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2008 Dallas Review
by Richard Holloway
The 2008 National Convention brought us back to Dallas (we were there in 2006 as well).
Same city and the same hotel in fact, the Hilton Anatole, a really nice place.
I'm going to take a bit of a different approach in reviewing this year's convention.
This was our family's 5th National NFB Convention. I want to share some things about the convention with you, but more than that I want to share what getting there and attending was like for our family of 5; "Mom & Dad" with children ages 14, 5, and 2.
Kendra was excited about the trip. We were going to drive as usual so Kendra selected a special outfit for the car:
Fleece pajamas (this was the end of June mind you) but that's what she wanted, along with her boots!
A rain jacket was also "required"– also her idea. Maybe it was the fact that she was getting ready to start Girl Scouts in the fall and she wanted to be prepared for anything?
In 2006 we had too much to fit inside the car so we made use of the roof rack. In standard form, for 2008 we expanded to a second carrier, this time on the back of the car. It felt like a cross-country move, but on the other had we had enough stuff with us to keep the little ones happy and I guess that's what counts!
One thing I didn't plan for was our extra stop in the middle of Mississippi after midnight to deal with this slight tire puncture. I think my wife nearly jumped through the roof when it blew (she was sleeping at the time). Then again, I jumped pretty high out of my own seat too... Turns out that it is harder to change a tire with a few hundred extra pounds of luggage on top of the car, but after buying a new pair of tires in the morning we were back on the road.
Like the song says, "over the river and past the oil well picnic tables..." (I guess that's not quite how it goes actually, is it?)
In any case, we made it to Dallas at last. The hotel was beautiful, as before...
...and a very interesting space to explore. (Richard Jr. thought it was great!)
We spent a good bit of time at this convention in the park behind the hotel-- it was like a country club there.
Kendra really enjoyed the set of small statues.
She decided this one had a cane "just like hers":
She visited the fishermen statues in the back of the courtyard again too–
They're next to some real fish.
We swam (and slept) by the outdoor pool.
And we visited the pool inside as well.
We explored the hotel a lot.
We exhausted Sarah, our resident "big sister" who was a big help with the little ones.
Though she helped a lot, she also got to hang out with friends in the teen room.
I was exhausted as well, but even when I asked RJ to put himself in my shoes and understand that I was tired,
while he did just what I asked with my shoes, he just kept on going like the Energizer Bunny...
The little ones enjoyed using the camping-style rocking chair that I brought along.
That made me feel a bit better about possibly having packed a bit to excess.
(This despite my feeling that some complaints were circulating secretly among the troops.)
There was a car show that allowed hands-on time for blind and visually impaired convention attendees.
I think this was the same group who came and shared their cars in 2006. I thought it was really nice of them!
One real highlight for Kendra was meeting Noreen Grice, author of some of Kendra's favorite books about Astronomy.
Kendra got to explore exhibits and equipment with Noreen to help her learn more about Astronomy.
Then she went out to the park for a "star party". She really enjoyed the telescopes that a number of volunteers brought for this.
It was a perfect night for such an event as well!
While Kendra and Stephanie explored telescopes, Sarah chased RJ around the park.
(Again, and again! )
There was time for speeches, and a banquet or two.
Stephanie and I even got to dress up and have a little time to ourselves.
Not a lot of time unfortunately... (it seemed like the sitting time ended a bit too early!)
RJ didn't sleep too well so he and I marched around the hotel with RJ in his pajamas for a while some nights.
Still, I think the kids slept more than we did.
Sarah and I managed to sneak away from the hotel to see the Texas Book Depository.
Turns out the "Grassy Knoll " seems smaller in person.
I had no idea they actually keep two large "X" marks where the president was shot in the street.
The week really passed quickly. We took a moment and glanced at the skyline from our room.
But then it was time to head home.
It took two days to get there but we made the 800 mile drive home in one long day.
We did fit in some seminars and meetings. I wish they'd had the Sensory Safari there again because Kendra had really enjoyed it before (there are pictures from that in the Dallas 2006 article) but that was the main thing we were disappointed about.
We spent a lot of time making some technology decisions for Kendra in Dallas this year. These conventions are an excellent place to see, get hands-on, and compare current technology for all sorts of vision-related concerns. Much of what we learned and decided is making it's way into the technology section on this site and some of it is making it's way into our "technology department" at home as well.
If you have a blind or visually impaired child and haven't been to a National Convention of the NFB before, I hope you'll give it a try. There is much to learn. Many of the things that help us the most aren't even in the seminars. It is a wonderful thing to be reminded every time we attend that there are a lot of people with blind children who are working through many of the same issues we are. Even more than that, seeing hundreds and in fact thousands of blind adults organizing and participating in such an event and going about the business of a convention truly helps reinforce the knowledge that our child will indeed grow into the adult we want her to be, confident and successful, just like so many of the adult attendees we see each year at the convention.