Summarizing the PNWCA Conference Trip

This is part 1 of 2 – in this part, I’ll note everything that didn’t have anything to do with the conference directly, but instead had to do with my impressions during our travels and as we were at Oregon State University in Corvallis. In the second part (to come later), I’ll discuss the actual conference, including my own presentation.

We left directly after the staff meeting on Friday to drive four hours south to Corvallis, which, if I do say so myself, was a beautiful drive. I was able to make full use of my new Garmin StreetPilot C340 GPS, and it got us there perfectly (and would later get us back perfectly). The only sort of harrowing part of the trip down was having a semi two lanes over experience a tire blowout and having a part of the tire hit the car. I wasn’t really aware of it until I heard a somewhat sickening thump, then looked over to see the remainder of his rear tire shredding. I immediately pulled into the next rest stop and checked the car – no damage, and the same semi came limping in a bit after I did. We breathed a sigh of relief, took a brief stretch break, then continued south.

Crossing the Washington border is a little bit like being a very tempted fish going after a worm on a line – it keeps teasing you until you capture it. Case in point: once you hit exit 1 just north of the state line, they decide to split it into 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1D, just in case you weren’t already breathless with anticipation.

We got to Corvallis at roughly 3:30 after leaving at 11. The way we got on the Oregon State University campus wasn’t particularly impressive, since we had to go to their parking structure to park and pay for parking, then hightail it to Memorial Union (which, interestingly, has its own web site) for the pre-conference session – more on that later. The parking structure is in a very industrial-looking area with train tracks and a Naval Science building that’s very obviously old. However, if you walk two blocks to the Memorial Union, it turns into an absolutely beautiful campus, which is a very striking change between the two. Admittedly, the parking garage area looks like it’s new construction, but it’s still very confusing to make that transition.

After the pre-conference session, three of us went to check into the dorms, leaving the other two playing Frisbee. Our director wasn’t joining us until much, much later in the evening, so we had autonomy until then. Checking in went fairly well, though apparently OSU Conference Services doesn’t know how to check their locks – the original keys they gave me to my room didn’t work and they had to switch me to another room. This happened to one of our other tutors as well (one of the ones who was playing Frisbee, to be specific). After some discussion, we decided to run through both my presentation and the other presentation being given by tutors from Evergreen before dinner. Doing that was fairly extensive, with both run-throughs and feedback discussions about what modifications could be made to make the presentations better.

We went to dinner after dark (roughly 10PM, I believe), after deciding not to wait for our Director. We went to American Dream Pizza on Monroe, about five blocks or so from the dorms. Not the greatest pizza I’ve had, but definitely a fairly unique menu – we had the Tejano (BBQ sauce, Herb Chicken, Smoked Gouda, Cilantro, and Red Onion), which was a really interesting taste experience – I liked it. Another tutor and I went back to the dorms, and I rehearsed my presentation before falling asleep.

I got up at around 7AM, showered (and was fairly impressed by the shower itself – not the fact that it was dark like most collegiate shower stalls, but the actual shower), dressed, threw a tie on, then rehearsed my presentation in my head before we checked out and left for the conference itself.  We did finally find our director when we checked into the conference – she didn’t even get to Corvallis until 11:30 Friday, so we were somewhat glad we ate instead of waiting.
I’ll leave the whole conference summary for another post.

Before we left, we decided we wanted to eat as a group, so we solicited some suggestions from some of the local faculty and staff of OSU and settled on the idea of Thai food.  My interest was piqued, primarily because I’ve never actually had thai food before, but I was looking forward to it  We went to a place called Tarntip, down the block from American Dream.  We had some squid and some chicken skewers for appetizers (both good), and I had the Plah Laht Prig (#62 on the menu) as my main course – deep fried salmon with special sauce.  Not bad, but I’ve heard of better food.  The only drawback was that they don’t take credit cards, which caused a bit of a headache when it came time to pay (probably not the first time either).

We left at about 7:30 – my passenger and I both got back to Olympia at about 11, and I got home at roughly 11:30 or so.

It was the first time I’ve done prolonged driving, which actually wasn’t that bad. I did enjoy the trip and the conference experience – I just wish the conference might have been a bit longer so that we could get more exposure to some of those ideas.  More on that later.