Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Day 5 Las Vegas -- Part I

SUBTITLE: There's No Business Like Trade Show Business

Waking up Monday morning was an exercise in pain. I couldn't fall asleep Sunday night for worrying. I'm not good at many things, but I am an expert at worrying. I can make an art out of worrying. That's what I did Sunday night.

I understand a few things about Las Vegas traffic, and I understand a really important thing about myself.

About me, I get lost and cry. It never fails. I can have maps, a plan, an escape route, a personal trainer, and a guide dog, and I will get lost. And then I will cry. Usually I just call my sister Amy in a complete panic -- no matter where I am -- and she will get on a trusty computer and navigate my way out of Timbuktu, all the way saying soothing things like, "You're not an idiot," and, "It'll be allllll riiiiiiiight." Amy has done this for me in Orlando, Nashville, Charleston, Atlanta, and even Knoxville -- just to name a few places.

As for Las Vegas traffic, I understand that morning rush hour is from 5:00 to 10:00, and afternoon rush hour lasts from 2:00 to 7:00. That's Las Vegas. Amy warned me. And she was *right*!!

Therefore, I was in no great rush to go out and join the masses of people on the interstate, especially since I had NOT GOTTEN REGISTERED for a press pass on Sunday afternoon. I was supposed to get registered Sunday. I emailed the media rep for CHA a month ago to ensure that I would not be coming to Las Vegas for nothing.

(Note: Well, coming to Las Vegas would *never* be for "nothing," because Amy is my best friend as well as my sister and we are having a blast.)

I had an egregious factual error in an article last year because I wasn't walking the floor at CHA, and I was determined not to have that happen again. I exchanged emails with a lovely person named Kristin, and I was all set to register on Sunday afternoon.


That didn't happen. That's why I was so worried last night. A horrid little man stopped me at the door to the press room and yelled at me to go away. I said I was there to get registered, and he got snotty. I swear, if I knew his name, I would trumpet it to the far reaches of the earth. He was horrible and rude and mean, and for no reason. I wasn't arguing with him; I was being reasonable. If I had seen him again during the trade show, I would've gotten his name so I could tell everyone, "This little guy is a snotwad and a TERRIBLE representative for CHA."

Anyway, I knew that I would have to *get* registered once I got back to the convention center, so I took my time this morning. I think I finally got all my stuff and got out of the house at 9:50 or 9:55. It was slightly later than I intended, but it turned out to be to my advantage, because...

I got lost.

They changed the entrance to I15, I swear! I am not making it up! They took away a lane and there was a sign that said I15 North, and I knew I was supposed to go to I15 South!!! I dialed Amy's number as I pulled onto the first exit ramp for Charleston. Amy, of course, informed me that I simply could not have been on the Northbound lane if I got off at Charleston, and she guided me on the surface streets to Sahara Avenue. From there, I should have been able to go straight to my parking garage.

But no. I missed my turn and went around a block.

Then I missed my turn and went around another block.

Then I entered the wrong parking garage and drove around it, and then went around the block.


At least I didn't cry!!!

I finally found the correct parking garage and the correct entrance, and I parked. Then I gathered up my things and hit the stairs, walking through the Sahara's back entrance to the monorail station. Upstairs, there was no one waiting for the South bound train, and the announcement said that monorails run every nine minutes. I know it was running every six minutes on the weekend, so I was a *little* surprised. But then again, it's Las Vegas. That town is busier on weekends.

In a few minutes, I was on the Monster Energy Drink-themed monorail, a train that advertised a soft drink. It's equipped with TV monitors and videos. That was kind of different. A former cast member of the TV show "Jackass" advised me to go to all his favorite Las Vegas haunts -- bars, clubs, and tattoo parlors.

I didn't have time to dwell on what sort of tattoo I might get, because the convention center is the second stop from the Sahara. In no time at all, I was walking along with hordes of people going to the show. I immediately went upstairs to the press room, which I could find easily because I knew where it was, and a lovely woman registered me within about thirty seconds. It literally took no time at all. I got out my binder of clips -- you do know what clips are, right? They're tear sheets of one's published articles -- and she barely glanced at it. She took one of my business cards and laughed at my tagline. ("A fresh cup o' Freelance Writer" says my business card. I figure if a person doesn't get it, I really don't need to be writing for 'em.)

I asked, "What about press kits?" thinking that they would hand me a press kit. Oh, no. She pointed behind her.

The press room is a large room with round tables and chairs, an Internet cafe, and a food nook with a TV tuned in to CNN. All the other walls are lined with long tables, covered with press kits and marketing kits.

I knew that everyone had said that they get a ton of stuff for press, but -- man! That stuff is insane just in terms of volume!

The first thing I did was to transfer my press badge to my lovely badge holder, a leftover from last year's show. Thanks to Timeless Touches. I did this while talking to a lady who was one of the $20,000 craft contest finalists. OK, to be honest, she told me who sponsored the contest. And I know there was such a thing sometime this year. I just can't remember any of the details.

I had too many details going on Monday. Most of them fell out of my head.

I congratulated her and she said she hoped to find a ribbon manufacturer who wanted her endorsement. I sighed and wished her luck.

Then I started tackling the press kits, which took no small amount of time. I missed the white plastic bags on my first pass through, so I took stacks of notebooks and binders and overly-cute packages to a table for a while. I got one press kit that was in a large, purple, plastic bag -- one of the good gift bags with cord handles -- and I started stuffing press kits in there.

Food appeared, and I got a lovely roast beef sandwich with mustard and a Diet Pepsi. I grew up drinking Coke, and I somehow cannot make the Great Switch to Diet Coke. I guess I want Coke to taste like Coke. Having never been a big Pepsi fan, I don't expect it to taste like anything, so Diet Pepsi is just fine. (Of course, I prefer Diet Dr. Pepper, but hardly anyone ever has that.)

(Also, Pepsi products seem to rule the West. There are just more Pepsi drinkers out here, I guess, because it's hard to find Coke products.)

I ate my lunch while reading through press kits and trying to get a feel for what was out there on that massive floor. I also removed the giant map from the giant show guide (a book as thick as most Frommer's guidebooks) and marked booths of note in order to get my bearings. That map is a glorious thing.

While I was eating, a couple of people joined me at my table, and I commented on all the press kits and how I couldn't possibly carry them with me. The lady pointed out the stacks of bags near the front door, and she advised me to put the press kits in a bag and staple it in the middle with one of my business cards. Oh! I can do that! So I did.

Then I hit the show room floor -- and it did feel like I took quite a hit. The common areas outside the scrapbook product hall smelled glorious, and people had started taking lunchbreaks. There are so many people here that the floors were filled with people sitting and eating their lunches. All of the tables at the restaurants were populated by diners. As I passed the doors to go outside, I noticed the benches out there were filled, too. People already looked tired. CHA is a big old dang show!

And I walked. Oh, my goodness, I walked and walked. I had a lyric from the musical Godspell running through my head, "Watch me walk; I can walk and walk." Within a couple of hours, I knew I should have started with the other line from the same song, "I'll put a pebble in my shoe."

How can I describe this show? Big. Crowded. Stuffed full. Most of the things I saw are a blur.

Fortunately, I kept running into people I know. First I found Kelli and Kathi. I recognized Kelli from last year, but this was the first time I had ever met Kathi in real life -- finally!!! I have long admired Kathi's skill with punch art and her taste in die-cut machines is impeccable. She also has a *killer* sense of humor, and she helps me keep my Hebrew spelling correct. It was such a joy to see both of them!

Kelli wanted to go back to the press room -- she hadn't been there yet on Monday, so we went back upstairs so Kelli could start getting press kits. The moment I returned, I realized that someone had snuck around putting out a whole ton of press kits that had not been there when I was gathering them the first time. Oy, vey! I grabbed a white plastic bag and started gathering more things, cursing under my breath and wishing the manufacturers were restricted to one 8.5x5.5" piece of paper. The cutesy kits were bulky and irritating at best, and downright injurious at worst.

To be continued...


At 6/2/06 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woo-hoo! I'm famous!

I loved meeting you too after reading your wonderful articles and posts for years now!

The press kits were rather overwhelming in sheer quantity and size. If each company just supplied a simple piece of paper, you'd still have ended up with a very full binder.

I think you're a goddess for driving in Las Vegas. It's scary, what with the one way streets, maniacal cabbies, and those very, very weird advertisement trucks.

I can't wait to read the rest of your report, so hurry it up. :D


At 6/2/06 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh your Bay-ness, I *love* how you can take something ordinary and boring—driving to the convention center in Vegas and picking up press kits—and turn it into text that is glorious to read. You certainly are a fresh cup 'o freelance writer!!!


Post a Comment

<< Home