Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mad Rush - Day 5

So... I skipped over days 3 and 4 for blog posts... basically because I skipped HAVING a day 3 and day four.

When progress out of Pecos through west and central Texas was so slow, we were presented with an unattractive set of options.

It took us 'til 'round midnight to get to Dallas... but one we cleared the DFW area, we had clear roads for a couple hundred miles. We had already lost more than a full day to weather and traffic, and we were looking at either making our days VERY long in the saddle, or skipping one or both, of our visits to family.

Since I didn't want to do either, I considered a third option... Drive until I didn't feel safe to drive anymore (with Mel cross checking me).

... so that's what we did.

We ended up driving straight through from Pecos, TX, to Johnson City TN, a distance of about 1600 miles as driven (including some diversions and detours). That included hitting Memphis traffic at lunchtime, Nashville traffic at dinner time; and losing about 3 hours to the various accidents and slowdowns between Pecos and Dallas, and probably 6 hours to gas and meal stops.

... and of course that we were in high volume and pressure freezing rain, and ice fog the ENTIRE WAY...

Total time enroute... lessee... we left Pecos at noon Sunday, we rolled into Johnson city at 2am Tuesday; a total time of about 38 hours, and near as I can figure 32 hours of rolling time.

We spent a few hours with Mels family in TN yesterday, then after dealing with heavy traffic and rain all through Virginia, and having made back the day we lost, we decided to make it a short day at about 9pm, and get some rest. We slept in, and are heading to my aunts place taking the routing up around Harrisburg, for about 340 miles (and avoiding the 95 corridor through DC and BAL).

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Oh and in case anyone missed it...

It just so happens, that today has been Mels birthday... but I have deliberately avoiding saying happy birthday or the like, until SHE has her head "ready" and into a fit state...

.... but that's what thick damn glove are for.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mad Rush - Day 3 - Stuck in the middle with you

"Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you..."

As it happens, our routing on this trip, including all the detours thus far, comes out to 2,917 miles.

...Funny enough, putting the 1458.5 mile mark, in the middle of the bridge crossing the Mississippi river into Memphis.

Of course the last few days have been far harder (and slower) then we expected, but it looks to be RELATIVELY clear weather from here.

Now... We had to celebrate the half way point... And this IS Memphis.. So there was only one option...


it's a moral imperative.

For today's meat festivities we chose a pound of rib tips, and a 1/2 pound each of pulled pork and shredded brisket; from the world famous smoke joint, Toms BBQ. its on to Johnson City (7 hours or so), in time for a late dinner.

Mad Rush - Day 2.5 - Texas is a little clingy

Yaknow, its funny... for some reason, whenever I'm trying to leave Texas....Texas finds a way to hold on to me for a while.

Last time we had torrential downpours, and three flat tires in 3 days; two of them in 45 minutes, trying to leave DFW.

This time...

We entered Texas just after midnight Saturday, with a plan to be out of Texas 12 driving, 2 stopping, and 8 sleeping sleeping hours later.

It is now 1240 Monday morning, our third night in Texas, and were sitting in a truck stop, to the south of Dallas, still 160 miles from leaving Texas.

... And really, as far as today goes there was no reason for it.. The rain got heavy a few times, but other than that it was fine. Notice, no snow (we were running in between front passages).... Just lots of idiots crawling along in both lanes at -20.

I swear to god, if its not straight, flat, wide, clear, and dry; or nasty, rutted, muddy, dusty, truck eating crud.... Texans just don't know how to drive on it.

...and yes, this was almost entirely Texans, I was looking at license plates.

At this point Im fine to keep going, and we are both tired of being in Texas right now. Hell... Well be back again in 5 weeks...and then again a week after that...Texas can afford to let us go this time.

The weather is fine, the roads are clear and dry between the lines of squalls, and I'm as awake as I was when we left Pecos at noon... We're just going to push on until I feel like getting out from behind the wheel.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mad Rush - Day Two - "gang aft agley"

Robert Burns wrote the line quoted above, most often rendered as "the best laid plans of mice and men, oft go awry".

Our best laid plan was to wait it out in Pecos for the weather to clear before heading on to Dallas.

It went awry.

Oh, I was right, the weather had cleared... But the stupid hadn't.

We ended up crawling most of the 80 miles from Pecos to Odessa at 30 mph, because there were two rollovers on the westbound 20, and two jackknifed trucks on the eastbound.

They closed part of the highway off, shunting us off onto access roads, so we decided to screw it, just stop for food, gas, and some winter supplies (forgot to pack snow gloves, and hadn't bought an ice scraper or snow broom for this truck yet etc...), and wait for them to clear the road.

We left Pecos at 1145 (after a half hour wait to get to a fuel pump, with all the people stranded when they closed the interstate last night). It's now 1545, and we're about to top tanks and roll out. With the further delay,  we figure on making Shreveport or Monroe tonight instead of Jackson.

Enjoying a whataburger deep fried apple pie.... I wish McDonalds still did those.

... This is my " I just LOVE Texas. Can't you tell?" face...

Mad Rush - Day Two

Ok, so yesterday was no good... time to think about today, and the rest of the trip...

Friday night, we made it from the eastern Arizona mountains, to our hotel on the east side of El Paso, a distance of 410 miles; in about 7 hours total, but only about 5 hours of that was actually spent on the road. Average speed on the road worked out to about 80, average speed overall, a bit less than 60.

That's not bad... actually, it's pretty good. In fact it's particularly good since we had stopped more times, and for longer, than we'd originally planned, but still made a 59mph average speed.  It boded well for our progress.

Then... yesterday happened... 

Saturday we were supposed to make it from the east side of El Paso, to at least Texarkana (800 miles), with a stretch goal out to Little Rock (just over 900 miles).

Instead, we only made it to Pecos, about 200 miles... in about 7 hours of travel... for an average speed of about 28mph.

That's very bad. We would like to avoid that in future.

Overnighting in Pecos puts us at a bit under 1400 miles to Johnson city. That's way more than one driving day at the pace we want to maintain (frankly, at any pace it's more than a bit far... Even averaging 60mph with stops, that's still a 24 hour drive).

So, we're gonna have to have an intermediate stop tomorrow night.

Now, the weather hasn't fully lifted yet, and they're still clearing wrecks off the roads etc... So we're going to get a late start in the morning. Looks like if we wait 'til 10 or so, things will warm up enough, and they should have had enough time to clear things; we should be able to just push on through.

So... if we look at say 10-11 hours worth of actual drive time, a couple hours for gas and food stops...

That leaves us in Little Rock at a reasonable hour Sunday night (8pm say), instead of late Saturday night as we planned.

So, basically, we lost a day to weather and traffic...

Which is exactly why we decided to leave Friday night instead of Sunday morning... and frankly, if we had left AZ this morning, it probably would've been a lot worse. We'd've probably been trapped in El Paso anyway, not making it through before the road closing.

So, if we make it to Little Rock tomorrow night, and leave after a reasonable breakfast Monday morning, we should be in Johnson city for dinner Monday night.

Which means New Jersey for dinner Tuesday night, and a late afternoon arrival in New Hampshire Wednesday.


So we decided to hang out and wait for weather to clear a bit. As of 11 am local, we are now clear between Pecos and just west of Fort Worth, and DFW should be clear for a good while before we get into the area.

Unfortunately, the I-30 up through to the I-40 won't be. Given the current weather and weather up to midnight, we've decided to alter the route south from DFW.

We're still going to head on towards Dallas, but we're going to stay on 20, and go through Shreveport and Jackson. We'll probably stop at Jackson for the night.

This puts us in clear weather, or at worst rain, once we clear Abilene; and we don't spend the night in Little Rock, or on the 30 between Dallas and Little Rock, which is supposed to get freezing rain all night long.

Radar shows clear by the time we get to Dallas, but not if we continued on to little rock... we'd just end up driving back into the nasty.

It only adds about 50 miles and less than an hour to the travel time... and given the weather I think it might actually trim a couple hours.

Mad Rush - Day 1 - AAR

Lessons Learned--

Point one: When the voice in the back of your head says "maybe you should do this thing just in case", you should generally listen.

In this case, it was "put a CB in the rental". I have a CB for my truck, but it's not a handheld. I don't happen to own a handheld CB at the moment. I thought about getting one to take in the rental with me, but I figured... "ehhh, what the hell, I probably won't need it". I also neglected to bring my handheld amateur radio, again thinking, "ehh, we're not going off the interstates, it'd be nice to have, but I probably won't need it".

I was wrong. I needed it. Badly.

Remember that adage, better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it? Yeah...

For lack of information and preparation, we ended up stuck in the midst of literally thousands of trucks, for 5 hours, and 40 miles, of cell dead zone; with no way of getting information about what was happening, or why; and no information about the incoming weather.

The rental truck was supposed to have weather radio, and it does, sort of. Unfortunately, it's not NOAA weather radio, it's satellite weather, and is dependent on the Sirius working. For some reason, it wasn't. We got several sirius stations, but not weather or traffic; and we couldn't call them to fix it. There was no AM or FM local traffic or weather coverage either (thank you very much clear channel), just sports talk, top 40, and spanish language; with no local news, traffic, or weather.

So, I'd made myself blind and helpless, with the wave of a hand.

If I'd been able to listen to the truckers, I could've got off the highway, turned around, and taken an alternate route... or just gone back to El Paso to hang out with Rod. And when it came time for the I-20 split, I could've heard their reports about the nastiness that was coming, and continued down the I-10 down to San Antonio, which stayed clear.

Yeah, it would've added miles, but they'd have been safe and clear miles, and I would've at least been able to make Dallas (or maybe stayed south for Houston) by stop time tonight.

Point two: Internet connected apps are great. Use them, enjoy them... don't depend on them. 5 hours in a dead zone, with no information, NOT FUN.

Similarly, and related, OnStar, SyncServices and other connected vehicle systems that offer emergency assistance, information, weather, traffic etc... don't work in cell dead zones.

We were using an android weather app for weather mapping. It's awesome. We can see realtime weather maps, radar, forecasts etc...

... except when there's no data connection, for hours...

Point three:  Pack the Gear, Check the Gear, Maintain the Gear; so that when you NEED the Gear, you HAVE the Gear.

Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

When making long distance, cross country, or back country trips in rental/borrowed vehicles, make sure to prep the vehicle, with at least the critical elements, of the same gear and supplies you prep your own vehicle with.

If I get into trouble with my truck, I know that I have the gear and supplies to get out of all but the most severe situations. I can self rescue, or safely wait out to rescue. With this rental truck, as is... we've got SOME of the gear and supplies we normally have, but not enough to be confident.

Yeah, we'd be safe until rescue under normal circumstances... but what about abnormal, but reasonably possible, and easy to prepare for, circumstances?

... Like, oh, say, an ice storm in northwest Texas maybe...

So, first thing I did after we ate dinner, was hit up wally world for supplies and gear we'd neglected to transfer from our truck (just a few little things. The one thing I'm unhappy not having is some recovery gear, but it's a rental. If it needs recovery, I shouldn't be doing it, I should be calling someone from the rental company to do it).

Second thing, was to go buy a CB/weather radio, a 12v power lead, and an external magnetic mount antenna (factory rubber ducks aren't worth a damn, particularly in rough country. We radio geeks call them "portable dummy loads" or "flexible test resistors" for a reason).

I will not be blind and helpless again like that if I can avoid it.

Mad Rush - Day 1 - Bloody Hell!


That sucked.

So, we slept in a little bit this morning, thinking we'd be well ahead of the weather, and still be able to make Little Rock, or at least Hope or Texarkana, before we wanted to bed down.

.... and we would have been.

But for this:

Which, by the by, is nowhere near the full or true story. More on that in another post, another time.

What it came down to, was that we were at a dead stop, or slow crawl on I-10 for about 5 hours.

Even better, we were in in a cell and data deadzone for most of that time. Thankfully we had plenty of gas, plenty of drinks and snacks, and audiobooks (and didn't need to use the bathroom).

We first came to a stop a couple miles past Texas state road 34, mile 87. We had literally dozens of emergency vehicles, mostly border patrol, but some county sheriffs and texas highway patrol, and some local ambulance and fire; racing back and forth by us for hours... Even worse, they were inspecting trucks and trailers for the first few of those hours (which, I suspect, is WHY it was hours, not a few minutes).

... as I said, more on that another time, in another post.

After crawling our way a few hundred yards at a time, with 2-20 minutes stops in between, up to mile 107; we were shunted off I-10 onto Texas 1111 in a "town" called Sierra Blanca.

It was after 3pm at this point, with over 4.5 hours spent moving those 20-ish miles.

Even better however, was that they were not allowing access to the eastbound lanes at all. They forced us into a diversion route. It took us almost 20 minutes just to make the turns from the off ramp, onto the state road, under the highway, then onto an unmarked road paralleling the highway, for 13 miles; with a Sheriff's vehicle or Border patrol vehicle blocking all egress from the road, and all access to I-10.

So, we made those 13 miles at about 30mph, in convoy with the hundreds of trucks that had been stopped, finally making it back onto the highway at Van Horn, about 40 miles from the I-10/I-20 split.

By now it was 3:45, 5 hours from when we had first come to a stop.

Now... the whole idea of leaving Friday night, had been to get through Texas before the nasty weather hit Saturday night; then through the southeast before the nasty weather hit Tuesday; and into New England before the nasty weather hit Wednesday.

Basically, were trying to run between the storm systems.

Unfortunately, by the time we got back on the highway, and particularly by the time we hit I-20 around 4pm; the weather had overtaken us, and we started to get some pretty nasty wind, ice rain, hail, fog etc...

By 4:45, we had passed 4 major injury or multi-fatality crashes (a couple we could see directly, others... I've seen a lot of accidents... barring a miracle, they were not surviving those), and the weather map looked like this:

On the ground, it was a hell of a lot worse. We were alternating between torrential rain, frozen rain, and near whiteout conditions; with over an inch of ice, slush, and hail on the roads, high winds, driving frozen rain, and ice fog. Our windshield wipers could barely keep up (though the heater had no problem keeping us comfy... It dropped from 39 degrees to 23 degrees in a matter of minutes).

So, the second we got data signal back, we booked the next hotel we could get into (in Pecos), and white knuckled it the remaining 15 miles or so.

Between the I-10/I-20 split, and our hotel (a total distance of 43 miles), we passed a total of 7 major injury or multi-fatality accidents, including 5 rollovers, and a three car multi-rollover (with one vehicle over the guard rail between the travel lanes of an overpass, crashing down to the roadway below). That doesn't include the half dozen cars we saw off the road (including one in front of us, and one across the median) , two we saw actually spin (one in front of, one across the median from us) and the several wrecked semi's pulled off into the median.

They closed both the I-20 and I-10 behind us, a few minutes after we got off the road. A T-Dot official came into the hotel while we were checking in and told everyone. Their crews were filling up rooms quick.

Every hotel room in Pecos was full before 6pm tonight; and the 18 wheelers are filling up all the local parking lots. There's at least a dozen of them in the Wal Mart parking lot alone; and there must've been 100+ in and around the flying J.

I found out later that they had pulled so many wrecks off the road in this sector of the I-20 alone, that their tow yard couldn't handle them. They used that same local Wal Mart as an overflow. I counted 11 total writeoffs in the Wal Mart parking lot when I went by there later... and who knows how many in their local tow yard(s).

I can say without any exaggeration; that was the single worst day of travel I have ever had, that didn't involve the death of someone important to me.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mad Rush - Day 1

Starting out in El Paso this morning, 410 miles down, about 2500 to go.

As soon as I finish writing this we're going to head to the car and go, so we can figure a 10am start. We slept in a bit (since neither of us managed to fall asleep 'til 3 or so), and took the time for breakfast.

We're going to decide on the road whether we're stopping, or pausing, in Dallas. If we hustle, we'll make Dallas for dinner time, depending on traffic. Unfortunately, then there's dealing with Dallas traffic.

Basically, if we stop for dinner in Dallas, we're probably stopping for the night.

Otherwise, again if we hustle, we can get to at least Hope Arkansas, and maybe as far as Little Rock. That would be nice, since it would make tomorrows run to Johnson City a much more pleasant, short day.

Meanwhile... it's nothing but 800 or so miles of Texas...

Mad Rush - Day 0.5

So, we rolled into El Paso shortly before 2am... or rather to a holiday inn on the east side of the city, so we don't have to cross town in the morning.

We ended up leaving about an hour later than planned, then made a couple more stops than we planned (the little man was being a bit fussy this time around); so our actual drive time was about what we expected.

We found what looks like a decent place for breakfast just down the road, Bad Ass Coffee... could be interesting.

I'm used to our truck... 490 miles before I hit "e"... This brand new exploder we rented does get better mileage, but the ridiculously small tank is an irritation. It's only 16 gallons from totally topped off, to the low fuel alert. It's only 410 miles from door to door, and we had to stop twice (topped tanks in Tucson, then refueled fully outside Las Cruces NM). 

At this point we're thinking sleeping a little late, and stopping in Dallas for the night. We'll see how we feel when we wake up. 

Oh and we took what will most likely be our last opportunity to eat In-n-Out for a while...

... The boy approves. He likes the fries (he'd be one of the few. Love the burgers, but their fries aren't great).

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Mad Rush... Through a Damn Blizzard... Awww hell no...


Well, we'd planned our trip to be Sunday through mid-day Thursday, arriving in Weymouth, MA in time for Thanksgiving dinner, then heading up to my Aunt Helens place in New Hampton, NH.

Further, we were planning on staying on the 40 through to eastern Tennessee, and stopping at Mels aunt and uncle in Johnson City, so that her uncle can see the baby (he's in ill health and can't travel anymore); and stopping in to see my Aunt in New Jersey (again, so she can see the baby).

...looks like nature has other plans...

If we followed out original plan, we'd be driving up the I-95 corridor in the worst part of this weather, for three days (a 5 day total trip, of appx 2900 miles).

Yeah... no... we're not going to do that.

Well, first thing, we've decided NOT to drive up with the trailer first time up. We're going to drive up bare vehicle, leaving the trailer and the dogs, with Mels dad. This will make our trip faster, with better fuel economy, and, given the weather... not suicidal.

I REALLY do not want to try to haul 20,000lbs and 60ft by 8 foot 6" of combined vehicle on northeastern roads, on a holiday week, in that weather.

... and in the long run, it will be easier to find a house without having the trailer and the dogs to worry about.

We'll come back after Christmas, pick up the trailer and the dogs and do the trip all over again, only slower... but at least we should have a house to take the trailer and dogs too by then.

Second... we're not taking OUR truck. We rented a brand new Explorer (the company is paying for it, not me). It'll be comfortable, safe, 50% better fuel economy (using much cheaper fuel. Diesel is NOT cheap in the northeast, and can be a pain to find off the major highways), it'll save the mileage and maintenance on our truck, and it should be a faster drive in it.

Plus, we'll have it the entire month, in Boston and New Hampshire, and it'll be a lot easier to get around Boston with than the 23 foot long 7 foot tall Truck of Doom.

Third.. we're not leaving Sunday anymore. We're leaving tonight if we can manage it. We've already done all the prep work we need to do in Phoenix, we've just got to finish packing, and packing the truck.

So, tonight, we scoot out of here, and drive until we need to stop to make sure we get a rested and early start tomorrow.

This should give us all day Saturday and Sunday, and most of Monday, before the bad weather hits.

When we were going to take the trailer, our route wasn't even really a question. We were going to have to backtrack from Kearny to the I-17, then north to I-40.

Without the trailer, we're a lot more flexible. Right now, we're trying to decide if it's quicker/safer/easier trying to take the backroads through the mountains of eastern Arizona and New Mexico up to Albequerque to take I-40; adding 200+ miles to the trip backtracking to I-17 and going up to the 40 through flagstaff; or adding 150 miles and taking the southern routing across Texas.

Right now, we're leaning towards Texas; because it's been raining hard all night and all day, and 385, or 585 miles of mountain roads, in the wet, to get to ABQ, vs the broad, straight, fast highways of Texas... yeah...

If we want, and the weather is good, we can still visit Mels family in Tennessee. Depending on how far we get tonight, we could be there Sunday night, or Monday morning.

... Or we might just push straight through, take the midwestern route splitting off I-40 in OKC, straight up into New Hampshire; and try to get to New Hampton on Tuesday, instead of Weymouth mid-day Thursday... we'll decide while we're on the road, based on conditions and the time we're making.


Ok, we're definitely leaving tonight, and we've got our route and schedule planned out:

We're leaving in an hour-ish (around 1800 mountain), and will be aiming to hit somewhere around El Paso before we stop for the night on day 0.5.

Full day one (Saturday): It's on to somewhere around Hope Arkansas... we may stop in Dallas for dinner with Mels brothers (she hasn't seen them in like 4 years, and they haven't seen the baby yet). We may even stop for the night, and just accept the 4 or 5 hours lost travel time.

Day two (Sunday): We head to Johnson City TN. If we stop in Dallas for the night Saturday that's a bit far, so we may not make it to Johnson city, in which case we'd stop in Nashville, or Knoxville, and head to Johnson city in the morning, stopping there for lunch, and doing an overnight rest, making it day two or three.

Day three or four (Monday or Tuesday): It's on to Medford, NJ, and my aunt Maureen, who hasn't met the baby yet either. That's a relatively short day, for flexibility.

Day four or five, (Tuesday or Wednesday): It's just a six hour ride from NJ to New Hampton, NH., or just a four and a half hour ride to my dads place in Weymouth, MA.

If we push, it gets us off the roads entirely before the snow starts Tuesday night... and gives us a day of flexibility if we have any problems, or if we want to take some time to visit with family, before the snow gets really bad on Wednesday night. If we relax, we're still off the road before things get bad on Wednesday night.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Boston In a Mad Rush

... Well, technically Weymouth, then somewhere in New Hampshire, but very definitely in a mad rush.

So, I start the new job December 2nd with a few days in Chicago for orientation, and they're working on my first engagement already. I may be traveling right back out the following Monday to a client around DC.

Which leaves us with a difficult decision...

1. Wait to move to NH until I get a free week or so, living in AZ and flying to clients out of PHX in the mean time (which means we'll still need to move... find a six month short term rental; because we're 2 hours from the airport where we are now), then take a week PTO to do the move


2. Pack up and drive to Weymouth in the next few days, to be rested enough to fly to Chicago on Monday the 2nd.

After careful consideration we've chosen option number 2...

Which is going to be fun lemme tellya.

The GOOD news, is that we've been living out of one small room the last couple months, so it's a matter of hours to repack the truck and the trailer, and head on out.

The BAD news is that I need to put two new tires on the truck, and fix or replace a trailer tire (it's losing air... I'm probably going to do both; get a new tire, and get the old one repaired to serve as a second spare). I also need to do a full fluid change on the truck (and no, it's not something we can put off 'til after... I should have done it before the trip from Idaho to AZ), and I need to get my power steering rack inspected, because it's being wonky.

So the next few days are going to be crazy.

With a loaded trailer, it's a 4 day drive pushing hard, or a 5 day drive taking it easy... we're going to take it easy.

That means, in order to get to Weymouth in time to eat thanksgiving with my family, we need to leave Sunday morning at the latest.

... I swear, I'm not a masochist...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

As of 1pm Pacific...

I have officially accepted an offer of full time employment with a new company.

We're working on a start date now.

At first it looked like they were shooting for December 2nd, but now they may need me to start as soon as the paperwork clears (maybe as soon as the middle/end of next week). They may need me on a clients site on the east coast, for December 2nd.

Either way, Mel and I really can't wait to get moving. We've been in a holding pattern for a good long while now, and we're both really looking forward to getting back on course.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Back to the Grind

So, as we were hoping, it looks like I got a new full time job.

The final interview today went well, and the hiring manager is making me an offer. It has to be approved by the CEO, but he expects that tomorrow or Friday, Monday at the latest.

Big changes in living situation coming, as said new job will have us moving back to New England. Eventually I can be based anywhere with a hub airport, but for at least the next year or two, they want me working in the east coast from DC north market.

So, we'll be moving to southern New Hampshire some time soon (as opposed to Boston... no income tax, more freedom, lower cost, less enraging stupidity).

Not sure yet when we'll move... I will start the job immediately and just fly out of Phoenix when necessary... we may still be in Phoenix for a few more months, or we may try to move in December.

That said, we're going to try to get back to Boston for Christmas no matter what (so the boy can have his first Christmas with the family).

I'll be a principal consultant, and as we build the team (they're trying to grow from 50 to 200 over the next two to three years) consulting manager; working primarily in governance, risk, and compliance (GRC), and enterprise security architecture.

This of course is what I've been doing for a while, I'll just be doing it for a growth phase startup now.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Vegas road trip

So, as I said yesterday, a company I'm interviewing with asked me to head up to Vegas to meet in person with the hiring manager... and they asked if I'd prefer to drive or fly (they'd cover it either way).


90 minutes to the airport, then 90 minutes IN the airport, then being fondled by the TSA, then a 55 minute flight (it would be shorter, but from PHX you basically climb out, then as soon as you finish climbing, you descend into LAS immediately... and all well under cruising speed... under 250 knots for much of it in fact) then 30 minutes  getting out of the airport, to get a car or a hotel shuttle, then 20 minutes to the hotel... Call it 5 hours...

Or, a 381 mile drive (6-7 hours), hotel and mileage paid for by someone else...

Did I mention that yesterday was our 8th wedding anniversary?

...Hopefully a job offer, and a free anniversary trip to Vegas out of it?

...Yeah, no brainer.

So we packed up the kidlet, loaded up the truck, pointed it northwest, and boogied.

We took the "back way" through the western Arizona mountains (which are absolutely gorgeous by the way) and just relaxed, cruising and enjoying the scenery and the quiet.

... though surprisingly, we had 3g most of the way, even 4g... so no escaping the phone or email completely...

We hit town after almost exactly 7 hours (we made 3 stops, about 90 minutes total, for gas, food, and pictures. Actual drive time about 5.5 hours, net avg 69mph, gross avg 55mph), and watched a beautiful sunset on the way in to the hotel.

As if all that wasn't nice enough, when we were checking in I told the nice young man that we were here for our anniversary, and that it was Mels first trip to Vegas (she's driven through it, never stopped).... and he did something VERY nice...

He upgraded us to a nicer room (hot tub in the room... very nice), with a great view...

...and then he comped us a second night stay.

There are times I really love Vegas.

I meet with the hiring manager in the morning. Mean time, we're relaxing and enjoying ourselves.

The Mirage has a Carnegie deli... Mels never had a REAL New York Deli Sandwich... we're correcting that now:

Update: This is the Las Vegas version of the Carnegie Deli pastrami and swiss on a kaiser. It's pretty damned good... it's not QUITE as large, and not QUITE as good as the real deal in NYC... but it's better than just about anything else (though I actually think pastrami club does better pastrami.. or at least did in the late 90s/early 2000s last time I was there).

That's gotta hurt

So I called my dad to tell him the good news about the possible new job, and he sounded like hell, so I asked him what was wrong.

He was just back from the hospital, having fallen down a flight of stairs and broken his wrist in 5 places.


He's gonna be out of work for a few days, and in painful recovery and rehab for a few months. He's in his 60s, and a master stonemason... Thankfully he's mostly a shop manager now, so it's not going to stop him from working, but still, ow.

New Job Offer Incoming

So, it looks like I've got a new gig.

I've been through three interviews with them, all went very well. Within a few minutes of the final interview they contacted me and said "the hiring manager is going to be in Vegas next week, can you go up and meet with him". Then they emailed back and said "oh and we're checking your references".

It's not 100% yet, and of course is contingent on background and reference check etc... but it looks like Wednesday morning I will be offered a job as a sr. architect and principal consultant for an information security consultancy and managed service provider.

They're based out of Chicago but have offices nationwide; and are in growth mode (currently around 50 people, targeting over 100 by end of 2014, and 150-200 by end of 2015).

They would initially want me to be based out of Boston or Seattle, but eventually I could go anywhere; and when I'm not on a client site (appx 25-50% travel generally, up to 75% at times) I can work from home.

We're still deciding what to do location wise... but if we went for Boston, we'd live in southern New Hampshire, with an official work location of my home office (no income tax that way).

I don't know what their exact offer is going to be, but we talked ranges and the money is in my range; with excellent benefits, and an ownership position and profit sharing.

Most importantly, I like the job, and I like the people, a lot; and they can really use someone with my skills and experience.

Anyway, Mel and I are driving up to Vegas today, staying overnight (on them of course), for my meeting with the hiring manager Wednesday morning.