Finally wrapping up this travelogue! When we last left the saga, I was running on all cylinders but not sleeping much. That continued for the last several days, and somehow I survived!
Worth the views.
I managed to set an alarm for 6 on Monday and was in the hotel gym by 6:45, which to my surprise was quite crowded. Morning business travel overachievers come in packs, I suppose. :) I managed a decent lifting workout in a somewhat cramped diagonal corner, then showered, got dressed (including a tie! so unlike my prior NorCal trips), and went back to the conference.
My second time wearing a tie in 2019.
There was no room capacity drama, thankfully, and I got to dive in to learning many new things. After two sessions worth of information, we moved on to the Giant Annual Luncheon, where I sat at a table of eight lovely ladies I'd never met before. Several were from the Bay Area, as well as one from Reno*, and the other woman from Ohio and I got to pepper them with 299 questions about what it's like to work in this region. She was pretty swell, too, and it was relatively relaxed networking.
The only drama from this event was the food. Delivering a seated lunch for 2,500 sounds like a huge nightmare, and three of us put another wrinkle in it by requesting vegetarian entrees**. A kind volunteer at the registration desk had assured me earlier in the morning this was possible, and all seemed fine, until the rest of our table got their chicken quarters while the servers were frantically trying to find our dishes. I give the banquet captain (both the profession and this specific dude) a ton of credit, because this is a tough environment in which to manage issues, but he found them and they were delivered to us without making a sound during the official program.
No clue what I said, but it sure got the attention of our department chair.^
Afternoon sessions were also good but not super notable. Then I dropped my backpack at the hotel, picked up a jacket, and was due at a lovely architecture firm's offices for an alumni reception. I took the Muni bus for the first time, and it was so fast and efficient (you can board from the back door! because there are Clipper Card readers at that entrance too) I was even early. It was nice to catch up with Becca, Michelle, and Catie and hear The Official Word from the university, plus have some bomb sliders. Catie in particular is doing super cool work, including leading a project in Pasadena, and her firm did a crazy number of high-profile projects including at SFO ("we have a whole practice devoted to signage" is the hottest thing you can possibly say to me, FYI).
From there Becca and I walked over to the official LGBTQ reception nearby, which was super crowded and kind of a shitshow. We met some fun people though, and I got to introduce her to Hing and James; connect all the Bay Area LGBTQ planners! Also, Neal S. pulled me aside and basically demanded I run for that division's board again, which I have no intention of doing but it was very nice of him to pull me aside and say so. Some day I will be An Official Person in this org again, but that day is not in 2019. However, it was raining, I was super tired and the wine was gone, so I made a graceful exit. I ended the day by GChatting with B while I ordered a poké bowl delivered to the room. After opting for spicy tuna***, crab***, and garlic soy sauce, I pretty much chose toppings at random, and it worked out. Inhaling that while hearing about B's Tax Day outing with Meg and watching bad TV was a delightful wind down.
Beautiful venue for a reception. Also, their photographer had a real camera, which helped.^
The new dean.^
Rather glam among my various hotel room dinners.
On Tuesday I officially tried to fit in Too Much Socializing, but as a result I did get to see almost everyone at the conference I wanted to check in with and everyone I know that lives in the Bay Area (except Alexis). Because I'd had an early night the evening before, and had spoken with Tara about how to logistically run or bike along the waterfront, I figured out via MuniBus maps how to get way up to Crissy Field and set out to do it. It was extremely fortuitous that my hotel was so close to downtown that virtually every bus route went outbound in one direction from nearby. And getting into position by transit allowed me to fit in one long one-way run during the trip.
My morning chariot, the 30-Stockton, and its red carpet/dedicated bus lane.
As I'd discovered on Monday, these Muni buses are super efficient. It was also early enough that traffic wasn't terrible, but this little electric thing zoomed through a ton of stops and transported a whole bunch of people in no time at all. From there I got up to the Palace of Fine Arts (whose amphitheater is the subject of the first photo), which I had seen two trips ago in 2010 but is still quite impressive. Then I did my run, just under 6.5 miles in total, and it was lovely to have a mostly uninterrupted route and to be out before most of the tourist traffic was in the way. Got back to my room just in time to shower and be overwhelmed at trying to pack. Figured it out, though! I checked out, left my suitcase with the hotel, and got in my final sessions.
From there I met Tracy, Tara, and their architect friend from Ann Arbor for lunch at an excellent banh mi counter. No good seating in there, so we walked down to a public plaza and chatted while we ate. The great weather from Friday was back and great conversation, including details about Tracy's new job! Then we split up and I set out on my next several stops. First I went to City Lights to browse for books, then to a random shop nearby where I bought a hat for B, and organized plans via text to meet Jeff L. for happy hour.
We met at Moby Dick again, and it was nice to get his life updates (including that he is now officially married!) in a relatively brief happy hour. Then I had to get back downtown to meet Patrick M. and Neil but had absolutely no service, so Jeff kindly ordered me a Lyft Line and I was off. I met them at a steakhouse of their choosing where they know the bartender, and it was blissfully empty given that it was Tuesday. It was a nice couple of hours getting their life updates, and Pat's girlfriend also came by toward the end. But they had to get home to cook (while Neil ordered an enormous steak at the bar) and I had to get to Oakland, so we parted after that.
Thankful that the Muni bus took me up that hill rather than my legs.
From there I picked up my suitcase and a box of dinner from nearby, then got a Lyft to Oakland (fortunately I had cell service again!). Rice was waiting for me with a bottle of cabernet, which I very much appreciated and does pair well with chicken tenders, tyvm. We caught up a bit as I ate, then he went to bed and I followed not far after.
I awoke Wednesday ready for an easy and drama-free departure, but it was not to be! AA cancelled my SFO-DFW flight**** early that morning, one of the ongoing casualties of the Boeing inspection fiasco, so after my shower I hastily grabbed a Clif bar and ran off to the BART station. While on the train I was able to get on the phone and an AAgent switched me to a more advantageous itinerary, so I ran off the train to check my bag and get through security because my new flight to ORD left me with much less time than originally planned; no time to check out Catie's firm's signage work! Coming out of the checkpoint, there were a whole bunch of people also running for flights, and I feel very bad for them but several just could not run very far and the gate agent closed the gate door behind me.
At least I got an exit row on that flight! It was otherwise uneventful and I finished my library hold, causing the Business Bro in my row to remark that I "totally killed it with that book" while we waited to deplane. Then I bought chicken nuggets and housed the whole box while I waited for a seat assignment in ORD, got on that flight, and got home! In the end I was home 2.5 hours earlier than planned, so can't complain about that.
Until next time, Bay Area!
*We have a current client project in Reno, so there was at least some common ground.
**I'm not veg, but having eaten the Mass Banquet Chicken Entree before, I wanted a better alternative.
***Not 100% convinced these were the fish meats I received, but everything was tasty regardless.
****I don't fault them for the cancellation, and I was accommodated nonetheless, but this was going to be my first trip on a 787 so I am still mildly miffed.
^Photos courtesy Taubman College at the University of Michigan