Road Trip to the Grand Canyon

My team at Automattic, who just so happen to be named Phoenix, planned a meetup in January of this year to Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix in Phoenix!

It’s always been a dream of mine to see the Grand Canyon and I took the chance to loop in a visit a week before our meetup with two of my team mates, Sarah and Brooke.

Day 1: Hello Phoenix

I travelled from London Heathrow and arrived in Phoenix in the evening. I handle jetlag pretty poorly so was grateful that my fellow road trippers were there to pick me up at the airport and that they had armed themselves with my favourite American sweets, Birthday-flavoured Oreos and Nerds. 🙂

Day 2: Sedona

After some toast (we were road tripping with the toast ambassador, herself), we set off for Sedona the next morning.

The views from the road were beautiful and lived up to expectations of the Wild, Wild West. The vast desert landscapes were dotted with cacti and backed up with canyons. We spotted the famous red rock canyon walls of Sedona from a few miles off.

The place we stayed was called the Sacred Red Rocks, it markets itself as a “destination for the spiritual pilgrim” and was truly peaceful. Sedona itself has a hippy, new-age feel. I wish my camera was good enough to pick up the stars as I can’t find the words to describe how clear and beautiful they were in the Sedona night sky.

Day 3: Hiking Red Rock Canyon and Flagstaff

Brooke was the experienced one of the group but Sarah and I kept up while hiking the Red Rock Canyon. 🙂

Although we were road tripping as a group, Sarah was the only one of us who could actually drive. Brooke and I also turned out to be hilariously bad navigators. Sarah troopered through somehow. She had to make her way along windy uphill roads in the snow on the way to the next stop in our trip, Flagstaff, and was amazing.

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Views on from the road on the way to Flagstaff. I had never experienced views quite like this.

Day 4: Grand Canyon or Bust

The big day! We were excited to be setting off to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim on the fourth day of our road trip. Once again, it had been snowing pretty heavily and Sarah made her way along tricky, icy roads.

We were, however, greeted with bad news upon finally making it to the entrance of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. The ranger quickly let us know that we wouldn’t be able to see the Canyon that day due to the snow.

This was our only chance! We had to make our way back to Phoenix the next day and we were sad at the thought of coming all this way for nothing.

There were two choices: 1. Head back 2. Stay to view what we could of the park. As we’d come all of this way, we decided to stay.

Despondently, we got the bus around the park and then walked up to the Grand Canyon so that we could at least say we’d been. Guess what!? We could totally see it! In fact, I think the snow made it look even more awe-inspiring.

Day 5: Williams and Out

We woke up from a successful trip in Williams, a town nearby the Grand Canyon, and made our way back to Phoenix to get set for our team meetup.

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The Wild Wild West.

Day 6 and Beyond.

Automattic has over 400 people spread out all over the World and working remotely. It may sound strange but, despite the distance, the teams that work together are very close. We spend all day communicating in text, .gifs, and emoji on our internal P2s and Slack channels.

Meetups are our chance to see each other in person. We work, learn, laugh, and bond. Some highlights from Phoenix in Phoenix for me: S’mores by the fire, Old Town Scotsdale, the drama that was #underweargate, and getting our nails done together.

All in all, I had a lovely two weeks in Arizona and am so happy to be able to cross “Visit Grand Canyon” off my bucket list. I also feel incredibly lucky to have been able to spend the time there with such a wonderful group of people. I’m looking forward to the next all-company meetup in September.

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April Fool’s!

Do you think we let a little thing like being thousands of miles apart stop us from pranking our colleagues on April Fool’s day? Nope!

Alx is renowned for his pranks at Automattic and, while a few folks were throwing around ideas for an April Fool’s retaliation this year, I came up with the suggestion of sending a singing telegram to Rick Roll him in person. After a quick Google, I was delighted to find PeppyGrams, a company in NYC that has a dedicated Rick-Roll-A-Gram service. We were able to work with them and as a team to get the prank off the ground.

The Rick-Roll-A-Gram arrived at Alx’s co-working space in Philadelphia at 11.00am ET today and you can see the video in his blog post here.

We timed the prank to be inline with one of his team video hangouts and a few of us joined the hangout when the singing started, which is why Alx keeps an eye on the monitor throughout the video. 🙂 I was one of the ones crying with laughter on the other side.

Thank you for all of your pranks and being fun to work with, Alx! I’m already a little nervous about next year’s April Fool’s. 😉

One Year at Automattic

I’ve been working at Automattic for one whole year today and I can’t help but reflect on the wonderful experiences that have come my way as a result.

It’s sometimes tricky to describe the company to people who aren’t familiar with it because Automattic isn’t normal by most standards: We all work remotely and are spread out across over 30 different countries. On my team alone, there are people based in the US, England, Peru, Sweden, Canada, Israel, Austria, Bulgaria, Malaysia, France, Ireland, Indonesia, and Wales.

As I’m not required to be in a physical office, I’ve been able to work while travelling a lot. Teams within Automattic also have in-person team meetups every few months. I’m hoping to blog about each of these experiences over time but, for now, I’ll just say that I’m more than grateful for the chance I’ve had to travel and explore other places so freely.

It hasn’t been all about the travel though. This past year, I’ve been privileged to work with an incredibly talented, diverse, and interesting group of people on a product that we’re all passionate about.

Here’s hoping for many more years to come, even if my Mum does still joke that I need to get a “proper job.” 😉