the 2017 Dad 2.0 Summit in San Diego

During one of the keynotes at this year’s Dad 2.0, the speaker quoted Mark Twain:
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

We were beginning our Sunday morning hike along the Pacific Ocean at Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve when our guide mentioned that we may be able to see whales just 3-4 “waves back” from the shore.  “Is that why San Diego means ‘Whale’s Vagina’?” I asked.  He couldn’t respond.

That’s how my 4-day weekend in San Diego concluded.

The trip started when I deboarded the plane Thursday morning  in my “Mary Go Round” pants and hopped in a car with Carter, John, Aaron, and MJ to see the sea lions in La Jolla Cove.  I was meandering down the sidewalk, happily sipping my water and enjoying the cool ocean mist when two strange women with iphones asked to photograph my backside for a “friend who just wrote a book about Our Lady of Guadalupe,” so I let them.  And then Aaron captured the moment himself.

After lunch near the sea lions, we went to the Hyatt Regency La Jolla, got registered, and spent several hours at Drift, the hotel bar/restaurant.

The conference began the next morning, and we heard the first-person account of making a 2-week-long trip hidden in a container on a ship from west Africa to the U.S. to escape persecution and start a new life (a trip he had to make twice, as the first time resulted in deportation, so it was actually 4 weeks hidden in a locked container on a ship).

Then, the sessions started.  This year’s programming was different in a few ways.  There were more talks led by one person, instead of panels.  I didn’t see any “live bloggers” in the sessions (which I used to think was an odd practice, but after being one for several years, I liked knowing I could get CliffsNotes from sessions I couldn’t see while sitting in one scheduled simultaneously), which made deciding what to attend or not attend a struggle.  The ones I chose were good, but I didn’t seem to have as many takeaways as I have had in the past.  That could be a change in programming, or could have very well been because…well, the days leading up to this trip were hard.

Two friends died just before I left for San Diego.  One was a friend from home who was a couple years younger than me, worked with my younger brother, and appears to have taken his own life.  The other was a few years older than me and was part of a small group of 8 I was in through our church; we’d met weekly for about 2 years, up until a year or so ago.  He got cancer and quickly died from it.

Neither was anyone I talked to frequently or recently, but knowing they were gone upset me a good bit. I looked at Dad 2.0 2017 as a way to get away from things, which is probably why I awoke at 4am on the day of the flight.  It wasn’t a great mindset for trying to learn or engage.

At the end of the first day, we had an outstanding steak dinner hosted by the good folks at Kia, whom I’ve enjoyed getting to know over the years (and whose cars I’ve gotten to know on our various road trips).   Then, there was a “Dad Voices” event in which folks read a meaningful blog post out loud to a room full of their peers.  It last 3.5 hours and was a powerful experience to both reader and audience, as nearly every reader picked a very personal and emotional topic to cover in his post.  I read a story I wrote in 2008 about my last night at work as the rat at Chuck E Cheese restaurant, when I squeezed a kid’s hand so tightly that he cried.

The next day, I’d planned to get up and join everyone for a run in our new athletic gear from Russell Athletic, but it was raining out, and my head hurt, so I loaded a plate full of eggs and bacon and sat near the folks who’d run instead.

We attended more sessions, and the Hadrian’s Wall walkers got to go on stage during an announcement about the new Camp Kesem chapter we helped fund, and after lunch, Lance, Kevin, and I decided to take the Kia Niro on a test drive across the bridge to Coronado Island.

I did more riding than driving, but the car was quite nice, as was the company.

I attended Carter’s session in which people got angry at each other over political differences and then heard the closing keynote which inspired me to want to do more traveling and exploring (I’ve since bought 7 plane tickets!). That night, a bunch of us stayed up til 3am in the outdoor courtyard by a fire pit. I think I insulted Dave with my incredulous reaction to his academic credentials (but when your blog has the word “idiot” in it, should you really be surprised?).

Sunday morning, it was time to pack up, hike along the Pacific, and fly east.

In retrospect, my favorite moments from this year’s Summit were at meals and gatherings around the fire pit, sharing stories and laughs.  There were fewer shenanigans this year, but there was more listening. And if travel is fatal to bigotry and narrow-mindedness, how much more is travel, followed by civil conversation with folks whose backgrounds and viewpoints vary from yours?

Next year’s Summit is in New Orleans, and is during my Reserves weekend, but I bought a ticket anyway.  Just to make sure I’m adequately familiar with the city, I’m going next week for my 9th Mardi Gras.  I’ll be sure and report my objective findings soon.


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