Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Down to the serious side of moving – yet distractions continue!

With spring in full bloom and the weather just perfect, we are welcoming the change of season with open arms. In past years we have spent much of this time of the year on the road but not so this year and we were rewarded handsomely with the gradual whitening of the driveways, courtesy of the many snowberry trees that are no longer ours. Typically, March and April are the snowiest months of the year for all those residing along Colorado’s front ranges, but not so this year. After a teaser of a snowstorm a few weeks ago it’s as if Mother Nature threw aside her white mantle and exchanged it for more colorful attire.

We took full advantage of the warmer weather spending a lot more time out of doors. With our new home under construction and many decisions to do with structures and fittings already settled upon, it was time to spend late afternoons walking the corridors of the many malls we know. Inspiration? Ideas as to how to best accessorize the home?  A new sideboard here and a new table there – it was all happening and yes, we have already purchased our first item of furniture for the home and it’s now a matter of counting down the weeks.

Being outside and walking through the villages that are spread along the I25 corridor, meant we were able to sample a couple of new places. We owe it to compatriots from Sydney who moved to Colorado only recently – our good friends John and Meredith – for introducing us to a wonderful microbrewery in Louisville, the 12Degree Brewing with a wonderful assortment of flatbread pizzas, the humongous fungi having become our favorite. The beer? Well, all the brews are Belgium inspired brews and there is quite a variety. As I conclude this post I am going to head over there to relax! 

But walking the malls is always an exercise in restraint as we skirt around the food halls and every now and then, when temptation truly does come along, we just go right on and give in! Large custard cream tarts covered with fruit are decidedly scrumptious escapes and Margo more than holds her own when it comes to devouring such delicacies … and we have to admit, with the warmer weather it’s really nice to be able to move away from simply sipping soups and pulling heavy meals from the slow cooker. Not to say there is anything wrong with such a diet but enjoying a treat or two is certainly good for the soul. 

Business took us downtown into the hotel section of Denver. With an opportunity to spend an early evening strolling along bustling side streets as patrons began arriving for dinner, there were many familiar venues we have entered on past trips. With plans to meet for dinner there was nothing else to do other than to pull up a bar stool inside Union Station and simply spend quality time people watching. Of all the days to head downtown it just so happened to be opening day for the Rockies baseball team and the color purple was everywhere.

For a number of years we had walked across the street from Union Station and had dinner at Morton’s Steakhouse but the last time we had stopped by, we were told that they were moving just a block away. Off to the new Mortons, but unfortunately, the ambiance of the old place we so much liked has simply vanished. Not sure we will be returning to Mortons, but fortunately there are plenty more steakhouses to be found in Denver.  On the other hand, we continue to frequent a new bistro that only recently opened and is nearby in the township of Gunbarrel, a neighborhood that borders Niwot. 

That weekend we were in regular contact with our good friends from southern California, the Kennys. The Indy Racing League had come to Long Beach for the weekend so being of sound mind and not wanting to commute between Long Beach and Simi Valley, they booked into a former first class suite on the Queen Mary. As a floating hotel tied up to a pier just across from the Long Beach street circuit, it took no time at all before photos started popping up on our phones.   

That evening, among the photos we received was one that featured the bar close to the former grand lady’s bow and Margo and I immediately texted back to Brian – get us a room too! We will be heading back to Long Beach in July and we can’t think of anywhere better to spend a night!

But the weekend was about much more than simply enjoying remnants of a much grander time as Indy is all about noise, and smells and yes, cheering crowds and speed. Fortunately, the Kennys were spared much of this as son-in-law is Bryan Herta, joint owner with Michael Andretti of the NAPA-sponsored Indy car, #98 driven by last year’s Indy 500 winner, Alexander Rossi. 

For much of the weekend it was within the blissful surrounds of the Andretti hospitality suite where the Kennys could be found and rubbing shoulders with the Andretti and yes, Steinbrenner (owners of the Yankees baseball team), entourages wasn’t too hard to take … and no, it wasn’t catered hot dogs and hamburgers that were being served but real meals suitable for more formal occasions. Ahhh – what a weekend!

Unfortunately for all those who are part of the broader Andretti family the results from the weekend weren’t commensurate with the effort expended – all four cars suffered mechanical failures and none of them made it to the finish line – a first as best as I can tell for any Indy four car team. In two weeks’ time, the entire camp will reform in Alabama at the Barber track as once again the Indy Lights will be on track where Colton Herta is looking to improve from his previous weekend where he only scored a second and a first!

When I first began posting to this blog the goal had been to chronicle Margo and my adventures. When you look back at that very first post, we had just finished a voyage on the Windstar cruise line having opted to spend time on one of their sailing vessels – the WindSpirit, as I recall. As of that time we had sailed on all of the four-mast schooners including the WindSong (now residing at the bottom of a lagoon somewhere near Tahiti), the WindSpirit and the WindStar as well as the much bigger five-mast schooner the WindSurf. We cannot say enough about Windstar or the yachts that comprise its fleet and there is barely a week that passes when we don’t think about where next we would like to sail. Indeed, it was our voyage on the WindSurf that allowed us to spend a weekend in Monte Carlo where we watched the Monaco Grand Prix.

But the goal of simply chronicling our adventures turned into chronicling our time on track as shortly after returning from that last Windstar cruise, we joined the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) and began a whole new form of entertainment. Yes, we had both really been into cars for as long as we have known each other so taking one of our precious cars onto the track seemed to be a natural progression for us. Of late, however, with grandchildren, minor surgeries, along with a concerted effort to sell our Niwot home, track time took a back seat to other goals. And yet, the opportunity to check out any new car always proves to be a serious drawcard and our recent trip proved to be no exception.

Fully aware of what the Kennys were up to and the exciting times that lay ahead for them, as our meeting in Denver concluded we walked out of the hotel and before us lay the Denver Convention Center where the Denver Auto Show had just kicked off. With time on our side there wasn’t anything stopping us from taking a quick look and in no time at all, Margo and I had walked past all the SUVs, crossovers and trucks and made our way to where the real cars were being showcased.  Our local car dealer, Jack Terhar, was on hand and welcomed us to his exhibit where he was displaying Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Aston Martins as well as a Bentley and a Rolls. 

Of course, right out the gate, Margo headed to the Lamborghini stand as many years ago and well before we bought the Maserati, we had taken a good hard look at buying a Lamborghini MurciĆ©lago LP 670 SuperVeloce. We even took time off when in Simi Valley to drive to the dealership only to find that the FBI had been called in and the shop closed down. Something about the owner absconding with a transporter full of Lamborghinis – none of which were his! In hindsight, somehow I think we dodged a bullet on that occasion but on the drive back, we stopped by another dealer where Margo first fell truly head-over-heels for a Maserati GT-S.  The ending of that particular story being well documented by now as it finally led to our purchase of the bright yellow Maserati GT-S we enjoyed driving for the next four years.

As for me, there is just something so seductive about the new McLarens. Turns out that the Maserati dealer we know well to the south of us has become the McLaren dealer so some time during the next couple of weeks we will just have to go pay him a visit. Not buying right now, of course, and just looking but who knows, maybe we will score a test drive.

Oh well, there’s always hope. It has happened in the past many times, often to the embarrassment of Margo! On this occasion and even as I was taking a few extra glances at the McLaren, Margo’s attention was directed elsewhere.

Jack had finished talking to one prospect and waived us over to where the Aston Martins were being displayed. Behind brass stanchions and velvet ropes, naturally. No problem; Jack just dropped the rope and let us in and took us straight to the Aston Martin DB11 – the car that had caused Margo to become so distracted.

What a car – the finish exceptional and the engine. Nothing like a twin turbo V12 to get your motor running! Yes, a bit pricey but then again, when you look back at how we had stacked our own garage just a year or so ago, we could have easily swapped two or three of those cars for the DB11 and kept a little change on hand. For tires, I suspect – there’s always the issue of tires in our household! 
This story is a long way from being concluded so who knows.

I still have my eye on a Dodge Viper ACR but then again, Corvette could release their mid-engine Corvette C7 ZR1 about which the hype continues to build even though there haven’t been any sightings of such a vehicle. But Viper or Vette? And what about the new 840 hp Dodge Demon (where a front passenger seat is optional albeit priced at just $1.00) just unveiled at the New York Auto Show Both Vipers and Vettes though would be sacrificed in a heartbeat, according to Margo, if we were to move on the DB11 and yet, now we are seeing Jeep throw a Hellcat engine into the Grand Cherokee – wow, this is definitely the golden age for cars of all types. Who wouldn’t want a 707hp engine in their “track ready” Jeep!

Unfortunately, this is still all very much in the realm of wild speculation as we continue to track the progress being made on our new home. Every other day it seems we find an excuse to make the 40 mile trip to Windsor to check on progress. Some days it’s hard to see much happening at all while on other days, there is more than one crew on site. Right now, there’s framing for more concrete pours out back while framers continue to hammer away with both plumbers and electricians pulling pipes and cables in all directions. 

The home is listed as being semi-custom. We made the decision to buy the home after the basement had been poured, the framing mostly done and the roof partially installed. Even as we said we didn’t want a finished basement just yet, it’s all been framed with HVAC runs in place leaving only a little more plumbing and electrical to be done before we could drywall and paint the place. So that was a good deal by my book. When it comes to the main floor – a wide, open-plan, creation – we have had a lot of input and have been making sure it’s to a standard that we would want come time to move in.  The result is that for all sakes and purposes, we have an urban-modern two bedroom plus study condo all molded within a somewhat traditional craftsman-style home. Cool!

Can’t wait – should be good. In the meantime, we are renting back our Niwot home where we will remain until the last couple of days in May. Then it’s time to move out which, in our case, means we move fulltime into the company command vehicle where will reside until we can take up residency in our new Windsor home. The street name? Sanctuary Drive – rather significant for us as we did many trips to Queensland after we married and where our favorite place was Sanctuary Cove, a golfing community built alongside a network of canals that would take you all the way back into Queensland’s Gold Coast. Who knew – from Sanctuary Cove to Sanctuary Drive! In the meantime, putting all the distractions to one side, it’s back to packing with Margo doing almost all the work for which I am extremely grateful. And the clock continues to count down!