All in all, it was a good trip. I see why so many people wanted to go, and said I was lucky to be sent there. San Francisco is a beautiful place. I was fortunate that it was sunny the whole time I was there. They said they were having great weather. The temperatures were in the 50's day and night, which was a bit of a shock to me, coming from 90 degree weather and high humidity - but I have to admit that it was a refreshing break from summer. I took a bus tour after my meetings ended Friday and saw more of the city. It's beautiful and the people are very friendly. I definitely wouldn't object to going back. In fact, I'd love to take Rick there sometime. I think he'd really like it, and I'd like a chance to see more of the city myself.
The conference was great as well. We had representatives from 37 states there and I got to meet a lot of great people. Sorry I can't outright mention my board - you know, conflict of interest stuff with me working for state government and all forces me to keep it general - but I can say that it was a great group and I really enjoyed having a chance to get to know my own board members and members and counterparts from other states as well. In a way, it's a shame that the department will only send 1 employee to the meetings. There's something about going to these that widens your perspective and makes you have a deeper appreciation of "the meaning of it all" that you just can't get across in a 5 minute report at a meeting back home. I do wish more of my colleagues could experience what I did over the past few days. And I enjoy meeting and talking to people too. It's interesting to hear about their experiences and their stories. We learn so much from one another, and it's fun too. I see now why the interaction is so important. I think some of this harkens back to my previous entry about relationships. The professional ones are important too. You can talk on the telephone and email, but there's no substitute for being able to know them, and to put a face to a name or a voice. I kind of felt I had lost that "connection" to the people I serve when they no longer allowed me to give the registration exam (and now it's fully computerized, so that's gone bye bye for good), but I think I've gained that element back in a new way by attending these meetings.
It was also good to get out of the office. Sometimes it's refreshing to leave the office and do your work with a different group of people.
And for those that remember my report from Miami I have to tell you - yes, the food in San Francisco is MUCH better than the food in Miami.
I have relatively few gripes about this trip, but of course, life is life and nothing is perfect. Most of them were counterbalanced by other things, and I'll be honest enough to share them. First, of course, is that I missed Rick terribly. A 30-45 minute telephone conversation each day wasn't much in the way of staying connected, and the 3 hour time difference made it challenging to coordinate so I could make sure that I called when he was off work and I was out of conferences. I'm glad my parents could go with me, though. I wasn't alone and I haven't spent that kind of time with them since we got married, and I'm glad I was able to have this time with them. They really enjoyed the trip. But I missed Rick badly. I think this trip could have been a bang up great time if he had been able to come but alas, his work was not generous enough to allow him a few days off.
Second is that San Francisco is expensive. If you go, take plenty of money because you'll need it. And don't depend on your credit card either. Most places take it, but you get hit with the "cash only" thing at the weirdest intervals, so be sure you have it.
Public transit there is also a bit of a trick. Contrary to popular belief, they only have 3 trolleys running in San Francisco, and that's more of a tourism thing. If you want to get from Point A to Point B, a taxi is your best bet. Shuttles and buses are slow and I never found the BART thing they said they had (I believe it's some sort of tram system). Traffic is bad and parking is scarce and expensive where it exist, so a taxi is your best bet, and you know how expensive they can get. But the good news is that it isn't difficult to get a taxi, and they seem to want to help. As I said, the folks there are nice.
And last - Miami International has been beat as a nightmare airport by Salt Lake City. OMG. I didn't realize that was the major hub in the midwest. That place was like Walmart on Christmas Eve. Or maybe the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving. You couldn't get anywhere without pushing over 5 people. It was so crowded that I even had to wait in line to get a paper towel to dry my hands in the bathroom. Thank God our layover there was short. If I head back out that way, I'm going to try to connect through Minneapolis like I did on the way out. That worked out good. And Miami, you have officially been reclassified as reasonable.
So that's a rundown of the trip. Good, productive, I met and reconnected with a lot of good people, but it's always good to be home. And I think traveling gives you a greater appreciation of home too. Somehow, laundry, grocery shopping and car repairs don't seem quite as annoying today as they did a week ago.
Well, this entry is long enough so I'm signing off. I hope you have a great week.