Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Monday, October 02, 2006

The words do not come

There are no words that come to mind with which to describe my feelings after being here in Chicago with the other slashers. As I sit here Sunday night at the airport awaiting my flight home, I'm bowled over by the memories of the past 48 hours.

Dean and I pushed 14 hours of driving on Thursday, and then easily arrived at the hotel by 11 on Friday. Early to check in, but they said my room would be available within 15 minutes. We knew at least two others would be at the hotel, so we asked for their room. That can be a tricky thing if you don't know anyone's last name!! Somehow we'd thought ahead enough to request people's cell phone numbers (Terry didn't have a cell) but it never occurred to us that last names might come in handy too. But we did manage to narrow it down and all of a sudden Terry was running down the hall to greet us. We sat and chatted with Terry and Crystal for awhile, but most of the others were still coming in or running around to airports and train stations to pick them up. Dean went to check into his hotel, which was deliberately not where most of us were staying since, he said, he did want to sleep at night. Terry and Crystal left for their airport run, so I got a chance to catch up on some story reading that I'd gotten behind on this week. Dean came back and he and I went to pick up Jacki at the airport and then on to where we were having dinner in Chicago. We were early, so we ended up driving around downtown for awhile. Even so, we were the first at the restaurant, so we settled in to wait for the others. Christina and Amy were the next to arrive. Dean and Christina were my first and still my closest friends on the forum. Others straggled in. Terry and Crystal had difficulties finding their way, so somehow I got to talk them in. Trish, Di and Greg arrived -- I'd been working with Di on several of the items that she'd made for the goodie bags. John and Nellie arrived. Neither of them are very active on our threads in the forum -- but they are both local so they came down. John is on the forum admin team with me. Lydia and Joe arrived. Lydia is one of the two principle planners for the event -- I'd been working with her to keep all the plans, lists of attendees, lists of directions, etc, up to date on the forum. Joe is her hubby, and a GEM of a guy. He fit right into the midst of all of our craziness and did a great job playing photographer and general errand boy.

Back: Nellie, Amy, Christina, Di, Greg
Front: Jess, Trish, Monica, Lydia, Dean

And then.. the flood gates opened. Our 4 tables in a semi-separate room were set when about half of us were there, so we sat. But then car loads of people kept showing up so we'd all jump up again to greet the new arrivals. The wait staff really didn't know what had hit them! Finally we were mostly there, seated, and dinner ordered. But it took more than 5 minutes for the food to be delivered, so we were up and mingling again. Dinner was served, the margaritas were flowing, and the din of conversation was a quiet roar. Di passed out the buttons she'd made for everyone -- one name badge that had our forum names and real names on them, and a second (sometimes third) that represented something of our contribution to the forum such as a quote of a story we'd written or particularly liked. Mike led us in three cheers for Di. The din grew louder.

The food was excellent. Terry was fretting because she was still to pick up our last expected arrival for the night at the airport. Finally it was decided we should all pitch in so that person could just take a cab. This arrival just happened to be one of our most popular authors, so you can imagine the pandemonium that erupted when she walked in and 40 of us who adore her and who'd been sitting around drinking for several hours by now greeted her with fanfare worthy of a celebrity. (That one actually brought 3 of the nearest servers running to see what the heck was going on!) Near midnight we were finally ready to leave, some of us heading back to the hotels and about half of us heading out to do some clubbing. It was pretty funny to see the looks we got on the street from our large group wandering from club to club together. One bouncer in particular didn't know what to make of us as we stood in line to enter -- he was flabbergasted that this boisterous group all had IDs from different states! Home by about 3:30 and a bunch of folks congregated in our room since it was one of the largest. 4:30 we finally saw our beds.

In talking to everyone, I think back and am very glad we were early arrivals, getting to meet people gradually. I can’t imagine what it was like for Kumari who arrived last. She said it was definitely a fire-hose moment. Never the less, even after 2 ½ days together there were many people who I got very little time with -- a common complaint.




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