Posts tagged with usa
I’ve been invited out to Microsoft HQ for a couple of days (October 22-23) which should be very interesting – more details on the what, why and how at a later date.
I will also be spending an extra day and a half in Seattle, perhaps taking in some of the sights of and maybe meeting up with a couple of on-line contacts for the first time.
Flights & hotel booked, now where I did put my passport…
The event was a Software Design Review for Microsoft’s ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions including MVC. Twenty-four of us gave our thoughts, feelings and opinions to the teams on how we believe we would or could utilize various aspects.
Jackson is a rather small cowboy style town that apparently is even busier in the summer than the winter. Everybody in town is very friendly and helpful apart from the miserable bar staff in the Cowboy Village who could barely be arsed to tell us what they had available to drink. We spent more time at a bar called Sidewinders which is a sports bar with far too many televisions and watched American “Football”.
The people at our hotel, The Ranch Inn, were incredibly helpful and also had a free open WiFi hot-spot which my laptop made it’s new best friend.
Either Jackson has a problem with under-age drinking or they are a little paranoid about it. I was ID’ed in a bar (okay), a liquor store (not buying anything just with somebody who was) and when ordering a pint of pale ale with my meal in a restaurant. It’s kind of strange how they are so strict on alcohol yet we went to watch Underworld 2 at the cinema and some 10 year old child sat through the whole gore-fest.
Jackson Hole (Teton Village)
We were a little disappointed to find that the main ski – Jackson Hole – is a 30 minute $3 bus ride away but we’ve done worse. The area only has 11 lifts and minimal grooming so you are left wondering exactly why the 10 day lift pass is over $500.
There are some great runs although many are quite steep and the masses of recent powder leave the unfit and untrained struggling. Alas, that seemed to include me but I still managed to have a lot of fun.
Our rep was a nice woman called Nikki. Originally Scottish but having lived out in Jackson for a while she now talks with a very strange accent.
While our rep was nice it’s worth mentioning that while Inghams can provide you with a lift pass for slightly less dollars than the resort they also convert that dollars to pounds there and then at a rather pathetic $1.6 to the pound rate so it may not work out so well. My ski hire was also more expensive per-dollar than going to the place directly which I did once my 3 day rental expired and I switched equipment.
So I don’t forget I’ll leave myself a little marker here. 160cm ski’s, 8.5 US boots and release tension setting 8.
We said our goodbyes to James who was still in hospital and attached to lots of medical equipment and to Jim who would be his entourage home now Warren had hassled the insurance enough to get them to do something other than say “yeah it will be fine”. As he pointed out walking into a hotel and saying “the insurance is paying for this” doesn’t elicit a “that’ll do nicely” response without paperwork or something.
The return trip was much shorter than the one out there and we were able to fly from Jackson straight to Atlanta which cut out another flight entirely. Alas the Delta transatlantic flight was much more crowded and too cold to sleep even with the paper thin blankets they provided.
It was with little surprise that I fell asleep quite quickly when I got home having left Jackson at 11am on Saturday and arrived home 2pm on Sunday after a brief Q&A with the people at Guernsey customs.
Sleeping when I got home was, of course, the stupidest thing to do because it meant a whole night of sleeplessness followed by a day of sleeping.
The joy of time-zones.
Once a year I head out with a bunch of friends for a week of winter sports. This year my snowboarding buddies and I (a skier) decided to skip the unfriendly European slopes and flip over the Atlantic to Jackson, Wyoming in USA for a whole 10 days of slope mastery.
As always our first flight landed us at Gatwick. One overnight stay led us into flight 2 to Atlanta, Georgia via Delta Airlines. The flight was a whopping 9.5 hours but luckily quiet and under booked. If they hadn’t smashed the handle on my new luggage I might have given Delta a full 5 stars.
Things got exciting at US customs when the customs officer said “Come on little buddy” to a friend ahead of me. At that point all sense went out the window and was replaced by uncontrollable giggles and a bout of amnesia as to what exactly I’d come to do in the USA. Thankfully I’d already written out all the details on the Visa waiver form and despite a few stern looks and harsh words was let in. I guess terrorists and illegal immigrants don’t break out in a laughter attack at customs checkpoints.
Tired and dazed we boarded another 4 hour flight to Salt Lake City and then a quick 1 hour to Jackson itself where we finally met our Inghams rep Nicki – imagine a Scot with an American accent…
During our first day my friend James had a nasty fall off his snowboard that left him with a very painful wrist. As the day went on we found out it was dislocated and fractured and he was soon hospitalised.
As the week went on he’d go through three operations, have a metal plate put in his wrist and require a skin graft which would leave a massive red square of bare flesh on his leg.
To make matters worse he wouldn’t be able to join us on the return journey home and one of us would need to stay out a little longer to bring him home once the doctors think he’s ready.
Travel insurance is of course invaluable when this happens but phoning them up and making them sign forms when drugged up on morphine leaves a lot to be desired.