One of the reasons I love my job is the people that I work with. I count myself lucky that I have a number of close friends at work, guys I've known and worked with for over fifteen years. These are guys where the relationship goes beyond just talking about job stuff, guys are there for you when things get ugly and have your back at work as well. For the past nine years, there has been a core group of us at my company who have have gotten together from around the country every year to hang out together. The first 8 years, we did these in Northern Michigan, last year we met up in Florida and this year we had our first ever gathering out in Tucson, AZ.
It's a really diverse group of guys. Many of us have worked for the other over the years, and we all do our best to help each other out in any way we can. Our host, John, used to be one of the mad scientists at Xerox's infamous Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), and we credit him with giving away all of the good technology they came up with.
We've got guys who come in from Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Alabama and California. We meet up, golf, fish, check e-mail, talk about work, faith, family, technology and everything else under the sun. At any given time, someone is on their laptop checking e-mail or on a conference call, but we have a great time while we're doing it.
We flew in to Phoenix last Thursday and drove into Tucson where John lives, up in the Dove Mountain foothills. It's a beautiful area, with giant cactus's everywhere. We headed over to the Ritz Carlton to check out the courses where the Accenture Match Play takes place, a beautiful course in the middle of the desert. We were even able to go off-roading through the desert on a couple of roads that, as far as any of us can attest to, didn't have any "road closed" signs on them.
John lives on the 6th hole of a golf course - not the kind of golf course that's very friendly to my kind of play. If you don't hit it on the fairway, you end up either hitting a house or wading through cacti to get your ball back. Instead of playing, I voted for hanging on John's deck with Mark and Bill and betting incoming golfers shots.
One of the staples of our game, as introduced by Todd is cornhole, a game that comes from Nebraska for a number of reasons. It's one of the few sports that I'm decent at, and Newton and I have decided to try and lobby to have the game in the upcoming Olympics, as a kind of "Summer version of Curling".
We had a chance to go to a Spring training game for the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. The weather was perfect, in the 80s, but the baseball was boring, as usual.
Newton kept it interesting by getting to know the ladies in front of us and the usher for our section. If you've met Newton, you'll remember Newton. He's a good 'ol boy from Alabama who can talk to anyone, and talk just about anyone into anything. He's got one of the biggest hearts of anyone you'll meet and he thicken his southern drawl on command to the point that you have no idea what he's saying. He's really an amazing guy.
One of the best parts about John's place is that he had a golf cart. A fast golf cart. It wasn't quite as tricked out as some of the residents, but it was a blast to drive around the area none-the-less. We had a good 'ol time cruising around, trying to find our way back afterwards.
We were all able to get in more than our share of naps during the long weekend. Which makes for a good trip any way you cut it:
We all headed back on Sunday morning. We had 6am flights out of Phoenix and figured we'd have to get up around 3am to make the flight. We all set our cell phones to go off at 3 and that's where it went badly. We all got up, got ready, only to find that someone between AZ not celebrating day light savings time and the cell phones being set to other time zones, we were up at 2AM on our way out the door.
I made it home by 2pm on Sunday. It was a great time. Thanks to all of the wives who held down the fort while we were out having fun in Arizona.