Because this is a personal blog, I'll focus on my more memorable entertaining memories:
- Remember the Alamo! - The battle cry of Texans. I remembered it as well when I arrived because I got tossed from the place for trying to drink a beer the last time I visited.
- Hearing a motivational speech by former Notre Dame football coach and current ESPN college football analyst, Lou Holtz. I have to admit - I wasn't the biggest Coach Lou fan going in. Much of my opinion was shaped by my University of Tennessee diggin' dad who hasn't liked him since his days as coach at Arkansas. But its not every day one gets to meet a championship-winning coach. After his presentation, I was humbled to be invited to meet him and have our photo made together. He also gave me an autograph on the back of his business card.
- Finding Schaefer Light beer again in another H-E-B Grocery. There it was - nestled amongst some of the top yard beers of all time: PBR, Schlitz, and the Beast. All 24 cans made it back to Tennessee safe and sound thanks to Southwest Airlines. (The whole Schaefer story is too much to explain here. Follow our Schaefer adventures at Bench Racing from the Volunteer State if you want to learn more.)
- Saddling up on the back of a long-horned Texas steer. I look pretty good after 8 seconds of rodeo riding, don't I? And how 'bout that dime-store cowboy hat! If I had another day or two of beard growth, I'm sure some folks would mistake me for Chuck Norris.
- Spending a few minutes with some amateur astronomers who brought their telescopes to our hotel. I got up close and personal with the crater-riddled moon. I got to see Jupiter flanked by four of its moons. A third telescope allowed me to get a closer look at Jupiter - including its amazing horizontal bands. And a fourth telescope was focused on a cluster of stars. (Supposedly I was looking at star clusters and the Andromeda galaxy. What do I know? It sounded impressive, so let's go with it.)
- Varying shades of purple, orange, and red of a Texas sunset. But more important, a pick-up loaded with all-you-could-consume Shiner Bock! (Out of frame was a second truck - just in case we put an undue hurting on this one.)
- Experiencing the burn of a habanero pepper-infused tequila margarita. From my lips ... down the chute ... to my pit of my stomach. Cue Johnny Cash: ... and it burns, burns, burns. The ring of fire, the ring of fire.
- Hanging with two friends from the U.K. who I met at previous years' conferences. I excel in speaking with a southern accent - even a bit 'hick' some may say (though I prefer the more sophisticated derisive term: toomuchcountry). My southernness gets more pronounced as the nights get longer and the tab grows larger. The same is true for the British brogue - and unique sayings - of my London brethren. When the hotel sports bar we were visiting closed at 2AM, one of them pleaded for them to they stay open. “Me still has a tab mate.” When the bartender insisted he had no choice, we reluctantly accepted the night was over. But the UK bloke told me he wanted to say “Ahhh, jump off ya bloody wankers”. I'm sure it would have been a true British insult yet understood by Americans as a comical PG smack down.
Upon mention of the word "growler", they both started laughing - snickering at first, followed by gut-busting laughs. Clearly I had missed something. I soon learned my definition of the word as a half-gallon beer bottle in the U.S. has quite a different slang meaning in the U.K. I'll spare you the alternate definition here. But if you insist on knowing, I've got two words for you: Urban Dictionary.
Who knew work-paid training could be so much fun?