Saturday, October 5, 2013

Playing Catch Up...Again...As Usual

Small Part of Martin Theophilus' Magnetic Audio Recorder Collection
So, I've been back from the "My McVansion Shakedown Cruise -er- Road Trip" and I'm way behind on blog posts. Actually, I arrived back at base camp in WV on September 25th, the day after my radio interview on WMSC. The interview has been listened to by way, way more folks than I thought and it is still getting hits and listens every day. So, thank you for your interest and support. So much happened during that shakedown cruise, all good, I might add. But, the trip became so busy that I ended up with virtually no time to blog. It was either blog or catch some sleep and I really did need the sleep. I also attempted to keep up with (not completely successfully) a plethora of emails. So, this is part of the catch up I have to do.

Currently, I've actually been on the road since Sunday September 29th on the road trip to Texas. This trip is a mixed bag. First, My McVansion is sitting, parked, in Front Royal, Virginia where I left it. I'm driving my former partner's huge Chevy Suburban that was loaded with materials and equipment for the project in San Antonio, where I am located as I compose this post. I couldn't sleep in the Suburban on the way due to the load I was bearing. So, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday night I stayed in budget motels, an Americas Best Value Inn on Sunday night in Marion, Virginia and Motel 6's in Meridian, Mississippi on Monday night and in Austin, Texas on Tuesday night.

A Challenge 

Monday morning I had a little surprise that added three hours to my travel time. When I woke up, loaded my bag into the Suburban, got my phone/GPS, Bluetooth and dash-cam set and operating, I noticed a little amber light in the instrument cluster indicating one tire had low air pressure. So, I got out and walked around the vehicle and found a very flat right rear tire. I called AAA and they sent someone out to change the tire. Then I took the tire to Thompson's Tire Repair in downtown Marion (Marion is in southwest Virginia near Abington, Bristol and the Tennessee border). The folks at Thompson's were friendly as could be, very efficient and very thorough. So, while I lost about three hours, I felt like I got excellent service, a very reasonable price and by the time I left, I felt like I was leaving old friends.

Austin, Texas

From that point forward the travel was simply long and boring since I was using interstate highways to make time getting to my first stop in Austin, Texas. Upon arriving in Austin on Tuesday night, I found the home of the daughter of a deceased, well-known and loved humorous speaker friend, Dr. Charlie Jarvis. I personally delivered a plaque to Pamela posthumously recognizing her father as a "Legend of the Speaking Profession" awarded at the recent Veteran Speakers Retreat in August. Then I found some food and a Motel 6 to rest after a long day of driving. I had another long day planned for Wednesday

Austin is a large, very busy, very congested city. It is the home of the Texas state capital, the University of Texas, the TV show, "Austin City Limits," a former recording engineer employee of mine and, just a few miles outside of town, a private museum/collection of vintage audio recorders, microphones and various other items belonging to Martin Theophilus. It's currently maintained in his home, however, he's in the process of locating a home for the equipment in a facility where he can make it open to the public. Martin and I hit it off immediately and it turns out we've been in the recording industry about the same time - and his career and experience has been as interesting as mine. This saga will continue in the future. I might also add that I've owned and used many of the recorders in this photo as well as many more of the machines in his collection.

New Braunfels, Texas

After leaving Martin Theophilus, I headed south to New Braunfels, Texas where I went to my former business partner's ranch. Troy Brand, John Caughman and I were partners in a business in Washington, DC called Audio-Video Concepts, Inc. or AVCom for short. Troy, John and I also served in the Air Force together, in related capacities. I last saw Troy and his wife, Pat, ten years ago when I made a swing through Texas about this same time of the year. It was around forty years ago when Pat Brand put up with us. I so remember how she'd listen to Troy, John and me and just roll her eyes. Well, it was a great fun and when Troy and I started talking it was like we turned back the hands of time by 40 years. And, yes, Pat was rolling her eyes...again. It was great fun and I'm hoping it won't be another 10 years before I see them. I also stayed in their guest room at the ranch Wednesday night. I departed about 4 PM on Thursday afternoon to cut cross country through "The Hill Country" of Texas to the small town of Kerrville, about 70 miles +/- from New Braunfels and about 60 miles west of San Antonio.

Kerrville, Texas

The trip was great over to Kerrville, a town of about 25,000. I passed through several other small Texas towns that really caught my eye and make a commitment to myself to come back through here and learn about and enjoy these places. In Kerrville, I arrived at my friends (and a former author of my book publishing company), T. Scott Gross and his really cute and fun wife, Melanie. They go by the pet names of Tiger and Buns. Arriving at around 6:00 PM, Melanie had some dinner waiting for the three of us and we enjoyed communing around the dinner table. I had already learned by email from them that just this past Friday (a week ago) they had been involved in a major head on collision that totaled their vehicle (and the vehicle of the 20 year old woman who was texting or something at 70 miles per hour, lost control, flew across a 50 foot wide median strip and hit them head on. Scott had to be med-evaced to an Army hospital in San Antonio with five broken ribs and some other broken bones and a punctured lung plus a lot of cuts and abrasions. Melanie sustained a fractured wrist and some trauma to her abdomen. Both were very sore and in Scott's case, in some pain from time to time. Scott also is a victim (though he doesn't consider himself a victim) of Parkinson's disease.

Despite what they had just been through, they were in great spirits and they were still great hosts. I, of course, offered to be of assistance any way I could and helped whenever asked or saw something I could do for them. We had a wonderful time together and I learned more about both of them and they about me. We had a wonderful lunch at a nice Mexican restaurant on Friday and Scott took me (with me driving) on a spin around Kerrville and showed me, what I found to be, a beautiful little town. I was very impressed. Scott had a hand in making some of the improvements to the town during the six years he spent on the city council. I spent two nights with them, Thursday and Friday nights and left about 11:00 AM this morning (Saturday) to head for the San Antonio Airport to pick up the first member of our team for this project.

While in Kerrville, I had the opportunity to meet Marvin Willis, the creator and head honcho of the "Hometown Hero Card." I met Marvin through the LinkedIn business social network on the Web. We've emailed a bunch and spoken on the phone a bunch about his project(s) and idea. This was our opportunity to meet in person and take a possible working relationship to another level. I really enjoyed meeting Marvin and he and his wife, Myrna, joined Scott, Melanie and Scott's mother, for lunch.

Remember The Alamo

I can simply say my time in Kerrville was, once again, both enjoyable and memorable as were my two earlier visits. But, it is Saturday and this is the day that the primary reason for this specific trip is all about, providing conference recording and other support services for the annual CFDD conference (Center for Due Diligence). So, off I went to the San Antonio airport to pick up the second member of the team. He was flying in from St. Louis, Missouri. I arrived at the airport in plenty of time for his flight, but checked the online flight status and found that his flight had been delayed. So, I waited the extra thirty minutes or so and finally we connected and I picked him up. We then headed into town looking for an authentic Tex-Mex, local restaurant to catch some lunch at. We succeeded. Then on to the Grand Hyatt hotel in downtown San Antonio near the River Walk, the former HemisFair and the Alamo ("Remember the Alamo").

This is where I sit as I write this post. My room on the 21st floor of the Grand Hyatt is quite a bit more luxurious than My McVansion in a Walmart parking lot. The view is reasonable. We off loaded all the materials and equipment I had on board the Suburban, so it's once again, empty. Now, I await the other four members of the team who are flying in from Virginia. Unfortunately, their flight has now been delayed by about two and a half hours. So, it's rest and catch up time on this new blog post and some emails and some reading. It looks like I'll be at the airport at about 10:00 PM or later when I retrieve the rest of the team from the airport. I am now relaxing and preparing to go pick them up and be ready for the beginning of the conference, tomorrow morning. The next four days until about 2:00 PM on Wednesday will be BUSY days. After that I pack a very small amount in the Suburban, take only one member of the team back to the airport and begin making my way back to Virginia. I'll make, yet, another stop in Austin, TX (likely spending the night there), while I visit my former recording engineer employee, Bill Smith and his lovely bride, Diane. Then start marking time back to Virginia on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and back to base camp in WV on Saturday night.

I'll probably have one more post about this road trip after this, but I'll begin catching up on the earlier Shakedown Cruise trip and the many and varied experiences of that adventure over the next week.

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