When I booked my flights for Convergence 2015 in Atlanta, I specifically added extra days after the conference so I could relax and spend time with Mariano and his family. Maybe we could do some sight seeing as business travel often fails to take in the sights around the city you have travelled to.
All this sounded great, until I came down with a nasty cold. It had been brewing on the last day of the conference, but by Friday it was fully in control. If it wasn’t for my trusty Neurofen Cold & Flu tablets that I travel with, the “Man Flu” would have really knocked me about.
Once the tablets had taken effect, Mariano and I drove into Atlanta Midtown area and picked up Olga Acosta and Eddie Yepes from their hotel. Mariano had mentioned to them that he and I were planning to go to the Microsoft store in the Lenox Square Mall and they asked if they could join us.
At the store, I tried to get my Microsoft Band replaced as it had gotten a little beaten up since I bought it in November and I had paid for the additional cover which allows for a replacement. However, they were out of stock… as usual. The Microsoft Band is really popular and is continuously selling out, so Microsoft must have done something right.
[Edit]: Mariano did try and pick up a replacement for me the following week, but I had taken my Band back to Australia and the store needed the old one before they could provide the replacement. I will organise something on my next US trip, before the warranty cover runs out.
As you cannot purchase them outside of the US, I had friends request that I pick up a Band for them. Before leaving Australia I had ordered three from the online Microsoft store and got them shipped to Mariano. By Friday two had arrived with the last one due for delivery on Monday (more on that later).
Anyhow, Olga, Eddie and I did some shopping at the Microsoft Store (I bought Xbox One Minecraft for Mariano’s son, Marcus) and at some of the other stores before having lunch at the Corner Bakery Cafe. The whole idea of eating a sandwich was that it would be quick and that we would have time to return Olga and Eddie to their hotel in time to catch the shuttle to the airport for their flight back to Colombia. Well, after chatting for a while after lunch we realised that we were now short of time. We probably would have been fine except there had been an accident on the freeway and the journey took longer than expected, with us arriving about ten minutes after the shuttle had left. So, we left Olga and Eddie stranded at the hotel and wished them luck in getting home.
Just kidding… We grabbed their luggage and went for a drive down to the Airport. Not exactly what we had planned, but it was fun. After dropping them off at the airport we headed back to Mariano’s place.
On Saturday Mariano and his kids went off to do some volunteer work while I had a lazy day feeling sorry for myself with my Man Flu. Boring I know, but I was not feeling well and ended up sleeping most of the morning away. In the afternoon, I played Minecraft with Marcus until the evening when we went to the local Imax movie theatre to see Insurgent in 3D, the second Divergent movie. Some of the calibration tests before the movie started where amazing in the crispness of the images. The movie was pretty good, but it did not help that I had not seen the first movie.
Sunday was miserable. I was still sick and it rained all day. While I chilled out at home with the dogs. Mariano spent the morning getting drenched at a car enthusiasts meeting with his BMW M5 (He loves that car, almost but not quite more than his family).
Sunday dinner was my last dinner in town and was my treat to say thanks for having me. We ended up going to Ichiban Steak & Sushi in Alpharetta for a Hibachi Grill meal. I know Mariano has mentioned in his blog posts my intolerance to MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate) and related Flavour Enhancers (numbered in Australia as 620-640), so going Asian was risky. However, they only use Kikkoman Soy Sauce, which I know contains no MSG, and so I was good to go. Below are some photos from a fun night (with no MSG related side effects 🙂 ).
Monday, was my last day in Atlanta with my flight leaving that afternoon. In the morning I packed my bag and then Mariano drove me north out of the city and into the surrounding countryside. We stopped for a little bit at Lake Zwerner at Yahoola Creek Reservoir to take in the view.
After the lake, we drove to the City of Dahlonega in Lumpkin County and visited the old part of town with lots of historical buildings. While walking around the area, we found the Outlaw Jerky and Trail Grub store where we bought some very nice Jerky. They even had Kangaroo, but it was out of stock. The jerky I bought was to nibble on during the flight home as you cannot bring meat products into Australia.
Note: A quick aside, I believe that Australia is the only country in the world that eats its national emblems (the Australian crest has a kangaroo and an emu). While on the topic, neither the kangaroo or the emu can walk backwards.
After lunch we drove back to Mariano’s place. We had about an hour and a half to kill before it was time to head out to the airport for my flights home.
Remember the third Microsoft Band, well it had not been delivered yet and I did not want to fly back to Perth without it. The shipment was coming via UPS (United Parcel Service) and we had the tracking number details. Mariano called UPS to ask when the delivery was expected, it took a while, but dispatch were able to contact the driver and get an ETA of 4:00pm. The problem was that was an hour after when we would be heading out to the airport. Mariano asked if we could meet the driver at the entrance to the suburb to get the parcel sooner rather than wait for the driver to do the rounds. Now normally this sort of request would not be allowed, but the driver knows Mariano as he has delivered to him before. The bottom line is that UPS diverted the driver from his normal route so that he could get the parcel to us at a roadside rendezvous so that I could get to the airport on time. How about that for great customer service? Thank-you UPS. Now I had all three Microsoft Bands I had ordered.
The flights from Atlanta to Los Angeles to Sydney to Perth were uneventful. However, I was able to watch Divergent on the way home, which explained some of the happenings in Insurgent. I left Mariano’s place at 3:00pm Atlanta time on the 23rd and was home by 12:00pm Perth time on the 25th, that gives an elapsed door to door travel time of 33 hours, the same as the journey to Atlanta. My son, Aaron, picked me up from the airport and drove me home, much nicer than having to catch a taxi.
It is always nice to have a shower and climb into your own bed after a trip away.
Wrap up post to follow.
This article was originally posted on http://www.winthropdc.com/blog.