New England Regional Competition hosted by UVM

Burlington Travel Blog

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As a new student at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU), I had joined the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student club on campus.  Our team made Central’s debut entry in the annual ASCE & Master Builders Concrete Canoe Competition.  We’d been working on the project since October of the previous year and the competition was held in April.


We left for Burlington VT Thursday (17 April 1998) at 10:30pm and started celebrating before we were of the school grounds.  I was in the truck with the trailer, our advisor, and another student Steve.  Another six students rode with us in two other cars.  We were all fired up and partied over the walkie-talkies.  We arrived at Ho-Jo’s at 4:00am, found our rooms, and after a late night toast we went to bed at about 5:00am.


9:00am wake-up call!  I played dead till 10, then took a shower and went to see the presentations.  Our team did well and our display looked great.  I met some cute girls form Merrimack College in MA, who told me that last year the parties raged the night between the presentations and the races.  I promised to get together with them later that night.  After the dinner banquet we went to the pool and had a few bears in the hot tub.  After that, we were ready to find the party.  Steve and I stopped at the girls’ room, but they were out.  Instead, we found forty or fifty students from the other schools raising the roof in the hallway, so we joined them.


After the manager came up about the noise, I ran into one of the girls I’d met earlier and went with her and a few others back to her room.  The second girl showed up and we talked about the presentations.  She told me that during them the third (and prettiest of the three, Deb) told her that she “wanted to talk to that blond guy with the blue shirt, tan shorts, and cute dimples.”  I looked down at my blue shirt and tan shorts, looked back up at Jenn and asked enthusiastically, “Me!?”  She concurred, and acknowledging my excitement, she offered to go look for Deb for me, but came back empty.


Later walking through the hall, I came around a corner and there was Deb.  She freaked, ran up to me, jumped into my arms, and hugged the guts out of me – I was thrilled!  We went back to my room, hung out, talked, and started to kiss until there was a knock at the door.  As I turned the knob, Rachel, one of our girls from CCSU in “den mother mode,” flung open the door, threw Steve’s drunken butt into the room, and commanded both of us to “Go To Bed!”  By 3:45am Deb was gone and we were all asleep.


7:00am Wake-Up call!  Off to the races!  It was sunny, but cold and windy, and of the hundreds of students and faculty around, I was the only person in shorts.  After breakfast arrived at the waterfront, I put on my wetsuit and got in the water with our creation.  We passed the swamp test with flying colors and prepared to race.  With Matt paddling in the back, we were up for the men’s sprint first.  Holding our position at the starting line, the air-horn blasted and I saw the three other canoes in our heat blaze past us.  About a quarter of the way to the buoy we drifted hard starboard (presumably caused by the wake of the other canoes) and had to fight to resume our desired orientation.  Matt suggested that we quit and head for shore.  I refused and paddled furiously to turn us around, but slowly the canoe began to role to port.  I felt the icy chill of 5° C water spill down the back of my wetsuit as we plunged sideways into the drink.  Well, at least I can say, “I’ve swum in Lake Champlain.”  Once the rescue boat towed us to shore we baled out and helped the co-ed team get in.


By the end of the day our girls team had taken 3rd place in the female races, we took 2nd for Final Product, we came in 5th Academically (i.e. report, presentation, display), and 6th (out of 14 schools) Overall.


Most schools went home after the races, but this was our first ASCE event and we’d done well, so our team had a lot to celebrate.  We went to the package store (that means “liquor store” for anyone NOT from New England) and then out to eat at a nice restaurant called the Sirloin Saloon.  We all joked, laughed, and recounted our experiences over outstanding steak dinners and many mugs of beer.  Our academic advisor, “Doc” Sarisley, left the ten of us flabbergasted when he spontaneously picked up the tab for everyone!  What a generous gesture!


After dinner, we went back to the hotel where we hung out with some of the students from MIT who stayed the extra night.  The next day, we were all packed up, had eaten breakfast, and were on the road by noon.  Next stop… Killington!


Killington was a blast!  We got there kind of late, 2:00pm, but the two hours until they closed were enough time for me to discover my love of snowboarding.  There were only three trails open that late in the season.  The snow was a hard-packed icy gravel with moguls the size of VW Bugs, it rained, and I spent a lot of time on my ass - falling down the mountain, but I still had a great time!  After boarding and skiing we had a few drinks in the lodge bar and then headed for home.  We made one stop in Bridgewater for pizza, then I slept part of the ride home, and we got back at Central at about 10:30pm.


Every muscle in my body was still sore from this wild weekend eight days later, but I wouldn't have changed a thing.

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photo by: ela82