Monthly Archives: April 2017

Go Wild 2017: Friday – Early Morning

The first full day of Go Wild!

Early Morning Turn-Out
I was only listed on the volunteer schedule from 12 pm to 10:30 pm on Wednesday for unloading/swag duty, but had checked in with Stephanie on Wednesday night and found that her calendar had me listed as working on Friday as Saturday as well, in addition to the all-hands-on-deck events (#swagfairy!).

All volunteers were to meet at 6:45 am at the ballroom for a run-down of how the day was going to go. I was excited to put on my Team Wild T-shirt and get ready for the day. I tried to coordinate with some grey eyeshadow, but it ended up looking odd. Kinda like the 70s blue eyeshadow debacle. Oh well. I cannot make-up. Usually, I barely manage to girl. I need lessons on how to be girly.

Rachel had headed down to the ballroom earlier, to get a place in line. Julia and I went to the ballroom and waited with all the other volunteers in the ballroom lobby, while an ever-growing line of attendees sat in a long snakey line in the lobby to the lobby (or whatever they called it).

I’m getting my days confused a bit at this point, but I think it was this morning, after we had our meeting and got our assignments, that the volunteer group went outside with the photographer to the patio and took a group shot of all of the volunteers. Looking at the photo (which I haven’t seen yet), I should be on the left-most side in the second row from the front. Yay for being short!

I was assigned to Spirit duty. Since I was too short to fit into the llama suit, I was going to be tossing beach balls into the crowd. Kemy and I ran down to the Ryman room and grabbed all the beach balls and carried them back to the ballroom. Correction: Kemy grabbed 4-5 garbage bags full of the smaller beach balls while I could only manage ONE GIANT beach ball. She had like 30 and I had 1. It was a little awkward to carry, so I held it over my head and danced with it as we passed the attendees waiting to enter the lobby at 8 am. I may have even dribbled it a little. We set the beach balls in the conference room and went about seeing where else we could help out last minute, while waiting for the conference to begin and everyone to come in.

I took this time to take a photo of Every. Single. Table. I didn’t get a chance to do this last year, because when the doors open, everyone floods into the room and you are consumed with finding your friends and figuring out where to sit (with your friends). By the time you have a seat, it’s hard to see all of the tables because of everyone already sitting at them. And usually there’s not a lot of time before the conference itself starts.

Sorry (not sorry) for anyone with a slow internet connection. There’s going to be a LOT of photos! Here are ALL of the tables! Enjoy!


Finally, it was time! The music was playing, the llama was on stage, I was dancing with my beach balls, and excitement was thick in the air! The doors opened and everyone started streaming into the room!

To be continued….

Go Wild 2017: Thursday Evening

Thursday evening is when Go Wild officially began with Registration starting at 6 pm, and the Happy Planner Happy Hour starting at 7 pm at The Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar in Downtown Nashville (about 20 minutes away).

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Go Wild itinerary by Kristin Damian of Krissyanne Designs

After cleaning up at the hotel, I decided to wander down to Ryman to see if they needed any help. I wasn’t scheduled, but if I could help, I’d like to. Most everything was finished in Ryman, so Betsy sent me up to Delta Ballroom A (where the conference was to be held) to see if anyone needed help up there.

Just inside the lobby to Delta Ballroom A. I was careful to not take any Top Secret photos. Don’t want to ruin the surprise for anyone on accident!

It took 30 minutes and a couple miles, but I made it to the ballroom (I kid, but I can’t stress enough how big this place was!). There were only a few people in there decorating tables and some people setting up the Michael’s displays. No one needed any help at that time, and I didn’t want to be in the way, so I went back to Ryman. I took over blowing up some beach balls from Julie, then Marci needed a ride to The Big Bang to decorate the bar.

Jennifer Jones-Oliver, Marci Wagner, and I headed to downtown Nashville. It had started raining a little, so the roads had a slick on them. There was also a very steep section of road by the parking garage. I had to hold the brake until the last second when taking off from a stop so that I wouldn’t slide backwards into the car behind me. Once, the tires took a second to gain traction. OMG, Nashville! Are you trying to kill us? The parking garage entrance also wasn’t very intuitive (looked at first like a private entrance, so I passed it). I backed up most of the length of the alleyway to get back to the entrance, as Jennifer put it, “Like a real New Yorker!” Damn skippy!

Jennifer and I at set-up! I love her so much!

Kristin Damian of Krissyanne Designs had made decals for the bar, so we put these up on the mirror that ran the length of the stage, on the pianos, and even on the front of the bass drum! We put slips on the tables so people could request songs from the pianists, as well as slips for them to enter a giveaway from Happy Planner. We set out custom Happy Planner napkins on the tables and at the two bars, and put the special drink menus into frames, scattered throughout.

Drink menus. I tried the Llama Lemon Drop and Stephanie’s Strawberry Splash.

We finished just in the nick of time! Stephanie Fleming from Happy Planner and her group arrived just before 7 pm.



The pianists were hysterical and it was a great time! Everyone kept trying to get these guys to sing “girly” songs like Britney Spears and 90s music and they were both good sports and made it a very fun evening.

The front bar

The Big Bang was located on the second floor, with a patio area overlooking the street. A great space to hang out and people-watch.

Downtown Nashville, Broadway St.

It didn’t fill up immediately, as people were still back at the hotel registering (and it was a 20 minute drive once you got an Uber/Lyft), but it really wasn’t too long before the bar was packed!

You can’t see the whole place in one shot. There’s a front and a back bar and an extensive porch/patio/loft area.

Marci and I had fun calling to arriving Llamas from the balcony!

Even our Llama mascot made an appearance at the bar!

Stephanie with the Happy Planner giveaways! Also, everyone who attended received a Happy Planner pin!

About 10:30 pm or so, Marci and I decided to head back to the hotel. It had been a lot of fun, but we were tired and Marci hadn’t gotten anything to eat yet! Jennifer volunteered to stay until close and clean up.

Marci’s table

We snuck back into the ballroom when we returned to check on Marci’s table. It looked incredible. All of the table sponsors had used the time during the Happy Planner Happy Hour to decorate all the tables for Friday morning. We didn’t stay long, and I actually did not try to look at everything. I like to keep some things a bit of a surprise, even for myself.

This late at night, all of the hotel restaurants were closed, as well as room service. The Conservatory Cafe (Faux Starbucks) by my room was open 24 hours, so I picked up a sandwich, coffee, and snack-size hummus and crackers. $18. Such is resort eating.

My roommates, Rachel Donlin and Julia Miller, returned shortly and we went to bed. Julia and I had to be up and at the ballroom at 6:45 am for an all-hands volunteer meeting, while Rachel wanted to be up and in line (to get into the ballroom) even earlier! One of the best reason for volunteering, outside of getting to make people happy? Not having to sit in line for two hours waiting for the conference to open every morning. Truth.

By the end of this day, I had over 20,000 steps recorded on my Fitbit. Buffie, I think, had the high water mark for the day, with over 25,000 steps. I should have initiated a Fitbit challenge, had I been thinking about it. I definitely would have blown my friends out of the water!

Go Wild 2017: Thursday Morning and Afternoon

Early Morning
I woke up (and woke up my roommates) at 5 am, because I forgot to turn off the alarm on my phone. But we had planned on waking early anyway. For some reason.

I didn’t have any volunteer duties scheduled this day, so I used my time to meet up with some planner friends (Isa Wilson, Kay Matuschka, and Lois and Scott Evans; Lois is Buffie’s aunt) who had eaten breakfast at the Cascades American Café. I crashed their table with my venti Starbucks.

After eating, we spent some time wandering around the resort. The Gaylord Opryland is really beautiful. FREAKING HUGE but beautiful, with water features, plants, and natural lighting everywhere.

(Sorry, not sorry, but this post may or may not have a billion photos.)

Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
The hotel is HUGE, but luckily, each area has different carpeting, so you can kinda figure out where you are. This is the hallway to our room in the Garden section.

Wayfinding: From this photo’s perspective, you are standing at the Starbucks in the Garden section, looking at the Conservatory Skywalk, which will take you across and above the Garden section, connecting with the Cascades section (where the hotel lobby lives).

There were three of these large atriums, and Atrium rooms had these adorable balconies with wrought iron bars, tables, and chairs. I wasn’t able to snag one of these rooms, but can imagine that they would have been a lovely place to hang out in the morning with your planner and a cup of coffee, enjoying the atrium view. On the downside, the atrium can get a little noisy and our room was a lot quieter. Not that we were in our room much.

There were a lot of restaurants in the hotel. Most of them cost an arm and a leg, with the notable exception of the Mexican place with the reported $3.50 tacos. I never ate there, but wanted to. Sometimes, you’d spy a restaurant, but have no idea how to navigate to the entrance. This place was a maze of ups and downs, elevators that only went to certain floors, and mysterious Staff Only passageways.

Big guitar. Because Nashville is known for music or something?

Wayfinding: From the Starbucks, if you walk AWAY from the Cascades section, you will reach brown carpeting (Magnolia section), pictured here. Continue down the hallway until it ends to reach Fuse (restaurant/bar) and the other 2 bars where Planjama will be held. I didn’t find this out until later on Wednesday, but going to Fuse, then down the staircase was a MUCH SHORTER trip to Ryman than the circuitous route through Delta (and ALL AROUND the hotel) that I had been taking. Of course, by time I figured this out, we were all but done with working in the Ryman room. Alas.

Cascades American Café had a small aquarium tank. Most of my pictures were blurry, except for this one of the puffer fish, who refused to puff up for me, even when I tapped on the glass.

I took a TON of photos this morning. So many. You may think, OMG! Jennie! Enough with the pictures already! BUT! I really *am* practicing restraint. Don’t believe me? Here’s the link to my Flickr account with ALL of the photos. All 673 of them. And I haven’t uploaded my video files yet. Muahahahaha!

Surrounding the Cascades American Café and between the lobby and the escalators to the Garden section is this koi pond. Also, where a bunch of waterfalls can be found. Hence, “Cascades.”


Cascades American Café

Fish with fancy fins

One of the waterfalls – longer exposure


Pretty Isa

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Isa and I (left) in Cascades

Lois and Scott Evans

Waterfall – long and short exposures

I love palm trees! And they were everywhere!



Wayfinding: If you stand just inside the Cascades atrium outside the lobby, looking at the lobby, walk down the sidewalk to the right (away from the Cascades American Café) and up the stairs. Above the lobby level, you will find yourself at the spa. Go through these wooden double doors and down the corridor to the right to get to the fitness center and pools.

Fitness center

Outdoor pool

Juice, Tea, Gatorade, and Water vending machine

I totally face-snuggled one of these robes. Not even sorry. It was so soft and luxurious!

Indoor pool

Wayfinding: From the lobby, walk straight over the bridge over the koi pond between the double waterfalls (on the left) and Cascades American Café (on the right) to these escalators. They will take you to the Garden section, and subsequently, the Magnolia section. For Delta, make a hard right before you get to the escalators.

Opry Mills
After wandering around Cascades for a while, we decided to go to the Opry Mills mall, which is right outside the Gaylord Opryland property. Thankfully, I had valeted my car and it only took 5 minutes for them to retrieve it!
I don’t think they know I took this. Heeheehee. [Rachel Donlin, Susan Basnett, Kay Matuschka, Nicole Cocci-Mayer]

Ironically, I had Bourbon Chicken from a Cajun place in the mall. #GeauxWild and #GoWildYAll mashup!

After I tried on a bunch of clothes in a store (but didn’t end up getting any), Holly and I were separated from the rest of the group. We were then waylaid by some flirty vendors. I flirted right back, shamelessly, and let him tell me I was pretty, while he basically gave me a mini facial in the mall. I bought some of his products, as they also supported the Holy Land. Unfortunately, this ate up a bit of time, but he was really funny, so it was like a performance. I don’t think I really missed out on the mall experience because of it.

Grand Ole Opry House
On the way back to the hotel, Holly and I made a quick stop at the Grand Ole Opry.

It was super windy, so all my selfies look awful.



I dropped off the car at the valet, freshened up in the hotel room, and went back into volunteer mode!

Go Wild 2017: Wednesday

I had been selected to be a Team Wild volunteer for Go Wild, and since I was driving and had 2 weeks off work, my availability was pretty open. I said that I would be able to be in Nashville by noon on Wednesday. It wasn’t until after this that I looked up how long the drive was. 8 hours! And that’s without gas/rest breaks!

So Tuesday, I did most of my list-making and packing and tried to go to bed early. Like 6 pm early! It didn’t go that well and I spent most of the night praying the rosary, trying to fall asleep. I only got a couple hours of sleep before it was time to get up.

My car, about 1 am, getting fueled for the journey. Note the KAD sticker. This is a planner girl’s car!

I packed the car, did a final sweep of the house, and set out at 1 am. Driving through the night was a good idea, as I missed most of the traffic. The only real slow-down was around 7:30 am, when I hit Cincinnati’s morning commuting traffic.

I arrived in Nashville about 10 am. I had already planned on leaving my car with valet, so I pulled up, and left my car and my luggage with the attendant. I checked-in, and our room was ready, so they allowed me to go to my room 6 hours early! Bell service brought my luggage up a few minutes after I called down. So really, the whole check-in process was pretty easy.

The property is very large, but our room was a straight shot from the Cascades lobby, up the escalators, over the Garden walkway, a right at the (faux)Starbucks, and down the hall to our room. Our room was pretty centrally located and close to coffee, so I was happy!

Room G2089

Our view over one of the Delta walkways. We couldn’t open the window.

I took a few minutes to unwind and look around, then went seeking out others. Karen Miller had been here with her family, so I made my way down to her room. We hung out until it was time to head down to the Ryman rooms (our swag prep area).

Right around noon, two U-Haul trucks arrived (Lisa/Julie’s and Buffie’s) FILLED with boxes of swag, table decorations, etc. We got the okay from hotel staff to use some large parcel carts and began the arduous process of off-loading the U-Hauls. Let me tell you… Those boxes were HEAVY! Buffie was a superstar, though, and worked tirelessly. Many, many props to her!

The loading area of the hotel smelled, and my hands and arms were black from elbow to fingertip with grime by the time we finished unloading the trucks. I was never so glad for water and soap. Then, I was ready for the next part of the adventure…

Swag Bags
While we finished unloading the trucks, some other volunteers had arranged the swag onto two long tables. Betsy, Amanda, Julie, Lisa, myself, and another volunteer prepped the 740 Baggu bags that the swag was to go into. Finally, we were ready. At our peak, we had about 12 volunteers doing laps around the swag tables, selecting one sticker sheet/item per box for the swag bags. Some shops had donated swag for only 1/2 of the attendees, so their swag was in boxes with another 1/2 swag donor. When we got to that box, one or the other would go into the swag bag. This way, people would get approximately the same number of swag items as everyone else, but there was a variation in the exact swag someone received.

And, before you ask, no, volunteers do not get to pick out their own swag. 🙂 We get a random bag like every other attendee. There was SO MUCH and it was all SO CUTE, so there was NO disappointment!

Three hours into the process, we thought for sure that we had to be almost done. BUT! We weren’t even half way through! We were grateful for the pizza that the admins ordered for us. It was delicious! Our feet were hurting, so several of us changed into flip-flops, or took off our shoes and worked in bare/socked feet. A big Thank You to Studio Calico – it was by your swag that we judged our progress! 🙂

We did notice that it was a lot easier to pick up one piece of swag if it was wrapped in cellophane, and all voted to make this a requirement for next Go Wild (with all the non-authority that we possess!).

We finished about 10:30 pm (CST, at this point). Jeanette and Kristin took pics in the piles of swag bags and we returned to our rooms for a shower and some sleep.