The day dawned bright and early on Saturday morning, as Val and The Pony prepared to hit the road for the All Write Now Writer's Conference. Actually, that cliche must be amended to the day dawned early, because it was definitely not bright when we left the homestead.
I asked Hick to set the alarm (he needs to do SOMETHING to pull his weight around here while I am tied up with drinking 44 oz Diet Cokes and eating Super Nachos and fiddling around on the innernets) for 4:30. Then I said I needed to be up a little before 4:30. So he woke me at 4:27. Technically correct, though not what I had in mind.
I showered and woke The Pony and prepared our breakfast of two boiled eggs for me, and one for The Pony. Don't you worry about The Pony's feeding habits. He was planning on McDonald's a half hour later. We packed up our slush pile papers and our conference schedules and hit the road. We took that winding pig trail that Hick had his hissy-fit about last weekend. The sky was all pinky-purple beautiful, but I cautioned The Pony not to look! He was driving, you know, and we had light fog that was keeping his windshield wipers busy.
On the 13 miles of bad road that we got onto after the pig trail, we crested a hill and saw a deer standing in the middle of the road staring us down. It wasn't a big deer, but neither was it a little Bambi fawn. A small buck, maybe a 4-pointer, that ambled on across as The Pony hit the brakes. "They kill people, you know." The Pony agreed. Nobody wants a 100-pound animal crashing through the windshield, crushing your cervical vertebrae.
The Pony is, for the most part, a much-improved driver. He's good on the highway, having logged many miles between Backroads and Oklahoma. On twisty two-lane blacktop, however, he chooses to drive slowly on the straightaways, and accelerate in a curve. We made it to our pickup point without major trauma. A man wandered along the right shoulder, making a move to cross in front of The Pony to head for the truck stop McDonald's where we were picking up blog buddy Sioux.
"Brave man walking!"
The Pony agreed. He got us parked, and I went inside to make use of the facilities while he bought himself a sausage biscuit meal. As we walked out, I saw Sioux pulling into the lot. She came to The Pony's car carrying a cooler. I figured she might be serious about that "have a drink right before the pitch" advice she's been touting all over the Blogosphere. I didn't mention it, though, because Val never wants to be the reason somebody is pushed off the wagon. Or ON the wagon.
The Pony was already sitting behind the wheel, having strapped on the ol' feedbag. Sioux said she was going inside, so I gave her directions to the most important room in the building. The Pony continued to chow down on his second breakfast.
"You can always trust the bathroom habits of moderately-aged women to give you time to eat."
He considers himself a bit of a philosopher, it seems.
Sioux returned momentarily, and we all buckled up and took off down the highway, headed for adventure. The ride passed quickly, only an hour and five minutes. The Pony had us at the conference location by 7:20. He parked the Rogue and declined to walk inside with us, saying he would be following in a few minutes. It can't be that he was hoping not to be seen escorting a couple of moderately-aged women, do you think?
I made use of the 1st floor facilities, planning to meet The Pony in front of the elevator. Sioux took off up the UP staircase to check in for her volunteer duties. Always a giver, our Sioux. I think she may have been hoping to dress up in a dog costume, but they put her to work in her regular clothes behind the registration table. The Pony was sitting (okay, lying) on the padded bench in front of the elevator. When some people came in, he sat right up. Maybe he DOES care about people and what they think if him.
A blond lady who looked vaguely familiar and seemed somewhat official smiled at me and said, "Are you going to win again this year?"
"I don't know. It's always hard to repeat, heh, heh." How else was I supposed to answer that? Inside, I was thinking, Why not just put a hex on me, lady? Jinx me, why don't you? Because that's not the kind of thing I'd ever ask anybody, even to make small talk, though I might wish them well and comment on their previous win. I'm sure she meant well.
Jinx turned back around and looked at the elevator, as did the other handful of men and women who had trickled in. Seems they were bigger rubes than The Pony and I, since he had to tell them, "I think one of you might want to push the button." A man did, and the doors opened up. I was shocked that The Pony had HELPED PEOPLE!
We waited for the elevator to come back down. Which didn't take long, because The Pony pushed the button. Once we hit the 4th floor, Sioux handed out our conference folders and took our slush pile papers. We went into the ballroom, and picked a table by the door and the podium, saving a seat for Sioux.