Whistler, CA

Fall has all but come and gone which means this year’s Automattic Grand Meetup is just a few weeks behind us. The company returned to Whistler, Canada, though this was my first time in the region as I missed last year’s meetup to attend a friend’s wedding. Having been two years since seeing most of my colleagues face-to-face I was excited for the trip!

Getting to British Columbia was quite a trek from the East coast of the U.S. with a layover in Toronto and a roughly two hour long winding bus ride from Vancouver airport into the mountains of Whistler.

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Jet-lagged and a bit car sick, I arrived about 10 hours later and was looking forward to catching up with my fellow Automatticians. Just days earlier, my vintage Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens had arrived from Japan which didn’t leave my camera the entire week save for a few shots with my Rokinon 12mm wide angle.

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I was busier than expected during the week and didn’t have a chance for much exploring, but on Friday morning I finally ventured off of the resort to check out Lost Lake which everyone said was worth the hike. I had wanted to do some astrophotography as I don’t often have the opportunity to escape the lights of the city, but alas I would have to settle for my one daytime trip to the lake. Nevertheless, it lived up to the hype!

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By Sunday, most of my work was behind me and I had another opportunity for some sightseeing. With my friends and coworkers, Steve and Dominque, I headed to the ski lifts at Whistler Mountain to take a spin on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. It’s a two-step process: a ski lift that takes you to the top of Whistler Mountain, then the gondola which passes between the peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains; apparently the first such setup of its kind.

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The views atop Whistler Mountain were very picturesque, but it was far colder than I anticipated, and to our surprise the Peak 2 Peak gondola had experienced some technical issues and wouldn’t be running again for about 45 minutes.

Luckily there’s a lodge on top of the mountain, so we took the opportunity to have some hot drinks, warm up, and hope that the gondola was well and truly repaired before we stepped inside…

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By the time it was safe to proceed, the already cloudy skies had taken a turn for the worse and (as illustrated by Steve’s face below) it disappointingly began to rain. There was something really serene about the experience, but at the same time it almost completely ruined the visibility which was sort of the idea behind going up there in the first place.

But ah well; it was still a fun time.

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On the slow ride back down the mountain it occurred to me how quickly these meetups pass by. On Monday, the whole thing felt daunting despite being my 4th year at the company. Now, on Saturday evening, there was only Sunday’s closing party and a morning of packing ahead of me.

However, the closing party never disappoints, especially watching some of my more musically inclined colleagues take the stage. And following their performances, DJ MICK was on hand to keep everyone dancing for the rest of the night.

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And just like that, another grand meetup was over. It was a long journey back home that included me losing and then miraculously finding my phone at the Toronto airport during a brief layover, but otherwise it was a smooth trip.

I’d like to get back to Vancouver at some point as I spent virtually no time in the city and it seemed like an interesting place. With more traveling on my calendar in the near future, though, that will have to wait for another time.

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