In June 2001, a few things were happening in my life all at once:
- We were moving house;
- I was finishing up another semester of uni (I had about 3 essays due I think);
- and I was preparing to travel overseas to meet my first ever ... wait for it ... internet friends!
These were people I'd met through my love of the epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time, which drew me to an online community of fellow fans in mid-2000. I knew these people really well, having spent copious hours chatting to them (it's amazing the things you learn about people you've never met in person!). But I was still nervous. And I know my mum was as well. ;)
In 2001, going off to meet a group of people "from the internet" was a huge deal. It's still kind of a huge deal today, actually - people still look at me funny when I talk about my internet friends. But I guess it's more commonplace now than it was then.
So we moved house, and I staggered across the uni semester finish line, and finally it was time to pack my bags and head for the airport.
From Perth I flew to San Francisco, where things got off to a rocky start because my friends and I couldn't FIND each other! I didn't even hear my name being called over the loudspeaker, probably 'cause I was too busy crying into the pay phone to Mum. Finally, though, I got found, and with a certain amount of sick relief we all headed off to the car and hit the road, heading northeast towards Auburn, CA.
It's true nobody killed me over those first few days (or any of the other days to follow), but my mum must have been wondering, since it was another 3 days before I thought to let her know I was safe and found. Sorry, Mum! ;)
Most of my time during this trip was spent in California, but we also went on a rather epic road trip up north, collecting more friends along the way. We drove through Oregon (where we stayed a night with one of those friends), and finally up to Washington State. In Seattle we met up with yet more friends and hung out for a few fun-filled days.
|Deception Pass, WA (no, that's not me).|
|The Seattle gang (me with my arms around my shins).|
Later, I flew to Atlanta, Georgia, to meet up with two more of my (interwebs) (also potential axe-murdering) friends, one of whom had actually paid for my plane ticket out there (she rocks to this day!). We hung out, watched crap movies, and met her then new boyfriend (now husband). We did a bit of sight-seeing as well, including visiting Stone Mountain and the Coca Cola Museum. And we met up with yet more WoT community friends.
|The Atlanta gang.|
|Me (middle) with 2 friends at Stone Mountain, GA.|
There was one more meeting that occurred in 2001, during a few hours I spent waiting at Phoenix Airport for a flight. I met up with two more friends there.
|At Phoenix airport.|
So for my whole trip I hadn't had my own funds to assist in gorging myself on food. My friends were good enough to feed me, and for that I am eternally grateful!
Anyway, that about sums up my 2001 trip to the U.S. to hang out with people I hadn't ever met in person before. I'm still friends with many of them to this day.