Tuesday, June 26, 2007

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Saturday :)
I got up around 7 AM and went downstairs to the treadmill for half an hour (I hate treadmills...so boring!), then I went upstairs, got showered, and kind of poked around getting ready. Laurie was up and at 'em that morning and was dressed and ready to go when Mike and Joyce knocked on the door to invite us to breakfast. I, however, was nowhere near ready to go anywhere, so I told them I'd meet up with them, and then dashed around getting ready. I made it downstairs about 20 minutes later and loaded up my plate from the yummy breakfast buffet. I asked for coffee and was presented with an entire pot and a pitcher of cream...ah...that's how to do breakfast! We sat and talked for a little while and then walked over to the exhibit hall to check on Laurie's silent auction bids and be sociable for a few minutes. Mike had afternoon plans but we all wanted to go see the OKC Memorial (my pictures of it are in the below post) so we decided to get going and check it out so Mike could get back. We were standing at the trolley stop when Norm came strolling by so we asked him to come along with us. We all took the trolley a few blocks further downtown and checked the memorial out. It was a beautiful spot...very well designed, very symbolic, very peaceful. Go check out the link: there's a lot of information and more pictures there. We were probably there 45 minutes or so before we had to head back towards the convention center.
When we got back Mike left us to go man the Advanced Bionics booth, and Joyce, Laurie, Norm, and I decided to go find lunch. First we stopped at the coffee shop where I'd gotten my coffee the night before...Laurie had lost her camera and we hoped that it would be there. We were relieved when we found it! The kids that worked there had taken a few pictures of themselves as mementos...ha! From there we went to the Spaghetti Warehouse and sat down to a nice lunch. The restaurant had a train car in the center of the room and we got to eat our lunch inside. Since I had eaten way too much breakfast (and had too much coffee, if there's such a thing), I opted for a salad and a bowl of Italian Wedding Soup.
From there we walked to a jewelry store in Bricktown that we had been to the day before. The owner of the store's mom creates beautiful turquoise jewelry and Laurie had fallen in love with a particularly stunning piece at the Silent Auction. We talked to the store owner for a while to see if his mom could make Laurie one just like the one at the auction. When we left he pressed our hands warmly and bid us all a "safe journey". That was typical of the OKC residents we met: they were all friendly and warm and made us feel right at home.
When we left there we walked around Bricktown just a little longer then headed back to the convention center for ice cream. All day long, people had been asking Laurie and me if we were going to the banquet that night. We hadn't bought tickets for it when we registered, and since they were 75.00 apiece, we decided that we'd just go out to dinner instead, although we felt bad about missing the fun. As it turned out, though, while we were standing in the convention center yacking, we managed to snag a couple of tickets for a great price (one of them was free, and we shared the cost of the other one), so we ended up being able to go after all, which was a good thing: it rained cats and dogs that night, and if we had gone out to eat, we would have been soaked to the skin all night long!
The banquet was fun...we sat at a table with people we didn't know, so we got to meet more people (in my book, always a good thing). The man next to me seemed to be both alone and completely deaf, and I didn't know any sign language, so we didn't talk a lot, but he was friendly to me and allowed me to help him when he was having a hard time making himself understood to the servers. I am determined to learn sign now; there are some people that are completely dependent on it for one reason or another, and I want to be able to talk to EVERYBODY! :) There were several interesting people at our table, and I enjoyed getting to know them all a little better :) I got a chance to meet Mr. Wayne Roorda, who is an IT Specialist in New Jersey. He and I had a spirited talk about computers and cochlear implants (he has an Advanced Bionics Harmony, too, and we were comparing notes). While we were talking computers he said that it's not uncommon for him to get 4 to 5 HUNDRED e-mails a day. Oy...as much as I love my computer, I can't imagine having to plow through that many e-mails!!! The lady on the other side of Laurie also didn't hear well at all, so our communication was fairly limited, and the other ladies around our table were just about too far away to make communication comfortable, especially since the room was quite loud, but everyone put in the effort to get acquainted and we had a good time.
We were entertained by the Oklahoma Fancy Dancers. I honestly didn't think I'd be much impressed by them, but they turned out to be terribly fascinating to watch. One dancer in particular, a Comanche Indian named Kevin Connywerdy, caught my attention; first in his incredible costume, and then with his dancing. He did a dance with five hoops (another website that has a few pictures of him to check out) and, suffice it to say, if I tried it I'd get myself killed in the process. I was amazed at his agility and grace. The food was good, the company was excellent, and I'm SO glad we went! :)
We said good-bye to Joyce and Mike at the banquet. It was sad to leave them....we had really enjoyed spending the time together...but Laurie and I decided that we're going to see them again, hopefully sooner rather than later, so it wasn't so much a "good-bye" as a "see ya later" :)
We went up to our room afterwards so Laurie could finish a shawl that she was knitting. A lady named Barbara had admired another shawl that Laurie was wearing, and asked Laurie to make her one, and coincidentally, Laurie had just what the lady was asking for upstairs....it just needed finishing. Barbara and her friend Pati, both OKC residents, came up to our room and visited for a few minutes while Laurie was finishing it. They were both incredibly friendly and sweet...again, as I've said, just another example of the hospitality that we found everywhere we went in OKC.
Laurie and I ended up staying up late looking at pictures and talking and packing...we didn't get to sleep until around 2 AM. Laurie had won two of the silent auctions and was packing them up to take home. One of the auctions she won had two identical Starbucks coffee mugs (y'all know how much I love coffee mugs) and two bags of Starbucks coffee (the best there is, ya know?). Laurie gifted me with one of the mugs and a bag of coffee and said that whenever I drank my coffee I should think of her, drinking her coffee at home from her identical mug!! (I just finished a cup, Laurie, and I thought of you!)

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