Published: March 18th 2009March 15th 2009
Need I say more?
Now, I know what you're thinking. Joe Biden, tractors, and wild ponies?! Is she serious? What in the world do these three things have in common?
I'm really starting to think that each week I'm here in Europe, my life just gets more and more unbelievable. I really expect to just wake up any moment and find that this is all a dream. Yet, for now, it continues. So, what is it that these three things have in common? Not much really, but each of them helped to make my story-book week/ life even more unbelievable.
Well, apparently I lied in my last post when I said I probably wouldn't get to see or let alone meet the Vice President on his trip to Brussels last week. On Tuesday, I got the opportunity to not only see the VP, but also to speak with him. Twice!
He came to another staff 'meet and greet' just as Secretary Clinton had just four days earlier. VP Biden gave a much longer, and in my opinion, a much more inspirational speech. He really made me want to work for the U.S. Government forever, not that I didn't want to
already. But, he was incredible. He made a point to shake everyone's hand that was there and to take a picture with everyone and he didn't care how long it was going to take.
When he came to me, my mind went blank and I got very nervous. I didn't know what to say. What do you say to the Vice President of the United States without sounding like a total idiot? He had just gotten done with this incredible speech about how the people he has met that work in the State Department are some of the brightest, most intelligent people he has ever met. There I was desperately scanning my brain for something to say, anything. Somehow I staggeringly thanked him for coming and told him what an honor it was to meet him, but I forgot to ask him for a picture and he moved on to the next person. I couldn't believe I didn't ask him for a picture!
Sad and disappointed in myself I moved closer to the door as he was making his way out. One of the other interns was taking a picture of him and he asked her if she
VP Biden at the 'Meet & Greet'
His speech was incredibly inspiring and made me want to work for the U.S. Government forever.
wanted a picture with him, but since she had actually already gotten one with him she said "Oh no, I just got one with you. But, Clarissa hasn't!" And she took my hand and brought me towards him. Vice President Biden mentioned that we had just met and I mentioned that I hadn't gotten a picture with him and asked if I could. He replied, 'Of course!" and wrapped his arm around me and flashed that million dollar smile. I was so happy and thankful to the other intern that I could hardly contain my joy. I found Vice President Biden charming, personable, very down-to-earth and very exciting to meet!
Believe it or not, this is where my week really turns into a fairy tale. I spent the weekend with my friend Owen and his family at their farm in County Devon in England. Owen used to work in the U.S. with one of my dad's friends doing custom harvesting. I've known him for a couple of years now and have always been curious to see where he and the other custom harvesters live. I couldn't believe it when he called me up last week and asked if
Vice President of the United States
I acted like a 15 year-old-girl meeting a famous singer or movie star when I finally got to meet the Vice President
I was going to be coming to England while I was over here and then invited me to come see him! He was even to be in a play on Saturday night!
On Friday after work, I took the Eurostar to London. From St. Pancras station in London I took the Underground to Paddington Station and boarded another train, rode it for 3 hours and at 2:30 a.m. ended up at the train station near Owen's town. The weekend was worth every minute of the travel it took to get to and from there. Owen met me at the station and then we stayed awake catching up with each other until 4:00 a.m.
The next day was absolutely incredible. The weather was perfect. I woke up in a beautiful, old, English farmhouse. And for the first time since I had gotten to Europe over 2 months ago (not including the night before), I got to see someone I knew from home.
Owen had to pick up a bailer for his boss and knowing that I was from Kansas thought I might like to go along. (This is where the tractor comes in!) Of course, I jumped on
the chance to take a ride in a tractor...something very reminiscent of home for me. Owen took me on a tour of the English countryside in a tractor, which I'm convinced is the best way to see the English countryside, at a leisurely pace and up above the hedges so you can see for miles! When we brought the bailer back to his boss's house, his boss's wife invited us inside for a cup of tea. (So English! And so delicious!) After the proper English teas, Owen took me to an amazing little English pub for lunch. Again, delicious.
In the afternoon Owen took me to see one of England's National Parks that is not far from his house. The park was called Exmoor and is where the next part of my crazy week comes in at.
As we were driving into Exmoor, Owen began telling me about the ponies that live in this National Park. I asked if they were considered wild ponies and much to my surprise, he said they were! I couldn't even believe it. Wild ponies! This park was home to wild ponies! Who knew! Though, I have to say, they didn't
More Wild Ponies!!
Ponies of Exmoor National Park
seem very wild. You could walk right up to them and they wouldn't even be bothered.
Owen and I spent the afternoon hiking through the park with his dogs. It was absolutely gorgeous as you can see from the pictures. All I could do was keep asking Owen why he ever left this to come to Kansas.
We went back to his parents house and everyone got ready for the play. Though Owen was in the play, his dad was the producer and his mom had painted the whole set. I got to go with Owen's sister and some of their friends. The play was a comedic murder mystery and was hilarious. Afterwards there was a party for the crew that I got to attend with Owen and he introduced me to the entire cast. They were such nice people and were very excited to meet the American who had come to see their play.
The next morning I had to get up bright and early to catch my train back to London. It was another absolutely gorgeous day and I was so sad to have to leave the beautiful English countryside. As Owen waited with me
Talking the dogs for a walk
Walking through Exmoor National Park
at the train station we saw a couple of people who were taking advantage of the nice day by riding in hot air balloons. It just added to the whole fairy-tale feel of the weekend and made it even harder to come back to the city.
All in all, it was an absolutely amazing weekend, and entire week for that matter. Joe Biden was charming and exciting to meet and Owen was charming and hard to leave. Just another story-book week in the story-book life I'm now leading. I do realize that someday soon I'm going to have to come back down to reality, but I'm really, really not looking forward to it. In the meantime, I am very much enjoying the enchanting narrative that is my life, and I hope you are as well.
There are more photos below