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Wil’s Sunday: Travel

I was bumped from my flight home, then missed my connection in Seattle where I had to stay the night. I still have the t-shirt I picked up from a store at McCarran–I needed something clean to sleep in.
Wil’s Sunday: Travel
From Zurich to Vienna via Gelterkinden.

While I mainly write about the intersection of communications and technology, I also enjoy sharing personal essays and a behind-the-scenes look into my life.

I call these Wil's Sundays.

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Enjoy this Sunday's article.

The U.S. Capitol Building, 2009.

I've been to Washington, DC, a handful of times.

Traveling from New York, through Penn Station and lumbering down to Union Station was a treat. A few hours in the quiet car to get some work done (and watching countless others battling work and sleep) is a fond memory.

When I needed to arrive in DC faster, I'd grab the Acela and get there in less time. I'm not sure if I enjoyed that as much. Still, riding on a train was and continues to fill me with little-boy fun and amazement. The 'all aboard' announcement. The sound of newspapers opening up. The checking of tickets.

And the old Penn Station was, um... fascinating. It didn't seem to need fancy aesthetics since folks weren't hanging around for long.

In the main concourse, people just waited for the ticking sound of the sign, like the sound from shuffling a deck of cards, to be notified of their track number.

The shuffling stopped. The track was revealed. And off they went. An assembly line-like efficiency.

The old Penn Station: I can still hear the shuffling of the sign.

While in New York, I worked with a software consulting services group. Our goal was to build integrations between systems, and ultimately teams, without the need to move every team to the same system.

HP Test Director integration with Serena Business Mashups or Atlassian Jira. Developer teams and test teams sharing data through integrations. It was agile development before agile development was so hot.

I'd hop on the train and either head down to the office in Maryland or meet with clients and partners in Washington, DC.

My first trip to Washington, DC was in 2006.

I was heading business development for an up-and-coming software firm. We were looking to bring users together through local user groups, providing updates on product and feature road maps and to hear how these users were deploying our software.

The first user group was in Falls Church, Virginia.

Flying from San Francisco, I took a late-night flight back east. It was early the next morning when I arrived at the hotel, and since I hadn't visited Washington, DC previously, I wanted to get up in a few hours and take the Metro to walk the streets of our nations capital.

I was most excited to see the White House.

As a California kid, the only time I saw the White House was on TV.

A shining city upon a hill.

It's much smaller in person.

I walked by the White House three times without seeing it.

No hill. No shine. No big light shining on its location.

Just tucked back off the street behind some trees.

(Have you visited the Liberty Bell or the Mona Lisa? That feeling you get after seeing either following years of expectations? That.)

From the White House, I bounced around the National Mall, walked up to see the Lincoln Memorial (now, that is impressive) then across to the war memorials.

The one memory I had from that trip: Everything is really close together.

Even though living in San Francisco meant things were close together, especially for a kid who partially grew up on a farm, Washington, DC was a different type of closeness.

I'd soon realize Washington, DC would have nothing on NYC when it came to the use of space.

In stride: Travelers from above.

One of the last business trips I took before the pandemic was to Las Vegas. It was a managed services conference at the Cosmopolitan hotel. A good conference, although the travel was really tough.

I was bumped from my flight home, then missed my connection in Seattle where I had to stay the night. I still have the t-shirt I picked up from a store at McCarran–I needed something clean to sleep in.

Having lived in Las Vegas during the days of the Runnin' Rebels, I asked the taxi driver about Danny Tarkanian. I think he was running for office. I mentioned how great it was back then to see those players–and that coach.

Not me in Phoenix.

After that Las Vegas trip, I headed down to Phoenix to watch the Cleveland Browns play. I arrived on a Thursday and my dad drove over from San Diego on Saturday. The Browns game was on Sunday, then I headed back home on Monday.

I walked more than 24 miles in Phoenix, Thursday through Saturday. Up and down the streets with camera and Foursquare in hand.

That Phoenix trip was in December 2019, right before the world would shut down. It was also a few weeks before I launched my first book–a travel guide to Phoenix, Arizona.

Fantastic timing.

From that point, it was mostly local travel, which certainly isn't a complaint:

  • Glacier National Park
  • Flathead Lake
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Bonneville Salt Flats
  • Prineville, OR (data centers!)
  • Sparks, NV (Tesla Gigafactory!)
  • Beartooth Mountains

Facebook data centers by drone.

It's amazing how easy it is for some of us to travel.

Either get in the car and drive a few hours or head to the airport or train station and be transported to a new culture within a day.

At some point in the very near future, virtual reality and augmented reality and the metaverse will change how we see the world. I hope it doesn't replace experience of travel.