11 lucky individuals from Amarillo college were selected to head to the 2009 Texas Community College Journalism Association in Austin, TX. I was one of those lucky 11, along with 10 others from the newspaper staff!
It was a bit of a disaster getting there. We had to be at the airport at 6:45am, 2 of our group had never flown before, and we were delayed due to thunderstorms and had to travel around those storms through some crazy turbulence. Was not the ideal first flight for noobs but they did awesome. So we get to Austin and think we lucked out and missed all the nasty weather, HA! Take the city bus downtown, get off the bus to start walking the 15 or so blocks to our hotel, and there comes the rain.
After much suitcase dropping, tripping, and typical tourist cross walk confusion we managed to safely make it to the Hilton, where we were supposed to be staying. Well turned out that even though the reservations had been made for three rooms with 2 queen beds per room MONTHS ahead, the hotel had the right to change out the beds to 1 king size bed per room and we got sent across the street to the Marriott. Finally get checked in there and start to head to our rooms and no joke one of my suitcase wheels started deteriorating. Thankfully those suckers have a wheel within a wheel so I just had a lopsided suitcase.
Our luck started to pick up and three of the girls and I scored an awesome hotel room with a corner view. We hit up a decent mexican restaurant, El Sol Y La Luna, and waited out most of the nasty weather there, or so we thought. Sun peaked out & we started to walk back to the hotel only to get dumped on by the rain. After an hour of re-primping/attempting to fix our hair in the humidity we were finally decent enough to head back out. We learned very quickly that it is not an easy task to figure out where to walk to with a group of 11, which had then turned into about a group of 14 since a few more people joined us. We decided to catch a bus and head to South Congress, aka "SOCO", where we were told there are a lot of shops. I *really* hate shopping so I was pretty bored for most of the evening but it was nice getting to see everything. About 8 we caught a bus back downtown and most of us just settled in for the evening.
Friday was spent at the convention. We had a feature photography contest early in the morning that was pretty fun. Maddisun, one of the video reporters I buddied up with at the beginning of the trip, was in my group as well as Alfredo, the cartoonist, and we just ran all over town together snapping pictures of buildings and some of ourselves. We were asked to shoot "something old & something new; an artsy view of changes in downtown Austin." The photo above is the photo I went with. I wasn't too proud of it but the fact that we ran all over town, didn't get lost, AND made it back in time for all of us to share the laptop to choose photos & turn them in before the dead line was pretty awesome. Of course the next day we were walking around and I saw a brand new Subway (the fast food place) built next to an old building that would've been the perfect picture. We went to a few sessions, only 1 was dreadfully boring (pretty much was just a newspaper staff talking about inside jokes and what not), but the rest were very interesting. I was slightly suspicious that maybe Twitter & Facebook had sponsored some of the convention as every speaker we heard pimped the social networking sites--just goes to show how much of an impact the web has already had on the media.
The majority of the group hit up PF Changs for lunch, I wasn't too impressed but it was an alright meal and we had a really good time. Before the banquet Maddisun, Alfredo, and I all ran down to some water we saw from the hotel room and just goofed off taking pictures. I wish I could ask whoever planned the banquet dinner what the heck they were thinking. The salad was delicious but the entree was questionable. We are college students--gourmet is not our thing! We had a piece of chicken with a spinach artichoke stuffing and a leg bone sticking up in the air. This was sitting in a pool of some green substance. Then on the side we had a circle of quiche. I *believe* it had a mushroom on the top and rice on the bottom, but don't take my word on that. I do not like eggs at all but I did try it. I ate as much chicken as I could but the majority of us just cut up all the food on our plates and spread it around--thankfully we were all still stuffed from PF Changs.
Friday night we had a lot of fun playing cards at the hotel and then ended up going out about 9 or so since we were getting a little too loud to be indoors. I wish I would've had a Halloween costume! It was so exciting walking around the closed off Sixth street and seeing everyone dressed up. Same as we did the majority of the trip with all of us being so indecisive, we spent most of the night just walking around. We did get to hit up a dance club for a little while and overall had a fantastic night!
We had to come back to Amarillo saturday afternoon(our advisor knew better than to let us stay Halloween night in downtown Austin lol) and everyone decided to sleep in on Saturday. 5 of us did get up early enough to go grab some greasy bar & grill food, I think the place was called "Daddy's", and then walk up to the State Capital building. Took my very first cab ride when we had to head to the airport (other than passing some longhorns it was pretty uneventful). The flights back were very pleasant. The planes were fairly empty so we had the very back all to ourselves and had plenty of room to spread out. Weather was nice and Maddisun, this being only her second time flying, was even able to look out the window some. Had a really wonderful trip and wouldn't trade the experience for anything but boy is it good to be home!
P.S. You can view the rest of my photos HERE.