Way back in April I took a trip to the USA, and this is the first chance I’ve had to write about it. Sitting on another plane, this one flying from Melbourne to Brisbane, we’ve just been told that we’re going into a holding pattern and will be another 45 mins late ūüė¶

I flew out of Paraparaumu to Auckland on a sunny Saturday afternoon. It’s really convenient having the direct flights from PPQ to Auckland, and they fly a smaller plane that travels lower, so you get some great views over the North Island on the way.

After a 6 hour wait in Auckland it was 12 hours to San Francisco. I managed to sleep fairly well on the flight (chemically induced) so arrived fresh enough to tackle the drive to Pleasanton.

I had booked a “compact car” from Avis, and was thrilled to discover that they upgraded me to this lovely beast:

I must have fumbled the programming if the GPS, as I overshot my intended destination by 40 miles before I decided to check. I was traveling through the California countryside, and thoroughly enjoying myself so wasn’t really that concerned. I finally stopped and asked for directions, to be told that I was quite a long way from Pleasanton.

I put the correct destination into the GPS and set off to Pleasanton.

Sunday evening I caught up with friends for a nice meal in town.

Monday morning it was back to the airport to pick up Johanna; driving around California in a cool car is fun.

We delivered the Distributed Teams workshop Tuesday & Wednesday, with a great bunch of participants. In the evenings we explored Pleasanton and had dinner with Elisabeth on Wednesday night at Stacey’s Cafe – a restaurant part-owned by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame. ¬†The menu shows his influence.

I indulged my inner geek and purchased a new iPad, for about $200 header than getting the same thing in New Zealand. I know it costs to ship things down-under, but the importers in Nz and Australia really do take advantage.

Thursday morning early we went back to San Francisco airport, leaving the hotel at about 04:30 as Johanna had an early flight, and the queues through checkin and security in the US airports are long. I will say that it feels like the TSA people have become a bit more customer focused – they were friendlier and more welcoming on this trip (or perhaps it’s just because San Francisco is such a friendly place).

My flight to Seattle wasn’t until 12:00, so I had time to drop Johanna at her terminal, drop off the car at the rental return and make my leisurely way to the departure terminal. Something the States does well now is free WiFi – most public spaces have an open Internet connection you can hook into, for the cost of watching an advert or two. Most hotels there also offer free WiFi now, something else that we get ripped of by in the Antipodes.

I got to the hotel in Seattle in middle of the afternoon did some work and was feeling the jet lag, so had a light dinner and went to bed fairly early, without catching up with any of the other Agile Alliance board members.

Friday, Saturday & Sunday were the board meeting, at the offices of Solutions IQ – they have a fantastic training space which they let us use for the three days.

Saturday night we had dinner at Jim’s home – a delicious meal, in idilic surroundings with great company. I feel really privileged to be part of the Agile Alliance board of directors, a group of passionate, caring people who truly are focused on making the software industry more productive, humane and sustainable.

After the meeting finished in Sunday Al & Tamara took the time to show a couple of around the centre of Seattle before dropping us at the airport and as always the “Al-tour” was wonderful – they are gracious hosts and good friends: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The weather was sunny and clear, and the locals out in force. Seattle is a lovely place, and at some stage I will get back there for a holiday to really experience that part of the USA.

From Seattle I flew to Vancouver, my first trip to that part of Canada. Unfortunately I had only one night there, with a very busy Monday.

Monday night it was back to Vancouver Airport, on to LAX and home early on Wednesday morning.

I definitely plan to visit the American Northwest again some day РI really enjoyed the short visit, and want to explore the region at leisure sometime.