vacation files (or, where I’ve been for the past two weeks)

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Yes, friends and neighbors, I have finally returned from Florida, the land of eternal sunshine, waving palm trees and sweat-your-ass-off-five-minutes-after-a-shower weather. I meant to blog, really I did. Really. Except that there was the pool, and the lawn chair, and the couch, and the naptime…and then there was the work meeting and there just wasn’t very much time.

So. As you may or may not know, April 21 PVDD and I took off for Tampa. We’d been planning a trip there to visit his friends for a while, and just before I was going to make the reservations, I received a notification that I was to attend our nationwide annual meeting, located in Orlando. Which, of course, meant that vacation and work trip could be neatly combined, with the added benefit of having my plane ticket paid for by the company.

I did blog about the adventures in the airport, where my makeup was considered dangerous…but only until it was placed in a quart-size clear container, at which point it became mysteriously safe and benign. Mysterious are the ways of TSA. Truly.

We finally got to Tampa around 2 AM EST which wasn’t too late where we were coming from, but a whole day of travel will definitely take it out of you, so we ended up crashing out pretty early. Sunday and Monday were pretty relaxed, we hit a local bar where we could smoke INSIDE, and other than that we chilled (or sweated profusely) at the pool or hung out at the house. I worked for a few hours on Monday to justify not taking a vacation day, and then Tuesday we hit Seaworld. I took so many great pics that I am not even going to post all of them here.

Seaworld was frickin’ awesome, when I wasn’t being bitchy from hunger and sore feet. I loved the dolphin show, it was absolutely incredible. Dolphins and false killer whales (which, PVDD’s friend told me, are really in the dolphin family) and people swimming around in wierd costumes. It was awesome.

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The highlight for me was going on the roller coaster…two times. I wish I had the picture scanned of us on the roller coaster – I’m totally screaming and you can see my necklace levitating because of the zero gravity. I will get the scan of it and post it soon. It was awesome!

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We watched the sea lion show, went through the shark exhibit, watched a Cirque Du Soleil type show, watched the tail end of the Shamu show, and touched sting rays. We watched the dolphins underwater, fed the sea lions (ew slimy fish scales everywhere) and by the time we were done, I was exhausted. Well worth it though. Definitely the highlight of my entire vacation.

The rest of the week was quiet. We went for ribs, visited the dog park, hung out at the pool…in short, relaxed! Thank goodness. PVDD went home on Monday the 30th, and I stayed on so I could go to my meeting. The next morning, Tuesday, I went for my first ever pedicure. Can I just say that I will be getting many many more of those in the future? I think I will just go ahead and say that. Good god, it was awesome. I got a pretty pink color to match my dress (forthcoming).

The rest of Tuesday, my last full day on vacation, I hung out by the pool. The temps were terrifically hot and I was pouring buckets just sitting there. Eventually though, the day was over and it was officially back to work time.

Wednesday morning, the 2nd, PVDD’s friends drove me to Orlando. It was only an hour drive, and when we got there I was blown away by the hotel – the Gaylord Palms. I had been to the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, so I was somewhat prepared, but this hotel was just simply awesome. The whole interior is enclosed by a big glass ceiling, which I and others have affectionately dubbed “The Biodome”. Inside are pathways that wind around through lush vegetation, next to ponds, waterfalls, under bridges and through “stone” tunnels, and along storefronts. Some of the rooms overlook the interior of the hotel, and some overlook the parking lot. Guess which one I had. Of course I had the parking lot room.

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The company that I work for does kidney dialysis. We have over fifteen hundred clinics across the US, and once a year representatives from all the clinics, the billing/administrative offices, and the executive teams all get together for an annual meeting, called just “Nationwide”. Because there are over 2000 attendees, we all congregate in these huge hotel/conference centers which are, just coincidentally, amazingly plush. So that’s what I was doing in Orlando. My team had sent me in order to staff a “booth” of “experts” on our various internal applications. It meant early mornings but easy work, and a really fun time.

The first day was just an opening ceremony, and I was in bed by 10. The next day, Thursday, we had meetings all day. Now, I have a really really hard time with meetings. If I am participating or leading the meeting – no problem. But when I am sitting in a chair at a row of tables, along with 2000 other people just listening to people talk (and, incidentally I HAVEN’T HAD MY STARBUCKS FOR TWO DAYS because of course that is the ONE thing that this hotel didn’t have in it), well, then, I fall asleep. I jerked my head up just in time about three or four times. At least. Not that the content wasn’t interesting…it was just…well…I was tired.

Anyway, Thursday night was a group dinner with some awards and hula dancing, and I again took off early and passed out around 10:30. Friday was my party day. There was a keynote speaker in the morning, a guy named Kevin Carroll who I thought was totally amazing. He gave us all one of those rubber bracelety things, and these are translucent with just the word “Dream” on them. More about that in another blog.

Suffice to say, Friday I had no problems being awake. Friday night was our skit night, with a “Miami club theme” (whatever that is) and various groups did these amazingly complex skits. The time and energy people put into those things, even the bad ones, was just amazing.

I have to say that the company I work for is filled with some dedicated people, seriously. Later that night we had dancing and DJs, and of course this whole time we had free wine and beer, so by the time the dancing came around, you can bet your ass I was on the floor. For a while, anyway. After that I headed to the piano bar and smoked and drank vodka crans till I finally stumbled my way back to my rooms at 1:30 AM.

You can bet I got lost on the way, too.

Saturday morning, needless to say, sucked ass, but I was SO excited that the trip was almost over! Two weeks away is a long time.

I made it through, helped by the liberal application of early afternoon alcohol with a coworker and the discovery of a new game called “Sending it to Florida”. This game started when I got a drink with a big green plastic palm tree in it, along with a goofy looking strawberry. Well, of course, nothing would do but to set up a still life photo with the strawberry, into which the plastic palm tree mysteriously made its way.

We had “sent the strawberry to Florida”.

By the end of the day, we had sent the drinks, the parsley, the salt and pepper shakers several times, and a huge football shaped drink all to Florida. That evening was the awards banquet where I wore my aforementioned pink dress, and you can bet that we sent everyone to Florida in every pic we took. Somehow the plastic palm tree made it into pictures in the lower corner, over people’s shoulders, you name it. Anything that could be sent to Florida was damn well sent to Florida.

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My dress, now, that was fun. I found it at Ross for $12. It was TWO sizes smaller than the last dress I bought and was still a little too big (yes, I might have stopped blogging as much but I am still walking!) and was pale pink, knee length, and had black cherry pairs all over it. I thought it was so cute, but I could not for the life of me get a cute picture in it. I thought maybe it wasn’t as flattering as I had hoped, but people were telling me it looked better in person than in the pics. So I guess you’ll just have to take my word on that and try to get an idea from the pic I did get.

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Sunday morning, was, well, a day of flying. Orlando to LAX to Seatac, eight hours almost. I finally got my frist Starbucks in three days in the LAX airport. I waved at you, Kristen, Will, & nathan, as I was taking off. Really.

Also when I was in LAX, I got a call from my dad…my sis was in the hospital about to have her baby, and could I get to the hospital soon? Well, as a matter of fact, no. But I did head there after I had dropped off my luggage at home. I went and picked up the Kid and we went to the hospital to see my sister. The baby wasn’t born until last night, but I am now a proud auntie and will blog all about it soon.

All things considered, it was a rad trip, I have a great tan, but I am awfully glad to be home. Two weeks is a long time away from my babies.

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