Monthly Archives: July 2017

Stopping in Denver

When Peggy and I come to Colorado each year we typically drive. It is about a twenty hour drive from Baton Rouge and we usually do it in two days. Since we are coming off the trips to North Carolina, and since I have to drive to San Antonio as soon as we get home from vacation, we decided to fly this year.

Now, you need to understand that the reason we usually drive is because it helps me acclimate to the change in altitude. In the past we have flown up to Denver and come immediately into the mountains. When we did that I seemed to get sick for a couple of days. It took us a few times to figure out that my symptoms were actually altitude sickness. The gradual change in altitude when driving does not seem to create any symptoms in me.

When we do fly now, the remedy has been to spend the first night in Denver and give my body the chance to acclimate in that way. It seems to work, and Denver is a nice place to spend a night. So we flew into Denver today and we are staying at a favorite hotel in the Arts District called, simply enough, Art. I assume it is because of the location and not the owner’s first name.

Denver has some pretty good restaurants that we have visited, but the food here at the hotel is also excellent. Additionally, the hotel has a really cool outdoor bar where we spend quite a bit of time on each visit. I’m sure an outdoor bar four stories up in the Denver air probably has fairly limited utility seven or eight months each year, but in late July it is primo (I have also been here in late September and it was pretty much awesome then, too). We enjoyed dinner and spent a couple of very relaxing hours sitting outside in the cool night air.

We will get up tomorrow morning and make the drive into the mountains, feeling confident that no altitude sickness will befall me. All in all, it’s not a bad way to travel.

We are looking forward to seeing two different sets of good friends up here on this trip, but really we are just looking forward to being back in Peggy’s happy place. I’m sure I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

At the bar in (or out of) the hotel

Still Standing By Me

I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?

That is the final line of a great movie that was made when I was already an adult, but it captured my group of friends perfectly. I really have never had better friends than I had then.

That is what makes it so cool that we still get together every chance we can. Every year if we can make it happen, but always at least every other year.

It’s no small feat! The group consists of ten of us — eight who have been together since we actually were twelve years old and younger, one who came to our school in the tenth grade and one who moved into town our senior year. Those ten men live in Northern California, Tucson, Dallas, Memphis, Nashville, Tampa, Charlotte and Baton Rouge. We try to spread the wealth on where we congregate, but in reality the guys out west get screwed. And they still show up!

A majority of the group went on a senior trip together to celebrate graduating high school. A smaller subset went to Europe to celebrate graduating college. One of the guys married the wrong woman and disappeared from our lives for a while. When he figured out his mistake he was welcomed back with open arms, no questions asked. We have gathered single, with girlfriends, with wives, with children, and with new wives. Our wives love each other and have exhibited remarkable patience hearing the same stories for thirty-five years. To our credit the stories don’t change too much as we get older.

This week we met in North Carolina for our “NC-17” trip. Conveniently, Peggy and I were already in North Carolina for a work trip, so it worked out great for us. The gang member that lives near Charlotte was our host, and for the first time in a few years all ten of us were able to make it. It was just incredible. We played golf (mostly poorly), we went sightseeing (and are now mostly poorer), we rode on the lake, we ate, we drank, and we reveled in old memories and old friendships.

We ended the last evening with a screening of the movie that one of my friends is producing called “Beautifully Broken”. It’s the movie that Peggy was filming in Baton Rouge last Easter. It is almost finished now and we got to see it and see the story that our friends lived through. And cry and rejoice with them in the happy ending.

Three doctors, an engineer, a financial planner, a retired Air Force Colonel, a horticulturist, an athletic director, an insurance underwriter, and a COO. Seven different colleges. All from the same small town in Louisiana but now all over the country.

I know I am getting older, and I realize how rare it is to have a group of friends like this. I can’t wait for the next time we all get together.

Another golf course conquered
Yeah, we all pretty much out-kicked our coverage with these ladies…

Job Stuff

When I started this blog I made the conscious decision not to talk about work. First, I think I owe my employer my absolute best at all times, and talking about what happens at the office is not in line with that belief. Secondly, job stuff is never as interesting to other people as it is to the people at the job.

I’m breaking that rule tonight. I am leaving my current job with a fantastic company to pursue something completely different. I am not only leaving my job — I am leaving the industry in which I have worked for my entire thirty-three year career.

This was not an easy decision. In fact, I put it off for more than a year hoping it would go away. I have loved my job here in Baton Rouge, and I have loved the people with whom I work. They are almost like family to me. In fact, when I told the CEO I was leaving, I told her the only thing that could have made me leave is family.

I am going to be joining my brother in a business in San Antonio. As I told the CEO, the new situation has everything you could ever want — lower pay and in an industry I know nothing about! But my brother’s business is growing and he asked me to come help. So, I am.

We do not plan to leave Baton Rouge. Not only do we love it here but our first grandchild is about to be born next month. I will be working from home some, but mostly I will be traveling back and forth between Baton Rouge and San Antonio.

We are currently traveling with the Board of Directors this week, and it has been really nice to be able to spend time with them and let them know how much I have appreciated working with them and with this great company. I would love to someday maybe have the opportunity to come back, but right now I am doing what I need to do. But they are great people, and I will sorely miss them.

After this Board Retreat, Peggy and I are traveling to see my group of closest friends. We are very excited for that trip at the same time we are sad to be leaving this great group of folks. Life is funny that way.

After a week back in Baton Rouge, Peggy and I will make our annual trip to Colorado. Then, I will begin working in San Antonio. Here we go…

Heading to the final dinner with the Board. A great night.
Earlier at the Biltmore Estate. Cats always seem to find me…

What a Summer

Five years ago. It is almost hard to believe it has been that long.

Peggy was in the beginning stages of dealing with her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease, and I knew it was going to be a tough summer. I decided to rent a place at Lake Travis for the entire summer so that we could go anytime we wanted to and relax. Man, did we need it and did we use it.

We joined a boat club where you pay so much each month and you get to choose from whatever boats they have available at the time. Since we really didn’t care what kind of boat we got it was a fantastic arrangement for us. Most of the time we got pontoon boats, even though it was just the two of us. It was perfect for us. We would find a spot in the lake to anchor and just lay there or swim until we felt like moving to another spot.

If Peggy wasn’t in Dallas with her mother we were there on the weekends. I was working on a special project in Austin for my company, so we were there on a lot of weekdays, too. We finished each day in the pool and then sitting on the back deck watching the sunset.

We took a million pictures that summer, but one in particular popped up today and it is one of our favorite memories from the summer. It wasn’t Peggy in a bathing suit (though those were several of my favorite memories) on the boat; it was us on the back porch one night after dark. We would sit out there having a drink and smoking a cigar and talking about all of the things that were happening in our lives. Every night Peggy would request to take a picture while we sat out on the porch, and every night I would tell her it is too dark for a picture. Finally, one night after we had spent all day on the boat,¬†finished it off in the pool and were back home with a drink enjoying the back porch, I agreed to let her try.

We have laughed about that night ever since. Understand, at the lake after dark it is dark. To take a picture you need to use the flash. When you are in the dark and your eyes see a flash, what do they do? That’s right, they close.

The more pictures we took and the harder we tried to keep our eyes open, the funnier it got. If the neighbors had been outside I am sure we would have irritated them. But we still laugh about those terrible pictures. And that beautiful, awful, wonderful, terrible summer.

We finally got one picture where we both kept our eyes almost open and without too pained an expression on our faces. That picture was among the ones that popped up today as a “five years ago today”. There were awesome pictures of my gorgeous wife in her bikini on the boat, but this is the one that prompted me to write tonight:

At our photogenic best

I started laughing again as soon as I saw it. And I just laughed when I attached it.

Sometimes you just have to do the silly stuff. It helps with all the other real stuff.