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Wandering through the Beltwide Cotton Conference

I’m lost at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences.

That in itself is no big deal. I get lost at this meeting every year. The annual gathering of anyone in the cotton industry who is anyone in the cotton industry is so big it takes a large facility, something along the lines of Rhode Island, to accommodate the masses. So I spend the first few hours, usually about 48, trying to orient myself so that I can make it from my room, which by some evil design of hotel registration elves, is always as far removed as possible from the centers of activity, to meetings. By the time I figure out which way is East and which West, it’s almost time to check out and go home. Such is life for a wandering journalist.

But this year the challenge of finding my way from point A to point B in time to cover a meeting that will enlighten, educate and elucidate both me and my readers, takes on new horrors.

It’s at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. For those of you who have never spent any time wandering the labyrinthine caverns that make up this sprawling monstrosity of a hotel, let me describe it.

For openers, it’s one of the most beautiful, artistic, eye-appealing places to spend a night I’ve ever visited. It’s divided into numerous catacombs, each with a distinctive plaza/ envirotron marking its core. I stayed in Delta section, accessed by emerging from C-section, no pun intended, through “The Cascades,” an open atrium, featuring a glass ceiling about 1,047 feet up. A waterfall “cascades” naturally, into a small trout stream that meanders throughout the region. Lush plant life inhabits the streambed and walkways. Water features spout up and disappear into rocks cleverly positioned in a bog-like depression near the entrance to the lobby. (Could this be a clue that one nears the Delta? Hmmmm.)

Spend too much time craning your neck upward wondering how sturdily the firmament is positioned, or pay too much attention to ripples on the stream wondering if there really are trout in there (unfortunately not) and you may miss the insignificant entrance to the Delta. Believe me, it can happen.

If you get to Magnolia, you need to trace your steps back to the trout stream and take a right (or left) where you can wander down a long corridor looking for an elevator.

Consequently, it takes only about an hour-and-a-half to find the room. Now, you have to determine where registration is set up. That would be back toward Magnolia, which is merely the next village over. Do they need a resident idiot, I wonder.

The convention center, which is where I finally found the registration desk, is up one level, by escalator, from the entryway, which is about a half-level up from the street you take to get from Delta to Magnolia. (Are you confused yet? Good, then you’re beginning to understand.)

The Media Room, the beehive of activity where we all go to sleep during lulls in the action, is about a half-level down from the registration desk. If you take the elevator, you’ve gone too far and are on the Presidential lower level. If you take one set of stairs, ditto. If you take the short flight, you’re in the right corridor and need only to head toward Kinko’s and straight on ‘til morning.

Stay put.

The Media Room is well equipped with computers, telephones, soft drinks and food. Why should you risk the treachery of a return trip with all of life’s necessities at your fingertips? But, return I must.

Hours later.

I finally found my way back to my room and am working on my own computer. I need to go back to Magnolia, where all the activity takes place, but fear misplacing myself somewhere between point A and point B. It seems that no points should obstruct one’s journey from A to B, but apparently some uncharted masses exist to confuse a hapless and clueless wanderer.

But there’s work to be done. I have to chance it. I need a GPS to navigate. Did someone move the Bermuda Triangle indoors?


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