My wife used to think that these SharePoint event road trips were a non-stop community party. Maybe it was all of the photos and videos of the non-stop community parties. Who really knows where she got that idea. Then she came along with me for a week while my in-laws watched the kids, helping with setup and registration desk duty at two SharePoint Saturday events. After that single trip, with 2 SPS events, 2 SPUG presentations, countless conference calls, and a round of customer visits, she realized that being on the road typically means working multiple time zones, long hours, and (for her) a lot of really boring conversations about SharePoint.
Most trips consist of the following: airport to taxi to hotel to taxi to venue to taxi to hotel to taxi to airport and home. That’s pretty much it – long work hours, with random photos of historical sites from the convenience of a taxi window. Last October I did a road trip of 6 countries and a dozen events in just under 3 weeks, and my schedule was literally a string of 16 hour days.
Of course, there are exceptions. For the past 3 years that I’ve been participating as a speaker at the Australian and New Zealand SharePoint Conferences, for example, I’ve been able to take a couple days in between events to explore some of the New Zealand countryside, including a hike of Tongariro Crossing one year, and a day on the Milford Sound, both with my good friend Michael Doyle (@sharepointninja). Another year I took a solo trip down the south island’s west coast which included a helicopter drop onto the Franz Joseph Glacier – of which you can swatch from takeoff through return landing in a 30 minute video below (you can skip through the boring parts):
Ok, obviously it has not been the workaholic doom and gloom as I sometimes make it sound (just most days). On my SharePoint community world travels these past 4 years since departing Microsoft in 2009, I’ve taken some personal days and made minor side trips. For example, I’ve explored some of the castles of Scotland while visiting my former MS peer and good friend Mike Watson (@jmikewatson) at his home in Edinburgh, Scotland, and took a major detour after TechEd Berlin a couple years back to travel down to Prague to spend a couple days with my friend and fellow Duvall, Washington resident, Spencer Darrington, who was living there with his family for a couple years to guide the expansion of Microsoft operations in the region. I’ve been to Israel a couple times, where I’ve walked through and around the old city a dozen times. I’ve wandered the picturesque city of Stockholm, and explored Dubai. One of my favorite trips was to visit our development partner in Ahmedabad, India, where we stayed right near Ghandi’s ashram, and stayed in the same hotel as the judges from Indian Idol. And, of course, I have countless stories of adventures while attending major conferences, such as SPC in Las Vegas, DevConnections in Florida, SPTechCon in San Francisco and Boston, and many others.
All wonderful experiences, and I’ve been able to develop great friendships around the world while participating in these activities. But until this past trip to South Africa, I had never really done any kind of serious adrenalin-junky activities. This trip had been in the works for months, the content from which I’ll be writing about over the next few days: SharePoint Saturday Cape Town (#SPSCPT), and a week later the inaugural SharePoint Saturday Durban (#SPSDBN), with the days in between to be spent with Axceler/now Metalogix partner GTconsult (@GT_consult) in a “hyper-drive” week of activities and customer visits in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban. My host and regional SPS co-founder, Bradley Geldenhuys (@bradgcoza) and his associate out of Johannesburg, Warren Marks (@markswazza), had asked what I wanted to do, what sights I wanted to see while in the country, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do: see some great white sharks:
At the end of our long week of customer visits and events, fellow SPS speakers Tracy Van der Schyff (@tracyvds) and Marlon Green (@marl0ngreen) decided to add one last event to our itinerary before Marlon and I caught our flights out of Durban, and Tracy made her motorcycle trek back to Johannesburg: jumping off the top of the Moses Mabhida Stadium on a giant swing:
I don’t plan on escalating my SharePoint travels into a series of increasingly dangerous thrill-seeking adventures. In fact, I quite enjoy the quiet picture-snapping drive-bys of most of my travels, allowing me to concentrate on the people – and on content. I’m looking forward to Spain, Germany, Sweden, and the UK next month as I travel to Europe for the Iberian SharePoint Conference in Madrid, and from there into a series of SPUG and partner activities. More on them soon. For now, I am back in Seattle for a couple weeks, and am concentrating on this weekend’s SharePoint Saturday Redmond (#SPSRED) event on Microsoft campus. There are more adventures ahead, and I’ll put them up on Facebook and YouTube in as close to real-time as I can get. Until then…