It is hard to believe that 8 months have gone by since I signed on to be a trainer at Weather Central in Madison, Wisconsin. I still remember that kid who almost didn’t take his first real TV job in Johnstown, PA because it was too far. (Luckily, I had a few key people on my side for that one including family and some very good friends.) In my time in Johnstown, I never imagined I would ever leave my 3-hour window to go to Madison, Wisconsin, but it happened and I am so very happy that I did.
As all of you probably know, I have two goals in life. One is to get back home to Pittsburgh to do weather on one of the local stations and the other is to be a game show host. I read an article tonight on Nerd Fitness and it inspired me to think about my goals and how I can get there. I think where I’m at is right where I need to be for now. I’m making connections, meeting new people, learning about different cultures (yes, even within the United States), and seeing so many cool things I’ve never seen before.
I’m going to recap some of the cool places I’ve been and some of the cool things I’ve had a chance to do while on the road…
– This was my first trip and all I can say is what a way to get your feet wet. I had been in Alabama before, but never to Dothan (or Doltan as the locals say). All I can say is that it is true what they say about southern hospitality. Everybody is so nice and willing to help.
Cedar Rapids, IA
– Although I didn’t get to smell ‘crunch berry day,’ I did get to see a little more of the midwest and reinvestigate why the plus variety of gasoline is less expensive than the regular unleaded variety in Iowa. I’m told it is because of a special incentive from the government. I had been to Iowa before in 2000 for my aunt and uncle’s wedding and was perplexed by this then. I’m glad I was able to learn why this is the case.
Green Bay, WI
– I didn’t feel so hot during my trip to Green Bay and it was cold as crap while I was there but that didn’t stop me from checking out Lambeau Field. Thanks to a colleague, I was able to get inside one of the suites at Lambeau and check out the field itself. It is kind of sad that my first time in Lambeau field happened only shortly after my first time in Heinz Field. (I still haven’t been to a game there, but I’m okay with that.)
Quad Cities (Davenport, IA and Moline, IL – Yes, I know that’s only 2!)
– I got to take in a hockey game while in the home of John Deere. This trip was cool for me because it was my first solo trip. I also got a chance to drive down each week and see some of the countryside.
– I had been to the Poconos when I was a kid, but this was the big city. We all know there’s a nice rivalry between the left and right sides of the state, but that wasn’t going to stop me from checking out the city a little. I didn’t do a lot of exploring downtown, but I did do some. I got a legit Philly Cheesesteak and even took in a Flyers game. (They lost in a shootout and that made me happy while at the same time, the Penguins came back from a 3-goal deficit to go to a shootout and win! … I digress.) While in Philly, I had a chance to meet up with a friend who I hadn’t seen in a while and my cousin who I had just seen for the first time in years before I moved… crazy how that works.
– After Philly, I went to Cincinnati where I had my first really challenging (but rewarding) install. I also got a chance to see the city a little bit as my hotel was downtown for the 2nd and 3rd week I was there. I even headed out one night and walked from my hotel over the Brooklyn Bridge prototype to Kentucky and back. As I was walking across the bridge, I thought of that Geico commercial with the lizard walking down the middle of the bridge and thought it looked like the Brooklyn Bridge. I later found out from one of the mets at the station that the Brooklyn Bridge was built on that model.
– Next was Harrisburg. I didn’t do a lot of exploring here, but I did get a chance to meet up with a couple of ex-colleagues while in town. It was great being able to catch up and seeing how well they are doing. While in Harrisburg, the weather was really nice. I got a chance to take a run through a nature conservancy and enjoy the outdoors. I even found a couple geocaches while there.
– It’s funny how your travels can bring you full-circle. In March and early April, I actually got the assignment to go back to my old market and perform a full install in Altoona, PA! I spent three weeks in Altoona and had a chance to go for a run at Canoe Creek State Park. I had been an hour away for over six years, but never really explored that far east. It was great to be able to be home to quench that thirst for a few weeks. While in town, I was even able to make it to the Pirates home opener! It is amazing how things work out sometimes.
– I had never been to Orlando until a couple of weeks ago. Myself and a new Weather Central trainer, Tom, went to Orlando for two weeks and definitely made the most of the trip. We were able to get to two different beaches during our time there. The first week, we visited the less popular New Smyrna Beach. It was really nice. Then, we went to Daytona Beach the second week. It was run-down. Unless you’ve been there, you don’t realize things like this. I heard Daytona Beach before and thought ‘wow, that sounds awesome.’ It really wasn’t. During our time in Orlando, Tom mentioned that he is a Pacers fan. They were playing the Magic in the playoffs and we found tickets for dirt cheap. I took in my first NBA game and I have to admit, I would do it again. Would I go regularly, not a chance… but I would go again!
– That brings me to my current location… Bluefield, WV and the reasoning behind the title of this post. In case you’re not familiar, they call this area ‘The Two Virginias’ because it is right on the border of West Virginia and Virginia. It is amazing to know that I’m only about 5 hours from Pittsburgh and the languages are so different. While everyone seems very friendly, it is sometime difficult to understand as the drawl is really prominent for some. That and the lack of cell service in quite a few spots aside, this area truly is beautiful. I am in the middle of mountains everywhere. It rained today and coming down the road between these ‘hills’ looked so cool with all the fog. I visited Pipestem State Park yesterday and the views from the top were amazing.
I have a couple of trips lined up including a trip out to Denver within the next couple of months. I’m really excited for this one. So what is the point of this (as of right now 1308 word) post? The point is to make the most out of every situation you are in. Sure, nobody wants to go to Dothan, Alabama or even Bluefield, West Virginia, but if you go, soak it in!
The post is titled ‘Country Roads, Take Me Home (Actually, Not Quite Yet)’ because even though my goals, as stated above, are to get back home and to be a meteorologist and game show host, I’m enjoying my travels and I’m not ready to stop yet. Sure, I want those roads to lead back home. For now, however, I’m learning to appreciate this great country!