Friday, June 22, 2007

*Whew*!

What a day!! I am having a ball here, but I am staying busy!
I got up this morning around 7:30 and went down to the hotel's fitness room and walked on the treadmill. They had a huge TV and it was closed-captioned, so that was awesome...I got to watch TV while I walked! I grabbed some coffee and then went back upstairs, got showered and packed, and then went to the airport to pick up Laurie. Thankfully, I found both the airport and Laurie with no problems at all, and we got back to the convention center and parked in the parking garage *sigh* again. We're staying at the Marriott Renaissance but they only offer valet parking for 20.00 a day....no way, Jose...I'm having to pay for Internet and I refuse to pay for parking too! The parking lot is on one street, the convention center is on the next street over, and the hotel is on the street between them, so we have had to do very little walking. When we got to the hotel it was too early for us to check in so we went ahead and parked the car. After our first volunteer stint we went back, got our room keys, then walked over to the parking garage to get our luggage. On the way over there it started sprinkling, so we picked up the pace, and by the time we got to the garage it was pouring down rain so we both got soaked. We got our luggage and there was nothing to do for it but walk RUN back to the hotel in the rain, getting even wetter in the process. So, y'all, imagine us standing in the lobby of this ritzy hotel with our luggage, dripping wet. It was a scream! We went up to our rooms and got dried off then went back for another volunteer stint. We were overseeing the Silent Auction...basically we just stood around and if anyone had a question we answered it, if we knew the answer (which I didn't about half the time). We were right by the door of the exhibit hall so we got to yak at everyone as they walked in. I got to meet lots of people that I didn't know, and, Shari, I met Molly, who is SUCH a sweetheart!! :) It's easy to meet people...we all have huge name tags with our names in large print so it's easy to learn names :)
At 6:00 they closed the exhibit hall and we all went upstairs for the "opening ceremonies". Our keynote speaker was Mr. I. King Jordan, past president of Gallaudet University. He talked for about half an hour and it was a great speech :) Several other folks made a few comments and recognized different groups in the audience. It was very interesting: at every event, there was a huge screen at the front to watch, and it was close-captioned, then there were sign language interpreters. The interpreters aren't too far behind the speaker, but the captioning sometimes got quite a few seconds behind, and it was funny to notice that every time a speaker said something funny, there was usually a lag of a couple of seconds before the laughter hit, since quite a few folks were still trying to figure out what had been said (me included). I myself watched the huge, captioned big-screen. I told Laurie that it had to be distracting to be the one giving the speech...nobody would be looking at you....everyone looking at the screen!
After the speeches were done, there was a reception and we went to that for a while. We had our pictures taken with an authentic Indian (who had been an authentic cowboy just a few minutes previously ;) ). The reception was decorated with a Western theme...horseshoes, cowboy and Indian stuff everywhere...and the food was awesome. They had more Mexican food, so you know this girl was a happy camper :) They had a fella come in and entertain with some (captioned) stand-up comedy, and they were about to bring in the square dancers, but it was time for us to go to bed, so we left. We didn't get to spend a lot of time with Joyce today...we were busy with our volunteer stuff today, then tonight she went out with a group from Advanced Bionics for dinner, so we didn't see her at all. Maybe tomorrow! :)
When we left Tennessee, it was hot and mostly dry (it rained the day I left...the first real rain in weeks). It rained off and on quite a bit today, and the convention center has been freezing cold. I didn't come prepared for either cold OR wet, so I'm having to adjust!!
Laurie is conked out, and I'm about to follow suit. I've found that having a deaf roommate is interesting...I would normally be freaked out about waking her up bumping around the room in the middle of the night, but she can't hear a thing without her processors (I still have mine on) so I can make all the racket I like ;) Likewise, if she gets up early in the morning, I'll never know she's up, unless she turns the lights on (that's the only thing that will wake me up).
I think we're going to take it easy tomorrow...walk around downtown a bit....take in a few workshops...visit with more folks and make new friends. I am definitely going to take more pictures today...my camera has been in the bottom of a huge bag all day today...what a pain...and I just haven't gotten it out much. I'll post a few pictures tomorrow!
Going to bed....love y'all :)
<3

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