Now I'm getting nervous. New River Birding and Nature Festival is a few short days away! As Susan says, "Is anybody ready to pee their pants yet?". I have been incredibly busy with work (budget season with a cantankerous CFO) and family obligations (hosting Easter weekend for 20 people) that I didn't see New River sneaking up on me.
Suddenly I have a to-do list a mile long to get ready for my 8-hour drive and my week with the Flock in West Virginia. Get the oil in the car changed; buy bug spray and sunscreen; assemble electronics (GPS, laptop, cell phone and camera) along with all their assorted chargers; buy a West Virginia road atlas in case the GPS fails me; decide which bird books to bring; pack the Teaching Company CDs (European History and European Lives from 1715 to 1914 is my latest purchase) to make the car trip entertaining and informative (I hate long distance car travel); put bottles of water and the Freez-Pak in the freezer for the cooler in the car; buy snacks for the drive; check that the hotel has wi-fi; stock the house with frozen pizza, Gatorade and Mountain Dew for the housesitter who has a particularly monotonous diet; buy enough cat food, litter, suet and bird seed so the housesitter can take care of my animals; remember to buckle the stone chicken in the passenger seat so she can be the New River flock mascot (thanks Susan) and pray that I don't get stopped by a trooper on the way down. Explaining a cement chicken riding shotgun may be hard to do.
I have the 1/2 week package at New River, so I don't arrive until Wednesday evening and my first field trip, Birding by Butt (gotta love it!) is on Thursday morning. Then it is Cranberry Glades on Friday and High Country on Saturday. After checking out of the hotel on Sunday, I will be driving an hour or so to Renick, West Virginia, to spend two days with my uncle and cousin who built a vacation cabin there. I have done some pretty sweet birding on their property (7 life birds on my last visit), so I anticipate another two days of birding after my three days at the festival.
Mostly, I am nervous about meeting the rest of the Flock. I met Lynne, Kathi, Susan, Laura and Delia last fall in Cape May, NJ at the Autumn Migration Festival. I was a lurker on their blogs for almost two years and never had the nerve to comment or introduce myself. Now they have opened their arms and their huge, wonderful hearts to me and I feel like a freshman at a new high school, worried about fitting in. There will be other members of the Flock that I will be meeting for the first time, like Mary. Sweet, wonderful Mary who moves me to tears with her blog posts and gorgeous pictures.
So the tension builds as the trip approaches. Part of me is nervous but most of me is so damn excited I can hardly stand it! Lots to do, lots to look forward to...