Thursday, October 5, 2017

My NYC Voyager Experience!

Outlander Homepage originals by Nancy M Guillory

Even though you watch your favorite actors portray your favorite characters each week on television and love them, (and follow them in the media) deep down you know the odds of actually meeting, seem dismally slim. Especially for a show like Outlander that isn’t even filmed in the USA. Sounds pretty impossible right? WRONG!!!! Thanks to some super dedicated Outlander fans who just couldn’t stop at creating Outlander fan pages, blogs and groups, I recently got to meet and enjoy a brief chat with Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe, in of all places "New York City".

Dorianne and Nancy

I have to say, I owe Dorianne Panich a huge debt of gratitude for inviting me to be a part of Outlander Homepage three years ago, and I must also admit, I’ve been remiss in my writing for the page these past 12 months or more, as I’ve been focused on a personal writing project, but that never stopped her from including me. For that I am extremely grateful. Why so grateful you might ask? Because not only did she and six other amazing women pool their efforts, resources and talents, to create not just one but over the past year, a total of three incredible Outlander experiences featuring cast members, they welcomed me to this last venture at the last minute, with open arms. What’s kind of funny is how my wish became reality, in a very ordinary way….

So, I’m eating dinner with my significant other one evening, while catching up on our overloaded DVR, when suddenly, the room explodes with the sights and sounds of the premiere of Outlander’s third season.  We both stopped chewing to gawk at the TV, because we’d both been Droughtlandering for ages.

Me: “Man, I kind of wish now I could have gone to New York in June. Oh well. (Heavy sigh)”
Pete: “I’m sorry you didn’t get to go baby, maybe they’ll do another one sometime, and you can go to it.”
Me: “They’re producing one at the end of this month in New York City, this time with Sam and Caitriona.”  Thinking about missing it was rather depressing, and I viciously stabbed a morsel of steak with my fork, as I slugged back my wine. Might as well drown my sorrows in fillet mignon and a cheap red blend.
Pete: “Why don’t you go to this one coming up? I’ll pay for you to go, if you really want to."

No words can describe my reaction, just happy dancing, people, just happy dancing.

So, once I changed my pants and remembered my name, I immediately texted Dorianne to tell her I would be able to make NYC Voyage, and started checking flights. It was almost surreal purchasing my airfare, as it seemed like a dream to be going on such an adventure. Here I was, planning to travel alone to meet seven women I’d only talked to online, and on the phone. I wouldn’t know anyone there and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but thank you God, I made that trip. From the moment I stepped out of the cab, I was in the company of the nicest people I’ve ever met. 

Dorianne Panich and her husband Jaime are kind, good hearted folks. Liz Mercado is classy, sassy and super smart. Sandhya Dawar is elegant and charming, Carole Braun is a lovable little firecracker, always ready with a smile. Laura Michelle is a go getter with heart of gold. Lisa Michelle Woody, and her hilarious husband, David are warm, welcoming and great fun, and Bonnie Terbush is as dynamic, as is her giving spirit. I am also happy and grateful to have met, Susan Walker and Jill Shirley, both upbeat and savvy ladies who I instantly connected with. I felt like I’d known them forever.  What an awesome group of beautiful women!!! I thoroughly enjoyed every moment spent with each and every one of them.

Anticipation is a funny thing, it can stress you out, or it can make you giddy, nervous, an anxiety riddled hot mess, but thanks to team work, everything came together. Voyager NYC was ready to go.

Papillon bistro restaurant 
Papillion is a lovely restaurant, the decor and architecture is reminiscent of old New Orleans, the perfect venue for a cocktail party.  After a couple of hours of preparation, we all stepped back, took our assigned places, and suddenly Outlander fans were filling the rooms of Papillion, laughing, talking, greeting old friends and making new ones.

My assignment was to sell raffles upstairs for Sam’s, Cahonas Scotland and Cait’s, World Child Cancer funds, as well as keeping the raffle baskets on display and silent auction items organized.  I sold some raffle tickets, can I tell you, Outlander fans are extremely generous and the best part about selling raffles tickets was not only helping raise money for two very worthy causes, but meeting people from all around the world. With one thing in common, we all love Outlander.

Of course that was obvious, especially when Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe arrived. I’m pretty sure the crowd’s reaction would have registered a 9.0 had there been a Richter scale in the house! It’s a wonder the roof didn’t come off!

Nancy with Caitriona 
Taking a step back and mulling over the entire evening, I started thinking about what it must be like to meet and greet hundreds of adoring fans, smiling for a photo for what surely must feel like the zillionth time and how tiresome that must become in a short period of time. I’ve met a handful of celebs in my life, and I have yet to meet anyone more humble and gracious than Sam Heughan and the delightfully engaging Caitriona Balfe.

Sam exudes a rather boyish charm as he is warm, witty, and always willing to make an extra effort to enhance a fan’s experience.  If Mr. Heughan’s photo isn’t next to the word charming in the dictionary, it should be.

Nancy with Sam
Now, you might think that any woman as gorgeous as Caitriona Balfe might be a little intimidating. Not in the least! Upon meeting Cait, I felt like I wasn’t meeting a celebrity but simply another party goer who was enjoying the festive atmosphere and genuinely interested in everyone she greeted.

The lovely Irish lass exudes grace and class, yet comes across as down to earth and has excellent fashion sense, that red dress was gorgeous. Then again, the pair of them, both Sam and Cait, would look good wearing a feed sack. They are just pretty people inside and out. I had a wee bit more time to banter with Cait, who picked up on my southern accent and we talked about her time spent living in New Orleans while filming the movie "Now You See Me".

I offered to cook her a gumbo, if ever she found herself in Baton Rouge, thanked her for portraying Claire so beautifully, then returned to selling raffle tickets.

Our raffle room
The evening was filled with good, positive energy. Everyone seemed to enjoy the atmosphere; one of a kind raffle baskets and auction items, so much delicious food, unique Laphroaig cocktails, fabulous goody bags, and plenty fond memories with their favorite actors to take home as souvenirs.

Tara and Tamela, incert next to Sam
Then, to top off an already exuberant and exciting night, those gorgeous sisters from Texas, Tara and Tamela, proved their hearts are as big as the state they hail from, with their winning silent auction bid of $10,000 for the exquisite Hamilton and Young Jewelers, 18kt gold Outlander inspired ring.

Gordon and June Hamilton with Cait
Speaking of Hamilton and Young, it was such a pleasure to meet the proprietors, Gordon Young and June Hamilton from Edinburgh Scotland and wonderfully generous of them to donate such a treasure.

The outpouring of support for both Sam’s (Cahonas Scotland) and Cait’s (World Child Cancer) charities was truly impressive. No doubt it thrilled not only their famous patrons, but also Cahonas Scotland representative, Ritchie Marshall and World Child Cancer representative, Lisa Fernandes, along with the charity organizer, Bonnie Terbush. They were just overjoyed.

Ritchie Marshal and Lisa Fernandes

Yes, it was an exhausting, whirlwind weekend, even though all I did was show up. Outlander Homepage, Outlander Forever, Liz Mercado Associates, and Bonnie Terbush with My Peak Posse, deserve credit for making these fantastic fan experiences happen, with their dedication and drive. Of course meeting Sam Heughan and Cait Balfe was a real treat, but finally meeting everyone who is a part of making these once in a lifetime events possible, well, that was the icing on the cake. 

Bon Appètit

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