Monday, October 27, 2008

South Beach, FL

IPA knows how to do its trainings in style, and this time, Robyn (Russ's boss) made it happen in her own inimitable way. I boarded a plane on Friday, October 24, for a trip that was going to be two legs--PDX to Houston, and Houston to Miami. I managed to read one completely awful review book and was well on my way through the second one. I would have read more, but my seatmate was on his way to Virginia to see his ailing wife. We had quite a nice visit, and I told him I would be praying for him. I then got off the plane. I was one of the last people to deboard since my seat was at the back of the plane. As I was going up the jetway, I was greeted by the hugely smiling face of my husband. What a great surprise!!! I was able to fly with him the rest of the way to Miami. We caught a cab (nearly the cab of death. . .our cabby, Remy, was distracted. . .or tired), and, after one close call and several mini-heart attacks on Russ's part (I couldn't see anything since my seat was right behind our cabby--so I was spared any potential terror), we arrived at our destination, the Regent Bal Harbour. It was absolutely GORGEOUS. To get a sense of the rooms, the link is:

By the time we arrived, I was pretty hungry, so I indulged in a cheeseburger delivered via room service. It was a TRUE indulgence--$42. Fortunately, I didn't cost anything to feed for the rest of the weekend, or we would have been in the poor house. It was also VERY worth it.

The next morning started early. The hotel laid out an amazing breakfast buffet, and spouses were invited to join their husbands on the patio overlooking the view we had from our room: the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Bal Harbour on the other. IPA employees then went for a series of training and planning sessions and a working lunch--while spouses were on their own to either hit the Rodeo Drive like shopping that was nearby, or go back to the luxury of the rooms. Each room had both a bidet and toilet as well as a walk-in, tiled shower, and a free-standing canoe-like tub. I (and many other wives) opted to indulge in the tub prior to boarding a harbor cruise.

Miami weather at this time of year can be pretty capricious, so we started in sunlight that was quickly replaced by thundershowers close to the end of the trip. While it wasn't a guided tour as such, there were several opulent homes and examples of unique architecture. The cruise was a wonderful time for me to get to know several of the wives of Russ's team. They were an amazing collection of women. Lynn will remain in my prayers. I appreciated both her life's story and her positive outlook.

After the cruise came to an end, we all went to a fabulous dinner at the hotel. It was my first time tasting risotto, and it was quite a decadent treat. It was also a night of hilarity. Robyn's coup de gras was a hypnotist. Russ was among the twelve initially chosen, and became part of the final four who were hypnotized for over an hour and a half. He was pretty compliant with all the hypnotist's suggestions, but had some difficulty when part of the directions were to shift in the sports car that he (and the others) were supposedly driving. We had just traded my Eclipse for a SL500, and it's automatic. He did what he was directed to do, he shifted, but he couldn't understand whe he should since his car was an automatic. Apparently, his dreams run German rather than towards the Italian Ferrari that everyone else chose. We also got a peek at Russ in high form as he would have been when talking to a client. We had to be impressed with the passion with which he tackles his job. He woke up rested and slept the best he has in year.

That's not to say we weren't pretty worn out by the time we left. We were all packed up and had just walked out when four ladies got into the available cab. I have to admit, I was a little envious. . .until our cab (which was about fifteen minutes or so later) passed theirs, broken down, on the side of the road. If we had had room we would have invited them into ours. I returned home, exhausted, but refreshed. It's an oxymoron, I know, but I was well pampered, read three to four review books and to commemorate the event, Russ and I picked up two souveniers at the Miami airport: Russ found an amazing Visconti pen that he got at an incredible discount, and he purchased the most beautiful jeweled pendant for me. I call it my "bauble." I think at first he thought I was belittling the gift until I explained the history behind the term. The cat I had growing up had been an indoor-outdoor cat all her life. When I moved into my college apartment, I took her with me. Based on the experience of having lost a family cat in an apartment complex, I determined to put a caller and ID tag on Boopers. She was having NONE of it. That was until I got a reflective heart that looked somewhat jeweled. I made over her and her pretty bauble, and, believe it or not, she visibly acted as if she were a more beautiful cat. My bauble makes me a much more beautiful woman. . .at least I feel like it does.

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