Last weekend I went to the Lori Foster event where I hooked up with old friends and made some new ones. This year the event was bigger than ever with almost 300 authors and readers in attendance. As always, there just wasn’t enough time to spend with everyone. Of course, things could have been easier about actually getting to the event.
For example, I decided to break up the driving this year and stay in Beckley, WV. Now to get to Beckley, you have to take I-64 from Richmond to I-77. Since a couple of siblings live in Roanoke, I decided to call and meet up with them for dinner. Sounds good, right? Well it would have if I’d bothered to look at a map BEFORE I called my sister.
I knew that I-64 runs concurrent with I-81, but what I didn’t remember was that I-64 breaks away to the west from I-81 about an HOUR north of Roanoke. (Note to self – look at the frigging map before traveling, Monica) There I am southbound on I-81 and I see the signs for I-64 west. I frown and begin to wonder if I’ve made a mistake. (Okay, so I make a lot of those, but this past weekend was FILLED with mistakes.) Did I get my signals crossed? Roanoke can’t be too far out of the way. Nope, it’s only an hour away. Hooray, seeing the siblings isn’t that far out of the way.
As I breeze past the I-64 west exit, I suddenly have one of those Uh-oh moments. “Damn it! I have to come back up I-81 to get to I-64.” Can we say Dumb Blonde moment here? Now the brain starts churning, and I wonder if it’s worth the pain of annoying my family by calling to say, “um hey sis, I made a slight miscalculation in my directions.” I decide not to go that route. Besides, I’ve not seen them in about eight months, so if I’m that close I should stop.
Second Blonde Moment
I figure since the traffic’s light, an oddity for I-81! I can reach for the Lori Foster Event folder I made months ago to check drive times to Beckley. Have to adjust for side trip to Roanoke. OMG, where is it! Damn, damn, damn, I left the bloody thing on my desk. Now I have to contact the DH who isn’t happy with my less than usual organized self. So I get the exit number and phone number of the hotel in Beckley
Onward to Roanoke and a quick dinner before I head back the way I came to catch I-64 west. Now I have to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed my ride from Roanoke to Beckley. I had the windows down and the music blaring. My Escape was sooooo rawking. It could have been one of those boom box cars you see in movies where the car is bouncing off it’s rear end. About dusk I hit the West Virginia line, and as usual, I yell, “God, I LOVE those West Virginians.” Why you ask? Well in West Virginia the speed limit is 70mph, which really means you can drive up to
77mph (in editing this post 8 yrs later, I can honestly say that that it’s 79-80 Bwwwaaahahahahha) without too much risk of a ticket. In Virginia, I’d be handcuffed for going that fast. We’re SOOOO backward!
I arrive at the Fairfield Inn in Beckley around 11pm. Three young cuties are working the front desk and one of them says “Hey you need to call home; the DH wants to know where you are.” When I call home, the DH is not a happy camper. “Where the hell have you been? I’ve called you half a dozen times. Why didn’t you answer your phone?” Umm, did I mention I had the music blaring? It tends to drown out my Indiana Jones themed ring tone.
Third Blonde Moment
Now because I’m staying over in West Virginia, I’m guessing my trip to Cincinnati will only take me about 4.5 hours. So I stay up late doing some marketing and writing. Get to bed around 1am. I get up around nine and take my time getting my act together; after all, it’s only 8am in Cincinnati, right? That means I’ll still be there in plenty of time for the event. Finally I’m on the road and I’m booking along at 77mph when my phone goes off. It’s my uncle who lives in the area with a traffic update. He says to avoid I-275 because there’s a huge backup. So I suddenly think, I’ll just use my GPS device to navigate around…Oh for Pete’s Sake! I left the frigging thing at home! Where the hell is my brain? On drugs?? Well yes, but generally bipolar drugs make you happy and not forgetful.
I’m now debating whether to stop and pick up a new GPS device to keep in the car. We’ve talked about getting a second one so we’ve got one in each car. Reluctant to buy another device, I tell myself, the only way I’ll stop and spend $200 is if there’s a Best Buy right off the interstate. An hour later, there it is, that yellow, blue sign that says Best Buy. Naturally I miss the exit. So I tell myself if the next exit is a mile away I’ll go back. It was–the highway makes me so easy. I tracked back the way I’d come. (Does that sound familiar?) I figure since Cincinnati’s an hour behind, I’ve got time to stop at the Sears store too and pick up that oscillating fan I need for my office at home. Finally get back on the road about an hour later with the GPS set up on the dashboard.
Fourth Blonde Moment
Yes, I really was shooting for the Guinness Book of World Records. I really can’t say when it happened, but it clicked when I looked at the GPS unit’s arrival time. I’m looking at the speedometer and thinking, that’s not right. I’m only three and half hours away. I should be there by 4:30pm not 5:30pm. I ponder it for a moment before it hits me. I did this exact same thing last year. I thought Cincinnati was on CTS, but they’re not! They’re on my time, which is EST. Oy! Now I’m really pushing the pedal to the metal. Thank God Kentucky likes the 70mph signs, because I was doing 80mph.
Everything’s good until I hit I-75. Congestion and traffic the highway advisory signs say. Oh great. Fortunately, it’s not too bad, and I reach the outskirts of Cincinnati a little over an hour later. It’s now rush hour, but WAIT! I’ve got my handy dandy GPS unit, it will take me away (like Calgon) to roads that are less congested. OMG, soooo not happening. It took me another hour and half to get through traffic, little by ways, rude 4×4 truck drivers who can’t figure out that an out-of-state license plate might mean I really didn’t know two lanes would merge into one, etc., etc., etc. to reach the hotel at around 6:00pm. I was livid with myself! I have since made a note in next years appointment that Cincinnati is on the SAME time table as Richmond. *sigh*
Adventures In Attending Writer Conferences
Friday night was spent doing the rounds in the conference room saying hi to Chrissy, Marty and Angela from Samhain, Michelle Buonfiglio from Romance B(u)y the Book, with my friends from TwoLips Reviews (Kerin and Sue), plus L.A. Day, Diane McEntire and others. Challenged as I am with traveling you would think Kerin could have made a better choice in co-pilots. We’re driving to a restaurant we visited last year, and after about 10-15 minutes, someone says they don’t think we’re going the right way. Oh, look at the map! Well it says we’re going in the right direction. The gal who lives in Cincy says, “No, were not going in the right direction.” So we have to turn around, which isn’t easy to do on an interstate.
Now it wouldn’t be so bad if it were just our car, but we’ve got people following us, so Kerin’s phone rings and its Sue in car number two. We all know why she’s calling. So instead of talking to Sue herself, Kerin passes me the phone (coward). It’s an iPhone (I’ve GOT to get me one of these things!), which I’ve never used before and I’m not sure where the phone speaker is. So I’m doing the Verizon geek thing. Hello? Hello? Can you hear me? Hello? Kerin thinks I’m doing this on purpose and is laughing wildly. I keep on letting her think this.
Saturday night, rather than risk another wild adventure driving through the burbs, we go to the restaurant across the street where we’d gone the year before. Lucy Monroe was joining us for dinner, and I’d told her the restaurant was very quiet. Well it was last year. We walk in and I look at Kerin and say, “Are you sure we ate here last year?” “Well, I think so, but it doesn’t look the same.” It sure as hell didn’t, and it was a LOT louder than I’d led Lucy to believe. I’m so embarrassed I slink down to the opposite end of the table to hide. That and to keep from pelting Lucy with my loud voice. We’d not been sitting long when it was the deja vu. For the second year in a row, a waiter dumps food all over me! Last year it was spaghetti sauce, this year it was salsa. At least I got a free meal out of it! I didn’t let the mishap spoil my fun though. Instead I enjoyed Kay Stockham’scompany and met Amy Knupp, a major sweetheart, for the first time. We laughed like crazy.
Sunday was pretty much a no brainer. Traffic wasn’t too bad, although the cops were out in full force. I think the poor economy has them prowling for revenues. There was one amusing cop event. I’m barreling along at about 75mph and there are all these cars in front of me barely doing 65mph. I’m cursing their first born and I’m ready to whip around them, when the road curves and I see this SUV with the words State Police on it. I’m going OMG, I almost blew past that guy doing close to 80mph in a 60mph (this was in the Cincinnati burbs). So from then until the cop exited the interstate, I maintained a sedate pace and roared with laughter every time someone zigzagged their way around us slowpokes to fly up almost to the point of passing the cop then suddenly braking like there was a deer in the road. I got such
a perverse pleasure in seeing others do the same thing I’d done. Bwwwwwwaaaaahahahahaha
All in all, it was an excellent conference, and I’m looking forward to next year. Come join us, but be forewarned. You do not want to sit next to me at dinner.