When I initially made my CPAC plans, I was so pleased to finagle a $10 plane ticket to DC, I neglected to check into the requisite travel arrangements from Dulles to the hotel. Initially, my pal Andrew (@OHCONSERVATISM) and I had discussed sharing a cab, but then he ended up with a flight into Reagan instead. When I looked into it a bit further, I discovered that there was no easy Metro option — it would involve a shuttle to a Metro station, and then a switch of Metro lines. That’s a lot of shuffling around for a gal who’d be lugging three bags and a purse. I put out the call on Twitter to see if anyone else was interested in sharing a cab.
My new friend, @Chris_Mayer soon came to the rescue. Though we didn’t know each other well, we discovered we’d both be arriving at Dulles at about the same time and agreed to share the ride. My flight landed a wee bit late — we’d had to circle the airport several times before landing due to trafficky skies. But Chris and I finally connected in the baggage claim area and made our way out to the cab stand. I will say this about our driver – he was courteous and kind enough to offer his car charger to me to revive my near-dead iPhone during the ride. Chris and I set about friendly chatter and getting to know one another and soon found ourselves bonding over the near death experience neither of us had anticipated.
Mr. Cab Driver’s idea of getting us to the District consisted of driving at roughly 80 mph, through snowy/sleety conditions and heavy traffic. Though I lived in Chicago for three years and took many a ride in cabs piloted by aggressive drivers, I have never in my life seen someone make so many quick stops and lane changes, nor come within millimeters of colliding with other vehicles quite so many times. I’m still not entirely certain how we survived the ride without ending up in a jangled jumble of metal. A sample of our tweets from the Ride from Hell:
“Oh for the love of god, I think I’m gonna die….
@SmoosieQ wanted a careful driver, we got the opposite” https://twitter.com/#!/Chris_Mayer/status/167374414416060417
Don’t barf on me! Eeeeeekkkk!! RT
@Chris_Mayer: I don’t usually get car sick, but this cab ride just might do it! https://twitter.com/#!/SmoosieQ/status/167374179019128832
Nevertheless, we made it. I got dropped off at the Hilton, DuPont Circle, and happily started getting ready for the evening. Was very much looking forward to RINOCon and meeting all sorts of new friends. The view from my hotel room that evening made me smile (even if the quality of the photo wasn’t much to brag about):
As I started to get ready, I discovered that my Murphy’s Law Life had followed me to DC. First, my curling iron was broken. Then, when I went to freshen up my makeup, I discovered that the liquid concealer had decided to tangle with my blush and blush brush. Next, I discovered that my brand new travel-sized can of hairspray had no nozzle. Ahh well, after whining about it on Twitter, I simply warned folks they’d be getting my morning make up and hair and have to deal with it.
It was time to make my way up to the Marriott, where I planned to meet up with my friend, Tuesday (@bluedevilmsn) and her daughter, Erin (@erinecosta) before heading over to RINOCon together. I came bearing gifts — a Rally Squirrel for both Tuesday and Michelle Lancaster (@Skigarmisch) who’d both voiced their significant distaste for squirrels while the Cardinals were busy winning the World Series with their newly adopted good luck charm. Also, several pair of tights for my dear friend, Michelle (@GaltsGirl) who’d put out the distress call for “thick tights” on Tuesday night. (Found some cute ones!)
So, I arrived at the hotel with my Santa’s bag of goodies and began looking for familiar faces. And not having much luck. And feeling rather…weird. But I soon met up with Tuesday and Erin, and decided to go ahead and try to register and get my credentials then, rather than wait ’til Thursday morning. (In hindsight, one of the smartest things I did the whole trip.) While up at the Media Check-In desk, I looked over and saw one of my favorite folks from Twitter, the ever-ebullient Debbie Moss (@mosesmosesmoses). Debbie was kind enough to volunteer to drive us over to the Tortilla Coast for RINOCon, and after a failed attempt at registering at the main check-in (computers were down – a sign of things to come), the four of us piled into her Mini-Cooper and headed to the party.
Once there, I was simply overwhelmed. Walking in the door, it was as if my Twitter Timeline had come to life. So many familiar faces and people I was so excited to see. I would try to list them all here, but I’m fairly certain I’ll screw up and leave somebody off. And I don’t want to do that. Because I can honestly say I so very much enjoyed meeting each and every one of my Tweeps. I will say one, in particular, that made me smile as soon as I recognized him hiding behind his beard and ball cap was the utterly lovable John Brodigan (@Brodigan). Had a very nice chat with @DCSeth, as well. Enjoyed meeting my fellow legal beagles Gabriel Malor (@GabrielMalor) and @AG_Conservative. The ever-gracious Loren Heal (@lheal) was kind enough to get me a drink. Also, it was wonderful to again see my dear friends Ryan Moy (@alwaysonoffense), Dina Fraioli (@DinaFraioli), and Andrew Staroska (@OHCONSERVATISM). And to finally meet the lovely Amelia Hamilton (@AmeliaHammy). See? Here I am listing people. I’d better stop!
One especially fun moment came courtesy of “The Wisconsin Mafia” – Daniel Wanke (@danielwanke) and Sean Hackbarth (@SeanHackbarth):
Love those two to pieces. And so glad Daniel finally got to bring the #DrinkingWithSmoosieQ hashtag to life!!
Before the party closed down, I hopped into a cab with my pals Thomas LaDuke (@irishduke2), Melanie Hall (@MelanieAnn79), Kristina Ribali (@ORLibertygal) and my newfound fellow-Missoureean friend, Duane Lester (@Bodhi1) . God love Kristina – she endured me sitting on her lap for the entire 15+ minute cab ride. Once back at the hotel, we connected with everyone’s favorite Mohawked conservative Fingers Malloy (@FingersMalloy) and the rest of the CPAC carousers and, well, proceeded to carouse. I finally called it a night around 1:00 a.m. and headed back to my digs. All in all, it was a very fun night. Still, a little overwhelming. But fun. And another reminder of the value of true friends.
Wow. All that, and we haven’t even gotten to the actual conference yet. Bear with me, friends. I just don’t want to leave out a single highlight…