I travel to a US city every November to set up and manage a booth for one or more of my clients at the Supercomputing trade show. This huge show, which I have been going to since 2008, is held in the week prior to the week of [US] Thanksgiving every year, moving between a small handful of cities: Atlanta, Denver, Salt Lake City, and New Orleans. In 2019 we were in one of my favorite convention cities: Denver, Colorado.
My trip started as all such trips do: with photos of airports. This shot of the ceiling at the Denver International Airport was a nice start to the week.
This ceiling shot will make more sense when you see my not-so-terrific shot of the terminal taken from the back seat of an Uber on my way to the hotel. The tent structure was designed by Fentress Architects, and it really is made from tent fabric — or rather, yurt fabric.
Once I was all checked in at my hotel, I headed over to the convention center. The hotel had not misplaced any of my packages, and so I was able to get myself and my heavy rolling suitcase (full of the books and other stuff I needed at the booth) to the convention center in a pretty timely fashion.
This was my third trip to Denver for this show. It’s nice on a trip like this to stay in the same hotel I’ve stayed at before, and thus know my way around and have everything look and feel familiar. Denver around the convention center is actually very nice: this is a world-class conference center. I was looking very forward to seeing the awesome 40-foot sculpture of a giant blue bear who is looking into the glass wall of the convention center. It’s called I See What You Mean and is the creation of the late artist Lawrence Argent.
We worked for the rest of the day, leaving the convention center in time to get a nice early-evening view of the city.
We spent most of the next day at the convention center finishing our booth build, assembling furniture, filling literature racks, testing equipment, and putting the final touches on things.
Trade show floors before and after a show is open to the public are amazing places to be: a cacophonous world of hundreds of people busy building booths, setting up machinery, testing computers, and unpacking their booth giveaways.
We finished the booth with enough time spare to catch our breath: it’s hard work, but everything was ready for the show floor to open in the morning. We waited for our other colleagues to finish with their tutorials on this the first official day of the conference, then we all left the convention center together to walk to a restaurant for our annual team dinner… passing the ever-watchful Blue Bear on our way out.
Our team dinner was at The Range restaurant in downtown Denver, and it was amazing. As soon as I saw the quirky, curved, dark red padded leather settee in the lobby, I sat myself down and asked my colleague to take my picture. With very hip decor, excellent food, great wine selection, and exemplary service: I highly recommend this place if you are in Denver.
By 8:15, well fed and not particularly inebriated, we walked out of the restaurant, everyone heading off in different directions toward their various hotels.
After starting my walk of about 8 blocks to the Hilton, I soon caught up with a very goth-looking young couple walking in the same direction. They were laughing loudly and playfully pushing each other as they walked. The last push I saw as I came abreast with them was him pushing her, so as I walked by I pushed him and I said to her: “You need some help pushing him around.” They loved it and insisted I walk with them a while. A few blocks later, we were laughing together as we passed by one of my colleagues, who looked both astonished and concerned. I told him I was okay as we walked by.
Our paths diverged at the next corner and the couple pointed me on my way. I gave the guy one more shove as I took off, leaving them in laughter. When I got back to my room I sent a text to the colleague we’d walked past to let him know I was safe and sound in my hotel.
The next morning was show time: the start of the four-day exhibition. I was preparing for a trip to Lisbon for another client in just a few weeks, so I was only going to stay in Denver for a few days, leaving the show in a colleague’s capable hands. This morning I opened the booth and got our booth volunteers oriented, then headed back to my hotel to pack up and get ready to leave. I walked back to the convention center a little later to meet up with a friend for coffee, then said a final farewell to the Blue Bear.
I saw this cool mural on my way back to my hotel:
Later, back in an Uber heading to the airport, I passed another famous Denver blue giant sculpture, this one called Blue Mustang, but the locals call it Blucifer. Bye, Denver. ‘Till next time.
My flight home was uneventful, as flights should be, with nothing but sunny blue skies over an ocean of clouds: