Tomorrow around noon, my co-workers, their spouses and I are all traveling to Gatlinburg for our annual retreat. It is by far one of my favorite perks of the job, mostly because during an average year Samantha and I take maybe a mini-vacation to some very non-vaction-like locale (read: Martin or Memphis, Tennessee). A trip to the mountains does wonders for unwinding from the stress of the previous 11 months. I am a bit bummed that I am making the trip solo this year, as Samantha has had a few things come up at the last minute.
There is the four-hour ride up there, where most of it seems like it is spent in a giant traffic jam in Pigeon Forge. Then there is the time relaxing at the cabin (shooting pool, playing cards, losing miserably in games of Mafia). There's the day in Gatlinburg itself, with all the kitschy storefronts and bavarian flare. There's the go-karts on the way home. And then the long drive back. I act like an expert, but this is only the second year going. We did a tally of the number of new folks coming this year, and they almost outnumbered those that went last year.
So even though I'm bummed Samantha is not planning to come along, I am still looking forward to the weekend. I work with a pretty cool group of men and women, and unlike most corporate "retreats," there is very little "corporate" about it. I'll try not to be too lonesome this weekend.