THE VACATION BEGINS [01-04]
XENITES DESCEND ON NYC [05-06]
THE BIG DAY AT GREASE [07-15]
VALLEY FORGE, DAY ONE [16-21]
VALLEY FORGE, DAY TWO [22-30]
BACK TO NYC AND GREASE [31-39]
THE LONE STAR STATE [40-47]
A VISIT WITH MOMMAROC [48-53]
THE VACATION ENDS [54-56]
Disclaimer: No NYC Xenites or Texas Xenites were severely injured or killed during the production of this diary; however, one Texas Xenite still has a Dutch elbow imprinted on her body.
The Vacation BeginsTuesday, September 30
 Up at 4:30 am. At this godforsaken hour, my parents and sister took me to the airport. It made me wonder: is this out of love or are they just happy to get rid of me for a few weeks?
 The first leg of the journey (one-hour flight Amsterdam to London) went without any problems. The second leg (London to New York City) I flew Continental. The first thing I do is flip through the Continental magazine (September issue). Of course, the first thing I see is an ad for GREASE (in the Continental celebrates Broadway section) -- the one with Lucy in it (You can't be a warrior princess all your life!). I guess you can call that a great way to start a XENA Vacation.
 The plane landed at Newark in New York at 2:00 pm, and in the evening I met up with Mistopholees and Dragon Lady, the NYC hostesses for those Xenites going to NYC to see Lucy in GREASE. After dinner, we went to Meow Mix and met Sharon Delaney. We stayed there for a while, but the 27 hours of staying awake took its toll on me and Mistopholees and I headed for Mistopholees' apartment where I met her cat, Ziggy (and yes, he's brilliant).
Wednesday, October 1
 Slept late. Took the train to Manhattan to do some sightseeing and relaxing. Took pictures of the GREASE billboard on Times Square and the Eugene O'Neill theatre. The evening was spent at 'home'; watching XENA episodes I hadn't seen yet.
Xenites Descend on NYCThursday, October 2
 Macavity Cat, TX Trouble, Mistopholees, Fuzz and I decided on visiting relatives while we were in NYC. In other words, we checked out the Bronx Zoo. We had a great time, the weather was great and the animals really cooperated when people wanted to take their pictures (although the lions probably were having a day off. We couldn't find them).
 In the evening, several other Xenites entered NYC by plane (yes, the travel business is definitely booming thanks to XWP). Mistopholees picked them all up and housed them in her apartment, which was really turned into a real life version of the Nutball Pub by then. Pubsters present (apart from Mistopholees and me) Kieli, CyberKathy, Crju, ArianaXWP, Moonshadow and Roo.
The Big Day at GREASEFriday, October 3
 The big day. We're finally going to see Lucy in GREASE. But first we had to fill the day, so we decided on doing some sightseeing. The eight of us went to the Empire State Building. And they thought King Kong visiting them was a bad idea... guess they haven't seen a group of Xenites before.
 First, I was frisked because the metal detector kept blaring. They couldn't find anything so they let me pass. Then Mistopholees had to wait; there was something suspicious in her bag. No, it wasn't the chakram. It was another deadly weapon... her cellular phone. After she was cleared, we went to the observation deck.
 After spending time there, we left the building, had dinner then went on to St. Patrick's Cathedral. Somehow the Cathedral inspired us to discuss XENA, specifically the subtext of the show. I don't know if the volunteers heard our discussion or if it really was closing time for that section, but we had to move out of the section. So we decided to continue our conversation somewhere else.
 Time flew and around 5:00 pm we all took cabs to a restaurant called 'Hot Tomato' (Yep, the restaurant business is also blooming thanks to XWP), where the 'pre-show dinner' took place. I don't think many people had a decent dinner that evening; everybody was too busy talking to each other. It was a kind of family reunion; we all knew each other through the internet, we all knew the handles but we'd never seen the faces with them. It was great matching the names and faces.
 With military precision (no wonder, with Dragon Lady in command), we all took cabs to the Eugene O'Neill theatre to see the show. I won't go into details about the show in general and Lucy's performance in particular. I'm sure there are enough reviews floating around the net. To be short; I absolutely LOVED the show and seeing Lucy live was a great experience.
 During the break, Mistopholees pointed out Avicus to me. I introduced myself to him and we chatted for a while. Then the show started again. As usual, the battle cry brought the house down. At the end of the show Lucy got a standing ovation (no wonder with all those Xenites around).
Lucy signing autographs outside the theatre
 When the show was over, I rushed to the stage door. I had a great spot and got my newsletter (of the Dutch Hercules/Xena fan club) signed. As soon as I had Lucy's autograph, I left my spot so others could also get a chance. I took a lot of pictures and amazingly they came out pretty well.
 Of course, seeing the show only once just isn't enough so we decided to buy tickets for the following Tuesday (It's vacation after all. I can worry about the finances later).
 Anyway, a group of Xenites was standing outside the theatre and I joined them. Avicus passed us. I asked him for an autograph and he politely obliged; he signed another copy of the newsletter (thanks Avicus!). After that we all went to Meow Mix.
Valley Forge, Day OneSaturday, October 4
 Valley Forge! In the morning we left NYC for Valley Forge. While in line for a toll booth, we almost got into a fight with a lady who wanted to cut into the line in front of us. Of course, with a NYC driver behind the wheel, we had an advantage over the lady. We reached the toll booth before the lady did. Along the way I learned several new English swear words, never know when they will come in handy.
 The convention. As a 'convention virgin', I was very impressed by it all. Of course, my experience was enhanced by the fact that I had first row tickets for both days (No, I don't want to know what Mistopholees has done to get these).
 As with GREASE, I won't go into details with regard to the appearances of the actors, only those things that really got my attention.
Hudson at Valley Forge
 Hudson Leick was great! Her last name sounds like the Dutch word 'lijk', which actually means 'dead body', a fitting name for the actress that plays Callisto, I think. She was acting like she was back in her modeling days, showing the audience almost all her angles. Being in the first row, I had a great view, not to mention 'camera angle'. Took a lot of pictures of her.
 At the signing table, she was great, too. She signed the pic and when I handed her mother the newsletter of the Dutch HERCULES/XENA Fan Club, I got a big "thank you" from her.
 Robert Trebor was also very charming. Too bad I had forgotten to take a XENA comic for him to sign, not only because he wrote the second story but also because my letter was published in that comic. He did sign my picture and he also signed a copy of the newsletter. When he saw that I was from Europe, he mentioned that he had been interviewed by a German magazine (including pictures) a short while ago.
Valley Forge, Day TwoSunday, October 5
 In the morning, the great Gabgames. Forget the Olympics. This is it! From squid hurling to the BGSB race, it was great. And with a British police officer playing referee, what could go wrong? I know I had a great time there.
 MommaROC made a guest appearance and showed us exactly where Renee got the inspiration for the Gabdance. That really was the Gabdance from HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110) that MommaROC was doing there. Like all the others who were attending the Gabgames, I talked with MommaROC for a few secs and had my picture taken with her. She told me she had my name on her calendar (I was to have dinner at Threadgill's with a couple of Xenites on October 14 and we had invited MommaROC to join us). She also told us that Renee was pretty nervous; she hadn't slept that night but she wanted to have a nap before going on stage.
Ted at Valley Forge
 The first actor on stage was Ted Raimi. Nice guy, charming and funny. He got many questions regarding Joxer (with of course the Joxer the Mighty song), SEAQUEST and other things he had done. Someone also asked him about his ethnic background. I was greatly surprised when he mentioned that his real last name wasn't Raimi but something else. His family had changed their last name when they entered the States because their real last name would be too difficult for the Americans to pronounce. Turns out that the Raimi family has Dutch/Hungarian ancestry.
 So when I was in the autograph line, I asked Ted if he could sign the picture with his Dutch name, which he did. I also gave him a copy of the newsletter, he thanked me and asked how the show was doing in Holland. I told him that it was doing well, nothing major at the moment but the audience is growing by leaps and bounds.
Renee at Valley Forge
 Then the moment we had all been waiting for, Renee O'Connor. She was great and I think she did very well for a first time appearance.
 The part of Renee's appearance I remember most vividly is when she told us about climbing Kilimanjaro. She mentioned she'd climbed the mountain with some guys from (she couldn't quite remember what country). The Netherlands. Of course, I couldn't keep quiet when I heard that so I gave a yell. Suddenly, those green eyes were focused on me: "You're from the Netherlands?" All I could do was nod. She then told us the story about altitude sickness and how those Dutch guys used their hands to check it. All the while she kept her eyes on me (Well, so it seemed anyway). A weird experience.
Ted telling Renee Lucy's secret.
('Psst, don't tell the fans, but Rob and Lucy are going to get married.')
 Then Lucy's phone call; that was great! Seeing the interaction between the two friends was priceless. And I guess that little secret of Lucy's Ted whispered in Renee's ear had something to do with the engagement. It was also during the phone call that we found out Renee was going to see GREASE on Tuesday, October 7th. Great news of course since I actually had a ticket for that show!
 In the autograph line, I gave Renee the card my sister (a big Gabfan) had made for her. My sister was all excited when I told her about this.
 After the con, we left for NYC with a little detour via Atlantic City (I guess that's what you get when you're in a car filled with Xenites).
Back to NYC and GREASEMonday, October 6
 Spent the entire day in bed, throwing up every now and then. The only thing that stayed inside me was water. Man, I felt bad. I was really looking forward to the special Xena Night at Meow Mix, but that darn bug decided otherwise. The next morning, I heard that I was in 'good company'; it seemed Lucy and Daisy had caught the same bug.
 I did get some good news that day though, something to lighten my mood. I had applied for a job on September 29th, and they'd sent Mistopholees an e-mail that I got the job (Scientific Designer at the Faculty of Archeology, Leiden University).
Tuesday, October 7
 Fortunately, I felt much better today. No vomiting, but still very tired; I was feeling good enough to see GREASE. After dinner, I wasn't really feeling well but not ill enough to cancel it all. So around 7.30 we arrived at the theatre just in time to see Lucy entering the building, followed by Renee and company (entering the theatre through the stage door) a few minutes later.
 I was in the fifth row this time, together with two fellow Xenites. A few minutes before the show began, Renee and company sneaked in. They were sitting in row 15 or something, way back. The DJ started reading the notes, among which was a note to Renee and MommaROC: "Welcome to Renee and MommaROC" (if I remember correctly). Of course, we (Xenites) all started cheering. It seemed the DJ was taken aback by the reaction of the audience, and he added "Looks like they got a lot of friends here". You can say that again.
 The show was great, again. It was really obvious that not only Renee, her mate on the set, but also Lucy's own folks were in the audience because Lucy was really showing off this time.
 Seconds before intermission, Renee and boyfriend left the audience. I'd just gotten myself something to drink when I saw MommaROC standing near the back of the theatre. I walked over to her and we shook hands. She still knew who I was (amazing!). I said "Hi" and moved along when MommaROC added "The 14th!"
Lucy onstage in GREASE
 At the end of the show, Lucy gave her speech. She didn't get a standing ovation this time; only a few Xenites were standing for her. When the curtains closed, I headed for the exit, to the stage door to take some pictures there. Twenty minutes later, Lucy and Renee came out of the stage door; both signing pictures. It was fun seeing the two of them together. Even in real life, they make a great team!
Lucy and Renee signing autographs outside the theatre
 While the fans were taking pictures and asking for autographs, MommaROC was taking pictures of the fans, taking pictures of her daughter from a window of the theatre. After signing for a few minutes, Lucy and Renee joined Daisy and cousin in the car and they drove off. When the crowd dispersed, the Ryan family and the ROC family stepped into their respective cars to follow Lucy and Renee to wherever they were headed.
Wednesday, October 8
 A day 'off'. Watched some tapes and spent some time in the Pub. In the evening, I followed American History classes at the Polytechnic, taught by Mistopholees. My new job involves teaching, so I could really use some pointers. It was also fun seeing the difference between American and Dutch classes.
The Lone Star StateThursday, October 9
 Said good-bye to Mistopholees and her cat. It was time to leave for San Antonio, Texas, for the last week of my XENA Vacation.
 After a three-hour flight, I arrived in a rainy San Antonio. It's supposed to be dry there all the time, but I guess they made an exception since I was coming. I met up with fellow Pubster Gosasha, my hostess for the coming days. At her apartment, I met her cats, Sasha and CoCo (what is it with Xenites and cats anyway?).
 Since I arrived at dinnertime, we had to think of what we wanted to have for dinner. Since Texas is the state of Tex-Mex we decided to have some Korean food.
Friday, October 10
 Today, Gosasha and I went to her 'office', a local radio station. Gosasha asked if I had any requests. With the con still on my mind, I requested Bette Midler's Wind beneath my Wings, which has become one of my favourite songs all of a sudden (wonder why?).
Saturday, October 11
 Seven (count them seven!) Texas Xenites decided to drop by (GaeaGoddess, Atalanta, TX Trouble, Deanlu, Ambrosia, Tamrin and Legacy). We were going to have a barbecue. At least, that's what we had planned, but the weather wasn't really in our favour; it was still raining. So we spent the day terrorizing the Riverwalk Mall. We wanted to get back early because the new XENA episode, BEEN THERE, DONE THAT (48/302) was on that evening.
 Back at Gosasha's apartment, we ordered pizza and settled in front of the TV, ready for BTDT. It was a great experience. Watching a XENA ep with eight fellow Xenites is much more fun than watching it alone.
Sunday, October 12
 Spent the day in Larzland. I also became a parent that day, because the Texas Xenites wanted me to keep an eye on the Taz they'd won. So even though he's technically an endangered species, I smuggled him out of the country so he could spend some time at my place.
Monday, October 13
 Played the tourist; visited downtown San Antonio and took pictures of the Alamo.
A Visit with MommaROCTuesday, October 14
Xenites and MommaROC at Threadgill's
 Met up with two fellow Xenites in Austin. There were some activities planned but somehow they went down the drain. It seems that that's what you get when putting more than two Xenites together. All we did was talk about the show, look at pictures and have a ball, all without leaving the house. Are we nuts or what?
 Around 7:00 pm, we left for the Congress Street Bridge in Austin to see the bats that would come out of hiding around 7.30 pm. The bats were probably wearing watches because they left their hiding places at exactly 7.30. One and a half million bats flying out in file was quite impressive IMHO.
 We arrived at Threadgill's around 8:00 to have dinner with MommaROC. The waitress called MommaROC while we chose a table and ordered our food. A few minutes later, the waitress asked if one of us could come to the phone to speak to Sandra. Since I was the cause for it all, I took the phone and spoke to Sandra. We spoke for a few minutes and Sandra decided to come on over, despite getting up early that morning and having had a long day (thanks Sandra!).
 When I came back to our table, the main course was already served. We had just finished eating when Sandra entered. She saw me and walked over to our table, we hugged and I introduced her to my fellow Xenites. She pulled a chair over to our table and suggested we have some of Threadgill's fine cakes for dessert. We ordered cake and coffee and started talking about everything: Xenites, Renee, charities, vacations in other countries and so on. Sandra was very open and told us about her daughter with a motherly pride.
 Of course, I just had to ask about the Dutch guys Renee climbed the Kilimanjaro with. Renee hadn't told the guys that she was an actress or that she played in a certain TV show. Not that it would have mattered because the show didn't air in Holland back then (October 1996). But I would love to see the faces of those guys when they're flipping through the channels and stumble upon this TV show called XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS; "Hey, isn't that the girl??? Nah! No way!".
 Two hours later, we ended the conversation. The restaurant was closed and it was time to head back to San Antonio, but not before taking a group pic with MommaROC of course. We said good-bye to MommaROC, thanking her for everything and headed home.
The Vacation EndsWednesday, October 15
 We took advantage of the nice weather and did some hiking in the hills near San Antonio with GaeaGoddess. In the evening, Gosasha and I went to a bowling alley to let off some steam. Of course, Gosasha squarely beat me, the Queen of the Gutter.
Thursday, October 16
 It's over, the XENA Vacation. Believe it or not, but I was tired of XENA at this point. Guess that's what they call 'overkill'. But still XENA didn't leave me alone. On the flight from Houston to London, during the video -- surprise! Who was there? Lucy Lawless, discussing her role in GREASE. It was only for a few seconds (in the Live on Broadway segment), but it left me wondering: Am I chasing XENA or is XENA chasing me?
 I'd like to thank all the Xenites I met in the States for their generosity and their kindness. You guys are too much.
Note: Two days later the movie GREASE was aired on Dutch television. Needless to say, I now prefer the stage version.
BiographyPetra de Jong
I'm a 23-year-old student of Cartography whose studies have been put on hold ever since discovering XENA. I'm currently working as a Scientific Designer at the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University, while trying to finish up my Cartography thesis.
When not working I spend most of my spare time in the Xenaverse; from chatting with fellow fans in the Pub to running the Dutch HERCULES and XENA Fanclub 'Dutch Association of Herculeans and Xenites'. I'm also a member of Sword & Staff and a charter member of the Official Renee O'Connor Fan Club. I have just started working as an editor for the Dutch science-fiction/fantasy magazine SF Report; as well as checking articles from the writers (on grammar and spelling) this also includes writing articles on XENA and HERCULES.
Favorite episode: SINS OF THE PAST (01/101), THE PRICE (44/220), and THE DEBT (52/306)
Favorite line: Xena: "Are you suicidal?" WARRIOR... PRINCESS... TRAMP (30/206)
First episode seen: SINS OF THE PAST (01/101) German dubbed
Least favorite episode: FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS (40/216)