Launch to the moon

The year was 1969. The Apollo program was in full swing and I felt as though I was a part of it. I was 14 and I envied the astronauts. I wanted to go up in space, but first I needed training. How can a 14 year old get training to be an astronaut? How would I stand the confines of a space capsule for 4-5 days? I had an idea! My dad had built us a tree house around a tree. It had 8 sides and a pointed roof. It almost looked like a space capsule. I could use this for my “training mission”. A friend of mine, who was crazy enough to sign up for this adventure, agreed to submit himself to this training mission. He and I came up with the idea to use the capsule/tree house as a training environment. First, we had to make the inside look as if it were a capsule. I found a roll of aluminum foil in my mom’s kitchen. Armed with a staple gun and aluminum foil, I methodically lined the inside of the tree house walls and ceiling with the aluminum foil; of course one roll wasn’t enough. After 5 more rolls of aluminum foil, the inside of the capsule was almost complete. All we needed now would be loads of switches, buttons and lights. Using a soldering iron, wires and 12 volt batteries, I built a control panel that didn’t do anything but it sure did light up. Ok, the interior was complete, but how to get food to us? We didn’t have any of that cool space food in toothpaste tubes. All we had was Tang, the official drink of astronauts. it was time for another invention. I rigged up a pulley and rope system between our house and the window, I mean space observation area, of the capsule. My little brother Drew agreed to put food into the box of the pulley conveyor and send it to us daily. The big day had arrived. We wanted to look the part so we took our mom’s hair dryers, which in those days was a box that had a hose connected to it and then a bag that you put on your head. This looked almost exactly like what the astronauts carried into the space capsule. My buddy Bill and I donned jump suits and modified hair dryers, to supply needed oxygen and climbed up through the bottom of our tree….I mean space capsule ready for lift off. We were ready to begin our training mission. As we got settled in to our modified lawn chairs, we switched on our control panel to begin launch sequence when it occurred to us that we had not thought of a way to get rid of our food, rather our waste. Another great idea. I told my little brother that we would do our business in baggies and drop them out of the bottom of the space capsule escape hatch door for him to do as he pleased. He said, “You have got to be crazy!!. I didn’t mind making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and sending them to you on the pulley transport but I REFUSE to get rid of your refuse! I quit.” For some reason, my mom and dad didn’t fancy the idea either. My buddy Bill and I looked at each other. Our mission had been scrubbed.

A new town, new friends…

Have you ever tried to put a polarized plug into a receptacle backwards? It doesn’t fit does it; try as you may, you just have to turn the plug around so that it will finally fit. That’s kind of how I was feeling back in VA for the past 10 years. I don’t know if it is due to the large military population in Tidewater, but the people we would meet would slowly move out of the area, many times due to being transferred or moving due to work. Going through a divorce didn’t help things. A normal byproduct of going through a divorce is losing relationships. It’s a hard reality I have had to deal with. Now that the kids are on their own, Brooke is at High Point University, Eric married, Allison living on her own and Steve doing his thing, well, there wasn’t a whole lot holding us in VA anymore. For the past 3-4 years, we have traveled to CO, trying to find a town that would meet most of our wish list. We finally settled on Estes Park, CO. That choice has been confirmed since we moved here September 1st. Estes Park is a small community. Everyone knows everyone. Nobody is really from here. Everyone is from somewhere else in the U.S; because of this, people seem to be more open. There are so many organizations that you can join. We are going to a new group on Thursday called Estes Park Newcomers Club. It’s a way for people to get to meet one another. There are all kinds of personal interest groups within the club. There are many retired people in our town, which reminds me of the Outer Banks. We are not retired, but hey, we are not too far from that time in our lives. That takes some getting used to, slowly realizing that I am closer to retirement than closer to raising a young family. You just can’t fight the reality of your age. That doesn’t mean that you give up and coast, it just means you realize where you are in life, what you want to accomplish and then, using your past experiences with a dose of reality, go for it! For those of you back east, we miss you, but we are loving our new surroundings and the new friends we are meeting. A new town, new friends…

Familiarity

There is a certain comfort level in familiarity, but there is also the saying that “familiarity breeds contempt”. Being in a new place is exciting, but there is also the lack of familiarity that is a little unsettling. It’s never 100% just one way, with new surroundings come discoveries and new adventures, but with new surroundings come getting out of your comfort zone on a daily basis. We moved from Elizabeth City, NC to Estes Park, CO. This has been a great move. I can’t say I miss Elizabeth City, NC, except for a few people that had become my friends. I miss my friends at Muddy’s Coffee shop and the 2 or 3 neighbors around where we lived. I miss my 6 bay garage and our house that we had renovated, but I do love Colorado, the beauty and majesty of the Rocky Mountains, and the friendly people who have moved here from all over the US. We have a new coffee shop here in Estes, they just don’t allow us to bring in our dog. I miss being able to see my family whenever I want as well as interacting with my employees, but I knew this before I moved. I always like a new adventure, a new mountain to climb. There are plenty of those to climb around here. As the snow starts to arrive, it is time to reflect, write and settle down to find new relationships and activities in my new surroundings. Here is to the new adventure!

Databases

I’m learning, a little late about databases. Running an e-commerce business, you would think I would know a thing or two about db’s. Well, there is a saying in the bible, “you have not, because you ask not..”. I am learning this the hard way; because I didn’t know I could have something done a much quicker way, I was doing something manually, one line at a time, taking weeks. I had a db guy look over what I was trying to get done. I gave him a task that I had predicted would take me 125 hrs to do, he completed it in 1.5 hrs. Ugh! How much more work am I doing and have done that could have been completed in a nano-second if I had only asked. “You have not, because you ask not.”

So, why Colorado…

Before Laurie and I moved to Colorado, people would ask, “Why Colorado?”. Why not Colorado? Ever since my parents took me to the Shenandoah mountains when I was 13, I fell in love with the mountains. The view from the top of a summit is awesome. To me, I can see the beauty of God’s handiwork. I used to read books on rock climbing.  I loved the outdoors. I spent many weekends on scouting trips and camping. I knew I was really hooked was in 1973 when my parents took my brother and I on a road trip to Alaska where my mom was raised. Mountains took on a whole new meaning with the shear size of them rising from the ocean. Even though my mom is from Alaska, she loves to go to the beach. The outer banks of NC were her idea of God’s beauty. To me, it was just sand, sand and more sand; let’s don’t forget the intense heat and humidity to go with it. The mountains were in my blood. I love to ski, even though I’m nothing to write home about. We went snowshoeing last winter for the first time. I found the forest to be so quiet, especially when there is snow to absorb the sound. Another way to enjoy the outside is camping. It is a great way to get away from it all. Hiking during the day, then coming back to camp to enjoy a great dinner by the fire with only the stars as your only light.  The air is dry here, so there is very little humidity. You can go outside during July, take a hike and barely perspire. Here in Estes Park, you never run out of things to do. We are at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Downtown Estes has some sort of festival most weekends until around November. Boulder is only about 1 hr away. In Estes Park, everyone is from somewhere else, so you don’t end up with attitudes about you being new. It’s sort of like a melting pot. We have found the people to be extremely friendly throughout the state. Leaving family back east has been hard; fortunately, our parents will be flying out for Thanksgiving to spend time with us. My youngest, Brooke, just left for college, so she is busy with her new surroundings. Our other children are in their mid 20’s to 30’s so they are very busy with their lives. We do miss seeing them, but hopefully we will fly them out here for Christmas. Eric, my youngest son of 27 years will hopefully move out here in spring with his new bride to work for me at our company. We hope he will send this very contagious bug back east and who knows, we might see a few others follow him here. So, why not Colorado!

Coal Creek

Allison and Brooke came up to Coal Creek Canyon last February to spend a couple of days skiing and snowmobiling. This is a pic of us on the back deck of the cabin we leased for 6 months. My brother, Drew, came up and spent time with us as well.

A man needs a garage…

After 5 weeks, I have finally squeezed the contents of a 4 car garage into my new 2 car garage. Believe it or not, both cars will fit. With the help of Laurie, I have managed to organize, re-organize, squeeze tools into every nook and cranny. I don’t know what it is about a man’s garage. You can have a really nice home, very comfortable den and beautiful kitchen, but just let me hang out in my garage. I even know some guys that have a TV, comfortable chair, mini-fridge and stereo in their garage. If you are organized so that you can put your hands on any tool you need, you can do almost anything. So, now work can begin on the INSIDE of the house.

Photos

First snow in Estes Park October 8,2011
Our first snow in Estes Park

Awoke to this light snow falling October 8, 2011. I commented to my neighbor that on Wednesday it was 70 degrees. His comment was, “Get used to this weather, you are now living in Estes Park, CO.”

Coal Creek Feb 2011
Coal Creek Feb 2011
Allison and Brooke came out in Feb. 2011 to spend a few days skiing and snowmobiling with Laurie and I. This pic was taken on the back of the deck of the cabin we rented for 6 months in Coal Creek Canyon near Golden CO. My brother Drew showed up and went with us.
Allison, Drew and Brooke
...and the snow kept falling

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