Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Great Adventure

Something truly bizarre happened over the past three days. I am not kidding. Here is the gist of it: For the first time in almost eleven years, I traveled for solely professional reasons. For real,  y'all. It's like I have a secret identity. I may look like a homeschooling mom of three, but BEWARE. There is a travel writer hidden inside, and once in a blue moon, she comes unzipped!

Basically, because I have been writing a monthly travel column for the past 3 or 4 years in Parent:Wise Austin magazine, I got invited to go on a press tour of Washington County, TX. "What's a press tour?" I asked my editor, because she's a cool gal who doesn't laugh at my lack of professionalism. And when I found out that a press tour meant free lodging, food, and tours of all kinds of neat places, I said, "SIGN ME UP!"

Oh, we're sorry, Mrs. Diller, but this trip isn't really appropriate for bringing children along. 

Oh. Okay. SIGN ME UP!

(That sounded bad. Please interpret generously.)

Honestly, I was both excited and nervous about this thing. Excited, because I love to travel and don't get to do it as much as I'd like. Nervous, because, hello? I am a full-time parent. My world is kids and other parents. I pictured that I'd be traveling with a bunch of writers who would:

1. Be chic-ly dressed in that elusive "business casual" at all times.
2. Look down their noses at someone who doesn't do this for a living and in fact, homeschools her kids and therefore probably wears denim jumpers and bakes bread every day. (Uh huh. Yeah. That's me.)
3. Be talking amongst themselves in tight little groups using all kinds of publishing jargon that would make my head spin, while I hid in the bathroom like a bloomin' idjit.
4. Drink lots of alcoholic beverages. (My tolerance: Two thirds of a glass of wine.)

Guess what?

1. I met a bunch of writers and public relations folks who, even though I was the ONLY ONE on the trip who had young kids and didn't write full time, were super nice and friendly and didn't laugh in my face or look like they'd swallowed lemons when I mentioned the word "homeschooling."
2. I met two other Christians.
3. I managed to dress decently.
4. We were too busy to be drinking lots of alcoholic beverages.
5. I never had to hide in the bathroom. I barely had time to even go to the bathroom.
6. I had more fun than ... well, I just had an insane amount of fun.

I decided that if I was going to do this thing, and only go for half the time because the Professor, Lord love him, does need to go to his actual job for part of this week, I was really going to do it. I was going to say "yes" to every available opportunity.

Yes to arriving early to go horseback riding at Texas Ranch Life with a rancher and a cowboy.

Yes to attending a play-reading at Unity Theatre.

Yes to riding an antique carousel.

Yes to eating my meat quota for the month in less than three days. (Brisket! Ribs! Sausage! All made from cattle on the ranch where we stayed the first night.)

Yes to trying on crazy hats backstage at the Unity Theatre.

Oh, and yes to all the non-optional things too, like ...

a picnic dinner at the Antique Rose Emporium ...

... touring Washington-on-the-Brazos, the birthplace of Texas ...

... listening to a gentleman with the most ridiculously delightful French accent show us around the Round Top Music Festival campus (how come no one in Austin seems to know about this amazing place?)...
... visiting some art/craft galleries in Round Top (population 77) that would take your breath away ...

AND ... dum da DUM ... touring BlueBell Ice Cream Factory, in hair nets, on the factory floor, lit'rally-darling two feet from where the chocolate chip cookie dough chunks are shooting into the Homemade Vanilla ice cream, stepping into the -25F blast freezer, and meeting Paul Kruse, the CEO of the company, who is so cool that he didn't even tell us his name until someone asked, ten minutes in to the Q&A session. Key information: He was wearing a tie covered in jellybeans. He told me he got it at Do you think the Professor could get away with a tie like that???

Incidentally, Mr. Kruse asked us how we managed to have jobs that let us travel around doing neat stuff like this. One writer summed it up beautifully: "Be willing to do it [the writing] for very little money." Yup.

Tomorrow I'll tell you a little about the B&B where I stayed the second night. I think that's enough gloating for now. The other writers are continuing the tour today, and I am teaching my little angels about the digestive system.

(P.S. The Professor did a great job with the kids while I was gone. That is, he navigated them very smoothly through their lessons and got them to do it all cheerfully, using very special Jedi mind tricks.

But he did say last night that there was no way he could have kept up with the house at the same time.
This, friends, represents a happy ending to a very good trip.)

P.P.S. I'm ready to move to Washington County. Just so's you know.


Jenny said...

Sounds like you had a fantastic time!!

(Funny that I traveled for the first time in 4 years last week, too! Missed the kids, of course, but so great to get away with adults who share the same love for math and teaching as me.)

Stephanie said...

That is so cool, Hannah. I can't believe you were nervous. You, the woman who is awesome. You are. We all know it.

KTG said...

Looks like fun assignment,(by the way you make a home schooling Mom job seem just as exciting)Hope I run into you one of these days!

Anonymous said...

so awesome, hannah!! looks like it was absolutely fanTAStic :) <3 <3 <3

Jenni said...

Denim jumper???? ewww!
When Tim told me about your trip, I was so jealous! How awesome to get to travel like that for free!!! I can't wait to read about it, please save me an issue of the mag when it comes out. We don't get it in widdle-bitty Elgin.

My only wish for you would be that you could have stayed the entire time. :)

Vanessa said...

yay for traveling! yay for a great husband! yay for writing! Can't wait to read about it all in greater detail!

Naomi said...

So, so, so awesome!!! Wow! What a fun getaway!! And a B&B in there too? Even better!! Sounds like such a wonderful respite for a homeschooling mommy of three!! I'm so happy for you. Can you sense me living vicariously through you?? ;-)

Wow - that theatre is amazing! (Round Top music festival) - and that outdoor cafe picture afterward. Beautiful!! :-D

Julie said...

Wow! Sounds wonderful! You look great in the hat, like you should step back into the Victorian Era and be at the Brown Derby or something:) How fun!!