Dear readers – meet my posse. My gals (+ one of our adorable Aug96 kids who are the reason we are together).
Meet my family.
Front row l-r: Cricket, Simone, Virginia
Second row: Mary, me, Lisa P, Dusty, Linda, Katie (Dusty’s mom) & Lisa B
Back row: Angie, Kar, Tandy & Frances
We met online in late 1995 – 15 years we’ve shared our lives together in the virtual world. We’ve been through everything that you can imagine happens to folks in that time span.
Since 1998 we have gathered every year in some spot in the U.S. since the majority of us live here. A few are overseas. This year, that lovely lady in the front row center caused us to change our routine a bit. Instead of meeting the second weekend in October in Santa Fe New Mexico (in our geographic pattern we were due for a central US location this year), we met this past week in Las Vegas because Simone was planning a trip up from Tasmania. Tasmania! Naturally being so far away she had not yet met many of us. A couple of our families had been lucky enough to travel Down Under and visit with her family, but this was her first time to the US. So we changed our plans to match hers. That brought a few more to the gathering than originally had planned. Including our lovely Frances who had moved back to her native England several years ago. So we had a few continents represented this year!
This trip is the highlight of my year.
Along with me, the three ladies immediately to my left in the photo have attended every reunion. I can’t imagine not going. It’s not always been the best for me financially, but I find a way (with a little help sometimes. My Sweet Prince knows how important this is to me and always makes sure I can go). The timing at work one year was horrendous, but I put my foot down, brought my laptop, made myself available for phone assistance and ended up getting the boss at that time to pay for the group’s Sat night dinner.
I didn’t sight see this year near as much as I did last year in DC :-) I did take several ladies around in my car and I had a fabulous time taking my roommate Tandy, Linda & Angie to the NYNY hotel & the MGM Grand so that they could gamble, see lions & ride the roller coaster – after we all split a half dozen Krispy Kreme donuts of course. Yeah, I’m evil ;-) I partook of a few jello shots myself.
We did take a great tour one night – City Lights it was called and it was a 5 hour bus ride with a few stops including the Stratosphere Tower, Bellagio for the fountains, the Welcome to Las Vegas sign & then downtown for the light show there. Though I had done all those things in the past, I thought it was the perfect way for those new to the city to hit the highlights.
As always, Linda had us eating at just the best places every day. She does not travel withou her Zagats & a local city guide book & is an expert at surveying the tastes/needs of the group, choosing a place & then calling to make sure we can get in. Then she gets directions. I have no clue what we would do without her!! We had Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese & Italian and it was all delicious. She even wisely looked at the schedule for the bus tour, figured we would need food and orchestrated a sandwich order for the whole group to take with us. Other riders were quite jealous :-)
We stayed in a resort just next to the strip that Simone found. The rooms were literally condominiums with full kitchens stocked with every pot, pan, glass, and utensil you would need to cook all your meals. All appliances too! So we all ran out to various stores the first day & bought snacks & adult beverage mixes. The popular drinks were a Bucket O Margarita mix with some Tequila & my special Grey Goose & Sprite mix (the key is 2/3 Grey Goose) ;-) This allowed us to relax and do what we really gathered together to do – TALK! There were several monster gab fests in the room I shared with Tandy. No – we really do not sleep much on these trips.
I got to learn upon a tv show called Pawn Stars. Cricket, Linda & Tandy apparently watch all the time so we went out on an excursion the pawn shop where it is filmed somewhere between the Strip & Fremont Street. We got to see one of the guys from the show (Chum-ley) and Tandy ended up buying herself a lovely pearl ring from there. I must say that was one pretty fantastic pawn shop! They had championship rings from every major sport along with Olympic medals and art work and just about every darn thing you could think of. The gals would see a piece that had been on the TV show and whip out their cameras. While we were there, a potential seller was being filmed with some kind of very old looking official documents. I’m now curious enough to try & catch the show because I want to know what those were!
A word about my roommate. Can I just say that I pretty much struck platinum when I rolled the dice & agreed to share with her back in Seattle on that first trip in 1998? PLATINUM. We get each other at every level. We don’t see the world *exactly* the same (which is a good thing), but it’s close enough sometimes to be scary. Naturally she lives about as far away from me as possible in the lower 48 – Portland Maine! So we only get to see each other this one time a year & I am selfishly so glad that I get double time with her. Even after the others leave we often still sit up & talk. I swear I am going to figure out a way to dye a streak in my hair like hers! I can’t get away with one in front like her, but maybe underneath, at the neckline..just one stripe that I can cover at work as needed?
Anyhow…it was a fabulous 4 days. I loved hearing about the trips that some smaller groups took to the grand canyon, hoover dam & red rock canyon. Their photos are stunning & I can tell they had a blast. Simone & Frances did almost every tour & show we had planned definitely getting the most out of their long flights here. Oh, and watch out if those two get their hands on one of those 3 foot long Margarita drinks! You *will* laugh until you your cry and can’t breathe!
At the last breakfast before I started on my drive back, Mary asked those of us still there what our favorite thing had been on the trip. I was much too tired to focus & totally punted by saying it was just being with everyone. Sitting in our room, sipping our various drinks & talking. But Mary, since I know you will read this – I figured one out as I drove home and replayed the memory tapes in my head.
Tuesday night on the City Lights tour when we stopped downtown (Fremont Street) several of us had decided we wanted to go in to the place with the 99 cent fried foods & the real coin slots. After choking down some fried Oreos (horrid really, there is a reason the ones at my local fair are $3) & fried Twinkies, Tandy sat down to put in her one dollar of quarters into a machine. Well wouldn’t you know it – on something like coin #3 she hit a $10 payout! 40 quarters came clanking out making that ching ching ching sound that you know so well. Well, I tell you, I will always remember that giggle she unleashed when it happened! She was giddy like a kid scooping up those quarters & just reveling in that sound. We got her the traditional crappy plastic cup for her to carry around her winnings and there was NO ONE happier in that place. THAT was my favorite moment of the trip.
Until next year ladies! Here’s a few of my favorite shots from my own camera & also some of theirs