As we were planning our third appearance at the MMIS Enterprise Systems Conference in Denver, someone asked me how many conferences I had attended over the years. That simple question brought back a flashback of memories of each of the ten (10) conferences I have attended. Ironically, although the conferences are always an avenue to reunite with old friends and learn about the progress states are making in their Medicaid programs, I sadly admit that my recollections of each conference center around fond food memories.

In my first appearance at the then called MMIS Conference in 2001, I was a new State of Hawaii employee with little understanding of the conference and my purpose for attending.  I learned the value of consultants and the aggressive nature of vendors trying to woo State employees at this conference.  I also enjoyed my first lobster roll – Delicious!  In year two, at Hunt Valley in 2002, we ventured out to surrounding locations like Baltimore where I sampled my first freshly caught soft shelled crab.

In 2003, I attended my first conference as a consultant in New Orleans.  I enjoyed the behind the scenes work we did to prepare for a series of facilitated sessions our company conducted.  My boss gave me the assignment to find freshly baked chocolate chip cookies for the session.  She had recently read an article about how warm chocolate chip cookies would stimulate thought processes so off I went to successfully find warm cookies.

I then took a break from conference attendance to return in 2008 with a non-stop record since.  In 2008, we were in Nashville.  During this trip, a colleague and I took our friends to the “famous” Loveless Café for southern fried chicken and biscuits.  Then, we were off to Chicago in 2009.  This conference was held in the Hilton Hotel where they filmed the movie “The Fugitive.”  The facilities were beautiful but who can forget the deep dish pizza?

In 2010, in Portland, I travelled with friends from Hawaii and Arizona to the Oregon coast.  We visited Fort Clatsop, the winter encampment for Lewis and Clark and then ventured to the Astoria Pier for a memorable seafood meal.

Austin, Texas was the home of the 2011 conference.  It was a very warm summer in Austin, but we braved the heat to watch the bats migrate from under the South Congress Bridge for their nightly dinner hunt.

2012 in Boston was the first time netlogx attended in full force.  It was also a first for a new cuisine for me.  Upon the suggestion of one of our friends from Arizona, we ventured to a Cambodian restaurant with a very large elephant as its focal point.

Charleston in 2013 was my first time trying the Carolina mustard barbeque sauce.  I must say, I didn’t think I would like it but it was yummy!  Lastly, in 2014, in Denver, it was dinner at the restaurant of my favorite quarterback, John Elway!

Although I can’t wait to see our team succeed in Des Moines, Iowa in 2015, I can’t help but wonder what I will remember most about Des Moines.  Something tells me it will be associated with food.