I know that several of you enjoy coming along to conferences and other DNA and genealogy activities, so I’m sharing my first couple days in Salt Lake City preparing for RootsTech.
The activities and planning begin long before the conference starts.
I flew in on Sunday. The weather was sunny and beautiful, albeit cold.
The heartland was covered in white dressing with its frozen rivers snaking across the landscape.
I was distracted for most of the flight, because author Libby Copeland sent me a pre-release copy of her new book, The Lost Family due to be released March 3rd. Libby wasn’t just being nice, I’m in the book, or more precisely, me, my “brother” Dave and my Dad.
Here’s the page I opened to see my name. I knew I was in the book of course, after several interviews months ago, but there’s still somewhat of a shock factor. My story is interwoven with many others, beautifully. If you follow the genetic genealogy topic on Facebook, you’ll probably recognize at least some of the people in the storyline. I’ve written about at least one in earlier stories as well.
Let us just say I am sobbing my way through this book. It’s AMAZING. My seatmate on the plane sobbed her way through the movie Harriett, so we made quite the pair.
You can pre-order The Lost Family, now, here if you want. It’s about family lost, and found, DNA and genealogy and you really don’t want to miss it. It’s so well-written that it would be interesting for non-genealogists too.
The mountains ringing Salt Lake City were utterly stunning on approach.
Ironically, I’ve never been any further outside SLC other than the airport and quilt shop.
Yes, quilt shop, but that’s Monday, not Sunday.
After arrival in Salt Lake City (SLC) and checking into my hotel, I walked to the local market. Never go to the market hungry, because groceries are HEAVY. What seemed like an easy 4 or 5 block walk TO the store felt much longer on the way back and those groceries got heavier block by block. I would have ordered delivery, but walking on this lovely bright winter day seemed like a great idea.
Other than the grocery, the only other shop open in SLC was a souvenir shop. Don’t count on finding much open. SLC reminds me of where I grew up as a kid – buttoned up tight on Sunday.
My room overlooks the Nordstrom’s next door, which, let me tell you, has the single most expensive eye liner pencil in history. Well, had, because I bought it out of desperation. You can see the mountains in the distance from almost everyplace in SLC.
Looking across the roof of Nordstrom, you can see the LDS church and temple in the distance. That building is beautiful. At the far left, the Plaza Hotel which stands right beside the Family History Library (FHL).
Later in the evening, I took a photo of the temple illuminated at night. My friend Pat told me that you can visit a building across from the temple and take pictures from the 10th floor of the temple, day or evening, from windows between two restaurants.
Monday morning dawned bright and beautiful, much like Sunday, but colder. I wished I had brought my gloves.
The first genealogist I ran into (in Starbucks) was Daniel Horowitz, genealogist extraordinaire with MyHeritage. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to see good friends again.
Which also reminds me to tell you that MyHeritage is running a DNA test special for only $39 with free shipping on orders of 2 or more. This is an incredible price, so if you’re interested, now’s the time, so click here. I doubt this price will last long.
After a brief visit with Daniel, it was time to head for the Family History Library (FHL), located just a block or so from both the hotel and the Salt Palace Convention Center where RootsTech is held.
Pat Richley-Erickson, known in the genealogy world as Dear Myrtle, and who writes at DearMYRTLE on Facebook, was interviewing bloggers, otherwise known as GeneaBloggers, beginning at 10AM. When I said that Pat writes, she does, but she’s also known for her live Monday broadcasts that you can find at Monday’s With Myrt. If you don’t catch the broadcasts live, you can view them a couple days later when Pat renders the videos and posts them.
The Monday before RootsTech is rich with many excited bloggers congregating. I think there were probably at least 20 on the interview list, milling about outside the studio, sharing animated stories and catching up in general.
Russ Worthington took this photo of Sylvia Valentine, also a RootsTech speaker, Pat (Myrt) and me during our interview.
Of course, genealogists would be the first to notice my “family tree” vest.
Thanks Russ, for snapping a picture of this too, and letting me share with my readers.
Of course, I’m talking with my hands too. Maybe I am part Italian after all😊
And then, there’s serendipity.
Waiting my turn on camera with Myrt, I met two lovely ladies with the most charming accents, Lilian and Jennie. Turns out that they live in Sydney, Australia, where I was visiting literally a month ago today. Not only that, but they met here, in SLC, a couple years ago, at RootsTech.
Jennie and I quickly figured out that we have an amazing amount in common. Shockingly so. Here’s our selfie outside the FHL.
It’s odd how fast something can become a “tradition?” Last year, I was at the FHL on Monday telling myself that I was going to focus on research. I had great intentions, right up until I got recruited. I saw several of my genealogy friends and went over to say hello. Little did I know that they were waiting their turn to be interviewed by Myrt. They graciously encouraged me to join them and worked me in.
Then they invited me along to lunch. I was very “green” about SLC and was oh so very grateful to be included. At lunch, I discovered a new cousin among my table-mates.
This year, it’s tradition. Yep, I showed up to interview with Myrt (thanks Pat), enjoyed the company of my fellow bloggers, hugs all around when someone new arrived, and then many of us went to lunch. I didn’t even bother to tell myself that I was going to research this year. Nope. I knew better.
We walked as a group to the LDS office building cafeteria. Not only is the food great, it’s inexpensive AND they can accommodate all of us.
Even the walk was interesting. I’m calling this picture “hope,” because it gives me hope that the winter just might be over soon.
And this one “courage” because its companions were all looking pretty wilty. It’s below freezing here today. My quilter’s heart loves color.
I’m not sure what this building is, but the waterfall emanates from within the building itself.
We made our way to the LDS cafeteria and stopped a stranger, asking him to take our photo. He kindly obliged.
Breaking bread is a wonderful way to get to know people. I discovered that the two people to my left live about 25 miles away from me. Small world.
After lunch, we made our way back to the Plaza Hotel, past the temple, where Pat’s vehicles were parked.
Pat had oh-so-kindly offered to take Lilian, Jennie and me on a quilt shop adventure to visit her favorite quilt shop in the afternoon, given that we all 4 are crazy quilters in addition to crazy genealogists.
I’m sure the people who live here no longer even “see” the mountains, but for a flat-lander, they are magnificent.
Jennie, Pat and Lilian. I hope the shop is prepared for us! This shop is actually a collection of rooms and buildings, along with more across the street. It’s grown a bit in its 30+ years.
I bought this pattern thinking it would make a great pattern for care quilts.
Pat’s extremely patient husband, Gordon, known affectionately as “Mr. Myrt” was kind enough to drive a truckful of chattering genealogist quilters back to the city and dropped us off at our hotels. I suspect he probably drove home with new appreciation for silence.
I know this picture is crooked, but if I straighten it, the flag gets cropped. The flag blowing in the wind is part of what I really like about this photo.
Tomorrow, I really AM going to go to the FHL and get at least some research done. Yes, really.
Then beginning at 4, the official conference events begin with the speaker’s reception where we receive our badges, instructions and have our official pictures taken.
Wednesday morning, bright and early, the conference opens. I teach two classes plus the AMA (Ask Me Anything) event in the Family Tree DNA booth beginning at 5:45. You might not hear from me for a couple days, but I promise, I will come up for air!
If you’re on Facebook, I’ll try to add photos as I can to my DNAexplain page. It’s a lot easier to spontaneously upload to Facebook than to write and prep a blog article. Here’s the link. Be sure to like and follow the page to receive occasional notifications when I post something.
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