Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I see red, I see red oh, I see red!


Not to do an injustice to the lyrical skills of that New Zealand band, Split Enz, but truly, as I look around the township of Niwot I am taken back by just how popular maple trees have become, and this year the display has been fantastic. We have a number of maples in our own yard but they are puny compared to what our neighbors have planted and coming at a time when the golden leaves of the aspen trees have long gone, the splash of brilliant red everywhere you turn makes for a colorful vista. Winter isn’t too far behind the changing of the colors, mind you, but we will take the sunny days we have been enjoying without any complaints whatsoever.

All too soon, the reds of fall will join the golds leaving only the soulful pines to throw a little color across the landscape. But it’s not all sadness; winter does bring its own joys of course, and with the end of October we celebrated Halloween by staying right away from the house – with the distance that exists between homes where we are it’s a tough haul for the little ones to drag buckets up and down the cul-de-sacs. But the colorful display of colors, particular the reds, was helped considerably of course by the change in colors of the cars in the garage.

It was only a short time back that all but one of our cars was black – there was the Cadillac Escalade, the Nissan GT-R and the Viper SRT and really, as much as I like black cars and enjoy driving them, it was time for a change. Today we have a complete change in palate – there are no black cars and only one car isn’t red. As I look back on my life the role red has played (together with black) is somewhat uncanny and I am sure there’s folks specializing in what influences the colors we choose later in life, but my high school colors at Normanhurst Boys’ High School were red and black as were the colors of Nixdorf Computer and later Tandem Computers, as indeed were the colors of ACI Worldwide.


Earlier in the month we had the opportunity to meet with a prospect in Beaver Creek so we took advantage such an occasion offered by checking into the Beaver Creek Park Hyatt. A really good pub I have to say where the vistas too were spectacular. A chateau set high among the peaks it was clearly waiting for the first snowfalls of winter and with numerous ski lifts terminating on the grounds of the hotel, you can see why it becomes as crowded as it does when the powder piles high on the surrounding ski runs. Even without the skiers present, we were able to take our little “S’mores Package” that hotel guests are given out to a fire pit where we enjoyed the simple pleasure of turning marshmallows in the flames as we let our dinner settle.

We took the Maserati for the run up the mountains and even though we question our sanity in having such an exotic sitting in the garage just for the run into the mountains there’s definitely no question at all about the comfort it provides. It’s not a race car and it’s not really a sports car but as a grand tourer it excels and leaves its occupants unaffected by anything that may be taking place outside the vehicle. And there was plenty of disruption as anyone crossing the Rockies via Interstate 70 will tell you. From installing fire suppression systems inside of the Eisenhower Tunnel to completing a new tunnel that takes the interstate away from ongoing rock slides that disrupt the traffic on a regular basis, it was no quick trip up the mountains.

Of course, heading to Beaver Creek that is part of the Vale valley, we did stop for lunch in Vale at our “usual”. It’s a small restaurant called La Tour and it always has fish on the menu that’s just a delight to eat – its preparation and presentation is always first class. And the wine list is very intriguing, with wines (nearly all of them from Europe) with which we just aren’t familiar so it simply adds to the occasion. Getting away from the daily routine even where it’s just for an overnight stay is always something we enjoy doing and there’s rarely a circumstance we will pass up in order to pursue such outings – Margo sitting by the window enjoying the mid-morning sunshine a reminder of just how relaxing such breaks in the routine can be.


But the color red only tells part of the story. There’s still the red Corvette Z06 sitting in the garage now equipped with new brake rotors and pads – StopTech supplied the rotors, Hawk supplied the track pads. We have a bothersome check engine light associated with traction control, active handling and the ABS that will need to be sorted out even as we know the tires are shot. The Vette is a bit dicey out on the highway right now – but with spring, on goes a set of Toyo R888s, I suspect.  This, however, isn’t the story of red that I had in mind. For me, any story featuring the color red has to include references to wines. Yes, a good wine from Australia particularly from a select paddock in South Australia and oh, yes, even up in the Hunter River district, has been a perennial favorite in our family.

Ever since we met the Kennys of Simi Valley (and yes, a red Corvette too)it’s been Martinis along with the occasional Campari and soda – at least it is reddish in color. Martinis have become our family go-to drink at the end of day as we attempt to wind down, switch off, and enjoy whatever is left of the evening. I have had the good fortune of late to entertain clients at the house and our hospitality has always included the proverbial Martini but then again, our penchant for Aussie red wines borders on historical significance so more often than not, it’s a trip to the cellar that’s called upon.

 Now we have a new favorite Martini, quite by accident, really. Fair enough, it started earlier this year with our trips to Las Vegas where the bars, both in the Venetian and Encore, served fabulous pear Martinis and with our recent sojourn at the Park Hyatt, we discovered yet another variation. Throw a little ginger into the mix, add just the tiniest amount of squeezed lime to the already lavish splashing of pear juice and you have something special. Yes we have enjoyed “pear-fect martini” as well as the “pear-o-sol martini” but a casual stroll into the local Williams Sonoma saw us encounter a mix of pear, ginger and lime in proportions I can only describe as exquisite – throw a little nutmeg on the surface of the pour, and there you have it. A delightful aperitif! And one, captured in the photo below,  that was about to be enjoyed.


But wait, this isn’t the end of our encounter with the color red. Yes, over the past couple of weeks we have been digging deep into the wine cellar and have pulled the cork from a fine 1993 Penfold’s Magill Estate, not to mention a 1996 Brunello to die for. And the good thing here is that even as we have been raiding the wine cellar with gusto these past few years – when we sell the house, why should we pay to have the wine cellar moved – all that’s left is monumental and we are having great fun enjoying the vintages remaining. And no, you will not likely hear of all the wines imbibed – we have a 1996 Penfold’s Grange still holding up well, not to mention a double magnum of 1998 Lake’s Folly for connoisseurs who know of the skills of the late Dr. Max Lake.

At this point I would like to add how green with envy I am of the young Colton Herta – yes, as his siblings tell me, “we all want to be Colton!” It comes up in blogs fairly regularly but for most of 2015, young, 15 year old, Colton has not been present in Valencia, California but rather in Woking, UK, driving for the famous Carlin racing team. If you aren’t familiar with Carlin racing their most recent graduates have included the likes of current F1 drivers Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen. Good company to keep for sure, but to get a ride with this team, you need to be special and Colton for all those who have kept up with my posts for the last couple of years know of how special Colton is – and he is just 15.


Campaigning a full season with “the FIA F4 concept – branded the MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, Powered by Ford EcoBoost – is one of the most exciting developments in junior motorsport for decades,” according to the Carlin web site. And yes, from being mid field at the end of the first half of the season and running on tracks he had never seen before, apart from simulators, Colton blitzed the field to record more points and more wins than anyone else in the second half to close out the season in 3rd place. Oh yes, he’s the real deal.

Perhaps the most complementary of remarks about Colton’s performance came from his fellow Carlin teammate who went on to win the series, Lando Norris. When asked by an interviewer from Carlin, about the biggest challenge he had to overcome during the season, his response was telling. “My biggest challenge came from within the team itself in the form of Colton … the guy I had to beat in the second half of the season was Colton. And he was in the same car and had the same team around him so that really pushed me hard.”

When asked about whether having a teammate like Colton was a positive force on his season Norris was again very positive. “I loved working with Colton it was really cool. We are really good mates and he pushed me hard from the very first test to the final race of the season … He also challenged me for wins throughout the season which led to a great battle between the pair of us.” What does his famous dad, Indy team winner, Bryan Herta, have to say about young Colton? Well yes, “he came on strong,” during that second half of the season even as, “From my point of view, I’d just say I am a proud father who is enjoying immensely seeing his son make his way in the world and finding great success.”

Standing on the podium as the winner of the final race of the season, it’s clear that there’s a ton of determination resonating from that youthful countenance and while it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that he will remain with Carlin for the foreseeable future. The investment he has made in learning these British tracks should stand him in good stead should he elect to try his hand at more senior formulas. Oh yes, Colton is more than “red-dy” to take another step up the ladder to yet bigger things to come!

While we haven’t any firm plans to return to Europe any time soon, the potential for Colton to progress further has Margo and me ready to make a quick dash should the circumstances develop where we can follow Colton more closely – I have said this to other family members already, but it was back in 2004 that Margo and I watched the Monaco Grand Prix where another youngster, driving for Jaguar F1 (yes, Jaguar) was making some pretty good moves – Mark Weber. It was only a few months later that he was recruited to drive for Williams that eventually led to his lengthy stint with Red Bull.

So yes, in the sport of motor racing, there’s many variables but the one that counts the most is winning and should the next move by Colton put him into a field where he is highly competitive then who knows! As for the headlines following the last event in the series it would be hard to beat the one that appeared on the MSA Formula web site, "Herta hurtles to a season-capping Ford-powered victory at Brands Hatch."



Living vicariously through the dedication of others is easy for me. But before I wrap up for the month, I must make mention of the ongoing struggle by the twin grandsons of Margo. For three weeks now, our routine has been most unusual, to say the least. The alarm goes off at 3:30 am and we dress quickly and head to the Presbyterian / St Luke’s Medical Center in Denver – a 70+ mile return trip. The smaller of the twins, Evan, has been readmitted and has undergone procedures to make it possible for him to take on sustenance – yes, still many vital pieces that the surgeons have been gradually piecing together, one surgery at a time. But I have to admit he has done admirably and should be discharged shortly.

Given that we had an early winter snowstorm one morning, and with constant road works along much of I-25, I am driving Margo to the hospital where she spends eight hours relieving other family members who worked the night shift. I then do the return trip anytime between 11:00am and 1:00pm. For both of us, notorious night-owls, it’s been quite a change in routine. In bed by 7:30pm (perhaps 8:00pm) wouldn’t have been something I would have predicted we would be doing had you asked me just a year ago. On the other hand, as the picture below depicts, Margo derives a lot of joy from the twins!


For anyone taking the drive into Colorado it is hard to miss the welcome signs at every major state line, “Welcome to Colorful Colorado”, and each time we see that sign, we know we have only a couple of hundred miles to cover before we are back home once again. To many this signals the presence of golden colors but as cities grow and suburbs spread, the wide open grasslands of the prairies are being developed where non-native trees are making the presence felt.

With late fall, the colors of autumn are now picture card “pear-fect,” even as we are “red-dy” for the coming of winter and looking forward to a spell of time together in front of the fireplace. With window curtains thrown back and the lights dimmed and a return to baked diners and hot soups, with major festive occasions just around the corner, we are once again about to enjoy the other delights of Colorado most people associate with the state. Snow!   

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

GREAT READ RICHARD..THANK YOU !!!!
Jangirl

Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing a bit of Colorado joy into my heart today, sitting here in Cape Town, where we're just about to go into full-on summer! Cheers - Patty