I volunteered to staff a booth at WordCamp US in Nashville earlier this month. WordPress enthusiasts meet, learn, and socialize at annual WordCamps around the world. Once a year there is a bigger event, WordCamp US, to bring together WordPress fans from North America, and there is another one in Europe.
It took me two days to get to Nashville. I flew right from Dawson City, to Whitehorse, to Vancouver, to Houston, to Nashville. The newer ATR planes in service between Dawson City and Whitehorse are really nice. Here’s one as I was walking out to board!When I got to Vancouver on the first night, I had a layover until my next flight at 6am. My cousins Meaghen and Erica met me at the airport for dinner!We had a great talk, and meal! We all have birthdays within the month, and the waitress brought us a big slice of chocolate cake to share for dessert!The short sleep I got that night was rough, but I was still glad I had a hotel room and bed. The next two flights were relatively hassle free. On my short layover in Houston, I met two coworkers and we travelled the rest of the way, to Nashville, and on to the hosting hotel together.
We stayed at the Nashville Renaissance hotel which had a fantastic location, and was really a nice room. I think it had the biggest television I’ve ever seen! When I saw these earplugs and note beside the bed, I had to immediately run to the window to see exactly where I was.Sure enough, I could hear a party. You can see start of the famous Broadway strip in Nashville in the photo below, to the left. In the middle is the arena where the Predators play hockey, and behind it is the Music City Centre, the massive, incredible building where WordCamp US was held.After two days of traveling, there wasn’t a party on the planet that was going to keep me from sleeping.
Early the next morning, I walked over to start my 7am shift covering our booth. Here’s the corner bar I could hear the night before.Here’s a closer view of the Predator’s Bridgestone Arena. Time to finish setting up our booth! I helped fold dozens of shirts for the WordPress Swag Store too to help out.And here is part of the Jetpack booth I was staffing. We had an outdoor camping theme.Since I took almost no photos, here’s one from the backside of the booth with me staffing it there in the middle:
Between my shifts at the booth, I talked to the people at the other booths, who’s software I either use, or come across on customer’s sites and wanted to learn more about.
There were three concurrent speaker tracks. I only was able to make it to three sessions, including my coworker Ryan’s talk about site security. He did a really great job.
The WordCamp was two full days, followed by an optional contributor day. Each day had lunch provided. There were over 1500 people at WordCamp US so it too, a big room to feed us all! The food was Nashville-esque, delicious, and plentiful. So many people, from all walks of life, coming together to learn and share WordPress. Amazing!I had pecan pie for the first time. It really tastes just like a butter tart, but without the raisins. Oh and it has pecans on top, of course!Because I was staffing a booth for Jetpack, the software I provide support for at work, I wore a snazzy new Jetpack vest.At night time, I headed down the touristy Nashville streets to see the nightlife. Elvis directed me to the Acme Feed and Seed for a famous Nashville hot chicken sandwich.The live band started at 8pm with a Johnny Cash number. Every bar on the street had a live band playing. I’m not a country fan, but this music wasn’t what I expected. I like it all. In between the bars were cowboy boot stores, and this awesome souvenir shop. So much tacky yet amazing pieces in here. At the end of the second day, Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress, and my boss, held his annual “State of the Word” to talk about the future direction of the open source WordPress software, meaningful achievements in the community over the last year, and then had an open floor for questions.That night there was a wrap up party at a science museum! It reminded me a bit of the London Children’s museum back home, with a bit of space stuff from the ROM. I was so beat after standing on my feet for two days, flying for two days before that, and not near enough sleep, I eventually found a bench, but then struck up a conversation with a guy who does customer support for another WordPress plugin and we talked until the end of the party.Here’s me and my coworker Aaron from Wisconsin.The third morning I was back at the venue (can you believe the size of this building?) for the Contributor Day. WordPress is an open source software and the community that surrounds it is all made what it is by people contributing their time, knowledge, and skills. I joined the core development team and worked on learning more about grabbing a patch of code to test on my local development setup and contribute a patch of my own. Ran into some stumbling blocks, of course, always the best way to learn, and met some really interesting people.On my last afternoon, I wandered back to the hotel after the events were all over. And then I went out for dinner with Loretta, a childhood friend who has since moved to Nashville with her family! She took me to her favourite little pub. After three suppers of hot chicken sandwiches, the fish and chips were a welcome treat, and the hot whisky bread pudding dessert we shared was amazing!It was really great to see Loretta! She took me back to my hotel after supper so I could pack up and get ready for my early departure.
On the way home, I went through Chicago. We had a really great windy landing, swaying all over. I loved it!
Oh by the way, United gives free stroopwafels now, and they are delicious.
I had an 8 hour layover in Vancouver. My cousin Meaghen gave me tips to navigate the SkyTrain into downtown Vancouver and she met me and took me to FatBurger! Our other cousin works for the corporation, so it was nice to see what the chain is all about. Good burger!Then Meaghen showed me the sites in Vancouver, and then we took a bus ride back to her neighbourhood. She hasn’t been in the city for even a year yet but knew the city like she’s been there all her life! I got to meet her boyfriend (super nice fella!), see her nice apartment, and then she gave me a tour of the neighbourhood and the English Bay area of Vancouver.We even checked out the art installations! 🙂Then, my friend Colette was finished work, so she picked me up and took me back to the airport. We had time for a dinner together before I caught my next flight. Our photo would be here, but she preferred I didn’t share her mug with the world! haha. It was great to see her, and how amazing is it that I got to visit with all these friends and family members without making one single separate flight or layover. It just worked perfectly.
I got to Whitehorse by 10:30pm that night. We had the most amazing turbulence coming into Whitehorse. They prepped the plane for landing 30 minutes early in anticipation, and flew a bit lower. It was so violent I was slammed into the wall beside the window, over and over. Flight is amazing, it really is!
The next morning the flight to Dawson City went as scheduled! I had packed extra clothes and winter gear, because the flight in the winter is often cancelled due to low visibility in Dawson City. But it went as scheduled and I was home to Jeff and Hank before they barely had time to miss me 🙂