Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pursuing Happiness Cross Country to the RWA Conference

by Amanda Forester

Here I am at the Dolphin Hotel, Orlando Florida… finally. If you follow this blog you may be aware that I do not care to fly (translation – it terrifies me). So when the annual conference for the Romance Writers of America (RWA) announced it was going to be in Nashville, I looked up the train schedule and decided to give it a try. When the conference location was changed to Orlando, Florida, I took a big breath, made more train reservations and went for it. Since I live in Washington State, that meant a huge cross country trip with my family, including my two young children (no possible way when they found out I was going to Disney World that they were going to be left behind!).

First, let me say that traveling in small confined spaces with two young kids is about what you may expect, only more so. Overall, though, we are having a fabulous time.

We began our journey in Seattle and boarded the Empire Builder train. The views along the coast and through the Cascade Mountains were gorgeous. We stayed one day in Glacier Park, Montana and enjoyed some beautiful scenery. Our favorite excursion was a short hike to Avalanche gorge. The water was the bluest aqua color from the glacier run off.

Our next stop was Chicago, where we visited my husband’s family. Since my husband recently completed his second tour of active duty with the Army (stateside) after a year deployment to Iraq, his sister arranged a hero’s welcome for him complete with a police escort and motorcade. This was a total surprise for my husband (he would have refused it had he been asked) and a lot of fun. The best part was she arranged for all of hubby’s friends and relations to be there to welcome him. It was quite special!

Next we made our way on the Capital Limited train to Washington D.C. I’ve never been there so I had a wonderful time touring the monuments. Many of the monuments are familiar images I’ve seen many times in pictures, but I never truly appreciated their size until standing next of one of them. It was impressive!

From D.C. we took the Silver Meteor train to Orlando. Finally we arrived at the location of the RWA conference, or more importantly (at least to my kids) – Walt Disney World! We arrived a day before the conference began so we could enjoy some of the parks. We have had a wonderful time, despite the oppressive heat and humidity. My favorite purchase so far is a water bottle fan to cool down in the sun.

Yesterday was the first day of the RWA conference and the literary signing to raise money for ProLiteracy. This is my first time at the conference so I was impressed with the size. Approximately 500 authors were signing books (including me!) I had a great time meeting people. One thing about romance authors is they are a friendly bunch of folks.
I am looking forward to the rest of the conference over the next few days. I’m sure I will learn a ton and have a wonderful time!
So tell me about your craziest vacation!


  1. I was incognito when I ran into Amanda and Cheryl Brooks on the way to the boat ferry...I'm sure Cheryl thought I was a fan stalker. LOL!! Hat, glasses, hair pulled back, but we had a rough propeller flight from Pensacola after the turbulent arrival there from Texas. We missed my son's wedding rehearsal and dinner, and my son actually missed his wedding rehearsal waiting on us to land. I told him all he has to remember is saying, "I do."

    We were running out of fuel, wind sheer and lightning right over the airport was too dangerous to land, so ended up going to Mobile, AL for 3 1/2 hours. All total, we got in 5 hours later. My son and his bride to be rushed to pick us up at the airport, cutting short their dinner reception to take us to dinner at a nice restaurant near the airport. So all in all, scary but turned out to be better than we ever planned and we had a wonderful time with them. I missed seeing you and Cheryl and Judi, and the whole gang at the signing. I came early, but no one else had arrived. I was thrilled to see Danielle and Joanne Kennedy, and our own Sourcebooks' Publisher Dominique Raccah! And my online writing students, fellow FF&P and FTH members and critique partners! Woohoo! But riding the train sounded like so much fun, Amanda. I wish we'd tried something like that from Pensacola to Orlando! Hope to see you again soon!

  2. Wow! That was one heckuva train ride! Looks like you had a lot of fun. Me, I just took a plane. I'm getting better about flying, but this time I was stashed in the very last seat in the very back row and attempted to sleep most of the way since all I could see was the guy in front of me and the kid beside me. I didn't even have a window. Train rides are much better for enjoying the scenery.

    LOL! That was Marie Force I was with, Terry. I haven't met Amanda yet!

  3. Hi Amanda~

    My cousin used to work that line during the summer and met her husband on the train. I hear it's just beautiful. It sounds like so much fun. Glacier is one of my favorite places in the world. It's just so beautiful!

    I'm looking forward to meeting you!

  4. Wow Terry that sounds like quite an adventure! I'm glad it turned out ok and you still were able to connect with your son and his bride.

    Cheryl - yes, trains are better for scenery - and you get a lot of it! Planes certainly do get you there MUCH faster.

    Robin - your cousin met her husband on the train? How cool is that?!

    It has been fantastic getting to meet so many Sourcebooks authors today at the conference. What a thrill to meet you all!!

  5. Amanda, thanks for posting about your trip from Seattle to Florida and including the special activities with your hero. It's wonderful that the timing was right for you to share the trip with him.