Friday, 28 October 2016

Day 5: And Just Like That, It Is Time to Go Home.

I find myself driving away from my accommodation, south of the city, for the last time as I head downtown for the final half day of the conference.  Funny how that works. Laying in bed trying to fall asleep that first night this moment seemed like an eternity away.

Our agenda had one last keynote plenary session. I had only skimmed the program but was not expecting much. The Power of One?!  What's that?  Is this going to be an Oprah Winfry inspirational 'you have the power within' to accomplish anything?  That goes against everything I hold dear theologically.

Needless to say, this ended up being one of the most powerful and moving presentations that I have had the blessing to be a part of in a very long time. Hmm, Manny Scott has a M. Div.  How did I miss that?

Manny Scott's story is captured in the 2007 movie Freedom Writers.

Click here for a short summary article on a similar presentation given to a different audience few years ago.

Click here for more background info on Manny Scott.

OK, OK, back to the Gypsy without the Wagon. . . .

In the early morning light I snapped a picture of the community garden plot located in a small triangle of land bordered by roads on all sides. Unfortunately, there were no books in the Little Library .

Often I found it difficult to determine if a business was operational or boarded up.  Having traveled by this restaurant at night - this one is IN business. 

As we left the conference last night we were dodging fancy tuxedo-clad men with long-gowned ladies on their arm heading into the Hyatt for the Texas Businessman's Awards.  This morning we are streaming into the venue along side many interestingly costumed Comic Con participants. 

It's Michael Jackson!

This REALLY was a great workshop, really :). 

At the end of the last workshop, my table partner pulls out this 3-lb cinnamon bun to show me. I immediately begin to hoot and said, "I know where that is from - Lulu's Bakery and Cafe!'.  When an acquaintance heard that I was going to San Antonio they said that I have to go check out the 3-lb cinnamon buns at Lulu's.  I ran out of time and really did not want to actually buy one - I would be happy to just take a picture of one; however, how awkward is that?  Excuse me, may I take a picture of your cinnamon bun?  Well, problem solved!  

I am happy to be flying as opposed to driving. Now I can see that the many long stretches of moonscape on my inbound flight must have been as we flew over Utah. 

And the homeward journey begins. 

Goodbye, San Antonio. It was an experience!

Beecher's in the Seattle Airport. Yum!

They call it the World's Greatest Mac and Cheese.  I must agree. Mind you, at 11 pm Pacific Time - it was 1:00 am for my body. Oh well, it went down like a dream. 

Oh dear, how did I end up with all this stuff?

Home Sweet Home.

The next morning - back into good routines to undo a week of sitting and eating. 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Day 4: San Antonio Sampler - Making The Most of My Last Full Day

How many experiences can you pack into your last full day in San Antonio?


The morning started off with breakfast and our first workshops.  In an effort to move our blood, we have taken to leaving the convention centre during the mid-morning break to slip over a block to the lobby of the Marriot Hotel where there is a lovely, seemingly secret, Starbucks.  

This involves walking over large grates embedded into the sidewalk.  The first grate I crossed over roared loudly but puffed air out in a unimpressive way.  The second grate was virtually silent; however, it packed a windy punch.  Today, I was wearing a flowing summer shift dress.  Can you see where this is going? Oh, dear. For my colleagues who turned at my surprised screech, the need to scrub their eyes was very real. It was not the kind of bonding moment that I had in mind. 

Moving right along. 

More workshops, lunch, workshops, ice cream break, workshop.  Phew.  Tonight there are no planned events so we get to choose a restaurant on our own.  One colleague knew about The Granary which apparently won the Bon Appetite magazine's Top New Restaurant in Texas in 2014.  Alrightie, BBQ here we come!  He did not steer us wrong - we sampled all manner of tastey tidbits. 

One final walk around the downtown core and we call it a night. 

Here we go again - Continental Breakfast.

Getting down to business. 


Time to move our bodies with a quick twirl around the River Walk mid-day.

Strolling through the Alamo learning about quilting and other aspects of low tech living. I would not have made a very good pioneer.

I am not sure what these Koi have to do with the Alamo but they were very peacefully swimming by.

3:30 pm ice cream break.  Oh my!

Another quick stroll around the River Walk before we head out for dinner as a group. I texted pictures to the boys and Domo thought this would make a great pencil holder for his desk.  Alexandre took a pass on all things souvenir - 'No thank you, Mama." 

The River Walk is a lively place. There are patio restaurants and touring barges passing by complete with the tinny sound of the driver/guide's voice as they impart historical knowledge.  At times, it felt like we were the 'show' as 20 faces stare up at you from the barges slowly passing by. 

Every item needed an explanation. What a complex set of flavours!

Charcutierie - assorted cured meats and preserves. 

Smoked Octopus - black bbq sauce, radish, pickled lime potato chips

Suckling Pig - maple spoon bread, red currant gastrique, hazelnut

44 Farms Beef Clod - coffee quinoa crunch, tomato caramel, pickled celery, corn bread. 

Barbecue Board - brisket, sausage, potato salad, baked beans, buttermilk bread, pickles and bbq sauce. 

The Alamo at night. 

And then you can turn around from The Alamo to see garishly decorated horse-drawn carriages. What a disconnect.

The tourist barges are still floating on by!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Day 3: Ready, Set, Eat.....I Mean, Learn!

Today was the first full day of the conference and my first full night of sleep. Joy!

There are around 3,000 delegates at this conference; however, despite being a massive building with many guests this operation is running like a well-oiled machine. Cheerful staff at every turn bearing trays of this and that, seemingly all day long.

Some workshop hits some misses but overall a very informative day.

Aren't you glad that pictures don't count as calories?! Me, on the other hand - well, I get congratulations for resisting the 'big-as-your-head' cookies. Mind you a rather shocking amount of other grastronomical delights did make it into my belly. Tomorrow I must exercise more restraint.

The Tower of America - guiding my way. 

The Henry Gonzalez Conference Centre - it is a big place!

I started off well for breakfast.

These cookies are literally 5 inches across - easy.  No, No, No.

Then there was a little bit of this. . . . 

Time to head back for the second keynote address over lunch. 

Most of the gang is already here. 

Wow, that was some serious lunch.


After some more sitting it was time for warm pretzels and full packages of M & M's and packages of peanuts. Really? More food? Twist my arm.

More sitting followed by an outdoor dinner reception. It was actually much nicer than this picture suggests but it was dark where we were. 

I missed taking shots of most of the food as we were standing at talk tables clutching plates and a drink. 

Hmm, there are those cookies again. I went for the fruit because that cancels out the cake and M and M's. It's the new math - didn't you know?!