Thursday, July 2, 2015

New beginnings – more bad weather and many rivers to cross!

Last month I opened the blog with the commentary, “with April showers, May flowers” and I closed with the remark, I don’t mind the rains – the floods, on the other hand, well that’s an entirely different story – and there are predictions once again for a few more wet days to come. Well, little did I know just how much rain we would get – it’s been days of torrential rain followed by even more rain. As June came to an end, the temperatures finally rose to the 90s Fahrenheit, a first for the year, and a first since September 2014. So now I can add that it’s not just with April showers, May flowers but come June, it’s monsoon!

Fortunately, what the rains didn’t stop were the visits to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where Margo’s identical twin grandsons are being looked after – having been born prematurely back on April 13th (in the middle of one of our earlier trips to the west coast), they’re doing it tough. If you would like to know just how much monitoring is performed on the premmies just check below to see the number of monitors he is connected to – it’s steady stream of data that’s helping to keep him growing. Seeing three generations of the Holen line though was kind of special and a real treat for Margo – there was no hiding just how thrilled she was; Prince George? You are on your own!  

We had a break in the weather albeit just for a few days and with the slightly warmer conditions, the national parks were able to open Colorado’s famous trail ridge road. Crossing the continental divide that separates Estes Park from Grand Lake and Granby, it is also the headwaters of the Colorado River. That’s right, there’s a place where you can literally stop the flow of the Colorado River with your foot. At this time of year though there’s an abundant supply of snow and as you crest the summit, portions of the road have been simply carved from the snow. Where Margo is sitting is close to the summit but already its 12,000 feet where she sits by the stone retaining wall. 
In the last post I wrote of the success the grandson of our good friends, Brian and Jan Kenny, Colton Herta, was enjoying racing Formula Ford in England. While the grandparents watched, he scored his first podium in a very serious for-real race. This is a stepping stone to F1 racing and already, at 15, it’s not uncommon to hear Colton achieving P1 during practice sessions. But qualifying and then the race itself are quite a different story and it’s tough – being the stepping stone, everyone is really trying hard. So
  3rd is impressive but I am also confident enough to suggest that before the season is over, there will be at least one P1 trophy added to his already extensive trophy collection. 

I was given a number of pictures of Colton on track at Oulton Park but the one I liked most was of him getting air under his right front wheel. Don’t try and tell me that even at this stage in his career he isn’t trying hard – from the first time I saw him on track, karting, the most obvious component of his time on track was his “determination and nouse” – and the P3 result wasn’t something just given to Colton, but with more race weekends ahead, it’s very much a case now of fingers crossed with more time spent at the terminal watching live timing as it’s posted. As for his next race – I’m watching over my shoulder even as it’s now under way at the track at Croft, North Yorkshire. Spoiler alert!  Read more about it next month but he scored another podium, this time a second place and by the end of the weekend, he had advanced further up the driver standings, not sitting in equal 6th place - but more of this in next month's post.

It’s still very early in the planning cycle but towards the end of next year, we hope to return to Europe ourselves and hope to spend time with the Kennys and perhaps, plan it such that we too get to see Colton racing. 2016 will be three years after our joint trip to Australia which came about three years after an earlier joint trip to Europe, where we spent a day on the Nordschleife, or North Loop, of the Nürburgring! Something about this pattern of every three years, but somehow, it happens and it always takes a full year to plan. This time, rather than anchoring the trip in Germany we will probably anchor it in southern Italy as there are a number of new areas we would like to explore, although, given the opportunity I would have to believe Margo would be more than content simply to hangout in Positano. But that’s enough about this for now, as there’s a long way to go before any such plans become a reality.

Before the Kennys returned to Los Angeles, they had one last opportunity to catch up with Colton and of course, no opportunity was missed when it came to selfies in front of Piccadilly Square. The Kennys are now home in Simi Valley and we hope to see them shortly, but needless to add, from some of the pictures we have seen that were taken in Scotland, Brian may have developed a newfound fondness for single malt whiskeys. We will just have to see, although having said this, the Kennys have also demonstrated a fondness for old Scottish castles, with new photos of a just-discovered castle showing up on a regular basis in messages to my iPhone.

Following my update on Colton last month, I received emails from my good friend and former high school classmate, Dave Roberts. Over the years, our friendship has been rekindled and Dave has stopped by our Niwot home on several occasions, just as we were able to catch up with him the last time we were in Sydney. As fate would have it, Dave is just as passionate about cars as the Kennys and we are – perhaps more. For some time now Dave has been racing in the historicals category having recently upgraded to a 1960s era Mini Minor. Now, Dave is a very serious racer and attacks every corner, but sometimes the going gets a bit willing and last time out the outcome was anything but good. But this is all part of the challenging program, according to David, and competing at this level is David’s passion, as is getting to mix with other racers on real circuits, it is just part of the fun!

We still recall with considerable warmth the ride Dave organized for us in a Ferrari F430 on Sydney’s Motorsports Park, back in 2013, even though a few feathers were ruffled in that it was just the boys who were invited for a ride beside a former Red Bull “Yong Gun”, but next time? Well, it will be definitely the boys turn to sip cappuccinos while the real drivers in the families each get to see this race track up close. As much as I always enjoy any opportunity to drive our Maserati and even though many Maserati folks talk in hushed terms about the bottom end of the V8 being shared with the Ferrari California, a Maserati is no Ferrari and the day the price of a used Ferrari F430 drops beneath that of a used Corvette … well, there’s no harm in dreaming, right?

Dave did come to Colorado earlier this year to ski Steamboat Springs but as best as I can tell, there wasn’t a whole lot of snow. Shame he left when he did as it was only a matter of weeks later when the snow simply bucketed down. It was only this past weekend that finally Arapahoe Basin closed for the season – and it was almost the end of June, for crying out aloud. But I am sure Dave will be back and should he elect to visit during the warmer months, we will organize a day for him out at our track, High Plains Raceway, as I know its layout has him intrigued. Who knows, should this eventuate, we may even be able to tempt the Kennys to return to Colorado. 

In the meantime, with the month of June coming to a close, plans are well underway for an extensive business-related road trip about which I will be writing this time next month. Suffice to say, the current plan is to head down to Dallas, Texas, with a weekend side trip down to Austin and then a quick scamper across to Las Vegas for the July 4th celebration before a desert run to the Sierras and onto Palo Alto. Could be many rivers to cross, as yes, I know, it’s flooding down in Texas.  And then it’s back to Boulder in time to participate in a series of webinars for one of my clients. Before readers start looking at their calendars to remind themselves of what time of year it is, well then yes, we know. It’s the height of summer and we are heading south and into the deserts where the heat will be extravagant to say the least. That too will be covered in a future post in a little more detail. Further spoiler alert! Las Vegas saw 111 degrees Fahrenheit as we pulled in to camp. 

Time though for the evening martinis of course and with opportunities to eat at some of our favorite steak houses, there will be a chance more than one martini will be sampled. Perhaps it’s just a sign of our dedication. Or not! On the other hand, as the rains ease up and we can make it to our BBQ, there’s no harm in sampling a quick green one as I attend to the grill and with the big trip looming, I am not sure how many more times I will be tending grill this month and yes, who knows, I certainly can do with the practice – grilling that is! Before you know it, this whole backyard may be the scene of many little feet scampering about, and I am sure I will be barred from bringing real glasses outside, but then again, the upside of having a couple of healthy grandchildren nearby warrants such a concession. Ah, to the slow and lazy days of summer and the smell of heated asphalt under our tires. Back on the road, again … and yes, of course, cheers!