BUSINESS TRAVEL TEXAS STYLE

As a young lawyer, I used to dream about business travel.  First-class air travel, car service, wining and dining with colleagues and clients at 4-star restaurants.  I imagined all the cities — countries, if I was lucky — I’d travel to.  But it didn’t work out that way.  The appellate work I do doesn’t involve much travel, and once the kids came along I really had no interest in traveling for work, as it was too disruptive for our family.

This week, for the first time in about 18 years, I went on a business trip.  I met up with my boss in Dallas on Monday to help prepare for an oral argument the next day.  This was decidedly different travel than what I had envisioned when I started practicing law.

One of the highlights of the trip was my hotel room.  I emphasize “my” hotel room — all mine:

001Can you tell what’s missing from the picture?  For starters, there is no dog in the bed:

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You get the idea.  Of course, after just one night away, I couldn’t wait to get home to my husband, kids, and dog.  🙂

We had lunch at Snuffer’s, a Dallas institution that has been around since 1978.  Snuffer’s’ claim to fame is its Cheddar Fries, which it describes as a “great way to melt aged cheddar cheese around & over hand cut Idaho potato fries.”  I think that sums it up quite nicely.  We went for the whole shebang and ordered it topped with bacon, chives, and jalapenos.  And just to make sure no arteries are left unclogged, the Cheddar Fries are accompanied by homemade ranch dressing.  As the story goes, Cheddar Fries were not originally on the menu, but some coeds from Southern Methodist University asked for cheese to be added to their fries, and the restaurant obliged them and then continued to perfect the recipe.  What a deal — you can pack on the whole freshman 15 in one sitting!

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Snuffer’s Cheddar Fries — what’s not to love?

We worked throughout the day, and later in the afternoon were joined by our local counsel, who directed us to a nearby Campisi’s for dinner.  Campisi’s has been the self-proclaimed “Italian Restaurant of Dallas” since 1946.  Reportedly, Jack Ruby ate at the original Campisi’s the night before President Kennedy was assassinated.  The location we ate at was nothing fancy — just a little pizzeria in a strip center.  On the advice of the locals, I got a salami pizza, and I have to admit, it was pretty tasty.

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Salami pizza at Campisi’s

The next day we headed out for oral argument.  I flew into Dallas, but from this point on, I rode along with my boss in his F250:

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Try getting in and out of this gracefully in a skirt and heels!

In a 1944 booklet that I found at an estate sale, entitled “Texas Brags,” the author wrote that “Texas occupies all of the continent of North America except a small part set aside for the United States, Canada and Mexico.”

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Traveling in Texas, the second largest state in the nation, with an area of 268,820 square miles, it can sometimes feel like you will never get out of Texas.  On this trip, we were traveling to Greenville, Texas, population approximately 26,000.  Considering that according to the 2012 census estimates, Texas has more than 1600 towns and cities with populations of less than 10,000 (along with 6 ghost towns), this was big by Texas small town standards.

Before we headed to the courthouse, we met up with our clients for lunch at the Johnson Street Smokehouse, which was right across the street from the courthouse.  According to its employees, the restaurant has been around “at least 30 years.”

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 Johnson Street Smokehouse (Dorchester Grain in the background)

The decor was Western:

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The food was basic barbecue, with a thick, sweet barbecue sauce and bottles of vinegary hot sauce on the table.  One thing that I wish now I had tried was the East Texas Hot Links.  Described as “pale, stubby grease bombs about the size of a thumb,” they didn’t look very appealing, but I understand they are pretty popular among locals.  The restaurant was doing a brisk lunch business, and it hardly seemed surprising when all three of the justices who would be hearing our case queued up for a pre-hearing barbecue lunch.

After lunch we headed to the courthouse, where each side presented their argument.  The panel listened attentively, and each side left feeling confident that argument had gone well and hopeful that they would prevail.  (UPDATE 8/27/13:  We won!)

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When the hearing was over, I was glad to climb back in the truck and head home.  My boss, unlike SOME people I travel with, made several stops.  I was excited to finally go to Buc-ee’s. Our scouts stop at every Buc-ee’s they pass when traveling to and from campouts, and the Texas chain is popular with travelers for its clean restrooms.  (A recent article described Buc-ee’s as “the Lords of the Loo, the Patriarchs of the Potty, and the Counts of the Crapper, all rolled into one.”)  I bought some beef jerky for the kids, just in case they asked, “What did you bring me?”

It was a short and interesting trip, a nice break from my usual routine, and I was happy I was able to go.  I’m looking forward to my next opportunity to travel for business, whenever that may be.

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