6 February 2013 - 12:59 pm

Mountain high

The view from on high.

The view from on high.
Photo by the lovely Jess.

I have been doing a lot of writing-centric posts lately (yay!). Here’s one about the semi-writing-related stuff I’ve been up to lately, just to mix things up and because I’m struggling to get another advice piece up at the moment.

Last week, I had a break from work. It was a good chance to decompress and take things easy, even though my to-do list was daunting. In the end, I didn’t get to most of my to-do list, but seeing as the week was intended to be a rest for me, I don’t feel bad about that.

I got the important stuff done. Like taking a drive up a mountain with my lovely NaNoWriMo co-MLs, to check out a conference centre and resort for this year’s Writer’s Retreat.

Of course, Queensland weather being what it is, we were hammered by storms early last week: there were trees down and landslips everywhere, and going up a mountain is a tricky endeavour at the best of times. Luckily, Queenslanders being who they are, by the end of the week most of the damage had been cleared away, and even my poor little car managed to make the trip up to the top (~1,000ft above sea level).

It is gorgeous up there. It’s a subtropical rainforest at that altitude, so as you go up, you pass through fields and woodlands, and then into dark avenues through the forest. Exposed rockfaces, dangerous inclines and landslip areas, ferns and palm trees. Sudden vistas of trees rippled into valleys and stretches of green to more mountains, hazy in the distance. The talk of dinosaurs was only natural in that setting (I suspect at least one of us went home and watched Jurassic Park afterwards!).

(Also, you know you’ve been playing too much Guild Wars 2 when you see a beautiful view and start wondering where the jumping puzzle to the vista is.)

We got to see so much of the mountaintop once we got up there. The lovely conference manager at the resort showed us around, which involved climbing in and out of a 4×4 to navigate the tracks and ‘roads’ (I use the term loosely). He showed us everything up there, from a little out-of-the-way BBQ shack with a dirt floor, to a precipice leaning over a sprawling view, to cows (they farm up there, wtf), to the flying fox, to the conference centre and villas.

In the resort and centre, we got to see inside all the rooms and villas, and looked at all the options available to us when we put our retreat package together. It’s lovely. I wasn’t the only one to fall in love with it all, and I can totally picture us there for a weekend, clutching our laptops, typing furiously… and taking breaks in the infinity pool that spills down towards the edge of a cliff. Plus there’s a spa in the conference centre, and a good massage never goes amiss for poor, overworked MLs.

What’s the downside, I hear you ask? Because we all know there has to be one. Well, it’s more expensive than last year’s venue. I know that’s going to impact some of our attendees pretty significantly. We’re looking at the options available to see where we can slide in some savings, as well as alternate venues, but it’s still going to come out more expensive. This is part of why we’re starting work on this so early, so we can let everyone know and they can start saving. But it’s going to be so worth it.

It’s also not the easiest place to get to. However, we have a couple of things in mind to mitigate that, like coach options. I’m sure we can work something out. (If we can get 35 people to an island and back, I’m sure we can get ’em up a mountain.)

Overall, while we still have a lot of planning to do, I’m feeling really good about the Retreat this year. It’s going to be even better than last year. Can’t wait to get moving on it!

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