Hello everyone! Welcome back to BirthMay! Today, I’m sharing my trip to Houston as well as a hotel room tour with you.
I’m not sharing my outfits for Houston yet, those will be up next week. For now, I hope you’ll enjoy this recap of my trip.
This is my third annual BirthMay! What is BirthMay, you ask? Well I blog every day in May because it’s my birth month! I started BirthMay in 2017 and did it again in 2018 so I knew I had to do it again this year.
Day 1 – Travel day: Chicago to Houston
So the day started early, at 4:45am. I had a 9:40am flight but wanted to get to the airport ridiculously early because we were supposed to get some snow and I didn’t want my parents to drive home in it. We left at 5:30 and I checked in well before 7, so my parents headed home. I then went to find my gate after passing through security. They looked at my water bottle probably because it had the smallest amount of water left in it, but didn’t really seem to care that I had it. Eventually, my gate was changed a few times so I found a seat in the middle of the terminal and waited until I got hungry to walk to the new gate. I did get some work done before going to Starbucks and picking up a chai latte with a coffee cake on the way to my gate. While there I noticed my original gate had a flight to Puerto Vallarta so I kept joking to my coworkers that I was going to “accidentally” get on that flight. Alas I did not.
Eventually we boarded the plane but had a delay of almost two hours because the door to the plane wasn’t closing correctly. Can’t get mad about that, I really wanted to know it was fixed before we took off so we waited. However, in that time the worst of the storm rolled in and we were stuck again.
Many people got off after realizing they would miss their connections or finding more direct flights come up. I called my hotel to let them know I’d be late, tried to call my work travel number to try to see what rebook options there were but that was unhelpful, and American Airlines reservation number was “busy” and said to try again later before hanging up on me. Rude! After some more time we were de-iced and on our way to the runway. Unfortunately, once we got there the pilot said visibility was too low and it wasn’t safe. No use getting upset at that but at this point it was 12, three hours delayed.
We waited another three hours on the tarmac, getting snacks and drinks during that time. For about two of those hours I sort of rested my eyes. I can’t say I napped because I really didn’t, but I did kind of feel like I did after. It was a weird in-between state of mind I guess. Later I read that it was illegal for them to keep us on the tarmac over three hours so that explains why they said they were turning around once a gate opened at the two and a half hour mark. However we soon started to hear from other passengers that flights to Korea and United flights were taking off so I texted my onsite manager to tell him I was off to Korea which he found hilarious. In fact he said I might be able to fly to Korea, get a connection there and still make it before this flight LOL!
For the most part everyone kept their cool except one angry lady swearing up a storm that she’d been “on this fucking plane since 9:30 this morning”. Eventually it dawned on her that we’d ALL been on the plane since 9:30 this morning so she calmed down. (Later I found out she’s pregnant with twins and hadn’t eaten all day so she was understandably upset that she fell asleep, woke up thinking we were almost there, then realized we hadn’t even let. However, she was stressed because she was on her way to a job interview to be a police officer in Houston so it’s kind of concerning a police officer doesn’t have better emotional control?) Otherwise there was a woman who was going to sell her house in Houston, a boy excited to be potentially staying in Chicago for free, and a young man sad about how he would miss his cruise with the buffet/unlimited drink package. And then me flying for work. I quickly texted my coworker to check if I was still being paid for sitting on the plane (answer: YES).
I texted a bunch of friends to pass the time and I’m so happy I had fully charged at the terminal and had a power bank with me given to me last year by my client who’s event I was headed to. Turns out there were outlets under the seat but we didn’t know until much later. We were told we were third in line for a gate once one opened but that it was slow going. Otherwise they were “calling it a day” and I started texting everyone that I was going to let them know when I was rebooked. Eventually though, we got de-iced again!
Suddenly we had a window to be up in the air and the pilots took it! I only had time to text my onsite manager I was on my way and my coworker flying out of Milwaukee not to cancel my flight before we took off. I didn’t even have the chance to text my mom so I was worried that she was worried about me the entire flight. (She was, since she didn’t know if I had a place to stay) Either way though I’d already told her my back up plans (take the free hotel room for the night or see if my beloved sister who lives in the city would give me shelter).
It was amazing to finally be in the air. Oh that’s when I learned there were power outlets under the seats. Domestic travel is so basic compared to international! It might be that we had to have an older plane due to the grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 planes but there were the screens that dropped down for everyone to see the same thing instead of the TV’s on the back of the seats. We did get multiple snacks and whatever drinks we wanted for free though. The attendants were great! Also, I’d originally had a middle seat but the guy on the aisle had gotten off to try to get a more direct flight to LA so I moved to the aisle and the woman at the window and I used the middle for our stuff. I’m little so I had leg room anyway but that was great having even more!
Overall, I’m so proud of how I handled it all! I have such a short temper and am super anxious when it comes to travel and being on time so I would have expected to be like that angry lady. Instead I was cool as a cucumber and just went with it all. Delayed? No problem. Distracted complimentary delay cookies? Yes please! Potential cancellation and being a day late to work? Well, it is what it is! I’m convinced getting out after all and being on the tarmac when that window opened was a result of good karma coming around!
It was a little after 3pm by the time we left so we were due to arrive around 5:30pm. I honestly think we were lucky to have been out on the tarmac because flights after mine for the rest of the day were cancelled completely. I noticed flights before mine had been as well. I was confused because it seemed my flight had barely missed the morning window until I noticed all of those were flights through Dallas/Fort Worth and remembered they’d gotten horrible tornadoes and likely were cancelled for that reason. Otherwise, everything else after me to Houston was completely cancelled until a full 24 hours after I was originally supposed to leave and I’m sure those flights were already full with people rebooked from other flights. Phew! Eventually we got to Houston safe and sound which is really all I can ask for in the end. My onsite manager was super chill and understanding about it all.
I arrived at the hotel not knowing if my room was ready. I’d done a mobile check in earlier when I’d been hopeful that we’d take off in time to get us in Houston today and had been adjusting the arrival time regularly. Eventually when things didn’t look great I’d almost called to change my arrival date and beg for a free waiver but good thing I didn’t! I arrived at about 6:15 though and I’d put I would arrive at 7:30 since I didn’t have time to adjust it when we took off suddenly. However the front desk people just rolled with it and the amazing employee revealed I’d been upgraded! I ended up getting a one bedroom suite on the top floor of the hotel all to myself! Room photos at the end of this post!
Anyway, I then headed out, walked through the park Discovery Green in front of the hotel, and went to the Phoenician Grocery Store to pick up some dinner and snacks for the week.
Day 2 – Set up day
We arrived at the convention center the next day to complete set up. One of the crates hadn’t arrived the day before so my onsite manager wasn’t too sure if we’d be able to do much of anything because they’d gotten as far as they could the day before without 1) me 2) the crate. However were were both there, so set up could continue!
One of our clients stopped by to say hi and see how everything was going. We have so many things to do to get set up, and were waiting for internet for awhile in order to be able to finish. We didn’t have to wait long though as we were just finishing up putting the computers and everything together when we got internet and were able to get the software loaded on. We launched the programs and then we were all done for the day! Off we went back to the hotel.
I headed up to my room and did some normal work for a bit before clocking out to go to lunch. I managed to find a Potbelly’s then headed back to the hotel to finish up a bit more work before we all headed down to the pool.[
I love that Texas shaped lazy river.
After a nice swim we ordered food and drinks at the High Dive bar at the hotel before all heading to bed.
Day 3 – Registration is open!
On day 3 (Tuesday) we opened registration! It wasn’t crazy busy as it was mostly staff checking in and some teams that arrived early and wanted to beat the rush of the next day. We appreciated it for sure! The rest of the staff started trickling in from the company I work for, including two of my managers. The rest of my clients started coming in as well, so it was nice to see everyone and start catching up.
After we closed for the day we headed back to the hotel. We had dinner at the sports restaurant/bar at the Marriott Marquis called Biggio’s before we went our separate ways. I decided to use that bath in my room and it was amazing! I was on the 29th floor which was the highest, so I could see for miles! After the bath I went straight to bed because the next day was an early one.
Day 4 – Start of the event
We all got up crazy early to open the next morning. We got there and immediately started working, we didn’t even get a chance to think about grabbing food until way after lunch was already cleared away at 2pm! I definitely can’t forget to have snacks on me again for any future events I go to because I started feeling dizzy. I’ve never fainted but it felt like how I think it would feel like if I was going to pass out. So I kicked a poor temp out of their chair (to be fair they weren’t using it… it was just the designated chair for their spot) so I could sit down a bit. Not that it would have really helped if I had fainted because the chair was high up in order for the temp to be able to still see over their desk/computer if they were sitting.
Earlier on in the day an incredibly sweet team dropped off a cookie cake at the volunteers section and they chose to share it with us so I grabbed some to get something in me. I’d been trying to avoid it because I knew I’d be eating unhealthy enough as it was but I’d rather eat a cookie and have something than nothing at all at the end of the day! (Actually I’d rather eat a cookie period but that’s totally not even the point here. Legit I’m #SecretlyCookieMonster) Eventually we slowed down enough that we were able to grab a super quick snack when dinner was set up which was amazing.
Since we didn’t get an actual meal all day three of us chose to go to Xochi, another restaurant at the Marriott Marquis. I am so sad I hadn’t gone there for the past two years! It was amazing! The food was like upscale Mexican but soooo good. I had a tamale with mole sauce and the above drink, the “Pink Escalade”. Oh, another coworker and I had actually been in her room beforehand drinking wine and a meat/cheese platter she got gifted from the hotel so we all ended up a bit tipsy after. We had a good time and it’s not like any of us went completely crazy (plus we were already at our hotel) so it was a good time.
We did go straight to bed after that though, because we had to go in early again the next day!
Day 5 – More registration
We weren’t really expecting a huge rush anymore as we’d done most of the work the day before. Literally. On day 3 (first day of registration) we’d ended with 5% of the pre-registered people checked in and at the end of day 4 we were at something like 74%. This day was quite long but overall not too busy. We got to take meal breaks (fairly quick ones though) so at least we had that! By this day the second floor food was set up though so we didn’t have to take the ten minute walk all the way to the other end of the convention center for food on the third floor so it made it easy to grab snacks when needed too.
Oh this is a great time to point out some fun little bits. I ended up printing the badge and getting some chocolate for the president of FIRST, so that was fun. He seems like such a nice guy! I also printed out his badge for his wife, who evidently had sent him to also pick her up her volunteer t-shirt! I also passed by both of the founders of the event. One was on the skybridge in between the convention center and the hotel I was staying at (he might have also been staying there) so that was really cool to just be walking and minding my own business then suddenly thinking “oh hey that’s one of the founders right there”. I didn’t say anything to him because 1) he was talking to someone and 2) I don’t really have anything to say to him haha. I also ended up seeing the other one the next day when I went to the second floor to grab a snack and go to the restroom. I got off the elevator and thought “why are all these kids just standing in a line???” when I realized the founder was standing right there. Surrounded by body guards of course. He was signing stuff and taking photos so everyone teased me when I said I saw him with “why didn’t you have him sign your badge???”. Ha! Maybe next time LOL.
After work my managers asked if I wanted to go to dinner so I joined them at the House of Blues. It was fun! There was live music when we got there, then the musicians got a bit of a break, then played again at the end. They were really good! The food was also good and it was nice to be able to have a chill conversation with them. Once that was all done one of my managers headed back to his hotel (his son is on a team so he was staying at a different hotel with them) and the other one and I headed back to the Marriott Marquis as we were both staying there. It was such a great time!
Day 6 – Even more registration & some housing
On this day about half the team went home. One of my managers stayed because of his son’s team but the other one left, one of my coworkers left, and another was leaving the next morning. The rest of the onsite registration team and I were staying to continue working so I was just focused on making it through the day! It’s a great event and a great time, but the hours are exhausting.
We were really confused for a good part of the morning because we were getting so many people. Usually Friday is pretty quiet as the teams are all checked-in and we normally don’t get spectators until Saturday. However, we found out that schools were closed for Good Friday (us northerners were so surprised by this) so many people who heard about the event on the news or something just decided to stop by. It was good of course because more people were aware of the event and how awesome it is but we were so surprised and unprepared! More temps were called in and we got through it just fine together.
Anyway, I also got to answer some housing questions as we also handle the hotel event blocks for this client. I was so surprised when so many of the questions were just “how does this work?” because I always hear how much effort is put into the marketing of the blocks. I work mostly on the “behind the scenes” of the housing portion so to me it felt like it was being communicated well and the teams were just ignoring it, which could still be the case for most but for some they genuinely wanted to learn and use the benefits we offer. It was nice to be able to help!
There was also a someone alarming moment where a young girl on a team from Mexico was suddenly ill in front of the registration desk. I didn’t even see her as I’d been answering a housing question but they moved away just as my manager came running up to me asking me to help, knowing I speak Spanish. I quickly went over and we got her to First Aid down the hall. Her two teammates didn’t want to leave her so one of them helped support her on one side and I got the other while the third called their mentors to try to find someone. I would have preferred one of them go to get a wheelchair from First Aid, or I could have, but I only realized that in hindsight. It wasn’t far though so we quickly got her there. The office was quite small so I ended up trapped in the office as her teammates were at the door and I didn’t want to leave until their mentors got there too, just in case. One of the medical attendants knew Spanish so he got out of her that she hadn’t been eating properly (all she’d had was vegetables for breakfast and pieces of chicken from a teammate), nearly no water, and little sleep so when her mentors arrived he told them to get a proper meal and make sure she got some rest. I was glad nothing too terrible was going on!
After work I met up with a blogger friend I’d met when she worked the event as a temp two years ago! We met up at the MKT Bar which was pretty close to the hotel. The food was good and the teams that were there when we arrived left pretty soon after we sat down so it was pretty quiet. Eventually a band came in as well so that was nice! We chatted so much and had a great time catching up, so I’m glad we had that time to meet up again!
Day 7 – Final registration/housing day
At work we were so excited as it was the very last day of the event. The day itself was pretty uneventful as we knew what to expect. Oh! This is a great time to bring up the working dogs at the event. We had a few dogs trained to sniff explosives at the event and their handlers would bring them by to get them some rest and also if the kids got too rowdy with them. We loved them! Kandy was the most outgoing, along with her handler, so they hung out with us the most. There were a few others, Duke and Quinn, who would pass by as well if Kandy brought them over but they were pretty focused on their job and basically would ignore us while Kandy went crazy for us. We ended up badging Kandy and Quinn by the end of the day and even though Kandy isn’t an emotional support dog, she sure felt like it to us! Shout out to Kandy for getting us all through the event!
Oh, at some point one of my clients tried to set me up with one of her coworkers who is apparently “25 but mature”. While I don’t think I can really afford to be picky much longer that just made me laugh that she described him that way. Everyone also shared photos of their pets and we had an overall good time.
As the day went on and the end of competition approached we started to shut everything off and put things away. We only did one or two at a time and would leave the monitors up so it wouldn’t be so obvious but by the end of the day we had already shut down about half of our computers and so we quickly shut down the rest.
We eventually got everything put away and packed up. Everything was going to stay in the city for another event, just being sent to the other convention center so that is always funny to us. Our clients tried to get us to go to the closing ceremonies which I did want to go to but we were so tired and had dinner plans already so we headed off!
We got dinner at an amazing burger place called Rodeo Goat. Now, we’d already had plenty of burgers but these were incredible. It was within walking distance to the hotel so that was great too. We then left and walked to Neil’s Bahr, which is like a nerdy video game bar in the area that we went to last year as well. On the way the other gal and I tried to convince our onsite manager to get a robot tattoo which was a blast. It was so nice having another lady onsite with me! Usually the onsite registration team is all guys and then me so this was great. She is also an onsite manager for other events (she was just supporting this one as they all have primary accounts they manage and then support others as needed) so it was nice to get her perspective of it. I asked her if she every got guys who doubted what she said because she was a lady and unfortunately the answer was yes, which is a shame because she’s such a smart person! I suppose none of us ladies are too surprised by that though. I’m still sad I didn’t go to the closing ceremonies a bit but it was so nice to get some more time with the other two onsite people before we went our separate ways again.
Once back at the hotel I packed everything up and prepared to head out the next day.
Day 8 – Travel Houston to San Antonio
Finally the travel day has arrived! I was sad to leave my amazing suite, as I loved that room. But I got up, threw the last few items into my bag, and then headed out again.
I got the the airport super early so I checked my bag and then sat in Starbucks for awhile. I eventually headed to my gate and boarded my flight to…
“Wait, I thought you said San Antonio?” you might be thinking. I did, you’re correct but the lowest price was through Dallas so I had to go to Dallas/Fort Worth first. The plane basically went up in the air, we got drinks, and then it we landed. It was so short, only a little over an hour. We were early so we landed in Terminal B (they have A, B, C, and D) and I headed to C because that’s where my gate was at. I grabbed lunch and noticed my gate was changed from C7 to C6 so I stayed where I was. Then my gate changed to Terminal A and went through about three gate changes there as well. I waited until a bit before boarding to make sure I didn’t have to go to another terminal before heading to A and finally boarding. That flight was a little longer, about and hour and a half and I fell asleep through all of it (I didn’t even get anything to drink!) but I really needed that rest. Then I arrived and that’s where I’ll leave off. My San Antonio trip recap will be posted tomorrow!
As promised, here’s some photos of my room!
I was upgraded from the usual king bedded room to a One Bedroom King Suite! I got a corner suite so while my bedroom still overlooked the convention center, my bathroom and living area looked over Minute Maid park! It was amazing! I really loved my room. I spent most of the time at the little island when I was there working besides the room for sleeping haha, but it felt amazing to have so much room and space. My client really does spoil me!
Oh! And my room had an excellent OOTD mirror so I’ll be sharing my outfits with you next week.
So that’s my Houston trip! I did share a bit of it as it was happening on my Instagram stories but I’m so bad at using the stories feature. If you did see them I hope you liked them though and I hoped you liked hearing about the trip! See you tomorrow with the San Antonio version!
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