I just unpacked two days ago but I'm already thinking about packing for my next academic conference. I rarely go to more than one conference per year and I wasn't originally scheduled to attend next week's conference, but a member of my college's team couldn't go and I was the first alternate. So next Monday morning at the crack of dawn, off I go to the airport to take one of those Stop-Everywhere flights to Seattle, followed by a van ride to Olympia, Washington, followed by a week at Evergreen State College, where we will learn about learning communities.
I have taught in a learning community and I like the concept, but the conference schedule is a bit daunting: sessions starting at 8:15 every morning, team presentations and activities all day long, even a Team Haiku session at the end of the week. I'm okay with Team Haiku, but if they ask us to join hands and sing Kum Ba Yah, I'm hiding under the table.
So I'm looking forward to the conference but here's the thing: I've never been to Olympia, never even been to Seattle except to change planes once, and I don't know what to do with myself in my little bits of free time at the conference, not to mention the long bits of free time I'll have in airports and airplanes. I like the colleagues who make up my team, but I'm aware that an uninterrupted week of my company is enough to drive anyone insane, so I need to give them a break by getting away once in a while. So what's to do in or near Olympia? I welcome suggestions.