I spent the first three nights of my week in the Adams Mark hotel in Dallas as the conference hotel was booked soild. This was the view out of my window:
After my embarrassing incident with the pancakes (see here for the full story) I decided to go out and explore Dallas. Being a Londoner, I decided to take a stroll and got some very odd looks. That was a big difference between central London and downtown Dallas - where were all the people? Probably sensibly hidden away somewhere with lots of air conditioning. London is busy, busy, busy in comparison to the bits of Dallas I saw.
It was cool for Dallas - around 85 degrees - but it was humid. I kept forgetting to prepare myself for the change when I ventured outside. It was like being wrapped up in an invisible, warm, foggy blanket the second I walked out of the door of my lovely cool hotel. I walked down to the JFK memorial near the grassy knoll and wanted to visit the 6th floor museum, which commemorates his life and death, but it wasn't open until noon so I got the DART train (a bit like a tram) back to my hotel, picked up my notebook and decided to find somewhere to eat and write nearby. I ended up in a shopping centre with an ice rink in the middle and ate salad and watched people practising their spins and jumps as I forced a thousand or so unco-operative words out of my pen.
After a couple of hours I decided to wander over the Hyatt Regency, where the conference was being held, and register. I got my name badge with a couple of ribbons to attach - a green one for being a RITA finalist and an orange one for being a first timer (nice colour combination!). I realised after I'd seen a few other conference attendees that I was supposed to put the silver RITA-shaped pins on my name badge. Other people were bedecked with lots of badge "bling" - pins from former conferences, RWA chapters and RITA and Golden Heart wins and nominations. Harelquin Romance/M&B medicals author Matrion Lennox had so many of the RITA pins on hers (of both colours) that she had to start putting them up the string round her neck! I'm surprised she wasn't dragging it round!
I was supposed to meeting Trish Wylie for dinner, so I checked to see if she had arrived yet - she hadn't (as the week wore on I started to realised that Trish operates in her own personal time zone. I can say that now I'm home because I am no longer within slapping distance).
The lift ride (translation = elevator), which only takes 68 seconds, was in a glass lift that shot up the outside of the tower. I'm not bad with heights, but my knees got all tingly and I had to take a step back as we neared the top. I got some great pictures from up there.
At six o'clock, when I still couldn't find Trish or her room mate Jenna Bayley-Burke I decided to admit defeat and tramp back to my hotel. However, only a short hour later I was on the train again to meet them for drinks and dinner at the Hyatt. Jenna intorduced me to the joys of margharitas, bless her little cotton socks. Yummy. Just the one mind, I don't want to all to think I was pickled when I got back to my hotel room.
I'd only met Trish in the flesh once before and Jenna never, but we had chatted online and it was great to discover we all got on like a house on fire and laughed our way all through dinner at the cafe inside the Hyatt and afterwards back in their room, where Trish made me blog for the PHS. I returned to my hotel ready to sleep and get stuck into the start of the activites the next day.