Thursday, August 7, 2014

Quilt Odyssey 2015 - Part One

The Modern Quilting Community was all abuzz about a month ago when the sign ups for QuiltCon 2015 opened.  People were facing long “wait times” online to sign-up, not getting into classes they wanted and battling for volunteer hours.  Me?  I was reading along, feeling a tab bit sorry for myself that I would not be attending.  Quiltcon 2015 is in Austin, TX in February.  While I could probably have attended had it been a “not able to live without” type thing, I just couldn’t see spending the money on it right now.  We need new front steps, we need a new garage door, hubby and I want to take a trip this fall, etc.  And while he’s super supportive of my quilting addiction, I think spending ALL of our disposable income for the year on the trip, classes and supplies might be a bit beyond his patience point.  And I’d honestly rather take a trip with him this year anyway.  So QuiltCon gets added to my bucket list - I WILL get there one day!

Around the same time that I was feeling a bit jealous, Gail from my quilt guild (Southern CT Modern Quilt Guild) posted about Quilt Odyssey on our Facebook page.  I was intrigued and clicked to learn more.  It was being held in July 24-27 in Hershey, PA. which is a reasonable car ride away, versus a plane ride.  This convention has a definite traditional slant to it, however I noticed that a few classes/patterns could be adapted to a more modern feel - and there was a spot open in one of those classes!  Hubby and I quickly scrambled at our respective jobs to see if we could make a day off happen on short-ish notice.  While it was not the ideal time (work is super hectic for me right now and David is basically always busy), we managed to secure Friday July 25th off, plus David wasn’t on call that weekend.  So I cashed in some Marriott free nights, bought my ticket and signed up.  

I’m going to post about our whirlwind weekend getaway in three parts.  First up: Getting there.

We headed up early the morning of Friday the 25th.  Anyone who even remotely knows me knows for a fact that I am the LEAST morning person on the planet.  Ask me to stay up until 4 am - sure, no problem.  But get up early?  Ugh.  No thanks.  However, I knew we only had three short days to cram a whole bunch of “stuff” into our short trip, so I begrudgingly got up at 5:30 am and we hit the road.

We decided to make some stops on the way there and on the way home Sunday.  I have planned this all out when I booked the trip, but apparently didn’t write it down or bookmark the sites of where we wanted to visit...geez.  So I whipped something together quickly on the way.  We headed to the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine & Steam Train in Ashland, PA.  What a cool place!  We rode an ORIGINAL Steam Train, which is one of only two of its kind in operation anywhere in the world today.  The extremely bumpy ride (that’s what original axles and wheels will do) took us to an old strip mine where we learned about the process.  We also learned about neighboring Centralia which is a town that STILL has a fire burning underneath the town after a garbage pit was lit on fire in the early 60s - which caught the underground coal on fire.  The population of the town is only around 6 people today who refuse to move (despite a generous government buy-out offering) because then they would lose the rights to millions of dollars worth of coal under the town.  Sadly, we didn’t get to go over there - explanation in a bit - but a cool story.   

Beautiful Views!

Bad Selfie on the Train

Really awesome antique mining train

After the train ride, we took a ride on a coal mine cart into an old anthracite coal mine.  This was my favorite part.  It was a cold, damp ride, but once you got into the mine, there was a lot of neat things to see.  Plus, there were some really nice college aged kids on our cart that made the ride extra fun.  We saw how the coal was mined and transported and got to experience the extreme working conditions of the mine.  Did you know that mules in the mines were given better medical care than the human workers?  I mean, mules are much better than people, so this makes sense to me.  :-) 

After our visit, we hopped into the car and I plugged Hershey, PA into the GPS.  Um….uh…whoops?  I made a boo-boo.  We had been driving for over 3 hours already…and Hershey was still over 4 hours away.  Just to let you know - Hershey is only 4 hours from where we live.  At that point, I vaguely remembered thinking the Coal Mine seemed cool, BUT it was too far off of our trajectory.  Whelp, when I was rushing through things, I must have forgotten that and set us on the huge detour.  Crap.  So, we decided we didn’t have time to visit Centralia since we wanted to arrive at Hershey before midnight!

The drive was actually really nice through some foothills and mountains and we enjoyed it as much as we could while being a bit annoyed.  On the way, I called Quilt Odyssey because I wanted to get a ticket for their Game Night that evening and go with Gail.  Sadly the tickets were sold out, so no fabric/quilting related prizes for me.  I’ll make sure to sign up for that earlier if I go back next year.

When we arrived, we did some of the activities offered at Chocolate World - more on that in my “Part Three” post.  We finished around 11 pm and plugged the address in for the hotel.  This is where it gets embarrassing.  You are going to think I’m nuts.  I’m not always this hair-brained, I promise.  The hotel we booked was THREE.  HOURS.  AWAY.  There was just no way.  Not only were we tired, but we then wouldn’t be near Hershey and I had to be at my quilting class early on Saturday.  So i quickly logged online (thanks to our new Chromebook that came with free lifetime data plan) and found a Marriott 15 miles away that had a vacancy.  I figured we’d have to pay for the old hotel, plus the new and I’d have to forfeit my free night we used.  I called Marriott though in the chance they could help.  Being a loyal Marriott member worked in my favor - the lovely woman that helped us transferred my free night and made sure we didn’t pay a penny extra.  Megan - if you are out there - you are my lifesaver!  When it was sorted out she said, “Just make sure you will stay there as unfortunately I cannot transfer it again.”  Whelp - we were sitting in the parking lot of the hotel at that point - so no worries!

I’m usually a low-level mess at most times.  Pretty clutsy.  But this was a lovely bundle of forgetfulness.  Nothing earth-shattering, but geez!  I have been stupidly, insanely busy at work lately and I think the stress of working every night until 9pm or later messed with my mind!  The weekend away was just what I needed to recharge and that’s just what it did.  

Check back in for the “Part Two” of our Hershey adventure.

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