The long road to Seattle

I don’t know where or when it started – maybe it was way back in middle school, when his ultrasonic distance meter won the science fair, or in 2012, the year when he spoke on “Digital Signal Processing with Android and Arduino” at four distinct Code Camps at CSUF, UCSD, USC, and the most beautiful Pecos Campus in Chandler Arizona, or maybe just a short three years ago, when he decided to join the Computer Science program at SDSU.

Wherever and whenever it started, the road to the Seattle started long before last Saturday, when the truck was loaded, ready to leave this little hick town for the big city in the state of Washington, on the eastern shores of Puget Sound.


Tom had been working with embedded devices since 2007. Devices like Arduino, Lego Mindstorms, and Lego RIS/RCX. He worked with Raspberry Pi, using Python, WiringPi, and the Adafruit Web IDE to develop programs to utilize external devices. So when it came to college, the only question remaining was “Engineering or Science?”. I.e., computer engineering or computer science … and computer science it was.

Tom’s slide decks can be found here, but I have the feeling that he may have had a more profound impact on all the participants, attending one of the StudentRND’s Code Days he organized as an Regional Manager or served at as an Evangelist. 

Team EMPRN17 at CodeDay Atlanta – Spring 2017

Despite also working for SDSU’s Instructional Technology Services, he pushed through college in just three years and last year’s three months long internship at Amazon Web Services in Seattle led to a job offer that almost beat him on the way home.

So last Saturday the actual road to Seattle needed to be travelled. Not an easy trip, in so many ways. While Google will happily tell you that the almost 1300 miles can be driven in 20 hours, neither LA traffic nor U-Haul trucks, seem to necessarily agree with Google’s estimates.  But just as planned, we made it to Sacramento on the 1st day and had a nice dinner at the Kick’n Mule Sports Bar and Restaurant in West Sacramento. 

California Interstate 5, between Fisher and Castella

On Sunday, we drove through some incredibly scenic areas. For instance, after going through Redding, where we stopped at the Best Little Sandwich Shop for a quick lunch break, the area around Shasta Lake is just beautiful. We got stuck in traffic going up to Mt. Shasta, where the I5 narrows to one lane, and left California much later than expected.

Due to the delay we adjusted our plans and stopped for dinner in Eugene. We passed Corvallis in the blink of an eye. Corvallis, my manager when I worked for HP Inc. used to have her office there; moving on …  leaving Oregon behind.

Mezza Luna Pizzeria, Downtown Eugene

After a really long day, we got out of the truck shorty after 9:00pm and were truly surprised that it was kind of cold and that the sun was just going down in Vancouver, WA.

Monday, the last day of our trip together, only a short three hours long drive to Tom’s new home in Queen Ann Seattle, a very nice and affluent neighborhood and geographic feature in Seattle, just northwest of downtown. 

After signing the lease, it took us only about 90 minutes to unload the U-Haul truck and carry the boxes and furniture into his apartment on the 3rd floor. It’s a really nice place with impressive views – I didn’t want to leave the roof top.

Roof Top

After returning the truck, we had a quick late lunch at the Potbelly Sandwich Shop (1429 4th Ave) and at the close by Westlake Center’s Light Rail Station we said our goodbyes. Right there and then, I somehow did manage to hold back my tears, but not for much longer.

My plane back to San Diego left perfectly on time and the flight offered some awesome views of Mount Rainier (Mount Rainier is the highest mountain of the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest, and the highest mountain in the U.S. state of Washington  – Elevation: 14,411’)

Mount Rainier