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It's been over a year since my last post, and I'm not sure where the time has gone. Felix started kindergarten in August, so we've been very busy with school things. Nhu and I are both volunteering in his class regularly, as is my mom.

In March, the small company I work for was acquired by a much larger government contractor, CACI. This has resulted in some upheaval, but engineering has gone largely unchanged. It remains to see how the benefits situation will change in the medium term, but in the short term the new owners have kept them mostly the same.

Last November I raced in last year's El Tour de Tucson again with former coworkers from IBM, and this next Thursday we will be driving down to Tucson to do the same this year. Of course, it's really just an excuse to hang out with friends, eat at Guadalajara Grill, and have lots and lots of gelato at Frost. We'll be taking the long way home to see some of the sights in Arizona and Utah, and we'll be home on Thanksgiving day, much to the consternation of my mom.

We do have some travel plans in place for next year as well. In February, we'll be taking Felix to Disneyland, and then we'll head down to San Diego to visit Nhu's brother and his kids. In May the three of us will be going to Japan. Nhu has been before, but it will be my first time to Japan, and Felix's first trip out of North America. We're very much looking forward to it.

I've also managed to process and post some photos of our recent adventures, including some beautiful fall leaves.

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 2:13 PM

So much has changed since I last posted, I don't even know where to begin. First and foremost, I am now engaged! At the end of May, the 26th to be exact, I asked Nhu Nguyen to marry me. We were in Tucson for the week, as she signed up for a biology field study class there. While she was exploring Saguaro National Park with her classmates, I worked from the hotel. I spent most of my time inside the room, as it was a very warm 105 degrees for most of the week. Thankfully, it cooled down considerably for the weekend, reaching only the low 90s. On Saturday, we drove up to Phoenix to visit friends and relatives. We first met up with Tracy, a friend of mine from college who has lived in Phoenix since graduation. After some good Thai food, I introduced Tracy to the delectable Frost Gelato, a chain in Tucson and Phoenix which serves the best gelato I have ever had outside of Italy. After saying goodbye to Tracy, Nhu and I went to visit Nhu's aunt and cousins, who also live in the Phoenix area. I told them that we had to leave at five o'clock, though, because I had somewhere in Tucson to take Nhu for sunset. They told us to check out out Hole-in-the-Rock instead so we could stay longer, but ultimately we decided too much hiking would be involved. So, Nhu and I left for Grant's Pass soon thereafter. Of course, once we got there, we found out that the sun was far enough north that we did have to hike just a bit to be able to see the sun go down, so I helped Nhu along the trail, since she was in sandles. A few minutes later, we found a good spot to sit, and I began, of course, to take some pictures. While doing this, though, I dug the engagement ring out of my camera bag, and gave it to Nhu. The look on her face was priceless. I asked her, "so, is that a yes?" to which she responded, "yes to what?" I then said, "will you marry me?" And the answer was yes!

Another recent change in my life has been my departure from IBM. My last day there was the 30th of May. I am now working at a much smaller consulting company called Neudesic, a small tehnical consulting firm that focuses on software development using Microsoft technologies. This change should see me near home much more often, which has its pluses and minuses. I still have a passion for visiting (and photographing) new places, but I do like the idea of going where I want to go. Most importantly, though, I will be able to spend more time with my fiancée! So far the new job is enjoyable. My first project is using the latest and greatest from Microsoft: ASP.NET MVC 3, with Razor views. Unfortunately, my first project is all the way down in Centennial, which means I have a rather colossal drive. I was told that it is the exception to the rule, though, as most projects allow much more remote work, so we'll see. I do have high hopes for my role at Neudesic!

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 2:57 PM
Filed under: Travel, Nhu, Phoenix, Tucson, Job, Arizona

Three months this time... I guess that's an improvement! Since I last posted, I have started a new project in Issaquah, Washington, which is a suburb of Seattle. I started there at the beginning of February, and aside from a good amount of sun the first week I was there, the weather has been pretty bleak. It even snowed once, and apparently 2-3 inches is enough to keep people away from work, as half the client's employees stayed home the next day.

I haven't taken any photos to speak of since starting the project, though I did take a couple fun trips just before. In late December, I went on a road trip to Arizona, to see some things that I hadn't yet seen, and to revisit some favorites. My first stop was the Petrified Forest National park, but I had unfortunately forgotten to charge my batteries, and didn't get any photos there. Next on the list was the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Immediately afterward, though, I managed to get stuck in Flagstaff, snowed in by well over a foot of snow. I was stuck in the area for a day and a half, but I did manage to leave on the day I had originally planned, so that was a plus. From there, I went to see Monument Valley again, which was absolutely beautiful after being dusted with snow. The next day, I made my way down to Canyon de Chelly, which was something I had not seen before. Spider Rock is really quite beautiful, especially when surrounded by a blanket of snow on a sunny day. From there, I went to Albuquerque to spend the night, and home the following morning.

In January, a bunch of us on the project in San Jose went down to Los Cabos for a few days, as a sort of last hurrah. I had been working with some of them for over three years at that point, so we had become pretty good friends. It was my first trip to Mexico, and I had a great time there. The Hilton resort there is beautiful, and the two towns of San Jose and San Lucas have plenty to offer. We took a small boat out to Land's End, the very tip of Baja California. We also rented a car there, which was an experience in itself. Nobody drove as crazily as I was expecting, though, so that was a relief.

I do have a few trips coming up, once the weather gets nicer, some planned in more detail than others. First, I am going to take a week and go see some spots in Utah that I have not yet seen, such as Zion and Canyonlands. I'm hoping to make it out to the Bonneville salt flats as well. After that, I am going all the way to the other coast to see Washington D.C.'s cherry blossom festival, which I am greatly looking forward to. I also would like to visit Vancouver, the Olympics, the Cascades, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helen's while I'm in the Seattle area, but I think I am going to wait a bit before I get to those. I'd also love to make it up to Alaska during the summer as well.

Posted by nick.steinbaugh at 12:35 PM