I’ve been trying to figure out how to share this whole experience with you. It was just all such a mind-boggingly, life-changingly awesome five days! :-) (and that from a college English professor…) So I’ll share each day with you as it happened, with lots and lots of pictures.
One week ago today, DH and the girls drove me to the airport at 6:15am. Jacksonville to Las Vegas to San Jose. Can you see me in the reflection in the glass in this picture? Just above the front third of the Southwest plane in the distance? Yeah, that’s me. The long flight to Vegas (5 hours, 20 minutes) was made much more bearable with my seatmates. To my right was Ed, a very friendly plastics salesman heading to a conference in Las Vegas. His company makes the plastic cards that 90% of all credit cards are made from! To my left was Michael, an engineer/rocket scientist on his way back from NASA after installing the rocket boosters that recently launched Pluto Five. No joke! I was sitting next to a genuine rocket scientist! Ed and I were totally enthralled. Mike told us how the rocket boosters work and how, since the Pluto payload was such a small one, those five boosters shot that thing up into space faster than any shuttle launch ever seen. “Where is it now?” I asked? “Heck, I don’t know! Somewhere between here and Pluto. There’s a whole other group of engineers and scientists who determine when to launch so the payload will reach its proper destination,” he replied. “And when will it reach its destination?” “Oh, in approximately eight years.” Eight years!? Can you imagine the science it takes to determine when to launch something that will not arrive at its destination until eight years later? Now, here’s the kicker. In his free time, Michael is an actor in Wild West reenactments. Didn’t see that one coming, did ya? He’s the president of his troupe, Sierra Six Guns and Sidekicks. So after he enthralled Ed and me with his tales of space exploration, he continued to enthrall us with his tales of Virgil, Wyatt, and all the other Earp brothers. He plays Virgil. He’s excellent at falling during gunfights. And I think a little peeved that his actor friend who plays Wyatt never has to fall because, you know, Wyatt was never shot so he never fell. Who knew? DH would have loved it.
So, here you go. Now I can say I’ve finally been to Vegas! Since I barely had time to make my connecting flight, I managed to avoid actually playing the slot machines, but I did have to pull out my camera to take a picture of some of them.
Once I arrived in San Jose, I picked up my rental car and headed towards Los Gatos and the retreat center…and promptly got lost. Got out of San Jose just fine; that was the easy part. From there, I had printed out MapQuest directions but neglected to read the warning on the retreat center website that said not to follow the MapQuest directions. I ended up on a continually narrowing winding road on a neighboring mountain. When I realized I must be lost, I called DH (thank God for that time difference at this point) and he pulled up the website, found the better map and stayed on the phone with me until I found the right place…on the mountain next door. (Yes, Katie, if I had an iPhone I could have pulled up the correct map myself, just like you did when we were trying to find that cupcake place that night in NYC. And yes, Jim, I'm sure I could have pulled it up on my Blackberry…if I only knew how to use it.)
Once I actually made it to the center, called Presentation Center, this is what greeted me. Beautiful, huh?
And then once I checked in, I received this. Isn’t that awesome? Every attendee received one. More than 100 of us. Talk about a lot of work! Our welcome, agenda for the weekend, and all relevant instructions were attached at the back with the ribbon. Just the start of the amazing job and special little touches that Cindy (retreat coordinator) pulled off. Just lovely.
And two inside pages… Of course I can’t show you the entire book until Sunday night…the night I finished and DJ, Leah, and I danced on the tables (oh wait, it’s still Thursday…we’re not dancing on tables yet, forget I said that….)