Monday, April 19, 2010

The Hypothetical Vacation Almost Happens

I'm back from my whirlwind trip to San Antonio. That was my primary destination plan for that hypothetical relaxing vacation I was mentally planning a couple of years ago, and it turned out that the hotel for this trip was my planned "splurge" hotel for my hypothetical vacation. I also got to do most of the items on my hypothetical vacation agenda -- I wandered the Riverwalk, ate Mexican food, visited the Alamo and even took the river boat tour. I did come home exhausted, but I think that was mostly from two travel days in a row and two early mornings (for me) in a row. If I stayed two nights so that there was a day without travel and if I managed to schedule flights so that I wasn't having to get up so early in the morning or come home late in the evening, it might work as a relaxing vacation. There's just enough to do there to make it worth traveling, but not so very much that I feel like I'm missing something if I just hang out at the hotel and relax. The hotel might even be worth the splurge price. It's right on the river, but on a peaceful section of the Riverwalk, not a part with lots of noise, and you can get rooms with balconies overlooking the river. They also have outdoor room-like balconies opening from the lobby, which was where I sat and read and watched it rain on the river after I checked out but before the airport shuttle came. In the afternoon, they had a kind of "afternoon tea" in the lobby, with lemonade and cookies and live music. I spent about an hour Friday afternoon sitting in the lobby, sipping the lemonade, listening to Spanish guitar music, watching the river and brainstorming the ending of the book.

The very early (for me) morning was because my panel was scheduled for 8 a.m., and while sleeping in would have been nice, I did rather enjoy that morning. I took the convention shuttle from my hotel to the convention center at about 7, then went in search of breakfast. The convention center is connected via a canal to a mall across the street, so I walked along the canal to the mall, where there was a Starbucks. The river/canal (it's a manmade offshoot of the natural river) runs right into the middle of the mall, and when it goes under a street bridge, the underside of the bridge is lit up like the underside of an old movie theater awning, with rows of little light bulbs. The Starbucks was the only thing in the mall that was open, and it was raining, so there was something kind of magical about entering the lighted tunnel and emerging in the mall, like going into Narnia, and I had this whole world almost entirely to myself. The only people I ran into were the men on the boats that were going around skimming trash out of the river. There's a feeling/imagery that seems to be begging for a story in there somewhere. I'm not fond of early mornings, but I do enjoy that feeling of having the world to myself, and it's magnified when it's raining.

I have to say that San Antonio has to be the friendliest place I've ever been, almost disconcertingly so. I've lived in Texas most of my life, including in a small town, and my family is from the South, so I'm used to friendly, but this city goes even beyond that. Just about everyone seems to go out of their way to be friendly. It's not just the hotel staff and the people working the tourist sites. The guys on the trash-skimming boats even called out a cheery, "Good morning!" I can only imagine what it must feel like to someone from, say, New Jersey. (Not that all people from New Jersey are rude, but on my scale of friendly to rude in all the places I've visited, New Jersey probably falls at the rudest end of the scale, with San Antonio on the other end. I find that most people everywhere are generally nice if you're nice, but most of my experiences of outright rudeness among people you'd expect should be friendly have occurred in New Jersey. My Southern Belle powers don't seem to work as well in New Jersey, either, while I can charm the socks off of just about anyone anywhere else I go.)

I think our panel at the convention went pretty well, and we had a decent crowd for 8 in the morning on the last day of the convention. I didn't get a bag of books, but I did get a bag of goodies as a thank-you gift, and it included a chocolate Alamo. It's very cool, but it almost feels like a desecration to eat the Alamo. As much as I love chocolate, it kind of bothers me when it comes in the shape of something meaningful or way too cute. Plain old bars are fine for me.

And now I guess I need to get back to my book, as much as I'd love a nap (I think it's taking me longer to recover from this trip than the trip itself took). Although I thought I'd brainstormed the ending, I got a huge new inspiration last night and am now rethinking my plans, so I have to figure out which idea might work best.

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