Before this year’s Dad 2.0 Summit, I’d only been to San Antonio with the Air Force. In July 1995, I spent 4 weeks in field training (which is like basic training, but for college kids in ROTC), and all I knew about San Antonio is it was really hot, the mail took longer than I thought it should take from Alabama, and that under extreme stress, I could go 8 days without pooping.
In January 2001, I rode “space available” in a C-130 to a base near San Antonio, and I went out to some ’70s-themed bar on the river walk with a dance floor, and since the bar was really hot, I laid my leather jacket down on the railing with a bunch of other folks’ jackets, but when I left a couple hours later, my jacket had been stolen, and I was cold the rest of the evening. Since the jacket had been a Christmas present, I bought an identical one for $200 at Banana Republic as soon as I got home, so my parents wouldn’t think me irresponsible.
The way I saw it, San Antonio owed me $200 and a week of regular bowel movements. Sadly, this year’s Dad 2.0 Summit gave me neither.
It did give me some new perspectives, however. I got to wear a hardhat and tour the future home of a Legoland Discovery Center before meeting a master builder. I had breakfast with a couple parents who’d lost children to diseases that could have been prevented with vaccines. I drank whiskey at Menger Hotel bar, where Teddy Roosevelt and his famed Rough Riders blew off steam while training for the Spanish-American War. I introduced Doug French to Japanese whisky at an underground speakeasy until our group was asked to leave for repeatedly turning the fires too high in the lanterns on each table. I hunted for paranormal activity with Aaron on the streets surrounding the Alamo and learned it most certainly does not have a basement. And, I learned the river walk canal is shallower, colder, and dirtier than it looks from the shore.
I also had the new perspective of taking my bride. On the surface, this would seem like a lonely experience for her, but we’ve had regular conference attenders like Doug, Amy, and Bogle stay at our house, and she spent time with my fellow Hadrian’s Wall walkers in London. We went together to BlogHer conferences attended by a few of the folks I see at Dad 2.0, and we’ve even visited the homes of Matt, Andy, and Jim while in NYC, San Diego, and Chicago. So, we knew she wouldn’t be surrounded by strangers. But I was concerned–would this mean restrictor plate racing for me?
To the NASCAR-uninformed, restrictor plates slow down race cars on superspeedways in the name of safety. I didn’t want to be slowed down in the name of safety. Luckily, I wasn’t.
We still had some late nights, lots of laughs, and all the tomfoolery a conference primarily attended by dudes in a hotel next to a canal can have. Like when we boarded an elevator around 2am, and I was wet from the river and barely clothed (but Patrick was dry and barely clothed), and hotel guests whom we didn’t know looked us over and asked, “Are y’all…local?”
No, disturbed lady on the elevator, we are not local.
But we tried to enjoy what I assume are some of the features of San Antonio locals like to enjoy, like bbq at B&D Ice House and then more bbq at The County Line. We had authentic Mexican at Tito’s. We enjoyed paintings and sculptures at the fairly new Briscoe Western Art Museum. We rode electric scooters through traffic and on sidewalks after daytime drinking at Menger Bar (where we’d been the night before but just HAD to return on Sunday).
Like any trip or experience worth having, Dad 2.0 will give as much as you decide to put into it. This year, I decided to put extra days, longer hours, and a wife into the mix, and it gave back in droves. I got to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. I came back recharged for my next fathering adventure: chaperoning 200 middle school kids in Charleston!
And before we’d boarded our plane home, we bought tickets for 2020 — 2 of them.