Field Trip!

Last time I wrote, I was all excited about all the cool stuff I had to write about and planned to write one a night for three nights in a row…quite obviously, I did not follow through with this plan, but here I am, getting back on track!

At the beginning of June, my company sent me to the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exp (AIHce) with my boss and a few other managers. We go every year to the conference to set up a booth at the expo to market our products and services and my boss gives a couple presentations. This year, they wanted me to go so that I could see how they did things, do some networking, and learn more about the IH world in which I work. The conference was in San Antonio, which means I now get to check off another state from my list of “states I have yet to visit.” Since moving to California, the only time I’ve been out of the state was when we went to Reno, where, despite the snow/rain, the humidity didn’t feel like much. So Texas was a jolt to my system when I landed! I forgot how gross you feel when humidity is really high and the air is wet and stagnant (and how quickly you start sweating!).

When I got in on Sunday, I checked in at the hotel and did a little bit of walking around the River Walk, which is really quite lovely, but mostly prepared for my talk on Monday. I had to give a 15 minute “demo” (demo means a power point talk in the middle of the expo where you shamelessly shill your company’s products) and my boss would be there, so I wanted to make sure I did well so he didn’t think I wasn’t taking it seriously.

My talk went really well (my boss repeatedly used the word “fabulous” so that’s a good thing, right?) and mostly I attribute that to the fact that I was wearing these ridiculously cute shoes:

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Our company had a little party Monday night, where all 4 other people I was there with got hammered after everyone had left (they were finishing up the opened bottles of wine) so that was interesting. Side note: we had the party at the Menger Hotel, which is apparently where Teddy Roosevelt assembled his Rough Riders or something like that. My favorite part was the wallpaper…I’m thinking of redecorating our apartment with this pattern…what do you think?

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Nothing says “Welcome to our Home” like some pheasants on the wall

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On Tuesday I decided to skive off the conference for the morning and enjoy all the sights San Antonio had to offer, which means I did all the most touristy things I could think do to.

I started off the day by visiting the Alamo. I think maybe my public education failed me because, honestly, I didn’t really know too much about the Alamo except for everyone died. So I actually learned more about it walking through the barracks and the Alamo itself and reading about the whole situation. It was a pretty cool sight, although it seemed smaller than I had maybe pictured it in my head.

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After the Alamo, I decided to enjoy the River Walk by taking a little boat tour on the river. I paid for my ticket and got on the boat and sat there for about 10 minutes by myself before a handful of other people got on right before we headed out (I was worried I was going to be the only one on the tour!). The tour was pretty cool, especially because I learned a lot about San Antonio that I don’t think I ever would have known. So here’s some pictures from my tour, along with some (probably useless) San Antonio trivia from our knowledgeable tour guide .

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Statue of Saint Anthony

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  • The river is only about 3.5 – 4 feet deep at any part throughout the city. We were told if we fell out of the boat to stop panicking and simply stand up and walk to the edge. No one fell out of our boat, although I have to imagine it has happened before.
  • One of the hotels in SA (this was almost a month ago and I’m going on memory for a lot of things so cut me some slack for not remembering all the names) used to be a saddle factory for saddle production during WWI.
  • One of the buildings downtown that has gargoyles opened right before the stock market crash so the building was considered to be bad luck for a long time
Faces and gargoyles on the "unlucky" building
Faces and gargoyles on the “unlucky” building
  • The Palacio del Rio Hilton was built for the 1968 World Fair. The first four floors were built on site, but the rest of the hotel was built 8 miles away and was essentially put together by dropping whole finished rooms and floors down on top of the foundation floors.
  • There is a Hyatt downtown that is only 16 floors tall because (and I feel like I should have known this, but I didn’t) you can’t have a building cast a shadow on a national monument, and since the Alamo is there, the hotel could only be so tall so as not to cast a shadow.
  • There was actually a big population of Germans who settled in San Antonio. There is a beautiful church called St. Joseph in downtown San Antonio. The cornerstone is entirely in German

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  • If you’ve ever seen Miss Congeniality where they are in San Antonio, there are some scenes that were shot here:

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  • As a side note, there are 5 bells that are for the 5 missions of Old San Antonio: The Alamo, San Jose, San Juan, Concepcion, and Espada (yes I did google the names for this one).

I’m sure I learned other things, but those are most of the main bits of trivia that I can remember. River Walk is pretty nice and whether you walk it or float down the river, it’s something worth visiting.

For my last tourist stop, I headed over to the Tower of the Americas, built for the 1968 HemisFair. It was actually the tallest observation tower in the US until 1996 when the Stratosphere Tower in Vegas was built. It is taller than the Seattle Space Needle, which is weird because I didn’t even know what this thing was until I got to San Antonio.

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You can go up in the tower and check out a great view of San Antonio. You also can go on a ride call “Skies over Texas” with your admission to the tower. It’s a pretty cheesy ride. The seats move and shake as you “fly” over Texas. You get to ride a bull, then suddenly you are the clown in the barrel and the bull blows snot in your face (and then the seat in front of you sprays water in your face). You come face to face with a rattlesnake, which then whips by your feet (everyone screams and laughs), and there are various other adventures that include fog or water mist as part of the ride. The whole video was basically about how awesome Texas is; those Texans are pretty proud of their state!

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The Alamodome
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View of St Joseph Catholic Church

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Tower of the Americas Selfie!
Tower of the Americas Selfie!

Tuesday night we went to eat at some fancy restaurant called Biga on the Banks. I had a black dress on and shortly after I sat down, I had a waiter come drop a black napkin in my lap and take my white napkin away so that I wouldn’t get any white lint on my dress. I felt pretty fancy at that point. Then I had this amazing grilled rack of lamb served with grits. Oh man it wasΒ delicious!Β 

We had another party to go to Tuesday night which was at the San Antonio Museum of Art. It was pretty swanky, but I was kind of sick of schmoozing by that point, as were the other people from my company. So we didn’t stay too long, none of them got super drunk, and I got time to just relax at the hotel.

By Wednesday I was definitely ready to get home, but I spent the morning in talks at the conference and part of the afternoon. Then I got some Dairy Queen (do you know how hard it is to find a DQ out here in California? I don’t even know where there is one by us) and killed a little more time by the river before heading to the airport.

Well, hopefully you enjoyed reliving my San Antonio trip with me! Next time, y’all will get to relive our mold/construction apartment drama!


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