Paris to Madrid or Bust!! After the Blackboard Teaching & Learning Conference in Swansea last week a number of us on the Blackboard team found ourselves stuck in London, refugees of the Icelandic Volcanic Ash Cloud.  With the cloud growing larger by the day, thousands of flights canceled across Northern Europe and no end in sight, the team began to realize we could be in London for a while.  We formed an Escape Committee to plan Blackboard’s Great Escape.  The Committee analyzed the situation and developed an Escape Plan.  It was Paris to Madrid or Bust!

The goal was to reach Madrid by Tuesday and hope that the planes are still flying.  We’re competing with thousands of others to reach this goal so teamwork, credit cards and creativity are a must.  Luckily, we have what it takes!  The Escapees are: Maria Santos, Craig Chanoff, Harry Choi, Andy Birkenstock, Mark O’Neil, Roksana Nabavian, and Keely McDonough.

On Sunday night the team set off after enjoying a round of drinks on John Fontaine’s tab.  They took a taxi to St. Pancras Station and boarded the Eurostar bound for Paris.  They made it to Paris just before midnight.  The trip was not without some drama especially when they realized that Maria Santos, Senior Director of Blackboard Events doesn’t travel light and required a taxi of her own just to handle her luggage. 

Early Monday morning the team set out from Paris bound for Madrid in two vans loaded with maps, luggage, bottled water, and new #BbGE team member.  Roksana Nabavian, Blackboard’s Channel Marketing Manager managed to make it to Paris before she got stuck. While trapped in Paris she helped coordinate resources across the Channel.  She brings much to the team and will increase the odds of success significantly because she can speak Spanish and French!  

Late Monday night, 14 hours after leaving Paris, the exhausted team arrived in Madrid!  Fingers were crossed that their flights would materialize on Tuesday.  Luck held and nearly everyone got out today. Mark O'Neil, the final member of the Escape Committee got bumped. He is scheduled to depart Wednesday and happily tweeted that he is looking forward to being home in New Hampshire in just 41 hours.

What about the rest of us? The UK Stayers Club is a hearty bunch:  John Fontaine, Bob Boufford, Jarl Jonas, Jen Matthews, Brad Duggan, Gary Zuckerman, and me (and my mother Annette who got more than she bargained for when I said “Hey do you want to come with me to the UK?”).  We’re counting on the UK airspace to open up in the next day or two despite the emergence of a new threatening ash cloud. 

As with any modern expedition, ours has a hash tag = #BbGE. Follow along as Craig Chanoff tweets the team’s progress

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