Monday, September 13, 2010

27 Days of Travel: Day 22

OK, been a while. What can I say...I've been traveling.

So, we left off just after Charleston, we'll pick up there. On Day 10 I was heading to our nation's capital for an interview shoot at the FDA. I landed at Ronald Reagan National and climbed in a cab for the quick 18-mile jaunt to the FDA's research campus.

See? Washington DC. Either that or that mystical white SUV is actually a unicorn.

And when I say "quick" I tell a grotesque lie. Those particular 18 miles took about 45 minutes and $50 in cab fare. Sigh. You wouldn't assume that a 36-mile roundtrip in a single day would justify a rental car. But you know what happens when you make an assumption (you make an "ass" out of "u" and "mption"). More on that later.

The interview went very well; our subject was interesting, well-informed and gracious. Most days I absolutely love my job. I know I have a habit of being snarky, but that remark is not intended to be sarcastic in any way. I get to meet so many interesting people with such diverse backgrounds and learn about so many varied industries - it's really quite marvelous and I'm very fortunate to have a job that's not only challenging and stimulating, but also a lot of fun and different every day.

OK, back to being snarky.

So after the interview I took the opportunity to drop in on one of our favorite clients: the folks at APCO International. True, their headquarters are in Daytona Beach, but given all the lobbying they do on Capitol Hill, they also have an office in the DC area.

This is in their office. So you know this post is legit. This is photographic proof, is what I'm trying to say.

So instead of going straight back to the airport, I asked the cab driver to drop me off here, planning to catch the Metro back to Ronald Reagan. How did it work out. you ask? Well, let's just say that even with his GPS he managed to get us wildly lost and turned a short drive into such a fiasco that he ended up paying for most of the miles himself.

But I did get to the APCO office eventually. Had a great chat with the Executive Director then went out for a coffee with another friend who works in that office. Happily, no one was eaten by a crocodile (inside joke, don't let it bother you). That same friend, by the way, got me on the Metro so I managed to avoid a third taxi fiasco that day.

Then it was wheels-up for Orlando. God bless Delta's Medallion program - complimentary upgrade on the flight home. They serve Woodford Reserve.

I love Scotch. Scotchy Scotch Scotch.
Wheels down in Orlando that night, and that was it for business travel that week. A few hours in town on Wednesday, then I loaded up the family car (I don't have a family car) and headed north for an annual Labor Day camping trip with a great group of friends.

Late night driving through the american south? You gotta stop at the waffle house.

A meal like this is truly a 'once in a digestive cycle' experience.

And that's all I have to say about Labor Day Campout 2010. Not that it wasn't a great time, but hey - some trips you blog about, for some you just unplug and enjoy. This was the latter.

Back in Orlando late Monday night, and Tuesday morning it was back to the airport, this time for the City of brotherly love. (That's Philadelphia, by the way. Maybe you knew that.)

Passing through the various terminals at the world-famous Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, you encounter a lot of sights, sounds and smells. Some good, some bad. For example: the smell of Cinnabon? GOOD. But the really good Cinnabon is in the Salt Lake City airport. Hartsfield Terminal B has this:

The baking waffle cones smell so good it makes my vision blurry.
Philadelphia was a very good time again. This time we were shooting an interview with a Dow Chemicals engineer, and again I was amazed by the diversity and quality of professionals who have come out of UCF. Many of these trips, you see, are to shoot video interviews with successful UCF alumni - of which there are many. These videos are shown at the annual Black & Gold Gala as the alumni receive their awards, so we get to meet them all well in advance of the event.

Pretty cool.

Back in Orlando Wednesday night, unpack then re-pack again, and off to LA on Thursday morning. I watched George Clooney's Up In The Air on the flight out. I felt I could relate.

In LA the weather was gorgeous. On Friday morning we went over to the Walt Disney Studio Headquarters to shoot our interview with yet another prominent UCF alum, then took a quick tour of the facility.

Apparently there are some pretty talented artists working for this company. Artisans. Stone masons, even.

What are those, trolls?

And in the lobby of the Roy Disney building, the marketing department had some of its latest projects on display.


I had the rare opportunity of extending my stay through the weekend. I made a mad dash around the greater Los Angeles area and spent time (though never enough) with lots of friends whom I haven't seen in ages. Say what you like about visiting places, but it's people that make travel worthwhile.

On the way home last night, I looked out the window to see the absolutely stunning beauty that is the sunset sky from above the clouds. As busy and hectic as life can be, it's still important to take a moment and appreciate a sight like this. Deep breath...

Lest we forget, powered flight is kind of a friggin' miracle.

Tomorrow is Day 23 of 27, and I have an early flight to Tallahassee. Right now the series total stands at 18,270 miles.

Cheers, all. I'll be in touch.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

27 Days of Travel: Day 10

It's early right now. Not super-painful early, that was this morning when my alarm went off. 4 am is super-painful early. Now it's about 8 am and I'm sitting in the A Terminal at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport waiting for my connection to DC; trip #3.

But for the moment, let's return to trip #2. Yesterday afternoon I got back from 3 days in Charleston South Carolina. I say it's beautiful because that's what I hear, but truth be told I can't really vouch for it personally. I have this bad habit of working on all of these business trips and rarely scheduling any time to enjoy the cities themselves. We're usually doing things like this:

Matthew, a locally-hired grip, ties up a drop to help build our set. Yes, he's wearing shorts. He wore shorts.

For this shoot we re-created a hospital ICU on our client's showroom floor. We even got the smell right. I'm not sure why, though.

Jim shoots some high-res stills of the product demo as Andy provides a little extra kick of light via battery-powered LED. And Seana, our infinitely patient...patient...plays dead. Or at least critically ill.

This time, after we finished the shoot, our very gracious client took us out for gourmet burgers at a local hot spot and then drinks at an old (olde) Irish Pub nearby. Awfully nice to relax a bit, and especially nice to have friendly gracious clients.

I should note that not all travel (even in this series) is for business. Of these eight planned trips, one of them (#4) is for pleasure. A group of friends started a Labor Day camping tradition about 16 years ago and every year that it's been feasible I've made the trek.

I'm not really a consummate camper. I'm more of a cabin-camper. I've always said that if Ritz-Carlton got into the campground business I'd spend a lot more time overnighting it in the great outdoors. But that's not to say that I don't enjoy a bit of dirt and rain from time to time. LDX (it somehow stands for Labor Day Camping...something to do with Greeks and fraternities and traditions) is just such a time, where I'll expect to be a bit wet and chilly while tubing in the Nottely River, my clothes to smell like campfire smoke and my right hand to be more or less permanently bent around a bottle of Guinness for three days.

And yes, I'm sleeping in a cabin.

Alright, then. Time to board the next leg. Thanks for stopping by (and you stay classy, San Diego). More soon.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

27 Days of Travel; Day 7

OK, so I'm off to a bit of a bumpy start as a blogger. I mean blogging seems to be all about consistency, right? Not doing so hot there just yet. But in any event, here we are on Day 7, so let me do a little summarizing.

Day 1 was the trip from Orlando to Boise. Tessa, our National Account Executive who works out of Salt Lake City (meet her here:, had driven up to Boise and picked me up at the airport. We checked into our hotel and then spread out our notes and notebooks in the lobby to prep for the prospect meeting which had brought me out there in the first place.

The prospect meeting was great, buuuuuuuut they specifically requested non-disclosure so I won't mention anything about it except that I really hope we have the chance to work with these folks. They have a very cool company and great product lines.

So then Tessa and I went out for dinner (with a couple of samples courtesy of the prospect) so we could plan out our initial proposal. The first round of accompanying cocktails seemed to enhance our ideas, and the second round made them absolutely brilliant. Funny how that works. By the time the place shut down, we had our strategy.

On Day 2 we visited the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce. Here's their site: Does it seem to be missing anything to you? Oh, yeah. Video. Of course we could remedy that given the chance. I'll let you know if we're given the chance.

Then it was back to the airport to start the trek home. Sitting in a small terminal cafe I penned the Day 2 entry, then it was wheels up for Orlando - First Class upgrades on both legs of the return flight. Cheers, Delta.

Deep in the Utah desert, some anonymous artist had created this grim illustration of Pac Man's demise.

That's one trip down, seven to go. As of Day 3, I was at 4858 miles for this series, not including any of the driving. We'll see where the cumulative total lands.

Incidentally, on the first leg of the flight out I flew in the cabin I paid for (meaning no upgrade) and was unexpectedly placed in a center seat between two rather large but jolly women. I was philosophical about the whole thing and slept most of the way to Salt Lake City, but later that week I got a very pleasant email from Delta apologizing for the center seat thing, and offering up 500 Skymiles for the inconvenience. Cheers again, Delta.

You may have heard me say this before, but investing in an airline loyalty program is really the only way to fly these days. I fly Delta exclusively and in return for my business over the years, many of the hassles associated with air travel in the age of TSA, airline austerity and a shrinking economy are significantly mitigated. For Delta Medallion flyers, there are no lines. You check-in first, board first, you even get your luggage off the carousel first. You have unlimited first class upgrades whenever they're available, and when you get stuck between rotund passengers on a 2000 mile flight on a Monday morning, sometimes you get a little bonus.

So. If you fly with any frequency and you're not a member already, do yourself favor and enroll.

Alright, friends. It's officially Day 7 and trip #2 begins in just a few hours; I'm off to Charleston, SC with my very good friends and co-workers Andy Montejo and Jim Hobart. We're going to spend a couple of days making pretty pictures of high-end surgical equipment for these folks:

I'll be in touch.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

27 Days of Travel; Day 2

August 24th - Boise International Airport

I know what you're thinking, and you're right. How can I start a blog on Day 2? Well, I was busy on Day 1. My bad.

But in any event, here we are. The 27 days of mad travel began yesterday and now I find myself at the Varsity Grill in the B Terminal of the Boise International Airport catching up on details. And while this is Day 2 of the travel, it is Day 1 for me blogging. So. There's that.

It may be a less-then auspicious beginning, but then this mad series of trips is all about getting a lot done in a short period of time. Plus, who wants to read exceptionally long blog posts anyway?