Tuesday, March 20, 2012

IA Summit New Orleans 1 - Getting There

Packing as Art. Next to my laptop are my spiffy new business
cards, a lint roller, & the Great Dalmuti for game night.
I am writing this on my phone on the Megabus on my way from Charlotte to Atlanta. This is the second leg of a 15 hour trip taking me from Spartanburg, SC to New Orleans, LA for IA Summit 2012. I'll be blogging my adventure all along the way. Read about how I found out about the IA Summit and what it is.

I've been prepping for months - talking to folks who'd been there & picking up tips, revamping my portfolio, getting spiffy networking cards, finding a roommate, booking hotels and planning bus routes.

...five hours later...
Lydia the Traveller in Atlanta
I am now in between Montgomery and Mobile, AL. I still can't pronounce Mobile right. Mo-BEEL. I've seen and met some interesting people. A lot of wierdos hang out at bus stations. People who rock, stare at you, and wear funny wigs. People who talk to themselves, and people who have cardboard signs about Google being "HOSTTOTHEDEAD" whatever that means. But the people who actually get on the bus seem sane, and relatively nice. I met some students on their way to or from Spring Break, and a Mobile native who was quick to give me safety tips. I forgot hand sanitizer and sunscreen. Oh well, my mom gave me a pretty new umbrella. I'll just pretend it's a parasol.
A 15-minute layover becomes 1 hour.
It's been a fairly pleasant bus trip. I have probably gotten more schoolwork done than I would have during the same amount of time at home. I've also gotten a lot of great ideas to take back to Converse already. I'm reading a fabulous SEO book and can't wait to apply some of this stuff to the Converse website. Next step: create a Mentions of Converse dashboard in iGoogle. Whenever people are talking about us, anywhere on the web, we'll be alerted. Eavesdropping made simple! An excellent way to stay in touch with perceptions of our brand.

Megabus > Greyhound.
...next day...
I made it at last. The last bit of the bus trip yesterday was less than pleasant thanks to a migraine and a bout of bussickness. I never get sick in the car, plane, or boat. Wierd.
Oh, and the bus was an hour late. Between that, general disorientation, and the Google Online Marketing Challenge pre-campaign strategy being due last night, I did not have a very restful evening, though the Ashbury Hotel was surprisingly nice. And Matthew and I got to pray over Skype which was doubly nice.

Read about the creepy bus station mural, the Hyatt-Regency, and the local grocery after the jump.

Set two alarms for 3:30 this morning. Didn't hear either of them. A text from my mom woke me out of fitful dreams at 4:45am. Boy, that was providence. Panicking, I threw my stuff in the suitcase (I was so exhausted last night I hadn't even gotten out of my clothes, and now I didn't have time to change) and called a cab. He got me to the Greyhound station in time to hear the guy yell "Anyone else for New Orleans?" and I bolted to the bus. I was the very last one but I made it. I payed $88 for Greyhound to get about 100 miles. I payed $4 for Megabus to get me 600 miles. Megabus is twice as clean, comfortable, and accommodating as Greyhound. Figure that one out.

New Orleans Amtrak station with creepy murals
Anyway, the bus was supposed to be a through-way but they stopped about 4 times and we were an hour late. Pulling into the Greyhound/Amtrak station at 9:15am, the first thing I noticed were the murals. Dark, writing figures that reminded me simultaneously of nightmarish graffitti and El Greco. Grotesque. But I think they were showing the history of New Orleans. I wish I'd had a native to tell me some of the stories. I'm sure they were fascinating. The overall impression, combined with boarded-up windows and black-and-red marble slashed with white, was rather foreboding. Welcome to New Orleans.

Once I got to the Hyatt-Regency, things looked a lot more positive. The concierge was amazingly friendly and  kept my luggage for me even though I am not checking in for 2 more days. He also helped me get my bus route to my pre-conference hotel straightened out, and directed me to an awesome local grocery store, Rouse's. I got a ham sandwich, fresh-squeezed strawberry-pineapple juice, and a berry chantilly donut. (When they say donut, they mean any variety of fried treats - this one was triangular and filled with creme.) For the past few hours I've been relaxing in the Hyatt lobby and freshening up. After I post this I'm heading over to the French Quarter. Ready to catch the street musicians!

IA Summit in New Orleans ||  1 - Getting There || 2 - French Quarter Buskers || 3 - Rain on My Parade || 4 - New Ideas, New Friends, & Bourbon Street || 5 - The Festival, the City, & the Way Home

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