Sacramento Summit

(continued from 7/11, “Almost Reached the Summit”)

After arriving at my next departure gate, I looked for a spot to land where I could access an electrical outlet for my laptop. Time to make good on my intention to use this layover to work on my book and justify one reason for bringing the laptop. I hadn’t had occasion to travel—real air travel—with a laptop before. This was a big deal. I would disappoint myself if I didn’t succeed in joining the ranks of the jet (type)setters. (Forgive the writer humor.)

Strangely, near one of the doors that led outside was a railing with what looked like a shelf at just the right height to perch a laptop. And would you look at that?! There was also a built-in power strip with several outlets along the length of the rail. You’d think that some architect had actually designed this small area just for jet ’setters. The outlets even had power.

But I hadn’t pictured myself standing at a bar while I wrote. Though lacking barstools, this prime spot offered an adjacent row of airport seating, with one unoccupied chair close enough to the bar/shelf and an outlet, so I could plug in, sit down, and when needed, reach the mouse up on the shelf surface. I was surprised that there was no competition for this spot. It was pretty much perfect for my laptop’s first real trip, and I was glad it had come with me so that I, the experienced traveler, could show it around.

I wrote for about an hour. I don’t recall what I wrote about, or where I was in my saga of serial unemployment. I’m pretty sure I was stuck somewhere in 2008, as I have been for a while now. Maybe even the perfect airport writing spot is still not all that conducive to breakthroughs or brilliant insights.

But I did it. I lugged the laptop, I authored in the airport, I am a traveling typer. I shall ply my craft wherever it beckons me.

But The Summit itself now, finally beckoned. The boarding call for Sacramento ushered us outside to wait again in an out-building. From there, we were led group by group back outside to board the Embraer Jet. From my window seat as we took off from LAX, I realized that we were heading straight out to sea, over the Pacific Ocean. Um, I’m pretty sure Sacramento is the other way! Having been to LA only once back in the early ’80s, I didn’t recall that LAX was that close to the coast. But it was an unexpected and beautiful sight, and even more beautiful when we turned back inland to begin our northward route. Next stop: Sacramento Summit.

I made it! Eight and a half hours after I left home I was almost to my destination and it was way past my lunchtime. But first I had to find the shuttle for my prearranged ride to the Sacramento Convention Center. That’s when I spotted other Summit-goers who I recognized from previous conferences. In fact, there were a number of them and they were all ahead of me in the shuttle queue.

The outdoor shuttle stop welcomed me to a blustery day. This is sunny California? Along with others, I fidgeted while shuttle vans arrived, filled, and left without me. This was crazy. The stop was not far from an airport entrance, so I decided to get smart and wait inside where it was much warmer.

After my shuttle deposited me somewhere along J St. outside the block-long conference venue, I needed to find out where in this huge complex was conference registration. I wanted to get checked in for the conference before I went in search of my hotel.

It shouldn’t be that hard to find—registration, should it? I strode the sidewalk along the center’s exterior glass walls. All I could see inside was a long corridor that paralleled the sidewalk, and no indication of which door might reveal the way toward The Summit.

So I picked one and entered.

No choir of angels greeted me. No gatekeeper jumped from the shadows to usher me into the kingdom. So this was going to be one of those summit experiences that you attain on your own? Undaunted, I started toward the opposite end of the corridor, which soon expanded before me. And lo, there were signs! Signs that directed my gaze upward.

An escalator appeared that bid me ascend. And after I scaled that peak, yet another escalator beckoned me onward and upward! Surely the long-anticipated Summit in all its glory was within my grasp, as the Sacramento sun broke through the day’s clouds to confirm it.

Yea, I had indeed arrived.

And it just might be all downhill from here …

I claimed my conference materials after giving proof that I had already paid, by virtue of the name tag the Society Office had mailed to me… which the student volunteer “lost” as soon as I handed it to her. For St. Pete’s sake, I reach The Summit bearing witness that my name is written in the book, and you lose it?!

It had to be there, but not to worry. They were prepared to print me another name tag, which I promptly installed in the see-through pocket of my conference badge holder. I have endured hardship, but I have come to The Summit and I will not be denied!

Now, to find the charming lodgings I had been so clever to secure for my Summit Sojourn…

Seriously, just let me stow all this stuff and get on with sightseeing, and maybe even some kind of lunch! Flipping through my well-organized itinerary folder, I located—in its day-of-arrival, chronological place—the printout of my hotel confirmation. And for the first time, I noticed that the hotel’s address and phone number were cut off! I had not even a map of the area, the area I had studied so closely to discover the Sterling Hotel in the first place.

I had reached the Summit, but where do I go from here?

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