Horrendous jet lag, lost luggage, 24 hours delay on return journey. Was it worth it? Oh my God - yes, yes - a hundred times yes!! I'm so glad we decided to go - I will remember it for the rest of my life. But for those who don't want to read yet another Orc report I will put my ramblings behind a cut
Our flight from Birmingham to Newark, NJ was delayed by an hour - not unusual, I know, but it meant we only just made the connection to LA. When we arrived - the ultimate nightmare - one of our suitcases was missing!! Apparently it never got put on the plane - don't know why - but thankfully it was delivered to our hotel that night. We arrived quite late on the Wednesday night but when we woke the next day I felt terrible - a splitting headache, throwing up - here I was in the US for the first time in my life and I couldn't get to see it, I just wanted to sleep. By late afternoon I felt a lot better and we had a look at Pasadena and the beautiful shopping centre. Its such a lovely place and we were so lucky with the weather considering what it had been like earlier. That night we went to the prereg and got our wristbands.
The highlight of Friday was seeing Dom on stage - he is a very entertaining speaker - but its a pity he couldn't appear with Billy, they're so hilarious together. Dom also took part in the panel for the "Ringers" documentary - this looks so good, I'm dying to see the whole thing. That night there was an 'ice cream party' and World Without Sundays were playing. I must admit this is not really my kind of music, but even so I could tell they sounded very professional and my husband, who knows more than me about these things, agreed.
Of course, Saturday was the big day for me. Elijah's photo ops were due to begin at 12.30 and as we ambled into the room about 10 mins before I couldn't believe it hadn't occurred to me that there would be a huge queue before that. And it was huge. However, my time finally arrived and I was ushered into the inner sanctum - a room with large, black curtains to prevent people from looking in. The impact of seeing him again can't easily be described - although he looks stunning in pics, when you see him in the flesh you really feel that no photo can do him justice. Although this was not the first time I'd seen him, he took my breath away all over again. There were still a few people in front of me so I was able to spend some time just watching Lij - the first sight I had of him he was wiping his face all over with a wad of tissues - I thought perhaps he was hot, then realised that someone had probably covered his face with lipstick!! The next person, a young girl, promptly plonked herself in his lap. So much for all their rules and regulations!! As everyone will have seen from all the pics, Lij has cut his hair. I thought I'd be disappointed if he did this, I was hoping he was going to keep it long, but it actually looked really nice. When my turn came I really felt in a daze. I'd ordered three pics, in the hope that at least one of them would be good. Can't remember exactly what I said, or what he said, but I think it was "Hello Elijah, its lovely to see you". He smiled the smile at me and said hello and something else which I don't remember. I then showed him the gift bag I had for him and explained a little about the contents - and then showed him the list of contents I'd taped to the bag. He seemed very interested and intrigued and I'm so happy to hear that they all took their gifts home with them. And then - be still my poor old beating heart - he put his arm round me ready for the first photo. You would think, after doing this so many times, he would be getting rather tired and perhaps just place his arm across your shoulders. No way!! He hugged me really tight, and my automatic response was to put my arm round him and squeeze tight too!! I will never forget how that felt - and I'm never washing that cardigan again - ever!! He then shifted position a bit for the next pic and as we were getting ready for the final pic he suddenly said "Wait a minute - whats that?" He pointed to an envelope I was holding in my other hand - he obviously thought it was something I'd meant to give him and forgotten about. I said "Oh thats just my tickets" - which seemed to amuse him and the photographer. For the final pic, he placed his hand on my right knee. Let me repeat that. Elijah placed his hand upon MY RIGHT KNEE!!! I sort of linked my arm through his, but all the time I was thinking - I don't want this to end. He just makes everyone feel so special, young and old - everyone. But of course, it had to end - I thanked him and walked out in a complete daze. My husband talked to me about everyday, mundane things like - shall we eat now? Eat? Didn't know what he meant - couldn't focus. I was actually delighted with the photos but I hesitated about posting them here because the scan doesn't look nearly as good as the original. Anyway, I've decided to post just one for now and if I can improve the scans I'll post the other two:
But there was more to come. Next we saw Sean and Lij on stage which was just wonderful. I won't go on too much about this because there are lots of detailed reports around. I'm sure everyone knows about the ballroom dancing, hugging the little girl who was crying, Lij's suppository story plus volcanic results, etc. This was followed by the autograph session. Billy was first in the line - he had a rather obnoxious man next to him who kept saying "No personalisations, no personal contact, no this, that and the other". Billy was his usual friendly, charming self and Lij was next. I gave him 3 things to sign, plucked up all my courage and managed to say what I hadn't been able to at CM4. I told him I'd met him last year but had been so nervous I wasn't able to thank him for being the perfect Frodo - I said he should have got an Oscar and nobody has every affected me like that before. I know - I hope - he's heard this a million times before, but he seemed genuinely pleased and appreciative. I then said that I hoped he'd come and see us in the UK again soon. He said "yes, we'd really like to do that" - always "we" - never "I". I had really hoped to shake his hand while I was saying this but didn't because of the 'no personal contact' man to the left. I wish now that I'd taken no notice of him and just taken Lij's hand anyway. And then I had to move on. Someone was talking to Sean and he did my signing at the same time so I never got to speak to him - but it did give me time to steal a few extra glances at Lij!! He just has an aura about him - I don't think it will ever be possible to describe it.
That night we all got dressed up for the Torn awards. I was so glad Elijah won the award for "Best LOTR actor in another film" - for Eternal Sunshine.
One disappointment was that I didn't manage to meet anywhere near as many people as I thought I would. There were several people I was suppose to make contact with and for one reason or another it didn't happen. However, it was wonderful to meet those that I did find.
Saw JRD on stage the next day - he was so entertaining, just brilliant. And the final thing we saw was Charles Ross performing his one man LOTR show. In half an hour, without any props or dressing-up, he enacted all 3 films - and it was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Amazing.
And so we wended our way back to the hotel - it was over. I loved it - and so did my husband. When we left Pasadena it was like the most beautiful summers day you could get in England, as it had been most of the time. And this is winter!! I was really not ready to leave. And the Hilton hotel - we kept asking ourselves what we were doing there, it was sumptuous, just gorgeous - and we could only afford it because of the reduced rates given to those going to Orc.
The journey home also had its share of disasters. In the shuttle on the way to the airport I suddenly thought I'd lost the small bag which contained our passports, tickets, money, etc. Panic ensued - but we found it on the floor. What I didn't realise until later was that I'd pulled my brand new hooded, fleece jacket out of its bag while we were searching - and must have left it on the seat or the floor. Arrived in icy, windswept New Jersey minus jacket. I was only wearing quite a thin top, but my husband lent me his coat as he had a thick jumper on. The flight from LA was late arriving which made us miss our connecting flight to the UK by minutes. We were then told there wouldn't be another flight for 24 hours. They put us up at a hotel - but by that stage we just wanted to get home. When we did finally reach home I was feeling quite paranoid about our cases because of our previous experience. And as you might guess, there we were standing there - carousel completely empty, everone else gone. A woman came up to us and led us back to a window - and then I could sight of a trolley containing our cases - they'd come on the plane we missed the night before. We were supposed to know this by some kind of telepathy, of course!! We were both supposed to be back at work that day but had to take more time off. And I'm still jet lagged, though not as ill as before, probably because of the big break between flights. This has worried me about our flight to NZ - don't want to miss the first day in Auckland because of jetlag.
Needless to say, all these little calamaties really don't matter one jot - I'm just so thankful that we decided to make this trip - it has left me with such very special memories and when I read my previous post I realise how very silly I was to worry about the age thing - there were people of all ages, from small kids to quite elderly. There will be another Orc next year - it would be lovely if the hobbits could look on it as an annual reunion - and if so, I just hope we can scrape together enough cash to repeat this wonderful experience:)
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