Editorial: “An Adventure Fit for Hobbits: A Trip to Boone with Melanie Lech”

An Editorial by Amber Mangione

Being friends with Melanie Lech is interesting to say the least. Don’t get me wrong- she’s a great friend and a joy to spend time with (when she’s actually on time for something). She can make you laugh just by her mere attitude, has jokes for days, and is an amazing singer. She is also the biggest procrastinator that I know (but is getting better), difficult to make plans with at times (by now I’m used to it), and after three years, still has a meltdown before moving back to Boone for the school year. Yes, life being friends with Melanie is interesting, but also an adventure. Like Bilbo’s journey to wherever they were going I can’t remember; unexpected and life-changing.

This adventure begins at ASU where my sister, Nicole, and I went to visit Melanie in October of 2013 for homecoming weekend. We arrived at her residence hall with pillows and blankets in tow, looking like two new students moving in because of all the stuff we had for the weekend. Melanie had planned to show us around campus and go to the homecoming game later while we were there. After taking a tour of her room and piling our belongings onto the futon, we began the usual “So what should we do?” escapade before finally settling on getting food. We headed to the beloved Cookout down the street and got the usual tray with a milkshake. We commemorated this moment of glorious food with a classy picture outside the Cookout and devoured our delicious trays.

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Then, Melanie and Nicole said, “Let’s go on a hike,” to which I looked down at my outfit and cringed. I’m all for a good hike in the mountains, but not when my attire consists of a sweatshirt, jeans, and Keds. Sure, I would have worn something different if someone had told me that we were going on a hike, but as usual, both Nicole and Melanie failed to tell me. Despite my slight panic and protest because it was wet outside and Keds have zero traction, we headed to the parkway. After finding a trail and a spot to park, Melanie wanted to get pictures of all of us at an overlook. Well, not exactly an overlook; more like the side of the road. After getting a good handful of pictures, we set off for the trail. All was well in the beginning until we began the uphill battle with giant, slippery rocks. After asking “How long is this trail, exactly?” and getting the hesitant response of “Not that long… I think,” I knew it was going to be an interesting walk. On our way up, we found a large rock and got a group of people to take a picture of the three of us. This was one of many pictures taken over the course of our hike; it’s always a photoshoot when Melanie has her camera. We continued farther up the trail and repeatedly heard, “We’re almost to the top!” and I almost slipped multiple times climbing on the rocks.

When we finally made it to the view, I will say that it was worth it. Melanie did pick a good trail after all, I thought to myself while snapping pictures on my phone. We headed up a bit farther to the rocks jutting out from the trail and ran into the group of people that took our picture earlier. They were an elderly bunch of people, probably in their 60s or 70s, who were alumni at ASU. They had hiked all the way up with picnic baskets full of glasses and wine and had started reminiscing about their time in college. They asked Melanie about her experience at ASU so far and proceeded to take a picture of the three of us on the rock. When we looked at them later, we realized that they looked like the stereotypical awkward family photos that you dread taking every year.

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To this day, my dad still thinks the photos are photoshopped because we are up so high on the rock. See, my dad has some experience with Photoshop like this. When Nicole and I were little, he would insert our faces into things like the moon and sun. He even went so far as to take a picture of me standing with my blanket and put me on a rock on the Niagra Falls (a picture to which my great-grandmother thought was real and yelled at my parents for not dressing me up in warmer clothing).

The homecoming game had already started, but we decided to head back down to try and catch some of it. After once again almost falling and Nicole constantly commenting on how she wanted to be like those people drinking on the mountain when she gets older, we finally made it back down and headed for the game. We made it back to Melanie’s residence hall, dressed in some ASU gear, and walked to the stadium, which again, was farther away than Melanie led on. As we got closer to the stadium, we noticed that herds of people were coming back from that direction. “It looks like everyone is leaving, they must be losing. Should we just head back?” Nicole and I asked in fear of this being a huge waste of time. “Let’s keep going! I want you guys to go to a game and the food is really good inside,” she said. We were all hungry again at this point, so we all wanted some sort of nourishment, and for Melanie that was pizza from the stadium. When we finally got to the stadium and saw the scoreboard, ASU was at a huge defeat and there was barely any time left. So like we predicted, this was a huge waste of time. But Melanie wanted to go inside for the food, so Nicole and I stood outside for about 15 minutes waiting for her until she came back empty-handed because they did not accept money from her meal plan.

By this point, we were all pretty hungry and just had food on our mind. Melanie suggested going to a hibachi restaurant and said that we could just take one of the buses down there. We headed down to the station and waited in line for our bus, double checking with Melanie that we were getting on the right one. After assuring us multiple times that we were getting on the right one, we headed to the back and made conversation with the people near us. As the number of people on the bus started dwindling down and we started getting farther away from our desired destination, I noticed that Melanie looked a little worried. There’s no way she had put us on the wrong bus, I thought; she seemed so certain that we got on the right one. We headed up a winding hill up to some apartments that the last group of people got off at. As we headed back down, Melanie got up to ask the driver if he was going near the stop at the restaurant. She headed back to us with an apologetic look on her face. “Guys, we’re on the wrong bus.”

“The driver is going to drop us off as close as he can and we’ll walk to the restaurant,” she said. This is when the panic started to set in; walking on the sidewalks on a busy road at night did not seem like the safest thing to do. The bus stopped and we got off, heading towards the dimly lit sidewalk. “Melanie, please, PLEASE tell me that this place is not that far away,” I asked multiple times, being very cautious about our current endeavors. “I don’t think it’s that far, really” she tried assuring us. After walking about a mile, Nicole and I were pretty done with this whole situation. Melanie apologized time and time again, saying that we were fine, nothing was going to happen to us, and that we were almost there. At this point I wanted to kill her (not really) for making us do another hike, but I had to keep reminding myself that we really had no other choice.

Finally, we made it to the plaza that the restaurant was in. Nestled in the strip of stores and bars was the illuminated sign for Hokkaido’s. After walking for a couple of miles in the dark with nothing but the sounds of passing cars and our rumbling stomachs, we were finally there. After half an hour waiting for our table, we got to sit down and devour our delicious food. I had to hand it to Melanie once again, she picked a good place. Would a restaurant by her dorm have been just as fine? Probably. But once Melanie had it in her head that we had to go to Hokkaido’s, there was no changing her mind. For instance, on Melanie’s 21st birthday, she had the idea of doing a bonfire on the parkway. Once we got to the spot she thought had pits to do so, it came to our attention that they were not bonfire pits, but charcoal grills instead. It was very damp outside so nothing would catch on fire, so intoxicated Melanie rode with her roommate all the way to Wal-Mart for lighter fluid while Nicole and I waited in a car with her friends (whom we had just met half an hour earlier at dinner) for over an hour on the parkway at 12:30 at night. The lighter fluid still failed to make the logs catch on fire, so Melanie left defeated and upset because she had the plan in her mind to do a bonfire Kumbaya style.

When we finished eating, our next plan of attack was figuring out how to get back to her dorm. The buses were still running and she was certain that we could get on a bus that could drop us off there. We waited at the bus stop situated between the Wal-Mart and Golden Corral for about 45 minutes before the bus arrived. Waiting here was probably sketchier than the walk over, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to hike again. We asked the driver more than once if we were heading back in the right direction and he confirmed that we were. It seemed as though every activity we tried had some sort of obstacle (except for Cookout. No problems there). But finally, something was going right on this trip.

By the time we got back, we were all ridiculously exhausted. It had been a long day, to say the least. Now we had to figure out where we were all going to sleep. We decided to push the futon down and move it up against her bed and have the three of us sleep side-by-side. I thought this was a genius idea until I got stuck in the middle with Nicole snoring in my ear and Melanie’s face next to mine on the other side.

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Even though I felt like I was about to drop dead from this tumultuous day, I barely slept. The next morning, Nicole and I got up and prepared to go back home to Charlotte.

Needless to say, this trip was not what I expected it to be; this was definitely one of the most interesting, mishap-filled experiences with Melanie and Nicole that I have ever had. Despite some of our setbacks, I still had an awesome time in Boone and I would do it all over again with the two of them. Although everything didn’t go according to plan, we still had a memorable trip and did things that we can laugh about now. Like I said, being friends with Melanie Lech can be interesting, but I know she means well and cares deeply about all of her friends. We can always count on her to make a boring day more exciting.

My name is Amber Mangione and this is the first editorial I have done for Melanie’s blog. Thanks for reading!

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Hey ya’ll, so it’s Melanie again!  I hope you enjoyed Ambear’s editorial.  Know that even if you are judging me, I am judging myself more.  (A moment of thanks to Amber for including such touching, heartfelt, completely unprompted kinds words at the end so you all know (think) I’m not actually the worst.)  So as you’ve seen, I decided to do something a little bit different this week by having one of my friends submit an editorial.  This is something I’d like to do more of!  On the third or fourth week every month, I’m going to post someone else’s disastrous life story or embarrassing tale, because I want this blog to be about more than just me; I want it to be about stupidity in general, and how it brings us all together.  And while today’s editorial was about a trip I was involved with, in the future, the stories featured might have nothing to do with me.  I’ve got a few people in mind I’d like to ask to write something, but the door’s really wide open.  So, readers, if you’ve got a good tale and want to share it with an audience of 100 that dwindles lower and lower each week, email me!  Let’s build a community.

See you next Thursday (God willing),



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