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.
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!
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…
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.