DrupalCon Portland 2013: Day 0

I love technical conferences. In 2008 I had the opportunity to attend IBM IMPACT. I assisted in building the booth for my company, but I love attending the sessions the most of all. It was a amazing experience. Since then, the only professional conference I attended was a web-only cloud conference in 2010. It was a disappointing experience and left me feeling like I had wasted the company's time. If I were in person, however, it might have been more interesting. Then, I learned about the Minneapolis DrupalCamp. DrupalCamps are small, regional conferences focused on teaching, discussing and networking all things related to the open source Drupal content management system. I've been interested in Drupal since 2006, when I decided I hadn't had the time to continue work on my home-made CMS. For years I only knew Drupal as an administrator. I tried writing modules, but each time something came up at work in my life that distracted me. And when I returned, I discovered someone else had written a module for that task, or there was a way to build the function out of features provided by several other modules. When DrupalCamp Minneapolis 2011 appeared, I decided to attend. While no where near the polish of IBM IMPACT (How could it be? It was two orders of magnitude cheaper!), I found myself loving each minute of it. I also had the opportunity to meet Larry Garfield and learn about Drupal 8. I took it upon myself to learn more about how the core of Drupal worked. I was surprised to learn that the product was hitting some architectural limitations. I wrote a series of blog posts about exploring Drupal using a debugger. Eventually, I took this and transformed it into a session that I gave at DrupalCamp Minneapolis 2012. Meanwhile, I started wondering if I could turn Drupal into a career. I've wanted to go to DrupalCon for years now. I've experienced, vicariously, the conference through the social media posts of attendees and through video recordings of sessions. The most important thing attendees point out is that the sessions aren't the conference. There's a lot of activities and events before, during, and after DrupalCon that make going a unique and important experience. The problem, of course, was money. My current job doesn't have much of anything to do with Drupal. My job, especially, doesn't involve Drupal in the slightest. As such, there was no way I would go unless it was out of my own pocket. Or was it? Some weeks ago, Palantir.net was offering a giveaway for DrupalCon tickets. The giveaway didn't include travel or lodging, but I figured I'd try anyways. A week later I found out I had been selected to receive a ticket. The problem was that travel expenses were still an issue. Pazi suggested that we look into taking the train over to Portland from Minnesota. We found a way to make that work, but it would be a 36 hour ride. We also investigated non-traditional lodging. We found a room to rent via AirBNB. Pazi was planning on spending part of her break from school touring the Pacific coast. I arraigned for a flight back for myself -- by far the most expensive single purchase in the entire trip. Surprisingly, Trice offered to cover all these expenses for us. Attending DrupalCon was suddenly very, very possible.40 hours from the time we boarded the train in St. Paul, until collapsing into a bed in north Portland. We're sleep deprived, timezone lagged, and generally haggard, but we're here.