6.29.2012

graduations weekend (yes, plural)

We sped through two graduations in two states in one weekend. Then the photos languished on the computer for over a month. No longer. Because I owe it to two awesome graduates.

It started on a Wednesday. Right after work I headed home to meet Ian, who took the day off to prep for the trip. Then we booked it to the airport for our 8 pm flight. We arrived in Denver, picked up our Chevy Aveo or similar, which turned out to be a Kia minivan, and drove the rest of the way to Boulder, where Ren met us with open arms and an empty California king bed (we thankfully collapsed into both).

graduations weekend

We were up bright and early the next morning to attend the first of Ren's three graduation ceremonies: Jewish Studies. This small gathering packed into an even smaller board room, where we celebrated the accomplishments of everyone in the program. We learned more about Ren's research projects interviewing Holocaust survivors and WWII veterans. As a result, he received three new contacts to interview via others in attendance. I'm so grateful there are people passionate enough to dedicate their lives to preserving this important piece of our history.

After a delicious brunch courtesy of the program, Ren showed us around campus. It was fun to see where he's spent the past couple years. I can't imagine a campus more beautifully nestled into the mountains (but I still can't cheer for CU). We went separate ways for the afternoon (shopping, driving in the mountains, and napping) before regrouping for ceremony number two: the history department.

graduations weekend

We loved the idea of the outdoor ceremony but it was a little warm with no shade to be sitting out at 5 pm in dress clothes. Thankfully, it was fast. And did you know that it's possible to write two 100+ page theses for each of your double majors and win awards for both? Me neither, but some girl in Ren's class pulled it off.

After the event, we headed to Pearl Street for an amazing Latin American dinner at Centro. The longer we're away, the more we appreciate our time with family. It was so good to have an evening to relax together and enjoy good food.

The next morning brought Ren's third and final ceremony: a university-wide one. The setting was even more impressive, while the majority of the students were less than, demonstrating CU's reputation as a party school (Ren, thanks for being different). They kept holding up a giant inflatable champagne bottle in front of the Jumbo Tron camera during the most poignant part of the ceremony: a short speech written by the late President Norlin to the June 1935 graduates. Stay classy, CU.

graduations weekend

After swinging by Emily's graduation party (congratulations!) it was time to head out. We drove the rental minivan back to the airport to swap for another. This leg of our journey was less pleasant. Not only did Ian get flashed by video surveillance at an intersection in Boulder ("That's the shortest red yellow light I've ever seen!"), the door ajar alert dinged the entire 45 minute trip back to Denver. Thankfully, we got a discount coupon to make up for it, and our second car (Toyota Corolla or similar, which turned out to be a Chevy Cruze) was a dream in comparison.

money saving tip: For a multi-state trip, don't make one rental car reservation for the whole thing. You'll get billed the much higher inter-state rate for each day on the reservation. Instead, we rented one car in Colorado, and swapped for a second car to drive to Kansas, which we returned within 24 hours. This equaled cheap in-town rentals and only one day at a high rate, which cut our rental car cost in half. Thanks to Morgan and Beth for the tip!

Seven hours later, we rolled into Manhattan, checked in at the hotel where my family was staying, and once again crashed. The next morning, we crossed the hall to say hi to my family, then got ready for Nathan's (one and only) graduation ceremony.

It felt so good to be back in Manhattan: it always gives me warm fuzzies. While much has changed, our favorite things (like Bluestem Bistro) haven't. After breakfast from our favorite barista, we made our way to McCain Auditorium, found our seats, and proudly watched Nathan march across the stage with his peacock blue master's hood.

graduations weekend

Post-ceremony, Ian caught up with a few of his old studio-mates who also graduated as we wandered around Seaton Hall looking at all of the final project displays and munching on the tasty CAPD-provided snacks.

After a quick lunch at the Union, we headed to the new Flint Hills Discovery Center for a joint regional and community planning reception. Once again, we enjoyed some quality family time (and squeezed in our rental car return with some help from Caleb). And realizing that I had forgotten to adequately document Ren's graduations, we were determined to get more photos in with Nathan.

graduations weekend

After, we went for some barbecue, because it's so good (and cheap!) back in Kansas. And once again, we soaked in every moment of our time with family.

Sunday morning we headed to UCC and caught up with old friends we hadn't seen in years, then took Mom to a Mother's Day lunch as a family plus Sara (so glad we got to spend more time with you!) before exploring some of Manhattan's newly developed areas (kittens! Orange Leaf!). We also managed to squeeze in time with Britni and Joe, who are expecting their first baby (practically any day now!).

And then just like that, we were saying goodbye to Nathan and Caleb, and Mom and Dad were driving us to the airport early the next morning. And we went to be early that night.

It was a jam packed extra long weekend, but it was worth every minute. Congratulations, Ren and Nathan!

Click here for more photos of graduations weekend.

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