SitePen is a rather unique company. For those of you who don’t already know, everyone in our company works from home. We are all spread across the United States. Despite that, the magic of our culture is that we feel closer to our coworkers at SitePen than at our previous office-based jobs. How is that even possible?!? We have grown together (think Katamari Damacy) through phone and online conversations and the virtual office we share is a very real thing for us. However, as a result, most of us haven’t seen each other’s faces before. Unplugged was a treat for everyone as it gave us a week to indulge in the opposite end of the social spectrum. No electronic devices, only face to face interactions and (gasp! frightening, I know) eye contact! Hey seriously, stop looking at the floor… I’m up here!
Leading up to the Unplugged event itself, nobody knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into. We only knew that we signed a few scary waivers, there would be rafting, no electronic devices, and that our flights were taking us all to Colorado on the same day. Suspense and intrigue leading into a new, shared adventure!
The first day was peaceful. We all flew into Denver, met up in a hotel conference room, then hopped on a 3 hour charter bus to Buena Vista, CO.
Buena Vista is a small, beautiful town in the mountains at an elevation of 8,000 feet. Our first introduction to this elevation came when we walked a few blocks from the hotel to the restaurant where we had dinner. Those few blocks felt more like a 5k due to the thin air! That and we have desk jobs, let’s be honest. We survived, enjoyed a lovely meal together, then called it a night. Little did we know these would be our final moments to enjoy modern plumbing!
The rafting company picked us up bright and early. After we arrived at their facility…
WRONG! Right after we launched, we had to furiously paddle through Class III and Class IV rapids as well as the fabled Miracle Mile. The guides took good care of us so we all made it through, unscathed. We even managed to enjoy a few pirate jokes along the way!
We continued to paddle down the Arkansas River throughout the day until dinner time when we headed to shore and setup camp. We helped to unload the gear from the rafts and pitch our tents, then the guides did the rest. We were spoiled by the lovely meals they prepared, the fire they lit, and the s’mores ingredients that materialized at just the right moment.
Then there was the Groover. We aren’t going to talk about the Groover.
High altitude reminder: sun block no longer blocks the sun… It only mildly distracts it.
We all woke up to blueberry pancakes, bacon, and coffee. A breakfast of champions! Mainly because of the bacon. Once we finished breakfast, we loaded the rafts and set out on the river to continue our adventure.
We took in the scenery of Browns Canyon as we drifted along. Prior to lunch we were treated to a small hike onto one of the high rock formations overlooking the river.
After the canyon, we had the option for six people to skip the rafts and use inflatable kayaks which were nicknamed “duckies”. The duckies allowed for more control paddling in the river so that was great.
Because the rapids weren’t as intense as the previous day, we had more time to admire the breathtaking scenery. Beautiful mountains, soaring eagles, exquisite rock formations, and great company all day. All of this, plus the occasional duckie rescue, made for excellent photo ops. It was enough to distract everyone from noticing any exposed skin that continued to bake in the sun.
When it was close to dinner time we beached the rafts at our new campsite and got camp setup again. We went on to enjoy playing horse shoes, card games, tossing around a football, and we even managed to improvise some karaoke.
The night progressed into epic festivities as we gathered around the camp fire to finish all the fine spirits we brought down the river with us. It was one of those nights we will never forget, but for all the right reasons. Everyone got along like long-lost friends reunited.
This would be the final day of the rafting portion of our adventure. After we broke down camp and loaded our gear onto the rafts, we jumped into the rafts and duckies once more.
By lunch time we pulled into Salida and were set loose on a rafting play hole. We were allowed to use duckies to try to surf the river wave located there. At one point the guides asked if some of us wanted to attempt to surf the large raft!
This marked the end of our rafting journey, but it wasn’t the end of Unplugged! We turned in all of the rafting gear and got on the charter bus back to Denver.
After some nice hot showers, that may or may not have drained the hot water supply of the hotel, we met downstairs for our last adventure: DINNER!
We traded in s’mores for high class dining! We enjoyed a choice of several delicious entrees.
Then after we were stuffed, we piled into our slick ride to the hotel.
At the hotel, we got in the last round of hugs, said our goodbyes, and then went to sleep.
We all dragged our exhausted bodies to the Denver airport and jumped on planes to go home. The week was over, but we took with us memories of a wonderful bonding experience with our fellow SitePenners. We shared screams of terror and excitement, countless laughs, and many heartfelt stories.