TSQL Tuesday #99: SQL Tourism


It’s T-SQL Tuesday,  the blog party that SQL Server expert Adam Machanic (blog|twitter) started. This month’s episode is hosted by Aaron Bertrand (blog | twitter). The topic: Dealer’s Choice (Door Number 1: #sqlibrium)

When I was a kid, Choose Your Own Adventure books were overwhelming because I wanted to explore every possible option–some things never change. This month for T-SQL Tuesday, Aaron offers two blogging options and I’ve chosen to do both. “Door Number 1” is a challenge to write about what you do in your free time, inspired by Drew Furgiuele’s #sqlibirum post. That blog post is below. My other post is for the “Door Number 2” option is to talk about his Bad Habits series–I’ve opted to bring up a topic Aaron hasn’t blogged about: tabs vs spaces.

SQL Tourism? What’s that?

I made it the term, but it’s a very real thing. When I started travelling to speak at SQL Server events, I committed that I would make the most of it. To me, that means a lot more than just attending the event where I’m speaking. Sure, I want to learn and network at the event, but it means more than that, too. It means actually seeing the city where I’m speaking. It means enjoying the entire trip. It means making new friends, and connecting with old friends. Sometimes, it even means bringing my husband with me.

I work really hard. Some days I’m at my desk before 7:30, and working again after dinner until bedtime. My blog doesn’t write itself–most posts are written nights & weekends after I’ve finished my work obligations for my paying work. That makes it really important to have some down time when I can. When Drew Furgiuele (blog | twitter) posted his #sqlibrium post, it really struck me, because it’s something that a lot of us struggle with–remembering to strike that balance between work and life.

My SQLSaturday plan

When I speak at a SQLSaturday, I try to fly into the city on Friday morning. This gives me all day Friday to relax, sight see, and have fun. I usually have a mental list of things I could do–but no real agenda. I avoid scheduling myself too much so that I can just roll with it and relax. Relaxing is hard for me–so I go out of my way to make sure the Friday before a SQLSaturday is just a chill, calm day. It helps me forget the stresses of work, and helps me be in the right mindset to teach, learn, and network the next day.

Sometimes I visit tourist attractions (in 2017 I went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland), sometimes I visit museums (National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washtonton, DC was incredibly moving), sometimes I just hunt for great food and drink (Kentucky is known for bourbon!), and sometimes I try to go off the beaten path and find something that isn’t the usual tourist visit–which is what I did this year in Cleveland.

SQLSaturday Cleveland

A few days before my flight to Cleveland, I sent a message to Bert Wagner (blog | twitter | YouTube) and asked for some suggestions on things to do with my free day in Cleveland. Bert sent me a fantastic list of things to do–way more than I would have time to do. I was really excited to get to Cleveland to check out some of the things Bert suggested. I think most people think “Cleveland in February is going to be so boring,” and Bert’s suggestions looked like a great way to prove those people wrong.

Blue Hen Falls

One of the things on Bert’s list was a hike in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I went straight there from the airport, changed into my hiking boots, and hit the trail.

Buckeye Trail at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Being a native New Englander, the 20 degree temperatures and light snow didn’t phase me. The trails were deserted, and I felt like I had the entire park to myself. The hike to Blue Hen Falls is only about a half mile, and pretty quick. There was a fence to keep me from falling over the edge, so I jumped over it and grabbed a few pictures. It was beautiful, but I knew my hike was just starting.

Curiously, no chickens were at Blue Hen Falls.

Just next to the falls, was this sign, that Bert had told me to watch for:

The hike started at this “end of trail” sign

This sign is a liar. I could see the trail kept going right past the sign. Like many people before me, I continued right past that “END OF TRAIL” sign. It was snowing lightly, and I could tell that I was the first person to come down this path all day.

Undisturbed path

A little further up, I got to a stream crossing. The snow made it a bit tougher than usual to figure out where the trail went. I had to be careful about which ice-covered rocks I jumped across. On a summer hike, it’s fun to get a bit wet while crossing a stream. On a 20 degree day in February, getting wet would have probably cut my trip short.

What happened to the path I was on?

After crossing the stream twice (and keeping dry both times), I eventually came across this magical sight. I could hear another waterfall, but couldn’t quite see it yet.

I could hear another waterfall, I just couldn’t see it yet

One more stream crossing. Bert “forgot” to mention that I’d be jumping across ice-covered rocks on this hike. The water was a bit faster here, and all my options involved leaps onto ice-covered rocks. I forged gaily ahead–I could hear the waterfall, so I wasn’t going to stop here.

This was the sketchiest of the crossings

After crossing and hiking down to the bottom of the ravine, I was treated to an absolutely beautiful frozen waterfall.

Buttermilk Falls

Seriously, look at these frozen falls.

Not totally frozen.

There’s something about waterfalls…. it’s just mesmerizing.

You could practically see the ice building up.

I spent a bit of time enjoying nature–hanging out by the falls, hiking on some other trails, then headed back to the car. I had such a great time, I paused for one more selfie on my way out. The frost-covered beard proves that it’s cold.

My beard picked up some nice frost

Porco Lounge & Tiki Room

After my hike, I met up with Bert for a few tiki drinks. I love tiki drinks. Bert and I have chatted on Twitter tons, but this was the first time we met and got to sit down and chat in person. Having some one-on-one time with another speaker/blogger that I respect is great. We talked about work stuff some, but mostly we also talked a lot about life and stuff and things. It was a relaxing, fun,  low-key time with a friend who happens to also be a data pro. I look forward to returning the favor sometime when Bert comes to Boston.

Also, if you’re not following Bert, I’d recommend adding him to your reading/watching list: blog | twitter | YouTube


Greenhouse Tavern

SQLSaturday is a long, busy day and by the end of the day I just want to have a great meal–either alone or with some of my close friends & loved ones. Saturday night after SQLSaturday, I skipped the after party, and instead went to Greenhouse Tavern for dinner with some wonderful friends. I truly love good food, and Greenhouse Tavern delivered. The Chef/Owner is Jonathon Sawyer, a James Beard Award-winning chef who you might recognize from Top Chef if you’re also food obsessed. It was a great way to end the day and wind down.


Photo album

Cleveland was my most recent trip, but it wasn’t my first, and it won’t be my last. I dug through my Google Photos account and pulled together some pictures from my other mini-vacations when I’ve traveled to speak at user groups & SQLSaturdays. I hope you enjoy them–and more importantly, I hope you make the time to find your work-life balance and keep striving to find your #sqlibrium.

SQLSaturday Louisville

When speaking in Louisville, I also visited some friends in Cincinnati, and spent some time at the Cincinnati Art Museum. I sat on a bench in this room for nearly half an hour, just enjoying the intricate designs.
I’m a sucker for pretty blown glass.

I also joined a group of fellow speakers to do a tour of the Bourbon Trail, visiting some of the finest distilleries in Kentucky.

The Woodford Reserve distillery
Woodford had an incredibly beautiful campus.


Bourbon starts its life more closely resembling beer.
So much bourbon!
Kentucky is known for strong horses & strong whiskey.

SQLSaturday Washington, DC

Washington, DC is full of museums. The Air and Space Museum is one of my favorites.
Hubby and I had brunch and scored exclusive seats IN THE KITCHEN.
They even did a food porn shoot while we ate brunch.
At the zoo, Hubby really wanted to bring a panda home.
At the National Zoo, the gorillas were busy getting busy.
I’m an early bird; watching the sunrise over the US Capitol was a beautiful sight.

SQLSaturday New York City

Boston to NYC is an easy ride on the Amtrak
Fearless Girl is a role model–I wanted to meet her in person (that vizsla behind her was pretty excited to meet her, too)
I was a freshman in college when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, but this was the first time that I’ve visited the memorial.
Hubby and I went to see Wicked (again) on Broadway. Minifig Andy joined us, too.

Hampton Roads SQL Server User Group / Virginia Beach

We loved this cafe so much, we ate here both mornings we were in town.
I took my husband with me to Virginia Beach for Valentine’s Day. The aquarium at Virginia Beach was most excellent.

SQLSaturday Philadelphia

Apparently, the only photos I took in Philly were of my meals.

This slightly blurry sandwich was delicious
The sandwich came with a salad.
These are the donuts that the Founding Fathers ate while they drafted the Constitution.
I wasn’t kidding when I said I only took pictures of my food in Philly.
Brunch in Rittenhouse Square before heading home

SQLSaturday Chicago

I was short on time in Chicago, but Mike Hillwig and I made time for a nice steakhouse dinner at Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf.

1 Comment

  1. Very cool, Andy. I used to do this when I traveled less, but the last couple years I’ve been a little too busy to take much time. However, I’ll never forget the woodchipper in Fargo, the falls in Sioux Falls, the Ag museum and underground tour in Sacramento, running in Central Park, the Ironbridge in Iron Bridge, UK, and more. Glad you two get time to tour a bit. Hopefully I’ll get back to it.

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