As you can probably extrapolate from the gap in entries here, I've been slightly busy the last six months. (And for that, I offer my sincerest apologies to you, dear reader.) But even with such a pace, one must take time to pause, catch one's breath and look up to see what's ahead; otherwise, one will not see the obstacles ahead. To accomplish this, I tried something entirely different: I took a day trip on the train.
Why, you may ask, would I subject myself to such tomfoolery? Ah, see, the Amtrak Cascades line is not like your usual Amtrak train. It's quite different from the usual "Superliner" variety, a European design offering air conditioning, AC power for each seat, a large dining area for spreading out and panoramic views of the countryside. And by tethering my iPhone for Internet access, I'm able to reply to email and browse the Web at decent speeds for the majority of the trip. Leaving in the morning, the train arrives in Seattle for a business meeting or lunch, and one can then return on the evening train and be home in time for dinner.
The real advantage of this is it creates the sense of being away from the office... it's just different enough to make it easy to put aside the usual to-do list and invest some well deserved time and attention on the big picture, long-term strategy, and planning how to get there. By spreading out in the dining car, with a large sheet of paper from a flip chart (yes, old school style), I can literally map out all the different ideas, thoughts, issues, opportunities and challenges and begin to organize, draw connections, and make plans for next steps.
Given the proximity to Seattle by train, I wouldn't be surprised if I find myself doing this a bit more often. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the dining car also serves beer and wine and takes credit cards. I suggest you give it a try.