Travel, Work

TNP’s Austin Conference

April 3, 2023

I’m back from Austin! Well, I’ve been back since Thursday but I’m finally recovered and went through the process of resizing photos. I’d blog a lot more often if I didn’t feel compelled to include a photo with each post.

There are multiple ways to attend a conference. You can go as an attendee to learn and network. You pay, pick some (or many) sessions to attend, and are in charge of your own schedule. You can attend as an exhibitor. You pay for a booth space and are obligated to attend for a certain number of hours each day. Or, your organization runs the conference and you are worker bee who has very long days taking care of the attendees and exhibitors.

ginger ale and biscoff on the flight to austin
In flight snacks. I hated ginger ale until about a year ago.

This is TNP’s own conference so this time I was a worker bee, working almost exclusively at the Board Member/Speaker check-in desk. The days started between 5 and 6 am and ended between 7 and 8pm. It’s very tiring but fun in a twisted way. Our attendees this year were happy and there was a very fun vibe.

jugglers and stilt walkers
This was my view from the registration desk. We had a parade of jugglers and stilt walkers to celebrate the opening of the exhibit hall

While it’s nice to get out of town, sightseeing for worker bees is minimal because we are very tired and possibly sore.

Saturday night was our staff dinner. After that some of us went to Buck Wild, a bar that had bull riding. I did not ride the bull. I have done it before – it’s fun but nothing I would do again. Especially not when I had to wake up at 4:30 the next day.

cocktail menu at buck wild
My coworkers rode the bull. I did not. 🙂

Sunday night we wrapped up at 8pm and I went back to the hotel and straight to bed.

On Monday we went to Iron Works Barbecue and then ended up at the Zanzibar, a rooftop terrace tiki-ish bar at the Austin Marriott. We were so exhausted that two of us unknowingly ordered alcohol-free drinks and didn’t realize it until we wondered why our tabs were so low. I just thought I was just building an alcohol tolerance again.

iron works bbq

Tuesday night we ended up grabbing tacos and margaritas at MA’COCO (so good. so, so good) and then crossed the street to White Horse, a bonafide honky tonk bar. I really wanted to buy their shirt that said HONK TONKY on it but they were sold out.

white horse: band, exterior shot, no line dancing sign, crappy beer
An evening at the White Horse. That beer was bad, and that’s coming from someone who voluntarily drinks IPAs.

Wednesday was the last day of the conference and we wrapped up at 2pm. That gave us time for lunch (tacos & margaritas again, this time at Austin Taco Project. After some walking on Sixth street and a nap, we had dinner (tacos again, not complaining) at Veracruz by the river, and then a bunch of us gathered at Congress Bridge to watch the bats. After that, many people went to Rainey Street to party, but my flight was leaving at 6am the next day so I wisely opted to go to bed.

bats flying low on the horizon in Austin
Those birds flying low on the horizon? ALL BATS. THOUSANDS OF BATS.

And on Thursday I flew home and this guy was super happy to see me. I was happy to see him too.

me snuggling Murphy
I love this dog.

(not photographed: the dozens of tacos I ate)

I slept at the Austin Marriott Downtown which was lovely except for the air conditioning which operated with a motion sensor. Meaning I’d wake up at 1:30am in a sweat because it turned off. I hate that. SURELY there are other ways to conserve energy.

This time I didn’t check any bags. I had my new Kipling weekender bag and my trusty red roller bag. Turns out, I really hate not checking bags. I’d rather run the risk of losing a bag than worrying about overhead space, worrying about heaving the bag into and out of the overhead compartment, and dragging multiple bags into the airport bathroom. Take my money, take my bag, and I’ll mostl likely see it again at baggage claim.

I was 1/2 with my goals – I opted out of finding Practice Yoga Austin in favor of hanging with some coworkers. That’s fine. I’m not sure if I’ll be going to next year’s conference because the last two years I’ve gone in place of someone who could not. But if I *do* go next year I’ll be headed to beautiful San Diego!

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