Tuesday, October 16, 2018

It might be bigger in Texas but Sydney, here we come!

I love Texas, no doubt about it. Each time we pull out of the garage to head to Texas it’s always the start of something special. I first re-located to Dallas Texas in 1977 and spent nearly three months living out of a condo, right beside Love airfield, somewhere in and around the triangle bordered by Mockingbird Lane, Lemmon Avenue and Inwood Road, which has changed a lot with the passage of time. Just watching the private jets fly into Love Airfield each Saturday morning, one after the other after the other, was more than enough incentive for me to get up and go back to work, come each Monday. So, no surprise here, our first trip of October involved a run down to Dallas for client meetings.

Whether it’s the many lakes that dot the landscape or simply the wide open spaces that are apparent everywhere you turn; everything happens within the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex and whether your tastes see you heading to Ft Worth’s stockyards or to Arlington for a Texas Rangers baseball game or to the billion dollar Dallas Cowboys stadium or perhaps watching NASCAR racers happens to be your thing it all happens in and around Dallas. Of course, the freeway interchanges continue to take our breath away as does the rampant sprawl of industries. For those not familiar with the service roads paralleling the freeways then yes, be surprised, as these service roads can have more lanes than you find on other cities freeways.

For the forty plus years I have been going to Texas it’s always been about the people. And it’s still the people that bring me back to the area. Whether it is for business and a user event (such was the case earlier this year when the HPE NonStop users got together for a HPE and third-party vendor presentations) or a client meeting or simply finding time for coffee with former clients and current prospects, we can anticipate an enjoyable time in Dallas. Well, almost all the time.

Our previous trip in the BMW i8 hybrid resulted in me having a minor fender-bender trying to cross all those service lanes before finding the exit that allowed an underpass U-Turn. But after a couple of days in the body shop, it’s all good and yes, like new! Do we still like touring in the i8? Let me come right out and say this up front - we have never enjoyed any other touring car more than the i8. I'ts fabulous! This trip back to Dallas was in part for redemption and suffice to say, after a couple of days on the freeways, we returned home none the worse for wear. But yes, we still like the people of Dallas.

Our journeys to and from Dallas always mandate a night’s rest in the township of Amarillo. This time, we tried a new hotel that just happened to be alongside The Big Texan Steakhouse so how could we not check out this establishment? We often watch the television show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives or, Triple D, as host Guy Fieri calls it and while this particular restaurant hasn’t been featured as best as we can tell, it certainly could easily fall into one of those three categories. Not strictly a tourist trap as there were mostly locals, it is only a place you go to once or twice. On the other hand, perhaps it’s not the food that keeps bringing me back to that Triple D show but rather, Guy’s 502 HP 1968 Camaro roadster.

Seated in the upper deck, by the railing and next to the trophy head of a Moose, the atmosphere captured what is the essential Texas – loud music, loud conversations, loud clothing and well, everything that is loud! I am not saying Texas is overly noisy but rather, there is an infectious enthusiasm coming from everyone that is hard to repress. I am not one of those individuals who view this as necessarily being a bad thing as after all I was once called an “introvert, in a loud and noisy way!” On the other hand, the sheer joy coming up from the ground floor was every bit as Texan as you could find anywhere in that great state.  

Back in Windsor, Colorado, there were two major events taking place. The first was the completion of the lower level of our house. After five months, it’s all done except for a minor cosmetic tweak here and there. As for the second event it just so happened that the sons of our good friends, Jim and Dale Miller, opened their brew house just three blocks or so from our home and of course, we just had to find our way to the door pretty much as they opened. Indeed, we first arrived two days before they opened to find sons Dan and Tim hard at work but still, with time to pour Margo and me a beer and we do believe that with the tip, it was the very first they received at their bar, the Mighty River Brewing Company.

Since it opened we have found ourselves spending a quiet hour or two over a pint chatting with friends and neighbors. Just this weekend, food trucks begun appearing so now we can grab a little BBQ as the situation dictates. Overall, our little community needed a place like this that we could walk to and now we find that a pizza and pasta place is about to open, what more could we want? Rumor has it that a small café / coffee shop is also planned and that would pretty much complete the creation of the small village atmosphere that Margo and I were hoping would develop in time. It sure makes our small investment in our home within the Highlands Meadows golfing community look a whole lot smarter!

As for our new walkout lower level, it was always our intention to build out a place where we could entertain on a larger scale. Our former home had a dedicated home theater outside of which was a separate bar area and while we found the setup to our liking it didn’t do a whole lot to fostering a cheerful social environment. So now, rather than the traditional home theater room, we build a media room that opens to the bar area where we have included wine coolers, refrigerators and even a small wine cellar. The plan calls for adding a high-top table and stools and a drinks and nibbles caddy.

As for the rest of the space then the major feature is our new office. Much larger than the space we had been using upstairs it now affords us the ability to work together on joint projects even as our former main level office becomes a library and home work area and a quiet retreat for Margo whenever she needs to escape her loud and noisy husband. Overall, this walkout lower level affords us a lot more separation from our area and that of the space where we will entertain. That’s the plan, anyway, and in time we will just have to wait and see how it all turns out. While some of our furniture is in place there are still our paintings to be hung as well as a couple more objet d’art to be deployed. As for drapes and curtains, they will be installed in the New Year.

I like Texas as it’s one of those places where winter rarely has an impact on daily routines. It can get cold and on occasion, Texans are subject to the dreaded ice-storms that turn every one of their freeways into skating rinks. But they aren’t as common as hot August nights and that first time to Dallas was in August and for all of August’s 31 days, the temperature never dropped below 100 F. Not even at night time as I recall – the air mass hovering over Dallas was being fueled by even hotter temps in the gulf.

However, here in Windsor after an all-too-brief autumn, it’s started to snow. Perhaps a little earlier than expected, but looking out of the window this weekend, all we could see was the white backdrop that is so familiar to Coloradans during winter. Fortunately, this will be the last snow we will have to deal with for quite a while. As much as I like driving to Texas, tomorrow we fly to Sydney, Australia, and Margo and I simply cannot wait till we step off the plane to Sydney’s warmer weather. Yes, it’s springtime by the harbor. Well, perhaps in a few days’ time that is as the forecast for our arrival Thursday morning is for thunderstorms.

 It just so happened that many events came together over a short period of time that rather than planning on travelling to Sydney multiple times over the course of just a couple of months, we will be making just the one trip. My daughter Lisa will turn 35, my high school mates will be holding our 50th anniversary school reunion, there is a major financial institutions trade show in Darling Harbor, and yes, we are going to take a short boat trip to Auckland and then on to Wellington to meet with good friends and clients. 

Given all of this it seemed prudent to also plan on staying for the Christmas and New Year holidays as the last time I was in Sydney as the year wound down was way back in 1988. Thirty years away from Sydney except for the occasional business trip, has passed, oh, so quickly. Too quickly in many respects as I have missed too many Rugby tests and too many Cricket matches not to mention the famous Great Race – the Bathurst 1000 road race.

Will there be more than a couple of nostalgic moments? Of course! But then again, I knew that this would take place as the almost-gypsy lifestyle Margo and I have embraced in our later year’s leaves us with little time to simply sit and watch the grass grow. On the other hand, this trip to Sydney will ensure we do get to spend time with so many friends that we haven’t seen in quite a while that perhaps this little piece of home life in the antipodes will be all the medicine we need to remind us both of just how many options we have to where we live and work. And play and entertain. And yes, laugh and cry at all that we have seen and done and all that we have missed out on.

Our bags are packed and shortly our other daughter, Anna, will be dropping by to take us to the airport. Tonight we aren’t flying but rather checking into an airport hotel so tomorrow, there will be no rushing around, madly panicking as we check in at the airline desk. With that, all we can add is to wish all our friends and neighbors here in Windsor, Colorado, a Happy Thanksgiving and the best of times for Christmas and the New Year! See you all again in 2019!

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