In Austin, you can go just about anywhere in shorts or jeans and most people do. So I laughed when the local paper brought in a fashion reporter last year. His first column mentioned French cuffs. I suspected most readers thought he was referring to fancy bondage gear.
It’s not that I don’t have dresses in my closet. Since the Carter administration I bought exactly two; a black cocktail dress from Goodwill and a long evening dress I scored on eBay. Unfortunately, both were a little long in the tooth for my newfound need.
I was working from home one day at the end of January when the marketing boss called. I was a little freaked out because he never calls me. But at the last minute, one of my colleagues couldn’t make a speaking engagement she had scheduled. It wasn’t your run of the mill seminar. It was an investing cruise. He wanted to know if I’d fill in.
The ground in Austin was white with snow. I realize that an inch of snow is barely a down payment for the bill the rest of the country got stuck with this year. But for Austin, it was salt in the wound for a particularly cold winter. I immediately agreed to the cruise.
Packing, I realized how uncomplicated my life had been as freelance writer. I can pack for a trip to Vegas in less than an hour. Even a six week stint at the WSOP was a one bag, two pair of shoes affair.
When I worked with Michael Craig on The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide: Tournament Edition I kept a pre-packed bag in my closet. Michael is good at many things, but scheduling isn’t one of them. I’d invariably get a call at 11:00 pm asking how soon I could get to Vegas. I’d book the first one-way flight out of Austin for the next morning and go to bed. (With Michael, you never knew when you would be returning — or where you would be returning from.)
But the cruise was well worth the additional garment bag. The seminars were fun. It’s always motivating to spend time with people who share your passion for investing. I hope many will keep in touch. I was especially glad to meet one guy from the Keys who clued me in on the benefits of a water cistern — and on my return I changed my backyard landscaping plans to include one.
I had ample time to dodge the planned excursions and explore on my own at our ports of call. My favorite port experience may have been the cab ride to Sapphire Beach in St. Thomas. The cab was definitely a local and not an express. I shared the cab with a couple going to the local Kmart, which had us meandering through places tourists probably seldom see.
Once at the store, the cab driver got out to socialize a bit with his friends. But I was happy enough to wait, listening to his music CD. It had all the classics — and I don’t mean reggae. Johnny Cash, Lefty Frizzell, and Kitty Wells kept me company. Somehow listening to old school country music outside a Kmart on a Caribbean island was close to paradise. And the beach was nice too.
I’ve been totally backlogged with work since I got back. It didn’t help that February was already a short month. I’ll probably catch up just before I head out on a late April - early May vacation. Another cruise? Not this time.
I’m packing my duffel bag for Vegas, baby.
Photo notes: Austin snow, leaving Port Everglades, Holland America’s Eurodam from a beach at Turks & Caicos, my landscaping plans (cistern to go under the deck), Sapphire Beach, El Morro and Lamb of God statue in Old San Juan.