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Monday, August 22, 2005
Nashville... Part 1

...Once upon a time there was a WhizGidget, and she loved to stitch. But there was something else she liked to do, and that was to meet the people that also loved to stitch. Being internet saavy, WhizGidget spoke with a lot of these people on the internet, and got to know them in a virtual sort of manner.

But something was missing. There were few faces and no voices to put with the names. WhizGidget remedied this by going to a get-together once in a while, and going to a local CATS show (a big cross stitch market/show).

But still, there were many many people that WhizGidget had not met, and then something called Nashville CATS came across WG’s desk... and all hope was lost.

Ok, I’ll end the fairy tale version here because I’m about to dose you with some serious reality. I had no idea how I was going to be able to make it to Nashville since flight prices were just outrageous from where I was coming from to where I was going to. And this pained me seriously, until my DH came up with some United frequent flyer miles that needed to be used – really, they were screaming to be used – by the end of June. And he handed them to me, and I asked could I, should I buy a ticket for me to Nashville?

And the answer was, well, that’s what I expected. But not quite in those words. So the trip starts with free tickets to Nashville. Since the only direct flights would leave Valley late in the day and not get me to Nashville until the darker hours of the evening, I decided that it would be smarter to have a stopover somewhere – even if I had to run to make the connection, I would be ok with this, as long as I got to Nashville sometime in the afternoon.

That was a big mistake. Or bad assumption, whichever you want to call it.

After saying a tearful goodbye to B, who had previously been ok with me going to Nashville after having crying fits about me going, I headed for the security line at SJC. And I found it. Then I followed it. And followed it. All the way to baggage carousel C. At SJC, that’s quite some distance. I had the misfortune to be behind a woman who was freaking out that it was 5:50am, and her flight leaves at 6:45am and that they’d never make it through the security line. Considering that we were already moving quite quickly through the line, and that the average wait time at SJC for the previous 3 weeks had been about 14 minutes, I figured we would be just fine and let her know that in a rather calm tone. She continued to freak out, even after I let her know that my flight takes off at 6:30am…

We finally clear security, and I find that she’s the very first gate past security and she’s freaking out until she sees her gate. She’s fine, it’s 6:25. I, however, am running to make the gate before they close boarding, because mine is at the end of the concourse. Thankfully, it’s a small concourse for SJC. I stow my carryon, land in my seat, and all is right with the world.

Until I land in Chicago, that is. Now, for those of you who are familiar with Chicago O’Hare, it’s really the pit of hell in the form of an airport. I had landed at Gate C5, and found the departure information quickly, and found that I had to run from C5 to gate B2 because I had to make my connection – which was about to start boarding in 3 minutes. And so I hustled. Across the concourse, down into the bowels of hell between the concourses and listened to the music that someone else tells me contains subliminal messages encouraging me to kill my mother (I would not be surprised to find that it’s true, considering the interesting neon that they had going on in there), and up the escalator to concourse B, and run down the length of that to get to the end. I stop, out of breath, turn on my phone and call DH to let him know that I’m in O’Hare, about to board, all is well, oh wait a second the flight is delayed never mind I’m going to go have a Chicago Dog. DH tells me it could be worse – when they change the flights like that with a delay, there could be a gate change, be glad there’s just a delay. A delay due to air traffic control in Nashville – and that’s the only answer I got – our plane was just not there.

After I get my dog and consume it in a record of 5 seconds flat and am considering grabbing fries from McDonald’s since I have the extra time, I find out that there’s now a gate change. I grab my items, and turn on the phone. And guess who I call? That’s right – the man who cursed my luck and mentioned the evil words of gate changes. And then I did it to myself. As long as I don’t get stuck here too much longer, I’ll be fine.

There’s something about Chicago O’Hare that puts me on edge, and I really can’t put my finger on it for all the time I spent there. How much time did I spend there? Well, I landed at 12:35…

By the time that I got to the new gate, which was (for those keeping track) gate C3 - yes, I had to go back to the original concourse, 2 gates down from where I LANDED – the flight time had changed again to 3:15. I got French fries and called DH to let him know that I’ll call him again if I end up sleeping in the airport. It is shortly after this call that I find out that Chicago has now been closed to air traffic because of weather – big bad thumderstorm weather that the news said was probably going to be around for most of the evening. Of course the person who was supposed to pick me up in Nashville confirmed that it’s just a band of weather and it would move. In all honesty, all I saw was rain, and I’ve seen planes in SJC take off in worse rain than that.

So I sit, and I walk around, and I do this several times. Each time I get up to take a walk, I find out that my flight time has changed. 3:45, 4:15, 4:25, 4:50… I give up taking walks. Then I use the bathroom and find out the new flight time is 5:10. I call Wendy, who is picking me up from the airport and let her know that if I don’t get out of here soon (and while I’m talking to her, the flight time has changed once again to 5:25), I’m going to have to consider new options – like flying into Memphis because those flights are taking off, or going home because there’s a flight that’s leaving in an hour, and I *could* make that flight. She tells me to stay right where I am, because I am not coming home – they'd drive to come get me if that was what it was going to take.

You know, Chicago would not have been even close to half as bad, if I had been traveling with someone. And the poor unfortunate souls who are stranded with me don't count as suitable company.

Luckily, after chatting with quite a few people, including a lady who came by and commented that my stitching was the most constructive thing that she had seen anyone doing while stranded in the airport, and an older couple that had been married for 59 years and dressed in the same shades of yellow and same styles of clothes, we finally were close to boarding. When the sign said two minutes to boarding, all of us who were heading for Nashville stood up. When the sign said one minute to boarding, we advanced into a line. When the sign said Boarding Now, we cheered. And then we waited. And waited. And waited some more because someone needed assistance off the plane, and they were working on a mechanical thing. We finally boarded at 5:45.

I finally made it into Nashville at 7:00, 4 hours after I was supposed to. It was ok – there was still light, but it had seriously cut into the time that I wanted to spend acclimating to the middle of the day weather there. I finally met Wendy (after three years of chatting with her), Kari (after a year of correspondance), and hugged both of them, including Stasha, who I had already met on a couple of trips to Utah. Now we were just waiting for Suz who unfortunately was also delayed by Chicago, but only because the plane she was supposed to be on was stuck there.

I called home when I got in, and I'll put up an audioblog after all of this is over to fully show you what B did when I called... it was sad and hysterically funny all at one time.

Back to the hotel where we were staying – 5 of us in 2 rooms – and a leisurely dinner, sharing the stitching, and sitting and stitching before we went to pick up Suz. At 11:30 at night. Thank goodness I was going forward a couple of hours and not backwards (poor Kari, who was on East Coast time)

That first night was very fun, and only was a harbinger of things to come in the following days. Kari and I retired to our room, where we stayed up talking for at least another hour about all manners of things - come on, we're sharing a king sized bed here - talking about stuff was nothing. I went to sleep a very happy person, and found that the 3 others were still awake, far into the night. I, however, needed to get up because they were sending me into market so I could scope things out for them. You know what they say about the best laid plans, right?

The next morning I'm up and ready to go, and head into the Market. I wander over to the Dinky Dyes booth and say hey to Jo and Laura, and collect my pin. Since I wanted to be in disguise for a short bit, I didn't put on my nametag – I really didn't wear it for a great part of the show either, but made sure I had it on for dinner. After getting my pin, I started making the rounds, and found the Dimples Designs booth. After a big hug from Terry, we chatted for quite some time while I browsed and drooled and bought some of the things that I was missing from my collection of his work. Love the mini-ladybugs folks – totally love them. They're going to look so great on my walls.

Anyway, I spent some time there, and some money, and moved along casually through the booths, trying to find the neat things to look at. And then I landed at Picture This Plus, and was looking through the fabrics carefully. I was watching one lady pull something out that was lovely, and I commented that it was too dark. After a moment, she looks at me, and then looks at my chest where my members badge is hanging. Turns out, it's Renee! We had a great laugh and continued drooling over the lovely fabrics that they had for us to see. I bought a lovely piece of Legacy from them, and obtained another (Mercedes) later in the show that I figured was going to be for Enchanted Mermaid, but now I'm thinking that it might be perfect for the new Mirabilia that's out there – and DH agrees. I was happy to pay full price to these ladies for their wares – they deserve every penny.

Shortly after Market opened to everyone else, I ran into Annette, her mom, Carosellz, swsheridan, and 1Terry, and we headed off for breakfast after I made a short phone call to Wendy to let her know where I'd be, since the group would be looking for me within the market. We met up with them on the way out, and made introductions all around. At breakfast – a coke and a croissant – I found out that Terry and I lived in the same area around the same time, and we know all the old haunts. Scarily enough, I suspect that we probably crossed each other's paths a couple of times unbeknownst to each other. I felt the world get really really small during that conversation, and it was great.

Upon going back into the Market, I found out that Wendy's head had exploded for all the beautiful stash that she saw just in the first couple of booths, since she doesn't have a local LNS, and was in heaven. We shopped a bit more before heading out to grab some lunch because a couple of us were feeling the effects of low blood sugar, and I warned the rest to not let me go hungry, else I'll turn into a really grumpy and bitchy person, and that they really didn't need to see that. Apparently, the time change worked in my favor – I had to get up at 7 that morning (which is 5 for me, and my normal wake up time) and lunch was at 1 (I usually eat around 11 or 12). Things were working out just fine.

I'm going to leave it at that for the moment, and we'll catch up with more adventures tomorrow... and it hasn't even begun to get funny yet.