Tag Archives: LawyerCon

A RROY REPORT Special Report: LawyerCon 2017: Lake Tahoe: Part IV

Part IV: The Long Ride Home

I fear I may have given a wrong impression of the airline industry earlier in Part I. To be fair, we didn’t have many problems with Southwest Airlines or the airports of St. Louis, Las Vegas and Reno. Well, aside from losing Andrew’s luggage — and they got it to us the next morning so no harm, no foul. No, the real criminals in our ride to Lake Tahoe were the parents who think it’s fine to put infants on airplanes.

Yes, I had no real complaints with the airline industry on Saturday.

But that was about to change.

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A photo of the Roy clan in happier times, while taking a boat ride on Lake Tahoe. Something to make you smile before the horror begins.

Got up early Friday morning and had a relatively uneventful drive to Reno. I screwed up a turn, but we got back on the right track without too much time lost. Arrived at the airport in plenty of time to return the car, check the luggage, deal with the TSA, and find our gate.

Board the plane. Wait.

Looks like the airport is full of traffic. We’re going to sit here a while until we’re cleared to go. Thank you for your patience.

We leave Reno about 40 minutes behind schedule, not a big deal but we’ve only got an hour between flights, which has now been cut down to 20 minutes.  Arrive in Las Vegas at gate D-4. Check the screen and see our flight is at gate C-9. That shouldn’t be too bad. Get out of D section and find we are at Gate C-23. Minus the four D gates we just passed, we now have 14 more to go. And the clock is ticking.

We briskly make out way through the crowded terminal. My son, who is usually 50 feet ahead of me on all walks, picks today to be pokey. Somehow, exhausted and out of breath, we make it to our terminal just in the nick of time.

The flight to St. Louis has been delayed by one hour. Thank you for your patience.

The gate is packed with people. There’s nowhere to sit, not because there’s no room, but because they had to make room for all the slot machines. An hour later we still have not boarded the plane.

We will be boarding shortly. We are waiting for the flight crew to arrive. Thank you for your patience.

Some time later — by this time time has lost all meaning — we board the plane. Everyone finds a seat. Someone walks by and says there are 9 seats left. Some time later, about 9 people board the plane. I guess once Southwest realized that they had forgotten to overbook a flight, they went back out into the terminal and started pulling people off the floor to join in.

Everyone’s seated. Still no movement.

We will be leaving shortly. We’re still waiting for some luggage to be loaded. Thank you for your patience.

F******************************************************K YOU! I AM NOT PATIENT! I STOPPED BEING PATIENT LONG AGO! I AM TRAPPED, IS WHAT I AM! I NEED TO GET HOME! YOU ARE MY ONLY WAY HOME! I HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO PUT UP WITH EVERY F’ING DELAY YOU PUT BEFORE ME! 

Eventually, the plane takes flight. I would like to say that was the end of our troubles, but you know better than that. I haven’t mentioned the wonderful people we’re traveling with. Yes, there were your standard-issue crying babies, but they were not the bane of my existence this time.

Directly behind me was a young boy. A young boy who enjoyed kicking the seat in front of him — the seat I happened to be sitting in. By the window was a young girl, who spent the entire flight saying:

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

Daddy!

In between them sat a man who I assume was their father – who didn’t do a G-D thing about any of this. When the flight was over and I could stand up, turn around, and face my tormentors, I considered telling the man that he was the worst father in world history. Instead he just looked up at me, smiled meekly and said, “Thank you for your patience.”

No, he really didn’t.

If he had I’d be in prison right now.

 

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A RROY REPORT Special Report: LawyerCon 2017: Lake Tahoe: Part II

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Part II: Living the Resort Life

Something we have learned in our travels: The more upscale a hotel is, the fewer amenities they provide. Or rather, the fewer amenities they provide for free.

I guess that makes sense. Why put a coffeemaker in someone’s room when they can go down to the lobby where there’s a Starbucks? Why give someone free Internet access if you can charge them for it? Sadly, we are not the idle rich. By the end of the week I was missing coffee much more than I was missing Facebook.

So, to sum up: No free continental breakfast. No free USA Today. No coffeemaker. No free wi-fi. No free HBO (but there was Showtime, for what that’s worth). It’s like roughing it at some campground, but with beds and a private bathroom. And free Showtime, for what that’s worth. Oh, but there was a complementary hair dryer. Go figure.

Day Two

tahoe1Andrew’s suitcase arrived as promised, which was a good start to the day. Once we got our act together, we went out for a walk. Harvey’s sits on the state line between Nevada and California, I guess because gambling is illegal in California. Once you cross the street into Cali there is a few blocks filled with restaurants and shops — the kind of things you find in every resort area we stay in.

We had lunch at a crepes place because Laurie loves crepes. There was a shop next door that sold specialty ice cream sandwiches. We planned on going back later in the week but never did. That afternoon Andrew and I made our first of many trips to the hotel pool. That evening was the usual opening reception followed by a live auction and slideshow with highlights from last year’s con. We skipped out halfway through the slideshow to get dinner at a Greek restaurant. It seemed much fancier in the hotel magazine but it was kind of a dive. The gyro was good and that was all that mattered.

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Day Three

More pool time as Laurie spent most of the day in class. A quartet of obnoxious boys kinda made pool time disagreeable on day three, but they never showed up again so that worked out. It was a heated pool and honestly at times I thought it was warmer than the hot tub. We took a lunch break at the Irish pub across the street, then back for more pool time until time for the night’s big event.

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That night we had a dinner cruise on Lake Tahoe. It was very pleasant. The food was meh, but that’s pretty typical for dinner cruises. The whisky sour was just right. About once a year I drink alcohol and it’s usually LawyerCon and it’s usually the whisky sour. That night I had two, because you never know when you’re gonna have a free bar and when you’re not.

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It was windy on the boat so Laurie did her Cousin It impression.

Tomorrow: There’s no escaping Shakespeare

A RROY REPORT Special Report: LawyerCon 2016: Denver (plus Reggae Jam!): Part IV

Part IV: And home is just a place to hang your head

Day Seven: Friday

Got up at the crack of dawn to catch our 9:30 a.m. flight outta Denver. OK, we didn’t get up that early but the Denver airport is considerably busier than the one back home. Got loaded into the Super Shuttle and the guy puts on a homemade CD of oldies. Starts off with The Monkees’ “Daydream Believer,” so I figure the day is off to a good start. Sadly, it began to skip on “MacArthur Park.”

Did I mention the Denver airport is busy? There was quite a line at security but it moved and we got through with plenty of time to find our gate and stare out the big windows. The plane left more or less on time and we wound up in the next-to-last row of the plane. As long as we’re together I don’t care. The terrible, horrible pain of descent — which I escaped when landing in Denver — came back with a vengeance when we landed in St. Louis. OK, it wasn’t terribly bad but it ruined me for the rest of the day.

Epilogue: Saturday

Normally the story ends on Friday, but I didn’t want to leave you hanging on my phone situation. Plus, I need a photo and I didn’t take any at the airport so I’ll toss in a few words about Saturday night so maybe Carrie will “like” this.

Saturday morning I got all my papers and boxes together and decided to make one last attempt at dealing with customer service myself before turning it over to the people at Best Buy Mobile. The first lady was nice and vowed she’d have my phone connected before we were through. She said it enough times that I figured she was either telling the truth or reading a script.

She asked many questions – many of which I could not answer. (What 4-digit pass code?) We went round and round for about a half hour before being cut off. I call again. I get a new person. He also vows to get me reconnected. We go round and round and round before finally giving up. It seems the sim card in my phone doesn’t match the one on the box. Or something. I drive to the mall. I go to the manager at Best Buy Mobile and ask him if he has an hour to take care of my problem.

He says “not on a Saturday” but is confident he can fix it in much less time. I tell him I think it’s a sim card issue but he says it can’t be that. He screws around on a computer, then calls some guy. Informs me I have no money in my account. I assure him I do. He eventually takes out the sim card and puts a new one in. Voila! It works.

I walk out the door and call my wife to make sure it’s working. I then have a couple of Fritos burritos at the Taco Bell in the food court then catch the 2 p.m. matinée of “Suicide Squad.”

Melissa and CindyThat night was New Town Reggae Fest, my favorite free thing to do in summer in St. Louis. Usually it’s just us, Yellow and Tim, but this year we conned other friends to join us by making it a birthday party. Yellow reserved us an outdoor table at a nearby restaurant.

It was hard, but after many years I bequeathed my Spider-Mon T-shirt to Andrew, since it didn’t fit me anymore. Laurie was aghast. She’s hated that T-shirt since the day I bought it at a LawyerCon in Key West. She didn’t think it was appropriate for Andrew to wear. When we got to the restaurant, a small boy was wearing the exact same T-shirt.

We order dinner and wait. While we’re waiting, Andrew — who has been Absolutely Perfect all week — decides to have a seizure. I turn to my left and there’s A shaking and L is holding him. Eventually he comes down from the shakes to that dull-eyed, glassy look. I always kinda appreciate it when he has a seizure in front of people we know. It’s good for people to experience my life firsthand. Autism: Not Just a Day at the Park.

Laurie immediately wants to go home. It was a pretty minor seizure so I figure he’ll be fine after a few minutes. Besides, there’s no way he’s walking to the car in this condition and I’m not carrying him. So we wait. Sure enough within a half-hour he was back to his giggly self. We ate our fill then walked back to the car to either go home or get the lawn chairs. Andrew voted to stay and listen to music, so we rejoined the gang on the lawn for a lovely night of reggae.

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A RROY REPORT Special Report: LawyerCon 2016: Denver: Part III

Part III: You won’t need a cab to find a priest

Day Five: Wednesday

As everyone knows, Wednesday is New Comic Book Day. What you may not know, is that Denver is the home of Mile-High Comics — the largest comic book shop in the world. Anyone who’s spent much time reading comics knows about Mile High. They’ve been running full-page ads in comics for years. Their mascot is a beaver or raccoon or something  holding a flag.

Naturally, I had to go. According to the iPad, it was 3 miles or a 1-hour walk away. Again, it looked a lot longer than an hour walk on the map. But I couldn’t bring myself to hire a cab to take me to a comic book shop, so the boy and I got up early and started to walk in the direction on the map. After 40 minutes it was obvious that we were nowhere near the shop and I wasn’t all that confident about this map. Streets in Denver curve around and change names frequently.

We walked back to the hotel and ask for a cab. Hey, this isn’t some hole-in-the-wall comic shop — this is Mile High. It’s like a museum of comics. Some guy pulls up from Mile High Cab — it’s a sign, right?

“Where to?”

“4600 Jason Street.”

The guy turns around and looks at me. “What is there?”

“Uh..Mile High Comics” I mumble.

“Comic Books? OK.”

Never having had a fare ask to go to the largest comic book shop in the world, Haraldo (or Gerardo, I’m not sure) plugged the destination into his GPS and off we went. Harry was one of those affable, chatty types of cabbies. Normally I don’t care for that type but he was so nice I didn’t mind. He let us know when to roll down our windows and breathe in the pot smoke. That kinda guy. And yes, comic shops are often located in those types of places.

The Jason Street location is a warehouse, hence the large size, and as such is located in the warehouse district, far too far to walk to as I soon realized. We arrived at the location and there was just a big, square, red building. The only sign we were in the right place was the Mile High Comics banner on top, the first word of which had blown over so all you could read was High Comics. Harry drove around until he found what looked like a front door.

“Do you want me to come back for you?”

“Would you mind? Give me, say, 45 minutes?”

“Sure. Here’s my card. Call if you want to stay longer or leave earlier.”

Now at this point you’re saying — Ha Ha! You don’t have a phone! True, but knowing my plans for the day, I took Laurie’s. She wouldn’t need it in class.

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We walked inside and — oh my god — it was the biggest comic book shop in the world. Aisle after aisle of comics and graphic novels and toys and posters and action figures and statues. There was a life-size Superman suspended in mid-flight. A life-size Spider-man crouching on a table. Sentinels and tie-fighters and all kinds of stuff.

milehigh2I soaked it all in and found the new comics wall and picked up an issue of “Uncanny X-Men.” They had a stack of free Hawkeye vs. Hulk “Civil War II” posters at the front door so I took one of those for my souvenir. I finished a little early (I don’t dawdle, especially with Andrew in tow), so I gave Harry a call. “Be there in 10 minutes.” And he was.

I asked Harry to drop us off at the McDonald’s on 16th street for a cheap but satisfying lunch. He turned the meter off halfway there and thanked me for taking him to Mile High because now he would know where it was when the next tourist came along. We had a good ride and when we were done I tipped him mightily and was glad to do so.

After lunch we hit the pool and I read my comic, satisfied that I did all I came to Denver to do. Laurie came in excited that she had won a Kindle Fire at the vendor event. This was a good thing since I had dropped my iPad at the pool earlier in the week and put some cracks in the screen.

That night there was a dinner and dance at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The event took place in an opera house that was a neat venue. The food was …OK. It sounded better on paper than it did in the stomach. I ate a lot of cake balls that night.

The entertainment was a band playing ’80s hits (Although you’re not fooling anybody — “Staying Alive” is from the ’70s). If there’s one thing this bunch of lawyers likes to do — it’s drink and dance. L and A spent a good deal of time on the dance floor. I spent a good deal of time at the bar. LawyerCon is the only time of year I enjoy a good Whisky Sour.

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Day Six: Thursday 

Final conference day. Spent the morning at the pool while L was in class. When she got done we went for a walk. Since we’d done the downtown shopping district to death, we went the other way. First we went to the Convention Center to get a picture with the giant blue bear. Then we wound up at a park full of food trucks, but sadly the Greek truck was all out of Gyros. From there we walked up the hill to the Capitol building. It was nice but ours is better.

denverbearMade our way back to the burger shop from night one. Next door they sell ice cream, and more importantly, shaketinis. Laurie had been wanting one all week and it was now or never.

That night L had her end-of-conference banquet so the boy and I were on our own. I found a cafe that had an Alex Ross “Secret Wars” poster hanging up so I figured it was a good place to eat. The menu was extensive. I was torn between the burrito and a gyro. I figured there was no way they would have a better burrito than Mexican Villa, and I had been thwarted from my hopes of a gyro at lunch so I went Greek. Andrew had chicken strips. As per usual.

When we got back to the hotel it was cool and overcast so I decided we wouldn’t make it to the pool again. Packed up our stuff for the early morning flight out and we sat on the bed together and watched whatever was on TV. I took great comfort and relief in knowing that we had made it through the conference without a single meltdown or trip to the hospital.

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Tomorrow: The thrilling finale 

 

A RROY REPORT Special Report: LawyerCon 2016: Denver: Part I

Part I: Things to do in Denver when your phone’s dead

I can’t say I was all that excited that this year’s National Convention of Appellate Court Clerks, hearinafter referred to as Lawyer Con, would be taking place in Denver, Colorado. All I know of Denver is John Denver and “Rocky Mountain High” and really, I’ve had my fill of the mountains for a good long while. At least until someone invents mountain escalators.

But then I learned that dinosaurs were big in Denver. And then I remembered that Mile High Comics was in Denver. And suddenly Denver didn’t seem like such a bad place to visit after all.

Day One: Saturday

How I hate travel days. They are usually a totally wasted day. You spend morning worrying about dying in a fiery plane crash. Then you drive to the airport and spend hours going through baggage checkout and security and then waiting for departure. Then it’s a couple hours on the plane. Then you land and you have to find baggage in a strange airport, then find a cab, then the long drive into town, then the check-in. By the time you get to your hotel room you’re exhausted — and you haven’t done a damn thing all day but sit and stand in lines and wait. 

100_2721This year our first travel day wasn’t all that bad. The plane was delayed for 35 minutes, which of course turned into an hour, but we didn’t have a connecting flight to catch and were in no hurry, so no problem. I was unaffected by the descent, which is always nice when that happens.

We spent the week in the Crowne Plaza Hotel. It was nice. The room was smaller than usual and made even smaller by the fact that instead of two medium-size beds there was one large one. Now, no matter how large a bed is, we’re not sleeping three people in it, so they had to bring in a roll-away bed for Andrew. This took up what little free space we had left. But then, who ever uses that extra chair they have in a hotel room anyway?

The hotel offered free HBO which had the movie “33” on a continuous loop.Sigh. So much for lounging in the hotel room all week. Once we settled in it was time to eat. The folks at the front desk recommended a burger joint down the street. The 5280 Burger Bar served some decent burgers. I had the “Ring of Fire” burger and yes, it really was hot. Very, very hot.

After dinner we went for a stroll downtown. 16th Street is the big pedestrian walk street — lots of restaurants and shops and whatnot. Random pianos and other things in the middle of the street. Plenty of people holding signs asking for food. The occasional crazy yelling person. Had a nice walk then went back to the hotel and called it a night.

Day Two: Sunday

Got up, got dressed, made our way back to the 16th Street Mall and found ourselves at The Corner Bakery Cafe where we had a nice brunch. Walked back to the hotel where Laurie had to get ready for the first meeting of the day. While she was in the meeting, Andrew and I checked out the outdoor pool on the 6th floor. It was crowded when we got there and the only shade was in one small corner which someone else had already staked out. I settled in for what I feared would be a long, hot afternoon.

100_2723Andrew got in the pool and was soon befriended by a nice old lady and someone I assume was her grandson. Most strangers leave Andrew well alone so it was nice that they were so friendly. In short order it began to rain — not really rain, just sprinkle. Everyone took off. I figured we could wait it out and sure enough, after a few minutes the rain stopped. I moved over to the now empty shady spot and we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.

Sunday evening is the traditional happy hour/dinner followed by a silent and live auction followed by a slide show of photos from the previous year’s conference. The event usually takes place in the hotel but this year it was at the new Justice Center which meant walking. Laurie was already going to be there for the meeting so Andrew and I would have to join her later. The plan was to use our new, exciting cellphones to text each other as to when it was time to hook up.

At time to hook up I sent Laurie a text. It wouldn’t go through. I called Laurie. “I’m sorry, you do not have access to make a call. Please call Customer Service.”

I hate cellphones.

Luckily we ran into someone in the lobby from the conference and walked over to the Justice Center together. Had some drinks and odd appetizers until time for dinner. Dinner was OK (LawyerCon sponsored meals are rarely delicious. Think wedding dinner). Went upstairs for the auction which went on way too long but our Andrew Roy Original Hand-Painted Christmas Ornaments went for $200, so we were pretty proud. I should get him an account on Etsy. It was late by the time they started the slide show and like most everyone, we left before it was over.

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Coming Up: More Pool Time! Dinosaurs! AT&T Customer Service Sucks!

 

 

 

 

 

A RROY REPORT Special Report: LawyerCon 2014 V

Part Five: Take The Long Way Home

 (Note: I forgot to take any pictures on the last couple days, so I’ll be inserting photos from the trip that have nothing to do with what your reading about.)

We left Richmond around 10 a.m. Friday morning. The plan was to drive to Lexington, Kentucky, and spend the night at a Comfort Inn and spend Saturday visiting with relatives and generally hanging out in Lexington. That was the plan until Cousin Debi found out and nixed our hotel arrangements and had us spend the night at her place. Regardless of where we slept, we were bound for Lexington.

100_2259We had still not finished the Hiatt mix but decided it was time for something new so we switched to The Beatles, as that would make Andrew happy and he was starting out the day slightly stressed. The plan was to stop in Lexington, Virginia, and refuel the Captiva and ourselves.

Some hours later with the gas gauge running nervously low, we saw signs for Lexington, VA. The first sign showed two or three gas stations. There was no sign showing eating establishments. Odd. We pulled over anyway, turned right and in short order found a gas station. No fast food or other food joints in sight. Odd. Lar went inside to inquire about lunch while I ran the pump.

The nice lady behind the counter informed Lar that if we turned left out of the gas station we’d find many eateries. We turned left. We drove. We saw no eateries. We continued to drive further and further away from the Interstate.

“I’m not seeing any restaurants. Was that woman crazy? We should turn around.”

“Well then do it. You don’t need to talk about it.”

Remember how I hate the Family Road Trip because at some point we both snap at each other and things get uncomfortable for the next several miles? It took much longer than expected, but we had finally reached that point. I guess part of me was relieved.

We turned around and got back to the interstate. The next exit offered a few food options but the person next to me was being quiet so I said nothing. Eventually we found a McDonald’s/Burger King sign and I took the initiative and pulled off the highway.

“McDonald’s or Burger King?”

“No Burger King.”

The Burger King, of course, was to our right. The McDonald’s was nowhere to be seen. It looked like we were about to drive into the heart of town.

“Just get back on the interstate and find a rest stop. I need to use the bathroom.”

We eventually found a rest stop and I turned over driving duties to Lar. If we don’t eat, we don’t eat but it’s her decision from now on. By 4 p.m. we found a Cracker Barrel. Things were much better after that. At some point the iPod stopped working for no good reason so, thankfully, I had the CD case.

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We made our way to Lexington, KY, a few hours later. Found cousin Debi’s place without problem. Debi was making brownies, which upset me because she had promised me pie, but she claimed we would be having pie for breakfast, so I settled down.

Had a nice visit then went to bed. Decided not to spend the night in Don’s attic, which is decorated with so much wildlife and wildlife-related objects as to make Bass Pro and Cabela’s both green with jealousy. I was afraid something might wake up in the night and eat me.

The next morning I drank many cups of coffee with Don, Debi and Lar and we enjoyed a delicious breakfast pie and coffee cake. Aunt Peggy and Russ came over around 11 and we did more olde tyme visiting without twitter or text messaging. Andrew finally got out of bed around 11? noon? I forget, but he had some breakfast pie and then about 10 minutes later take-out Chinese.

That afternoon we went to some candy store so Lar could buy multiple boxes of bourbon cherries. They both enjoyed the free samples. About 4 p.m. we loaded up the SUV and began the final leg of our journey. Figured out how to get the iPod to work and let Billy Joel take us the last hundred-plus miles. It was an easy drive through the flat, relatively straight roads of Indiana and Illinois. We arrived home around 8 p.m. Saturday.

“Wasn’t that fun? What a nice Family Road Trip.”

Who am I to argue?

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A RROY REPORT Special Report: LawyerCon 2014 IV

Part Four: The Final Stretch

Day Five

Wednesday. New Comic Book Day. One of my favorite traditions of LawyerCon is   checking out comic book shops across the country. I tend to judge a city by how many and how good its comic book shops are. Crime statistics and economic development do not interest me.

100_2239According to the internet’s Comic Shop Locator, there was one store within walking distance of the hotel. It would be a long walk, but hey, we had nothing better to do. Most of the walk was uphill, which was good, because it meant most of the walk back would be downhill.

Velocity Comics is a decent shop — small and filled to the brim with comics and books. Not a lot of miscellaneous, which is what I like to look at. I spent far more time walking to the store than I did walking through it. I picked up my books for the week and we headed back to the hotel. Along the way I confirmed something I’d been noticing in all my walks around downtown Richmond. Everything downtown is either restaurants or office space. There is very little retail. Not a lot of goofy shops to browse in.

Stopped at a pizza place then back to the hotel. Took leftover pizza to the pool and sat and ate and read comics while Andrew enjoyed a swim.

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That night was the final big event of the convention — a trip to The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. At this point I should mention that the bus drivers in Richmond do not appear to have it in for lawyers the way they do in other cities. The busses were always there early waiting for us in front of the hotel and left in a timely manner.

The Tredegar Ironworks was an important manufacturing operation for The South during the Civil War. It looks like a bombed-out relic now except for the part they turned into a museum. I learned a lot about cannons that I have since forgotten. Had a nice barbecue dinner with open bar and pie bar. Mmmm, pie bar.

Day Six

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For our last day in Richmond we took a walk to the Jefferson Hotel, which was even more ornate than the John Marshall. Back in the good old days they had alligators living there and they would parade them through the lobby. Sadly, all they have now are metal replicas.

100_2248We couldn’t afford lunch at the Jefferson so we walked back to the capitol and looked about then found a nice deli and had sandwiches. That night Lar attended the annual Farewell Banquet and Andrew and I found a nice Mexican cantina for our supper. They had a decent burrito there but of course it could not compete with the Mexican Villa burrito. After dinner we made one final stop at the pool. The next morning we packed our bags, loaded up the SUV, and prepared for our journey back to St. Charles.

But that’s another story.

Coming Up: The thrilling conclusion