From there, we made our way to the Grand Lodge Hotel, the Grand Sierra Casino Resort.
  After dropping off our bags, we stopped by the State Hospitality Suite where we met our fellow CT Elks.  We learned about our next challenge - finding the other hospitality suites spread throughout the hotel.  It wasn't difficult - chatting with other Elks in the hallways and elevators we made our way to West Virginia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and many more, meeting new Elks and friends along the way and learning about how they run their lodges and states.  In the MA room, we met the outgoing GER Michael Zellen who posed with Aaron and happily provided us with some GER pins to take back to other members of our lodge.  There was no shortage of social activities to partake in during the week and we never lacked for someone new to talk to. 
 
 
After going to bed at a responsible hour (most nights, anyway), we returned to the convention center and participated in the program of the Grand Lodge.  On Monday, we watched State President Donna Wallace march with the CT state flag during the opening ceremonies and heard GER Michael Zellen discuss the accomplishments of Elkdom of the past year.  On Tuesday, Aaron participated as a voting member of the Grand Lodge, deciding on various resolutions that will affect all of the lodges in the state.  On Wednesday, we watched the celebration as Malcolm J. McPherson, Jr from Lyndhurst, NJ Lodge No. 1505 was elected and sworn in as Grand Exalted Ruler for the upcoming year.  
 
There were also many different seminars and presentations on Elks programs at the convention.  For example, during the Drug Awareness session we heard from a representative of the Drug Enforcement Agency and learned that they would be working with the Elks to support our anti-drug campaign.  We also heard Ray Lozano, a fantastic speaker who travels throughout the nation delivering anti-drug and alcohol programs to our youth - Ray has
 visited our state many years in a row.  There were many presentations designed to help you help your lodge succeed in the upcoming year, and we learned as much from talking to other Elks as we did from the presentations themselves. 
 
The trip culminated with our State dinner, held at the beautiful Reno Elks Lodge directly across the street from the convention center.  At this event we met our State Sponsor PGER David R. Carr from Ticonderoga, New York Lodge No. 1494 for the first time and we celebrated as our new District Deputies received their jewels.  Afterwards, Aaron and I served the last shift of the Connecticut hospitality room and closed for the evening.  Our two regrets for the trip were not going with the CT Elks to Lake Tahoe and not planning a mini-vacation to follow the meeting.  After a flight delay and a spontaneous road trip to Virginia City where we 
accidentally bumped into Rich and Olivia Dancose from Willimantic Lodge, we flew home to Connecticut the next day and got back to work. 
 
With over 200 photos of the convention I returned the camera to John last week, mission accomplished.  A subset of photos from the week are available on the CT Elks Facebook page, including photos from all of the events I mentioned above.  We've now begun plotting, er… planning, our return to the Grand Lodge in San Antonio next year.  I won't be able to take pictures because I'll be attending as Exalted Ruler, but if you're interested, let me know because we need an unofficial deputy state photographer.  Having a nice camera gets you access everywhere - just act like you're supposed to be there and get the best shots you can.  Give me a ring and I'll meet you at Westbrook to tell you what to do...