From Simple to Extravagant

Posted by on October 25, 2013

Greetings and welcome to anyone who has found or will find this blog. October 25 in the admissions world means that travel season is almost over for most, and just ending for some. It also means less than a week until Halloween celebrations (come on, we do have lives too)! For me, the official end of travel season will actually coincide with one of the year’s best holidays. At approximately 11:30 on Thursday, October 31, I will be leaving my last Chattanooga school and hitting the road back to Spartanburg, hopefully arriving in time to see some trick-or-treaters. One of the cool things about living in a residential apartment, and not a complex, is that each year there are hundreds of kids who swarm our doorstep like any other, and like 99.2% of the population, my roommate and I will be giving out treats, rather than tricks.

It has been a long and winding travel season, but I have enjoyed the many people I’ve met, places I’ve seen, and experiences I’ve had. The second half (October) was characterized by the fall football chill settling in, later turning downright cold – thanks to our friends to the north for sending a huge cold front across the eastern United States – by actually seeing my coworkers from time to time, and by discovering a legitimate, go-to Panera order. Okay, to preface, Panera (depending on who you talk to) is the admission counselor travel restaurant staple. It is somewhat healthy, there is free wi-fi, and it is a great place to meet with prospective students, or just to crunch out some midday work emails. The pick-2 lunch combination is a given, but I have never been able to determine a specific two items to order, and always seem to be uncertain of which direction to go when I step up to the register. Until a fateful day in Lexington Kentucky, where I stumbled upon the winning combination: Butternut Squash Soup, and Thai Chicken Salad. Aside from the perfect duo of sweet and spicy, and the hot and cold, these two options are satisfyingly delicious on their own. Now, I’ve probably gone into way too much detail regarding this break-through, but it just goes to show that travel season, and the ability for an admission counselor to enjoy it, is all about the simple things.

Perks can sometimes be extravagant too, though, which is okay with me. One moment of extravagance came when I checked into my hotel last Saturday in St. Louis, MO. I was staying one night in the DoubleTree by Hilton, formerly known as the Union Station Hotel. All I knew at the time of booking was that DoubleTrees are one of the nicer amongst the Hilton brand, they give out the best cookies in the world upon arrival, and this particular DoubleTree asked for a reasonable nightly price, well within my budget. What I came to find out when I showed up on Saturday was that this DoubleTree had taken over the site and structure of a historical hotel that was adjoined to the St. Louis Union Station train hub. While it used to be a lavish resting place for train passengers passing through the city, the DoubleTree has maintained the original charm, and updated its features to include all of the usual Hilton hotel ammenities. On top of that, the old train station has become a mesh of shopping, dining, and nightlife destinations. Checking in to this hotel was by far the most pleasant surprise I’ve had in my travel career. Therefore, I’ve included a couple pictures of the place, as well as the famous St. Louis Arch, just as proof that I’m not making all of this up! Here are a couple links to some professional pictures of the Union Station hotel as well:

Now, I look forward to one more week of travel in my personal favorite destination, Chattanooga, TN. I am thrilled at the prospect of finally unpacking my suitcase completely, moving back into my apartment entirely, grocery shopping, and settling back into a normal, consistent routine. But I will continue to look back on another fun, fulfilling travel season. There are certainly aspects of the second half that I will miss. The horse racing in Kentucky, BBQ Ribs in Memphis, and World Series buzz in St. Louis, to name a few. Still, all good things must come to an end so you can look forward to them again in the future. And, I suppose those incoming applications aren’t going to read themselves!

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