For the first time since Rotterdam in 2019, my entire division at work got together in Denver, Colorado – in person!!

I headed out on Friday after lunch to get to Denver by Saturday evening. I love the window seat to watch the Yukon from above on the way to Whitehorse, so it worked out that I was the first person out the door headed for the plane with the flight attendant!

Since Jeff was working, I drove myself to the airport and parked my truck in the long term parking. As you can see, it is really far from the terminal (ha! not really) and even closer to where the planes park.

It was a great flight down to Whitehorse. I know the terrain well enough that I could spot all the gold field roads, the Ridge Road trail, King Solomon’s Dome, and eventually, after a free deli plate and ginger ale, Lake Laberge and then into Whitehorse.

When no shuttles appeared, I took a taxi to the Yukon Inn, checked-in, and quickly left again to go for a long walk.

By the way, the Yukon Inn has a modern, clean, super nice room! Are they renovating everything? Or did my reservation from my work travel account make them think I was tidier than the average Yukoner?

I went for a good brisk walk, stopping on Main for some shopping (more like browsing, didn’t buy anything), walked down 2nd, and ended up at A&W for a burger and fries.

I had to be at the front door of the hotel at 3:55am the next morning for the airport shuttle, and the walk paid off! I shut the excellent blinds, turned off the lights, and was asleep by 7:30pm. Yay brisk walk!

The next morning was crazy early, but doable! We had a full flight going down to Vancouver.

On my layover in Vancouver, I caught up with my friend and coworker Linda and we had lunch together while catching up. Then it turned out we had 2 more coworkers on our plane too! The 4 of us chatted our way through a couple short delays, and before too long we were in Denver.

Our company arranged a nice bus line to pick us up as we arrived – over two hundred of us! By this point I was getting crazy tired. It was a long day!

We were staying at the Curtis Hotel – a neat hotel downtown with themed floors and fun decor. I stayed on the Floor of Champions!

I had a big, excellent room. King bed, corner room, two windows, couch, fridge, and coffee table.

We had a nice opening event at the hotel bar. It has been so long since we saw each other in person, plus we’ve more than doubled our size. So many people I had onboarded and trained were grabbing me into big hugs when they spotted me. It felt great!!

The rest of the week together with my coworkers was so valuable. I think I had forgotten how valuable these sessions were in person. We try hard to replicate this with Zoom, but it just doesn’t result in the same type of connection. We’ve got to explore this more to see if there is any better way to reproduce some of this magic through the rest of the year.

I took very few photos, but here are some I took or that were shared with me:

Denver is home to Jeff’s favourite football team, and again, I was in Denver without him! I could see the stadium from one of my room’s windows, and we went to the Meow Wolf exhibit one afternoon that was right beside the stadium! I made sure to buy him some souvenirs of course!

One morning a session ended earlier than expected, so Linda and I took the chance and jumped in an Uber to visit REI. It is hard for us Canadians to do outdoor gear shopping in person! We did a quick store run through, bought a few things, and Uber’d back for lunch.

It was so great to grab some long time friends/coworkers in a big hug, some who I haven’t seen in person for years! (👋 Lori 😁) And meeting so many new coworkers that we’ve hired since our last time together. We keep doing something right, because we continue to hire great, smart, caring people!

I made some great personal growth in a bunch of areas that are probably too personal to blog about, and not that interesting to read about, but one thing in particular I’ll share. I rarely drink anymore. I used to drink heavily at these events, because it is just what we did. It made us all more comfortable, we were younger, and it made for some great bonding. After cancer treatment, I just don’t enjoy feeling anything but my best so I rarely have a drink when I’m out. Not knowing if I’m going to drink, or not, or trying to decide what and when, how much, is just annoying. At the last night’s events, there were drinks all pre-poured and ready for us as we walked into the venue. I grabbed one without thinking and I swear I was drunk on my second mouthful and ended up having a couple more. I hate that. That was some crazy strong gin (and I hear I wasn’t alone in the experience!). I was hung over for travel, and embarrassed at running over all the drunk conversations in my head the next day. I just don’t need this. I’m done with it. Forever? I don’t know. But I’m ready to declare I’m not going to drink for the next year. I just don’t enjoy it and it feels like these decisions will be easier if there just isn’t one to be made.

Back to my travels, the Denver airport has a therapy dog for you to pet while you wait!

I had almost *seven* hours to kill in the Vancouver airport on the way home. Some highlights:

By midnight I was back in the Yukon, and headed to my room at the Yukon Inn. This time the experience was the opposite. I was in a pet room with a kitchenette. It smelled so so so bad. Like a dozen wet huskies slept in there for days and days. I was exhausted, and tried opening the window, but it was cold and snowing, and eventually I fell asleep with the loud bathroom fan blocking out the dripping tap.

I left my hotel room the next morning early, just to get out of the terrible stench. I probably should have requested a different room, but I was so tired when I checked-in and the hotel was probably already full. I think I’ll put “no pet room” on my next reservation! I went across the road for a muffin, ginger ale, and bottle of water, and waited outside in the cold for the airport shuttle.

The flight back to Dawson was delayed 90 minutes, without any sort of communication. Since there were only 14 of us, we just all stood around, shrugging our shoulders. When we landed in Dawson, I could see that Jeff wasn’t kidding – winter had arrived! It was -18C that morning and there was snow! Crazy I had been in shorts all week in Denver!

So now I’m back home. A couple of my close contacts from the trip have tested positive for Covid. I’m definitely feeling off, but I tested negative (so far!). Probably just need to recharge a bit (here’s hoping!). We were all given couple tests while we were in Denver so it surely helped keep exposure to a minimum. I can’t wait for our next big meetup, hopefully next year!