On December 18th last year, it was decided that I’d attend this year’s iDate conference in Vegas.  This was a BIG thing, not just for the site, but for me personally as I’ve never wanted to fly before.  This would be the first time I’ve ever been on a plane, and I was really not looking forward to it.  Scared would be an understatement.  At 4pm on the 17th of January I started my journey.  I had to get a bus to Swansea, then one to London, stay in a hotel overnight and be at the airport at around 8am.  On the bus to London I started having second thoughts.  I really didn’t know if I could do it, and seriously considered getting the next bus back home.  My mood wasn’t raised when I saw the hotel room I was staying in.  It was right next to the airport and boy, could you hear those planes taking off!  I spoke to Marc Lesnick, the conference organiser to let him know I was on my way.  I think he was genuinely relieved to hear I hadn’t backed out, as he knew just how scared I was about the whole thing.  As this was my first flight, and it was a long flight, I decided to upgrade my seat.  Nothing fancy, just from economy to economy plus.  It meant I’d hopefully have the seats either side free, so wouldn’t feel confined for the 11 hours it would take to get to Los Angeles and hour to Vegas.  Luckily my gamble paid off for the first flight, and when I got on the plane I had the entire set of 3 seats to myself.  The valium my doctor had given me helped too.  I felt kind of numb in the head, but wasn’t having a panic attack,which was my main worry.  Food was OK, even if the combinations were a little odd to me.  The staff were pleasant and were constantly coming around with drinks.  The in flight entertainment was good as well.  In the end, that flight was actually pretty pleasant.  So far, so good.

After an uneventful flight to LAX, I met up with an old friend who’d offered to meet me and take me for food.  You’ll know him from the site as HillBilly.  Well, we went for food once we managed to find his car anyway.  We went to the In-N-Out burger nearby, but I couldn’t eat much.  My stomach was swirling and my brain was telling me “It’s midnight.  How the hell can you be eating burger and fries at midnight damnit!”.  What I did eat of it was pretty good though, I do have to admit.  Getting back into the airport meant having to go through the body scanner.  I had three 10p pieces and my mobile phone in my pockets, which I’d forgotten to remove.  A quick pat down by security and I was free to go.  My cunning plan of upgrading didn’t work so well this time.  The flight was packed and there were no empty seats next to me.  Luckily it was only a short flight, and soon I was in Vegas.   I knew Vegas was all about gambling, but I didn’t expect to see them in the airport too.  They really were everywhere.  At around 9pm Vegas time, I was finally out of the airport and got to experience the bright lights, albeit briefly.  After around 10 minutes in a shuttle bus, I arrived at my first hotel.

The hotel the conference was in – the Tropicana – was full that first night, but I had an early book in time the next morning.  I’d booked myself into a cheap room to start.  It was in a real dive of a hotel.  I logged onto my computer and had a message from Marc inviting me to breakfast the next morning if I was up to it.  My stomach decided on my behalf that there was no way I was going to be eating for the next 48 hours.  I checked in with family, made sure all was good at the site and hit the shower before getting some well earned sleep.  I woke up the next morning feeling utterly wretched.  Here I was, thousands of miles from home, all alone and really feeling completely out of my depth.  Luckily that wouldn’t last for much longer.

Stay tuned for part 2, when I meet friends old and new, attend the conference and celebrate my birthday by playing pinball.