Monday, April 20, 2015

Thank You to the Calaveras Genealogical Society!

I had a fantastic time on Saturday with the Calaveras Genealogical Society.  This was the first time I have taught an all-day seminar.  Everyone was welcoming and very enthusiastic about genealogy, and they treated me great.  People had lots of good questions, and I think I even helped the society figure out how to handle a copyright problem with one of the older issues of their newsletter.

I will admit that I was a little — just a little, mind you — nervous on Friday.  People were going to come and listen to four separate classes from yours truly.  I've gotten enough good feedback over the past few years to know that I am a reasonably entertaining speaker, but four classes might be something entirely different.  But I was just about ready.  Everything was set up, my presentations were waiting for their final tweaks, I had even planned what I could grab for breakfast and eat in the car Saturday morning.

Then things started going wrong.

When I tried to start my car on Friday morning, it wouldn't turn over.  Wouldn't even make little clicky sounds.  All I heard was the "Sounds of Silence."  This did not bode well, as beautiful Murphys, where the Calaveras County Genealogical society meets, is a mere 132 miles from my home.  Not exactly easy walking distance.

But my car obviously didn't want to make the trip, so off it went to the mechanic, and I got on the phone to all my friends, searching for a car to borrow.  My back-up plan was to look for the least expensive rental available, but someone was generous enough to let me use his van, which even has air conditioning.  Hooray!  I could make it to Murphys!

Friday evening, I was looking over the four presentations, trying to make sure I had made all the updates I wanted.  Everything was looking good again, and I started to relax.  Until I remembered the oversize handout for one of the talks.  Which I had made 40 copies of earlier in the week.  And which were sitting in a box on the back seat of my car.  At my mechanic's garage.


I was going to have to leave at oh-dark-thirty on Saturday morning to get to Murphys on time, so I couldn't go to the mechanic before I left.  I sent a panic message to my contact person at CGS and let her know that I would have the electronic file with me, if there was a copy place close enough that handled 11x17.  I also hunted around for older handouts for that class and found fifteen copies of the oversized page, which I immediately stuffed into my computer bag.

Breathe breathe breathe.

On Saturday morning there was a response to my message saying not to worry, we could figure something out.  Much calmer than I was.

It was a lovely drive to Murphys.  Amazingly enough, not a lot of people out on the freeways and highways super early on a Saturday.  After I turned off I-5, lots of open pastureland with lots of cows, and then very suddenly a treeline and climbing up into the Sierra Mountains.  Gorgeous scenery and twisty turny mountain roads that would have had me white-knuckled only a few years ago (I learned to drive in Florida, where everything is flat and straight), but which now just make me slow down a little.

After driving through several small towns (some with populations of only a couple hundred) — Copperopolis, Angels Camp, Vallecito, Douglas Flat — I saw the sign for Murphys.  It looked like there was good signage; every intersection appeared to have street signs.  I looked for the sign for Bret Harte Drive, which Google Maps had told me was where I needed to take a left turn.  But I didn't see it.  And then Murphys was behind me and I was headed further into the Sierras.


I pulled over at the first turnout and called Linda.  No surprise, I had passed the turnoff.  Once I turned around and headed back, I discovered that Google Maps had lied to me:  There is no way to turn left on Bret Harte Drive when you're headed east on the highway.

Note to self:  Don't trust the new, "improved" Google Maps.

After that things improved a lot.  I found the LDS Church and even got there on time!  I learned that there was a place right across the street that could copy the handout.  It took almost no time to set my computer up.  And a good crowd of people was there to listen to me talk about some ways to do genealogical research they might not have thought about yet.  They even laughed with me when I told them about the adventures I had gone through on my way there.  I couldn't have asked for a nicer group for my first time as a seminar speaker.  My most sincere thanks to a wonderful audience!


  1. Janice,
    So glad it worked out for you in the end!

    1. Thanks, Lisa! It turned out to be a really great day.


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