Settling Back in After a Wild Journey

Here’s a secret: it’s hard to get back into things after being gone for so long.

Ok, it’s not a secret, just one of those things I don’t consider until it happens to me.

I have lots of blog post ideas but no desire to sit still long enough to write. Instead, you should all just tap into my brain and absorb anything you wish. If there happens to be anything there you wish to absorb.

So I’m back from my epic backpacking trip. I wish I had more time to travel, but at the same time, I had my cross-country move on my mind, so toward the end I was having more trouble concentrating on having fun. I know, I’m a sad person. I need to work at having fun.

Needed to go all the way to Buffalo to get my wings fix

When I last let off, I was on my way to visit Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee. You can’t go to Milwaukee without visiting a brewery. I had come across this one by googling “things to do in Milwaukee“. The review read “the tour is a lot of fun and you get really drunk“.

Sold!

Lakefront Brewery, as seen through a fence.


And the review was right. The tour was both hilarious and informative (I learned that hops are cousins to marijuana and that yeast makes beer by acting like an old fart), and I had to stumble my way to the bus stop afterward.

Now I’m probably going into too much detail at this point (after all, the only reason you’re reading this is because you hope to discover gossip about the bloggers I met, or to see compromising pictures of me), but I just have to share this scene.

I’m at the bus stop with Oestrus.

Me: My purse is vibrating.
Oestrus: Oh really?
Me: Why is my purse vibrating?
Oestrus: *knowingly* Hmmm
Me: I swear I don’t have anything in my purse that vibrates! I leave all my toys at home!
Oestrus: Oh really?

I dug in and found my US phone. My Canadian phone is too cheap to work across the border, so one day I bought this international phone that I carry around when I travel. As far I was aware, it didn’t work. I carry it around anyway, out of principle. I use it as an expensive clock.

Me: Turns out it was a phone call. How did I get a phone call?
Oestrus:
Me: I didn’t know this phone worked!
Oestrus: Did they leave a message?
Me: Yes, but I have no idea how to check it.
Oestrus: What was the number?
Me: It was a 6 country code. What country code is 6?
Oestrus: Dunno. If it were me, I’d call them back, just to see who it was.
Me: I would, but I don’t have any money on this phone. I never put money on it cos I didn’t know it worked.

Thankfully the same number called again. I answered. It was Thespius! I squealed like a school girl. Half because I just found out my US phone works and half because OMG I just got a phone call from Thespius.

I made plans to meet up with Thespius and fellow guildie Arcas for drinks that night in Chicago. But once I set out for the city, everything kind of went bad. The bus got stuck in traffic (at 10:30pm!), getting me in 30 minutes late. Then I couldn’t find the trains. Then I found the trains but discovered they haven’t been upgraded since their implementation a million years ago. They work, only they work very slowly. Then I got lost on the way to the hostel. In despair I texted my lostedness to Thespius, but the text never went through (decidedly the US phone works, but only when it feels like it).

Note here that I’m a skinny white chick with a giant backpack (tourist marker), walking around alone in a big city at night. I don’t get scared (LA’s Union Station, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Toronto’s Church street have trained me well), but somewhere in my head a voice was telling me that this endeavor probably isn’t the safest.

But nothing happened and I got to the hostel sore, exhausted (carrying a 40 lbs backpack with a broken waist strap for an hour is tough work when you’re a skinny chick!) and frazzled. Then my phone died as Thespius was trying to give me directions to the bar. Then my internet wouldn’t work.

It took a couple of miracles before I was finally at the bar with my two Chicago guildies. It was also well, well after midnight. Bars close super early in the US, so we didn’t get much time to chat, but just meeting them was thrilling enough and I’m eternally grateful that they stayed up late waiting for me.

Despite it being a big and confusing city, I loved Chicago.

Even the super shitty weather didn't ruin it!

I loved the skyscrapers, I loved Lincoln Park and its free conservatory and zoo, I loved the people everywhere, I loved the pretty theaters. I got to take an architecture tour on the river (I’m crazy about city architecture, so this totally made my trip) and, just before I left the city, I went to bug Arcas as he was trying to work.

I took an overnight bus out of Chicago, and when I woke up, I was in Buffalo.

I came to Buffalo for Buffalo wings. No, they aren’t better in Buffalo. It just happens to be very cool to eat Buffalo wings in Buffalo. And going by the guides I picked up at the Buffalo tourism center, I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE. I also took advantage of my few hours in Buffalo to admire the amazing architecture (again, am architecture nerd) visit some boats in the naval museum in the harbour.

Architecture nerds like me love the details on Buffalo buildings

Interesting fact about the naval museum! One of the ships you visit is the USS Sullivan, named after the 5 Sullivan brothers who were killed when their ship, the USS Juneau, was sunk by a Japanese vessel during WWII. Then you visit the USS Croaker, which is the submarine that sunk the ship that sunk the Juneau. I dunno. I thought that was really interesting.

Naval Museum

As I was leaving Buffalo, I discovered that none other than Lodur lived near Buffalo. And he would have been totally up for a meetup. “Nooooo” I wimpered (earning me some weird looks from others on the bus). It was disappointing, finding out that someone I would have LOVED to have a long chat with happened to live in the city I WAS CURRENTLY LEAVING. But I guess next time.

On my way home, I had a 2 hour layover where I got to hang out with the lovely Apple. I didn’t know what to expect. She’s quiet in the blogosphere. I’d talked to her a few times, but I didn’t know her all that well.

Well, it turns out that getting to know her is quite worth it. In person, she’s lively, creative, talented, intelligent, funny… The two hours we had just flew by as I was captivated by her stories, her songs and her endless well of energy.

Over the past two week, I was fortunate enough to meet many fellow bloggers and players in their home cities: Fannon, Corath, Vidyala, Vosskah, Oestrus, Thespius, Arcas and Apple. And the only word I can think of to describe how I feel about the experience is “grateful“.

I once teased Apple when she mentioned on Twitter how pleased she was to have found so many WoW friends she could trust enough to add to her RealID. “Contrarily to popular belief, not everyone on the internet is a axe-murdering pervert!” I said.

But after this trip, I have to say that, while I’m not surprised that my fellow guildies and bloggers are decent people, I am stunned by exactly how kind, generous, hospitable, caring, friendly these people from my computer screen turned out to be.

Fannon and Oestrus opened their homes to me (and kept me fed!), Vidyala and Vosskah introduced me to their city and later offered perspective and wisdom to me as I poured my heart out to them about the griefs, hopes and fears I had about my guildlife, Thespius and Arcas stayed up late to make sure I made it into Chicago safely and helped me calm down after my hectic arrival and Apple drove over an hour just to see me, just for a short while. The point of my trip wasn’t to meet up with anyone (the only really planned meetup was with Oestrus), but it happened and it was wonderful.

My little heart is all puffed up with gratitude and happiness and I just can’t get over how lucky I am to have found this quaint corner of the internet.

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41 Comments on “Settling Back in After a Wild Journey”

  1. ithilyn Says:

    What a fantastic adventure! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Will Says:

    Sounds like a fun, if hectic, trip. I’m glad that you had a good time, though. :) I’m not sure how I would fare in a trip as involved as yours, but there are many people with whom I’ve become acquainted over the Internet that I would love to meet in person one day. It’s not going to happen any time soon, but a fellow can dream.

    • Ophelie Says:

      It was really hectic, even by my standards! You’d need to really love that kind of lifestyle to enjoy a trip like that. Plus I got really lucky: my body totally kept up with me, sleeping at the right times, pooping at the right times, being hungry/full at the right times.

      There is another way you can meet a big chunk of the WoW community: Blizzcon! The best way to meet people is to go without a ticket, and just hang out at the meetups. So many people are there and the mood is very festive and friendly.

  3. Sarriss Says:

    Sounds like a blast :-D Im toying with a similar idea to visit my EU guildies in the future, and this just makes me want to do it more. Thanks for sharing!

  4. AliPally Says:

    Sounds like you had a brilliant time, and a very memorable trip! I’m a bit jealous!

  5. Analogue Says:

    What an awesome adventure! Welcome back. Did you get an “Explorer” achievement?

    Since I lived in Eastern Iowa for a few years I am duty bound to remark that there were FIVE Sullivan brothers, not four. I’ve been to events at the very tiny “5 Sullivans Convention Center”. :)

  6. Nazaniel Says:

    Lurkers who love to read your blog and are also not axe murderers say: Next time come to Toronto, and we can introduce you to a whole guild of awesome WoW players!

    • Ophelie Says:

      I actually used to go to Toronto all the day. Not so much anymore though… But if something comes up that brings me there, I’ll be sure to get the party planning started!

  7. Entropia Says:

    Sounds like a lot of fun! :D Glad you had a good time meeting everyone.

    Make sure you stop by my neck of the woods next time. ;)

  8. Khraden Says:

    This was an awesome set of posts. I’ve always wanted to travel around like that; though I have lived in 9 states, I was never there long enough to meet anybody.

    Next time you do this, head on down south; we’d be happy to provide some Souther Hospitality here in North Alabama.

    • Ophelie Says:

      My next trip probably IS the Southern US. The goal is to make it from Las Vegas-Blizzon/LA to Atlanta in 2 weeks by Amtrack, so I’ll be pressed for time, but I’ll post my plans as the dates get closer and we can work it out from there!

  9. Apple Says:

    :D It was great meeting you, too! It was definitely worth the gas money and the driving time. ^_^ I had loads of fun hanging with you (and eating taco bell for the first time in years, natch) and trying to teach you to play the singing bowls and just goofing off.

    (The new mouse has treated me splendidly, btw)


  10. [...] the honour of meeting the lovely Ophelie on the last leg of her little holiday! Here’s what she had to say about it: On my way home, I had a 2 hour layover where I got to hang out with the lovely Apple. I didn’t [...]

  11. Valithria Says:

    Sounds like a delicious adventure. It’s surprising that so many juicy bloggers live so joyously close to each other, and it must have been quite a flavorful experience to meet them all in such a short time frame.
    On another note, you’ve inspired me to create a holy paladin, my first ever character on World of Warcraft! I’d like to thank you for bringing me into such a fruity game.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Yay!!!!! And a holy paladin is a great character to start with!

      The bloggers don’t all necessarily live close together! I spent a lot of nights on the Greyhound! But I think that there are such a huge number of bloggers, and such a huge population in the southern Great Lakes region that it only makes sense that many bloggers would live in the Great Lakes region.

      But if you want distances, Fannon and Corath live about 5 hours from Vidyala and Vosskah, then it’s about 4-5 days to where Oestrus lives. Oestrus lives about 2 hours away from the Chicago crew. Then it took me about 6-7 hours to get to Buffalo, then a bit over 5 hours to get to Syracuse to hang out with Apple. Then from there, it took me a bit over 12 hours to home to Québec city.

  12. Corath Says:

    It was really great to meet you here in Edmonton! Will be nice that you’re going to be closer by, so I’m sure it won’t be the last time. :)

    • Ophelie Says:

      Yep! We’ll be almost neighbours! Even though I’m a good 3 hours out of Edmonton, I get the impression that I’ll be there a lot since there isn’t much in terms of services in my city. (There isn’t even a bank in my town!)

  13. Saunder Says:

    You should come Down Under on a slightly longer trip (What a long Strange Trip without a doubt) so you could meet up with a whole new breed of crazy-but-not-in-the-axe-murderer-kind-of-way people :D

    • Ophelie Says:

      OMG that would be so much fun! I was actually considering doing the pick-fruit-for-a-month-get-a-better-visa deal. I want to take a lot of time off between contracts and I think it would the perfect way to see Australia without going broke. And I can hang out with all you people with cool accents!

      • Apple Says:

        Woah, wait, a “pick-fruit-for-a-month-get-a-better-visa deal”? Do tell…

        • Ophelie Says:

          I haven’t looked into it so I don’t know the details, but an Australian I met on my trip was talking about it. Australians need people to pick their fruit, so they hire tourists. And to motivate the tourists, they make it easier to extend your visa (from what I’m told Australia is pretty anal about visas). We get tourists to pick fruit in Canada too, but Canadian visas usually aren’t hard to get. I’ll have to look into the Australian system to know for sure, though, since all I know if from word-to-mouth.

  14. Vidyala Says:

    It really was so much fun meeting you, Ophelie. :D I’m glad you had a good time, and I’ve enjoyed reading about your blogger meeting adventures as well. I hope we can find our way up to Edmonton sometime and see you again, plus Edmontonian bloggers at the same time!


  15. [...] Finally, Ophelie at The Bossy Pally is back after jaunting all over North America! I might be biased because one of her stops was in my city, and we hung out, but I love reading about trips and WoW blogger meet-ups. I’m going to be writing about meeting her soon, myself (as soon as I stop procrastinating) but in the meantime, you can check out her trip account here. [...]

  16. ILikeBubbles Says:

    You need to come back to Chicago at some point becuase uh, YOU MISSED A WHOLE BUNCH OF US. :D

  17. Leorad Says:

    As a Buffalonian I scoff at your wings comment. Clearly, you are not eating wings at the right location.

    If you aren’t eating your wings at Duff’s or the Anchor Bar, then you aren’t eating wings they way they were intended. If they aren’t drowning in the sauce they were tossed in, someone did it wrong ;)

    • Ophelie Says:

      It was the Anchor Bar :)

      • Leorad Says:

        Then I find myself horrified by the picture of the wings in your article. For shame, Anchor Bar, for shame. :(

        Personally, while I enjoy Anchor Bar, I’ve always felt that Duff’s was better. While dating my wife in college, I would bring a styrofoam carton of Duff’s wings from Buffalo to Syracuse for her father. I’m not convinced I won him over with wings, but it couldn’t have hurt.

        And yes, that mall in Syracuse is gargantuan. I’m sure there is bigger malls, but I can’t imagine why they would need to be.

        • Ophelie Says:

          I’d blame the photographer for the crappy picture more than the subject. Cheap 80$ camera from WalMart hoy!

          The wings were good , juicy and spicy, I’ve got no complaints. I don’t see what the problem is. I went to Buffalo for wings and I got wings.


  18. [...] Sometimes, real life and the virtual worlds we inhabit intersect in a delightful way. If you follow Ophelie (the Bossy Pally) over at her blog, The Bossy Pally and the Giant Spoon – then you already know some parts of this story. [...]


  19. I am so envious of you right now, Ophelie! In the past, I’ve had a lot of fun meeting up with folks I knew previously only through the internet via the Harry Potter fandom, and there are several WoW bloggers — of whom you are most certainly one — that I’d love to meet in person, too. :D


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