So much happened in the last 4 days, I’m going to have to break it up into a few posts. I have lots of pictures of some of the cool/interesting/weird things I saw at AETA but I still need to finish uploading and resizing those, so for today I’ll cover everything non-AETA that went on during my trip. I do want to say though – what a learning experience. It was really cool to be able to see and touch and try on so many different things, talk to the reps (some of which were amazing and some of which were not), and get a feel for what the different brands are all about. With some of them the conversation segued into me being a blogger, and while a few of them looked at me like I was from another planet, others became more interested in talking to me. It’s enlightening to see who realizes just how important the power of an internet and social media presence can be, and who really wants to be involved. We’ll talk about that more tomorrow. Moving on…
I arrived in Philly on Friday around noon, with the kind of descent and landing that leaves you reaching for a barf bag. For a minute I was pretty sure I might puke with all the rolling around and dropping we did, but luckily that was avoided. After some aimless wandering around the airport I found the right shuttle and got my rental car, then immediately set off to meet my friend Michele so we could hit a couple tack shops. I’ve known Michele for a long time but haven’t seen her since she moved from TX to Delaware… I think Sadie was 2 when she left so somewhere around 5-6 years. I love her, it was really nice to catch up and do some shopping with her (she thinks I’m a bad influence but I have no idea what she’s talking about). After an awesome lunch we hit Bit of Britain. I’d been to the mobile at Fair Hill many years ago but never their brick and mortar, and I really wanted to see if they had a jockey whip in my colors. Not only did they have navy and white, they also had navy and yellow. I’ve been thinking of adding some yellow in to help distinguish myself from the sea of other bay thoroughbreds wearing navy, so I figured the whip was a sign. I grabbed that, a navy eventer pad (they only had one left in the size I needed so I figured that was also a sign), some yellow laces for my Tipperary, and a few other little things. Of course, I’m an idiot and accidentally left the laces at the hotel so I’m going to have to buy more. Fail.
Then we quickly headed over to Rick’s before they closed. I’ve heard a lot about this place being a maze of amazingness, with a really impressive collection of used saddles, so I figured it was something I had to see. We only got there half an hour before they closed so our exploring time was limited, but it did not disappoint. It was almost like an equestrian fun house. Every room seemed to lead to yet another room, with stairs leading to yet another room, and so on and so on. It would be easy to spend all day in there. We hustled up to the used saddles – there were 3 rooms of those with just about every brand you can imagine, from the cheapest of cheap to the very top of high end. I wasted no time grabbing the dressage saddles that appealed to me so I could sit in them. No surprise – the only one I liked was the only French saddle in the room, a Hermes. At least my love for French and Italian things is really consistent?
On Saturday I finished at AETA around mid-afternoon, and since I was so close (literally minutes away) from Valley Forge, I couldn’t resist popping in there to see it. Of course I’m also winter-stupid, so I opted for the walking tour even though it was 25 degrees. Besides freezing my ass off and fleeing back to my car for the much warmer driving tour about halfway through, I failed to realize the kind of windburn that can occur in those conditions until I was back in my hotel room and my face looked like The Walking Dead. Oops, lesson learned. But Valley Forge was REALLY cool – I highly recommend popping in for a visit if you’re a history buff and find yourself in the area.
Then it was off to meet Emily, Allison, Pam and Jenn for dinner. I think Emily is the only one of us that got a picture so she’ll have to share that, but it was really nice to meet everyone in person and get a sense of who they really are behind the blog. Or in Pam’s case, behind the business. Many thanks to her for continuing to be so supportive of the blogging community.
I picked up Megan, the owner of Luxe EQ, from the airport around midnight and then for some reason we stayed up until 2am talking. Our early appointments at AETA the next day were rough but we don’t get to see each other as much since she moved to Houston so it was nice to catch up even at the expense of proper sleep. On Sunday night we went to the AETA dinner and chatted with some (new-to-me) friends from other shops. Many buffet desserts were eaten and laughs were had. They also had the Super Bowl up on a couple big screens, and while I couldn’t care less about football, this white girl just about lost her mind when Missy Elliot showed up. My love for Missy runs deep. Finally someone decent in a halftime show! After our appointments on Monday Megan and I stopped on the way to the airport and got a Philly Cheesesteak… we figured it was something vital to experience since we’d come all that way. It was great, but holy cow, I don’t think I’ll be hungry again for a week.
Overall it was a great time and all the non-AETA time was filled with friends, food, and exploration. Not a bad way to spend a long weekend! Tomorrow we’ll delve into AETA itself and all the stuff.