The Western Region AAAE Conference was held in Fresno April 20-22. Yup, Fresno. It was actually my first trip to California and it almost didn't happen. Here's the story:

I met up in Corvallis with my colleagues (4 of us total) at 6am to drive to Portland to catch our flight. I drove the 2 hours. We parked. We caught a shuttle. We made it to the check in kiosk and everyone successfully checked in - except me. No matter what approach I took with the machine (entering my name, confirmation number, flight number, swiping a credit card) nothing was finding my reservation. It kept telling me to see the ticket agent. I gave up and stood in line and saw a ticket agent - Martha was her name. Martha was convinced (like me) that it must be a glitch with the kiosk. She looked me up. No reservation. Martha asked me if I was sure I was traveling on the correct day. I confirmed that not only was this the correct day, everyone else in my party (booked on the same day by the same travel agent) had already checked in and were waiting on me so we could clear security together. She began working on the phone. She called the travel agent (which was, but is no longer, the University's travel). The problem: their reservations were confirmed by our office manager, mine was cancelled (an apparent oversight). Martha was ready to re-book me when a new problem surfaced: that flight was now full.

She told my group to go on without me. They left - blissfully together. Martha told me to go sit in the corner while she went to work (in a back room) on getting me to Fresno. Altogether, I stood or sat at the ticket counter for about 45 minutes. Martha was able to make it happen - on a different airline and thru Salt Lake City. However, I arrived only 35 minutes after the rest of my group. Martha from Alaska Airlines in Portland was my hero.

The conference was great. There was a chance to soak up some California sunshine between sessions. There was a chance to catch up with friends, mentors, and colleagues, and meet a new crop of grad students. There was the chance to consume research papers and posters. There were business meetings. There was this one "free" prime rib dinner that I could have done without. There was a chance to drink :-) and forget about said dinner...And, apparently after some drinks, there was the chance to get myself appointed to a committee.

And, I get to do it all again next month in Idaho at the National Meeting of AAAE.

Currently Enjoying: Having family in town
Currently Anticipating: A trip to Crater Lake, Silver Falls and Portland
Currently Procrastinating: ALE reviews

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