Surprise of a Lifetime

SO… it’s been a while!

The surprise trip Ryan took me on back in December is something that I’ve been meaning to touch on, as I want to make sure I remember everything about it for a long time to come.

Anticipation is a funny thing. I love it.  I love having something to look forward to, whether it’s the dream of no longer having school work to come home to after a long day of work (and let me be the one to tell you that was one long and dark tunnel before I could finally even begin to see the light), holding my breathe before hearing we closed on our home, or counting down the days to our wedding (which, by the way, is now FIVE days away [!!!!]).


Mind = Blown

Back when my days consisted of working a 9-6 job and then coming home to immediately hit the books and work on thesis-writing, I constantly thought about what the near, school-free future held. Anticipation indeed.

The anticipation I felt before this “surprise” trip was no different. I truly had no idea where we were headed. From what Ryan told me, I knew the following details:

…I knew I had to be ready — bags packed and out the door — by 7:30AM on Saturday, December 8th

…I knew the above was “Ryan code” for  bags packed and out the door by 8AM. He knows what to do to make sure I’m on time – such a charmer, that one.

…I knew to pack for weather in the mid-40s to mid 60s.

…I knew we’d be arriving to our destination by lunch time

…I knew I had ZERO obligations (besides keeping up with my bone marrow donors… but let’s be honest, I love chatting w/ my donors so it’s hardly work!). No more research articles to analyze. No more thesis writing. No more finals. BLISS.

…I knew we’d be arriving back home the day after my 27th birthday

For all I cared, Ryan could’ve been taking me to a rural village in North Dakota and I would’ve been a happy camper. Heck, I knew the trip was for work travel. I wasn’t expecting anything glamorous, I was just grateful to be tagging along with him and catching whatever downtime I could by his side. My plan was to relax in our hotel room, take bubbles baths, and sleep. Decompress, if you will. Perfection.

So! We get to the airport, and he managed to check us in and get our boarding passes without giving away the destination.


He even got security on board to keep our destination a secret. We grabbed  some breakfast, and I pondered grabbing something for lunch when Ryan told me, “oh don’t worry about that, we’ll be there by lunch time.” Perfect, even better!


Of course, this got my wheels turning and I started thinking, “OKAY, it’s almost 9:00AM and we still haven’t boarded… so if we’re by there by lunch, that means the flight can *only* be, like, 2 hours or so…that’s GOT to be East coast territory, right?” [Disclaimer: I have never claimed to be good at math]. That’s when Ryan interrupted my thought process with some interesting news.

As we headed to walk toward the gates, he turned to me and said, “I guess I need to tell you that we won’t be sitting together on the plane.”


Ryan knows I’m not a good flyer, so he wanted to let this information marinade a little bit before we boarded the plane.  He then heard them announce our flight was boarding, and that’s when he showed me this…



Upon closer inspection, I realized why we weren’t sitting together. First Class? WHAT in the world. Plane anxiety be damned. HELLO. I’ll have all of the Blood Mary’s, please and thank you.


Needless to say, I was floored. 100%.

As we were waiting to board, I immediately texted our destination to my BFF Suzy (one of my bridesmaids!) who lives out in San Diego. Suzy and I met in Australia and spent a year abroad together there back in 2006, but haven’t seen each other since. Thanks to G-chat at work, we pretty much keep in touch every day,  and she knew how excited I was about this “surprise” trip and was just as curious as I was in the days leading up! Of course I knew there wasn’t a chance in the world I’d get to see her despite the proximity of San Diego to Vegas, but I at least had to let her know that we were going to be in the same time zone!


Yep, wishful thinking. (This is a city-livin’ girl who does not own a car)


Once boarded, I parted ways with Ryan and immediately settled into first class  and ordered myself a drink. Little did I know that in 5 minutes the most adorable woman would take the seat next to me and challenge me to keep up with her as she downed one Bloody Mary after another.


Challenge, accepted. You’re on, Grandma Margaret.


Miss Margaret and I had the best time chatting the entire plane ride – all 4.5 hours of it! She had three daughters on the plane with her and they welcomed me with open arms into their Lebanese heritage and shared a big feast of baba ghanoush, falafel, and tabbouleh with me. They even brought their own heavy-duty plastic wear and plates! Color me impressed. And all of this was on top of the meal we got in first class. Did I mention this was the best plan ride EVER?


Thanks to Miss Margaret and who-knows how many Bloody Mary’s, I had pretty much forgotten all of the stress that was the culmination of graduate school by the time we landed in Vegas – around 11Am local time, and just in time for lunch (funny how Ryan played that so well…).

After lunch we settled into our hotel room at the Hard Rock Café Hotel. This was the place where Ryan’s event for the weekend was being held.

While we were in the air, Ryan’s spokesperson canceled last minute due to a family emergency. So when we got to the hotel Ryan immediately started laying the groundwork for finding a new spokesperson to flying them out to Vegas in order to be ready for the next day’s event.


Man at work

While he did his thing, I explored a little bit before coming back to our room and taking a nap.


Entrance to our hotel room


SO fluffy!


Oh dear.


Still working hard

It wasn’t until around 3 or so that Ryan said he finally found someone to fly out to Vegas for the event. The spokesperson was getting in to the hotel around 6, and Ryan said he was going to go meet him at 7PM for some happy hour drinks to “debrief” him for the next day’s event, and that I was welcome to come if I wanted. He said it wouldn’t take too horribly long, and we’d be able to go out for dinner and fun afterwards. So of course, I decided to renew my Bloody Mary buzz and go with him. Plus, I’d always been curious as to what exactly he did on these work trips anyway.


Martini for her, beer for him

As we were waiting, Ryan finally spots his spokesperson walk into the door. I look up in the direction he’s pointing and see this petite gal walk over to us from the shadows of the entrance way. I remember holding my drink and feeling a sense of confusion wash over me – the girl looked SO familiar, but I knew there was no way I could know her.

It wasn’t until a few seconds went by and she walked closer that I realized my eyes weren’t playing a trick on me – the girl was my BFF Suzy from Australia!!!!!!!!!!! I was in SHOCK. And yet somehow, tears were streaming down my face (people at the bar probably thought I was crazy). And then once I realized this was *actually* happening in real life, I started to cry.


Tears of sheer happiness!



All I remember from this moment is sheer elation and confusion (at the same time) and wondering how in the WORLD they were able to pull this off!! I remember saying “I can’t believe this is real life!!!” and asking how they even began the process of coming up with this surprise. (Oh, and if you were wondering, this really was a work trip for Ryan, and his spokesperson really did cancel on him while we were in the air due to a family emergency. Oh, and the new spokesperson? He was flying in at 10PM just a few hours late… but because the event was on Monday (not Sunday like I was told), Ryan would be able to brief him the next morning! And be able to go out on the town that night!).

Turns out, this plan came into action when Ryan learned he had to travel to Vegas for my birthday three weeks before. Knowing we’d be so close to San Diego, he reached out to Suzy and asked if she’d be able to take some time off of work and fly out to Vegas to hang out with me while he worked. He also knew that I hadn’t seen Suz since Australia, and he hated the thought that the next time I’d see her would be at our wedding.  So while Ryan kept the destination of the trip a secret for 3 weeks, Suzy was able to keep her cool and not let it slip that she was going to be meeting us there.

OMG.  I still to this very day (6 months later) cannot get over the shock/happiness of that trip. We had THE BEST TIME ever.

Suzy and I celebrated our 21st birthdays together back in Australia and have COUNTLESS hilarious memories from our travels there.

Let’s have a flashback to Australia, circa 2006-2007, shall we?






Anywho, I was just on top-of-the-world happy that I got to share my 27th birthday with her, too!

The rest of this post is going to be way heavy on pictures, I just have too many to share, and not enough time to fully recap everything that went down in Vegas. Plus, it’s best I abide by the good ‘ole adage when comes to stories about Vegas, anyway.


Dinner on our first night! 12/08/13



Getting ready to head out to the nightclub Tao – 12/08/13







Sooo bright inside these places… it felt like daytime!



I think this was a picture of Nelly (the rapper)





Yep, pretty standard.




There goes trouble…


Sunday, 12/09/13 – exploring Vegas with Suz! (Ryan spent the whole day prepping for his event)


















Early birthday celebrations – night of 12/09/13


birthday shot and champagne… celebration time!





Monday, 12/10/13 – My birthday!


Ryan manning the event…



Meanwhile, Suz & I manned the slot machines : )




Exploring more of Vegas!





Coolest escalator ever.
















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These characters were everywhere just walkin’ the streets like normal. SO funny.

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Birthday Celebration before dinner


Cards from my momma


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Delicious desserts!


Flying back home to Charlotte… Tuesday, 12/11/13

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So, that was Vegas!

Now I’m off to get married (!!!).

We head to Florida TOMORROW, and are getting’ hitched on Saturday the 15th.

Can’t believe I’ll soon be a Mrs!


1 Comment

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One response to “Surprise of a Lifetime

  1. Awesome stuff. Just following up with some old bloggers. Wanted to see if you were still blogging. I have been out a bit myself.


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