Hi everyone! Five of us have traveled to Tampa, ahead of the Republican National Convention. We’ll be chronicling our journey here on the blog this week; and next, for the Democratic National Convention.

Here’s a look at our first day:

We left Austin at 7:00 this morning. After a quick layover in Houston, we landed in Tampa just before noon. We missed the major influx of delegates and media (with the exception of a couple members of Texas press on our flight), as Tampa International was relatively quiet. Save for a few signs welcoming the delegates and convention guests, there was little sign that thousands of people would soon be flooding the baggage claim. We picked up our luggage and rental cars and headed toward downtown.

Our crew, which consists of myself, our political anchor, Paul Brown, reporter, Alana Rocha, photographer, Robbie Vaughn, and our News Director, Michael Pearson, stopped in Ybor City for some Cuban sandwiches and deviled crabs, before parting ways for our separate hotels.

Now there’s a trek that’s likely to plague us all week. Half of us are staying in Clearwater, about 25 miles west of the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The other half is staying with the Texas Delegation, which is about 25 miles North east of the arena. In all, our two crews are about an hour’s drive apart, assuming traffic cooperates; which we do not expect.

During our drive downtown, we passed by the Tampa Bay Times Forum. That’s where most of the official proceedings, major speeches and roll call will take place. During the convention, all of the streets surrounding the Forum will be off limits to traffic. Today, however, we were able to drive right past. There’s a large RNC 2012 banner, some American flags hanging from the front of the building, and a few tents set up outside. Some local federal buildings have had fences erected around them and there are some boarded up windows, in anticipation of protesters. The real security won’t be in place until later, this weekend. Those extra law enforcement officers are already starting to roll in to town. We saw a few Miami-Dade police cars driving past our hotel, this afternoon.

On everyone’s mind, of course, is Tropical Storm Isaac. Florida is no stranger to storms, and it’s pretty much all the locals are talking about. Florida Governor Rick Scott held a news conference today, assuring everyone that the convention will go on as planned. We do know, however, that the RNC isn’t taking any chances and will get the official business of nominating Mitt Romney on Monday; the first night of the convention.