December 16, 2009: SpiceCorps Golden Horseshoe Kicks Off

When the alarm went off at six thirty this morning I totally felt like crap.  Two hours of sleep is not enough at all.  Not even a full sleep cycle, really.  Considering all of the driving that I did yesterday I am just completely wiped.  This is going to be a long and painful day for sure.

Brian and I were pretty much all set to be on the road at seven thirty when I got an email from RIT telling me that I had to deal with some immunization stuff immediately or risk being automatically withdrawn from my classes.  This is a pretty big problem as I have no means of getting this information.  So I lost an hour this morning just trying to get a hold of RIT to find out what the deal was and why they waited so long (three years after my first enrollment) to even inform me that there was any requirement at all let alone that they didn’t feel that my records were up to date.  Springing this on me on the day that I am leaving for work in Canada is pretty crappy and considering that we are moving to Texas on Monday this is near impossible for me to deal with at all.  Dealing with taking my one class is more than I can handle and this is going to be more work than that, I fear.

So it was just after eight when we finally got onto the road heading to Canada.  This trip is just one unexpected delay after another.  Brian and I are seriously exhausted today.  Seriously exhausted.  This is not going to be easy.

The drive from Peoria to Niagara Falls was not bad at all.  It was a nice morning for driving.  Normally we would cross the border at Buffalo which is slightly easier but Brian has not seen Niagara Falls since he was a little kid, like around three years old when he used to live in Buffalo, and wanted to see the falls as he did not remember it so we went up there to take the Rainbow Bridge which provides a view of the falls as you cross the border.

Brian has only been to Canada once, long ago when he was a kid, and just got a passport last week allowing him to go on this trip.  So this is a bit of a treat for him – going into a foreign country.  We drove right from Niagara Falls up to Mississauga where I was stopping by the office to see everyone there before I left the area for good.  The Mississauga office is being “phased out” in the next few weeks so most of these people will not be around for me to see in some alternate location in the future.

Just before crossing the bridge into Canada we stopped at Tim Horton’s and got some coffee to kick start the day.  We had skipped getting coffee earlier due to a lack of time.

We made it just in time to partake of the free pizza that was available to the team for Christmas.  Everyone was attempting to go into one office or another today for the free food.  Canada was a bit of an unexpected location for me but it worked out well.  I got a chance to get coffee and pizza and visit with the Canadians for a while.  It worked out pretty well.

From Mississauga we went into Toronto proper and met someone at Tim Horton’s.  We’ve been to Tim Horton’s a few times today already.  It is definitely a Timmy Ho’s day.

After our coffee meeting we went to a meeting just up the street.  We had thought originally that this meeting would only take about thirty to forty-five minutes but it ended up running to three and a half hours.  Way longer than we had accounted for but the meeting went well and was really valuable so we are glad that we took the time to have it.

We had meant to be out of the meeting and out of Toronto long before rush hour started but because the meeting ran over we were stuck trying to get out of Toronto during the height of rush hour.  Not good.  We had very limited time as it was.  Our goal was to be out to Cayugo, Ontario at six thirty for the very first meeting of SpiceCorps Golden Horseshoe but there was no way at all that we were going to manage to do that.  The travel time out to Cayuga from Toronto is roughly two hours and it was about six when we got into the car in Toronto!  Oh boy.  What a day.

We drove like crazy trying to get out to Cayuga.  What a drive.  You drive out to Hamilton and then you head south into the wilderness and go all the way down to the shores of Lake Erie.  We definitely gave Brian a wild tour of this portion of Canada.  He is not going to be looking to return to this part of the world again for a long time after this.

Luckily we were able to reach someone in Houston who was able to post to the SpiceCorps group on SpiceWorks to let them know that we were on the way but running insanely late.  They then emailed us from the meeting with contact information so that we could call them and coordinate.

We raced as quickly as we could although we were stuck in completely stopped traffic much of the time.  Toronto is notorious for its rush hour gridlock along the lake front area, especially heading out west where the bulk of its suburban population lies.

It was just after eight thirty when Brian and I arrived in Cayuga for the SpiceCorps meeting.  Luckily everyone was able to wait for us.  It was a small group, just five people in addition to us.  The meeting ran for another hour, till nine thirty, and then almost all of us went out to a bar called “The Back Forty” and hung out for about another hour or two before everyone started to head for home.

The group was small but we felt that it was a really good group and that the meeting was pretty valuable.  Getting IT professionals together, especially in the SMB space, is really important.  We are hopeful that this is going to grow and be a vibrant group.

Brian and I were definitely not looking forward to the long drive back to Peoria from Cayuga, Ontario.  In theory the drive is only supposed to be another two hours but that has not been working out too well for us thus far.  We’ve already done six or seven hours of driving so far today after doing nine or so yesterday so we are quite sick of being in the car.

Our first stop was the Tim Horton’s on Route 3 in Cayuga – more coffee!  This was our fourth stop at a Timmy Ho’s just today.  That is a lot of Tim Horton’s coffee.

The drive from Cayuga to Buffalo went fine and crossing the border back into the States was easy.  But once we were to Buffalo we ran into some horrendous snow and the relatively short drive from Buffalo to Batavia was horrible.  We were so fatigued from crawling down the Thruway that we stopped at a rest stop which, of course, had nothing open except for a Tim Horton’s where we got some really late dinner and coffee making it our fifth TH stop of the day.

From Batavia to Peoria was the worst driving at all.  We were struggling to hit thirty miles per hour and had no visibility of the road whatsoever.  The whole drive from Cayuga to Peoria was supposed to be just over two hours but ended up being well over four hours.  It was about three thirty in the morning when we arrived.  Talk about being exhausted.  All of that driving on just two hours of sleep was brutal.  We are so thankful that we had decided that tomorrow we were going to take the train from Rochester to Croton on Hudson – we need the chance to just sit and do nothing.

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