March 18, 2017

Time Flies When There Are Less Complications

Welcomed with a Midwinter Night's Dram...

After Japan, E and I flew to LA and spent 5 nights with friends near Pasadena. 

A dedicated laundry room! 

A full-size American-style luxury kitchen.

Grocery stores with EVERYTHING. 

A rental car on roads with signs and driving rules we understood.

Running outside without getting lost.

Pasadena USPS office -- Ancient
And, even better, long conversations in our native language with several sets of friends we hadn't seen in 9 months or more.

I also did a day or two of work, preparing materials for a 30 minute talk and moderating a 30 minute discussion panel afterwards.  Afterwards, I spent a full day attending talks on topics that are important to my professional life, which I hadn't thought about much in the last 9 months.  I still like what I do for a living, and I really like the smart and nice people in my industry who attended this conference.

From LA, we flew on a sweetheart airline miles deal to Denver, where we spent a week relaxing in the snow and skiing with E's extended family.  The conditions were wonderful, and the mountain resort was super chill.  I tried to fit in a run at the gym, but it didn't work out, so I just called living and walking around at 10,000 feet with downhill skiing every other day my workouts.  I'd hoped to try cross-country skiing, but I ended up having to manage some work and life issues, and there just wasn't time without cutting into family time, which I didn't want to do. 

Delicious Beer Sampler in Gunnison

After skiing, we spent 3 days driving across the Rockies and back to the airport to visit friends in the adorable town of Gunnison, Colorado.  The drive is easily in the running for one of the most beautiful I've ever done (and by done, I mean sat as a passenger while E kindly drove the whole way).  Once in Gunnison, I could have stayed for quite some time.  Small town vibe, good brewery, friends, great flat running at 8,000 feet, plus an easy drive up to Crested Butte Ski Resort.  Oh, and legalized marijuana makes for a *very* chill population -- although, in Gunnison, it appeared that they may have been suffering from a slight oversupply of dispensaries.  I couldn't see how a town of less than 6,000 could possibly need more than 5 dispensaries within 500 meters of the Walmart, but perhaps that's just me.

One of many roadside cabins on the Gorgeous Rockies crossing...
Now, we're visiting friends for 8 days in Austin, TX.  They left the bay area and bought a gigantic house with 2 guest rooms, which is wonderful, since we are here at the same time as another friend from the bay area.  Most nights, we sit around the table after the children have gone to bed, and we eat great food (made in their enormous fully-pimped out kitchen) and just talk, and sip wine, and enjoy each other.

Just another Colorado view.
Every day, I head out for some running (or walking if my legs are curious why I'm running *again* after months off) and take in the slightly foreign (but oh so predictable and American) sights in Austin.   

We're here during SXSW, which is a bit of chaos and crowds, but overall, it's hard not to love this town.  Great food.  Wonderful running and outdoor parks. Some of our best friends.  A housing market that is much more reasonable than the bay area.  A tech scene that is slightly less all-encompassing than Silicon Valley.  A slower pace of life than California.

Taking advantage of TX culture

All of a sudden, I'm shocked to realize we've been in the US for almost 3 weeks.  It feels like no time at all, even though we haven't been truly at *home* for any of it.  3 weeks traveling outside the US feels like a long time.  It's about 1/3 of what we've typically booked as the max amount of time we can handle outside the US before we need to return back to what we think of as home.  But 3 weeks in LA, Colorado, and Austin (where we have no family or property) feels *normal* (thanks to graciously generous friends).  And the time just flies.  I'm a little surprised to realize it's less than a month until we leave for Europe. 

And after that, we'll be back in the US for quite a long while.  And, I think we'll both be very appreciative and ready to spend some dedicated time in our US-centric comfort zone when we get back.  I'm not sure I ever understood that appreciation as well as I do now and I expect to understand it better then.

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