Three times in the last week I've had almost an identical conversation with three different friends:
"Hey, how was your vacation?"
"I wasn't on vacation. It was a conference."
"Really? Because it didn't look like a conference."
"It was! I was at a conference!"
"You didn't post any pictures of a conference. All of your pictures looked like vacation."
You want to know why I didn't post any pictures of the inside of the conference? Because it was a conference. It looked like a bunch of training sessions in a bunch of identical meeting rooms in the basement of a hotel. I only took one picture of the inside of the conference:
The moment when the keynote speaker put on a Halloween wig and screamed Taylor Swift lyrics at us.
Other than that fifty-five minute break with reality (seriously, I think for a minute he was openly weeping, and there was also a story about the porter at the hotel that I was sure would end with one of them naked), the conference was great. I took a bunch of notes, co-presented two sessions, saw a bunch of friends, and also visited the beach a little bit.
OK, I visited the beach a lot.
St. Pete's Beach, on the gulf coast of Florida. In case you haven't been there, it's nice:
The night we arrived I was a little confused because I couldn't quite see the beach from my room:
but we managed to locate it the next day:
That was also the first morning that I walked on the beach. Last year, when I went to a conference in California, the beach had a paved pathway all along it, for miles in both directions. This beach didn't seem to have any such path, but to be sure I asked at the desk.
"No, but you can walk on the sand."
"Lots of people do."
Yeah, well, lots of people get in the water with the sharks
and the hypodermic needles and the jellyfish and that fish that Brooke Shields stepped on in "The Blue Lagoon" and the sting rays
and everything else in there, but that doesn't mean it's ok. Still, I've seen people run on the beach in movies and stuff, so I guessed it was possible.
"Is there any way to tell distance?"
"If you go left when you hit the beach, there's a big pink hotel two miles away. You can't miss it."
This turned out to be partially true. You really couldn't miss that pink hotel:
but it was only about a mile and three quarters down the beach. Still, it was a nice walk, and I made an interesting discovery about the beach.
See, I'm not a beach person. I don't like the water, and I kind of don't like sand. I don't like being barefoot, which is why all of my beach photos look like this:
As such, I rarely actually go down to the water, so I never realized that the sand just above the tide line in the mornings is hard packed like concrete. It's not wet enough for your shoes to sink into, but it's actually great for walking, so I did. There are long stretches where there's a layer of shells along that line, too:
so I walked it every day:
but I wasn't on vacation.
I was at a conference.