Thursday, May 24, 2018

2018 Byrne and Kelly Retreat, Day One

Hello...  So I've just returned from the 2nd Annual (but my first) Byrne and Kelly retreat, and I wanted to share what my experience was.  Sort of like when I went on the first Celtic Thunder cruise. I am a very longtime fan -- and a slightly jaded one -- so sometimes my glasses are a little bit of a different color.

I went into this trip, much like the CT cruise, with a little bit of trepidation. Initially, when the retreat's location was announced, I thought "Well, it's 2 hours from my house. How can I not go and at least try it out?" So I invited Perri, one of my dearest friends, to come out from Nebraska and go with me -- but then the "what did I just sign myself up for?" doubts started. I got in an argument with someone in the band. Fawning really irritates me and I wasn't looking forward to that for four days. I'd heard that last year's retreat featured a good amount of various cliques monopolizing the boys' attention, and that was likely to put my eyes in permanent roll mode.  If I wasn't looking forward to spending the time with my friend, I might very well have cancelled.

But I didn't... and my general plan for the four days was to enjoy the time with Perri. And maybe stay just slightly buzzed for four days so I would be nicer.

So this is how my experiences turned out -- the good and the eh. Fair warning, I'm long winded.

Day One: Sunday

This is Perri's first time to Seattle and I've been listening to the things she was looking forward to doing.  So, we got up on Sunday, stopped at Target for a little alcohol (for the retreat, not for the drive), and took the long way/scenic route --  because it included my favorite ferry ride.

I've never seen someone so excited to be on a ferry. It was kind of like Australia Kate and the squirrels.

Once on the other side of the Sound, Perri was pretty sure I didn't know where I was going.  Which is fair.  My GPS kept going out, and I was like, 'Oh... we're probably good.  Don't worry!!" I don't think I was convincing.  But we got there, okay?!

The retreat was at a lovely resort in Western Washington, right on Hood Canal-- Alderbrook Resort in the bustling town of Union. I'd never been to this particular part of the state -- but it was beautiful, and blessedly, we had great weather the whole time.  So now 150 people think this is what Washington looks like all the time. Sorry when they move here.

We pulled into the resort and there were a gazillion fancypants cars in the parking lot.  I pulled up in my minivan. At this point, I was pretty sure I was going to be out of my league. We went inside to check in... While standing in line, I turned around and noticed John the Doorman (who was about my favorite person by the end) getting all of our stuff out of the van.  ALL of our stuff.  Including the copious amounts of alcohol we were planning on sneaking in later. Oops.  So we got checked in, I grilled the desk lady on the likelihood of being eaten by bears on the hiking trails, and John took us up to our room. Gave us the grand tour, etc...  Laughed at our alcohol supply, treated us to his best Scottish impressions. We were good.

Perri and I settled in... took a little tour of the resort to get our bearings.  But it was hours yet until anything was supposed to happen at the retreat. We'd seen a friend in the lobby when we were checking and decided that maybe we'd go down to town to get ourselves some of the ice cream she'd come in with.  We asked Cute Lobby Guy -- we'll call him Brendan because I don't remember his actual name-- how to get to there.  He told us how to get to the closest shop, but he'd have to drive us to the actual town for ice cream because it was a mile down the road.

We're like... a mile? We could probably walk a mile.  Off we went...  Well, it was two miles.  Along the highway. And there was very little shoulder. So we almost died a lot. Ironically, this is also how Joel and I almost died when we visited the Moy. But we eventually made it to the country store, got our ice cream (which was quite good, by the way. Olympic brand ice cream. Super yum), and ate it on the porch of the store.  I sort of felt like we were old people smoking a pipe watching the buggies go by.

Perri and I are friendly people. We'll talk to anyone.  So... we're talking to anyone who comes in and out of the general store, and this guy stops and asks, "Hey, do you ladies like salsa?"
"Well... yeah. Who doesn't like salsa?"
"Do you like fruit? How hot do you like your salsa?"
"Yes, and...medium?"
"Hang on," he says - and heads off to his car.
I'm thinking "Aw man, this guy is going to try to sell us salsa out of the back of his trunk."

But no!  He comes over with two FULL SIZE jars of mango salsa, and he's just like, "Here," and he drives away.  So we had to buy chips. Union is a great town, y'all.  Well, then we were tired, and we had giant jars of salsa to carry, so we just called the resort and asked them to come pick us up.  We were expecting Brendan but got another guy...  so we chatted up Voice Over Driver Guy instead.

At this point, we probably went back to our room and opened up the rum. Our balcony looked right out onto the waterfront, so we sat out on it and sipped a couple rum and cokes. It's a hard life, kids... I think we brought #3 to Dinner.

We were a touch late, so we found a couple seats at a table along the back wall, ate dinner, and made friends with the other people at the table. They're big tables, so I won't remember everyone was there.  But lots of nice people...  I met my favorite people this night. We're just going to them the New Hampshire people -- largely because that's what I called them the whole time. "Oh look, it's the New Hampshire people! I love them!" Seriously nice, both the husband and wife, really funny.  I honestly liked them. Louisiana and Ohio Girls across the table -- young and edgily snarky. But amusing.  There are more. Perri has sketches.  Oh wait, I think we talked to Ryan and Neil too... but I kinda don't remember.

After dinner, we went back to our room for one more drink and then went to the first concert of the trip. Someone else is going to have set lists, but I just don't.  It was a good show... I definitely enjoyed it. Fun and lighthearted...  Ryan sang Brothers in Arms, which is the only song I ever seriously campaign for, so I was happy.  (Ryan, you caught me off-guard when you asked if it was okay...  but yes, it was fine. I cried -- so either it was really good or really bad.) Perri completely lost it while Neil was trying to intro "Step It Out Mary" and couldn't stop laughing. It was a good time. We'd had four rum and cokes, so it would be hard not to.

I'm pretty sure we were exhausted after that and just went to bed!!

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