Took the Super Shuttle from the Minneapolis airport to the Hyatt Regency downtown. Beautiful hotel, right on the Nicolett Mall. Since I have a "rewards" card with just about every hotel chain, I got an extra nice room on the "rewards" floor - the 21st floor. King-size bed with feather topper, feather pillows, granite bathroom floor and sink, larger than normal sized room with a huge picture window overlooking the Nicolett Mall.
Unpacked, called home, then freshened up to meet a writing friend D.S. Goodman (aka Dan). I've known him online for years - he was around during the whole Woodside debacle.
At around 6 pm, headed down to the lobby to find it filled with women carolers dressed up in bright red robes, singing Christmas songs. The lobby was jam packed with people walking in and out, around or hanging out. It turns out the hotel was a prime meeting place for participants and revelers for the HoliDazzle parade. Some musicians were practicing on the mezzanine, people in costumes wandered around. It was fun to watch everyone.
There was one problem. Dan had said he was going to wear an old SFCon name badge so that I could recognize him. Too many people associated with the parade and the conference I was speaking at were wearing name badges. Ack!
About 6:15 pm, a bearded guy in a parka and knitted hat walked up to me. Thank goodness it was Dan! After a quick hug, we tried to figure out where to eat. We headed upstairs to the 2nd floor where there were some restaurants. They were booked up, so we headed back downstairs. There was a restaurant down there called Taxxi, an "American bistro." We checked out the menu and decided to eat there.
Dan ran off to the bathroom, then came back and we ordered dinner - he had African chicken with couscous and I had lamb stew. I always try to eat something on my trips that I know my hubby doesn't like and he hates lamb.
We started talking and didn't stop the whole time. Dan is quite astute and funny in a quirky way. He almost seemed surprised when I laughed at his jokes. I had a glass of wine with dinner and when I looked at my watch, realized it was an hour later at home (time difference drives me crazy on trips) and knew I had to iron my outfit for the morning and get things together.
We parted at the lobby entrance, big hugs, then I headed back up to my room. I put on the TV while I got my outfit out and steamed the wrinkles out with this steam iron thingy I got on one of my other trips. I'll post more about it later, but you basically add some salt to the water and it immediately steams. And the wrinkles really do come out!
Slept well (usually don't the first night in a hotel) and got ready for my talk. Headed downstairs to register. They didn't have my name in the system, although I was in the schedule. Turns out the computer spit out all the speakers. Finally got my handouts and where I was to speak at. The conference was called TIES 2005 Education Technology Conference.
Went to my assigned room, set up my laptop and got ready for my group. It turned out to be a small one, only eight people, but not surprising since I was scheduled as a pre-conference workshop on a Sunday morning. I like smaller groups, as they are more interactive and this group was no exception. Had a great time, everyone went home with a prize (I give out things at the end and had exactly eight items to give away). Sold six books (that's a pretty good ratio). The evaluations were excellent and several had noted that I should have been part of the regular conference and to bring me back. Hooray!
Turned in the evals, took my laptop back up to my room, then headed to the sixth floor to check out the fitness area and spa. They had a treadmill, so I planned on using it after lunch. At the spa, found out that I could schedule a massage, so I did! Haven't had one in a while, so this would be a treat.
Went to the main floor for a quick lunch at the bistro, then back up to my room and changed into my fitness gear. Did two miles on the treadmill, headed back to my room to shower and change, then down to the sixth floor again for my massage. Karen, the masseuse reminded me of Jodie Foster. Very down to earth, funny and a good masseuse.
I guess I needed that massage. I was pretty sore when I went in and felt great afterwards. I bought some foot oil for my heels (which tend to crack in the winter), then went to the 2nd floor to browse whatever gift shops were open. Got a good deal on two scarf/hat sets and some other goodies.
When I went back up to my room, there was a message - a check was waiting for me at the TIES registration booth. What a difference! I usually have to wait forever for a check. Headed downstairs again to collect my check and the woman who had booked me noted that she now wished she had scheduled me during the conference. She promised to try to get me back the next year.
Went back to my room, ordered room service - lamb again! Got some wine to go with it and was able to see the Holidazzle parade from my room window. It was delightful - I could hear the music all the way up there on the 21st floor. Packed, then collapsed into bed.
Got up early, got to the airport early, had a nice breakfast, then wandered the mall at the airport. This is a nice trend most of the major airports have done, putting in an actual mall inside the airport. Bought some things and heard piano music. Saw this guy pounding away at a Steinway and a woman standing near him with a table filled with CDs. Turns out he is originally from Minneapolis and came back to promote his latest album. He's a wonderful pianist, Stephen Marq. I ended up buying one of his CDs. Absolute beautiful music.
Plane left on time, arrived on time. Got home on time. Perfect trip.