Saturday, October 7, 2017

Heightened expectations and the stories that will be told ...

We are now hard at it, packing the RV; clothes are hanging and shoes stored away and shortly, we head off for our last shopping spree to fill in the pantry with the many items we simply forgot about in our previous trips to the shops. It’s not a big list but we will be heading back down to Boulder as it seems Ft Collins is a hard place to shop for prime beef – only choice. Even at Whole Foods. Surprising but prime makes a big difference even when grilling outside on a Coleman gas BBQ. NO worries though, we will get it all done and come mid-morning, Sunday, we hit the highway for one last trip before the RV season concludes.

Once again, it’s going to be mostly business as we will catch up with clients and prospects. There is always too opportunity to pick up new material for future blogs and taking a picture or two helps with setting the stage for story lines to follow. It’s been amazing these past couple of years just how many story lines we have come up with while staring out the windscreen looking at blacktop disappearing into the horizon. This summer though hasn’t been good to us with more than our fair share of mishaps taking place. But we only just read that it is these mishaps that work their way into our conversation and writings as we tend to forget about those trips that are incident free. “Nothing to report,” isn’t the fodder of interesting anecdotes!

The RV isn’t running at 100% as there are still a number of maintenance items to take care of on our return and already we have it scheduled to be turned in for the end of season (and winterizing) service once we have unloaded and packed away everything we are working so hard to put into the RV right now. The really nice thing about having a home that motors down the highway is that you don’t really have to be all that concerned with what you have packed. If you aren’t sure about that additional coat or jacket then, no worries; pack them both! And even better, a residence where you can simply walk out the back door and into the RV!

Business has continued to grow and a year has now passed since we decided to launch a monthly digital magazine for the HPE NonStop community. There are other publications out there – hardcopy and electronic – but there was a need for something with a lot less advertising and with much more story telling. Starting from humble beginnings but with the good help from our friends in Scotland at TCM, ever so gradually the number of articles has climbed to where the upcoming issue, what we are calling our first anniversary issue, will most likely contain a record number of articles and commentaries. We are even adding columnists as well as attracting attention (and contributions) from HPE.

Our new home continues to come together and this past week, it was all happening. Friday saw electricians, plumbers, dry-wallers and even quartz suppliers all stop by. Our punch list shrank considerably so much so that we felt quite at home entertaining neighbors in our dining room – a first for us! And yes, we pulled a few good wines from the cellar which went a long way to putting the troubles with the RV well to the back of our minds. Didn’t think about them once or about the upcoming trip for that matter! Or even getting the magazine published; it was good to be able to sit back and enjoy conversations late into the night. But we all took a look at the latest picture to arrive – when hung it will join the other two in the staircase leading to the unfinished basement!

Our thoughts this week have seen us both thinking about Australia and Poland. Not sure what triggered such thoughts but somehow, that magic number, 50, entered our conversations. 1968 was a big and important year for both of us as in March 1968 Margo was in Warsaw as students massed to show support for their colleagues in Prague. Yes, it was that historic time of the Prague Spring and we know that there will be major celebrations under way in both cities. As for me, I finished high school but unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to participate in the last week’s shenanigans. 

The headmaster called my parents the week before and asked that I be kept at home as the school was nervous about exactly what stunts I might pull; who me? To think I was oh so close to buying a motorcycle even then – I had already bought and hid away the denim jacket. So, even as everyone else was enjoying muck-up day / week, I was at home given one extra week of prep time for finals. Looking back at that week, it actually did help me a lot as I was able to make the grade for University; shame my career counselor steered me down the wrong path but that’s a story for another time. And I still have to wonder, as much as I was a budding car enthusiast who even  went so far as to apply for a role inside the design department of GM, if my career counselor would have thought we would have as nice a group of cars, plus the motorcycle but minus the Jeep SRT8, in our garage!

What 2018 holds for us is still under discussion but marrying work with time outside the country will be the gating factor but already, we are leaning towards spending the winter of 2018 / 2019 in Australia rather than heading south to warmer parts of the U.S. For several years we had been planning on setting up the RV on the outskirts of Las Vegas, Nevada, but somehow we just don’t share the enthusiasm we once had. And our prayers and thoughts are with all those families so tragically impacted by the latest insanity. We know no country is safe and there is no place out of reach for those among us bent on unleashing mayhem but spending a leisurely three months on the east coast of Australia may be about as relaxing a place you can find these days.

Our last two trips back to Sydney have been very emotional times for Margo and me. It was almost ten years ago that I received the news that my father had passed away. It came at a time when the company I was working for, GoldenGate, was bought my Oracle and I was ever so politely informed I would not be a party to the new adventure. Looking back at this blog I only just realized that no posts were published for either October or November and I suspect that it was the strain of the occasion that really distracted me from my blogging. The week spent in Sydney in 2009 was just dreadful for both of us and really, one we want to forget. However, it was just one year later that we returned to Sydney and were joined by our good friends, the Kennys.  And even as there were moments when Margo and I reflected on just how upsetting the previous trip had been, 2010 was completely different.

As for Warsaw in 2018, we may be able to write more about that shortly but suffice to say, making the trip to Warsaw is being worked on even as I write this post. Former business colleague, Mike Bennett has just spent a weekend and posted a lot of photos on Facebook and that really sealed the deal for Margo. March is perhaps not the best of times to be heading into central Europe weather-wise but then again, the mood will probably be so similar to what was experienced fifty years ago that I am sure Margo will have a tough time holding back the tears. Even if the celebrations are all in Polish as I no doubt expect that they will be, I am going to be in attendance at everything Margo chooses to attend.

The picture above is of the entrance to the Gdansk shipyards where history begun to unravel for those who so oppressed the Polish people but unfortunately I doubt if we will be able to make it back to Gdansk this time even though, in summer, it is a beautiful place to visit.

Back to packing up the RV and thinking of the stories we may be able to tell in a week’s time. The drive will not be too onerous as we will be overnighting in the college town of Las Vegas, New Mexico before setting up camp in Albuquerque where there is a lot of interest in the big hot-air balloon festival. We have plans on camping nearby to take-in as much of the festivities as time allows. We then plan, weather permitting (and yes, the forecast for Monday night calls for snow here along the Colorado front ranges), on taking a different route back to Windsor – via Page, Arizona, and then through Zion’s National Park in Utah before turning east along Interstate 70. Again our plans for the return trip could all fall apart pretty quickly if the snow begins to pile up in the Rockies so fingers crossed.

On the other hand, it is all part of a very familiar routine. Margo and I just love the change of seasons here in Colorful Colorado. There’s nothing quite like it and we only just managed to squeeze in a quick trip up into the front ranges to see the aspens changing color but once again, they didn’t disappoint and we were able to see the splendor of a giant patchwork quilts as aspens and firs gave us a checkerboard display of greens and yellows. Wonderful and even as the tourist traffic begins to seriously thin-out – yes, it’s now an easy drive to Estes Park with amply parking available everywhere you look and a far cry from the crowded streets of only a few weeks ago.

Well, the excitement about has further heightened in the time I have spent typing this post. Here in Windsor the day has warmed rather nicely and thoughts of cold and snow have been pushed to one side. I may even wash the RV, top to bottom; the last big wash it had was in the days before we started our summer adventure back in late May so yes, it’s long overdue. And yet, I will approach that task rather casually, taking it pretty easy as the late afternoon begins to set in. Tomorrow? Looking forward to as brilliant a dawn as we have been experiencing of late! It will be a big day and I am now looking forward to pulling out of the driveway for the first time since taking up residence in our new home and how I feel about that you will just have to wait for another post.

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