Eight Hours Sleep in Chicago

21 March 2011

Life has been way to crazy to have to sit down and write a blog as of late. I guess that is what happens when I have slept at home eight nights out of the past three weeks. Nonetheless, there is so much to talk about and so many stories to tell about my crazy adventures as of late, starting with my trip to Chicago.

I was in Chicago for a week to attend DrupalCon, a conference for an open source content management system and an awesome community. If you don’t know what Drupal is, google it! I had the chance to go this year because my job at NCAR is changing their website and they decided it would be a good investment to send me there to learn more about Drupal and its community.

When it comes to conferences, I am a picky person. You can go to any conference, hang out with random awesome people and have a good time. However, if at a conference you can have a good time and socialize with involved (and possibly famous people) within a project, it makes it even more awesome. This was one of those conferences. It was finally nice to put a face with twitter handles that I have followed, and I might have happened to trip over the co-developer of the entire project and not even recognized her. Nonetheless, DrupalCon was a week to remember for many reasons.

I was a little late deciding to go to this conference to begin with, and unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts I ended up with the most inopportune flights and hotel locations. My flight did not leave Denver until just after 10pm on Monday night and was even further delayed by deicing. However, after the slowest cab ride of my life from Chicago O’Hare International Airport to downtown, I was greeted by the fact that my hotel had oversold its rooms. Not the first words you want to hear when you show up at 3am. Thankfully the very kind (and half asleep) woman behind the desk found me a room that was way more than adequate (in fact, it was huge) and I got an amazing 4 hours of sleep before I had to make my way over to the conference. However, since I was so late booking my trip, my hotel was a half-mile hike through Chicago to get over to the conference. I though it was going to be the end of me, seeing I was in Chicago, in March. It turned out to be the complete opposite. My walk was entirely along the riverfront and passed through the Trump tower garden. While some of the mornings were crisp, it was a very enjoyable start to my day.

To my luck as well, a fellow friend and her co-worker from Boulder were attending the same conference. She was kind enough to save me a seat not only at the keynote, but also allowed me to tag along to much of the week’s festivities and such. I won’t bore you with the details of the conference, but after 5pm it was too much fun.

The first night was the sponsored party for the conference which was taking place at the rented out Field Museum. There are few things that are as memorable as getting free beer and wine while sitting underneath a T-Rex skeleton in a museum. The night did not end there tho, because after making our way back to the hotel one of the main contributors to the project decided to jump on the bar and open a $7,000 bar tab, for all of us. All the while, I had been meeting dozens of amazing people from the around the world discussing everything from airline seats to test cricket. So, it was at this point that my new found friends and I decided to make our way to a non-hotel bar, forgetting the fact that it was now 2am. We ended up at a dozen different bars or so scattered around the Chicago area, and at one point we ended up with Bon Jovi’s road crew. All in all it was crazy night, and I ended up having to use Foursquare (see: tech nerd) to figure out where I had been. Collapsing on my bed, I forgot to plug my phone in for the first time in decades, setting my alarm for exactly one hour later at 7.15am.

It was another day at the conference, before it was back off to another night on the town. This time it was with two guys from a design firm in Houston that ended up taking us out. Well I say us, but I am pretty sure they wanted to go with the two girls I was with and I just happened to be invited along. Nonetheless, we ended up going out for dinner at Rick Bayless’s restaurant in Chicago called Frontera, aka really good mexican food and margaritas. Followed by a party sponsored by Lullabot, delayed by a queue due to over-crowding (nerds know how to party). The night ended up being more bar hopping than anything, but nonetheless was just as fun, closer to my hotel, and made more exciting by the snow squall that moved through about 2am.

By Thursday, the week had been a blur. That afternoon I dragged my suitcase to the L train back to the airport. I was absolutely knackered, both by the amount of things I had done and people I had met, helped along by the eight hours total of sleep I had gotten since Monday.

While I am sure I have already skipped over hundreds of little details that happened over that 96 hours, it was definitely a trip to remember.

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