Saturday, December 22, 2012

Back from Boston

Took this pic on the way to airport

On Wednesday 10/31 (yes, Halloween and on the heels of hurricane Sandy) my Mother and I headed to the airport in anticipation of our trip to Boston.  This was my second year going to Boston and my mom's very first time.

We arrived at the airport at 5:30 and it was dang near empty.  No one was in the check in line and the security line was also non-existent.  There was only a handful of people in the airport waiting for flights for the first hour that we were there.   We would be connecting in San Francisco and our flight to Boston was the last one out of San Francisco for the night.  We almost had to stay the night in San Francisco.  It's only about 50 minutes from Reno to San Francisco but it seemed like forever because there was a lot of turbulence and we were on a small plane.  I have never prayed on a flight the way I did that night. 

The San Francisco airport is huge and our connecting flight came in from Hawaii so it ended up in the international section.  What a nightmare.  I truly felt like we were in that reality TV show, Amazing Race.  They made it seem like we only had 1 minute to get to our gate all the way on the west wing.  I really did not want to stay the night in SFO so we were booking to make it to our gate.  When we finally got there, our plane wasn't even boarding yet.  They were boarding 2 different flights, one to China and one to Australia.  It looked like we weren't the only ones rushing to the gate.  Once we boarded our flight, an older couple actually convinced them to reopen the gate for them.  Two words, Amazing Race.

We arrived in Boston at around 8:00 a.m.  We were greeted at the baggage claim by a friendly young woman holding a sign for BiogenIdec.  We got our bags and she led us to a sleek black luxury car.  Almost like a limo but a bit too short.  The driver kindly loaded our bags in the car for us and we were on our way.  The weather in Boston was beautiful.  The sky was clear and blue and the temperature was a comfortable 69 degrees.  Hurricane Sandy only yielded heavy rain and winds in Boston just a day before.  How did Boston escape the extreme damage left in New York and the Jersey Shore?  I thought for sure the conference would be cancelled because Boston was expected to be in the eye of the storm.  To all those affected by that terrible storm, my condolences and prayers go out to you.  I asked God to renew your hope and your strength and to restore all that was lost and more.  May God also have mercy on the souls of those who lost their lives.

Our hotel was only a few minutes away from the airport in downtown Boston which is very similar to downtown San Francisco.  When we arrived at the hotel, a doorman named Humberto was there to unload our luggage while we checked in and then led us to our room.  He gave us some very helpful tips about the city and what was nearby. 

He was also sure to warn us that everything in the refrigerator was extremely expensive and told us not to even remove something to look at it. If we did, a signal would automatically go to the front desk and charge it to our room. Most of the items didn't even have a price. The box of chocolates to the left of the Snickers was $8. There was a tiny section which had just enough space to store a drink or two of your own. 

We were super tired and hungry.  The conference wasn't expected to start until 5:00 p.m. so we had some time to do a little sightseeing near the hotel.  We tried to find a restaurant nearby but there were only deli's. 

We were near the Boston Tea Party Museum but it was closed.

 We took a few pics outside the hotel.


There was a water taxi directly outside the back of the hotel.

The hotel had a 3 restaurants but one was closed and the other two were only serving light, continental style breakfast.  So we did the next best thing and ordered room service.  We wanted some meat and some eggs, ya know.  My Mom had steak and eggs and I had blueberry pancakes and sausage links.  Now that really hit the spot.  After that it was time for a nap.

Later that evening we headed down for dinner and mingling.  I spotted some people that I met last year and connected with some new folks too.  At the conferences, they always serve wonderful food buffet style and there is even an open bar with different varieties of beer and wine.  It always surprises me to see the alcohol because at least 90% of the people there are on assorted medications.  But we are all adults and everyone was sure to manage their alcohol intake very well.  The first night was mainly introductions and a review of the conference schedule. 

The following day was mostly meetings and training.  

The meetings are always very informative and the training is actually a lot of fun.  We act out different scenarios and laugh a lot!!!  We also receive updates on the latest health care information, healthy tips, government affairs (this was a few weeks before the election so it was super interesting) and more.  There is also a presentation from the CEO George Scangos.  Can I just say that George is very passionate about MS treatment.  His story is quite remarkable and he seems like a very humble man. 

Later that day, we were loaded with tons of information and ready to relax and unwind.  Now was a good time to rest, take a bath, explore the hotel and city or whatever else our active brains could think of.  My mom and I decided to hang out in our room and visit with a woman named Cleo.  She is a singer and she serenaded us with a song chosen by my mother, His Eye Is On The Sparrow.  Her soprano voice range was music to my ears.  I loved her.  Her smile was infectious.

That evening, we had a wonderful cocktail attire dinner and dessert. We danced, played games and really had a wonderful time. There was a photo booth too. We took pics with a few other women that I met last year. Talk about funny, we couldn't stop laughing.

After dinner and dancing to a few of my favorite songs, my Mom and I headed to our room to get packed and prepared to leave the next afternoon, right after the conference ended.  I really missed my husband and my daughters and I was anxious to get back home.  We had a long day ahead of us and we were still drained from the 3 hours that we lost when we arrived on the east coast.  I just hoped the airport gates in Denver weren't too far away from our connecting flight.  (It ended up being the same gate that we arrived at, yahoo!)

It's a good thing our final day was short and sweet.  At breakfast the next morning you could tell that everyone was drained and quite frankly ready to head home.  The famous or infamous bell had little to no effect on anyone.  If you read my post about the conference from last year, Boston Advocate Conference you might recall the bell that I described as a xylophone made of steel.  Ok, so I'm not very good at identifying small musical instruments because it was certainly not a xylophone.

Fifteen minutes before each session, a woman would walk around with hand held chimes. The melody was very pleasant and low key. It reminded me of something you would expect to hear on the front porch of your beach front bungalow, when the wind would blow ever so slightly. Now, since I don't have anything like that, this is just my imagination running wild incorporated with things I must have seen on TV.

Yeah well that bell was pretty much viewed as more of a suggestion.  Most of us arrived at breakfast with only 10 minutes to spare, this is what eventually happens when you get spoiled from day one.  That is until a staff member literally went to each table and gently urged us to get moving.  Our brains were loaded to the max and I'd say we were anxious to share all that we had learned with family and friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc....  We were sure to exchange numbers and social media information with those that we hung out with during the conference. 

By 12:30 we were having our final lunch and wrapping things up with closing remarks, sentiments and deep felt appreciation.  Many shout outs were given to the BiogenIdec staff for such an amazing, pampered weekend.  Their employees are so caring and dedicated to the MS community.  To Pamela Raglin, Thanks for all you do and have done for me and people with MS.  Me and my Mom had a wonderful time and everyone loved my Mom. 

I am looking forward to my next opportunity to address a crowd about living with MS.  For more resources on Multiple Sclerosis, go to