RWA week is all about work and friends and readers. Nora and I flew down to San Antonio on the Monday following TTP 19 with Kat and TTP store manager, Janeen Solberg. It was an easy trip south that put us in the Marriott Rivercenter just after 1 pm. All of us were prepared for a week of women filling up every available space in the hotel so it was a mild shock to see all those spaces taken up by men in casual business wear. Mike the Bellman told us there was a fertilizer salesmen conference in town and from all evidence, they didn’t go to workshops but stood or sat in small groups in the lobby and the bar.
This was disconcerting because WE like to sit or stand in small groups in the lobby or the bar so the mingling of the two groups would bear some watching.
The rooms weren’t ready when we arrived making lunch the next order of the day. And since we were in San Antonio, margaritas seemed to be a sensible choice (so were delicious salads, fresh chips and guacamole). A fine start to some excellent eating for the week.
Once the rooms were ready, we headed up to Nora and Ruth Langan’s suite which would serve as Base (next year I’m going to call it that) for the week. Ruth arrived just after Nora’s bags were delivered so Kat, Janeen and I headed out to get some water, Diet Pepsi and champagne for the week. Fortunately all were procured fairly near the hotel and off the Riverwalk so we had our first foray along the water. I’d visited San Antonio in 2005, but Kat and Janeen were fascinated bu the lush greenery, somewhat exotic flowers and the sinuous flow of the pavement and river.
Back in the suite, Nora and Ruth had unpacked and settled into the living area so we joined them with refreshments. A little while later, Jill Shalvis joined us to say hi and catch up before her dinner. Finally Sarah Morgan came up to say hello after her 18-hour trip from Heathrow – she’d started out before any of us and was last to get to the hotel. Since it was travel day, we all decided that room service was the way to go dinner wise (though the fertilizer guys taking up all the seating was a deciding factor). Ruth and I gently bullied Sarah into eating something before unpacking and collapsing. She protested but when Ruth has a mind to something it’s just easier to give in. Sarah ate.
We like to get into town early for RWA in order to take a day to see the city, get used to the time change, keep to a loose schedule before the conference starts. And, ok, to get out of the hotel for a bit.
I’d been to La Cantera Mall on my last trip to San Antonio so we scooped up Jill and Sarah and took two cabs over. It’s a nice mall with outdoor spaces shielded by billowing canvas tenting so it was an excellent way to get out of the AC for a time. Nora — champion shopper she is — found a 65% off rack at the first store we hit then we all looked at makeup before Nora found a pair of sandals that she promptly wore the rest of the day.
Lunch was at the reliably delightful Brio in their outdoor seating under fans and more shade. Salads and some fresh pasta were the orders of the day, along with Nora’s requisite French fries (Brio’s are pretty fabulous). I went with a Peach Bellini instead of a margarita and we all had a toast with some Veuve Cliquot. A portion of the group had never been to Anthropologie, our post lunch destination. I do believe everyone left with a sweater (at least). Fun store, fun day.
Back to the hotel where the fertilizer salesmen were beginning to depart and RWA was making its presence known. Everyone went to register for the conference before heading back to rooms to regroup. Jill and Sarah had dinner plans (with other people!) so Nora, Ruth, Janeen, Kat and I decided we’d wander the Riverwalk and find dinner at one of the restaurants lining the water.
Since no one else stated a preference, I said we should go to the restaurant with the white tablecloths I’d spied the day before. We set back out and after a few turns, then just past a bridge we found La Paloma Riverwalk and in short order were seated on the river side of the pavement. Margaritas all around with chips and salsa fast behind them. It was then we found out that it was Ruth’s First Margarita. It was also her Last Margarita. She changed her order to white wine.
One of the best parts for me about spending RWA with Ruth and Nora are the stories. They met at the very first RWA and have roomed together since the 1983. They’ve seen writers and trends come, go, and sometimes come back again. But their friendship. They love each other dearly and it’s an infectious thing.
It was full dark by the time we finished dinner, then wandered back to the hotel. Conference would start full-swing in the morning, but a day to kick back and spend time with friends had given us back the balance travel rips away. We were ready.
But not for everything.
More to come.