Sunday, January 5, 2014

Changes made and yes, changes yet to come …

Margo and I have just returned from spending a couple of days In Denver. Two different locations with two different weather conditions, our last night coinciding with a light snowfall that dimply turned Denver into a fairyland of twinkling lights. In the past, we have spent the break between Christmas and the New Year at much warmer places including Key West and Palm Springs but this year, we wanted to check out Denver to see if it warranted closer inspection.

Many of you may have already noticed the small item concerning our home in Niwot. Yes, it’s up for sale and officially will begin being advertised late January. In the meantime, the “honey do” list that seems to come out of nowhere with such a decision has us interacting with tradesman as we attend to tasks we have simply ignored for the last couple of years. New under counter icemaker for the bar, dish disposal unit for the kitchen, flat screen TV for the utility room (and yes, the then-current TV elected to fail almost the instant we elected to sell the house), roof cleaned and tiles replaced and yes, the annual blowing of the leaves as the yard is given a thorough clean.

If you would like to see the video made of our home, check out this link:

The picture above of Margo was taken in Larimer Square, in Denver’s popular LoDo district, and looks to be a great place; but can we make the transition to a loft or townhouse and be comfortable living in the city? Change seem to be an ever-constant theme for Margo and me with rarely a month going by without the prospect of change materializing and for the most part, we have simply gone along with whatever change infiltrates our lives. With the arrival of 2014, change doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of lessening or even slowing down.

Planning for the rest of 2014 is well under way and the first decision taken was to push back by another year any plans to return to Australia. It was the highlight of the year for Margo and me. Catching up with family; travelling with good friends while entertaining others; doing out little bit to help the struggling Australian economy all contributed to us immersing ourselves in Australia culture, traditions and culinary delights that getting back their seemed to be the right thing to do! But agghhhh – the travel involved; cruise ships to Sydney out of San Francisco or Los Angeles seem to be the right thing to consider.

However, changing travel plans was the least of our priorities as we wound up the year, and looking back on all that we did, there’s an almost recognizable necessity to simply take a seat, catch our breath and enjoy all that surrounds us here in the village of Niwot. If we start with changes to our family situation then for us, our own growing family was the highlight of the year with our first grandchild, Ella,  arriving the spring of 2013. Of course, there’s out extended track family as we continue to spend time taking the Corvette to events where it gets to stretch its legs and then, there’s the business family we continue to enjoy being an active part of despite the distances we have to cover in order to maintain. Compared to having a grandchild though these other families quickly take a back seat, so as to speak!

To those who know us well, no discussion of extended families would be complete without some references being made about our cars - we often speak of our vehicles and what they are going through (and the troubles they encounter) as if we were talking about our own offspring. And for very good reason – we give them names, and the simple process of changing tires is undertaken as though we were buying an outfit for the prom! Who could have predicted the transition that happened this year as a family with a majority of General Motors vehicles – two Corvettes and a Cadillac – would finish the year as part of the Fiat family? Out with the Supercharged Corvette and the Escalade SUV as we welcomed a Maserati GT-S and a Jeep SRT to the family that together with the Viper SRT this sees us a bona fide member of Fiat even if we haven’t bought a Fiat per se.

The picture above, courtesy of a recent Virtuance photo shoot, shows the garage sans the Jeep that was off to one side. The picture below was taken a couple of months earlier following the arrival of the Jeep and is included as it is among the few photos we have that includes Godzilla, the mighty Nissan GT-R and still the car we most love to drive when the conditions are right!  

Track weekends were less prevalent in our calendar for 2013 for a number of reasons not the least being our desire to remain close to our Ella, our grandchild. But more than in any other year there were a number of conflicts in dates as commitments made for business and indeed vacation conflicted with what would have been terrific opportunities to gain a lot more track time. However, we did make it to Sonoma (formerly Infineon) and the track at Sear’s Point, as well as to Willow Springs just outside Rosamond, California. I so doing we did manage to spend at least one weekend with National Auto Sports Association (NASA) regions of the Rocky Mountains, Northern California and Southern California. 

Wrapping up the year in HPDE 3 for all three regions for me was truly satisfying but also a reminder that I was nowhere near where I would like to be in terms of track knowledge and consistency; looking back on 2013, given the size of our commitment to track weekends, HPDE 3 is probably as good as it’s going to get. Margo on the other hand, is now very comfortable in HPDE2 and I see her very ready to run with HPDE 3 at tracks she knows very well. The more we spend time in our Corvette and the more time we spend at High Plains Raceway (HPR), the more comfortable we have become with the circuit and we are now incorporating open lapping days into our business plan. Entertaining clients with days at the track is something we started in 2012 and continues in 2013 and will be something we will continue to develop (as a business opportunity) in 2014 and beyond.  

The RV, our motor home “command center” has become an integral part of our lives and saw considerable time out on the country’s interstate highways. Not only is the RV our base camp for track weekends where it’s use to entertain other participants as well as clients has changed our whole approach to car events but once again, we took it to computer events associated with the work we do. It also found itself the vehicle of choice when we travel to different parts of the country to check out potential venues for future events as part of the work Margo is involved in with associations.

Of course, this also gave us many chances to hit the hose and do our bit to clean the RV and, in the heat of summer, there was more than one occasion where the hose strayed from the side of the RV to find me working on other tasks. Fortunately, in this respect I was more than able to hold my own and there was rarely a time when either Margo or me completed this task in dry cloths. To spend a weekend at Willow Springs International Raceway in May, 2013, meant a journey I would do my myself as Ella had just arrived and there was little chance of prying Margo away from her granddaughter – so I drove out to Rosamond, California by myself and then back home to Niwot. Never again, I swore, as 700+ miles per day drives wasn’t a part of any plan that I could recall. For more, check out the post of May, So, I am shallow …

The RV truly has become a “condo on wheels” for us both and in many ways, far outperforms previous accommodation both of us enjoyed earlier in our respective lives. We estimate that when the slides are fully extended, our mobile condo provides more than 400 square feet of living area and rarely do we ever feel claustrophobic. In time, I suspect we will be less inclined to winterize the RV - consigning it to a storage facility -  and more likely to set up somewhere on the west coast where we can utilize it as our home away from home when travelling to California.

It would be highly remiss of me not to mention in passing our trip to Australia. The most surprising aspect of this particular adventure was that it had taken four years for us to put a plan together for a return trip to a country we used to visit two and sometimes three times a year. In the period from 1991 to the mid-2000s, Margo had made 30+ visits to Australia and when you combine with other business trips to Singapore and Hong Kong, we figured that Margo has done some 70+ crossings of the Pacific.

This time there wouldn’t be too much that differed from previous trips. The first week would be focused on business with some time for the family whereas the remainder of the trip would see us being joined by our good friends Brian and Jan Kenny. The picture above was taken out of our hotel window in Terrigal on the central coast of New South Wales and a little north of Sydney. While business was often the content of conversations, as this was the Kenny’s first trip to Australia we did our very best to provide them with a “sampler itinerary” to better educate them about where to go should there plans include return trips to Australia.

However, it was a highlight of the year for another reason, too. While both of us were reticent to touch the topic, it was a trip that provided closure after a fashion. I wouldn’t go on record as saying we will not be back as that may sound a bit too incredulous, but apart from the occasional future vacation trip (again, by cruise ship, preferably) the desire to ever return to Australia to live has gone. It’s a great place to visit but it’s no longer home and for both of us, whether you can consider this a highlight to discover, it’s very much our reality. And of course, what would we do with our cars?

traveled a lot of miles on 2013. It wasn’t just the trip to Australia as we managed to drive several times to the west coast as well as to Atlanta and even to Mississauga, Ontario where we visited Niagara Falls on our way back through upstate new York and western Pennsylvania. When we first moved to Bolder county, it was always with the understanding that our time here would be short and that we were on our way to somewhere else. But as has befallen so many others who passed through Boulder before us, we are still here and now see little risk of us leaving anytime soon. This has become home and as if to reinforce the benefits Boulder provides, on Boxing Day, the sun came out and as Margo demonstrates in the photo above, it was nice to be once again, outside sipping cappuccinos on a sunny winter’s day.

Extended families have become part of our life, too. And there’s little I would do to change any of that – it’s all a part of the rich fabric that we most cherish these days above all else. The house is for sale and as much as it’s a somewhat reluctant sale, the time truly has come to scale back and to put the adventures of the past behind us. More to the point, there’s simply way too much house here than we need these days. A loft in Denver? Quite possibly! A contemporary townhouse in Boulder? Also a possibility! An acreage outside Niwot? Who can say – but a barn big enough to hold an RV, several motorcycles and six to eight cars and with a bar and a big screen television set, well, hold the phone! Who knows what 2014 holds on that font.

In a matter of days, Margo and I will celebrate fifteen years of marriage and like those who have been our friends for all that time, the passage of time comes as a surprise. We truly enjoy the work we do, we get so much fun from our toys, and we love to travel and to enjoy new experiences. And we are so happy with the friendships that have flourished in the years since we first moved to Colorado. Colorful Colorado! Changes will continue throughout 2014 and of that I have no doubt and what I will be writing, as 2014 draws to an end, I haven’t a clue. As I wrapped up the post of January 2012 I concluded with the observation the destination, as the cliché goes, has never been all that important but the journey – and little has changed in 2013 to negate this observation and with 2014 on us, as much as there will be changes for sure, this simple observation will continue to be the sole constant we appreciate most.

Happy New Year!