Monday's confusion continued up until time to leave for the airport. Sister-in-law had called Joe the tree guy, as we'd been saying for months that both houses needed some work. So Joe showed up about 10 minutes before I needed to leave. Sister-in-law had taken the kids to the pool and Joe's phone was in a dead zone, so I had to relay what work she wanted estimated. Joe gave me the estimate on my house ($600 to take off one big limb overhanging the house, and to clear dead limbs out of many of the trees--I decided not to take down the huge pine in the front yard for another $1200) and I bolted for the airport only 5 minutes late.
The flight out had an interesting delay cause by a lady allergic to cats who discovered that a cat was on board and too close to her...after we had taxied most of the way to the runway. We had to turn around, taxi back to an open gate, unload the lady and her family (husband and 2 kids), find and unload their checked luggage, then top off the fuel for the plane. We finally departed more than an hour late. However, I had a lovely flight except for that, as no one showed up for the middle seat and the lady with the window seat moved forward to sit with a friend. When my feet started to swell a little a couple of hours into the flight (it's a 4+ hour trip), I put my back to the window and put my feet up. Tolerably comfy!
The meeting started Tuesday morning at the lovely Boise office. The USGS actually owns the land and several buildings (well, the main building is shared by a Bureau of Reclamation office), unlike most offices which are rented through the GSA. The main building is only a couple of years old, and is airy and light and nicely laid out with a center area with a receptionist's desk and large meeting room, then one side for USGS and the other for BOR.
Tuesday evening Annette, the local committee member, invited us to her place, where she and her husband cooked dinner for us. (We all contributed to a pot to reimburse her for the food, as well as for the snacks and water she provided in the meeting room, but to actually cook for us all was Above And Beyond The Call.) Had a very pleasant evening visiting with them, the office chief and her husband, and the office ground-water specialist and his wife. And pigging out--the food was wonderful and bountiful.
Wednesday we started the meeting early so we could leave and go whitewater rafting, all but one of us, that is (the other one wasn't interested). We did the main Payette River, a tributary of the Snake. Class 2 and 3 rapids, and we were on 2 rafts to handle our 13 people, part of a group of 5 rafts altogether on the evening trip for this outfitter. I think all but a couple of us were whitewater novices, or only minimally experienced. (It was my first time.) We all got very wet, a little cold when drenched by the chilly water (and hot from the sun in the less shady parts of the river) at times, and had lots of fun. Somewhere toward the last third of the run I got actively uncomfortable as the hip joints and legs protested my angled position in the raft, but each set of rapids provided sufficient distraction. I didn't notice the very sore rear from sitting on the stiffly inflated raft until we got off the river. I bought 4 photos of the group on my raft from the outfitter--they specialize in phtography as a major part of their business, so the bus driver that takes you to the put-in then moves downstream to 4 of the rapids and shoots pictures of each raft as they go through. Will post at least one when the CD arrives.
By the time we'd gotten off the river, changed into dry clothes, bought photos and T-shirts, etc., it was 8 PM and we were starved. Rather than drive the hour back to Boise, our local person took us to the Longbranch, a country restaurant and bar near the river. Let's begin by being fair: Annette didn't promise it would be great food, and the place had changed hands recently anyway. So, there was one young waitress, a new cook, and the place was totally overwhelmed by our party of 13. The waitress was slow to take our order, very slow to get any of it out, and then the food arrived over a long period. The first thing out was wrong (not a combination of sides and burger that matched what anyone ordered), but someone took it anyway in the hopes that it was supposed to be theirs. It turned out to not be the attempt at that person's meal, so at the end one person's meal had to be started over. As each order trickled out, many of them not quite right, it just got funnier and funnier (hey, it was laugh or cry at that point). The small cups of lukewarm soup, delivered one at a time over 15 minutes before everyone that ordered soup got theirs. The "broccoli salad" as described by the waitress, that had no broccoli in it--it was a cucumber salad. My "low carb plate" (it seemed to have the best chance of more green veggies, and I'd overeaten at Annette's the night before) which someone overheard the cook asking the waitress "what is that?" Answer: "I don't know". Guess they looked it up, as it arrived with the stated hamburger steak (well, hamburger patty, very overcooked), broccoli, and salad. Could have used to sauteed onions that covered the "hamburger steak" per se that someone else ordered. In the end, we were off the river at 8, but didn't get away from this restaurant until 10. We were all wiped by the time we got back to the hotel a little after 11.
Thursday's meeting went well, perhaps aided by the afternoon session reviewing and prioritizing database problem reports. Doesn't sound like fun? Well, with a run of 20 or so of them filed by one guy in the Washington State office with too much time on his hands and decided opinions (often wrong), we descended into hilarity. There was the one on a section of a manual (that I wrote, as it happens) that said "secttion is poorly written", so we started criticizing his writing in the later PRs. Several provoked Eve (who had used this response for a different situation earlier in the week) to just say "Bite me!" Anyway, we wound up with everyone feeling we'd had a very productive meeting. The ending discussion on where to meet next year was left as Portland...or maybe Atlanta, Lincoln, Neb., Ithaca, N.Y., or San Diego. We'll narrow it down later. One hopes.
After the meeting, one group headed off geocaching, and I joined a group who decided to walk Downtown (Boise capitalizes it) on the riverfront greenbelt path. That was a good 2-1/2 mile walk one way. We emerged at Capitol Ave., found a Mexican restaurant and had a nice meal (good service! fast! well-cooked food! lovely change from the Longbranch, which will go down in the annals of this committee as a Classic Story). It was First Thursday, when Boise galleries are open late and there's a street fair, so we walked up 8th Street looking at the artist's booths before circling by the Capitol and then back to the Art Museum (got there 10 minutes before the 9 o'clock close, unfortunately) and to the greenbelt. We crossed the river to walk back on the other side, which gave us a good view of the Boise State football field and it's blue "turf" field. Got back to the hotel about 9:45, tired but feeling good.
The three of us who were on the early flight to Atlanta caught the 6 AM shuttle from the hotel, along with a Delta flight crew (not the one for our plane, though). No allergic ladies on this flight, so we took off on time and got in a little early. I arrived home in time to see the mini-van from next door, laden with bicycles, heading down the street as they go off for a family weekend at Callaway Gardens.