On the Road Again!

After two years with almost zero business travel (and not much of any other kind, either!) I was excited to hit the road again starting this spring. Business trips haven’t been blog-worthy since 2009, but in this almost-post-pandemic-era, everything seems new again! And besides, its been more than just business…

At the end of March, I got to bring Abi with me to Boston. We’d actually discussed sending her on a trip solo, to visit good friends (and Abi and Ben’s first babysitter!) there, but we found out that the costs associated with an “unaccompanied minor” on a plane were higher than the price of the flights, so we’d ruled it out. Then I got asked to attend a meeting — the same week as her birthday. It seemed too perfect to pass up, so we bought two coach tickets and headed east!

Next up was Orange County, California — a spot that has been a recurring theme throughout my career. In four separate jobs, I’ve had occasion to visit Laguna Beach and the surrounding area, and it remains one of my favorite places to visit. This time, the weather was hot, the rental car a convertible, and the meetings were productive. Although there were only a few fleeting moments of free time, I did manage to cruise with the top down and enjoy a beach-side dinner with some new and old colleagues.

I was barely recovered from jet leg before the next trip — this one within driving distance. My faithful Saab 95, soon to be passed on to a new owner, ate up the highway on a quick 30 hour round-trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where we visited some more long-time colleagues at their newest venture. The road trip gave us lots of time to talk, and the event was worthwhile and encouraging.

The highlight of the month+ of travel, though, was this weekend’s personal trip to Calgary, to help my brother prepare his newly purchased house for their imminent move. Personal travel doesn’t get quite the same budget as company-funded trips, so I had to figure out how to do this one on a shoe-string. Fortunately, friends and family lent their hands. I drove to Toronto, and boarded the wallet-friendly “Flair Air” for Calgary, where I was given the worst seat on the plane. I saved on airport parking, thanks to a fellow nerd who lives near the airport and graciously offered to let me park at his place — complete with shuttle service to-and-from! I bunked on a comfortable bed in my sister’s basement, and borrowed a car from my brother’s girlfriend. With thanks to my parents for pitching in for the flight, I’d be surprised if the entire trip, including gas and meals, cost more than $300!

Friday was a furious day of painting — my brother and I got 5 bedrooms painted, with two coats each, before we collapsed on the floor to stretch out our middle-aged backs. We were racing to have the rooms ready for carpet installation on Saturday, so with that accomplished, the next day was an easier pace. We got the living room painted and the basement suite’s main area taped off, shopped Home Depot for supplies and selected from an amazing array of diverse lunch options at a nearby market. The kitchen sink may need more professional help than we could provide, but we hung some curtains and munched pizza, and the lady of the house got to entertain family visiting her new place.

It was a full weekend, but it did afford some fun moments with siblings I don’t see often, a little time with my niece and nephew for video games and deep questions, my fill of Tim Horton’s coffees and a sampling of craft beers and other local products from a very cool Canadian city. Significant flight delays on the way home meant my Sunday morning was more laid back than expected — although the night time road trip home was a rough trade.

I’m home for a couple weeks now, but May’s travel plans include a trip to Spain to speak at a conference. My last opportunity to go to Spain got cancelled from the back of an ambulance, so I’m very much looking forward to that trip — and the other journeys we have planned for the summer…

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