Salt Lake City, 2009

The yearly all hands meeting for one of my groups at work was held in Salt Lake City again in 2009. I was able to convince my dad and sister to join me again for a ski weekend after the work week was over.

Mon Jan 5/09

Heh, Last year I'd done the early Monday flight as well. Stupid stupid stupid time of day to be flying, 6:40am. It wasn't helped by stepping out into a dark world of black ice once the taxi arrived. I had a nice Nepalese guy driving me to the airport, he took it slow until we got onto salted roads, which was fairly quickly as it turned out, we pulled in behind a plow/salt truck once we got off the side streets near my house. I paid the $40 to check my skis, boot bag, and suitcase. Once I got through check in and onto my plane, we had to wait 45 minutes for a tool box to be found and/or removed from the plane. I slept most of the way across the country. Once I got my stuff in Salt Lake (getting very familiar with that airport!), I tried to take the first taxi in the queue, but the driver wasn't able to fit my skis in his car; um, no, they fit, proved by the second taxi driver slipping them right in. I shared that taxi with another guy from BWH, Peter. Once we got to the Mariott, the bell boy brought up both of our luggage. I went downstairs to the meeting rooms for lunch, there was a nice spread of food this year. I worked through to 5:30pm, got sidetracked on fiducials module, and finally escaped to my hotel room.

I waited for Sonia to give me a call, catching up on online posts in my room, but her brother hadn't come back from Snowbird yet. I took off on my own for dinner, but met up with Curt, Will, and Louis in the lobby, and we went to Bambara together at my instigation. Plank salmon was a bit raw, apricot creme brule, and my mushroom appetiser were good. I stayed past 8pm, group dinners always take so long. Showered afterward, then read a bit and was asleep by 11

Tue Jan 6/09

Woke up at 7:15, went down to the meeting hall for breakfast. I had raisin bran + yoghurt and berries for breakfast, as when I came down, my stomach wasn't so happy with the smells of the eggs + meat. My computer did the power die thing again so I had to bring paper and pen when I went to another room to attend the auto gui testing meeting (squish is the best name ever for a program :) ). The outside window was much appreciated during this session, the ballroom is totally enclosed, like a casino. The snow coming down outside was beautiful. I was really tired all day, slugging down tea constantly, stupid jet lag. Lunch was mexican food, with good salsa. Kicked off at 5pm, phone call back east for a bit.

Then Madelyn picked me up at 6:15 to go to Front Climbing Club. My pre filled in online waiver went through, she did hers on the spot. $10 for a day pass is not bad, though the top roping area was roped up oddly and I didn't try to use any of the stations there. We just did bouldering. It took a while to figure out the rating system, it was posted on a piece of paper on the wall, colour coded instead of numbered. The air was thick with chalk, everyone was laid back and nice seeming. She climbed for a bit and then took pics of me, I should make a new climbing icon! :) Then we went to her place to pick up Paul (I didn't go in due to 3 dogs). We went to a Tibetan place run by a family from Tibet who's kids were born in India. Very yummy food, nice and spicy. My mango smoothie was good too. Talked to Cris briefly before he went to bed, time zones make it difficult to connect. Went to a french bakery around the corner from my hotel (Gourmandise aka The Bakery) and had an awesome rum ball and relaxed a bit more with Paul & Madelyn (fruit tarts!). They dropped me off at my hotel and I stretched a bit, had a hot bath and was in bed just past 11.

Wed Jan 7/09

Had raisin bran and yoghurt for breakfast again, and read the label this time; there's lots of sugar in Raisin Bran. :/ Went up to my room a bit more to take breaks from the crowds, talking more to people today. Made some progress, talked to SB to figure out widget bugs. Didn't go outside at all until the evening. Tried to collect names for dinner so I could make a reservation, but people added in and dropped out when heard it was a vegetarian place. Sonia had to work a bit in a last minute meeting and on a presentation, so I pushed it back to 6:15. It ended up being her, me, Katie M and Archana, Bertrand had just come back and wasn't in time to meet us. Tried to get Sonia to relax a bit, she was stressed out. She told her gas stove and firemen story and we were all in stitches. I went with the special at Sage's Cafe, as the rest of the menu was pretty much the same as last year. Had the chai as well. We were tucked into a corner table and had a good time (or at least, I did). Sonia went back to the hotel to work on her presentation, and the remaining three of us went back to the bakery that Madelyn and Paul took me to the night before. I got the mango raspberry tart, and an eclaire to bring back to Sonia. It was so so good. Finally made it back to the hotel, ran up to Sonia and Bertrand's room and got a revised leaving time of 9:30 for the club.

I realised that I had time to take a quick shower and dress up a bit, so I did. Katie and Katie were outside the lobby, joined them, then spotted Sonia and Bertrand just inside, so ran in to get them from the group just back from dinner. We all walked over to Club Vegas, it wasn't too cold out, the snow had mostly melted from the sidewalks, though I slipped in my docs in one snowy spot (Katie M caught me and felt the corset under my coat :) ). No cover at the club, and I spotted Madelyn in the DJ booth right away. I got my $3 drink speical cosmo and then we settled in a couch near where they sold t-shirts. S&B bought tshirts, though they only had L and up, so Sonia was swimming in hers. :) Daniel showed up after hi group dinner, but Seb passed. Daniel got me to do a shot of tequila, which tasted better than I expected. I danced once they played Nick Cave. Daniel stayed the longest, both of us tempted by the promise of German industrial music from the midnight+ DJ. I left first though, around 12:40 or so, and Madelyn gave me a ride back to the hotel. Fell over at around 1.

Thur Jan 8/09

Same breakfast, set alarm for 7:30 this time, out by 7:40 or so. Ate lunch in the room with windows, as I was getting a bit stir crazy, and then walked around a bit on Gallivan Plaza before getting a not as good as 1369's London Fog at Starbucks. Went up to my room to read for a while as well. Worked through to just after 5pm. Skipping out on the finger food at Murphy's, instead got dinner at the fondue place. OMG so much food. And a bit of a rip off as well, as the server convinced me to get the cheese fondue as well as an entree, when either was enough, and the entree fondue pot of broth for cooking was extra. I nibbled and tried to not over-eat, but was eating pretty constantly for 1.5 hours. Realised when I was leaving the restaurant that my window table had me on display to all passers-by. The bookstore I was going to browse was closed, so just went back to the hotel and started packing. Read, took a nice long bath, and sent a text asking Sonia if she wanted to go to the Red Door but she didn't have her phone on her, but that was okay, a nice quiet evening in was just what I needed.)

Fri Jan 9/09

Here's where the diary starts to get sketchy, as I was busy and didn't make many notes from here on out. :) Worked until about noon, and had lunch with Katie, Katie and Wendy at Bambara, as they helped me move my stuff over to the Hotel Monaco after I checked out of the Mariott (just across Gallivan Plaza). I got picked up by Enterprise and was able to get my SUV with a bit of insisting that yes, that price was what I was quoted and reserved at. I dropped by Canyon sports to get lift tickets for that evening and managed to get to the airport in time to park and meet Sue and Dad inside. Helped them to the truck and then went to the hotel to get Dad checked in and everyone changed for skiing. We then headed into the Canyons to go to Brighton. Thank goodness it wasn't as cold as the year before, though it seemed like the black runs down to the left weren't as lit up this time, so Sue wasn't too impressed with the terrain. I still like the twisty run off to the left, but it's definitely a blue runs are really green sort of hill. Not bad for $25 though, I think we stayed there until about 8:30. Drove back downtown, and I was able to find a parking lot near Squatters and we got a table with a minimal wait. We were all pretty hungry by then. Then back to the hotel and to bed early in anticipation of a full day the next day.

Sat Jan 10/09

I think we got up at around 7:30 and met for breakfast at Bambara at 8am. Good food, but a bit pricey. Drove out to the other canyon to go to Snowbird, with a stop at Canyon Sports to get lift tickets first. Dad bought his at the mountain, as the senior discount was more than the downtown discount. I picked up a sweet new pair lined mittens at Canyon, they kept me toasty all day. We went up the the peak and down on the easier run first, then up again and over the top through the tunnel to Mineral Basin. It was windy over there, we got caught in a white out on our first run. Did one more over there and then they closed that chair lift, so we headed back over to the other side. Still windy near the peak (no altitude problems this time at 11,000 feet, Kilimanjaro helped I guess :) ), they ended up closing one run up there as well. Met up with Sonia and Bertrand at the mid mountain lodge, and I did one run with them, letting Sue and Dad wander off together. S&B convinced me to try a black because it was 'easy' and I did make it down, but there was one point where my skis were hanging over a cliff and I was really lucky I'd stopped. It was a run I'd tried last year and enjoyed, through the woods, it was just that one drop that scared me spitless. My knee was getting tired by this point, so I split off to do some green runs and then head to the truck to meet up with Dad and Sue. The truck configuration wasn't idea, we had to have the back seat half down in order to fit our skis, otherwise I'd have offered S&B a ride back to town.

We got back downtown just in time to take part in the Hotel Monaco's wine and massage hour, I was able to get into the queue for a chair massage and my arms and back really appreciated it - lots of poling on the easy runs at Snowbird. The wine and sitting in front of the fire and talking with a couple of other hotel guests didn't suck either. The only downside to the Monaco was that they were having hot water issues due to the construction next door, so we had to run the taps for about 20 minutes before taking a shower. :/ They also shuffled around our pillows, we'd requested two foam pillows and had a hard time finding them in the pile of pillows on the bed when we got back! We decided to try Mexican food for dinner and walked a block to the Blue Iguana. We had a bit of a wait, first in the lobby and then in the crowded waiting room, and then ended up at a table near the door. :/ But the food was good. We went back to the hotel afterward, and I got in touch with Sonia, she and her brother were beat and didn't want to come out for hot chocolate, and neither did Dad. Sue and I were game, and Madelyn and Paul came back from a Bonfire to pick us up and take us to the Cocoa Cafe. The hot chocolate was so worth staying awake for, it's heaven in a cup. Paul said that he would never have pegged Sue and me for sisters, I told him he should see me and my brother next to each other, he'd say we were twins. I talked a lot about the trip to Africa, and Sue talked about her travels in SE Asia, tempting them with wanderlust. We were soon yawning though, and they dropped us off for more sleeping.

Sun Jan 11/09

I convinced Dad and Sue to try out Deer Valley in Park City, as I'd had a good time there on my own on a previous trip. I drove us through the mountains to Park City and got us a decent parking spot. I think we stopped at Canyon Sports again to get lift tickets first, though. Open tram in the parking lot to get to the base, and we waited for Dad to get his Senior's lift ticket. And got split up, as people went to the bathroom and wandered around a bit. Oops. Finally reconvened and headed up the mountain. And down and up again. :) It's huge, spanning many peaks, but not as steep as Snowbird. I think we had a bit of snow coming down. Sue split off after lunch to try the steeper parts off to the right, but Dad and I stuck on the very nice blue runs and took it safe, no returning him bloody to Mom this year! We met up at the pub and had some food and drinks before heading to Gorgoza Tubing park. I was a bit wiped out and took a long break in the warming yurt while they did a few more runs. I heard some radio traffic about something on the track and went outside just as the relatives were running to get me. Two moose had wandered near! Photographic evidence. :) They wouldn't let anybody slide while the moose were there, not wanting to incite a charge. This was the first time I'd seen moose in the "wild" despite years of straining my eyes on northern Canadian road trips. :) We headed back into downtown Salt Lake and went to dinner at the Red Rock Brewing Company, then headed to bed, missing the wine and massage hour due to snow tubing. Dried off my skis and packed up as best I could.

Mon Jan 12/09

Checked out, dropped the truck off at the downtown rental place, and then took a taxi to the airport all together as our flights were pretty close together. I think mine was delayed a bit, but I still made my connection in Chicago. Paid to check my skis and suitcase again, not so happy with that for ski trips. :/ Took a cab home from Logan, long day and glad to be home finally, but it was an awesome trip.

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