Saturday, July 28, 2018
Getting to Three Rivers
In exactly three weeks, I'll be frantically packing my bags for another conference. For the first time, I'll be attending the Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference, "On the Three Rivers—Past, Present & Future" which, this year, will be held at one of my favorite research destinations: Fort Wayne, Indiana.
While I'm looking forward to this event, it isn't the first time I've wanted to attend. I had taken a serious look at last year's FGS conference, until I realized one thing: there really isn't enough room in the host hotel—or the rest of the city, for that matter—to accommodate all the people attending the event.
I can't say I'm outlandish about my expectations for housing, but I think I can safely say the event will go smoother, in my opinion, if I have a safe and comfortable place to spend the night that doesn't also involve a long daily commute to a place where I pay a king's ransom to park my rental car.
So...I say I'm registered for this year's conference, but that is to say I'm registered in principle. Yes, my fees are paid. That is a start. But hotel room? Airline tickets? All that has to wait until the first domino can fall into place. No hotel room, no trip to Fort Wayne.
It's travel nightmares like this which make my favorite genealogical events stand out all the more. When I go to the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree, I know I can get a room in the host hotel, where I have the luxury of parking my car and forgetting it until the event is over. And on the opposite end of the calendar, I know when I fly to Salt Lake City for their Institute of Genealogy, I have a home away from home at the host hotel there—bonus points in that case, since I don't even need to obtain a rental car, but can use the airport shuttle to whisk me to the hotel's front door.
I understand, of course, that larger events can precipitate logistical nightmares. If I ever had the guts to brave the crowds at RootsTech, for instance, I already am primed to expect a housing challenge; multiplying the thousands in attendance simply results in geometrically ratcheted levels of complications. The same would go for an NGS conference. I understand that. But it doesn't make me look forward to it.
Perhaps that is the price to pay for wanting to be social and have my genealogical education, too. Perhaps the way to hear the best speakers is to go where the biggest numbers can make it possible to afford a great array of presentations. Having had opportunities to hear some notable forerunners in the field at my favorite genealogical events, though, convinces me that it is possible to arrange otherwise.