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 Tenth grade social studies class with Mr. Arnold.  It was the birthplace of many inspired and creative projects: So You Want to Be A Cowboy, The Bermuda Triangle…but most of all it was the birthplace of a beautiful lifelong friendship.  It was also the inspiration for the Virgin Tour.  Lisa and I were casual friends before Mr. Arnold’s class.  But sitting in that group to which she assimilated me in class discussing Nova Scotia, I never dreamed that I would someday actually visit those bucolic farm fields. 

We tried that summer.  But, as sixteen year old girls, we were met with a resounding no from our parents. 

We may be a little stubborn, Lisa and I.  So, although we did not make that trip the summer after our sophomore year in high school, we did make it the summer after our sophomore year of college.

The year was 2001.  It was June and we had finished our respective semesters the University of Wisconsin –Madison and the University of Minnesota.  Go Gophers!  The internet was dial-up in my one—bedroom apartment and I would gain access to the wide world of information to learn about our trip by logging into AOL.

AOL, for my readers who are too young, was short for America Online.  Before teenagers wasted time on Facebook and tormented each other socially outside of school, they were creepily stalked in Teen Chatrooms on AOL.  It was an innocent time.

The majority of the information that we collected for the Nova Scotia trip still sits in a binder…to my left, to be specific.  Organized by our route, which was to be:

  1. Minneapolis to Milwaukee.  I had spent a year at Marquette University so we had a hook-up on a couch with some of my old dorm mates. 
  2. Milwaukee to Pittsburgh.  Lisa’s parents had a hook up with a sweet house and a daughter willing to entertain us for the evening.
  3.  Pittburgh to NEW YORK CITY.  New York City was a must, because we had never been there.  As we were planning where we would rest our weary heads in that city of dreams, we decided tent in Central Park.  Okay, that was a facetious response,   but we decided on a hostel which was vetoed by our parents.  Papa Bear Oien had a solution.  Lisa’s parents paid for a hotel for us in New York City.  This helped us in many ways.  First, safety.  Second, cost.  Third, location. 
  4. NEW YORK CITY to Boston.  For my brother’s graduation from MIT.  Hey yo smarty pants!
  5. Boston to St. John’s New Foundland.  Only because we had to catch the ferry there to…NOVA SCOTIA!
  6. NOVA SCOTIA…umm…everywhere…including Prince Edward Island
  7. Nova Scotia to Maine.
  8. Maine to Quebec.
  9. Quebec to Niagara Falls.
  10. Niagara Falls to Michigan.
  11. Michigan to Minnesota.

That was a lot of planning for routes, and hotels prior to the glory of the centralized internet we now know.  Especially since, I am pretty sure Prince Edward Island had not heard of the internet back then.

The day came when we were to depart on our grand adventure and, naturally, the power was out at my parents’ house where I was living for the summer.  So I stopped by Lisa’s parents’ house in the Green 1996 Toyota Camry fondly known as the Razzle Dazzle, with my unwashed self smelling like perfume.  There was a send-off in which someone facetiously asked to us ensure this was the Virgin Tour.

No problem there.

And we were off.Image

The first hour of such an epic trip seemed filled with excitement and promises.  The second hour seemed just like any other trip we had made to Wisconsin in the past year for school.

The real fun began for us when we arrived in New York City.  It was June of 2001, only three months before the day that changed NYC and the world forever.  We had one evening, one full day and a morning in New York City. Image

The first thing we did in New York City?  Get lost in Chinatown. Image

As Lisa would point out later, Brass Balls Bridget was at the wheel and I managed to navigate our way out of the crowded unfamiliar area, and make our way to the hotel.  We were exhausted from the drive from Pittsburgh, but we immediately put on our walking shoes and set out to see New York City.  Pardon my ignorance, but we walked from our hotel (across the street from Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi!) to Central Park.  It had to be done.  We had to use the rest room after that, so we figured where else would one sneak in to use a bathroom in New York City, other than the Plaza Hotel?  We were going to be sneaky-sneaky in and out, but our plan was foiled by the fanciness of …the towel lady.  I had no spare money with which to top her, so we did the next best thing.  Lisa took my picture with her.Image

We were starving by this point, so we decided to find food.  We looked everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  In New York City.  That is exactly how we wound up eating at TGI Friday’s in Times Square paying $15 for hamburgers.  They say starvation causes you to do crazy things, and we discovered that was definitely true in that case.  After our dinner (and I am sure ice cream because I am obsessed with ice cream as Lisa would discover on this trip) we went to the top of the Empire State Building then collapsed back at our hotel room. 


ImageThe next morning we were up bright and early to visit the filming for The Today Show, where we appeared in a crowd shot and then proceeded on to buy our tickets for the rest of the day.  We got matinee tickets to a Broadway show, Kiss Me Kate! and then we ran to catch the Ferry to the Statue of Liberty. 

ImageWe were halfway up the flight of stairs to the top when we had to turn around and take the Subway to see our show.  We arrived one act in.  But we saw a Broadway show! 

Image We met up later at Rockefeller Center and had dinner with my friend, Ryan, who had his internship in NYC that summer.  We had dinner and then headed back to collapse and prepare to depart from New York for Boston. 

But our crazy New York stay wasn’t over yet.  The next morning, when the car was pulled around to the front of the hotel, we realized the gas light was on.  What we did not realize is that there is NO WHERE TO BUY GAS IN NEW YORK.  Once again, Brass Balls Bridget was behind the wheel and I maneuvered us somehow to the Bronx…where we found what we deemed God’s Gas. 

Then, we were on our way to Boston to cause more trouble.  No, we really did cause a lot of trouble in Boston…