Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Did someone say “Road Trip?”

After a very peaceful time at home in Windsor, Colorado, it was time to pack the company command center and hit the road to our first business event of the year utilizing the RV. As much as we do not like it we have flown to previous events as they were held in Europe … it was just too far to drive! This roadtrip would begin with a stop in Las Vegas for HPE’s big tent marketing event - HPE Discover 2019. Once again, I had been invited to be a guest of HPE and to be a part of the HPE Influencer program which, thankfully, means Margo and I will have a nice hotel room so there will be no overnight stays in the RV during these sunny Las Vegas days. If you have been following this blog through the years you will understand that while we really enjoy taking the RV on business trips, Las Vegas isn’t a place where we like to camp-out as temperatures are well and truly always in the very hot range, with rarely a day under 100F.

On the other hand, this would be a prelude to a long weekend spent in southern California before a client meeting the following week. Then we would hop a plane for Dallas, Texas, where we will be part of the HPE NonStop vendor community and I will be providing updates on a client’s products and services. Obviously, it will also be a time to recap the high points of the Las Vegas meeting, but fortunately, it will be balanced with networking opportunities and we have a lot of friends in the area we hope to see. That very peaceful time spent in Windsor will seem such a long time ago before we begin our return trip home.

On the other hand, there really isn’t any substitute to living adventurous lives – did you read my post to our business blog, Real Time View? It was the five hundredth post and I wrote even more about living an adventurous life! Take a look when you have a chance – again, it’s https://itug-connection.blogspot.com/2019/06/celebrating-500th-post-to-this-blog.html And before I forget – while perhaps not as impressive as writing my five hundredth post to my business blog this happens to be my one hundred and fiftieth post to this blog! What do you reckon?

One of the more pleasant aspects of road trips is that in taking our home with us, when it comes time to entertaining clients and associates, we carry with us anything that we like and you will always find at least one bottle of vodka in the freezer with plenty of glasses on hand, chilling, as well. While it is not quite like home as a substitute, it gets a pass! On the other hand, Margo is always looking forward to opportunities to simply pull off the road, enjoy a quiet nightcap followed by a good night’s sleep in a bedroom almost as nice as the one we have in Windsor. For many, the long hours driving America’s highways are a pastime to be avoided at all costs, but for Margo and me, it plays a big part in our adventurous life. Did someone say roadtrip? Then count us in!

It isn’t just about the quiet nightcaps we so often enjoy once out of town, but the opportunity to grill. Outside the company command center, watching as a marinated tri-tip steak sizzles on the grill, it’s almost as enjoyable as that chilled vodka martini. Before starting out on this journey and having just picked up the RV following major, but routine, servicing we elected to overnight at a camp site 50 miles up the road and it was a good thing we chose to do so. Many of the tasks we always need to do when first arriving at a campsite had us scratching our heads before we managed to complete all that we needed to do before we could cook the steak (or shake the martini). Fortunately, when it came to the RV itself, everything worked so we were truly pleased! We now store our RV in a temperature controlled storage facility and we both believe that not having to winterize and then summerize the RV has lessened the potential for major damage to the chassis, let alone the house.

Winter has passed … and what a winter it had been! With snow falling into the last week of May, our plans of spending November through January in Australia and skipping the worst of winter, pretty much came to nothing as we found no 
respite from the cold and snow Coloradans know all too well. As the reports began coming into the television news desks, the weather forecasters began producing some very interesting charts – graphs that showed ridiculous levels of snow and water accumulations that had us all taking a second look.

As impressive as figures like 260 percent or even 370 percent of the median for this time of year – late May – it was charts depicting the “snow water equivalent
as percent of median” that had us all wondering what that really meant. Try 966 or 1,491 percent of median but then again, look too at Gunnison with 52,350 percent of median? Watch out below – and yes, the Arkansas River basin is already wreaking havoc across states to the east of Colorado.

Statewide, we are 735 percent of median so there is no water restrictions planned for the summer across any part of Colorado this year. Winter may have passed but the rivers are proving treacherous with many whitewater rafting comings letting discretion rule the day as they keep their boats on dry land for now.  

One tangible sign that the state is well-watered for now is that the popular watering holes in Boulder continue to pull a crowd even as every tree in sight is covered in foliage to where it’s kind of hard to see the popular features out-of-towners come to see. Even Boulder’s famous “flatirons” are barely visible through the trees and when Margo and I visited a popular Italian restaurant we often stop by for lunch, all those darn leafy trees keep blocking out the view! On the other hand it gave us a reminder that winter had indeed passed even as spring has been very short and now, the balmy warm days of summer were finally appearing. Ahhhh – what a relief; sunshine!

Leaving Windsor and heading for Las Vegas meant crossing the great divide and this is always a big test of the health of our company command center. Taking the RV out on the road for business, where firm dates had been set, always carries with it an element of risk. Will the RV chassis and drivetrain make the trip safely and without mechanical glitches? Will the RV home work as required – will we have hot and cold running water and will the refrigerator keep our food and drink chilled. Even with the overnight camping we did before setting out on this trip where we checked out all the systems there is still that lingering doubt about it all running smoothly, but to date, it has all gone to plan.

We did have a small issue with a water filter that temporarily impeded the flow of water as we arrived in Las Vegas but that was easily fixed after we called in the mobile RV repairman. On the other hand, pulling into truck parking elevated slightly above Lake Dillon with views to the south past Breckenridge gave us an opportunity to see spring rain descending on the upper peaks of the continental divide. It was a scene that was simply tailor-made to be photographed and so we naturally, obliged! However, that would be the last we would see of clouds and rain squalls as it wasn’t too long before we crossed into Utah for the run across the high desserts and into Vegas. What the absence of rain squalls gave us unfortunately was taken back by the strong headwinds we ran into once we turned down Interstate 15. Very trying driving conditions with as big a profile as we provide! 

But we made Vegas eventually where we parked the RV and headed for the hotel. I am not completely sure as to why so many cars are featured at HPE events of late, but once again, as you entered the main exhibition area, there was another Formula E Racing car front and center of the exhibition. It wasn’t too long ago when attending a similar HPE event in Madrid, Spain, that I wrote of whether or not HPE was in the car business as there were so many cars on display, but I guess with autonomous cars and the need for AI and superfast networks there shouldn’t be any surprise to see cars making a splash at technology events like HPE Discover.

For this year’s event, HPE had brought onto the floor the
Venturi Formula E Racing car where Susie Wolff just happens to be team principal. She was a guest of HPE CEO Antonio Neri and together they shared the center stage during a keynote presentation where Wolff shared “how AI and Machine Learning help their Formula E Team.” Quite the coup for Neri as Wolff’s time is at a premium at this stage in the racing year, but at the same time, with HPE a sponsor of the team, it was further evidence of HPE’s support for technologies that will likely have, in time, much wider appeal. An interesting aside is that HPE is involved in sponsoring not just Susie Wolff but is involve too with her husband, Toto Wolff, who is Mercedes AMG F1 Racing team principal and with his eyes set on entering Formula E next year HPE's role in supporting both husband and wife should become very interesting indeed.   

Roadtrips wouldn’t be worth doing if there wasn’t a little downtime along the way and in between Las Vegas and Dallas, Texas, we spent a long weekend by Lake Cachuma, just outside Santa Barbara. We were joined by out good friends Brian and Jan Kenny and as our next business meeting was to be the Tuesday, we enjoyed having some time to simply do nothing more than absorb the scenery. When we lived in Simi Valley we drove past this lake many times as the nearby highway takes you to the wineries of Santa Ynez. However, it isn’t clear to us how we missed taking advantage of the campsites available, but we sure worked hard at making up for lost time. And did I forget to mention there was another marinated tri-tip steak that found its way onto our grill?

It has been a while since we wrote about the Kenny’s grandson Colton Herta and while he is their grandson and it was an Indy race weekend, we had little option other than to gather inside the Kenny’s RV to watch the race. It was held at Road America, Wisconsin, and is perhaps the longest road course the Indy cars tackle each year and yes, it proved to be an exciting race to watch all the way to the end. Already in 2019 Colton has won the GTLM class in the Rolex 24 hours at Daytona driving a BMW M8 GTE as well as his first Indy win at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) driving his Honda-powered Indy car. In winning at COTA at the tender age of 18, he set the record as the youngest winner in Indy history. This weekend, he qualified on the pole to become the youngest P1 winner at just 19 in Indy history. Again!

Expectations were high that he would do well in the race. Perhaps the strategy he followed at COTA helped hand him the win but no one ever hands you the pole position as you are the fastest Indy driver of the weekend – around the four plus miles of the road course, he averaged just a tad over 140 mph. Yes, as an average! Sadly, fortune didn’t shine too kindly on Colton in this latest Indy car race and he finished in eighth place having failed to fend off three or four fellow racers in just the last two laps when a podium finish had been in his sights. After a string of DNF (Did Not Finish) following his spectacular start to the season, it was good to get back into the points and Colton assured everyone that we was just fine leaving Wisconsin with as many championship points as he did.

There is still Dallas to visit and that unfortunately will necessitate a flight there and back with just the day to take care of business. The networking opportunities continue to make it time well spent and Dallas has become almost a second home for us given the number of times we have driven to Texas of late. And yet, it is at times like this that we miss the days we used to spend in southern California only a short time ago and, with good friends and great places to see, perhaps there will come another opportunity to pass the time under the California sun – who knows? But for now, it’s the roadtrip that matters and there is still the return trip to Windsor to come, but for now, it’s another balmy afternoon taking in the beauty of Lake Cachuma.

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