Monday, October 10, 2016

A very difficult month and not one for the books!

This has been a September to remember – for a second time in less than twelve months we had a potential buyer of our lovely Niwot home bail on us right at the eleventh hour just as they were about to hand over a check. Earlier this year we had almost crossed the finish line, only for a last minute hitch surfacing, but the common thread on both occasions was a little last minute buyer’s difficulty finding the money. On the bright side, on both occasions it has led us to revisit and prioritize a couple of task we had simply put off for too long so yes, our home has a light and airy feeling once again that, of itself, is making up for a little of the letdown that followed these missteps. 

For all of September we had spent the time in our Niwot home having elected not to travel far from our home. This isn’t usual for us at this time of year – yes, we did miss the final of the Indy Races that was held once again at Sonoma. Readers of this blog will recall that at this time last year, we were track side in the RV enjoying the hospitality of those very close to Herta Motorsports – team owner Bryan Herta being the son-in-law of our good friends and frequent track compatriots, Brian and Jan Kenney. If you missed the post back then you may want to revisit Moving on and yet, no lessening in our desire to be mobile!

It wasn’t just a case of being at home with little to do; passing time with friends which, of course, we still did manage to host a number of afternoon martini-hour receptions. It was more a case of thoroughly cleaning house. The word came that the purchase proposal was the real deal and that in all likelihood, we would have to be out of our home by October 1st so it was a room-by-room attack and I will spare you the details. However, shredding what turned out to be over a thousand pounds of documents, together with twenty plus trips to Goodwill, saw us doing what we should have done a long time ago. Having moved into our Niwot home a good year before the construction (and finishing touches) had been completed, we found that we still hadn’t unpacked many of the boxes we had brought from California! Ahhh, but it is the fall, so as we went about our work, we still had plenty of time to enjoy the colors! 

Among the more mundane tasks was pulling over 1200 DVDs from the racks and sorting them prior to packing. Should have done this a long time ago as we found more than one duplicate DVD lying on the storage racks. Even worse? A good quarter of the DVDs hadn’t even been watched with many still in their cellophane wrappers. Another surprise find was a box containing all of the individual component controllers – we still aren’t confident that we found them all– but looking further ahead, should we eventually move out of our Niwot home then whatever comes next,  we will be definitely looking for a simpler solution. An Apple iPhone app, perhaps?

Boxing books, CDs, DVDs, records – yes, we still have a collection of vinyl LPs although they are mostly Margo’s as in a burst of uncontrolled, and somewhat not well thought-through impulse, when leaving California back in the mid-1990s, I donated my entire vinyl collection to Goodwill. Several hundred of them – probably worth a fortune by all counts - but not something that Margo and I plan on replacing any time soon. But technology moves on and yet, sentimentality still tugs at our hearts so imagine my surprise walking into the local Crate and Barrel household goods store here in Boulder to see them selling turntables as they played vinyl records from the 1960s.

Even as technology has moved on, there is a lesson in all of this. Scurrying around the house, checking on whether an item was worth saving or not, the whole process proved very therapeutic, and the surprising thing was that very little of the modern accoutrements we had collected made the cut – as we set aside what we both really wanted to keep it was mostly older items that had very little to do with technology.

Paintings, glass works of art, the occasional book (but not many as it turned out), a few items we had picked up on our travels that meant something to us but for the most part, only a fraction of the stuff we had accumulated. We have a box of cameras both SLR and Digital and we really don’t know what to do with them even as, at the time, they represented a considerable investment on our part but then again, we are in technology and we know the true value of an antique computer. Zero!
In last month’s post I made reference to Margo’s Yamaha V Star 1100 cruiser – well, after spending several weeks at the bike shop, it’s now back in the garage and it’s in great shape. Although a 2003 model motorcycle, it’s always been garaged and with a little over 10,000 miles on the odometer, it’s still very much a great bike to ride and I have managed to go on several rides already. Margo has elected to come with me on each occasion I went for a ride, in her car naturally, but knowing she has been just a short distance behind me was nice to know. 

The Yamaha is a lot lighter than the Honda VTX1800 I had been riding up until a short time ago when we traded it for Margo’s Mini Cooper S Roadster, so seeing Margo following closely behind in the Mini kind of felt like the spirit of her motorcycle lived on – yes, we were “riding” together once more. For those who aren’t familiar with this Yamaha model it is a “Softail,” very much like a Harley Davidson, but only three quarter size. And yes, like the more treasured Harleys, this Yamaha is also features carburetors but that’s another story entirely as this last service also included a complete carburetor rebuild. Ouch!

Sitting in the garage alongside the Corvette, even though it was a Yamaha, there is something timeless about a Softail tucked up alongside of the ‘Vette – it’s all part of the American dream. It’s how we respond to the call of the open road. It’s how we interact with our environment. Whether lazily cruising down a byway or attacking a couple of favorite switchbacks it doesn’t really matter the vehicle chosen but motorcycle or sports car, it just seems the right thing to do when you find yourself thinking once again of visiting a favorite location. And at this time of year, with fall temperatures prevailing, finding time to revisit favorite roads seems to be just the right thing to do!

One of the more intriguing sights we came across recently in our travels was the construction of a new microbrewery / bar simply called The Barrel out of used containers. Setting them up side by side but with a slight offset, cutting out one side of one of the containers and installing waist high counters, and then clearly, adding a few stools to sit on, introduces a new way to embrace “industry standards.” When so many discussions today among those working with technology center on embracing industry standards (to reduce costs) few would have imagined that this would carry over into structures such as neighborhood bars but it now seems to be happening. We will just have to make a return visit in the Spring to check out the brews and see what else is on hand for the weary traveler who stops by for refreshments.

Earlier in this post I recalled how last year we were supporting Bryan Herta and team Herta Motorsports even as I may have forgot to mention that for the second time in only a couple of years, Herta Motorsports in partnership with Andretti Racing, won the Indy 500. It was a masterful if not true genius fuel management strategy that led to their driver, Rossi, taking the checkered flag for 2016. Being on the perimeter of this family and having enjoyed brief conversations with Bryan Herta it wasn’t all that long ago that we were all sitting at a restaurant table with Bryan’s son, Colton. This was back in 2012 when Colton was racing Karts and if you missed that first meeting with the family, check out the post of November 30, 2012, It was an ill wind ...

Colton has matured considerably since I snapped that photo of him walking to his Kart on the eve of a very important and final event of the year. Fast forward to 2016 and Colton is enjoying his second year in Europe racing formula cars on a full time basis. How’s he doing? After competing in the UK-based MSA Formula series last year, as the youngest driver and the only American on the grid, he enjoyed a bumper second half of the series winning half the races – four out of eight as I recall - to finish the series third overall. On British tracks he had never seen before even as all those around him had grown up on them. This year he stepped up to the even more competitive EuroFormula Open championship which would take him deep into Europe and onto the best F1 tracks going including Spa, Monza, and The Red Bull Ring (in Austria) .

So after a steep learning curve to begin with where the results were mixed and where he lay in ninth place overall as they went into the summer break – these cars have some serious aero packages providing levels of downforce that are new for Colton – this month he achieved a remarkable feat. He won both of the races at the Red Bull Ring. This was not missed by the prestigious motor racing magazine, Racer (where the photo above came from) who reported how, “The 16-year-old son of IndyCar's Bryan Herta avoided a chaotic start in his Carlin entry to take the win by 12.2 seconds ahead of Ferdinand Habsburg and Tatiana Calderon (RP Motorsport) in Race 1, then backed that up by dominating the second race of the weekend from pole position”. In so doing, “He is the first driver to pull off such a weekend sweep yet this year.” As a team, they ended up winning a bag load of trophies thanks to Colton.

Recognize the name of fellow competitor, Ferdinand Habsburg? Pictured above, to the left of Colton on the podium, having taken second place? Yes, that’s right – the heir to the Austrian throne and a direct descendent from the famous Habsburgs. I can imagine what would happen in the UK if young George said he wanted to go racing … But seriously, after just a few races, Colton has now risen to third place overall and is looking good to continue his climb up the Formula ranks. Our best of wishes go out to Colton for the remainder of the year as they also do to his extended family. And yes, “We all want to be Colton!”

September has come to an end. Margo and I are empting the boxes we packed fully expecting to have moved out of our home of seventeen years. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, but then, on the bright side, we are moving back into a very clean house – yes, we had all the windows washed as more or less a “welcome gift” – not to mention every wardrobe and cupboard had been emptied. It’s almost as if we have been given a second chance to get ourselves organized. Fortunately, there’s still a grill working in the backyard and there was a steak in the refrigerator and yes, just as importantly, martinis could still be shaken so perhaps the best color of fall is that of a red steak gradually turning brown over a gentle flame!