Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Day 2 of Wisconsin trip, Day 1 of Retreeeeeeat

Thursday, August 4th

The night before, we had talked about all the things Tricia needed to do on Thursday morning. Her mom Pat would be arriving, and Tricia needed to take Emily to Spanish Camp and go to CSHQ to wrap up a few loose ends there.

I slept in a little, but fortunately I got up early enough to reap the benefits of Cliff's fabulous coffee. OMG -- y'all -- Cliff really does make great coffee. I had a couple of buns to go with the coffee, and I just kind of vegged out until Pat arrived. We caught up and chatted -- it was *so* good to see her!!! She looked wonderful that morning, very happy to be there and very excited about Retreat. Pat is the *bomb*. She had just started chemo treatments about a month earlier, and I was worried that she would be wiped out, but it was a pretty good weekend for her to be attending a busy event.

There's so much about Pat that I admire, just on a general level. She's a strong and responsible woman who raised strong and smart children. She has a great sense of personal style, which has obviously rubbed off on Tricia, who also has a great taste. I mean -- this is a great woman. I could learn a lot from her. Other than that, I just like being around her -- she's always pleasant and fun and never has an unkind word to say about anyone. Pat is a treasure, and watching her with Tricia is a joy. It's wonderful to see mothers and daughters who more than just get along -- they're really good *friends*.

We all went to Neenah to a marvelous little restaurant in the restored downtown area of that town. "We" were a group comprised of me, Tricia, Cliff, and Pat. The restaurant (and I wish I could remember the name, dang it!) was an Italian restaurant by night and a soup and salad bistro by day. The soups defied description, they were so delectable and intricate. I literally just had to point to a soup and say, "I'll have that one."

The salad was sublime, the bread was divine, and the soup was *incredible*. I have no idea what it was. I drank a strange foreign soft drink in a bottle -- it was very tasty. I think it was lime flavored. I should have saved the bottlecap, but... I was ditzy and left it behind. I was stuffed. That section of Neenah is just too adorable for words; I was getting quite an education in how pretty and historic Wisconsin is!!!!!

The whole time I was being driven from place to place, Tricia or Cliff were trying to tell me how the lakes connect from one section to another, and they were pointing out their favorite places to go boating. I kept looking at those lovely, huge lakes that go on for miles and thinking, "Man, that water has got to be cold." I live in East Tennessee. Our lakes are deep, mountain-stream-fed lakes that are cool all summer long. In Georgia, the lakes are warm. In Florida, lakes are hot and filled with alligators. I figured that the further north you go, the colder the lakes get. But those Wisconsin lakes *looked* warm and inviting, especially on those hot August days.

Another note about geography in general: I was always confused about where I was, exactly. Green Bay? No. Neenah? Maybe. Appleton? Maybe. Oshkosh? Probably. Menasha? Possibly. It's all very confusing. Those towns run into and over each other, following the lakes and skipping across to the opposite shore, I guess. I don't know. I'll never know. It surely was pretty, though, much greener than Tennessee, which by August has turned mostly brown from the heat.

Lunch was great. Then we went back to the house, and I'm almost sure that's when I got my nap. And thank heaven I took it, or I never would've been able to make it through dinner.

I'm an introvert. Lots of people who don't understand the nature of introversion think that introverts don't like people. Not true. Lots of introverts *love* people. We love them so much that we want to know everything about them and their souls. But at a large gathering, it's very difficult to get that kind of information out of everyone you talk to, which is very frustrating for introverts and causes them to be exhausted.

OK, so I'm an introvert. I knew that I would be meeting... well, 111 people. Or so. Not to mention waiters and bartenders. I knew I would be exhausted by the welcome reception, and I tried to steel myself for it.

We left Tricia's house in time to get to the hotel in Oshkosh about an hour before the welcome reception. Honestly, I was very busy watching the highways and byways for things I might recognize. Big lake, big bridge. Waterlilies. ... And on the left, a shopping center with a craft store and a scrapbook store, the hotel must be near! We got off at that exit and turned left, and then right to get to the hotel.

We were there!!!!!

We had brought Tricia's computer and a printer with us, so we had a lot to carry in, which we did without too much trouble. In the lobby, there were people, and I got my Retreat packet and goodies, my nametag and my class schedule. Eeeeeeeeeee!!!! Finally!!!!! I was starting to get really psyched!!!!!! Before we got to the bar, Tricia showed me the huge aerial photo of the area around the hotel. They have a massive air show and fly-in every year in Oshkosh, and we had really just missed it. Tricia hosted a family in her home during the air show, and we had been talking about it. Dang! That's a whole bunch of people and planes!!!!!

Then we went through the bar to the reception area. In 2003, the reception was in the bar, but this year they wisely put it in the main ballroom so there was more room and therefore, a little more room to breathe!

Tricia, Pat, and I set up our albums on the album-sharing table, and then Tricia disappeared. I had some small task to keep me busy -- but I can't remember what it was now. I did keep having to dig under the tablecloths where the albums were. But I honestly can't remember why.

Immediately, I saw Kay, Jill, and Dinah's daughter Nikki. I saw Dinah and we hugged. Kay was setting up for the photos with Tricia and Dinah, so I got my picture pretty early. Oh! Y'all! I had this *spot* on my blouse. It was one of those spots that you just can't do anything about. Dinah *very* graciously stepped in front of me just a little and angled her shoulder so that my spot didn't show. What a sweetie!!!!!!

Then I saw Terri and it was like a reunion in a movie -- you know, fields of daisies, warm afternoon sunshine, and us running at each other with our arms wide like... OK, yeah, that's a total lie. ROFL!!! But we did hug and say hello. We also got our photo taken with Tricia and Dinah. Eeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

Before things got too hairy (I think -- I could be wrong!), I dragged Terri outside for a quick break and a chat. A few Retreat attendees who also knew Terri (who *doesn't* know Terri???) joined us, and I regaled them with the tale of "Bay and the Search for Pretty Panties."

We laughed and laughed.

It was fun.

Then we all went back inside and the Welcome Reception commenced.

It was ... *lovely*. So many people were having so much fun searching for their ATC swap people. I didn't have an ATC swap list (late addition to the whole Retreat thang, dontchaknow), so I was just wandering around meeting people and chatting. I found Chris at some point during this mess and said a quick hello, but it was way too short. I would find my way back to Pat occasionally, and then someone would ask if we had seen so-and-so, and then I would be out milling around in the crowds. A couple of women were really nice and complimentary about my scrapbook.

The hors d'oevres were yummy, and we were all having fun.

Dinner was also good -- I cannot now remember the menu, and it was the one meal from which I didn't get the menu that was on the table. CS Retreat is always done this way -- they print up the menus on scrumptious CS paper so you have a souvenir of the evening. But I was a doofus and didn't pick it up. I was sitting with Tricia and Pat and a bunch of lovely attendees from all over the country. Time passed way too quickly.

I ran to the ladies' room at one point, and when I returned, I discovered that the introductions and speeches had started. Phooey! I missed the beginning!

I finally grabbed a minute to say hello to Erikia, who is even lovelier than ever. She's such a tiny thing! She was a sweetheart.

The next thing I knew, Terri was getting ready for her one workshop. In our Retreat packets was an entire kit with which to make a lovely handstitched book. I wanted to take the class, but I was absolutely exhausted already. I have no idea how that happened. Tricia, of course, had to keep mingling and greeting people, and I think she even had to take Tim to dinner somewhere, because his flight was late and he missed dinner.

Some ladies approached me and we sat in the bar and chatted, but I didn't drink anything because I was already almost falling asleep. Finally, Tricia came by and asked me if I was going to take Terri's workshop, and I could *see* the relief on her face when I said no, I was ready to go back to the house and get some sleep! It turned out that Pat was exhausted, too, and if I had said, "I'm takin' the workshop," we would have had to find a way to get me back to Tricia's house. That would have been confusing for everyone.

So Pat, Tricia, and I trundled out to the SUV and headed home. I spent a little bit of time trying to call home, but I couldn't get a reliable cell signal at Tricia's house. She told me to use her house phone, because she has a one-price long distance plan. Don't you love that? I have it, too!!!! Technology rocks. Unfortunately, Wesley was already asleep by the time I called, so I just talked to my daughter.

On this night, instead of using the small lamp for a night light, I used the lava lamp. I was *terribly* worried that if I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I would disturb Pat, whose bed was between my room and the bathroom. I hope I didn't bother her!!!

But I kept pinching myself and looking at the Retreat packet even after I retired for the night. I just couldn't believe it -- I was in Wisconsin. I was at Retreat. It just didn't seem real!


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