Remember the first day of school and how much it always sucked? If you were new in the neighborhood, maybe you’d met a neighbor or two who offered to show you the ropes. Or maybe everyone was a jerk. Either way, you had to go and make the best of it and hopefully get something out of the experience.
Much like when I started 10th grade, I had a similar experience attending the inaugural Dad 2.0 Summit bloggers conference in Austin, Texas recently. After attending a local meetup for attendees, I was the lucky winner of a free pass to the event. It was a little nerve-wracking to travel to an event with 200 dudes that I didn’t know and had to make new friends. In hindsight, I should have brought candy. Or, after meeting this group, liquor.
Let me preface things by saying that the weather in Texas sucked. It was almost like if a typhoon and a hurricane had a baby in a Wal-Mart bathroom. It was cold, wet, ugly and generally depressing. But since I grew up in Ohio, it wasn’t that big of a difference to me.
|The view from my room upon arrival.|
The Hyatt Lost Pines is quite a distance from Austin proper. Once I got to the property, it was a few miles down a curvy road to the resort. As a very curious person, I had to wonder why the posted speed limit on that road was 19mph. Not 20. Not 15. As we got closer, another sign listed the limit as 11mph. As a generally curious person, I had to know why. I asked at the front desk, waiting for a quirky or creative Texan answer and all I got was an “Idaknow”. Based on his eloquence, that guy must be a writer.
At the kickoff party that night, I quickly ran into the 3 people I’d met in LA and they introduced me to some other people and so on and so forth. My nerves were quickly settled, even though as a novice blogger in a world of big timers, I felt like a rookie called up to the big leagues for the first time. The people I met were very friendly and outgoing while offering real insight and advice that was very useful. So thank you to whoever paid for the open bar.
|The peanut butter cookies were epic.|
Over the next 3 days we ate more varieties of meat than I think are even legal in California. I think I saw something green to eat once during my trip, but it might have just been a bug or a napkin. They fed us amazing homemade cookies at 10:30am each day, presumably to inspire us to behave for the keynote speakers. That seemed ironic to me since most parents wouldn’t give their generally unruly kids cookies in order to get them to sit still for an extended period of time.
I heard some great speakers, including both the opening and closing keynote speakers who detailed their experiences fighting the inner-ear malady tinnitus. My guess is they were kidnapped from a nearby hearing aid conference.
I gained practical advice from some amazing panels of expert bloggers who probably didn’t realize how inspirational they were to a newbie like me. Sometimes I just listened to their conversations and learned, like the previously mentioned rookie watching a veteran slugger taking batting practice at Spring Training.
I got to test drive the new Honda Pilot, which inspired me to want to figure out how to make money blogging since my own Pilot just turned 8 years old. I learned that you shouldn’t call those famous building toys “Legos”. They are referred to as “Lego Bricks”. They can also be referred to as “@$!#$!” after you step on them with your bare feet after giving them to your kid when you get home from a long trip. I drank root beer after eating some fiery New Orleans-style beans and rice. This was primarily notable because I hadn’t had a root beer in over 20 years. So I had like 9 of them. Even modesty is bigger in Texas.
I met some great writers whose work I’d admired from afar that I can now call friends. I’ve also located a network of great writers who all live within 15 minutes of me whom I’d had no idea about just a few weeks ago. And I learned that if you think it’s smart to go out at 1am in a city you don’t know, stick to McDonald’s and save yourself a big chunk of time.