Friday, September 25, 2009

Lake Time with the Decostanzas

I flew from Grand Junction to Grand Rapids where Heath, John, Susan and Lina picked me up and we drove a short ways over to Fremont to spend a relaxing weekend at the LePeau lakehouse.

Not too many details to share other than how cute Lina was and how pathetic Violet was by her lonesome on the porch. The weather was beautiful so we took full opportunity of the sunshine and reading time.

My Desert Adventure

I feel the need to include this disclaimer: My work-related travel is usually not this cool. I think 2009 will go down as having some of the best work trips ever. I've looked at next year's calendar and trust me, it's not nearly as exciting.

Last week I found myself on a plane to Moab, Utah or, more accurately to Grand Junction, Colorado (via Denver), and then a 2-hour shuttle ride to the Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab, Utah. A new company is launching an online based (vs. server based) practice management software. I won't get all wonky on you with why it's cool but believe me when I say it's pretty amazing.

This trip was basically a marketer's dream of how to introduce a product to the dental media and key opinion leaders. We watched the demo, sitting on a beautiful bluff as the sun went down in the desert. We debated the merits of imaging software under the stars. We discussed the feasibility of marketing via social networks while on ATVs. It was incredible.

Here are just a few of the pictures from my time. They DO NOT do the scenery justice. Also, it was my first time riding an ATV. I went off-road (accidentally!) twice. By the second leg of the trip, though, I was doing okay. :-)

[on the river, headed to our dinner on the bluff]

[scenes from the bluff, where I had

[the view from the patio where we had breakfast]

[atv adventures, including lunch at a cattle ranch]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kansas City Whirlwind

[sorry this post took so long!]

I flew straight from San Francisco to Kansas City to meet up with Heath, Jacque and Clyde to spend some time in the great state of Kansas, catching up with family.

Heath arrived a couple days ahead of me and had been able to spend some one-on-one time with Amber, one of his cousins, as well as Grandma and Grandad (Jacque's stepmom and dad).

I flew in just in time to make dinner with Mary and Tim (aunt and uncle) and hear all about what's going on with them now that their kids, Tiffany and Jacob, have left the nest for college. The next day, Saturday, we had breakfast with Michael and his family (wife: Angela, stepdaughter: Courtney) and checked out their new home. It was nice to spend some focused time with them before we headed back to the Tomlinson household for the big family gathering.

Grandma made delicious brisket which was supplemented with two kinds of potatoes, salad, bread, pies, chocolate cake and iced tea. After we had all stuffed ourselves Heath suggested a brilliant plan: family football. He walked to the local hardware store to pick up a pigskin and then we all walked over to an empty field near the house and watched as Tracy's (aunt) boys, Little Michael (cousin), Brittany (cousin) and, at certain points, Clyde "the glide" Carter and even Grandad.

It is important to point out at this juncture that Clyde really showed the "kids" who was boss — two interceptions, two touchdown passes, and a whole lot of sweat. He was hurting the next day, but I think he'd say it was worth it.

When it was all over, we headed back to the house for showers, round two on the brisket, and some time to just talk and share embarrassing moments out on the back porch. Heath, just full of good ideas that day, went on to organize a game of poker with some of the other guys and promptly cleaned his cousins out of all their cash on hand.

The next morning, we drove to Topeka for lunch with Cherie and Ed (aunt and uncle) as well as Amber, her friend Thomas, Jeremy (cousin) and his girlfriend Jessie. We had front row seats at The Blind Tiger, a local brewery, to watch the KC Chiefs battle (and eventually lose to) the Baltimore Ravens.

We took the memory lane route back (looking at all the places the Carters used to live, work, hang) and stopped along the way to see Peter, Nana's husband, before making our way back to Cherie's. Once there, we gave her her own personal Web 2.0 tutorial. By the end of the day she was on Facebook and considering starting her own blog.

From there, we stopped by Nana's grave to pay our respects and then headed to dinner with John (uncle) and his new wife, Renee.

It was a VERY long weekend, but seeing the Carter/Tomlinson crew is always full of laughter, no-bake cookies, and generally a good time.

Wine Country

I feel very lucky that this year I've been able to mix a lot of business with pleasure. Last week, for example, I got to conduct a business meeting in a limo, en route to a vineyard. WHAT?!?

My new boss, our head of sales and myself took the marketing teams for a couple of our bigger clients up to Sonoma Valley to taste some amazing wine from Nicholson Ranch. Our hour or so ride up provided ample time to lay out some strategic goals for 2010 and brainstorm some interesting ideas on how to meet them. We took a break for the tasting and tour, courtesy of a guide named Oz, and then talked more business on the ride back.

It was a wonderful way to business — one I doubt will become a regular thing, but was quite a treat this time around.

[some pics from the afternoon]