Travel Journal

2006 2005 2004

Travel Journal

Before October 2007, I usually found myself needing to travel to various parts of the World for business on a fairly regular basis. My goal for this part of the web site remains to try and document in words and pictures my visits to various places during each year. Some years are busier than others. Most of the years prior to my cancer diagnosis in 2007 were very busy travel years. So far I only have photos from 2004 onwards here (as I purchased my first digital camera in mid 2003). Over time, I hope to add coverage of earlier years as well. I just need to make some time to scan some of my negatives and prints so that I can post them in digital form. As part of a major site redesign I am planning I intend to really improve this section in terms of both content and layout. Please keep checking back.

London, April 2006 Las Vegas, January 2006
Keystone, October 2005 Boston, August 2005 Brisbane, December 2004
Keystone, October 2004 Tokyo, October 2004 Helsinki, August 2004

2014 Travel

In January I returned to Orlando to attend the IBM Connect 2014 conference. This year I went as a speaker and had a very productive few days despite the weather being just awful. It rained most of the time and the temperature was mostly in the forties Fahrenheit. This was a very low travel year. A sign of the times, with more and more meetings being held remotely. I don't miss the travel load I used to have a few years ago but I certainly want to start travelling a bit more in future years.

  • Orlando, FL
Santa Fe, NM
Lake George, CO
  • Amarillo, TX

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2013 Travel

I reached five years in remission from cancer (the clock starts on the day of surgery) in October 2012 and while I still have medical issues, I finally feel confident enough to start making some business trips again. I have a couple of domestic ones planned for January and if those go well I will hopefully feel up to making more throughout the year. I have really missed seeing my colleagues and friends around the World on a somewhat regular basis.That said, a lot of time at home with the kids has also been very nice. I began the year, by flying to Raleigh, my first time on a plane since 2009, and had a great week catching up with a large number of work colleagues. Two weeks later I travelled to Orlando to attend the IBM Connect 2013 event. Neither are long flights but that is just what I needed to see if my body was up to travelling again. Feeling better about my ability to travel, in the early Summer I went to a standards meeting in San Francisco and also a Boy Scout camp with my son in Colorado. In late August, I went to the UK for the first time in over six years. This was for my cousin's wedding and it was a very special trip for me as it was the first time I had been "home" since before my cancer diagnosis in 2007. It was so nice to meet up with so many friends and family members I had not seen if far too long.

  • Raleigh,NC
  • Orlando, FL
  • San Francisco, CA
  • London, UK
  • Pueblo, CO

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2012 Travel

My travel pattern in 2012 remained mostly the same as in the prior years but I am hoping to be able to start travelling for work again in 2013. I finally feel more up to the challenge. Surgery and Chemo took a lot out of me and almost five years down the road I still prefer to be close to home more than I ever did before cancer struck. It's particularly odd for me to have not been able to go back to the UK since 2006 and I'm starting to really get the itch to go for a week or two soon. On an impulse, in December, I booked a cruise trip on Carnival that turned Christmas into a really fun time. It was a very different spending Christmas in the western Caribbean, especially for the kids, than the more traditional "stay at home" Christmas.

  • Montego Bay (Jamaica)
  • Georgetown (Grand Cayman)
  • Cozumel (Mexico)
  • Tulum (Mexico)
  • South Padré Island, TX
  • Galveston, TX

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2011 Travel

For various reasons related to  my medical issues, other things going on at home and to a lesser extent, the economy,  I did not make any personal or business trips in 2011. In fact the last time I was on a plane at all, for business or pleasure, was back in 2009.

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2010 Travel

I made a few personal trips but they have all been by car unless you count a very pleasant week on a cruise liner in 2010. I need to post a few photos from that one and at least that got me out of the country for a few days for the first time since my cancer diagnosis!

  • Key West, FL
  • Freeport (Bahamas)
  • Nassau (Bahamas)

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2009 Travel

Still finding myself nervous to travel too much post chemo (and the long running side effects of my surgery) I only made one business trip in 2009 and that was to New York. The SHARE conference in March was in Austin so I only had to drive down the street to that one! It's been great being home for an extended period. This is probably the longest I have been home without going anywhere in a long time.

  • New York, NY

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2008 Travel

Given I was undergoing chemotherapy which did not end until May, I did not travel on business at all during the first five months of the year. We did take a week off in March between chemo appointments (during Spring Break) and went to San Antonio. We stayed on the River Walk. The weather was excellent and the highlight of the trip was seeing Cirque du Soleil. After chemo ended in early June we drove to Orlando. I attended the Tech Ed conference while the family played in the parks. This was a nice way to celebrate chemo being over and after all I had been through just making this trip was a pretty big undertaking. Right after we got back from Orlando we drove up to Dallas for a few days vacation at the new Great Wolf Lodge (a combined hotel and indoor/outdoor water park). We had a super time there and are planning to go back again in 2009. In August I flew out to San Jose to attend the SHARE conference. This was the first time I had been on a plane since before my diagnosis in October 2007. Soon after that I flew up to Boston for some meetings. This was the first time I was able to take advantage of the new Jet Blue non stop service between Austin and Boston. I love Jet Blue. They make me feel like a valued customer and they provide a really nice product (new planes, seat back video, leg room, snacks etc.). I am a multi million miler on American but for domestic flights I prefer Jet Blue, even though I often get upgraded seats on AA. The AA planes are aging badly and the product is not what it used to be on the domestic routes that I fly. Finally in October I flew up to Denver and then drove up into the mountains to attend the Colorado Software Summit. It was great to be back with everyone again and to thank people for all the support that they continue to show me as I deal with all of my health issues. So 2008 was another year of US domestic travel only.

  • San Antonio
  • Orlando
  • Dallas
  • San Jose
  • Boston
  • Keystone

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2007 Travel

Partially due to all of the health issues that came up during the year and also due to my current work projects not requiring as much travel, 2007 was a very quiet year on the travel front.. Below is a summary of the few places I did visit. I didn't even get to leave the US this year..  Less travel means more time at home with the family which is great and was a pleasant change from most of the previous  few years.

  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Orlando
  • Raleigh
  • Seattle
  • Tampa

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2006 Travel

Continuing the pleasant trend from 2005, I had another quiet start to the year as far as travel goes. However things got a lot busier as the year progressed. Below is a list of all the places that I ended up visiting during 2006.

  • Baltimore
  • Boca Raton
  • Las Vegas
  • London (twice)
  • New York
  • Orlando
  • Prague
  • Raleigh
  • Seattle
  • San Jose (twice)
  • Vienna
  • Vancouver
  • Wasington DC

I am still trying to get the web site fully caught up and will post some more photos and other details here as soon as I can. As a temporary measure, I have posted quite a few photos from the trip to Prague to my Yahoo! photo album.

London, England - April 2006

In April I made a very brief two day trip to London to attend some meetings. It was great to get back to the UK again but hard to only be able to stay there such a short time. This was the first time I had made it back to the UK since the Summer of 2003. I really miss England when I am away from it for long periods. While I am indeed happily settled in the USA these days, England will always be my other home. Despite the short amount of time I was there, I was able to make time between meetings to take a few walks along the Thames and to meet some of my family members and a good friend from university. I got up early the second day I was there to find clear blue skies over London. The Sun comes up fairly early during the Spring. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity, I took my camera out for a walk and got some nice pictures. The hotel I was staying in is right by Tower Bridge which is a perfect place to be if you like walking around and enjoying the scenery. A couple of the photos taken on that early morning walk are below. The photo of Tower Bridge was actually taken from my hotel bedroom window - better than most views I seem to normally find outside my window in hotels these days.

Tower Bridge

I had not seen the Swiss Re Tower building before. It somewhat dominates the skyline no matter which direction you look towards it from. Affectionately known as the "Gherkin" the building has received architectural awards and employs many interesting and environmentally friendly techniques to air condition the building. You can read more about the Swiss Re Tower on the BBC Web site.

Old meets new - The Tower of London and the "Gherkin"

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Las Vegas, Nevada - January 2006

In January I travelled to Las Vegas for a series of kickoff meetings. I had not been to Las Vegas for many years (since August 2000) and this was the first time that I had been there during the Winter months. It was a lot cooler than the last time I was there when the temparatures had been in excess of 110 degrees Farenheit. This time the temparatures were in the mid 50's Farenheit and it even rained a couple of times. Not much seems to have changed since I was last there. The only Casino I did not recognize was the new Wynn Hotel and Casino. The best part of this trip was the amount of unexpected walking exercise I was able to get. I was staying at the MGM Grand hotel which is almost 2 miles from the Venetian hotel where most of my meetings were. I made the walk (each way) at least once every day I was there and sometimes more than once. I estimated that by the end of the visit I had walked well over 30 miles.

Some of the familar sights along the "Strip"

The worst part of visiting Las Vegas in my opionion (at least if travelling by air) is trying to leave the city! The McCarran Airport definitely makes it onto my unofficial list of the "top 10 airports I least like to fly through"! Arriving is not too bad but departing is a different story. I arrived at the airport at around 5am (maybe even a little before that) for a 7am flight. I guess to an extent I was a bit naiive and expected the airport to be somewhat quiet at this early hour (I guess I have become spoiled getting used to calm early departures out of Austin). Far from being quiet, the place reminded me of LAX at four in the afternoon (LAX would also make my list). The teminal was mobbed. Long lines were everywhere, at check in, security, even for the train to the gates. In fact, even the automatic ticket kisok machines had long lines in front of them. Mental note to self, Las Vegas never sleeps and this includes the airport! The one saving grace was that there is a separate frequent flyer line for the security checkpoint. It appeared that 90% of the people leaving Vegas at that morning either were not frequent flyers or did not realize that there was such a line available. I estimate that this saved me more than 30 minutes if not more. The other saving grace was that after finally navigating all of the lines, squeezing into the train and walking through the "last chance to win" gauntlet of slot machines that I found myself right in front of a Starbucks!

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2005 Travel

Compared to recent years, 2005 was unusually quiet on the travel front. I only needed to travel nine times, all within the United States. Once to Raleigh North Carolina, four times to California (to Anaheim, Los Angeles[2] and San Jose), once to Boston, once to Chicago, once to Keystone (Colorado) and once to Seattle. As usual I took my camera with me on each trip. I haven't uploaded many pictures so far but I will try and get some more posted some time.

In June 2005 we took a long driving vacation to California and back. I need to try and get some of those pictures up here also. Some of the photos from that trip are posted to the Photo Album.

Keystone, Colorado - October 2005

As I have done in many prior years I spent a week in Keystone (Colorado) at the Colorado Software Summit. I posted quite a few photographs last year so I am not posting so many this year. However, the weather was so clear and mild that I did manage to shoot a few really nice landscapes. For those interested, I put some technical details about the trip into the dW Blog and I also added a few details to the Conferences section.

The mountains rise in the distance above Keystone Village

Due to some medical problems, I had trouble sleeping during the week. The plus side of this, is that I was up early one morning and able to capture several photos of a fabulous orange sunrise. The one below was taken at 6:20am on Friday, October 28th 2005.

Sunrise over Keystone Lake seen from my hotel room at 6:20am

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Boston, Mass. (USA) - August 2005

I spent the week of August 21st in Boston to speak at the SHARE conference. The week was a very busy one work wise and there was (sadly) not much time to explore the city. I did however manage to find time to take the 90 minute sunset cruise around the Boston Harbor on the night before I flew home. We were fortunate in that it was a very nice evening with almost no cloud around, perfect for sightseeing. The photo to the right shows the USS Constitution right before sunset. The Constitution, is also known as "Old Ironsides" (a reference to its apparent ability to repel English canon fire as if it were made of iron). At sunset, they fired off one of the canons and even though I knew it was coming the blast was so loud that I jumped and my photo of that is very blurred! The consitution is still an active vessel of the United States Navy. In fact they were getting ready to take it out into the Harbor the following day. If you are interested you can read more about the ship here. The tour of the Harbor was very pleasant. The temparatures during the week were in the 80's Farenheit by day and cooling into the 50's overnight. Those of you that know Boston will be familiar with the runways at the Logan airport. For those not familiar, suffice to say that the runways extend into the Harbor. Towards the end of our cruise, the captain parked the boat right at the end of one of the active runways so that we could enjoy the planes landing right over our heads. As much as I fly and as much as I understand how safe it is, I was still sure hoping that the ILS system was well calibrated that night!
USS Constitution, August 25th 2005

As the sun began to set I was also able to get a few nice shots of the city skyline from the water. I have included one of those below. This is a shot looking back towards the city and the Long Wharf. You can start to see the lights in the buildings and in one case reflecting nicely off the water. I took lots of other photos including the spot where the "Boston Tea Party" is said to have started. I have placed 50 of the Boston photos into the one of my Yahoo! photo albums.

The Boston skyline from the Harbor as the sun sets.

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2004 Travel

In 2004 I went to several places that made it very easy to fill up my 1GB flash card with photos, including Helsinki, Tokyo, Keystone (Colorado) and Brisbane. Feel free to browse the entire journal or you can use the links below to jump I also hope to find time to get some more of the photos from 2004 (and perhaps some prior years) up here over time. to a particular entry.

Brisbane, December 2004 Keystone, October 2004 Tokyo, October 2004 Helsinki, August 2004

Brisbane, Australia - December 2004

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Right before Christmas 2004, I made the long journey to Brisbane to speak at the Evolve conference. The journey was a little easier than I had anticipated as QANTAS now have a non stop flight from Los Angeles to Brisbane on certain days of the week. Previously it was necessary to go via New Zealand or Sydney to get to Brisbane from here. Even so it's still a long journey but a very worthwhile one. I really enjoy visiting Australia and the people I go there to meet with have always made me feel extremely welcome and gone out of their way to make sure I have an enjoyable stay. I have been lucky enough to visit Australia on many different occasions but this was my first time back in Queensland since 1994. I made the journey primarily to speak at the Evolve conference. You can find a few details in the Conferences section of this site.

I left the USA on Friday night (December 3rd) and with the crossing of the International Date Line, did not arrive in Australia until early Sunday morning (December 5th). It was partly cloudy when I landed and not as warm as I had expected but pleasant enough. There were several people from outside of Australia arriving to speak at the conference. The folks from DSTC were nice enough to collect several of us from the airport and then take us on a bit of a sightseeing tour before the jet lag kicked in. We had to cut our travels short when the heavens opened up in mid afternoon. This was a clue as to what was to follow for much of the week weather wise.

Part of the city center seen from Streets Beach.

As was so often the case for me while travelling in 2004, the weather was less than perfect. We had some nice weather towards the very end of my visit but we had several days where it rained for at least part of the day if not for all of it. Monday through Thursday were predominantly filled up with work related activities but I did manage to find a few minutes here and there to go for a walk to two. Brisbane is not far from the coast but is not actually on the coast. However, much of the city sits alongside the Brisbane river. I managed (more by accident than design) to walk a large loop from my hotel into the city center, across the river to the South Bank, along the south bank to the museum, back over the foot bridge and through the Botanical Gardens back to the hotel again.

A rainy day at the Gabba - the covers never came off.

Before returning home I had two days (Friday December 10th and Saturday December 11th) to see a few sights. Sadly one of the non work related highlights of the trip for me, Friday at the one day Cricket international between Australia and New Zealand at the Gabba (the Brisbane cricket ground), was completely washed out without a ball being bowled. Growing up as a kid in England I had always wanted to see cricket in Australia. This was to be the realization of that dream - oh well at least I got to spend all day with some good friends even if the cricket wasn't going to happen this time around. I had a very nice day anyway.

The crococdile show at the Australia Zoo "Crocoseum".

On Saturday we went on a driving tour that got us out into the countryside for a while and included at stop at Australia Zoo ("the home of the Crocodile Hunter") and a visit to the nearby beaches as well as a beautiful drive over the hills on the way back into Brisbane.

Part of the beautiful beach and coastline at Noosa Heads

The hills outside Brisbane less than an hour before sunset

I took a lot of photos on this trip. I'll upload some more here as soon as I can.

Keystone, Colorado (USA) - October 2004

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The last week of October I again headed off to Keystone Colorado to attend the Colorado Software Summit. You'll find some information on the conference itself in the conferences section of this site. Since moving to Texas, I have always wanted to drive to Keystone one year rather than fly to see some of the scenery in West Texas, New Mexico and South Eastern Colorado. My wife and I decided this would be the year - so we loaded the car up with DVDs for the kids and headed off. I'm really glad we did the drive. We had very good weather (both ways) and we got to see some really beautiful scenery. On the minus side I think I now have the soundtrack for the movie "Home on the range" etched permanently into my brain. We drove from Round Rock to Amarillo the first day and spent the night there. To be honest, while there were some interesting things along the way, it was not until we left Amarillo and got out into the more northerly parts of Texas and then into New Mexico that the scenery really became stunning.

Some of the fascinating scenery in New Mexico

The second day we drove all the way to Denver and stayed with family there. We then headed up to Keystone which is only about 90 minutes from Denver but by the time you get there you have gained about another 3000ft in altitude. Keystone is a beautiful little ski resort tucked away in the mountains of Summit County. It is one of a number of ski areas nearby which include Loveland, Arapaho Basin, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Vail. If you like mountains, this place is for you.

Early morning in Keystone Village as the sun comes up

Notice how still the lake water is early in the day. By mid morning it had got quite a bit windier as you can see from the water in the second picture of the village. When Winter really sets in, the lake freezes and becomes a huge ice skaing rink. It's particularly beautiful if you ever get to see it at Christmas time as they have a large Christmas tree out in the middle of the lake.

Later in the day

On the Friday we awoke to find snow falling which delayed our departure somewhat. Not so much because we were worried about the road conditions but rather so that the kids (who don't see snow very often living in Central Texas) could throw a few snowballs and generally go crazy in the snow!. In the photo below you can see what we saw from our bedroom window when we woke up. The large building in the background is the Keystone Convention Center where the conference was held.

Sun one day snow the next!

We finally departed Keystone mid-morning. It was a lot colder today! We repeated the drive in reverse except that we drove directly to Amarillo from Keystone on the way back. As so often happens, soon after we went through the Eisenhower tunnel and got down the mountain a bit towards Denver, the snow was completely gone - in fact it was quite warm down in Denver!

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Tokyo, Japan - October 2004

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In October, the W3C XML Binary Characterization Working Group met again, this time in Tokyo. The W3C tries to hold meetings in different parts of the World. Given that we had had prior meetings in Europe and the United States, it was felt that a meeting in Asia was appropriate. With the excellent help of my colleagues in Japan I offered to host the meeting at one of the IBM facilities there. We had a very good meeting and also managed to see some of the local sights. The Weather was far more mixed than in Finland where we had our share of rain but nothing had prepared me for what Mother Nature had in store for us this week. My plane landed on Saturday (Oct. 2nd) at Narita in driving rain (which should have been a clue as to what was to come!) and it rained most of the first two days.

Welcome to Japan! - Landing at Narita

Tuesday, we finally awoke to clear skies and the weather was beautiful. Daylight comes very early in Japan. As luck would have it, my colleague who was at the meetings with me and I had decided to get up at 6am that day and go for a several mile walk around Tokyo. It was great to be on the streets as the city slowly came to life. Thankfully the day we picked to do this was one of the few really clear days we had that week. The photo below of the Tokyo Tower was taken that day. As you can see, clear skies and few people up and about yet.

Tokyo Tower seen from the grounds of the Imperial Palace early one morning.

However, the following night (Wednesday Oct. 6th) we were all shaken out of bed at approximately 11:40pm local time when a reasonably strong (magnitude 5.8) earthquake hit to the north of Tokyo. It took me a few minutes to realize that the creaking noise I was hearing was in fact the hotel moving from side to side. I was staying at the Royal Park hotel in Nihonbashi and my room was on the 11th floor which was high enough to get a good sense of motion. People on higher floors apparently experienced quite a bit more motion than I did. A much more significant quake hit near the end of October, about two weeks after I returned home which did a lot of damage and derailed a Bullet Train for the first time ever.

On the Thursday night (October 9th) we did some after dark sightseeing with some of our colleagues from Japan. They gave us an excellent tour of the city by night. You really need to see Tokyo by day and by night as the changes are dramatic once the neon signs start to show through as the sun sets. We toured various areas including Ginza where many boutiques and restaurants can be found. More importantly, it's where one of the major toy stores is so I could load up before heading home to the kids. After dinner we were taken to Shibuya which is a popular student hang out. It's hard to describe Shibuya, but if you think Times Square meets Picadilly Circus meets Hong Kong you'll get a rough idea.

Shibuya at night - or have I wandered onto the set of Blade Runner?

Before returning home, and after things had stopped shaking, but before the final surprise the weather had in store I had one free day (Friday Oct 8th). I booked myself on a day trip by bus to Mount Fuji, which included driving up to stage 5 of the mountain, riding the Ropeway (cable car) at Hakone and also a ride on one of the the "pirate galleons" on the nearby lake. I never did quite figure out how these pirate galleon replicas that would look more at home in the waters of the Carribbean came to be here or why...but it was a bit of (albeit tacky) fun at the end of a busy week.

One of the pirate galleons near Hakone (on a clear day you can see Mt. Fuji)

If the weather had been better the views would have been superb. From the Ropeway you can see Mt. Fuji and during the ride you go over a deep valley suspended from two cables. Sadly, we spent most of the journey in the clouds listening to the rain beating against the sides of the cable car cabin. The day ended with a ride back to Tokyo by bullet train. The bullet train ride was my favorite part of the day - which in part was due to the weather. We got soaked! It rained almost all day. We knew we were on Mt. Fuji but we could not see anything for the low clouds and rain. It turned out this was the storm before the bigger storm. I'd like to go back and do the same tour again on a nice day. They packed a lot in, and if the weather was clear the views would have been breathtaking for sure. You can find the homepage of the tour company I used here.

The next day (Saturday Oct. 9th), the day I was due to fly home, Super Typhoon Ma-On came on shore near Tokyo [Reuters coverage]. To cut a long story short, I ended up sleeping on the floor of Admirals Club in the airport along with a lot of other passengers who were also stranded. There were many tales of really rough flights and aborted landings that afternoon/evening so I am glad that the captain of our plane decided not to try and get out. We finally left around 11am the next morning. At least I should be grateful that Mt. Fuji did not decide to errupt the week I was there! In spite of all this, and some much bigger earthquakes in Japan that hev been in the news since my visit I can't wait for my next chance to go there.

Helsinki, Finland - August 2004

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I attended a meeting of the W3C XML Binary Characterization Working Group in Helsinki during August of 2004. I had never been to Finland before so this was a trip that I had been really looking forward to and I was not disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed myself in Helsinki and I hope that I get the chance to go there again one day soon. The people were friendly and our hosts took us to some nice places to eat. The architecture of the buildings, a mix of old and new, is very interesting and even though the weather was very mixed it was great to just walk around and take in the sights after work each day. It really helped that it did not get dark until quite late given the time of year and the temparature was mild. I took a lot of photos that week!

The Lutheran Cathederal seen from Senate Square
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