The Outdoor Retailer show always serves as a stark reminder of where we are in the year, when they moved it to Denver and changed up the dates it totally messed with my internal calendar. I have to say that I am over the moon excited by the fact that the event is back in Salt Lake and set again in mid-June. I feel like all is right in the world as it not only fits well into my schedule but also makes for the perfect kick off to summer with my family. I attend a lot of trade shows and often they consist of a quick turnaround with no buffer on either end. Now, I am not complaining because free travel is free travel BUT this show is the kind of trip I actually look forward to.

Here in Oregon, school ends on June 16th- which is the Friday before the Outdoor Retailer show opens. Our grand plan consists of getting our rental van that Friday evening, loading up and pulling out at the crack of dawn on Saturday the 17th. For those of you who are using Google to tell you how long the trek will be, I say you would be wrong! Yes, according to Google Maps, we are just shy of 12 hours from Salt Lake… but I have driven this route enough times to know that Google does not account for stops, and I make a lot of them! Between potty breaks, food/gas stops and having to stretch every hour and a half or so, this is a two-dayer.

Our plan is to leave early Saturday morning, taking good ol I-84 all the way across Oregon. The best part of that drive is how it takes you through the Gorge… what a beautiful section of the Pacific Northwest. Between the views of the mountains and water and the typically beautiful weather, I really enjoy that part of the drive. Once you start heading south, away from the river – things aren’t quite as pretty… but that is what we have side activities for. My kids have recently taken up geocaching and they are super excited to plant our own geocaches, complete with goods and some Normine Lombard stickers and swag. Where are we going to put these little hidden treats??? All over! If you are a geocacher, then maybe you will find one of our special treats left along the route!

Night one ends in Boise… hey no judgement, that is over halfway! I always tell myself, we could just decide to keep going if we want, but once I see Boise come over the horizon all I can think is BED!! (and hot tub and martini). We will let the kids swim and relax a bit before hitting the road again Sunday morning with our final destination being West Jordan. I have to say that the decision to arrive mid-day Sunday was a tough one because it means missing demo day… and I LOVE DEMO DAY! One thing I have learned from years of show attendance, however, is not to push the travel plans. So, I am heeding my own advice on that one.

By Sunday night we should be snuggled into our AirBnB with all the comforts of home around us… which is key because Monday is going to be a big one! I usually feel like I can walk onto the show floor with little prep work required, but this year things are set to be all different. They just put out a new floorplan, which is going to be helpful when setting the schedule. I remember my first OR show. I didn’t realize the pavilions were a bit of a hike away and I had meetings set all over the place that year. Never again! I am too old for those show floor marathons.

Of course, the show wouldn’t be complete without all of the educational events and shenanigans. Day one starts with Mindful Journaling and consists of various happy hours and a Retailer Discovery Tour. Let’s be real though, what I am looking forward to is the Block Party that closes that day out. That party will feature a variety of fun event and music from Pixie and the Partygrass Boys as well as the City’s largest drone show.  Day two offers a Women’s networking brunch and more happy hours, but the real highlight of that day is the  13th Annual Outdoor Retailer Inspiration Awards. I can’t wait to see who will be featured there this year! The final day of the show, Wednesday, slows down a bit on events because, let’s be real – we are all toast by that time. That day’s big feature is the Community Stewardship Project where volunteers will work on weeds and trash takedown at Wheadon Farmland Preserve.

What a jam packed three days! Combine all that excitement with a ton of client and candidate meetings and I don’t think this trip could be fuller. As it stands now, the plan is to enjoy our last night in Salt Lake after the show, then hit the road home on Thursday morning. We don’t have reservations for that night – I guess we will see where my remaining stamina and sanity land us, and of course I will be sure to take lots of pictures so I can share it all with you when I get back.

See you all in Salt Lake!