A Good Way To Start The Morning

Sometimes you feel like getting a little exercise while on vacation and this was one of those days. Having lived in Phoenix for 4 years, we did quite a few hikes, mostly over at South Mountain park, but never Piestewa Peak, which is north by Paradise Valley.

I had contacted one of our new sales gents a few months prior to let him know I would be in town, knowing that this particular hike was one that he does a few times a week. He was gracious enough to allow me to tag along for an early morning version of the hike.

We met at the parking lot at 5:45am to get the hike in before the work day started. Although I was on vacation, I wanted to get to see Simon and try the fairly steep peak. The hike covers approximately 1.2 miles up, with a vertical climb of almost 1,200 feet. The path is very well cut (into rock), but we did the incline in the dark so it was a challenge for a first timer. Not too many people on the path, but those that were on the path, had headbands with lights, or were using their cell phones.

Simon has done the hike regularly, so he knew the path very well and took off at a quick pace. I tried to keep up, but was second guessing my footing, despite his cell phone light, which was a little too far out in front of us to be useful for me. I eventually pulled out my phone to light up the path, by which time Simon had a bit of a lead on me. A combination of caution and getting stuck behind a few slower folks had me loose site of him. This caused me to make two wrong turns that I had to backtrack from and find my way. By the time I caught up with him, he had made it to the top and had come back down about 30 yards where he met me on my ascent. He went back up to the top with me where I was rewarded by a pre dawn view of the city.

PHX AMPhx Sunrise

On the way down, Simon was doing a speed decent and took a bad tumble. He popped back up and said he was ok, and seemed so all the way down and during our work conversation in the parking lot. But about 30 minutes later when I sat down back at the hotel, I received the following two images via text.

StitchesPhotographic evidence that it was not a harmless tumble, but instead a gash that required 5 stitches to close up. I joked with him that I hoped this was not his contract signing hand, as it is end of the year for the sales team. Nope, he is right handed so he can sign away and enjoy a Christmas pint at the pub.

I will recap the rest of the trip in another post.

Early Christmas 2018

Continuing with my ‘I need to use my PTO’ theme, we took a trip to see the kids for an early Christmas. We left the springs late Thursday afternoon to get a jump on traffic for a 6:30pm flight to PHX out of DEN. I have been saving flight miles, rental car credits and hotel night for no particular reason, so time to use two of the three (hotel and car).

The Palomar in downtown Phoenix is one of our favorites, so we booked two nights there on credits (probably my last year as Inner Circle for a while with my travel being down) as our initial base of operations. The second two nights are at the Westin Phoenix to get me a little closer to Platinum for the 11th year in a row (yes,too much travel in the past).

Blue Hound EntranceThe Blue Hound is the restaurant and bar inside the hotel the used to have Lorie’s favorite cocktail ‘The Lawless’. Alas, it is no longer on the menu although I heard the roll it out for special occasions. This time of the year a company from New York turns various bars into ‘Miracle’ bars for the holidays. Blue hound was one of those bars transformed while we were there. They did a nice job decorating with the Christmas themed lights, chairs, wall decorations and drinks. It was a very busy Thursday night and we were lucky to Decorative Chairsget a table for all 5 of us. There were no serving staff, so all the orders had to be placed at the bar. It too a while to get two rounds of drinks, but we were in no hurry as we had lots to catch up on.

My favorite drink was the ‘Yippe Kay Yay Mother F@#$%r’. We all had something a little different and did a pass and sip. We stayed for a few hours and then called it a night as we did not land till 8:30pm and got to the hotel/bar at 9:30pm. A nice first night.

We slept in Friday morning (8 am is sleeping in) and then walked down to the lobby for some coffee. The Kimpton always has a good morning coffee spread and for the holiday they have a hot chocolate bar. I chose to combine the two this morning to make a nice unpretentious Mocha. We checked out of the Kimpton for our move over to the Westin (needed a few more Marriott/SPG nights).

We spent the day driving around to some of the old places we used to go to including a drive by of our house. We also made a trip to my favorite resale shop Well Suited to see if I could find a few bargains. We struck out at the Lincoln Village Location but I was able to find a Rockmount and Pendleton and a Tommy Bahama at the Desert Village at Pinnacle Peak location. Worth the trip. Matt and Jenna met us for dinner Friday night with their significant other for a little vegetarian food and good company. More catching up which was nice.

Saturday we slept in again, had more coffee and picked up Jen and did some shopping for her and Lorie. The day went by pretty fast between shopping, lunch and more shopping. We met again for drinks a a cool little bar called The Whining Pig and had a nice sour beer..or two.

Sunday was a coffee repeat but this time I walked down to the Starbucks near the convention center where I used to stop when I was working with the Arizona Department of Administration. Its nice to experience things that are the same but in a different context. We went to visit my friend Robert but he as off painting at his moms house (shame on me for not calling ahead). We at least got to see his his wife and two lovely girls for a little while. Some more coffee at Coffee Rush and we were off to Matts for our Early Christmas Eve.

Lorie had not met Teddy before, Matts one eyed pug, so she was excited to finally meet him and see Megan and her dog Bailey as well

 Lorie and TeddyTeddy

Matt has a nice spread for the six of us and Jenna was nice enough to being some vegetarian sausages for me and regular brats for everyone else. They tasted just like real meat but were friendly to the digestive system. We settled in for the Bears/Packers game, and thoroughly enjoyed the Bears victory, Jenna’s boyfriend is a big Packers fan so he did not have such a good time. Boo Hoo. Matt had a bottle of the same Lost Spirits rum that we had, as he had been to the distillery before us and actually suggested that we stop their on our LA trip. I enjoyed the dark liquid in moderation as Navy Strength rum can sneak up on you pretty quick.

We had a great tine catching up and playing some Nintendo Switch party games (Lorie and I lost) and were all pretty tuckered out by 9:30. Matt had to work in the morning and I had a hike to do with one of my co workers, at 6AM so we called it for the night.

I did my morning hike the next day at 5:45 am up Piestewa Peak with Simon from work. You can read about that hike here. and was back to the hotel by 7:30. We took our time getting coffee and getting ready for check out, then proceeded back over to Jennas to pick her up for lunch and a final visit. Following lunch we headed over to Matts store to say hi to his manager and pick him up for an early dinner before we had to head to the airport. He let us know that he unfortunately did not get selected to help open and become an employee of the new London store. He still has an opportunity to do a career experience like he did in Sydney, which would be temporary and not require him to move to the UK. He was hoping to get the full gig, but the door is still open for a smaller commitment.

The flight back was uneventful, and our checked luggage full of booze  made it back just fine. We had stopped at Trader Joes for the Muscato Lories likes that we cannot get in Colorado Trader Joes as they do not sell liquor.

This was the second Christmas we spent not in the same town as the kids, but at least we were able to go see them for this one. Last year was the first one spent apart and it was a little weird with just the two of us and the dogs. All in all a very pleasant trip.

Holiday Party 2018

It’s that time of the year, when companies have a get together to celebrate the holidays with their co workers, spouses and SOs. This was my second ‘Holiday’ Party as an employee of Cherwell, the first was 2017 immediately after we moved here from Arizona. The event was held at the same hotel as last year, the Antlers in downtown Colorado Springs. The Antlers used to be the Adams Mark back in the day, one of the nicest hotels in the area back in the 80s.

This year we had a little preparty at my house with a few of the team and their spouses. It was nice to get to talk about things other than work with some of my outstanding team members. We shared a little of the Lost Spirits rum that Lorie and I picked up while on our Hello Kitty trip to LA. The 61% rum was a big hit for everyone who enjoys rum.  I should have purchased two bottles while we were there as it is very hard to find outside of California. We will get back there soon and I will get a few bottles of that and their whiskey.

Instead of driving to the venue, we asked Russ and his wife for a lift, planning on taking an UBER back (I still had my AMEX Platinum credits to use in December). We all arrived fashionably late, but in time for a few drinks from the cash bar before dinner. Dinner was a nice buffet with lots of veggie options which I appreciated and enjoyed. The band was the same one as last year and they were again very, very good and the crowd enjoyed the entertainment.

Most of the team sat together but spent lots of time milling around and speaking to those that they wanted to interact with. I had a list of folks I wanted to speak to and barring those that had to cancel last minute, I got to spend time with all those that I felt were important to my place in the company, including the new CEO.

Lorie and I had lots of fun and we stayed all the way till the lights went up. Not everyone did though as it seemed like about half the crowd left right after dinner. Not sure why you would only sty for dinner and leave, but they must have their reasons.

Looking forward to another prosperous year with the company.

Welcome Back

I sit here writing on the eve of our holiday party at my new employer. Quite a bit has changed since my last post and I have much catching up to do to document all of that, if I decide to do so. I did decided to take up skiing/snowboarding after moving to Colorado a year ago and pausing on the mountain yesterday during my  third lesson at Copper Mountain, I decided to start updating my blog again.


This post is my push to get going again with writing on a more regular basis. There is still quite a bit happening in my life, so I need to get documenting.

Nice to be back.

Looking Forward to Next Year

Funny how we make such a delineation of our being from year to year. After all it is just another day in just another month in just another year in our life. Perhaps it is because everyone else is pausing to think about what they want to accomplish next year, and what they did not get to do this past year. Right now, everyone is looking forward to next year.

I think a better plan is to have a plan for the next few years and continually work and refine that plan as situations arise that are either beneficial to you achieving those goals or detrimental.

We had a few things happen in my household this year that helped us move closer to some goals and a few things that were setbacks. Some items we can control like choices and determination, but some things like health and for some of you, mother nature, can come out of nowhere and set you back a few months if not years.

Regardless of what hits us, we need to keep moving forward and not let these things stop us. One of the keys to progress I believe is having a strong support system. If you are having trouble achieving your goals or are getting discouraged, talk to someone close to you. If you don’t have anyone close to you, well that is another issue that you need to work on as mentors or trusted advisors can help you in many ways.

I left a company this year and took a position at a new one (to be detailed in a later post). This new company has clear goals and has forced me (for the better) to reexamine where I want to go moving forward.

For now I have one short term goal in 2013 and that has to do with why I started this blog 3 years ago. I will again be running on Disney Marathon Weekend but this time doing the half by myself. I have a goal of a sub 2 hour half, which will be a bit difficult as the previously mentioned health setbacks and all the traveling I have been doing for the hew job, has made training difficult.

I will try my best (that’s all we can really do when it comes down to it) to achieve that first goal, and then continue on with the rest to continue being the kind of person I want to be.

Best of luck to you all in the new year.