WordCamp Seattle, Pike Place Market, & San Juan Island

November 9th-13th, 2018

During early 2018, I was experimenting with video production and vlogging. I think the proliferation of video as a communication medium is drastically changing the world, and my goal was to learn more about the video medium, editing, and filming. I had a blast doing this, but producing a weekly vlog was very time consuming and I eventually reached a bit of a learning plateau.

One of my favorite parts about vlogging was the opportunity to document memories and adventures from my travels. I'm hoping to continue this via a different medium, long-form, multimedia-rich blogging and journaling…

Flying over California, through a thick haze, one day after the Camp Fire begins

Two days before leaving on this trip, a high fire danger warning starting making rounds through my neighborhood Facebook group. California had yet to see any significant rainfall and strong winds coupled with low humidity were in the forecast.

Early the next day, a friend from Northern California posted a foreboding message about a fast-moving wildfire kicking up in the mountains near Chico. Sure enough, it ended up being the Camp Fire which ravaged the town of Paradise, killing dozens and leaving a trail of ashes in it's wake of destruction.

Roughly twenty-four hours later, I boarded a plane and flew over what would become the most deadly and devastating fire in California history. Flying over the Camp Fire smoke was like rubbernecking a car wreck on the highway. I couldn't take my eyes away from the window and the apocalyptic haze blanketing the upper half of my home state. I'd be lying if I said I didn't recognize this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness, from above, the sheer magnitude of nature's most destructive element.

Eating around Seattle Washington & Pike Place Market

TL;DR: Radiator Whiskey, Jack's Fish Spot, and Pasta Casalinga were my “would go again” spots for food and drink.

I'd never been to Seattle and it was near the top of my US city bucket list. I was excited about fresh seafood, clear weather, and the opportunity to see a few good friends from the area. After ditching my bag at the hotel, I walked over to Pike Place Market for some grub. I had a chowder craving and was directed towards Pike Place Chowder.

I laughed under my breath as I followed the novelty-long line, trying to make my way to the end. When I finally found it, I noticed Jack's Fish Spot across the way with some fantastic looking live Dungeness crabs out front. I opted to grab a chowder at and it was choice!

Pro Tip: Skip the line at Pike Place Chowder and pop by Jack's Fish Spot instead.

I kept exploring the market. It was teeming with tourists and locals alike. All sorts of sights and smells. There was a spectacular florist and many people were carrying lovely flower bouquets. I grabbed a pasta dish at Pasta Casalinga and a spirit-forward whiskey cocktail at Radiator Whiskey. I'd highly recommend anyone to do the same.

WordCamp Seattle 2018

I used to poke fun at people who went to lots of WordCamps. I'd joke about how they got any work done; now I am one of those people. At the time, I didn't realize how isolating remote work can be. Camps are an opportunity to get out from behind the computer screen and meet with the people we interact with daily face-to-face.

WordCamp Seattle was an amazing camp thanks, no doubt, to the stellar organizing team, volunteers, speakers, and everyone that attended. I spent most of my time in the “hallway track” chit-chatting, but I did manage to squeeze in a few sessions.

One of my favorites was Chris Tiezel's session about data responsibility. The talk was about the responsibility developers have to consider unintended consequences of their work. One example explained how the fitness tracking application, Strava, accidentally disclosed the location of a secret military base in the Middle East due to base personnel using Strava and their data subsequently being published on Strava's Global Heatmap.

My new favorite WordCamp story happened after a slightly-rowdy group dinner. We were at an Italian restaurant on a third floor. On our way out, we saw, through a window, flashing lights and tons of people dancing in the building across the way. It looked like a perfect “next spot” for our group to keep the party going.

We made our way over and discovered the party was happening on the third floor of a hotel. I know how to play the game, but I've never been good at sneaking into places. Not knowing how to make our way from the lobby to the party upstairs, I walked into the hotel lobby like I owned the place, casually walked up to the concierge and said something this…

“Hi there. We met some new friends at the bar earlier and they mentioned they were hosting a party here. We didn't catch their name, but they invited us to join them and I was wondering if you could please point us in the right direction?”

The woman gave me a long and suspicious look. With a raised eyebrow, she informed me that the only “party” happening that evening was a high school dance. Whoops! I quickly told her we must have the wrong place and gave the “abort mission” gesture to the rest of the group. We scurried outside, laughed, and looked back up towards the “party” to see, sure enough, they were all teenagers! We decided to call it an evening and go our separate ways, but, around this time, we noticed we were missing one from our group.

We did our best to find our friend, but we couldn't contact him. His colleague assured us he would be okay, so we left it at that. The next day, we found out he had snuck off to the use the restroom in the hotel lobby. He came out to find we were all gone and assumed we'd gone upstairs. Naturally, he made his way up to the party and did a few dances before he realized we weren't there and he was the oldest person in the room beside a few chaperones.

An epic Airbnb in Anacortes & San Juan Islands

The next stop on my itinerary was a visit with my grandparents who live on an island in the San Juan Island chain. I decided to stay on the mainland in Anacortes, then wake up early and take a ferry out for a day trip to the island.

The drive from Seattle to Anacortes took about two hours and I stopped by Deception Pass State Park on the way up. I was hoping to find some hiking, but Deception Pass was more of a drive-through, enjoy-the-view sort of park.

My Grandma warned me that Anacortes wasn't her favorite place to spend a night, so I didn't expect to find anything spectacular in terms of motels and lodging. As I was browsing Airbnb, I found a stunning in-law cottage on a bluff directly above the Pacific Ocean. Not only did the view look amazing, but the price was right also!

What I found when I got there was by far and away the nicest Airbnb I've ever stayed at. The view of the ocean and the islands were far better than the pictures led on. The cottage was quaint and tastefully furnished. The host even left a plate of fresh-baked goodies for me to enjoy during my stay. I arrived right before the sunset and took some pictures of hummingbirds dancing around a feeder with a west coast ocean sunset in the background.

That evening, I found a seafood restaurant and went to check out the local dive bar scene. I wasn't disappointed. I wound up at the Brown Lantern Ale House for a few pints, then went in for an early night so I could wake up the next day.

The last time I'd been on San Juan Island I was eight years old. At that age, I wasn't allowed to roam around without supervision but, because it was a small town on an island, I had free reign to go wherever I pleased. The only rule I was to follow was to stay out of the ocean…

I quickly made friends with a few local kids. We were playing around on the beach and found a huge piece of styrofoam that presumably drifted in from the ocean. The styrofoam was shaped like a raft and it certainly appeared seaworthy. Naturally, I launched the vessel out for her maiden voyage into the surf. As it turned out, it was not seaworthy. It quickly capsized and I wound up in the one place I wasn't supposed to be, the ocean. My grandparents were not amused.

Visiting them 20 years later was a much different experience. I rode the ferry on to the island and was greeted with beautiful weather and my grandpa waiting to pick me up. Apart from the great company, the highlights of the visit were culinary. We popped into the San Juan Brewery for lunch and a drink. Two thumbs up! Later, my Grandma, who is a phenomenal cook, put together a fantastic dinner of Dungeness Crab and salad.

My last stop in Washington was back in Seattle where I met with a good friend and fellow traveler for lunch. She is an avid backpacker, climber, and outdoors-woman and I always enjoy hearing tales of her adventures. After a Cubano sandwich and some story trading, I headed back to the airport to continue to the next leg of my journey, Alaska!

Thórsmörk Volcano Huts – Iceland part 2

If you like watching people hiking, you're going to love this one! Our Iceland trip continues at the Volcano Huts. We climb mountains and built a solid bonfire. We drank coffee and ate some amazing food.

I did a lot of filming out there, so I am going to do a 3rd Iceland video eventually. This one is really all about the Geek Adventures trip. Somewhat related: I have been listening to a bunch of Icelandic music recently for the vlog and they make some really good tunes out there.

Thanks a ton to everyone that came out and made this trip so much fun! 🙂

Iceland Part 1 – Chasing Waterfalls and Driving into Rivers

My European adventure continues this week in the land of ice!

I stocked up on party supplies in the airport. Meet my roommate. We go on an epic adventure to see the edge of the North American tectonic plate, geysers, waterfalls, cows, a secret lagoon (it wasn't very secret afterall), and craters.

On day 2, we all load up into a bus and drive it straight into a river. What could go wrong, right?

London – Eating Blood and WordCamp London

I missed two weeks of posting vlogs, but I am back! I didn't want to spend any of my travel time editing. Sorry.

For this week, Justin and I hit London for some sightseeing adventures and WordCamp London. We explored on the tube, had a few nice dinners, took a ride on the London Eye, ate black pudding, and capped it all off with a solid visit to WordCamp London where we got to meet a bunch of the U.K.-based Beaver Builder crew.

As my good friend once said, there's nothing quite like partying hard with new friends in a new country and we had ample opportunity for that. Cheers, London! You sure showed a couple of Yankee wankers a proper time.

Flying drones and catching fish – Enjoying the California spring

This week, I was totally focused on packing and prepping for my London/Iceland trip so the vlog isn't quite as action-packed as normal. I found a song that I really like about the springtime, so I did a spring-themed day and went fishing and droning. I wanted to get warmed up with the drone since I am taking it to Iceland.

It was going to be a REALLY slow week for the vlog, but then my plane got delayed for hours in LA. I took an impromptu beach visit, went swimming, then finished up the edit for this week on the plane!

I might be off a day or two on my posting days, but I should have a London and an Iceland vlog out over the next few weeks. Wish me luck!

Is Boise the BEST city EVER – Treefort Music Fest 2018

Boise was on my travel bucket list for the last year and I FINALLY made it out there. It was a super spontaneous, last-minute trip. I bought a one-way ticket ~12 hours before take off and I am so glad I did!

The Treefort Music Fest was awesome! I saw George Clinton and I saw a TON of bands and music that I hadn't heard of before.

The food was great. The tech portion of the festival was fun. The beer was cold. The music was epic. I got to see it snow and wear shorts+tshirt on the same weekend. Not too shabby, Boise. Not too shabby at all!

Oh, and everyone I met out there was SO nice. You guys are beautiful.

Miami Part 2 – WordCamp Miami 2018

My Miami adventure continues with the work portion of the trip. WordCamp Miami 2018 was a blast. Over 1000 people attended the event. The weather was phenomenal. The team of volunteers that organized the camp did an amazing job. Thanks, guys.

Once I finally peeled myself away from the beach, I went on a few adventures into town. I saw some old friends and made some new ones. Smoked a cigar and had an all-around excellent time.

I can definitely see making WordCamp Miami one of my annuals. I am still kicking myself for the crummy focus job on the Chicago sunset timelapse, but I have a feeling I will redeem myself next week…

Miami — South Beach Spring Break MADNESS!

My original thinking was that I would come out to WordCamp Miami 2018 a bit early and have a relaxing beach to set up and do some work.

I had no idea my trip was smack in the middle of spring break. This trip brought me back to 90s MTV spring break specials. One of my favorite overheard quotes was, “I've never seen more bare asses in my life.” It's true!

Miami was a beautiful city. Great people. Great food. Lots of new flavors, sights, and sounds. In part one, I am covering the “work-cation” part of the trip. Next week, I am going to share my time at WordCamp.

How to Fold a Fitted Sheet + Bald Eagles, Beer, Traffic, & Taxes

This week's vlog covers a lot of range. I really hope it doesn't come off too ranty.

I got some sweet footage of a bald eagle out at the Lexington Reservoir in Los Gatos.

Pliny the Younger was just released, and I got the opportunity to try this year's batch.

I talk about taxes and traffic and go out to catch some red-light cheaters. Hey, California, let's work on enforcing the rules we have instead of creating new ones! Stop taxing the people who are playing by the rules and start asking the cheaters to pay more.

Sexually Ambiguous Cowboys and a Trip to Austin, Texas

Just got home from Austin and finished up the edit for this week. I riff a bit about meeting online friends IRL, my frustrations with California, and some of the clues we found around our Airbnb…

I didn't add it to the vlog, but all of us there from the Beaver Builder team filmed an “Ask Us Anything” AMA style video. I've been successfully working more and more video content into my professional life—which makes the time put into learning all this much more fulfilling.

Hope you enjoy. See you next week.