Yeah, that's the brief summary. I didn't buy nearly as much as I did in previous years, but this is also the first year that I had to be concerned with fitting it all into my suitcase to get it home again. Not picture: 8 oz of Jacob roving, 10 oz of carded silk, and some spiffy hair-on leather samples that my sister in law hooked Daven up with. Above are 2 skeins of sock yarn from Creatively Dyed, 3 Bugga from The Sanguine Gryphon and one from the stall next to Tess Yarns after I got irritated with the stupid crowd and lack of pricing at the Tess booth and wandered off. Really. Prices are awesome. They apparently had little handouts, but they didn't post them anywhere. We didn't have prices on the corsets, but that was because they were bloody expensive and we also didn't have a hundred people trying to buy stuff from us all at the same time. Post your damn yarn price lists. I don't care if you take those handouts and frame them and put them around the booth, just have them out. Sheesh. /rant off (Also, apparently most of their yarn was soaking wet. Ew.)
Now for the long version of the trip. Daven and I were going to be flying out to DCA on Thursday, May 5th, and flying back Tuesday, May 10th. Due to Daven getting ill, I ended up going on this little journey without him. :( I missed his company, but illness + 4 hour flight = worlds of suck. I was very pleased with Frontier, as they gave him a credit for the flight, which he can use anytime in the next year. That, and the long leg room and free cookies on the flight really make them my favourite airline.
So, after determining that Daven could drive me to the airport, but go no further, I checked in and got to the gate, to find a delayed flight. Of course it was. At least that gave me plenty of time to call the airline and get the above credit. I'd not eaten much that morning since I knew that the terminal I was going to had a sandwich shop I really liked...and when I went to it, it seemed to be closed for renovations. 3 strikes against the day; I was pretty grumpy by this point. As if the world could tell that I was about ready to smack someone, this really awesome little old couple came and sat next to me, and I ended up chatting with the husband a bit. (This was a recurring theme: I've gotten a lot friendlier and better at random interactions than I was before I moved out here.) Later, when finally boarding the plane, the husband waved cheerfully and held out his hand for a hand bump, which amused me a great deal and perked me up. Also, I had acquired pretzels to eat 9 at a time on the advice of HappyGoth in the effort of generating better luck. I took it as a good sign when the plane had a bison as the mascot critter, and that he was named Thunder. Just smile and nod and accept that it made me happy. :)
Aside from the pretzels and the free cookie, I had some dried fruit and nuts...this became relevant when the flight finally landed and I eventually made it to my friend's end of the Metro system at 19:30...when I'd last had a meal at about 07:30 and was super loopy. Food was found, I discovered that I've become a beer snob, and after a lunch with D, I got to see H after she got home from an audition. Giggling and chatting went late into the night.
At this point, my body lost its damn mind and started waking me up at ridiculous o'clock every day of my visit. There wasn't a day that I was out there that I wasn't awake by 06:30 or earlier, even if I could convince my body to stay in bed until 08:30 a couple of times. This is relevant when you take into account the fact that I was suddenly 2 hours ahead of my normal schedule, and I do not have the habit of waking up at 04:30. So, that was exciting.
Friday, we went to Trousseau, my favourite bra shop, with a gaggle of girls. H and I met Jennie and HappyGoth there, who had driven up from Georgia for the weekend, as well as meeting up with Eva and Vail for bra shopping shenanigans. Jennie and HappyGoth ended up in one fitting room, and H & I ended up in another, with the other ladies in their own rooms. The store had prepared and ordered bras in the correct size for our group members, so there was a pretty good selection. I think I tried on every bra in the store in my (varied) size, and everyone came away with at least 1 bra, if not more. Since we are Good Customers (TM), we then got free truffles and toddled off to a tasty lunch at the dive Mexican joint just down the road, where they serve the best mango daquiris ever.
After The Adventure (TM) of going from one end of the beltway to the other in the beginnings of Friday rush hour traffic, we regrouped at H&D's place before heading out to see Jonathon Coulton, with the opening band Paul and Storm at the Birchmere. We ran into our friend Greyloch there, along with his herd of ladies, and I was thrilled to find my friends Alicia and Sean were also at the show. I drew them into our group, and we cheerfully drank too much and laughed too loud at the show. I must admit that Paul and Storm were a bit more fun than Mr Coulton, but it was still a damn find show. My favourite moment: Paul and Storm were performing "The Captain's Wife's Lament", which involves a lot of audience participation in the form of shouting ARRRR! when prompted (or when not prompted, as it turned out). Well, after one too many impromptu ARRRR, one of them (can't remember which one) looked pained and was trying to remember his place and said "Please...shut the fuck up." For whatever reason, having a musician telling a crowd to STFU cracked me up. After the show, we got back to H&D's without incident and all crashed hard.
Saturday, I woke up at my new "the sun is up, and so am I and I have no idea why this is happening to me" wake up time. The GA girls had brought a few bags of bagels, so rather than messing with going out for breakfast, those were consumed, and we were off to Sheep and Wool! Amazingly, we missed the worst of the traffic (aside from a bit where a bus managed to get really badly stuck, but we were nearly at the parking lot by then) and started collecting people. To recap, we came with H&D, myself, Jennie and HappyGoth. At the entrance we ran into my friend M, who I hadn't met in person before, but had chatted with online and via text a lot whilst she was deployed. Further additions over the course of the day were Dave and Britt, who I was the best man in their wedding last May, Greyloch, his wife and Sarah their NZ friend. Then there was Bald Scott, Kendra, and much later in the day, Alicia and Sean again. Also, HappyGoth met an online friend of her's at the show, so we were a jolly little amoeba. When approaching the main vendor hall, most of our raiding group got frightened off, and we went in with 6. Then somewhere along the way, we lost half of them, and I dragged Britt and Kendra down one side of the hall before we got overwhelmed by the TEEMING MASSES and fled to the outside world.
Whilst going off to meet up with the larger group under a tree (this is not the best description, btw), I had a very cheerful short woman bounce up to me and proclaim "I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!" "Oh?" "You're Dragon*con Goddess from The Devil's Panties!" "That'd be me." Jennie had posted a comic the week before mentioning that we were going to be at the show, so this lovely young lady had printed said comic out and was running around looking for us. Since Jennie had forgotten her Flamey Boots of Doom (TM), and I was wearing those, along with a Utilikilt, I was acting as Jennie's stunt double. Her very large stunt double. I managed to attract at least 5 people who asked if I was Jennie, and were varying degrees of disappointed that I was not. Anyway! Beth, the fan, followed us to Jennie, despite the fact that I was confused by the directions I was given, so was being fearless leader going the wrong way. Enh. We found them eventually. Beth was very nice, and as we related a bit of the bra adventure, I referred her to Trousseau's, since she was busty and displeased with her normal bra shopping experience. I spread the good word of pretty bras for busty chicks. :)
Once more, we split up, and via text message it was relayed that the group as a whole was going to meet up down at the sheep dog show...except I had no idea where that was, got lost, hadn't eaten enough (again) and lost my damn temper by the time I found them. As a note, honesty is the best policy, but when you respond to "Are you OK?" with "Not really, no.", people get a little upset. Water was taken in, as was some more food, and by the time I no longer wanted to kill people, the herding dogs were done. Oops. More shopping happened, then the new tradition that we started last year of heading off to the Mongolian Grill for much food. A quick stop for some booze after that, then when we got back to H&D's with Dave and Britt in tow, Jennie and HappyGoth headed off to Baltimore to visit their respective families for the evening. The rest of us sat around and drank and chatted until there was a general face planting from exhaustion.
Sunday had been full of plans...but we scrapped 'em and just sat around the house chatting. This was a nice downtime after the "scheduled to the gills" of the prior days. Eventually, once both Jennie and HappyGoth had returned from their trip north, we headed off to our dinner reservation at Marrakesh in downtown DC, meeting Eva and her boy there. It was a fantastic dinner, with incredible food and fun company. Yay!
Monday involved the GA girls heading off back southward whilst H&D headed back to work. The girls ran a little late, so we were able to chat for quite a while before they drove me down to the other end of the beltway so I could have lunch with a few of my former SEC coworkers. That was an interesting lunch, and their stress levels were palpable. Oy vey. After lunch with the guys, I wandered the Metro system down to the National Mall, ended up at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial and continued my tradition of nearly bursting into tears and calling my dad to tell him how glad his name wasn't up there, even if some of his buddies' names were. I still remember the first time we came to DC, when I was 15...when he pointed out their names was the first time I ever saw him cry. Since then, he's told me a lot more of their stories, including a young man who was barely over 18, and who found out when he was deployed that he was a father...but never made it home to meet his daughter. See? Tears. Looking at the names, knowing that every one was a story; a life cut short...It is always an emotional thing for me to head to the monument. Just to lighten the mood, after I'd gotten off the phone with my dad, I was sitting and staring at a half-drained duck pond (the reflecting pool is also drained for work), and a family walked by. Their 3'ish looking daughter looked at me and her eyes lit up..."Look, Mommy! A cowgirl!" As I was wearing my crushable leather cowboy hat (now that I live in CO, I have grown to love hats), I tipped said hat to her and grinned. After that, I chatted on the phone with Daven for a bit, then I met H at the metro, and we did her commute home together. Dinner that night had Dave and Britt join us again for some awesome Indian food. Since I was lamenting that the previous year on my birthday I hadn't had any cake, H&D and I took a little side trip to a Harris Teeter, where we bought the most ridiculous cupcakes ever. The frosting was taller than the cakes, and they just were terribly disappointing. I'd also grabbed a giant truffle, because, wow, giant truffle! That, too, turned out to be not too great, as the chocolate genache inside of it was too rich, so we just ate the shell off of it and called it a night.
My phone, provided for scale. This was silly.
Tuesday, my flight didn't leave until after noon, but I got up at 06:00 and H and I headed to her office. I left my bags there, we hit a diner called "Lincoln's Waffle" that was right across the street from Ford's Theatre for breakfast, and I ended up wandering down to the Mall again to sit and people watch from 09:00-11:00. I was reminded that I was totally not used to cities when I noticed a helicopter that was circling right over my head...28 times. I was fully into the "WTF?" zone, then noticed that 5 minutes after it stopped circling, Marine 1 (the helicopter version of Air Force 1) took off from the White House and it all made sense. I was sitting in front of the Smithsonian Natural History museum, so it was reasonable that the damn copter was going over and over and over my head.
The rest of the trip home was pretty uneventful, aside from the TSA agent wishing me a happy birthday, and I was very happy to see my (fully recovered) husband, drink some damn good local beer and go home to a very happy puppy and kitty who had apparently missed me. Then, two days later, my yak had a baby, BUT THAT WILL BE A DIFFERENT POST.
Ta da! Long version. If you got all of the way to the end of this, gold star for you!