Sunday, November 11, 2012

PASS Summit 2012 - Part 1 (Pre-Summit Activities)

While I'm sitting in the Atlanta airport waiting for my connecting flight to Columbia, SC, thought that it was a great time to get some of my thoughts on last week's PASS Summit 2012 posted. This post will cover the activities I did before Summit.

I arrived in Seattle on the Friday morning to spend some time with some of the other Pragmatic Works folks in the Mount Rainer area. Being in Denver, I'm not in direct contact with most of the other Pragmatic Works people on a regular basis, so this was a great way to get to know more of them. Friday night we all ate at the cabin, thanks to Brian Knight our chef for the evening. The cabin was pretty cool, if not a bit old. Had a fireplace, pool table and Foosball table and tons of beds for all of us.

We all attempted to hike up Mt. Rainer first thing Saturday morning. Weather was not great as we left the cabin, raining, foggy and pretty windy. We got to the parking lot to get all of our gear setup and this was the first time I have ever hiked anything more than just some paved trails in Colorado, but I figured I live a mile high so I shouldn't have too many issues. Oh, was I completely wrong! Didn't take me very long to realize that even living at altitude doesn't help if you don't also work out regularly at altitude (those that have seen me recently know just how out of shape I am). Thankfully we were prepared for the full group of 9 people to split up into at least 3 smaller groups as the hike went on. I quickly feel back into the back group, which was great because we were all pushing each other on to continue even when at different times all of us wanted to just quit and go back. We got all of the way up to around 7000 feet and to the point where the snowfield starts and we would have to put on our snowshoes. That was when Mt. Rainer really let us know that it was in control and the wind was blowing at 30mph+ with sleet and snow blowing in our face. We stood there for awhile and realized that we could see the first of the groups coming back our way. Turned out that not too much farther ahead they hit snow that was waist deep and even harder going, so we all made the decision to head back to the cars. No one got to the goal of the basecamp (Camp Muir) this year. According to others that have done this hike at other times the snow was higher then they have ever seen it. It was very grueling for me, but I'm glad that I tried it and made it as far as I did. I don't think that I will ever need to try and hike a mountain again, but you never know.

After the Mt. Rainer adventure all of us headed back to Seattle on Sunday morning. Before leaving I made breakfast for everyone. Thankfully I didn't make anyone sick (or at least they didn't tell me) with my French Toast, Bacon and Hash Brown feast. On the way into Seattle we all stopped at the mall in Bellevue since some in the group wanted to stop at the Microsoft Store and see about getting a Surface. I had seen Brian Knight's Surface at the cabin previously, so I didn't see the need to get one (I'm already an Apple fanboy, I'm more interested in the Windows 8 Pro tablets). This was also my first time in a Microsoft Store, definitely looks like a copy of the Apple Stores, guess you need to copy something that works! :)  While I didn't get a Surface I did wander to the back of the store and found an awesome Ogio Bandit backpack that is White and Black with Gold highlights. As soon as I saw that bag I had to have it since those are my Alma mater's Purdue University colors (only thing missing is Purdue patch, which I'm going to fix). After a couple of people bought Surface's we headed off to P.F. Chang's for lunch. Was great to sit down and talk about the weekend and prepare ourselves for the week to come.

We headed out of Bellevue into Seattle and dropped everyone off a their hotels for the next week. I was staying at the Sheraton again this year. Definitely my favorite hotel for PASS Summit in Seattle since you only have to walk half a block to get into the convention center (wish it was cheaper though). The only thing that I found after checking-in that sucked is that our normal staging area for post-conference activities each night the Sheraton bar was closed for renovations. Now we would all have to use Twitter to find out what was going on or make sure to contact attendees at the conference/hotel as we saw each other.

On Monday I didn't have any PASS Summit related activities, so I got up early to make a visit to Top Pot Doughnuts. If you have never been to Top Pot, you should definitely try to go next time you are in Seattle, very good doughnuts! After that I walked down to the pier area to walk around and saw the new Seattle Giant Wheel that was under construction that last 2 trips I made to Seattle. Before lunch I meant up with a few other Pragmatic Works people to take the Seattle Underground tour. I have done this tour twice previously, but it is always great to go on this tour to get the different stories on Seattle's very colorful past. If you have not done the Seattle Underground tour, you should best tour I have done in any city I have visited. Grabbed some lunch after the tour and then headed back to the hotel to recharge before the Networking Event that evening.

That covers all of the pre-Summit activities, so I'll post the details on the rest of the week in a future post.