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One big blessing is the best way I can describe my experience at the International Christian Retail Show last week in Atlanta.

My friend Marianna Crane, featured in Caring Lessons, and I arrived within minutes of each other and met up at a Delta gate. We hadn’t seen each other in over a year, and immediately we were talking as if we’d been out together the night before.

Over lunch at Chili’s in the airport, we began our week’s plans. Whenever we go to a new city, we make it a goal to learn the public transit system. That has led us into some juicy neighborhoods, but Marianna was a community health nurse, so she’s comfy anywhere. Never mind that some of my friends in Chicago are skittish to come downtown to visit me because they’ve never taken public transportation, don’t want to learn, or are afraid–any or all of the above. But Marianna and I thrive on adventure.

It costs $2.50 on the MARTA system to take a train from the airport to Peachtree Center. Just walk a half mile or so in the airport to find it. Not any farther than I walk at O’Hare to get to the Blue Line. A hotel shuttle would cost $16.50, and, as Marianna said, the money we saved would leave us more for lattes and hot fudge sundaes.

After taking a mile-long elevator up to the Peachtree Street station, we spotted a sign telling us the direction to our hotel, The Westin, and we were there in a jif, dragging our suitcases behind us.

Did I mention it was hot? The heat index was in the low hundreds.

At four PM, we settled into our room with a supposed view of Stone Mountain—too hazy all week to see–with our first commitment scheduled at six. So what do weary travelers do? Weary nurses-turned-writers do? Weary older women do? Weary grandmothers do?

You guessed it.  TALK. (We always give each other equal time…)

More later in ICRS#2 as I tell you about the inspirational activities planned in conjunction with the show.