Monday, December 11, 2017

Let it snow! Let it snow! Yes, we’re dreaming of a white Christmas!


The last days of fall are still with us and the long shadows that are being cast over the golf course behind our home are a reminder that the dark days of winter are not that far away. Ominous clouds seem to be ever present but the vista from our deck continues to remind us why we moved to Windsor, Colorado – it’s simply a quiet retreat where everyone knows their neighbors. The sense of village and community is unmistakable and as good natured as we are about it, there are still times when we miss our old haunts. Fine dining in Windsor? There are BBQ joints and fast-food outlets, but little to compare with what we enjoyed in Boulder County.

Then again, this is truly the season to entertain and to enjoy meals served at home and the deck-side grill has seen a lot of overtime. If you had told me that you could turn to a simple Coleman propane gas grill – yes, the same one we take with us on our RV excursions – and turn out really good food then I would have thought you were exaggerating. But turn out good meals is exactly what it has been doing and with the weather continuing to remain fine, we have kept at it even as the calendar is telling us winter is about to arrive. 



For all intents and purposes, we have said good bye to our RV – the vehicle we depend upon during the warmer months as our company command center. As a home away from home on business trips across the country, it became a place where we can easily unwind. No matter the location or the temperature, it has really changed our life so much so that given an opportunity to conduct business anywhere in North America, we can be ready in 48 hours. Pulling the trailer with the Mini Roadster on board has become a standard practice for us, but even so, next spring we will be looking into installing a Blue Ox tow hitch so we can tow the Mini. There are just too many places that prohibit entering with a trailer attached, so unhooking the Mini at the arrival gate makes life a whole lot simpler.

While this isn’t an issue when we are actually on site where we are doing business, as we often take three or four days to get to our destination, we can be afforded side excursions to see what we are passing through – and many times this past summer, the views were such that they were too hard to ignore. Pictured above is a parting shot from Zion National Park with the Watchman looking down on us – a majestic rock formation that is as much a hallmark of Zion as are the Narrows and Angels Landing. Now the RV is being winterized with scheduled maintenance and warranty work being done and shortly we will be retiring it to our storage facility for the winter.


It was just a few weeks back that business took us all the way back to San Francisco and the coast for an HPE event focused on its NonStop systems. At this time of year we rely on our Jeep and just to remind us why, the afternoon of the day before we left, it snowed. Only briefly and it was all gone by the next morning, but nevertheless, it is that time of the year but we really aren’t looking forward to it. However, when it comes to maintenance, it isn’t just about the RV, as we replaced the tires on the Jeep a day or two earlier only to return to Windsor with all the lights on telling us we needed to replace brake pads (and rotors).

That, unfortunately wasn’t the end of the tale as our Mini had to have its rear pads and rotors replaced (the fronts had been replaced a little earlier) only to realize the tires had to go. What a year: Six tires on the RV, four tires on the Jeep with new tires for the Mini on order and fresh brakes all around. In the meantime, our beloved Corvette is sitting in the garage waiting for new tires as well, but they will have to wait till spring, as winter is no time to take to the highways in the Corvette. No matter how best we plan it there is always something that needs replacing and with the BMW i8 going in for routine service we are certain that we will be told that there are parts that need replacing!

 The trip to San Francisco was without a glitch and the event itself went smoothly enough, so with the end of the week approaching we elected to drive back to Windsor via Monterey. A veritable shortcut for anyone who likes to drive and as we had planned to stop by former business associates and now really good friends living just outside Sacramento, it was an opportunity to catch our breath between meetings. Monterey is always a welcome interruption and with dinner at the Sardine Factory – remember those Visa ads featuring this restaurant and how you had to take Visa as they didn’t accept American Express – well, it has changed little through the years. 

We overnighted in a hotel that was anything but first class (there was no car parking option only a valet service to a nearby parking station), it’s location for the price was exceptional as it placed us right in the center of the restaurant and shopping district of waterfront Monterey. No matter the time of the year, it is always a lively place and there were many venues where you could sip a glass of wine and simply peer out the window – something Margo and I have become experts at doing! Cutting across country and into the heart of the San Joaquin Valley meant we had a short run up Interstate 5 and would you believe it? It rained!

As much as the trip to San Francisco proved to be a break within routine and yes, the return trip proved a little more difficult as high winds and blowing snow closed Interstate 80 in the center of Wyoming delaying us a day, I were only spending a week in Windsor before I had to pack for another trip. Prior to leaving for San Francisco I received an invitation from HPE to be its guest at the big-tent marketing event in Madrid, Spain. And as much as I dislike flying anywhere there was no way around it – I were flying to Europe once again. HPE invites independent bloggers to its events and while I have been invited to participate at previous events in Las Vegas, this was my first invitation to venture overseas.

The hotel HPE chose for us was in “the best location in the Plaza de España” – the Barceló Torre de Madrid. A hotel that billed itself as being a luxury designer hotel located in one of the most iconic buildings in Madrid and as such, it proved to be a really good choice. Thank you, HPE. Of course, being in the heart of Madrid meant that we were far from the Convention Center, so HPE had busses on hand to ensure smooth transfers to and from the event. I have been to Madrid several times in the past and while it is not my favorite city in Europe, HPE did go out of its way to ensure our time in Madrid was enjoyable. Again, many thanks, HPE.

Naturally enough, if you are in Madrid you are never too far from good olives and for me, the best way to enjoy an olive, or two, is with a martini and the hotel bar didn’t disappoint. They provided as many olives as you wanted and they tasted great! As for the tapas there were many tapas bars in the area and there was no chance that I would pass them by – the air-cured hams were wonderful as was the seafood. Perhaps Madrid isn’t that bad a place to visit after all! As for the event, there were a number of surprises and for a blogger, more than enough material to keep posts and commentaries coming for several weeks to come.

Of course, if you are in Madrid you are never too far from good olives and for me, the best way to enjoy an olive, or two, is with a martini and the hotel bar didn’t disappoint. They provided as many olives as you wanted and they tasted great! As for the tapas there were many tapas bars in the area and there was no chance that I would pass them by – the air-cured hams were wonderful as was the seafood. Perhaps Madrid isn’t that bad a place to visit after all! As for the event, there were a number of surprises and for a blogger, more than enough material to keep posts and commentaries coming for several weeks to come.

When our busload of bloggers first descended onto the exhibition hall, my first reaction was to assume we had somehow been magically transported to the LA Car Show going on around the same time. Numerous stands featured cars and I am still not sure how many were featured, but I do recall seeing a Jaguar, and Audi and a BMW. The presence had less to do with hybrids or fully electric cars as it did with the Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous operation.  On the other hand, the one car that did catch my interest was the Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) that was campaigned in 2017 in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS). 

Powered by a Nissan 5 liter V8 – yes, I know, many of us only know that these V8s came from trucks originally and you cannot buy a Nissan with this engine – but it looked one serious race car even if to my eye it was pretty low tech. However, that was the point as the promoters wanted to include a prototype vehicle that almost any team could build and run for the year. I am still at a loss as to what exactly it was doing on the floor of the exhibition hall but it certainly proved to be attractive eye candy for everyone walking into the hall. As fortune would have it, I was able to spend a little time with its driver, Max Hanratty, who had been campaigning in Formula 1600 and USF2000 open wheel series and knew our friend’s grandson, Colton Herta as well as his father, Bryan.


Returning to the home front, we finally received our last piece of quartz that we wanted for the kitchen bar. We wanted to provide some separation between the actual kitchen and the bar itself and what we chose turned out to fit the bill entirely. The photo doesn’t do it justice; it does tie together with the colors of the floor, the backsplash and the cabinets and overall, it blends in well with the rest of the open floor plan that encompasses the kitchen, living and dining areas. We only have the drapes and blinds to be installed and we will be pretty much done with the main floor.


What comes next now will be the basement and if you were wondering about the original piece of white quartz we originally had in the kitchen, it is heading downstairs for the bar that will be built. In fact, when completed the bar will mimic the kitchen but in reverse – where there is light quartz in the kitchen there will the grained quarts you see in the photo above. And where there is the grained quartz, it will be white. When we moved into our home, much of the basement had already been framed with only drywall and hardware required so we have asked for quotes to complete the build out. 

Hopefully, if all goes to plan, we will have it finished in time for spring. In the meantime we set it up as a low-tech home theater – we have some very old 35mm slides and we sometimes go down to our unfinished basement and watch the pictures. We think after the basement is finished our move to Windsor will truly be complete, with memories of former residences slipping further into the past … if only we can see some snow around here. A white Christmas? Now wouldn’t that be a fitting end to one amazing year!