college visits: Southern California

College visits are not for wimps.  Let me just put that out there.

It all adds up: the getting-there-part, with the airports, security, expensive water, and the waiting, always the waiting; the finding-your-way-in-a-new-city-part, with the rental car, the maps, the occasional missed turns; the disrupted-schedule-part and the challenge of finding food for a celiac (me). Put that way, travelling doesn’t sound like much fun.

But it is.

We planned this trip carefully – choosing our destination, figuring out which schools made the cut, organising some things ahead, and then letting the rest of the time be loose.  We visited four colleges in three days, putting over 250 miles on our rented Charger.

We had a great time, we learned a lot, we had only one minor meltdown (a few hours before leaving LA), and we met some wonderful people.

More importantly, and to the point of the trip, Kristina has ruled out a school she thought she was keen on, and learned of a school that is a great fit for her – that makes this trip a success.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.


We planned to visit (in this order):

  • University of Redlands
  • Claremont-McKenna College
  • Pomona College
  • Occidental College

staying the first two nights in the town of Claremont, a beautiful small town at the western end of the San Bernardino Valley, and the third night in old town Pasadena at the north end of LA.

When we arrived at the Doubletree, our hotel in Claremont, we had only missed one turn, we were hungry and tired and ready to wash the travel-grime off.  On check-in, we were greeted with warm chocolate chip cookies.  Krisitina declared this “my favourite hotel ever.”

Marketing tip for every other hotel out there: you can make great strides in customer satisfaction with warm chocolate-chip cookies.  Just saying.

Our only question for the desk clerk was, “Is there a Trader Joe’s nearby?”  It turns out the Doubletree shares its parking lot with a Trader Joe’s and a Buca di Beppo.  We didn’t even have to get back in the car.  I declared this “my favourite hotel ever.”

Before settling in, we went shopping.  We stocked up on yogourt, fresh fruit salad, water, hummus and carrot sticks, trail mix – enough to take us through a couple of breakfasts and a few days of keeping the hungries at bay.  And then we fell into bed.

The next morning would hold the drive out to University of Redlands for an action-packed visit.  We were going to be ready.

To be continued…

listening to: Jason Mraz, Wordplay

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