Rob's Experience at The '09 NEA Convention

We drove down from San Jose to San Diego. It was surprisingly easy. Only a slight hang up in LA but that broke and away we went. At one point I was going 75 in the left lane and had to move over because I was interfering with traffic. We generally drove 75mph.

We stayed in a real fancy hotel - Manchester Grand Hyatt. The lobby was magnificant. Our room looked down on the pool and out to the bay including the Balboa bridge. We had a good view of the fireworks on the fourth of July. We could also see the city.

The convention center was pretty average - big and long. We went over and got our badges. I visited the RA (representative assembly) a couple times. It's the largest convention in the country - larger then the Democratic or Republican conventions.

While Deb was going to meetings I did various tourist things.

The first night we were on our own for dinner. Deb and I hiked down to the "gas lamp district". That is quite an area, lots of food and drink places. We ended up in Field's Irish Pub. We had a sampler of Irish dishes that was quite good. We hit the Ralph's supermarket on the way back for some beer and snacks.

One nice thing was the trolley. There was a stop right across from the hotel.

My first trip was out to see my brother Chuck in Santee. A friend picked me up at the Santee station and took me to the bar where he is occasional bartender. I met his replacement and we went to his house. I can't believe I didn't take any pictures of his place. He rents a room in a small house owned by a little old lady. The land lady was out of town. Quite a nice place. He has his exercise stuff in the garage and a pool is available. Pretty nice. A few days later he had a party - which I missed.
   The trolley ride out was about an hour through some rough areas. Interesting. No pictures unfortunately.
   Tonight we went to a baseball game at Petco park to see the Padres play the Astros. We sat in farrrrrr right field in the "all you can eat" section. The game was pretty lopsided, I think the Astros won 7-1. It was difficult getting the food and juggling it while eating. The beer was $8.50 a pop. The wind kicked up and we about froze. However, it was fun anyway.

Friday I went to tour the Midway aircraft carrier. I planned on a two hout tour but ended up staying for four plus hours. It was facinating. The top deck had a collection of airplanes used on aircraft carriers over the years. I waited in line and took a tour of the tower. Very interesting.
   At deck level there is an Admiral quarters and a captain quarters. They both had their own chefs and dining rooms. The first Gulf war was directed from this carrier. Unfortunately no pictures by me.
   Below deck, in the plane storage area there were a few more interesting items. Below that deck were several decks where the crew slept, ate and many worked. They said the engine rooms were 120 degrees, guys had to work there everyday. Also the laundry looked like a miserable place to work. Not to mention the galleys. Bunks were two high with no privacy. Even the lower level officers were cramped. The one guy below deck with a nice office and living quarters was the Executive Officer. We were told the CPO (Petty Officers) were really important and given great respect.
   We had dinner at Harbor Village which was right behind the hotel. It's a collection of shops and restaurants. We had sea food at a very nice place. The dessert was fantastic.

Saturday was the fouth of July. I bought a sandwich at Ralph's and took bus 7 out to Balboa Park. We used to go there when we lived in Orange County. I'd forgotten how nice it is. A beautiful collection of buildings and grounds. Mostly museums. I went to the main art museum. There was great photography exhibition of portraits of recent people, mostly politicians. Facinating. The rest of the museum was disappointing.
   We ate in the hotel. Deb had some scary large shrimp.
   Back to the room and fireworks with Helen and Kathy.

Sunday while walking around I saw a dozen or more military helicopters flying over.
I took the trolley out to Old Town. It's a collection of old buildings. Pretty much of the same era - San Diego in the early 1800's. It was dusty and not that interesting. I like the way San Jose has a collection of historic buildings from various eras at their Historic Park.
   This evening we took the trolley back out to Old Town for dinner. There are a bunch of restaurants and places which are not part of the park but feel like they are because they are adjacent. We had a really nice Mexican dinner. I left my hat and when I went back fifteen minutes later it was gone. I'm pissed. Movie

Monday I bought another of those delicious Ralph's supermarket sandwiches and hiked over to take the two hour harbor tour. The first half was going south where we saw a bunch of naval ships in various states of construction, repair or loading. Going north is a bit boring. The only thing of much interest was a navy boat training dolphins, they had the dolphin do a flip for us.
    Brother Chuck drove into town to go to dinner with us. We went to some fancy Persian place in the Gas Lamp district. Very nice. We had a good time talking. Chuck was lucky, the expensive parking lot had closed so nobody to take his money. I gave him back a bunch of his family pictures.

On Tuesday we drove home. No incidents. On the way out we saw a back up of about 10 miles because of paving but it was done when we returned. Whew!