Salt Lake City, 2014

The yearly all hands meeting for one of my groups at work was held in Salt Lake City again in 2014. My dad and sister came to meet me afterward to ski again. There was the possibility that it would be the last year I'd go there for work (grant ending), so I tried to hit up all the spots I really liked.

Sunday January 5, 2014

I had a mid afternoon flight again, leaving Boston at 4:20 and getting into SLC around 11pm. I had a chatty cabbie on the way to the airport. I'd packed my skis in my new bag, a ski buritto like thing that folded up much smaller than my previous overlong bag. I took the big suitcase and got my ski boots in there, but carried on my ski helmet. Checked in at a serve yourself kiosk, paying to check my bags (work covers the suitcase but not the skis, which of course are more expensive as the second item) and quickly dropping them off. Went through the scanner instead of getting the pat down this time, I was feeling tetchy about waiting and being groped (think I was coming down with a cold). Grabbed a bagel to hold me over on the plane.

The flight felt long, I finished my book. The plane took a bit of a drop right before landing as it hit a pocket of less dense air, that woke me up. My flight number from Phoenix to SLC was the same as the Boston leg, but it was a different plane, so I had to go from terminal B over to A to get on my next flight. I ended up buying a book (fairy tale adaptations) in the terminal to hold me over. I had a window seat again, with a tall quiet lady next to me, but she got very twitchy as soon as we landed - I hate waiting to get out of the plane too.

I had a bit of a wait to get my suitcase and skis, and had fun observing a lady with a 1940's adventurous look: shoulder length curly hair with bangs, a leather bomber/moto jacket, rust jeans and tall boots. Once my stuff came out I was happy to see a short cab line, only one person in front of me. Quiet cabbie this time, and a quick drive to the Mariott. The valet/bell boy was off duty by then, I hauled my stuff inside, got checked in and into my room and took a lovely warm shower. Asleep by 12:45am. No sign of other conference goers in the hotel bar this time.

Monday January 6, 2014

The meeting wouldn't start until noon, so I was on my own for breakfast. I hit up the hotel restaurant and loaded up on lots of tea and some yummy huevos rancheros. Sonia joined me soon after I was seated, she opted for the buffet. I think from there I wandered up to the meeting area to see if the rooms were open. They were so I settled in to start working. We did the project presentations that afternoon, summarising our expected work for the week, and I made note of the groups that might need my support.

After we knocked off for the day, I hit up the gym to get a workout in. It was a bit odd exercising with work colleagues, there is no dignity in sweating. :-) They have a Smith machine there, tried out some barbell squats in it, not a fan, but they didn't have space for free barbell exercises (I had to move around to find space to do dumbbell stuff). Stretched out well afterward, the cold in the conference rooms added to the flight the day before had me stiffening up.

I decided to do dinner on my own that night, walking a block or so to the Copper Onion to see if I could snag a seat at the bar. I could, though there was a confusing moment when a guy walked in after me and plonked down at one of the bar seats while I waited for the host stand to seat me. I got a Blood and Sand on a separate bill, no problem, then dove into a duck cassoulet. The breast was a bit tough, but the thigh with beans and the duck pate smeared on bread were divine. The sherry and date ice cream I had for dessert was also amazing.

Tuesday January 7, 2014

This was my day of meetings instead of coding. I had a database related breakout and then a one on one meeting with someone working on dental applications. After lunch I was on tap to help Sonia with the workshop, helping out people during the hands on section when they got lost or fell behind. Two more meetings after that and I was fried, done for the day.

I was hoping to go back to Sage's Cafe but after walking over there it was shuttered and closed for good. :-( Oh, looking this up after the fact, it just moved! *phew* I went across the street to Faustina's instead and gorged on good food. I had the beet carpaccio, salmon chowder, buratta with tomato salad, creme brule and an Old Fashioned cocktail to ease it all down. Walking back, I realised that Bar X was on the way and stopped in for a Violet Fix.

I did some work on my planned camping trip to Grand Teton as the backcountry camping permits were going to become available soon. I needed to pick which campsites I wanted to hit and when (ended up with Marion Lake, Death Canyon Shelf for two nights, then Death Canyon on the way out). Then I went down to the hotel pool (still not a fan of the full windows looking out over the street) and swam and soaked in the hot tub for a bit.

Wednesday January 8, 2014

I sat in on a breakout session for information, chipping away at my own work and just listening for interesting key words - I may be on that project later in the year. I made up a summary slide for Sonia to include in her presentation the next day, but mostly just focused on my own work this day.

I had time before dinner to hit the gym again, more dumbbell stuff. I got cleaned up and read while waiting for Madelyn and Paul to come collect me. They were delayed at a contentious neighbourhood meeting and I was pretty hungry by the time we went next door to the hotel for Mexican food. We got the tableside guacamole and that perked me up enough to be verbal again. Had the budin and a mojito and shared some churros for dessert. It was good to catch up with them, though Paul kept trying to convince me to go to Burning Man. :-)

Thursday January 9, 2014

Thursday is always the all hands meeting, hours of presentations with all the PIs present. I tucked myself away in the back and worked quietly through most of it. It's also always the gathering at a dive bar for fried food, but I decided to duck out and get some more healthy food first. I ended up at Plum Alley, the sister restaurant to Copper Onion (very close by too). I sat at the bar and had a Thai basil cocktail, tom ka ga soup and a delicious duck bun. I always love taking advantage of how little alcohol is in Utah cocktails. :-) After my dinner, I walked over to Murphy's to meet up with the work crew. I had a gin and tonic with Donna and spent quite a while chatting with her at the bar. Then a gimlet sounded like a good idea and I chatted with Stephen about movies for a while. People started filtering out, but JC offered me another drink as he was staying, so I had a G&T and talked with him about climbing and working out (dirtbag diary, gym pact).

Friday January 10, 2014

End of the work week, with project presentations taking up the morning, a box lunch and freedom for the afternoon. I asked for late checkout so that I didn't have to leave my stuff with the valet before transferring to another hotel, and that worked well. I'd found a deal with Avis, and walked over to the Hilton to the rental counter there to grab the SUV for the ski portion of the trip. I was looking forward to doing the driving this year. :-) Got the vehicle, back to the Mariott, checked out and got my stuff in the back, then did the short drive over to Crystal Inn and Suites. Sue and I were sharing a room again this year, so I made sure that her name was on the room and that Dad had a room nearby. Both their flights were coming in at around 4-4:30pm, but I'd asked if they'd mind using the free hotel shuttle so that I could take off to go night skiing. They said yes, and I switched to ski mode and took off for Brighton. It wasn't horribly cold that evening, and they had a fire pit going, with a fire spinner and stuff to make s'mores. I was using the singles line and got a good 1.5 hours in before taking a break, then another 2hrs before packing it in to head down the mountain just before they shut down at 9pm. Knocked on Dad's door to say hi, he was pretty much ready for bed but I wanted to set the breakfast meeting time as well, and chatted with Sue for a while before hitting the hay.

Saturday January 11, 2014

Hotel breakfast buffet was as usual, I brought down my own tea and travel mug. We got discount passes to Canyons at Canyon Sports (I think), then headed through the pass to Park City. It was pretty warm, I was sweating in the lift lines, and the cover was sparse. :-( Big change from -20C last year! Did 2 hours in the morning, 3 in the afternoon, though that last was longer than expected since they had the Short Cut lift closed and I miscalculated my route and had to wait in a long line to take the gondola down. I was also trying to avoid the arm wrenching rope tow, but ended up there once. We met up for lunch at midmountain, I had some filling veggie chilli, and lots of tea and water to stay hydrated. After I made my way back down the mountain at the end of the day, I found Sue at the Red Tail Grill and then went to find Dad, since he'd gone to check the medic tent for me. :-/ The down side of splitting up with little cell coverage is that it's hard to update with changed circumstances. :-(

We shared some fries there to hold us over and then went a bit down the highway to Gorgoza Park for some snow tubing. Because it was so warm, the runs were very slow, I don't think we made it even near the end, even with racing on our own. I kept trying different runs to find the fastest one, but it turned out that one of the shorter ones was the best bet. I don't think we did our full 2 hours, it wasn't as fun when you can't go super fast.

I'd half heartedly organised a group dinner for that night since Madelyn and Paul wanted to see Sue and Dad. They met up after a reception so they were all dressed up in a sari and Utilikilt while were were ski bums. :-) Sonia and one of the visiting presenters joined us as well and we had a lively time. I tried the turkey burger since for some reason I wasn't as hungry as usual, but did have a martini and a G&T (yay Utah liquor laws!).

Sunday January 12, 2014

Sunday was Alta day! :-) We had the hotel breakfast again and were running a bit more slowly, not getting onto the slopes until 10:30, then stopping at noon for lunch. Dad decided not to ski since the wind was really high and there were white out conditions due to snow and fog. I ended up skiing mostly off of the Sugarloaf lift, it was the most protected. I found a nice trail through the woods to Cecret, trying to hit lots of runs and lifts on my possibly last trip there. Sue was skiing mostly off of Collins on steeper terrain. I was sticking with known routes, less icey, since I was skiing blind a bit of the time. I was getting better at relaxing and just feeling the slope as advised by one chair lift partner.

After getting back downtown, since I'd been noticing bits of my ski boots falling off (mostly from the sole), I popped over to Ski'n'See and Canyon Sports to check out their boots for sale. Turns out neither sold ski boots. O.o Ski'n'See apparently has other non downtown locations that sells boots but I didn't have time to check them out. I also never made it to the Title 9 store to try stuff on instead of just looking at things in the catalogue.

We went back to Market Grill for dinner so that we could get some seafood. Dad and I both gave in to the salmon special (we just made the cutoff for the dinner special time), and I had the boiled potatoes, clam chowder and creme brule to go with it. I tried their St. Germaine cocktail for dessert as well, nice to see that liquor getting play here. It was a chilly walk back to the hotel, and the couple that we were walking near turned out to be on our floor of the hotel, hope we didn't creep them out!

Monday January 13, 2014

Sue's flight was this morning, so Dad and I said our goodbyes and left her to take the hotel shuttle to the airport while we went back to Alta. :-) We got on the slopes a bit earlier today, just before 10am. I was starting to slow down a bit on my record making fourth straight day of skiing, and stopped just before 11:30 for lunch. Dad and I met up at the cafeteria off of Collins after he stopped a bit early and I went to check out what the conditions were like off of Sugarloaf. There was better visibility over there, so I stuck with that area again in the afternoon. Dad decided to stop at 2pm, but I did one more run off of Cecret because I'm stubborn like that. :-) Took a father/daughter selfie before heading back downtown.

The car rental place closed at 6pm, so I wanted to be sure of getting the SUV back in time. It wasn't a problem at all, and the desk clerk intercepted me by the elevators and took the keys without my having to wait while he checked out a car to another customer. Dad had come with me after we both got cleaned up and we walked over to the Copper Onion for supper. I treated him to dinner since he'd covered gas for the beast truck I'd been driving us around in. I couldn't resist one more vacation cocktail, and got the gin, juniper syrup and lime flip, so good. I went with Mary's Roast Chicken this time, it was divine, I was so full. I still found some room to split a chocolate pudding with Dad for dessert though.

Tuesday January 14, 2014

I had an early flight (yay finding the best price) and I was up and checked out before the breakfast buffet was supposed to open. Luckily they'd set up early and I had breakfast at 5:45am while waiting for my airport shuttle. I shared the van with US Airways crew members, one guy was very insistent on helping me, I had to say a fairly loud "no" after he picked up my purse. I had to bring my skis and suitcase manually to the xray machine, that's always a disappointment when I'm looking forward to not carrying them any more. There was a small line there and at security, and I went through the mm wave machine. *sigh* I stopped right after the check point for tea and water and trail mix.

There was a bit of confusion over my flight, I had a connection in Philly but the flight was listed as going to DC, then my gate was changed from A4 to A6 and everyone was jumbled together. I had to disturb my row mates to get up for the bathroom and to grab a second book during the flight. Then once I got to Philly there was another gate change, yay flying in the winter. There was a very cough-y lady on the flight to Boston, I always wish I had the guts to wear a filter mask on planes. In Boston my bags came out quite quickly, but that was offset by a very long taxi line (it looped). Then the taxi I got (after insisting that I get one that fit my skis and confusing everyone of course) had a broken seat belt, but other than that the ride home was fine, and the driver offered to bring my bags up the stairs to my front door (nice change from leaving them on the street as has happened before). It was nice to get home fairly early, around dinner time, to have time to decompress a bit before heading back to work the next day.


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