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    • The shape shifters in their usual form.
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Whistler-Blackcomb

Thursday through Saturday I volunteered at the Microsoft Seattle Regional of the FIRST Robotics Competition. More on that later, perhaps. First, I must report on my wondrous trip to British Columbia.

As I already posted, I got lost on my way there, but I found my way to my hotel so it was all good. The next morning, I woke early to drive to Whistler, where I purchased a ski ticket and hit the slopes just after 10 am.

The lift infrastructure at the Whistler-Blackcomb ski area is immense, modern, and spectacular. Most of the lifts are enclosed gondolas or express chairs, and they cover a vast skiable area. It was lightly snowing most of the day while I skied, and visibility varied between good and fair. Winds picked up towards the end of the day, but my new ski pants and venerable yellow jacket withstood the weather very well.

I had forgotten a how much fun skiing is, and this was a spectacular reminder. I wasn’t in very good skiing shape, so I tired quickly from terrain like moguls, but I still enjoyed everything I went down and avoided falling — although I had a few close calls as I got more tired in the afternoon.

My knee held up very well, and although it was a little more stiff than usual the next morning, it was not bad at all, and while skiing it felt find the whole day.

One of the highlights for me was the newly completed Peak-to-Peak Gondola, an engineering feat that whisks passengers between the peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. The unsupported span is nearly two miles, and it hangs about 1500 feet over the bottom on the ravine it crosses. A spectacular and awe-inspiring ride, and almost worth the price of admission alone.

Both mountains offer a wide variety of excellent skiing. I didn’t attempt anything too difficult, but I did hit a few black diamonds and had a great time throughout the day. I stopped at a Mongolian grill in the village for lunch, and then when the lifts started closing, I headed back to Vancouver, albeit slowly. On my way back, I stopped at a couple of places to take pictures along the scenic Sea-to-Sky highway that is under heavy construction leading up the the 2010 Olympics.

Lost In (The Greater) Vancouver (Area)!

This is why going places is so fun. Right after I crossed into Canada, I realized that I hadn’t been following my directions at all — they said I should take the other border crossing, and then get onto highway 1 and continue that way. I stayed on I-5, which over the border turns into Highway 99. I figured 99 and 1 must cross at some point, so I continued on 99 trying to keep my eyes open for highway 1.

Interestingly, highway 99 goes right into Vancouver and doesn’t stay very highway-like. I was basically on a surface street headed straight for downtown. I got the drive right by the Harbor Center (that tower thing you see in photos of Vancouver), and then I turned right, because in my memory that was more or less the way I had to go from downtown to get to my hotel in North Vancouver.

I was right, but I was still on surface streets. I eventually made my way through several blinking-green-light-intersections to a somewhat major road and then sped my way right on out of town. Eventually I started to think I must have missed the highway, or been totally lost, so I turned around and hit up a gas station where I refilled and picked up a map. It turns out that I was literally a block away from highway 1, and had just missed it while admiring the pretty lights of a bridge the first time past.

Back on track, I arrived at my hotel a little before midnight, and now here I am.

Tomorrow is Whistler for my first skiing in over two years.

Should be awesome.

Vancouver or Bust

I’m headed to Vancouver, B.C., to check out a city I haven’t visited in more than a decade and ski at one of the world’s premier ski resorts, Whistler-Blackcomb.

On Wednesday, I’ll be seeing Erik, who is currently attending UBC. Good times.

Greetings From Eugene

Tonight I am in Eugene with the family at my sister’s place hanging out with her and my nephew. On the ride down we stopped for lunch with family friends in Lacey. I gave my nephew some Calvin and Hobbes books and my old digital camera, a Canon PowerShot S45. The LCD screen is broken, but everything else works so hopefully he’ll find it enjoyable and educational to use. After arriving and exchanging gifts, we headed out to eat at PF Changs for some sustenance. Now we are sitting watching A Thief in Time. Life is good.

Summer Plans

After graduation, I’m planning on having a blast this summer before I start work (wherever that is) in late August or early September. The list of possibilities is epic:

– Australia / New Zealand
– China ?
– Utah Mountain Biking (one of Scott’s ideas)
– East Coast Road Biking (ie, finishing unfinished work)
– Road trip to polish off my visited-states list

Greetings From San Francisco

After what I would call a successful interview at Facebook, I met up with Scott and his roommate at a sushi place in Los Altos. I don’t have a lot of experience with Sushi, but I decided to give it a real shot and enjoyed it a great deal. Scott, meanwhile, was scheming up a last-minute trip to Boston for a friend’s birthday party. I ended up dropping him off at SFO before returning to his place to crash for the night.

The cold ended up waking me up this morning before my alarm, so I enjoyed a luxurious shower before heading north to Burlingame to meet with the Cloudera folks. What was originally slated to be a short morning turned into an all-day affair with me using their internet to finish up and turn in my team’s Hadoop assignment (which Vince went way overboard with, in a good way — examples will be forthcoming) between interviews with three of the four company founders. I had met previously with the fourth founder (or perhaps the first founder) in Seattle.

After leaving Cloudera, I travelled north to San Francisco in pretty ugly traffic, where I met with Martin. We caught up on recent life events and ended up eating at a quirky little restaurant called “Wierd Fish,” which is really a misnomer because the food was all excellent, well-priced, and really, not that weird. After food we considered a photography trip, but ended up instead meeting up with former classmates Sierra and Justin at a local bar.

At this point, I’ve been up since 6:40 am, so I think its a good time to consider sleep.

Greetings From Palo Alto

Tonight, Spencer drove me to Sea-Tac, I boarded a plane which took off, and then promptly returned to Sea-Tac due to a malfunctioning landing gear sensor. We changes planes, and eventually took off again about two hours late. I arrived in San Francisco after midnight, picked up a rental car and drove down to Palo Alto. Later today, I will be interviewing at Facebook. Tomorrow, I have an appointment with Cloudera. Since I am down here, I might as well check out Meebo as well.