Salt Lake City, 2012

The yearly all hands meeting for one of my groups at work was held in Salt Lake City again in 2012. I was able to convince my dad, sister and brother in law to join me again for a ski weekend after the work week was over. This was written up a couple of weeks after the trip, from calendar notes, so is a bit sparse.

Sunday January 8, 2012

I wasn't able to get a direct flight with the constraint of a Star Alliance carrier who'd give me two free checked bags, so I was leaving at just before 2pm. The cabbie thought he was funny by pretending to be outraged that I'd forgotten to say I had skis with me. I glared at him and said that I could call someone else, and then he relented. Obviously, I didn't get along with him very well, but luckily it was a quick ride to the airport, and I could expense the trip. I had my big suitcase with me, wanting to pack both my ski boots and my showshoes, and had to offload the heavy stuff into my ski bag and tote bag to keep the suitcase under 50lbs. I actually went out the night before to buy a scale to make sure that I wouldn't have to do any last minute re-packing at the airport. I had to opt out of the scanner at security again, I'm almost getting inured to the invasive pat down. :/ Grabbed some water to try and stay hydrated (a theme for the whole week), and read until it was time to board. United lets Star Alliance Silver board in the third wave, took me a bit to figure out since I didn't have a wave number on my boarding pass, just the *S*. I transferred planes in Washington DC for the longer leg out to Utah. I ran into Danielle there, she was on my flight, but not seated near me. I was blowing through my reading material faster than expected, I'd brought some short stories, a YA book, and a fast paced post apoc zombie novel. Something about the long flight, with me stuck in the window seat, was triggering a bit of anxiety, so for the first time ever I ordered a drink on a plane. They gave me a cut mini bottle of Bombay Sapphire and a can of tonic and the smell of juniper calmed me right down. I really diluted the gin, so didn't even approach tipsy despite the altitude. I'd put in a reservation for an express shuttle, but ended up having to wait a while before my ride showed up. Danielle offered to share a cab, and that would have been faster and almost as cheap with us splitting it, but ah well. I got checked into my room and popped down to the hotel bar to get a bite to eat, having messed up my meal times in the two time zone trip. I sat with an expanding circle of co-workers as people arrived for the conference. I left soon after J2 and JC arrived, they'd taken a later flight than Danielle, as I was fading fast.

Monday January 9, 2012

Somehow we'd decided that it would be a good idea to start the week early (official start was 1pm) with a DICOM discussion at 9am. I treated myself to blueberry pancakes in the hotel restaurant, bracing myself for a week of continental breakfast at the conference. The meeting was useful and filled up the morning until it was time to grab food and check in for the week proper. Project presentations went by quickly, and I dove into work. I think I actually knocked off on time this day, at 5pm, and had time to hit the gym for a workout that took advantage of some of the machines that I haven't used in a while (still mostly did free weights though).

Up to my room for a quick shower, then it was time to meet up in the lobby for the Engineering core dinner. There was some confusion over the logistics, and what exactly was meant by "Dutch treat" as we were being invited out by the PIs, but it worked out in the end (though Stephen didn't join us and he'd sent out the original invitation). We went to Red Rock Brewery, and had so many people that four of us split off at a table to ourselves - I enjoyed that a lot more, I got to get to know the office manager from Kitware, chat with J2, and tried to draw Isaiah out a bit (he seemed really tired or sick, though). The food was good, though I was sad that one dish to share came with walnut encrusted goat cheese, so I had to avoid that part of it. Our table finished first, so we settled up and headed back toward the hotel as the big table was finishing up. I stopped in at the Red Door to grab a drink on the way there, it was pretty empty and I could chat a bit with the bartender. It's unfortunately lost it's place as my favourite SLC bar, they had run out of ginger liqueur for the cocktail I chose and the 'tender said he'd make it without it. Um, nope, undrinkably sweet. He didn't charge me for it and made me a decent martini instead. It wasn't all that late when I got to the hotel, so I decided to grab my swimsuit and head down to the hot tub for a bit. JC and Benjamin were there, as well as a guy here to start work at a biomed company, and we had a nice chat and soak.

Tuesday January 10, 2012

Over the course of the day I did 100 push ups to complete a quest on Fitocracy, as well as sneaking in some crunches to break things up. Figuring out when house keeping was cleaning my room took a few days, they seemed to hit my hall right around lunch, which was inconvenient. This was a coding day mostly, half listening to presentations about infrastructure stuff.

For dinner, I ended up in a group of 7 people who went out to a Nepalese restaurant, Himalayan Kitchen, a couple of blocks from the hotel. We shared a lot of dishes, I tried Demian's spicy lentils and they were hot but not blow your face off like some of the others were implying (think they didn't like spicy food in general). I covered the bill for the people from my company (as senior person), which caused some interesting math, especially after sharing a bottle of Argentinian wine. After dinner, I was going to check out Kristauff's Martini Bar, and lured three of the guys into going with me. I had the Kiki something, it was pretty good, then all four of us had Hendrick's gin and tonic, and I convinced Christian to try a Basil Hayden's Manhattan and he liked it. We were sitting at a tall table across from the bar, and at the open space at the end of the bar there was a group of women who came dancing in and started playing a Kinect dancing game, they were entertaining to watch. :)

Wednesday January 11, 2012

Another coding day, with added meetings to define some future projects once I got back to my office.

Sonia and I encouraged each other to end on time this day, and we met up at the hotel pool to swim for a while (for future reference, the pool is 10m long, I did 8 laps to complete another Fitocracy quest). I stayed afterward, having brought workout clothes, and did some light weights, and some pushups to see if I could after the intense day yesterday. From there, I got dressed for clubbing and took myself out for sushi at Ahh Sushi. Sat at the bar and took advantage of the $3 special on rolls and not having to talk to anyone. The waitress comp'd my tea when she took a while to come get my credit card. Then had a few minutes to go up to my room before going down to the lobby to wait for Madelyn. We took a bit of a round about route to the Metro and I got to dance my ass off to old school industrial music, it was just what I needed. If I hadn't had to be back at work by 8am the next day, I'd have stayed to the end and walked back myself. Got to catch up a bit with Madelyn as well, the club was pretty empty until just before we were going to leave. I grabbed a big glass of water to rehydrate after all the dancing and the bartender introduced himself and asked my name, I said he didn't need to remember it as I was just visiting but he said he would anyway. We'll see. :) I'm still happy with my camo print cargo mini skirt, it has almost more pockets than skirt and was prefect for keeping stuff safe while dancing more than sitting at our table. I think I danced for almost 2 hours straight, and limply accepted the ride back to the hotel at around 11:30.

Thursday January 12, 2012

This was the all hands meeting day, so I spent it at the back of the room, listening to the speaches and coding. I gave my immediate coworkers my full attention though, to be polite. :) Plus one of them very nicely thanked me for all the various things I'd done to help her out over the past year (hadn't realised it had been so much!).

After the day ended, Ivan lured me out to rent skates and take a few turns on the ice rink on Gallivan plaza, I ended up skating for almost 45 minutes because I'd go slowly with him for a while then do a few speedy turns to lap him. People were going by to head to Murphy's for 6pm, so we returned our skates and waited for his friend to join us for the short walk. I managed to get enough to eat, though glad that it was expensable, and had a couple of G&T's as social crutches. I talked a lot with Stephen about zombie and martial arts movies, and found out that he appreciates talking to me because I *don't* talk about work at these social events. Sent him a few movie recommednations the next day and will try to remember to do so when I run across new fun ones. Then jumped to a convo with Steve and Sonia and J2 until that split up and then headed back to the hotel. I'd had vague plans to go to a goth club with Madelyn, but we both weren't feeling it. I was a bit restless and figured that since another of the bars on my list was really close to the hotel, I'd jump out for a single drink and then hit the hay. Hah. :)

It was pretty packed when I got to Bar X but I found a table for four had just cleared out and marked a seat with my coat. I had to go up to the bar to get my drink, and the bartenders impressed me with their craft. It's a classic cocktail bar, lots of Prohibition era recipes, and really well done within the confines of Utah liquor law restrictions. When I came back to my table with my drink, the buisness suited guy at the next table was trying to defend it for me against a very drunk young lady in club clothes. I thanked him but said that I didn't want to hog the table so she coudl join me. Wish I'd joined him, she was a bit of a ... non compatible spirit. :) She asked what I did and gave me a blank look and said that I was too smart for her, she was a hair dresser. I decided to try and charm her out of that opinion but somehow she still decided that I was very conservative (hah). Another couple was looking for a seat and I offered them the pair of free chairs. They insisted on buying me another drink as thanks, and when they said that they were bar hopping and asked me if I wanted to join them, that sounded like a splendid idea. Hairdresser lady started to join us but turned back when her friend called. The couple were actually long term co-workers, from Minnesota, and really nice. When I commented that "oh no, there's one of my co-workers", the woman snuggled up to me to try and hide me and I got a bit of a flirtatious vibe off of her, so she might have been using the guy to hide her orientation a little bit. We almost hit up the bar at Bambara but went back to Kristauff's instead, and it turned out that they'd been here already but were happy to have a drink. They were pretty much sticking to vodka, though I got the woman to try my cocktails and she liked them. They wanted someplace more lively, so picked up another guy who worked at the bar across the street and got an escort to Gracie's. I bowed out at that point and made my tipsy way back to the hotel. So much for my quick drink. :)

Friday January 13, 2012

Last day, we did project progress presentations and then had box lunches to eat. We had the main confernece room for the rest of the day, so my plan was to keep working until Dad, Sue and Jake came to pick me up. I brought my luggage down in pieces and checked out just before noon and had settled in to do some work when Sonia begged me to go ice skating with her, as it was nice and sunny out. I gave in and joined her, and was having a fair amount of fun. Then I tried to go around a gaggle of pre-teens, caught the tip of my blade and fell like a tree. I landed on my left hip bone and my right knee cap and had to fight off tears as I sat on the ice and tried to evaluate how bad it was. I was able to skate off the rink, adn Sonia brought me handfulls fo shaved ice and then an ice pack from the rental desk, and I sat there for a bit trying to reassure her that it wasn't so bad. I limped back inside and settled back on a chair with my foot up and the ice pack on my knee and got a bit more work done.

Once I saw through flight tracking that everyone's flights had landed, I packed myself up and moved to the lobby to kill time until they could arrive. Got my stuff out of hock and into the back of the packed SUV with the help of the valet guys, and we were off around the corner to the Crystal Inn. We had rooms on the second floor, just past the balcony area open to the lobby, but it was quite quiet (and honestly, I'd recommend this as a budget hotel to almost anyone, it's in a good location, has free parking and wifi and breakfast, pool + hot tub + workout room, and sells discount passes to Alta and Snowbird and Brighton - Dad got our room for $77/night). Dad and I shared a room and Sue and Jake were next door. We got our stuff settled and then headed out to Squatters to grab dinner. I'd emailed a few co-workers to say that we'd be there, and our tabled ended up expanding greatly. JC and the KW guys showed up first and then Steve and Sonia after the latter finished up some grant writing. The table was split fairly evenly conversationally, though Dad tried to engage the guys in French a bit. We ended up staying there long enough that I had room to share a molten chocolate cake with Dad, but then we ended up leaving before all the ohters were done. Jake slipped and used my childhood nickname, hopefully Steve and Sonia have already forgotten. :) I convinced the family to walk over to Bar X (I'd been updating them with my bar explorations) and they seemed to like it, though we had to stand by the bar. Sue liked her egg white cocktail, but Dad swapped with Jake (Dad doesn't like bitter stuff, I think he might have fixated on the bitters in the recipe and didn't hear when I said it was only two dashes). It was a longer walk back, and a bit chilly, but not too bad.

Saturday January 14, 2012

Breakfast at the buffet right as it opened (good selection), and we were on the road by 8am or just after to head to Alta. I think we'd bought passes the night before from the hotel desk, getting the $65 deal instead of $68 across the street at Canyon Sports or the $72 at the mountain. We were all lift ticketed and ready to go in the lift line at 9, but it turned out that the lifts didn't open until 9:15, oops! We got first tracks on some (groomed) runs though! The guy who opened the lifts was way too fond of his own voice, he was annoying. We skied mostly off of the Sugarloaf and Collins lifts, stopping for lunch off at Collins Grill (omg highway robbery prices) at 11:30. I skied through to 3:30 after taking a quick water/bathroom break (really need to bring a camelbak to Utah for skiing) and getting my second wind. The weather was perfect, despite there not being nearly enough snow (Dad followed me down a shoulder/cutoff trail that I thought was get us to a neat run and we had to dodge rocks and tree branches the whole way, turned a blue into a black diamond). I went down a few real diamonds, the steep drop offs weren't intimidating me at all, mostly because they weren't icy - I think the expert skiers had stayed off the slopes due to the lack of snow, so the blues were getting scraped clean more quickly. Found a nice neglected pitch at the bottom of the Cat Track. Lots of rocks coming up through the snow by the end of the day though.

Sue and I were determined to introduce Jake to the fun of snow tubing, so we came out of the canyon and followed the mountains a bit before heading toward Park City and the Gorgoza Tube Park. I'd called on the way to see if they had enough snow to open, and got a semi cagey response but we were happy to see high banks and bumpy lanes as we pulled in. Prices had gone up a little bit, but they'd put in a carpet lift for the lower lanes as well as a mini snowmobile and play area for little kids. Unfortunately the warmer temperatures made the runs really really slow, we often didn't make it to the end of the run and had to get up and tow the tube to the landing zone. After a bit of observation, I saw that one of the shorter runs was slick enough that groups would get to the end, and I tried it out myself. Yup, I got all the way to the end. I tried to tell the others that that one lane was good, but they insisted on doing a race on the three lower ones. Ah well, I had fun beating them. :) As we were heading back to the parking lot at then end of our 2 hour time slot, Dad tripped at the transition between the snow and asphalt, fell and rolled and seemed fine. Unfortunately, he'd broken something in his camera when it hit the ground first in his chest pocket (suspect the sensor, as old picture would still display properly). :/ Not a good year for me and companion's cameras, Jay broke his display on a rock on Mt. Washington in September.

The drive back downtown was surprisingly quick and we walked over to Red Rock Brewery for a late dinner. I had the sweet potato cannelloni that J2 had had during our work dinner, it was quite good. Sue gave me a drumstick from her rotisserie chicken and that finished filling me up. I still prefer the food selections at Squatter's though.

Sunday January 15, 2012

Jake ran across the road to Canyon Sports to see if they had any better advice for a snowy mountain, but Alta was still our best bet. We delayed a tiny bit but still go there just before the lifts started, and honestly, the great parking spaces were worth a bit of waiting around. The others were a bit tired from yesterday, and honestly my quads were soon complaining as well, and there had been no snow so it was still groomed runs for us. We met up at around quarter to noon at Alf's this time, and I was happier with the value for money there (though I think I was remembering a totally different lunch spot, probably at Snowbird, or else they remodelled), I had a wonderfully filling vegetarian chili, and Dad paid me back for using my phone to call Mom with a hot chocolate. Dad and I did a couple more runs and then met up at the Cecret chair for a volunteer park ranger tour at 1:30. She stopped at four places along a green run to talk about the watershed, the animals, the trees, mining, logging and history, it was pretty fascinating. Turns out that the miners had cut down most of the trees so when the area was developed as a ski resort, they had to plant trees to define the runs. We had time for a couple more runs until we met Sue and Jake at the bar at 3pm. Back down town and we had some time to kill before dinner with Paul and Madelyn at the Copper Onion, so I finally took advantage of the hot tub in this hotel. Definitely a family friendly hotel, it was a different vibe with kids in there than at the conference friendly hotel I was in before.

I washed up and dressed up a little and we headed out for dinner at around 5:45. Paul and Madelyn were already there, and our table was ready, so we were seated right away. I couldn't resist a Genever Collins, esp. after having recently read that that's the older form of the drink. I also had a glass of the Torrontes wine, it was delicious too. Everything was, really. :) We shared the mushroom appetizer, I had the duck confit, and Sue and I shared a cheese plate for dessert, as well as taking bites of the free desserts that the chefs had sent over (Paul was making eyes at the chefs in the open kitchen all night :) ), the pumpkin cheesecake was excellent. Paul and I told Jake about Burning Man, and Madelyn mostly talked with Dad and Sue, but it was a fun night. We were all pretty sleepy by the time we finished dinner, I think I just read for a bit and then crashed out. We'd agreed to have an urban day the next day since there really wasn't enough snow to go snow shoeing, but the weather decided to taunt us and started throwing down snow as we left the restaurant. *sigh*

Monday January 16, 2012

I was pretty much a cranky brat all day because it was physically paining me not to go skiing on the fresh snow we had all morning. Granted, the roads were a mess, and one van almost skidded into us when the driver came up to the red light too quickly, but still, fresh snow after none all week! We had the breakfast buffet again, but I wasn't impressed to see a guy coughing into his hand and then taking cutlery from a communal pile. As the day progressed, my throat got sore and my nose started running, a crappy start to cold #4 since November. We walked up to Temple Square, and for the first time all of us got to see the big Mormon tabernacle and church. Pairs of young women with Sister X badges on would greet us and direct us if we looked at all lost. We peeked inside the Tabernacle, gorgeous organ, and walked around the square looking at the statuary. I'd spotted a book store as we went past, Deseret, and going back to check it out, it turned out to be a Mormon book store and art gallery. I fell in love with a painting of a woman reclining on a pile of books, reading, and it wasn't that expensive either (suspect it was a print that was nicely framed), but resisted whipping out the credit card and asking about shipping. We walked down to Broadway and across to Sage's Cafe for an early lunch (only Jake and I were hungry enough for entree's, Dad and Sue got soup). They still haven't really changed up their menu, good thing it's all delicious. :) On the walk back to the hotel I had us stop at Gourmandise so I could get some sweets (the mango raspberry tart is still amazing, and I got an almost blueberry thing that was delicious). The others got coffee and we meandered back to the hotel. Sue and Jake had checked out and they read/napped until it was time for them to leave for the airport. They returned the truck as we didn't need it before we'd be leaving the next morning. We pretty much just lazed about reading (I finally caught up on LJ and my RSS feeds for the week) until it was time for dinner.

We went out to the Market Street Grill and took advantage of the day's prix fixe special. The spinach salad was a bit thin, but the salmon was wonderful. I stuck with vanilla ice cream for dessert, I was pretty full by then. Afterward I convinced Dad to let me buy him a drink next door at the New Yorker's bar (second to last on my list). Their Slumdog Millionaire with Tanqueray Rangpur and cucumbers was delicious, but I think Citizen Public House near my office has spoiled me for mint juleps: this one was low on mint, and on bourbon of course. Still, I have to appreciate that I can have two drinks in an evening and still walk home okay. :) I packed up everything, trying to guess at when my suitcase would hit 50 pounds (I think I owe Dad another drink, he guesses almost spot on with one lift of the handle). The suitcase is nearing it's end of life though, picking it up to judge the weight a few times, I felt the hard plastic handle cracking.

Tuesday January 17, 2012

Our flights were half an hour apart (though I had forgotten than mine was first!), but we were fine with an 8:30am shuttle. They dropped us off at different terminals, but our eventual gates were only a few spots apart. My suitcase came to 47 pounds, and I did the usual get it tagged and then haul it to the xray machine (seriously, why can't they just build another conveyer belt?). They didn't want me to wait while they inspected my skis (I always worry that something will fall out), so I went into the security line, and then out and around to the priority line when I saw that I could as a Silver card holder. Yay! Still had to opt out of the scanner though, and it wasn't until the woman asked if there was anywhere that hurt that I remembered I didn't want anyone touching my still sore skating injury (it hadn't bothered me while skiing, but I'd had to be careful on the snow tubes, not going face down). She made me roll up my pant leg to show her the bruised skin. *sigh* Can't help but think (esp. after watching various people have to get up out of wheel chairs to get scanned) that the TSA is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act every day. I grabbed some water and food (back on the expense account since I was travelling home) and tissues and cold medicine since my nose was running like a faucet again, and popped by to say hi to Dad at his gate for a bit. Then it was time for me to board. Went through Denver, had a bit of a power walk to my second gate, but everything made it. I finished my book on this flight and started re-reading the short stories I'd finished on the way out. Ordered the Thai noodles for supper on the plane since I didn't have time to get food in Denver, they weren't bad. Had a bit of a wait and confusion in the taxi line due to my skis, but I was soon home. The earlier flight got me home around 7:30 and I had time to jump on my bike and head to the grocery store to restock my kitchen and make dinner, and stop by two libraries and a book store to track down my book club book for the month. I even got mostly unpacked as well, much nicer than stumbling in bleary eyed at midnight or later and falling into bed. I ended up reading and not doing laundry, but I was kind of overwhelmed from a week+ of socialising - I almost collapsed against my front door when I finally closed it and had complete privacy. Then began two weeks of dealing with the cold I'd brought back from Utah, as well as trying to avoid bumping my bruised knee.

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