As an electively homeless person, work trips are more valuable to me than ever before. It’s a nice break from staying with friends and I’m guaranteed my own bed instead of a couch! On Monday, I flew to Tampa for a team meeting. The majority of my co-workers are territory managers and work virtually out of their homes all over the country, so it’s a treat for the whole group to get together. My employer has a relationship with Busch Gardens so we were able to utilize their facility to meet. Tuesday morning started with an onsite breakfast at the Crown Colonial restaurant in the park. We managed to squeeze in a meeting between breakfast and lunch (lucky for me my colleagues share my passion for eating) and then had free time to enjoy the park!
We started with a Cirque du Soliel-esque show called Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy. It wasn’t quite as elaborate as the Cirque shows I’ve seen in Vegas, but a nice way to spend half an hour inside, since it was unseasonably cold for Tampa!
After the show, our group went straight to the nearest roller coaster for a ride! I was more focused on seeing the animal exhibits than riding rides, but I joined the group for a spin on the Gwazi. I’ve never been on a wooden coaster as jarring as this one. Hours later my neck stiffened like I’d been in a minor car accident. The ride wasn’t scary or fun, but annoying. I spent the short ride clenching my jaw shut to save my tongue from an accidental bite.
Done with the rides, I enjoyed the Australian exhibit, Walkabout Way, complete with a kangaroo and wallaby petting zoo! I adore kangaroos, but have to admit they look like giant rats. After our visit down under, our group went to check out the Serengeti Plains via the Serengeti Express Railway. The train ride was slow but scenic. There were zebras, giraffes, a mom rhino and her baby, and a variety of gazelle, some within arm’s reach of the train!
When the sun began to set after 5pm, the temperature dropped and I was ready to warm up inside! We ended the day with a cocktail reception and dinner back in the Crown Colonial restaurant.
Early Wednesday morning I left Tampa in desperate need of warmer weather. After our flight was late getting out the gate due to the time it took to de-ice the plane (really!), I arrived in Austin to meet our company’s advertising agency, GSD&M.
I work in a sales environment, so it was a treat to be on the client side for a change! Our account managers picked us up at the airport. It was about seventy degrees in beautiful, sunny, hip Austin, Texas! After a tour of the agency, the account managers treated us to lunch at a little burger joint across the street called Hut’s Hamburgers.
Hut’s (est. 1939) is in a small, old building downtown. Inside the walls are covered with sports team memorabilia (especially UT) as well as large animal heads. I didn’t want to offend the buffalo and steer as they watched me chow down so instead of a burger I opted for the vegetarian chili- delicious!
After a filling lunch, we spent the afternoon at the legendary agency learning the ins-and-outs of the ad business and where my employer fits in. In college I majored in advertising, but felt out of the loop in the company of these professionals, and a handful of times asked for clarification on the industry jargon they routinely threw out. The visit to GSD&M gave me a lot of insight on how an ad agency operates. I really enjoyed the city and company. In a couple of days I’ll be in San Diego for work, and will spend another night in the luxury of a hotel!