Anyone who has traveled to the West Coast of the United States in past decade has probably stopped for a meal at In-N-Out. The burger chain is practically an institution and has a massive cult following.
|Image courtesy of David Bruce Cook|
Just uttering the words ‘In-N-Out’ conjures up images of thick, sizzling burgers and freshly cut fries so vivid you can almost smell the grease. The words alone can transport you back to your last meal.
And so it is with the annual Travel Blog Exchange conference (TBEX), a massive gathering of travel bloggers and professionals. Mention the name and automatically images flood the mind.
TBEX 2012, held in Keystone, Colorado, provided the prefect backdrop to meet online travel friends in person and learn a heck of a lot about various aspects of the industry.
So what exactly is it like to eat at In-N-Out?
Waiting in line, you’re filled with anticipation. You can smell the delicious aroma of burger as you start to shuffle side-to-side impatiently; trying to gauge how long the line will take.
When you finally get ahold of that tray of glorious fast food, you marvel at its prefect presentation – neatly packaged burger, next to a mound of fries just waiting to be consumed.
|Image via The Next Corner|
You contemplate your first bite, staring at the burger from all angles; planning your course of attack. That first bite involuntarily forces your eyes closed as you savor every flavor.
After that first bite, its all over. You hunker down and eat ravenously as though the food in front of you might simply disappear at any moment.
At the same time, while you’re furiously eating, you know that you’re probably going to end up with a stomachache. In the back of your mind, you’re already thinking of the food coma ahead and wondering if it’s socially acceptable to lie down and nap in a restaurant.
Still, you know it’s completely worth it. Worth the slight discomfort and awkward stares from those around you as you realize your grasping for fries that are no longer there. Your tray is empty.
|Image via joehribar|
Reflecting on what just transpired, you can’t help but think, “did I really just eat all of that!?!” You’re proud and horrified at the same time.
But even that feeling is fleeting. After the meat sweats stop and you rest for a few minutes, all you can think about is getting another burger. “I could eat one more. Well, maybe just half? But it’s so damn good. Oh hell, I can totally have another one!”
In the end you feel full and satisfied, like you could take on the world. And taking another glance around the room, you notice that everyone else is equally full and satisfied; ready to leave, but eager to return.
TBEX was just like eating at In-N-Out; I dove in headfirst, gobbled up as much, as fast as I possibly could and was left in a contemplative stupor, trying to process what just happened.
It was too much and not enough all in one breath.
Too much information and inspiration, but inadequate time to fully process how to implement it all.
|The fabulous ladies of Passports with Purpose|
Too many brief meet and greets I wished were longer, yet not enough time to meet everyone.
Too many parties and shindigs and not nearly enough time to sleep and recover before doing it all again the next day.
|At the Expedia How the West was Fun Shindig!|
TBEX was full of anticipation and excitement, but seemed to disappear as fast as that tray of In-N-Out; each day packed full of activity. It was a binge of ideas, networking, insight and creativity.
My mind was left reeling, full of images of the amazing people I met and of the gorgeous scenery.
I left feeling worn-out and slightly overwhelmed, but exceedingly satisfied, knowing I got as much as I possibly could out of the experience.
What’s more? All I can think about is going back and doing it all over again. I want that second burger!
And after an impressive presentation by Jaume Marin on the last day, I may just get it in Costa Brava, Spain for TBEX Europe this fall!
**For some other great reads and wrap-outs about TBEX check out: