Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Last Thursday I headed off on what turned out to be a glorious "working" vacation in Chicago at the Feline Forum. 600 (yes, six HUNDRED) cat folk, and I spent the first few hours spinning around as I ran into people from every conference I had ever been to. "Hi there!" "Hey, YOU are here too?" "Wow, what have you been up to?"
You would think after so many conferences, things would sound the same. But as more an more experts and field rescuers work with cats in more and more situations, new ideas emerge, and there is no shortage of people willing to share those ideas.
I didn't "cop out" of a single time slot. Usually there is at least one period where you tell yourself "I've heard that before" and take a break to go check email. But there was none of that this time around. There were concurrent sessions (which means, as much as you might like to, you couldn't see them all). The speakers were all wonderful, but I can't help but think Kit Jenkins (Petsmart Charities) and her constant flow of new ideas is like catnip to a cat person, so I'll mention her by name. I went to her session just to hear her wonderful delivery, and ended up leaving with my head buzzing with plans for the cat facility and a slight sense of chagrin that it took Kit's contagious charm to get my ass back in gear and get some work done at home. But that's Kit's magic.
I took the redeye train from Syracuse to Chicago (arrived in Chicago at 9:30 am Friday, left at 9:00 pm Sunday) which gave me nearly a full day on either side of the conference to explore what I could of the Windy City. I spent my money in street cafes and on water taxis. The weather was beautiful and I wish I'd had more time.
I'd heard about the famous glass balconies on the SkyDeck in Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower). While the view was amazing from the regular windows, the glass balcony was less than spectacular. It seems I'd read somewhere that it put you "thirty-some feet out" but the glass really only extended about eight feet at most, making you feel mostly like a goldfish in a very small tank. There were so many people trying to get on, it just wasn't worth it. I would suggest going early in the morning.
As promised, here's my photo of the ground.
It was a bit more Disneyesque than I expected, but I imagine it has to be to manage the number of people who wish to get up there. It was only $14, and worth it for the view, the educational displays, and the chance to take some truly spectacular photos.
Some day I'll go back with someone who is into kicking around the streets and waterways. It truly is a beautiful city.
I went to check out Sunday, and nearly extended my reservation to see if I could stowaway into the next conference!
As usual, there is a quirk to every trip I take. This time my truck broke down only a quarter mile out of the train station on my way home. Ah well. All is well now.