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This is directly cross-posted from Street Prophets.  I didn't change a word.

Actually, the first thing I did was take my daughter and granddaughter to dinner at Sorabol - an Asian fusion restaurant near where we live.

The following day (the 15th), I left my debit card in the ATM when I got some cash at my bank to use to pay for my haircut (the guy who cuts my hair works at a salon about a block from my bank).  I called and had it cancelled - life is going to be interesting until I get my new one.

I also bought a new suitcase - in part to make sure that I had one small enough to qualify as carry-on.  I was packed and ready to go when I got up before I went to bed, so I got up and took public transit to the airport on the 16th.  My stomach gets jumpy when I take on a major responsibility, so I didn't have much breakfast that day - some coffee and a croissant at the airport.

Both flights were what my boss refers to as "wind-up planes".  I absolutely love the valet checking they do on those.  I would have cheerfully accepted a little more leg room, though.

Everything went smoothly to Austin, and I walked out of the airport into weather much the same as we had had at home the two days before - hot and muggy.  Quite a bit muggier in Austin, but even so, the adjustment was easy.

Nobody took me up on my offer to share my room with them - but by the time I arrived at the hotel, I decided I wouldn't worry about it any more.  The room was paid for, so the hotel didn't care.

Rain had shipped the quilts and the quilt blocks and sundry other stuff, and it was supposed to have arrived the day before.  The people at the front desk didn't know, but they would look into it.  I put my stuff in my room and took off to figure out how to get to the Convention Center and pick up my registration materials.  I did that and took myself out to dinner.  When I got back to my room there was a box addressed to me sitting on the desk.

My new suitcase turned out to be the perfect size to fit everything I had to carry for the booth.

I was at the door of the exhibitor space at 7:30 AM the next morning.  I was under orders to attend the Native American Caucus, and I wanted to make sure that everything was ready to go when they opened the doors of the exhibit hall for the general attendees.  Andy Ternay showed up to set up at the Pretty Bird Woman House booth (right next to ours), and helped me get the quilts pinned up straight.

I attended the Native American Caucus (in direct conflict with the Street Prophets Caucus [DAMN!!]) and collected my first two signatures for The Quilt:  David Boyle and Wolfman Spike (thanks again, guys!).  I had not been altogether sure when the Pastor family was going to arrive, so I didn't worry overmuch about not seeing them that day.  Especially after the fourth person told me they had heard Friday as the arrival time.  I just about kissed chunyang's feet when she showed up mid-morning and sat the booth long enough for me to go to the toilet.

Among the first to sign were Bill in Portland Maine and Common Sense Mainer.  I think they were about 10th out of the 200 blocks.

Andy and betson08 were in and out at the neighboring booth, which was how I got my lunch break.  Betsy is a lovely lady, by the way.  And thoroughly deserving of the DFA scholarship she won that made it possible for her to attend.

Brillig and mik and Gloriana showed up in the afternoon, just about when I was wondering if I was going to break training, and held the fort for another potty break.

One of our Street regulars, rosel, lives in Austin, and she had promised to come that afternoon - just to help with the booth.  The visit to the vet that morning turned out to be more complicated than she had expected - not especially serious, but complicated, she told me - and she didn't get there till 6.  I am not sure how she managed to get past the guards and upstairs without a badge, but I had one waiting for her, so after that it didn't matter.  I was delighted to have the help in packing up the quilts and stuff to take them back to my room.  Rain didn't want something that happened in Chicago to be repeated, and I can't say that I blame her.

I took my time getting ready to attend the Noriega event about 12 blocks away, and still got there before everything was set up.  I decided to go because Wes Clark was listed as the special guest at the campaign event, and he had signed all three of the previous quilts.  I ran into kath25 there - a delightful young woman who is active in the local Democratic party, and a regular on DailyKos.  She, and several other people, including party stalwarts and assorted candidates quite happily signed patches for the quilt - I was especially impressed by the Travis County constable I met there (yes, I got his signature, too).  I wore down before the guests of honor arrived - they were attending the Howard Dean event at the Convention Center, and left a couple blocks and a pen with kath25 since she was entirely willing to collect their signatures for me.  She also, on Friday, returned the patch I had left with his assistant for a candidate who arrived just as I was leaving - she described the assistant as an annoying young woman, but she did have the signed block.

On the way back to my hotel, I cut through the Convention Center and ran into Betsy just coming out of the Howard Dean event with Georgia Littleshield.  We were introduced and then went our separate ways.  Something about the pictures I've seen of her had made me think that Georgia was shorter than she actually is - she's my height or even a little taller, and I'm at the tall end of middle-sized.

7:30 set-up again on Friday.  I think the 12-step Caucus was on Friday - rosel showed up to help me set up and then went to that.  That was the only thing she attended, other than sitting the booth.  I wanted to attend The Maze of Injustice panel, and did so.  Andy's report on it is appallingly accurate.  I also wanted to attend the Energize America panel, but it was in direct conflict.

There are very few details clear in my memory of the day after that.  I talked and talked and talked to people about The Quilt Project.  Some signed, some didn't.  One of the ladies at the Pretty Bird Woman House was Andy's sister-in-law.  I remember I had fun talking to them.  The Pastor family showed up fairly early in the afternoon, and Mrs. Pastor sat the booth with me.  I had been trying off and on to trade the two size small </POVERTY> t-shirts in my swag bag for one extra-large, but nobody was ever at the ONE.ORG booth when I went by while I was carrying them, so I gave them to the pastorkids instead.  I made the rounds of the exhibit hall and collected several author signatures (George Lakoff, John Dean [he was pleased that my favorite Countdown segments involve him], Richard Clarke, Jim Hightower, ....).

I remember one of the other exhibitors came by when I was by myself and Andy was by himself in the next booth, and asked each of us to spend a few minutes talking about our own particular environmental concerns (mine was clean drinking water; Andy's was the coral reef die-off).  But I honestly don't remember what day that happened.

I think it was Friday afternoon that I flagged down Jerome a Paris.  He was happy to sign the quilt, although I'm not sure he remembered me from last year, since the gibbering fangirl didn't come out quite so far in Austin.  He surprised a few of the people who were there - not that he signed, but that he contributed a couple of bucks to the project!

When we packed up on Friday, Mrs. Pastor offered to keep the quilt stuff in their room, which was at the Hilton.  I took her up on that, and ended up going with the Pastor family and Andy Ternay to dinner at Moonshine, a very good restaurant just across the street from the Convention Center.  They all told me I needed to have a Shiner Bock (Andy says it's the only alcohol he ever even thinks about missing - I can see why, it was very tasty).  The popcorn and the spinach salad were both excellent.  The pastorkids are delightful.

After dinner, I went to the candidate reception.  In working my way around the candidate tables, I ran into bleeding heart, who said she could find Darcy Burner for me.  Poor bleeding heart - when she had Darcy Burner, she couldn't find me!  I was buried in masses of people, getting signatures from other candidates (most of whom were vastly amused that I was asking for campaign buttons to finish the Chicago Quilt).  I thank her again for her efforts.

I stayed till the event was entirely over and all the quilt blocks I had with me were signed and then went back to my room, took a shower and went to bed.

I woke up at 4 AM (effectively 2:00) on Saturday and couldn't get back to sleep.  Which is a large part of the reason I broke down and cried when Mrs. Pastor, the Little Boy and I got to the doors of the exhibit hall at 7:30 and the guard didn't let us in.  He had orders to not let anybody in before 9 AM.  We were just about ready to go away again when he got a call - basically he was told to let anybody wearing exhibitor badges in and nobody else till the hall opened for the day.  This pissed a lot of people off who had left their badges in their booths.  Common Sense Mainer came through (not an exhibitor) - he said he got in the back way.

I had decided to stay away from the Pelosi event (knowing which direction the strong feelings were going) - it says a lot for how tired I was that I didn't even think of sending a quilt block in with anybody.  When I was there by myself, wandering through the exhibit hall looking for campaign buttons, I could hear a little of what was going on at her event, which was directly below where I was.  I found out later that the sudden roar which shook the floor under my feet was because Al Gore walked out on stage.

Saturday at the booth is something of a blur.  I remember not being able to stop talking.  At one point I did get one of the guards to sign a block - he seemed very happy to contribute even in such a small way to something that was intended to help Native Americans.  I don't think he was officially supposed to do anything of the kind, actually.

I remember rosel went around and collected several exhibitor signatures, and had to leave to go look at a house with her husband and got back in time to help take the booth down.  We packed up the box to be shipped back to Rain and gave it and enough money to cover the shipping to her, and I took the cashbox, the unsigned quilt blocks (we still had almost 50 blanks), the pens, the catalog list and the clipboard, and a fair supply of the buttons.

At this point, things began to slow down enough for me to remember what happened again.  I went back to my room and took a shower and a rest.  And I was in my room when sunset rolled around.  My mother has friends who live in Austin, and she told me that if I could do only one touristy thing while I was there, I should go watch the bats come out from under their bridge at sunset.  As it happens, the room I was in was on the third floor of the hotel, directly overlooking the bridge in question.

I sat in the window and watched hordes of people and dozens of boats of several different kinds arrive.  About the time that lots of cameras started flashing, I realized that the streaks I was seeing weren't my breath against the air-conditioned window, they were thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of bats, flying out from under the bridge.  I could feel my eyes getting bigger as I watched for the remaining 10 minutes it was possible to see anything.  A truly incredible sight.  I heartily recommend it to anyone who goes to Austin.

Right from the beginning I had been intending to go to Orangecloud115's party (being something of a foodie), and it was due to start at 9 PM that night.  I got together what I needed to continue collecting signatures (thanks again for the baggie, Mrs. Pastor) and headed for the Convention Center to see if the keynote event was over and maybe get some people there to sign.  It was running late, and had apparently just barely started.  

I found Andy Ternay and hung around with him.  He found Darcy Burner for me - she was thrilled to be signing a block for a star quilt.  She told me that she had been working on one that was about half finished and hadn't survived the house fire.  I started looking around for interesting faces, and one of the black women I asked to sign turned out to be Betsy's roommate - another DFA scholarship winner!  I ended up staying till it was almost over; Markos himself collected Donna Edwards's signature for me!  Andy gave the patch and the pen back to me the following morning.

I did eventually get to the foodie party.  There wasn't much left - it had started on time, and there were quite a few people attending.  I got several signatures, a couple handfuls of pecans and some cherry tomatoes, and to be there when the cops came and the hotel insisted the party move downstairs away from where people were trying to sleep.  The only problem was the noise level; but people were trying to sleep.

I kept saying that I needed to get to bed, but I went from Orangecloud's party to the Hilton and collected some signatures.  One of the women I'd been thinking about asking at the Donna Edwards event was there, and I also asked the young couple she was talking to.  They were from Sweden.  I don't think they were attending Netroots Nation, but they listened to me explain to the woman who was what The Quilt was about, and were delighted to sign.  One of the people who actually was attending and signed at the booth was from Melbourne, Australia.

Sunday morning I had about 20 quilt blocks left unsigned.  I went to the Hilton fairly early and found several of the regulars over the way who had promised to come back and sign a patch at the booth sitting in the lobby waiting for their ride to the airport.  Floja Roja and Delaware Dem, among others.  I showed up well ahead of time for the service (I repeat, the pastorkids are delightful), and collected several signatures before, and even more after.  Everything written elsewhere about the Sunday Service is quite accurate.  As to this, I second Aunt Em's comment.

Devilstower is a published science fiction author.  It turns out he knows one of my oldest friends, who makes his living at it.  I got to tell my story about that friend's 21st birthday.  Yes, there is somebody moderately well known in that field that I honestly knew them when.

By the time I left to go check out of my hotel, I had three blank blocks left (and only three others that were not entirely accounted for).  

I got to the last keynote in time to collect the speaker's signature, and was basically told to sit down and shut up at the Bloggers Brunch when I got to the microphone and talked about the Quilt Project.  I didn't mind that, especially since nobody seemed to expect me to be sorry for what I said, and it did result in the final blocks being signed by the people I was after.  

There was another woman who was also pretty much told to sit down and shut up over something entirely different, and a man stopped me afterward and told me he agreed entirely with what I had said about Nancy Pelosi.  I told him repeatedly that I hadn't said a word about her, but he seemed to think she should have been tarred and feathered at the very least.  It was the other woman he agreed with, but he wasn't listening to me.  I don't think he was listening to anybody.

I managed to stay awake at my hotel long enough to get on the shuttle to the airport.  I was well ahead of my flight - and found myself behind Devilstower through the security line.  Once I found my gate, I took a walk so I wouldn't seize up, and saw a couple of recently familiar faces (Timroff and his wife, whose user name I can't quite call to mind - Dania something).  I sat down for a visit and found myself very shortly in the middle of a rather large NN08 contingent who were headed out on the Delta flight to Atlanta.

The return flight to Salt Lake City was pretty smooth with a strong tail wind, apparently, since we got there about 20 minutes earlier than projected - and the approach was from a direction that, for the first time in my life, I actually saw the Great Salt Lake.  Oh. My. God.  

This is where the first travel glitch occurred - my flight to Portland was delayed 3 hours due to bad weather in Philadelphia where it was coming from.  There were no further delays, and we touched down in Portland a few  minutes after 1 AM.  My daughter was there waiting for me, and I was in bed by 2.

And, thankfully, I had one more day of vacation arranged, so I was not the walking dead at work on Monday.

Originally posted to loggersbrat on Mon Jul 28, 2008 at 09:54 AM PDT.

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