Monday, March 13, 2017

One era ends as others begin ...

There aren’t too many occasions when photos of our Boulder home are depicted under cloudy skies but this time, it seems more than appropriate. After spending seventeen years “in residence” in the village of Niwot, Boulder County, the deed has been done. We closed on the sale of the only home Margo and I have known in all the years we have been married. Talk about sentimental – we hardly pass a day without some second thoughts about moving out, but the times have changed since we first moved into our home and selling our home just had to be done.

A chapter in our lives has come to an end, as our good friends have reminded us more than once. All the same, it will be tough to write about this when we leave that final time and head to a house that will become our new home. For the next three months we will be simply tenants in our former home, charged with the responsibility of making sure nothing happens before the new owners move in, sometime mid-June. We will have made our departure well before they arrive and I cannot guess how we will react as we drive out of the garage for the last time.

But after almost four years on the market, we finally found that proverbial “market of one” – we knew that for this home in Boulder it would take some time to locate that one family, but never in our wildest dreams did we think it would take as long as it did. Nor did we truly understand that we would be selling the home at such a discounted price and along with it, nearly all of the furniture we either designed or selected. However, the art work, select glass sculptures and yes, the home theater speakers (all of them) will be coming with us to the new house.

Cleaning out the garages in preparation for leaving meant that I had to park the cars and motorcycle on the driveway. For a brief moment and quite unexpectedly, the clouds cleared for a brief period giving us a short spell of sunshine! Regular visitors to this blog will have read more than once of my thoughts about just how many cars you need and what each should be as well as the capabilities each should deliver. At one point, Margo and I had six cars as we divided time between two locations and while this was a temporary instance reflecting that our jobs took us to companies where showing up in our BMW 750i wasn’t cool – Margo’s new boss drove an older BMW 320. But in time, we went from six cars to five to where today, we have four. 

Of course, there’s the RV and the trailer parked off site but among the many questions we have been asked, following the sale of our home, has been about the number of garages we will have. And it raises a good point given that Margo and I have been openly considering whether we should drop one more car and see if we can make do with just three cars. Remember, as you read this, we live in the United States and it’s our rightful duty to keep Detroit humming along and this is something we take to heart. As our English and Aussie friends rolling their eyes – but heck, you need an SUV, an around-town car and yes, the long distance grand tourer, not forgetting a capable track car, right?

Well, perhaps not. On the other hand, we continue to crisscross the country for business and the company command center – our RV and home away from home - is about to start its seventh summer on America’s highways and all of our vehicles have been put to good use over the years. Continuing to work for the foreseeable future means that we will spend even more time on the interstate highways and so the RV, trailer and the Mini will continue to be seen in places where we carry out the business of Pyalla Technologies for as long as Margo and I enjoy what we simply have liked doing for the last couple of years! 

The business of Pyalla Technologies often gives us a choice of vehicle and even though the Jeep and the BMW are used exclusively for business, we recently tagged out other vehicles with Pyalla license plates so that should we venture out with one of our private vehicles, there would be no mistaking who we worked for when we pulled up to a conference or user event or exhibition. While we try to keep these trips to a manageable level, the past couple of years have seen us doing almost a trip per month for ten months of the year – the peak of winter as well as the height of summer usually have us at home and for that we are more than happy to have time to ourselves.

But there has been some fallout resulting from just how long it has taken to sell our home that will continue for a few more months. As we complete the move to our new home our track car has had to take a backseat to other plans. Sidelined while other priorities dominated our discussions and plans, we have had to put off all further track preparation for much later in the year. There will be track time and the Corvette Z06 will get “new shoes,” as Margo likes to call replacement tires for any of our cars. Hopefully we will get in two or three weekends with our friends who have been wondering where the heck we have been for the past two years!

Coincidences have happened many times for Margo and me but perhaps the most extraordinary coincidence occurred when the closing date for the sale of our home just happened to be on my birthday. For good reason, celebrating such a milestone became a secondary consideration but there was still time to shake a martini and Margo did a terrific job even as she caught me off guard, working from the kitchen, as I raced to finish up a couple of articles. However, this was only a temporary setback as one week later we found time to celebrate in style at one of our favorite restaurants in downtown Boulder, the Oak at Fourteenth.

Featured more than once in posts to this blog, what we like most about this restaurant is that it features a 40 plus ounce bone-in ribeye steak that is cooked to perfection inside a genuine wood-fired oven. And yes, the unmistakable aroma of the steak being cooked in this manner wafts over the restaurant, piquing our appetites. With this dinner our drinks have changed a little over the years where today it’s no longer our regular martini that we order but good old-fashioned bourbon-based Manhattans.

Margo may have done a great job eating her portion of the ribeye down to the bone, but there was still just a little left over that we boxed and took home with us. I only write this as those close to us know how few times we do this as we really find the idea of leaving with a “doggie bag” somewhat disrespectful of the chef. But there always seems to be just a couple of slices of perfectly good beef remaining and there’s no way Margo will ever leave uneaten beef on the plate.

Whereas we can easily finish the twenty-two ounce (and even the chef-cut thirty-three ounce) bone-in ribeye served to us at Mastro’s restaurants, forty plus ounces is proving to be a little beyond our ability to finish. As the evening came to a close and we headed back to where we are now just tenants, we began wondering how many more trips we would be making to downtown Boulder. Were we indeed coming to the end of an era? 

If we were spending time wondering about the end of an era, this past weekend was seeing the beginning of an era for the grandson of the Kennys. Being grandparents of Colton Herta has been referred to in previous posts but now our good friends Brian and Jan Kenny are becoming really excited by the accomplishments of the grandson. Colton is a full time professional racer who is just sixteen years old.

As the youngest driver to join the ranks of highly competitive Indy Lights racing, he has a great car, a great team and yes, a really good sponsor.  The photos included in this post have been pulled from tweets posted during the races as well as what transpired at the conclusion of the last race and my thanks go to all those at Indy and the good folks at Andretti / Steinbrenner racing. Yes – that Andretti family and if you know the Yankees baseball team, then yes, that Steinbrenner. 

This past weekend kicked off the series opener on the streets of St Petersburg, Florida. After practice Friday that saw him in the elite of drivers – at one time sitting atop the timesheet – Colton qualified in fifth place for the first race but followed up with an amazing stint to qualify on pole for the second race. Suddenly, it was Colton more so than his father Bryan, who was attracting media attention and both the Indy web site as well as Racer magazine were constantly posting tweets about Colton. It doesn’t hurt that Colton is racing under the Andretti umbrella – yes, that Andretti, with father Michael and grandfather Mario legends of the sport – and with a team owner who is a Steinbrenner (owners too of the fabled Yankees baseball team) but ultimately, it is all up to Colton to produce results.

And what a weekend! Colton was definitely in the “Herta zone” when photographed in a golf cart on his way to the pits for the first race. Starting fifth he dropped back to sixth before picking off cars one at a time to finish second. With plans of the team to finish in the top five in both races, this was easily accomplished in race one but there was even better results on Sunday morning. Starting on the pole, Colton survived three cautions that all saw restarts on cold tires, he won the race. He led for every lap. And he set the fastest lap time during the race. By the way, he broke the record for the youngest winner of any Indy Lights race and not yet 17 he could be seeing the team head to the big time with the Indy 500 next year – a full year ahead of schedule.

As the web site for Indy Lights reported, “ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – Colton Herta rewrote Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires history books today by becoming the series’ youngest in Race 2 of the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The son of Bryan Herta, the retired Indy car driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series team owner, started from the pole in the race and led all 45 laps, holding off Santi Urrutia by 1.7797 seconds. At 16 years, 11 months, 21 days, he becomes the youngest race winner in Indy Lights history.” As for what Colton had to say, according to the post, “It’s amazing to come back from (racing in) Europe and into the INDYCAR paddock and be winning right away,” said Herta, who raced in the EuroFormula Open F3 and British Formula 3 series last year. “It’s a good start and we’re going to keep it rolling.”

As for the reaction by the grandparents as this was unfolding perhaps it can be best summed up with this short video that they forwarded to me as the last lap of that second race concluded:

As for the team, perhaps the best post of all came from Steinbrenner racing with the following tweet and a reference to how, for a rookie team launching a brand new car with a completely untested (in Indy, at least) racer:

We continue to look at our home knowing that within weeks we will be moving and with the move, an era comes to an end. Clouds have been our constant companion of late with afternoon sightings of those clear blue skies being the exception. However, there are plans for a new home but not on the same scale as what we just sold. For Margo and me, it’s no longer about the size or the amount of embellishing but rather, it’s more about reduced maintenance. And time; time to spend together meeting with friends and seeing new places. At one point we were asked who had keys to our home and in all honesty, we couldn’t recall just how many tradesmen that helped maintain our home had keys but it had to be more than a handful. 

What we didn’t come to appreciate of course was how all the homes built on the hill in Niwot, Colorado, all lost more than half their value over the past ten years. Margo and I have never dwelt on the past or been swayed by “doom and gloom” machinations that have overtaken many of our neighbors. That’s just not who we are. As we now focus on getting a new home that will be more manageable we have surprised many of our friends by electing to build once again. 

Margo is determined to rein me in this time. I will be on a very short leash for the next three to four months in part because many of the decisions have already been made for me – yes, we are buying a home that already has had foundations poured, framing almost completed and a roof about to be installed. In short, all I can influence is color schemes and hardware. While the home is a semi-custom we were pleased with some of the decisions taken by the builders at this early stage. Following the completion of a similar home they came up with several embellishments to the overall design that Margo and I are very happy with – yes, we will have an open plan with stainless steel appliances, subway tile backsplash and hardwood floors.

And where will be living as from this summer? The small township of Windsor, Colorado, midway between Fort Collins and Greeley and on a golf course alongside the seventeenth fairway about pin high. As we strolled across the course for a better look at the construction we couldn’t help noticing the clouds had descended upon us once again. They may have added to the somber mood we had been in for the past couple of weeks but like the clouds themselves, any remnants of those somber moments have now left us and we just can’t wait to see how our new home turns out. And if you would like to come see us anytime this summer, just let us know as there will be plenty of room for our friends and family!