Monday, July 11, 2016

Business or Pleasure? Bit of both!

Hello plamo nerds! I apologize for the lack of updates on the blog recently - I've been away on business/pleasure for nearly two months and was supposed to bring a WIP to work on, but I had the opportunity to take my family with me instead, so I decided it best to leave the hobby at home and just enjoy the trip with my wife and son.

Feel free to bail if you were looking for a good plamo read - I should have one of those up soon too. Today I'm trying my hand at travel blogging. Commencing poor attempt in 3...2...1...

Click on the Read More link for the rest of this post...

A few weeks before my departure, my wife and I thought it would be a good idea to try and get a US VISA for our 3-year-old. He proceeded to ace the consulate interview, and was awarded 10 years multiple-entry. We took it as a sign and immediately went into planning mode. This being a work trip for me I naturally had to clear everything up with the office first. I was given the green light with the pretense that only my expenses would be charged to the company, while those of my wife and son would be out of my own pocket. It's not very often you get 33% off on a family trip to the US, so we decided it was well worth the cost. Soon enough we had our itineraries ready - We were all going to California.

DIY bullet-planting deterrent
For his first time on any form of aircraft my boy was pretty chill about the whole thing, compared to my wife and I, who were sufficiently psyched about the adventure ahead of us. Although I'd be working on the weekdays, we had 7 weekends to get some good sightseeing and RnR.

The 14-hour flight went smoothly. Near zero turbulence, no annoying passengers, and not a single meltdown from my little man. Guess all those horror stories about travelling with a toddler don't apply to him. We were lucky to be on one of the newer PAL 777s with an updated entertainment system that kept us busy when we weren't sleeping.

Before we knew it, we were in San Francisco on a train ride to fetch our rental car. We couldn't decide which Corvette to get, so we went with a Yaris instead. That, and if I wanted to keep the job that got me there in the first place, a convertible was out of the picture..

If you've ever had to drive in a foreign country immediately after flying half-way around the world, you'd know it isn't as fun as it sounds. My wife and son passed out almost as soon as they buckled in. Fueled by the excitement that I was in Silicon Valley - equivalent of Mecca for those learned in the way of the programmer - I drove down to our hotel in San Jose..

I was running on fumes by the time we checked in about half-past midnight, and I had to report to the office headquarters the very next morning. Suffice it to say that the first few days weren't spectacular. Jet lag hit us hard, messing with our sleep cycles and appetites. We spent the first week settling in, getting supplies and just acclimating to the environment.

The company headquarters was bigger than I expected, occupying what used to be one of IBM's original sites. Bike share made it easy to get around when it would be too far to walk, though you had to mind your step due to droppings left by the occasional gang of geese that were roaming around like they owned the place.

It was a pleasant surprise really - I imagined Silicon Valley as a bustling metropolis of skyscrapers owned by the world's tech titans, but it's almost the complete opposite - more valley than silicon. The people I worked with are in equal parts pleasant and knowledgeable, and the trip really allowed me to sync up with the rest of the team. I had a great time attending the training as well. One is never too old to learn new tricks.

By the weekend we had fully adjusted to the time zone and were ready for some sightseeing. First on the list was Napa Valley. My wife had relatives who lived nearby and they were kind enough to give us the grand tour. We were treated to some great food and wine.

Next up was San Francisco, which we navigated via the phenomenal public transportation system the city offered. I may have maxed out my phone memory just taking the obligatory Golden Gate bridge photos.

We refueled and rested our tired touring feet at a nice hole-in-the-wall pizzeria in Sausalito, and ended the day with delicious clam chowder at fisherman's wharf, which kept us warm as the temperature dropped in the evening.

The following weekend was extended thanks to Memorial Day, so we decided to take the 8-hour drive down to Los Angeles and stay with some relatives. We spent a day touring Hollywood and nearby areas.

The following day we went to Disneyland, which my 3-year-old thoroughly enjoyed. I was a grown man when I first set foot in a Disneyland resort, so I can only imagine what it's like for someone his age to be in the "Happiest place on Earth" (up until recent alligator tragedy, that is...)

I drove back solo to San Jose so I could report to work the following Tuesday, leaving my wife and son to spend some time with family in Las Vegas. I would've joined them but I didn't want to skip work, this being a business trip after all.

That's not to say I didn't have fun while I was alone. I got to sample some Hooters wings again while watching the NBA championship games, did some personal shopping after office hours, and enjoyed my favorite shows at the hotel room which I had all to myself.

I spent an entire weekend just driving around, doing a sort of high-tech "bisita iglesia" of the world's top technology companies headquartered in the valley. I would have been handing out my resume like flyers if I didn't already have an awesome job in one of them.


Of course I  still managed to find something plamo related to do, checking out the local hobby stores. Tatsu hobby stocks a lot of good kits, while Barnes and Noble and Tokyo Japanese Lifestyle had a few marked at reasonable prices.  I didn't buy any kits over there but I did score some bargain tools off of Amazon.

Our holiday, as my son liked to call it, was over all too soon. Thanks to our able little Yaris we got around and did a lot more than if we had relied on our relatives and friends to take us sightseeing. I managed to pack in 4 pieces of  luggage, a half dozen smaller bags, a stroller, a booster seat, a son and a wife into the tiny thing, and it still kept up on the freeway, so yeah, it's a damn decent car and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

We were there for a little less than two months, but it felt more like six. I accomplished all my objectives at work, learned a new skill, spent a ton of quality time with my family, set foot on the Golden Gate bridge and in the birthplace of Android, carried my son on my shoulders as the Mickey Mouse parade went by, found out I have the same size hands and feet as Robert Downey Jr. (which technically means I can wear the Iron Man suit), and ate more fresh strawberries and cherries than I bothered to keep track of. I think I had a good time.

Stay tuned for our usual plamo related programming, till next time, keep building plamo!

No comments:

Post a Comment