Was on the road for 10 days for a conference, and learned a lot of things. It's a good thing when I come back with at least a hundred hours of homework to do in order to dig into information and implement what I learned. Some of the panels, I was definitely behind on the power curve... and some, I was nodding along and going "Yeah, we already do that."
Then I went to lunch, and got propositioned and my bag got stolen.
I should explain. I met up with Kacey Ezell, who is an awesome person as well as good author, and a mutual friend of ours, whom I'll call B. We decided to go to a restaurant in the casino next door, where the ladies had a wonderful steak the night before. The easier way to get there from where we were was to actually go outside and get a little sunshine, while walking around the sidewalks of Vegas... something that none of us were eager to do alone. As we walked along the entry/exit drive to our hotel/conference center/casino, a car started pacing us and the driver calling out. I looked in confusion at him as what he was yelling made no sense. He didn't have any Uber markings, wasn't a taxi, so why was he calling for me to get in the car?
B looked at my confused face, and broke the obvious news to the slow one in the group. "He's propositioning you."
"Oh! It's been so long, I didn't recognize it!" (Middle age. It's a thing.) "No thank, you. I'm married!"
This did not discourage the man, who switched to imploring that he needed more of my big booty in his life, and other salacious requests. After we parted ways from where he could easily follow (with some muttering of unhappiness at the fact that none of us were carrying, and we all now regretted that decision), I looked at the other two ladies. "Great. Now I feel very self-conscious about the size of my ass. After five years of weightlifting, I may have done too many squats, presses, and rack pulls."
The response was a teasing grin. "Or maybe... you've finally done just enough!" (With friends like these...)
So lunch in the Very Nice Cafe proceeded apace, and all went well, until we finished off a baguette. They came in little paper bags, and I flattened and folded the sack in to clearly show that it was empty, and encourage the waiter to bring another while we were distracted by talking. None of us were anticipating that it might trick the recognition filter of a pickpocket, but it got neatly swiped off the corner of the table by one just the same!
(In retrospect, it might have looked, from the wrong angle, like a flip wallet by the way I folded it. Wish we could have seen his face when he realized what he'd gotten!)
...While it was wonderful to network, learn things, and get hugs from friends, frankly, I won't miss that town.
Once we Escaped From Vegas (thankfully with less traffic jams, inane and insane drivers pulling stupid human tricks, and GPS misplacing itself than on the way in), we regretfully decided there wasn't enough time in the day to properly see the Grand Canyon, and made our way to Flagstaff.
I know humans can acclimatize to anything. Not just because my life has moved from Alaska to Texas, but because people appear to happily live in Flagstaff, and elevations even higher. I, on the other hand, was winded just standing up. Thank G-d for oxygen in a can.
That said, the food was lovely at The Northern Pines. As for the company, it was even better. We met up with Larry Lambert, who blogs at Virtual Mirage. You know, for a man I'd never met before and only seen a picture the size of my pinky nail that may or may not be an inaccurate avatar... I had no problem looking out the window as he walked up, and going "That's him." There's something about the breed of men my Calmer Half knows and enjoys spending time with that you can just immediately pick out from the body language and the walk.
The conversation ranged all over the map, from firepower to philosophy to politics to pictures of an elk who's fond of visiting (quite the handsome critter) and flying. I'll just say that it'll be worth going back to Flagstaff to visit with Larry again, and he gives good hugs.
On the way home, Calmer Half yielded to my plea for a side trip, but told me I had to pick one: the petrified forest, or the meteor crater. ...of course the crater won! I'd love to fly over that thing and see the ripples in the bedrock from a good height, because just what I could see standing on the lip of the rimwall was amazing.
Albuquerque was not so bad the second time, not after Flagstaff. Well, and the second time it didn't have seriously sketchy and twitchy gent eyeing the van while Peter was checking into the hotel that had me making a slow smooth movement for a piece of hardware... A night without incident and a morning with excellent coffee have me thinking better of that city than first exposure. All the same, I was very happy to get back to our tiny town where "youth run wild" means the cows have gotten out, and are eating my neighbor's roses.
Not that I had to get back to Tiny Town, Texas to see youth run wild. Just north of Claude, two black angus yearlings who were clearly in high spirits after finding or making a break in the fence came pelting at I-40 in the that bouncing full-tilt run of "you can't catch me!" Calmer Half hit the brakes, as did everyone else - Thank G-d the semi behind us had Very Good Brakes - and the beeves stopped just short of the asphalt, so close to the hood of our vehicle I could see the snot flying as they snorted.
...Getting chewed out by the cats for being gone was kind of anticlimactic after that.