Saturday, February 28, 2015

US Trip - Meeting Crafty Friends

When we decided our trip to the States was a go... meaning I'd actually booked non-refundable tickets... one of the first things I made up my mind to do was to a) go to as many craft places as I possibly could but most importantly Michaels, Joanns and Viva Las Vegas Stamps and b) meet with as many crafting friends as would meet with me.
We had started planning our trip, well the first week of it so that we knew we could get to Oklahoma in time for the party... more on that later, so I knew some of the places we would be stopping at - Los Angeles, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Flagstaff, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Amarillo, Texas and Tulsa, Oklahoma even though the last location ended up changing the closer we got to the trip.
I started asking questions, where to go, where to stay, what to do, who would be willing to meet me... after I promised I really, really wasn't crazy or a stalker. I also had to bear in mind that I would have my darling hubbie in tow, so I couldn't spend all my free time craft shopping (as much as I might have liked to) and I had to be select about what I purchased, so he didn't find out how much I spent... sssshhhhhuussshhh.
After messages and emails and Facebook stalking, I mean research... I had in place plans to meet a couple of people I had met online in real life. Both lived in Las Vegas... (quite convenient I thought) so I wouldn't spend too much time boring hubbie to death.
Several weeks of planning, several thousand kilometres of flight, at least 12 hours flying and several more hours driving... on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road... and we finally made it to Las Vegas.
The only thing I didn't plan, or even think about until it was too late, was that the weekend we were in Las Vegas was the US Labour Weekend. As the Monday was a public holiday, every man and his dog was in Las Vegas for a fun, long weekend... or at least that's what it felt like to us poor Kiwis from little old New Zealand.
Here in New Zealand, in general, a public holiday means that most businesses are closed for the day. There are obvious exceptions, such as service stations, some convenience stores, building and gardening places (because we Kiwis have a great love of DIY), though this is a generalisation as it depends upon which public holiday it is... such is the New Zealand Holidays Legislation.
I digress... but over in the States, most places, except I think local and federal government agencies, were actually open. I had confirmed this in writing with my MUST VISIT place... Viva Las Vegas Stamps. This was to be the venue for my meet with both of my friends.
Monday duly arrived and I woke up keen to go craft shopping at last and meet my friends and instead I was greeted with the moans of a very unhappy hubbie. Unfortunately for him, the Thai dinner we had, at the Thai wedding we crashed the night before had not gone down well and he'd been up most of the night with a very upset stomach. He was still feeling somewhat second hand so he told me he'd be okay and that I shouldn't change my plans just because he was unwell.
Now I'm pretty sure that most normal people would have the same internal conversation as what I did that morning... Part of me was quite concerned as he was looking quite pale; another part of me was wondering whether he was just using it as an excuse to get out of being dragged around yet another craft place and yet a another part of me was ever so secretly jumping for joy that my crafty shopping wouldn't be stifled by the ball and chain, I mean my darling hubbie.
So feigning great personal sacrifice, I ventured out alone... sans navigator... in a strange city... in a strange country. Just between you and me... as I left I tried not to look too enthusiastic and instead showed the right amount of concern that hubbie would be okay without me, and that I really wouldn't be gone that long... YEAH RIGHT.
Thanks to my trusty GPS in my trusty Samsung Galaxy 5 (when she cooperates and keeps up to speed with my driving) I managed to find my way to Viva Las Vegas Stamps. It was less than 10 minutes drive from where we were staying... more by good luck than good management... though it seemed to take forever to get there, I think because I was just eager to get there everything seemed to be moving in slow motion.
Press the buzzer, get let in the building, walk down the hallway - the whole way staring and looking all around me at everything on display... so much neon... until I walked through the door into the hallowed land... Viva Las Vegas Stamps SHOP.
I arrived with plans of taking photos and videos of the shop just so I could share with you how amazing it is inside. Instead I shopped, and shopped and then did even more shopping. I probably could have done even more shopping, had I not actually been concerned about hubbie's welfare.
The good news was I finally got to meet DeeDee from UmWow Studios and of course one of the Viva Las Vegas Stamps Designers and a truly awesome lady. The bad news was my other friend didn't make it, but I would catch up with him another time.

We did manage to sneak a photo of the two of us, though to be honest as much as I loved the neon lights, they are not particularly conducive to good selfies!! And look... we were both wearing red and both had red rimmed glasses. We talked a little, okay a lot. I shopped, we talked some more, I did some more shopping... you get the picture... I shopped a lot!
For those who have not experienced the glory that is Viva Las Vegas Stamps... see that shelf just over DeeDee's left shoulder (the top right corner-ish from where you are sitting)... yes those five shelves that you can see absolutely smothered in stamps... well take that image, then times by three for the approximate height of the shelves, then double that for the approximate width of the shelves then multiply by two as the shelves are generally back to back... and then... and then... multiply that by 25 maybe even 30 and you would still probably under estimated the sheer volume of stamps in this one cavern of rubber and wood heaven. (Sorry that sounds a bit 50 Shades of Grey Red Roomish... but you stampers and crafters know what I mean.)
I read somewhere or watched a video tour, that VLVS has over 19,000 different stamps available... and I think I missed some, even though I was there a good several hours!
Words can not describe my sense of amazement at this place. Suffice it to say... I will be going back, even if I have to swim across the ocean and then walk across the desert to get there... literally.
As I mentioned I did do a little shopping there...
I may have bought one or two stamps. These are just the unmounted stamps... there was another pile, probably just as big, if not bigger of mounted stamps and there was the box of stamp plates that I had pre-ordered that were posted back to New Zealand for me.
Believe it or not, rubber stamps, even when unmounted soon become quite heavy. Even with two of us, with two suitcases each (yes we had to buy extra suitcases while we were in the States) and a full back pack as cabin baggage we still only had so much weight in terms of out luggage that we could take on the plane, and yes the airlines weighed it all very carefully. So while we rested in Newark, New Jersey before we flew back to New Zealand via Los Angeles, I trimmed every single unmounted stamp I bought to remove as much excess weight as possible. As you can see it ended up being quite a hefty pile of off cuts. I would hazard a guess that I managed to save a good couple of kilos at least... which saved us going over our limit and meant we didn't have to pay excess luggage fees as well as the extra bags fees. Well worth all the effort even if I say so myself.

Be sure to check back soon as I share stories of who else I met and where, while we travelled across the States as well as seeing some more of all the crafty goodness I bought along the way.

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