Pre Trip (Preparing for the trip)The Trip Begins (Days 1-3)
Hello everyone! With the trip to Tucson underway, I want to document my experience to the best of my ability. It will help me remember it better in years to come, it will be a nice thing to show to future children of mine, and I thought it would be a nice thing to share my experiences with the entire SMF community here, my family, and my friends. I have decided two things right from the start in writing this. First, I am going to write it in a sense, like a story, so it may seem more formal than a normal blog would typically be. I also am going to try my best to not get too silly throughout it which I have had the tendency to do in the past. However, I want to capture the mood of the trip to the best of my ability, so if a lot of the time we are having a fun time, telling jokes for instance, I will try to capture the essence of such times in my accounts of the trip. Midnight Thursday, December 27th, 2007 (Late at night)
Tomorrow is the big day, the day I have been looking forward to for months. I set myself out to Tucson to meet the people I have worked with for years, some who almost feel like family to me. I sat in my chair, past midnight, and I felt anxious, yet I was excited. I had just finished doing a little exercising, perhaps in part in an effort to calm my nerves a little bit. I knew that at the point of waking up, my countdown to the first plane I would board would be about 24 hours. 24 hours until my adventure would begin. Could I bring myself to sleep I wondered, or would the excitement swallow me in? I just continued to sit there on my laptop, but why? Was there anything stopping me from sleeping? I figured it was the excitement. As the time drained down some more I finally decided to wrap things up, I shut down my laptop, and made my way upstairs to my room. I plopped myself on to my bed, turned off my light, set my alarm (just the usual routine), and shut my eyes, followed by some routine prayers that I make every night. Would I sleep alright that night? Thursday, December 27th, 2007 (Past 7PM)
The previous night came and went by. I did not sleep particularly well. I scrambled about trying to get all my things together, my mom offered in a hand. I had my suitcase selected and cleaned the night before, and had started loading my laptop bag with certain tech devices that could come in handy at some point, my old Nintendo DS, an old handheld PC, some seasons of television shows on DVD and anything else I came across that could be of use to me. I was waiting for my nephew, sister and brother-in-law to arrive to my home, they were coming in from my brother-in-law's family's house where they had celebrated Christmas. It had been awhile since I last saw my sister and nephew, and much longer since I last saw my brother-in-law. I had not eaten any dinner yet, my mother and I were waiting for them all to arrive and then we would get some pizza. On my laptop now, my sister phones in to announce that they are in Ithaca, meaning they will be home in minutes. I am excited to see them, albeit for a very short while. I was thankful that they would be driving me to the airport early in the morning the next day. It was really nice seeing my nephew again and the big smiles he had to offer me. I gave him the Christmas gift I had bought for him, and he did play with it a little bit! I knew I would definitely be missing him when I left, among of course all of my family as well.Friday, December 28th, 2007
The day was here, the big day, and I felt its presence, the magnitude of all that was about to happen, with a strong excited state of mind. I woke up at around 6, left my house at around 8. When I arrived to the airport and got to the security checkpoint, I was now on my own. I boarded my plane leaving Syracuse to Chicago at around the scheduled time, however after about an hour or so waiting on the plane, they made us all get out. The weather in Chicago was looking bad, and they were canceling and delaying a lot of flights. A few hours later, we finally departed Syracuse, many hours late. When we landed in Chicago, I started to get nervous as to what I would do. The plane I was suppose to have left on apparently left on schedule or close enough to it. So I was stuck there, and for one of the first times in my life, I was entirely on my own, left to take care of my own problem all by myself. And with a sense of confidence, I became determined I would get through this hurdle in one piece.
Shortly after arriving to Chicago, I called an 800 number for rebooking flights. After what seemed like 15 minutes, the person on the phone said there was simply no openings for the Tucson flight leaving Chicago at 8:25. However, the person booked me a flight to Phoniex that was to leave at the same time. I then called a team member who was helping coordinate the meeting and told them about my situation. I was told that I should get on standby for the flight to Tucson, in case an opening showed up. When I went to the desk to ask about getting a standby, I waited about 30 minutes or so as a woman working there was trying to find any possible connections to Tucson. Things seemed doubtful, but all of a sudden there was an opening for the flight to Tucson! I was beyond relieved.
After waiting a few hours, I boarded my flight and then we left. The flight took almost 4 hours and time did not go by very fast for me. It was interesting to see all the different people on the flight. Many of them seemed generally like nice people, and I could possibly get a small sense of what type of person some of the people were. I became quite tired, and had my eyes closed for much of the flight, but couldn't get myself to sleep, nor did I particularly want to fall asleep then. The flight finally landed...I was finally in Tucson, at long last!
I went down to baggage claim to get my luggage. I phoned in the same team member again and two people picked me up in a matter of a few minutes. After a little drive we drove to the hotel. I got out of the car and then came a bit of a surprise. I heard some noises from above, I looked up, and there looking down from the balcony were the team members of SMF who attended the meeting, almost to its entirety, except for a few people. It was a little awkward to say the least! Since I was the last member to arrive that day, they kind of put me on the spot right then. They had me guess what username belonged to each person there. I guessed a lot of them wrong! JayBachatero
and I ended up being roommates and we had a pretty nice discussion about various things (mainly related to SMF) until quite late at night, and it was really nice getting to know Jay more. Of course the discussion did eventually turn around to a brief bit on girls as was anticipated. JayBachatero
inquired about whether I ever asked out any of the girls I liked. With a big geek smile I told him that I had not done any such thing (I'm a chicken and a little ugly, you'll see my pics soon enough to determine that
).Saturday, December 29th, 2007
I woke up at around 8:30 in the morning after the phone in our room rang, it was one of the team members trying to wake me and Jay up. We were running a little late, and Jay took his shower quickly and almost right after him I took mine. We went down and peered in the conference room where we were holding our first meeting. Most of the team members were already there! We first went to get a quick breakfast though before going back to the conference room. The meeting was a productive one and we covered some important matters (Not going to go into detail, especially since a lot of the material needs to be confidential). After the meeting Jay and I along with a couple other members went to the Carl's Jr. right next to our hotel. The food there was not much different from McDonald's. After some time of a lot of us hanging out in the same room, we eventually drove out to go to the Desert Museum. The experience there was really quite amazing for me. I have not been to that many museums in my life, and it was a pleasure to see some of the things the museum had to offer, especially things I would not see back at home! We saw live snakes first, contained in there own little simulated habitat, and saw much more, including animals like mountain lions and bobcats. Towards the end, we saw Prairie Dogs. I thought they were really cute and did a lot of funny things!
Later on we went out to get some food. I had some nice discussions with the members at my table, and it was overall a lot of fun. We cracked out several jokes but also did discuss various SMF issues at hand, and our own little stories involving certain things about our experiences with SMF. We joked about handing out SMF cards that we were given, to girls. Wouldn't that be great I thought, if I could hand out my SMF card to girls with my number on it and have the girl actually reach me back? Whether it actually had to do with SMF, or the girl just liked me! One of these days, I thought, I will hand out a few of these cards, but it will be as a joke and I'll probably just end up handing them out mainly to my friends at home.
Later on that night in our room, Jay and I discussed a project we had started working on a long time ago. At the same time I was working on writing some of the blog, which I had little time to write the entire day.Sunday, December 30th, 2007
My second full day in Tucson started fairly similar to how the first day did. I woke up, took my shower, and went down to the conference room for our second meeting. When it came time for me to do some talking about my experiences with SMF and why I wanted to become a team member, I think I stumbled a little bit. I sometimes have a problem coming out with the right words on the spot, but I don't think it went too badly. The meeting was a rather interesting one in getting to know the team members a little more. We eventually went to a place to get subs, and I got myself a meatball sub, and sat with rickC
to discuss our little secret project we were working on. I felt we covered some decent ground on that.
Later in that day we went to Old Tucson Studios
, and boy was that quite something for me. I really loved it! It had a lot of cool Western props and such and was used a long time ago to film 100s of old Western movies. There was a lot to see there. We came across some women working there and it was rather hilarious when a few of the team members talked to them, one of them handing them one of our SMF cards. As the idea behind SMF was being explained, it was funny looking at one of their reactions as it clearly seemed they had no idea what we were talking about, but tried to play along with us. They were rather friendly to us, but it comes from the nature of their work. We snapped some pictures early on, and went through a few of the stores there.
One of the highlights of the visit was getting a picture of several of us together, dressed in various customes. The picture ended up looking pretty cool and funny, with a lot of us doing something silly. I had myself a toy gun!
Near the end of our visit at Old Tucson, we went through a little horror ride called the "Iron Door Mine Adventure." It was almost scary at certain parts, but I was laughing quite a lot the entire way through, it was funny! The ending was really neat, there was a bridge with a special illusion of lighting on the wall around it that made it look like the bridge really was spinning around like a vortex as we walked by it, it was quite neat. We even ended up going through it again, but the second time was a breeze for me and we all went through it much quicker that time. Also near the end we saw a little Western show put out for us with actors and it was really quite funny and definitely amusing. People kept getting shot, and didn't die very easily though!
We ate dinner after the visit to Old Tucson, and that was also fun talking to the members at our long table, this time there was probably far more horseplay than SMF discussion, a lot of us just had a lot of fun there and continued to get to know each other better. When we returned back to our hotel, I had a pretty nice discussion with BlackMage
about various concerns both of us had. As I got to my room at long last, I started working much more on blogging the experiences I have had thus far. Around that time I started thinking about the team members that came on the trip and felt overall that I really rather liked them all. Everyone of them seemed rather nice and respectful. And in the end, not all of them were quite as geeky as one may expect (that does not mean some of them were a tad bit geeky to say the least
I went to bed a tired man, yet was able to reflect in my head some of the experiences that I had had so far, even if my drowsy head could hardly think coherently.