Reflections on trip planning and timeframes
A long holiday weekend getting many things moved into storage. I live in two story townhouse and have most of the second floor empty and packed away and moved to storage. Also did some reflecting backwards on the story of how this ride came to be…
For the past 25 years, I’ve had a pattern of working hard for several years followed by an extended break for a cycle trip. After the trip, I’d jump into new position and role with renewed energy. So essentially since my 2007 trip across Russia it was somewhat determined that I’d take more trips just not exactly when.
First one on the docket was a trip planned for 2013 with TDA across Africa. After that it was more hazy, perhaps 2018 or even 2019 to keep a five year pattern. I changed jobs to AMD in 2009 and moved to Portland, OR and even with these changes I still had my Africa trip on the docket and slowly anticipated it as 2010 and 2011 came along. I liked Portland, particularly living in the city center, being able to walk to work, lots of nature nearby and good chances to cycle such as taking weekend trips down to Salem or Eugene and taking the train back. The office was small and I liked the folks I worked with.
December 9th 2011, I learned that AMD was planning on shutting the Portland office in 2012. As one of two managers on site, I was given advance warning, the actual news would not come until March 2012 (later refined to be March 22nd). The overall idea was to collect together US compiler work into the San Francisco Bay Area and encourage key personnel to move. I was grateful to be included in planning and committed to doing what I could to make it go smoothly. I didn’t necessarily expect many to move because Portland and San Jose are fairly different, because spouses and children were involved and because they would have more local alternatives.
At the same time, I had several months to contemplate exactly what I might do next. The short run was pretty clear: I would assist transition until the Portland office closed and I would also take the first half of 2013 as an extended bicycle tour across Africa. While it wasn’t my preference to shut the office, I would do everything I could to help the transition as I could. That looked to continue until end of 2012.
It was in 2H 2013 that things were more open-ended. I gradually developed three alternatives:
- Stay with AMD, take the relocation offer and move to San Jose
- Leave AMD, stay in the Pacific Northwest, Portland or Seattle and find the next interesting work
- Complete the Africa trip and follow this up with more extended touring including perhaps South America. Figure out what came next after that
I couldn’t act on any of these alternatives or even let folks at work know, since the site closure was all still a secret. However, being the planning type I could spend some extended time exploring these alternatives, learning more and being better prepared when time for the site closure.
In February 2012, I took a weekend trip down to San Jose and explored the area. I looked at apartments, talked with a realtor and contemplated how I might travel to work and whether I would need to purchase a car of not. I had lived in the Bay area before (1997 to 2001) and enjoyed it, but enough had changed that I wanted to figure out what it would be like this time. I generally figured out I could make it work. It might be a step back from Oregon or Colorado but assuming the work would be engaging all would be ok.
I explored a number of blogs of people who had cycled across South America and learned what I could about their travels and adventures. It was all quite interesting and my enthusiasm for doing this trip “someday” grew, it was now more an issue of figuring out when not if I would ride. I also got more enthusiastic about possibility of making this a really big trip by starting in Prudhoe Bay and cycling all of the Americas and learned everything I could about similar rides others had done.
I also looked around at job postings and companies in Portland and Seattle to see what might be available. Too early to act on anything specific but at least reassuring there were good companies doing interesting things. I also looked back in Colorado at similar postings. Perhaps a little tougher to find things there, but not out of the question.
March 22nd, 2012 we had our announcement. People were surprised and shocked, but I did what I could to help them work through the loss. I also tried to connect key players since I knew initial contacts would be crucial. I also came up with my own revised plan: 2012 was still transition and 1H 2013 was TDA, but instead of going to San Jose, would it be possible to move to Austin instead? Several things attracted me to this possibility (a) less expensive and no income tax (b) it was a new place I hadn’t been – San Jose would be OK, but exploring a new area had potential to be great. I wasn’t so sure about summer heat but if it really didn’t turn out – then I had enough confidence that I could still go back to another alternative.
After a short exploratory tour that included some of the same real estate checks as San Jose as well as looking for daily commuting routes, I moved to Austin in July 2012. I was still pretty excited about a trip across the Americas, but determined I would figure this out on one of two timeframes: either immediately after TDA in 2013 or after I had been in Austin for three years – or starting in 2016.
In October 2012 AMD had a layoff that increased my focus on these two choice points. I briefly tried to see if I might volunteer to leave – take severance and both my trips together but didn’t put a lot of effort there. Once I knew I was past the layoff, I was also more focused on the 2016 goal. The company might have site closures or layoffs but I could put a mark on the wall and work towards it as it came closer. May seem strange, but from that perspective this trip has been on the calendar since right around end of 2012 and something I’ve based choices on since that point.
The more intensive planning and sorting has been more over the past six months to a year and isn’t quite done yet, but nice to have the time finally near.