I arrived in Cleveland around 7:30 PM, and AJ and Steph offered me wonderful hospitality, feeding me and refreshing me before the long drive ahead. Around 8:30, we were off again, and headed to Poughkeepsie, where we would pick up healing_coyote the next day.
Steph made a good traveling companion, actually, because she kept talking for the rest of the night, stopping only when I decided that we'd gone far enough. We stopped at a hotel in the middle of Pennsylvania for the night.
I'm not really the forward sort, so when presented with the option to grab two beds for a slightly higher price, I took it. In hindsight, I probably should have saved the cash and slept on the floor, or even attempted to simply sleep in the car at a rest-stop, but I didn't want to put Steph in any sort of uncomfortable situation, as I really didn't know her that well.
The next morning, we woke up and hit the small (actually, rather insignificant) continental breakfast the hotel provided. I was informed that I "didn't snore too badly", which made me wonder just what I was being compared to, and I think it was meant to be a compliment, but I don't really know.
Anyway, out we headed again, driving for Poughkeepsie. We were set to meet up with healing_coyote at around 6 PM, but we made it in much better time than that. We actually rolled into Poughkeepsie around 5 PM, and so had time to stroll around and wander down to the banks of the Hudson River. I'd never seen this river before, and somehow it struck me as just a bit magical, even though I knew it wasn't.
We trundled back into the station to await healing_coyote's arrival, and I called her cell phone. I got voicemail, and so I left a short message detailing that we'd meet her on the platform. Steph asked for a description, and I was suddenly left grasping for straws. How tall was she? Hell, I didn't know, I'd never measured her. What would she be wearing? Well, I didn't know that either. Eventually, I just said, "Look for a blond woman a bit shorter than me."
So we waited down on the platform, watching people get off. A number moved past us, but I didn't see healing_coyote anywhere. Finally, as the platform cleared, we headed back up to the top, Steph asking me if I could give her any better description. Noting that I couldn't, I figured I'd try calling her again. I hit the pay phone, dialing her number when I felt a tug at my sleeve. Steph was pointing at a girl coming up the way. "Is that her?" she asked.
Sure enough, it was, and she was weighted down with lots of stuff. Turns out that sarahdipity418 had given her a package to deliver, and so I got to open that while healing_coyote fought with the line at the women's restroom.
We headed back out to my car and added things to the trunk, and we were finally off to the high end of the Catskill Mountains.
On the way up, swinging through the now dark and twisty roads that lead from Poughkeepsie to the Conference in a light rain, Steph and healing_coyote joked about how I was taking my two women to a high, deserted mountain cabin, intent on killing them and leaving no trace. This was, after all, the kind of road trip that always lead to that sort of thing in the movies.
Finally, though, after dealing with poor drivers (one person who I was stuck behind for 15 miles who couldn't seem to go over 35 MPH), we arrived at the cabin, nary a wrong turn or lost moment. We pulled in around 8 PM.
Immediately inside, we headed into the kitchen, where most people had already arrived. Dinner was in process, having not yet been quite finished, and I found beautycorrosion and gave her a good hug, lifting her off the ground in an effort to make up for the wimpy-ass hug I gave her at Summerland.
Hugs all around, and I introduced healing_coyote, who lots of people hadn't met yet (Steph already knew a few and started making her way around before I could introduce her).
I asked if there was anything I could do to help with dinner, and was told shortly that there was not. Skip told me that this particular place and Conference would remind me of druidkirk's and Desert Magic Festival. By the end of Walking With Fire, I would have to admit that he was right, except for one thing: the hospitality shown was a step beyond, something I thought impossible before attending WWF.
We all sat down to eat, and talked about our various mis-adventures traveling, and about the location, and the weather, and all manner of other things. After dinner, we had some time to relax, and we talked for a while in the main room before we shuffled off to bed.
I had been given a room with healing_coyote, and so we headed down together to get some sleep. At this point, I was far too tired to stay up any later than midnight, after the long trip I'd endured that day and the night before. I headed down to my room with healing_coyote, fully intending to fall asleep faster than I ever had before.
Instead of falling asleep, though, healing_coyote and I crawled into bed, and spent the next four hours having the best slumber party ever.
Yes, you read that right. We talked, we laughed, and we just had fun. I haven't had the chance to talk to anyone like that in years, and the only way to describe it is if you think back to a slumber party you had as a kid with a really close friend, that was exactly what happened.
When beautycorrosion woke us up the next morning, we were dead tired. We had woken up early enough for a quick breakfast (the spread of food was simply amazing), and moved off to the first workshop.
(More to follow. I haven't finished this review, but this is a start.)