!). The thrill got squished quick when -Oops... there was a security guard not so happy when I got out of the water.  At first she was TOUGH. I was nervous.. can you get arrested for that?? The sign said no swimming... but not no jumping :) hhaa.  She told me to stay put while she went and collected Gordon from the top.  Not sure what he said to her, but she came back in much better spirits, and we even had a chummy conversation.  We did have to leave, (good thing we were on our way out anyways), but I think it helped that we had a bag full of trash we had collected along the hike.  Littering sucks people!  Give a hoot, dont pollute :)

After lunch,  we went to Treman State Park. Unlike the leisurely morning hike, we had only 1:15 hrs to do the 4 mile loop, while still swimming and picture taking.  Time for some trail running!!!!!  Gordon has ran about a million marathons (including one in every continent!! yup, even Antarctica!!) so that was no problem. This place was beyond GORGES (that's what they say up there because it is, in fact, a gorge :)  Throughout the hike, I wear out the words "Wow", "awesome", "amazing", "beautiful.".   The hikes were just the way I like them: steep and scenic. The rock formations and waterfalls were just stunning, and the other hikers friendly. There was even a swimming hole with a diving board at the end!!!!  Im in utter love.  This is the kind of place I'm meant to live. Im a hiker, a camper, a forest girl. I love rocks and trees and waterfalls and river rapids and mountains!! (not so much spiders but Im hoping my arachnophobia will subside sooner than later!)  I think the chances of me staying in Miami upon my return are looking quite slim.  I love you ocean and palm trees and constant nice weather... but you're more like a fling than a true love. Dont take it personal ;)

Sunday night:  Driving from Ithaca to Scranton, 2 hours. I must note that I've never been a fan of road trips... but this one was awesome!  Maybe I do like them when it's not the florida turnpike :)  So many cool barns and quaint little towns along the way:)  Arrive to Scranton airport, and the flight to EWR is 2 hrs delayed again!!!  Gordon once more is willing to wait with me :)  We're sitting at the bar killing time again when a security guard comes up and says 'are you Becky'? I'm thinking, oh shit what did I do?? haha..  Guess I forgot my purse in the bathroom. Some woman turned it in,  and it's a small enough airport he just started walking around looking for "Becky."  All my cash was still in it.  That's cooler than cool.   Security guard's name was Frank and I hug and gush all over him. I think he thought I was drunk.  hahah.  Gotta pay that forward too :)

Arrive at EWR at 9:20pm...luckily the Miami flight is delayed also though, but scheduled to leave at 9:27pm!! Seven minutes!!! I start a serious sprint dragging my bags through the terminal, praying praying to pleaseeeee not have to sleep in this freezing cold airport again!! Arrive at the gate with only about 15 people left in the boarding line. Made it :)  I am soooooooo lucky!!!!  

Guy sitting next to me on the plane, Erik, is totally awesome. We chitty chat like old friends for a while and then watch a movie with splitter earphones. He just happens to have a gargantuan bag of reeses pieces from the wedding he was at that weekend.  yummmmmmm :)  

My inside-and-out beautiful friend Claudia picks me up at the airport at 12:45 in the morning with no notice cuz she's awesome.  Love love you and owe you big :)

Moral of the weekend ??  Be nice, be awesome, be sympathetic, put yourself in someone's shoes, make someone's day.  "A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed."
So many acts of kindness!! It's funny that the not-so-good situations actually brought about a lot of the super good ones... and therefore added to the overall wonderfulness of the weekend!  To Gordon, Cathy, seat-offer lady, Kim, Margaret, Amy, Let-us-off security guard,  purse lady, Frank, Erik, Claudia, and Gordon again:  Thank you!  I'll remember all of you and think you've got some good karma coming your way :)

I've got a few Pay-it-Forwards to make... so if you're in need a big favor call me :)

Quotes that inspire me (this might just have to become a staple for this blog!):

The smallest good deed is better than the grandest intention

Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind. --Eric Hoffer

If someone is too tired to give you a smile, leave one of your own, because no one needs a smile as much as those who have none to give


  1. Your so awesome Becky Jo! You do realize that all that stuff happened for you because you deserve it and you have probably paid it forward many times over. Glad you had a good weekend and can't wait to read about more of your amazing adventures! Love you girly!

  2. Hey Becky~
    You made my day with this recap.
    Reeses pieces...yummy..!
    Smiles, Lisa

  3. Like Like Like!!! xoxo

  4. you put yourself in situations were strangers' kindness are needed for you to get something done, .... but if you just pay the extra $200 to fly to Ithaca............?? I dont know

    1. If I had begged for the ride by someone else's inconvenience then for sure, I agree. In this case though, I put out an email to the group going to see if anyone wanted to-- no obligation. Gordon in fact was happy to oblige, as he preferred to have company for part of his long drive from DC :)

  5. its still a good story....

  6. WOW Becky! What a memorable trip! It's so nice that you were thankful for all the amazing things that happened to you! You looked at the good instead of the bad! Way to go girl! I'm so excited for all your adventures! Thanks for sharing them on a blog! I am living through you from my desk. :)

  7. Becky Jo! You are amazing! You are living the life most people could only dream of! I love you and hope your adventures bring you my way eventually :) I love you~ Mandy