I was both sad and glad when I woke up on Sunday morning. Sad that the experience was over and I had to say goodbye to all of the wonderful friends I'd made. And glad to be going home to my family and getting back to my life again.
I sat in the lobby at 6:00 AM, doing my work. The hotel was not as quiet as the past couple of days, as many writers had to catch an early flight home. At about 7:30, I grabbed a final Starbucks and went up to get ready for breakfast.
Another buffet...another yummy breakfast. I sat with my new friend Hilarey and some other ladies I hadn't met before. At one point, I went to take a bite of food and something bright pink caught my eye. It was an envelope with my name on it. Seemed like the mail fairy had been there when I wasn't looking.
I opened the envelope and got teary as I read the note from my friend, Jenness Walker. Jenness and I had been part of the same crit group a couple years ago. When our group broke up, we remained in contact. Jenness even called me from the conference last year at 11:00 at night to let me know that Mind over Madi had placed 2nd in my category. Unfortunately, I was in bed at the time, but my husband spoke to her. Wasn't that sweet of her to do?
Oh - and be sure to check out Jenness's debut novel, Double Take, coming out next month! I've read her work and I'm confident in telling you that you will not be disappointed. I haven't read any portion of this novel yet, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!
Her note was encouraging and it really made my morning. I stopped by her table after breakfast and we had our picture taken together:
After breakfast, it was packing up time and believe me, it took me a looong time to arrange it so everything fit in my suitcase. I hoped and prayed all those extra books I was taking home didn't weigh enough to put me over the 50 pound limit. I did not intend to shell out $75!
Had a last minute thought to take a picture of the mountains from my balcony. It was gorgeous! I only wish I was closer. Next time... Anyway, here are a couple of those photos:
Said my goodbyes and sat in the lobby while I waited for my shuttle. Had a nice talk with Jacque Alberta from ZonderKidz. She told me a funny story about being stalked and then we discovered we went to the same high school, which I thought was pretty cool. She lives in the Grand Rapids area, as I do, and grew up only a couple miles from where I live now.
Shuttle arrived and the ride to the airport was pretty quiet. Everyone was exhausted...
I got through security without incident and had two hours until my flight, so I settled in an uncomfortable chair and read a book (I'm reading Megan DiMaria's Searching for Spice right now. It's a fun read! Got it signed at the conference, too. :-))
Flight home was a little bumpy but we arrived in Detroit as scheduled. I have to insert here that on both flights (to Denver and back), I had a window seat and both times was seated next to a nice young couple. What was even nicer was that they kept to themselves. LoL. But I did feel bad about having to use the bathroom and making them get up out of their cramped little seats so I could pass. For not flying since 9/11, and being a little nervous about that, my overall travel experience was very pleasant.
The best part was seeing my husband and daughter standing there, waiting, as I neared the baggage claim. It felt so good to hug them again.
The drive home normally takes about 2 1/2 hours, but was closer to 3 1/2 because we were stuck in construction for a large chunk of it. Ugh.
Finally, at almost 11:00 PM, we pulled in the driveway. And to add an appropriate cliche' it really was home sweet home...
So that's my account of my conference experience. Hope I didn't bore you to death, but instead, encouraged you to start saving your pennies for next year's conference. I know I am! And I'm thrilled because it will be held in Indianapolis, which means I can drive and don't have to fly.
On Monday, I'll post my conference after-thoughts. And then, when I receive the teachings of all the classes and listen to them, I'll try to blog about what I learned - and hopefully pass the wisdom on to you.
Thanks for coming along with me on the journey - if only virtually. Hope to see you at the conference next year!