The conference was over and I had said goodbye to all my friends. This is a sad time as I am not sure when I will see them again. I have decided to make sure that I will attend the partner conference for next year (reIMAGINE 2015?). I am yet to decide if I can afford the time and costs to attend Convergence and/or GPUG Summit. Let me know if you have an opinion on whether I should attend one or the other, or both.
Now my trip home this time is going to take a lot longer than any of my previous trips. My father lives in England, but has an apartment in Florida and when I mentioned to him that I would be in the USA for the reIMAGINE 2014 conference, he mentioned that he would be in Florida at the same time and that I should come and visit. So I adjusted my itinerary to spend a few days in Pompano Beach, Florida before returning to Perth, Australia.
Fargo greeting me with its usual cold morning, -10 degrees Celsius, 14 degrees Fahrenheit. It was going to be nice to get back into a warmer climate.
As I was just starting breakfast, one of the other Australian’s at the conference, Andrew Dean from Envisage Software Solutions, came down and joined me. He was meant to have left Fargo on a flight leaving the previous night, but it had been cancelled and now he was on my flight.
Just as I was checking out after breakfast, I caught up with Mark Rockwell and Leslie Vail and was able to say goodbye one last time before getting into the hotel courtesy van for the trip out to the airport.
Once at the airport, Andrew and I adjusted our seating so we could sit together and have a chat. We had planned to catch up during the conference, but that had not really happened. So the cancelled flight and subsequent sharing of our flights worked out well, even if it did delay Andrew’s return to Sydney by 24 hours.
As we went through the TSA security check at the airport, we met the other Australian at the conference, Andrew Brown from eOne Solutions. Andrew was the creator of Smartlist Builder and Extender products and was on his way home to Melbourne, Australia.
I took some photos as we took off from Fargo, as it can show how flat the Great Plains of the Midwest of the USA really are.
The flight was a relatively short two hours to Chicago O’Hare airport, where I had to say goodbye to my fellow Aussies as I had to make a quick connection for the three hour flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I was met at Fort Lauderdale by my father, Peter, and his wife, Marianne, who were excited to see me.
I had four full days in Florida and we made good use of those days to see many aspects of the area from the shopping, luxury accommodation and yachts, to the swamps, natural environment and alligators.
On Friday, we went to the Town Center at Boca Raton shopping mall. I was interested in getting a Microsoft Band fitness band/smart watch (as they not available outside the USA yet) and there was a Microsoft store kiosk at the mall. I had called ahead to be told that they were out of stock at all three of the nearby stores. I also wanted to get a Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse and they were out of stock at the Fargo Campus company store, so we decided to go there anyway. The store confirmed that they had no Bands, but I was able to get the mouse and the newly released Halo: Master Chief Collection for the Xbox One.
We then grabbed some lunch at a cafe within the mall. After lunch we were getting ready to leave and were deciding whether to leave straight away or walk around the mall for a bit. While still undecided on our plans, I walked past the Microsoft Store kiosk. As I went by, the assistant manager who I had discussed my disappointment about the out of stock Microsoft Bands with, Douglas Boynton, pulled me aside to say that a shipment had just arrived and it had some stock of the Microsoft Bands in it. The planets must have aligned at that moment as the timing was perfect. I immediately purchased two Microsoft Bands (for me and my eldest son). I was very happy as I had given up hope of getting one. Thanks Douglas.
Aside from the conference and visiting family, I had a few items on my shopping list to get while in the USA. One was Thorlo sports socks and I was able to get those before leaving Fargo with the help of Belinda Allen and her Amazon Prime account. The next item was two Microsoft Bands…. check. The only item I was not able to find was a replacement to my Wilson’s leather jacket, which I purchased on my first trip to Fargo some 20 years ago. As Meatloaf said “Two out of three ain’t bad“.
In the evening we went to Las Olas Boulevard and walked around for a bit before having a nice meal. Lots of interesting shops and an enormous choice of places to eat. We ate alfresco at Cafe de Paris.
Saturday, we drove to Palm Beach and visited the Flagler Museum. The museum is based around Whitehall, the 75-room, 100,000-square-foot Gilded Age mansion that Henry Flagler built in 1902 as a wedding present for his third wife, Mary. The grounds and exterior of the built are magnificent, but they don’t prepare you for the opulence and amazing beauty and craftsmanship of the interior.
Henry Morrison Flagler (January 2, 1830 – May 20, 1913) was an American industrialist and a founder of Standard Oil. He was also a key figure in the development of the Atlantic coast of Florida and founder of what became the Florida East Coast Railway. He is known as the father of Miami, Florida, and founded the city of Palm Beach. When Henry Flagler began his work in Florida, it was perhaps the poorest state in the Union. Today, thanks in large part to Henry Flagler, Florida is the third largest state in the Union with an economy larger than 90% of the world’s nations. Indeed, no individual has had a greater or more lasting impact on a state than Henry Flagler has had in Florida
Take a virtual tour of the museum by clicking: Flagler Museum Virtual Tour.
After the museum we drove down the road to the famous Worth Avenue, Palm Beach. The area was full of big name boutique stores and amazing art galleries. It would be very easy to spend a lot of money very fast in a place like this. Judging by the clothes and cars of the people going by, spending large amounts of money would not be a problem. (Unless it was all for show and they were really up to their eyeballs in debt…. who knows.)
Sunday, was a completely different sort of day. Away from the high society of Palm Beach and into the swamps of central Florida and Alligator Alley. Alligator Alley is the section of the Interstate 75 which cuts across Florida between Fort Lauderdale and Naples.
About half-way across the state is the Big Cypress Nature Preserve and the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The Seminole are a proud people who were never conquered and the only tribe in America who never signed a peace treaty.
Knowing that still shots would not convey the experience, I also took some video from the Air Boat ride:
Billie Swamp Safari Air Boat Ride in Clewiston, Florida (direct link)
On Monday, went back to looking at how the rich people live and play. We went for a cruise tour with Carrie B Cruises around the canals of Fort Lauderdale, the Venice of America.
While on the tour we got to see some of the most expensive property in the area and the homes of some of the rich and famous. One of the largest properties was the “White House” of Fort Lauderdale.
We were also lucky to see one of the biggest and most expensive luxury yachts in the world as it was currently visiting Fort Lauderdale. At 281 feet (85.6m) and 2,998 tons, Cakewalk surpasses her four predecessors in size and is the largest yacht built in the U.S. since the 1930s, and possibly the biggest ever built in the United States when measured by volume.
To understand why it is worth so much, you can watch the video below:
Cakewalk Superyacht – Dalton Designs Inc. – North Palm Beach, FL (Direct Link)
We finished the day with a dinner with friends at the lovely Kaluz Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. As this was my last night in the USA for the trip I decided to spoil myself with some BBQ ribs. They were excellent with the meat falling off the bone so easily that I did not even have to use fingers to eat them.
For my final day, after packing, we visited Festival Flea Market for a little while before driving to Miami so I could start my journey home. I had a great time in Florida with my family and hope to come back again as there is lots more to do… Disney … Key West … etc.
At Miami airport I found an interesting variation to the airplane in Fargo (see above in this article):
While waiting in the area near the departure gate for the flight to Doha, Qatar, we (as in everybody in the vicinity) could not help but notice an extremely noisy young boy who was completely undisciplined to the extent that he would push around his mother and hit her when he did not like she told him to do. This boy and his poor mother ended up sitting just in front and to the side of my seat. I am glad I was not the unfortunate lady who was sat with them in the group of three seats (she eventually moved). This child spent the flight jumping on his chair, yelling and screaming and running up and down the aisles. Many of the other passengers were upset and one gentleman even yelled at the mother to control her child.
The hostesses were frustrated as well, but what can you do. Most of you know me as a mild mannered geek who might breakdance on the odd occasion. You might not know that I trained at a Mixed Martial Arts academy (now Wilkes Martial Arts Academy) with my sons for a few years. Well, I was seriously considering placing this child in a “Sleeper Hold”, but was scared I might squeeze too tight and break something. All I can say is thank goodness for my Bose noise cancelling earphones, they are what made the 14 hour flight bearable.
Once at Qatar’s Hamad International Airport in Doha, the child was released and people’s stress levels started to reduce. I had about 8 hours transit time and so had booked a room at the airport’s transit hotel. It was great to get some sleep in a real bed and have a shower before the next leg of the journey.
On the way to the departure gate I was able to make a comparison between the vehicles in the airport in Doha and those in Fargo (see earlier post #reIMAGINE2014 – Getting There). The vehicles at Doha were not as practical and definitely cost more.
McLaren 12C at the Tag Heuer shop
Lamborghini Gallardo as a prize in a competition
The 11 hour final leg of the trip home to Perth was without any screaming kids and went smoothly. My wife and eldest son picked me up from the airport and I was finally home.
This article was originally posted on http://www.winthropdc.com/blog.