Saturday, May 5
Pilgrimage to Warren Buffett's Omaha (an Update)
I kicked off the trip by doing 4 gas station audits. I found a restaurant to shop for lunch at the last minute. Then, I spent the night Wednesday night in Dyersburg, TN, where I mystery shopped a hotel. I found a restaurant to shop in the mall across the street from the hotel. I love being able to do multiple shops without getting in the car. Total out of pocket: $0
Thursday was an easy day. I drove from Dyersburg, TN to Keokuk, IA. I redeemed 7,500 Hilton Honors points to stay at the Hampton Inn in Keokuk. Along the way I shopped two restaurants. I saved the food from the second restaurant and ate it for dinner. I did need to stop for gas before I reached Keokuk. Total out of pocket: $15
On Friday I drove from Keokuk to Omaha. I started the day doing a gas station shop in Fort Madison, IA as well as a last minute breakfast drive-thru shop there. That covered lunch since breakfast at the hotel was free. I was running low on gas so I put $13.50 in the tank, which was not part of a mystery shop. When I arrived in Omaha I had six additional gas stations to audit. I also found a casual dining restaurant to shop Friday night. It was a sit-at-the-bar shop with minimal narrative; one of the easiest casual dining shop reports I've seen. In prior years I have attended a cocktail party at Borsheim's, but I opted out this year because last year it was so crowded that I didn't enjoy myself (imagine that: free booze and food and I passed on it!). For my hotel in Omaha I redeemed 25,000 Hilton Honors points for two nights at a Hampton Inn. Total out of pocket: $13.50
Today (Saturday) was the big day: the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder's meeting. This was the whole purpose of my trip, so there was no way I was missing that. I was up at 4:30 AM and arrived at the CenturyLink Center before 6 AM. In prior years this has been early enough to ensure a seat on the main floor in front of the stage, but unseasonably mild temperatures (lows in the mid 60s versus high 30s last year) meant I didn't arrive early enough. Still, I had second row seats in a reasonable area of the arena. I I left just before the lunch break to shop four gas stations. I ate lunch at a Chinese place not too far from the arena (under $10). I was back in time for the meeting to resume but spent a few minutes in the exhibit hall before heading back to the arena. There were several viewing areas in the exhibit hall so I did not miss much. I only purchased a three pack of t-shirts from the Fruit of the Loom station ($5). After the meeting (I left 10 minutes early to beat traffic), I took the trusty Corolla to get an oil change. The oil change, of course, was a mystery shop. This was in Council Bluffs and I had a bit of an itch to gamble, even though Charlie Munger detests gambling and got on his soap box about it today. I stopped at Harrah's for about an hour. I was lucky: I left with $10 more than I came. Total out of pocket: $5
I'm having a blast and hate that the remainder of the trip is the ride home. Driving home is never as fun as heading there to begin with. I do have 6 shops to do tomorrow on my way to Kansas City. I will definitely have to come out of pocket some time Monday for gas, but with a tank that's nearly full now I expect that it won't be too expensive. Hopefully on Monday morning I will be meeting a fellow frugal miser, Andy from Tight Fisted Miser. We are planning to meet for breakfast if we can work out the logistics.