Back in April 2017 I wrote 116 - Rules for a More Interesting Life in which I laid out some things I try to apply that make the business of business more interesting. What follows is my trip report for when I popped over to Albuquerque to see some of my lovely customers. Fair warning this will have no LabVIEW and very little business, it's mostly travel.
I flew out of Gatwick on 19th July on Norwegian, and because I'm old, tall and grumpy I treated myself to Premium. This is between Premium economy and Business class for BA and about £100 more expensive. As a bonus Gatwick is easier than Heathrow and you get access to the lounge. Gins all round!
Flight was pretty nice, leg room was generous, food OK. We landed in Chicago O-Hare and security was fine, transport to downtown Chicago was a disaster. Finally I shared a taxi with a lovely Pakistani family and got to my hotel.
I mainly chose this based on price and reviews and it was OK. It was really hard to avoid chains in downtown Chicago. Now obeying Rule 2 and 3, rather than do the sensible thing and go to bed I decided to go drinking instead. Normally I quite like my Irish bar to be in Ireland, but I was VERY tired so I ended up going to O'Leary's Public House, where they cheerfully declare that their service varies. For some reason I got lots of drink bought me and ended up play darts all night, an excellent start.
Up at 4am for some sight-seeing......
After that I amused myself until it was time to get the Southwest Chief to Albuquerque.
The train was fantastic! I can't think of a better way to see America.
25 hours later we chipped up in downtown Albuquerque. Where a short distance from the station was my next B&B..the Spy House, this was where the Russians were caught stealing atomic secrets just after WW2. It was very pleasant (the B&B, not the spying).
The next day I collected my rental car and relocated out of the city to a village called Corrales. Here I stayed for the week in a The Sandhill Crane B&B and they looked after me very well. I was told not to wander around in the dark because of mountain lions! I decided it was a risk I was willing to take as a the bar was about a mile walk away..
The view from my B&B was very pleasant...
The reason I was in Albuquerque was that I license some of my code to a company called Sierra Peaks, and a jolly nice bunch they are too, I was most impressed with them on an engineering level too.
Also during that week I presented at ALVIN and on a day off I drove up the mountains to a hippy outpost.
After my week in Albuquerque I popped over to Austin for a couple of days. I decided to drive as it was another chance to see America. First stop Roswell.
And it was the best vegan burger I have ever had! (I'm a best effort vegan btw).
Next hotel was the Hotel Artesia, which was beautiful on the outside, bland on the inside. It could have been great if the followed the theme all the way through (art-deco). Artesia was essentially an oil depot with a hotel. The next day I drove into Texas - 150 miles of nodding donkeys (NM), then 150 miles of wind turbines (TX). My next stop was in San Angelo.
It's a converted chicken shed and they used all reclaimed materials and it was beautiful!
Finally into Austin to visit friends and have some meetings. In Austin I stayed in the Austin Motel in South Congress and I LOVED it. I'll be staying there next NIWeek I think.
12 Days was the longest I've been away and it felt long, also NM is 1 timezone more west and for the UK it felt much further from home than Texas. But because of the planning I put into the trip I really enjoyed it, I met some lovely people and stayed in some wonderful places.
Next year I'm planning on flying into Denver, driving down to Albuquerque to set up a demo, after that I'm thinking of taking the overnight train from El Paso to Austin for NIWeek. I'm looking forward to it!
In summary it's possible to follow my rules, it does take some homework tho'. Is it worth it? I really believe so. The overwhelming theme I got from staying in these sort of places was a feeling of civic pride, of wanting the local area to thrive and of wanting to contribute to it. It was a very positive feeling.