Going to the SBL Annual Meeting when you are living in the USA is a different experience from going to it from abroad. You don't have to deal with the jet lag, you get home much more quickly, and you don't have to go straight back to work when you return. And sometimes, you live close enough to the meeting that you can drive to it. Washington DC is about 250 miles north of where we live in North Carolina, and for the first time ever I drove from home, with a close friend who had been staying with us for a couple of days, to the meeting location. It was about four hours of actual driving, all very straightforward, especially as I didn't do any of the driving. It turns out too that there is a great place called Cracker Barrel every fifty miles or so, and you can stop off there for breakfast, brunch or lunch and get a good meal (and especially their raspberry lemonade). The only difficulty was finding our way to Union Station where we were to drop off our hired car, and then finding our way to the hotel from there. But I was still there in time there to meet an old friend at 7pm for an amazing dinner in a place called the Chop House, which served very, very good brewed-on-site beer and some very expensive food.
We were lucky to be staying in the Renaissance Washington, which was one of the main meeting hotels. I am ashamed to say that I didn't get to any of the DC sites, the monuments or anything else, during the four days of the conference. But my excuse is that I am saving that up to do properly with the family some time.