Monday, April 10, 2017

London, Seattle, and the 2014 Chili Bowl.

It hasn't been a month with the new company, and I'm already traveling. I'm in the U.K. and have already taken the underground to downtown. The iconic cab takes me across town to an AirBnB - I've never used one before, but my co-workers insist on it.

It's a cute apartment, about six block away from the conference location and about 1/4 the price of a conference hotel. I arrive, it's raining, my cellphone isn't working, and I can't find the apartment. So, I do what they do in the U.K., I go to the pub.

This was delicious, and necessary. I hear a familiar sound, and there are my co-workers who have had the same idea and picked the same pub.

Bangers and Mash, something with peas, and one more beer. We head back in the rain before spending the next two days with conference people.

There are evening parties, and business to be done, and new people to meet, but I find time to make sure I am able to stop and appreciate reflections and interesting views.

This never gets old:

I'm there for a week, and just get back for about one day before I'm told that I need to be in Seattle. I'm getting used to rain.

Some people will know what I was doing there just by this picture:

I find time to escape the meetings and the discussions and visit the REI store. If I didn't have a VW Bus, I might have a cricket camper.

But I do. And it's superbowl weekend, which means I get to camp out with my VWCamperFamily people and cook Chili for each other. This time we are in Rio Vista, and it's sunny and beautiful.

I even manage to get a smile out of Gene.

I don't think I've ever written about Gene. Gene is somewhat new to the group in that he has only been camping with us for about three years. He set himself apart be arriving early at all our campouts. He has to drive half-way across the state to camp with us, so he makes it early each time so he has more time to sit with a glass of Whiskey. (Not wisky, wiskey. He has made that very clear. His bottles have pronounceable names.)

My favorite Gene story: We asked him what he does that gives him all the free time. He tells us he is retired. We ask him where he learned to do all the leather work and the knife work that he keeps with him. He says "in prison". We all look uncomfortably at each other, wondering who is camping with us while we sleep. One of us asks how long he was there. He says "20 years, plus or minus." Again, our eyes look around at each other somewhat nervously. Gene sits there with a smirk, waiting for that to sit in just long enough to be awkward, and perfectly times the next statement: "Yup, I was a prison warden for 20 years." Collective sighs and laughs. He knew he was doing. We would have thrown things at him, but none of us knew what kind of friends he made in prison. We still camp with him.

John has set up the tent.

The Chili pots have been set out for tasting.

And I have a cold beer and a warm fire.

It was a nice little refresh before the next round of travel.

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