Monday, May 02, 2016

Newsletter, May 2016

Newsletter, May, 2016

What a month I’ve had!
This was my month in America, the month when I refresh and reset my writing, and when I get to see the wonderful things the USA has to offer. This time, my husband came with me, so we had double the fun!
The elegant ladies of the NOLA RWA chapter - plus husband and me.
Since I went for five weeks this time, there’s no way I can write this in one newsletter, but I do plan more detailed summaries to come. I can, however, do a flying trip around the highlights. There were so many!
The first ten days were spent in New Orleans, first staying with a lovely friend and her family in Mandeville, over the longest bridge I’d ever travelled on. We went to places I would never have discovered as a tourist, and got a fascinating glimpse of what it would be like to live in New Orleans, or close by. We had lunch with ladies from the NOLA RWA chapter, and had the enormous privilege of enjoying an Easter Sunday brunch with our hosts, author Leah Penn and her family.
On a trolley car in New Orleans
Then to New Orleans itself, and there we met up with Aussies Megan Bamford and her husband. What fun we had! Our hotel was right in the French Quarter, but after one quick Bourbon Street experience, we opted for the other delights NOLA has to offer, like shopping on Royal Street and listening to the fabulous music produced by the jazz bands there. It was the perfect way to start our visit.
After lingering in New Orleans, we took the plane to Las Vegas, and a completely different experience! Our hotel, Planet Hollywood, was kind enough to upgrade us, so we found ourselves in a beautiful suite overlooking the Paris balloon, and the Bellagio fountains. Sitting in a comfortable armchair, watching the fountain display is a memory that will remain with me for a long time. Vegas is everything I expected –– noisy, busy, and chiselling, in the sense that they want every last dime you’re prepared to give, and then some. It’s the last “some” that I found unpleasant. Resort fees, where you’re basically paying upwards of $30 a day for the privilege of using the hotel’s internet and fitness facilities, for instance. That’s something that should be included in a hotel package, but presumably the use of personal hotspots have reduced the way the hotel can charge. The deposit taken at check-in, which depletes disposable income, even if it is returned at the end of the visit, and the constant surcharges for this and that, that turn affordable into extortionate.
Me blocking the view of the Grand Canyon
But everybody should see Vegas at least once, and this was my once. I’d go back for a day or two, perhaps to see a show, which I didn’t manage this visit, but probably not for an extended visit.
We took a couple of days out to see the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon.
That was so worth it, I might have travelled over the ocean just to see that. The Canyon is – staggering, unbelievable, wonderful, stunningly beautiful and so much more. It’s like I said when I posted my picture on Facebook – there are no words. Of course I’ve seen pictures and read descriptions, but, like Michelangelo’s David, it’s something you have to see in order to appreciate.
Megan and yours truly in the prep room before the convention.
After that, came the RT Convention. This was a strange one, mainly because of the hotel. It was half a mile from our room to the convention centre, so every time I forgot something or needed a break, I had that mile to trudge, through the smoky casino which was nearly always empty, or close to it. It was one of the most depressing places I have ever been in my life! The Rio is in desperate need of a facelift, as everything is tired. The rooms were tired, but it was nice to have a refrigerator and plenty of space. There was no central bar or lobby area for people to gather informally, either, although the hotel did its best to accomodate us. The staff were pleasant, but there wasn’t a lot they could do to alleviate the slowly deteriorating hotel. On the first and second days, it rained, sending the whole of Las Vegas into meltdown. Several rooms in the hotel leaked, and occupants had to be moved.
But the convention was fun, and I got some business done as well. More of that, later. And while I was there, “Dilemma in Yellow Silk” came out and did very nicely. It was really nice to have copies to sign at the Kensington party!
After the convention, we went to stay with a friend in Texas, Anna Albergucci. She has the most astonishingly lovely house, every corner of which demonstrates her creative imagination. I’ll try to get her permission to post some photos!
Martin and I with a fantastic guide at the Alamo
We ended our trip with a day in San Antonio. It’s always fun to walk by the Riverwalk and watch the lights, have a meal and watch the world go by. Plus, there’s the Alamo. We stayed at the Menger, a lovely old hotel built twenty years after the Battle of the Alamo. San Antonio is a beautiful city full of history and interest. My husband said he could easily have spent more time there, but it was time to go home.
The journey was long, and for me, arduous, since for the first time ever, I got airsickness. It was dire. I climbed aboard the plane with a migraine, and that was probably why I was so ill. For the most part the stewards pretended not to notice, but that was okay with me, and my lovely husband took the greatest care of me.
I got home and slept, and here I am now, writing this.

See you next month!

Lynne Connolly