Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Pulling the pieces together; from technology to recreational, it’s all good!

These past few weeks it’s all been about the miles we have covered. Road trips took us to Dallas and then after just a few days back in the office took us to Las Vegas. As we work on this post we are looking at yet a third road trip, this time to southern California and then on up the coast to Palo Alto in northern California. It’s summertime so it’s not all that bad even if the temperatures have been scorching hot, but that’s the nature of travel at this time of year. It hasn’t been totally incident free, mind you, but the time out and about on America’s highways still beats standing in line waiting to pass through TSA security even as we hope our upgrades come through.

Dallas proved to be a fun place to visit. Actually, our conference was well north of Dallas as it was held in Plano. This has become a regular part of our summertime routine as we have been to this part of Texas a half a dozen times already in just the past couple of years. In a manner of speaking it has also kept us quite distracted as one group  of contractors after another have been walking through our basement as the work to complete our walkout basement continues. Plans call for a media room, bar and wine cellar, new offices for Margo and me, a number of bathrooms / powder rooms and yes, one more guest bedroom. And it will all open out onto a patio where we will be building in a grill and a fire pit.

Hopefully, as we just passed inspections covering HVAC, plumbing, electricity and framing the dry wall will go up while we are away and when that is complete, we will have a better idea of what we will be facing when it comes to furnishing and decorating. In the meantime we have been in no hurry to live our life in pieces as we watch construction happening all around us. However, the curtains have been chosen so at least the basics will be covered. There has been a lot of additional wiring made to ensure multiple speakers can be fed with soundtracks and music even as we are beefing up security. Getting our offices off the main floor wasn’t our original intent but after working as we have from a third bedroom on the main floor, we really needed a lot more space! So yes, we will be moving offices yet again.

Our most recent road trip took us to Las Vegas where HPE really looked after us. As participants in HPE’s independent bloggers program, we were HPE’s guest for the week and they did it right. First night’s welcome reception saw Margo and I join with other members of the social media community to participate in a fun night of golf – swinging clubs and hitting gold balls into the night from the top floor of a mixed entertainment facility. Not all that certain about just how much fun this would be we were pleasantly surprised by just how congenial everyone participating proved to be and yes, we can recommend a visit to Topgolf, Las Vegas – part of the mixed entertainment located at MGM Grand.

It was a perfect introduction to what turned out to be a pretty intense week as HPE really stepped up its game in terms of reassuring its customers that the R&D being spent was delivering the products and services that they needed. And by all accounts, HPE did exactly that. Ever enjoyed a convention where you had mirrored rock bands performing? By this, the main entertainment at the end of the conference was provided by One Republic, but in the build up to the keynote address the day before, they had a One Republic cover band playing for the audience as we waited the arrival of HPE CEO, Antonio Neri. As we saw at the HPE Discover event in Madrid last November, once again we had race cars on the exhibition floor – not quite as many as in November but still an attraction that pulled in a steady stream of attendees wanting to know what was up with a prototype race car being a part of a tech show.

Golf parties, rock groups, race cars and some great restaurants – HPE certainly pulled out all the stops for us. But for this trip, we resorted to driving a different BMW as the i8 that made the trip to Plano was involved in a very minor traffic incident that required some tender loving care once back in Windsor. It wasn’t a big deal, but it did mean we had to take the M4 to Las Vegas and it was quite a surprise. The heritage of the M4 suggests a brutal track-focused car, but not really these days. Competent enough on the track as it continues to be, it proved to be a pretty good touring car and neither Margo nor I were in a hurry to let the other take over driving responsibilities. Of course, too, once we had the i8 back in our hands we had to give it a thorough cleaning and our neighbor and good friend was quick to demonstrate how a leaf blower can become an effective drying appliance!

In the post of May 20, 2018, Friends – it’s all about time and timing! I wrote of how our good friends’ (the Kennys) grandson (Colton Herta) had managed a clean sweep of all three races at Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Never been done before and it catapulted him to the top of the Indy Lights series ladder. This month, it was off to Milwaukee and the Road America course – a massive four mile lap with elevation changes and just a mess of corners to master – where Colton continued on his winning way. He won the first race on Road America making it four in a row before working hard to fight off other drivers to secure second place in the second race. All of which is to say that he extended his lead in the series. 

The team has been doing very well – Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing, a marriage of two royal families – is paving the way for a great career for Colton, but he still has to win and to date and, unlike last year, he is proving that his sophomore year is less about what-ifs and could-haves and better populated with podiums. For grandparents Kennys it is still all a whirlwind of activity as they plan their attendance at different events around the country, but now with a plane, the game plan has changed somewhat. The pieces most definitely fell into place for them this year and they are taking full advantage of the opportunities a quick flight in their plane now avails them -   our next trip that takes us to both south and north California will include a stop at the Kennys home so we fully expect to hear even more about their grandson. 

Two years into the Indy Lights program, Colton has only just turned 18 – his first win of the series last year occurred prior to him turning 17. Last year, when he turned a lap of the Indianapolis Speedway in excess of 200 mph, his dad, Bryan Herta, was being interviewed and when the journalist pointed out Colton’s average lap speed exceeding 200 mph you could tell Dad not only caught he breath but smiled as he muttered something like, “that was quick!” Now, it is really impressive and it shows that with raw talent and abundant opportunity, Colton has taken to open wheel racing unlike any other racer I have seen and he is certainly looking at an exciting future unfolding for him.

This summer I have been posting more about Kenny’s grandchild than our own grandkids, but with nannies and nurses now lined up and the whole family travelling in a car for a week to Minnesota to visit the other Grandparents well, we have not been spending very much time babysitting. Suffice to say our grandkids are growing and it is fun to watch them play together with trains, bikes and yes, cars! As for time with family, on this upcoming road trip, our stay in northern California will be very short this time but we are looking forward to seeing Margo’s niece Joanna and her husband, Jens, even if for a very brief time between meetings back down in Palo Alto!

After two futile attempts at picking up our RV, the day finally arrived when it looked like we would be getting our company command center returned to us … after five months of being in the service bay. Well, almost; getting back into the driver’s seat, the steps once again wouldn’t retract. Unbelievable! Fortunately the problem was quickly diagnosed and even though the RV repair place didn’t have a spare part in inventory, fully aware of its history with us, the service manager pulled a working component from a new RV on display and facilitated an eventual departure back to our new storage facility. Utter relief and as we drove down the highway, it certainly felt wonderful to be able to read all the gauges and to see everything reporting normally. Later this month we will take it out onto the highway for an overnight test of all the systems and really, we can hardly wait to return to our former gypsy’s life!

As it so happens, we have a National Auto Sports Association (NASA) event scheduled for the end of the month so we pulled up the sight and registered for a return to HPDE 3 on the last Saturday of the month. We also took advantage of the events location at High Plains Raceway to book time on the Friday afternoon as it is an open lapping day for all NASA participants. With a little luck we will be able to have a client join us for the Friday affair and so fingers are crossed that this comes to fruition. As for the Corvette, Margo and I have now both driven it on nearby streets and it feels better than new. Suspension upgraded as were tires, brakes and a whole lot more – stiffer drive shaft, for instance, and a more reliable clutch. Only outstanding issue now is whether we make the grade. The car is the sum of many parts and with the pieces all back together again, it will be up to us to make it all work. Again, can’t wait to be back on track after nearly four years of absence – we both think it was late October, 2014 when last we were on track.

Our RV shop did do us the courtesy of washing our RV and, if you recall earlier photos, the difference is pretty remarkable. It is shining and the windscreen has never looked better. We still consider ourselves fortunate to have found a storage facility that is heated through the winter months very close to where we live, so no, there will be no more need to winterize and then summarize our RV. Translation?  Any good weather that comes our way during winter gives us an option to take the RV for a weekend vacation. We have so many parks just north of us – Yellowstone, Glacier and even further north into Alberta that we simply haven’t driven to so just in our conversations this week, we have more or less decided to look at heading up that way next year. 

This summer has seen us attending events where we have caught up with the HPE NonStop community – looking at how NonStop users will be piecing together solutions from a raft of new NonStop product offerings. We have picked up the pieces of our cars that we “scratched” and have them all back on the road including our beloved RV and Corvette. Glistening like new, washed and pampered as they all have been it’s finally dawned on us of how fortunate we are to be able to get out onto America’s highways and go wherever business and  leisure time takes us and we know that this is not always an option for many we know.

For as long as I can recall, we Aussies have always been told we are from the “Lucky Country” but you know, I don’t think we are doing it all that bad this far from Australia’s shores. Margo now prides herself as being an honorary “New Australian” but living as we do in America, getting out and about as often as we do, we can’t help but be thankful that so many moving parts – all those scattered pieces that make up our lives together – do on occasion come together and it’s all good! So, for those we are about to meet, we look forward to the occasion and for now, it’s back to packing our bags, pulling out maps and checking hotel bookings! Yes, Mr. Joe Walsh, Life's been good to (us) so far …

1 comment:

JJ1031 said...

Richard, anytime you and Margo are drifting through Southern California and have some free time would love to meet you for a drink and meal.