So, two weekends ago, I got to join Boneless Chicken Cabaret for an awesome puzzle-filled weekend in San Francisco! I want to re-cap everything we did that weekend so that I don’t forget =)
Working from home certainly has its advantages. Since I could leave whenever I wanted, I got an early flight on Thursday and made it to SFO at about 2pm. I had only been to San Francisco once before, on my honeymoon three years ago! The whole weekend, I kept seeing places that we had been to on that trip, so it was a bit of a nostalgia trip.
Since I was going to be the first person on our team to arrive, I was tasked with getting the rental van. Luckily, Nick and I pretty much had a crash course in rental cars in February and March (with a Ravenchase event in Dallas, his Microsoft interviews, and our Seattle move), so I felt pretty comfortable. The rental car area was ridiculously packed with people! The woman at the counter asked what I was in town for, and I decided to give her the basic a-puzzle-hunt-have-you-ever-seen-the-amazing-race-it’s-kind-of-like-that answer (that’s always the decision you have to make when someone asks, isn’t it?). “So you’re racing?” she asked nervously. Haha.. I told her if we were smart enough, we wouldn’t need to drive fast. I also told her I liked her bracelets.
As is common, we rented a minivan for our puzzling weekend. I had driven my parents’ full-size van and the gigantic 16-foot Penske truck we had to rent for our move from Austin (through West Virginia!), but I was still pretty nervous. I took a long time to get used to the van before attempting to exit the parking lot, and I almost couldn’t get out because the van was so long! (I let Chris and Todd do most of the driving for the rest of the trip.)
I had a lot of time to kill until the rest of my team arrived, so I had arranged to meet up with a friend of mine from my tiny hometown who lives and works in the area. It was great to catch up, and she seems to be doing really well. We have a lot of similar interests, and we both married game programmers, so it was easy to get caught up talking. And I got so caught up that I ended up being late for my next engagement of the day, dinner with Tyler Hinman, crossword champion!
Luckily, Tyler was very understanding and we had a nice conversation over dinner. We had (VERY) briefly met at this year’s MIT Mystery Hunt, but didn’t really get a chance to talk. It was fun to meet someone that I only really knew through our blogs. He’s pretty sharp though, so it was the first of many instances that weekend where I’d feel like I was only just keeping up with my company! Tyler had done Shinteki the previous weekend and told me a bit of what to expect, and he also gave me some advice for our Real Escape Game appointment on Friday night.
As we were leaving dinner, I got a call from Todd and Chris who had just landed at SFO. After unsuccessfully navigating the area around the mall for five minutes, I dropped Tyler off in a parking garage somewhere (he assured me it was close enough to the bus stop) and I went to pick up Todd and Chris. From there, we drove down to Rich’s house, with nothing but jokes and stories and laughter along the way. That was the moment I knew I was in for a truly awesome weekend!
I was excited to meet Rich and Kiki in person for the first time, and once we were finished with the traditional Catch and Release the Bird We Just Let Fly Into Your House greeting of the Los Altos people, we stayed up for another several hours chatting and having fun. Rich and Kiki were incredibly gracious hosts and made us feel right at home. All I could think was how boring our trip would have been if we had been confined to a couple of hotel rooms the whole weekend.
I went to bed full of good feelings and ready for our first day of puzzling.