New Year, New Adventures

Well, it’s been a while, but we are back and, as always, we have something interesting to tell.

Our first year in Reno/Sparks has been fantastic…new restaurants, different weather, meeting new people, and new places to travel. It seems to never end. This fresh canvas has brought us new adventures and experiences.

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It also seems that we have created some adventures on our own.

We have started a house hunt. Yes, the House of M may be finding a permanent place to root. Bids have been offered and, as of this blog, we are waiting for a response, fingers crossed.

It’s not a time for downsizing as we still need an office for Lori, and a space for her to continue creating her amazing quilts, but the adventure grows as we now need a spot for Moulliet Voice Pro .

I have decided to continue using my voice. After years of singing and public speaking, I have chosen to use my experience and enter the voice over world. It is not glamorous, but it is exciting and a career I can manage from the comfortable confines of the House of M.

The vocal booth is constructed and equipment has been purchased. Now it’s all in the auditioning and marketing, which I do consistently daily. Happily, I can report that I have landed my first job…an audiobook narration. “The Lost and Found” by Grant Fieldgrove is a fantastic read and I am thoroughly enjoying the process of creating the audiobook. The book is on schedule to be finished mid-April and should be available on Audible by the summer. Exciting!

Of course, that means I still keep the day job, but a career is something that I can control, so once again, fingers crossed.

I am focusing on Video Media Production companies that may need my voice for commercials, training videos, webcasts, and audiobooks. The industry is much more broad than I first imagined.

As only half of the House of M, I am happy to say that Lori has been my biggest supporter. I am truly a lucky man to have her in my corner. I will keep you up-to-date as things progress.

-Al

Bringing in 2017

End of year holidays always bring happiness and a bit of reflective sadness.

Once the Christmas decorations go up, the challenge is on and the questions begin:

Did I start shopping early enough? Does my house look festive? Is a 15 pound turkey going to be big enough?

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Of course, you know the answers already, but the mind can’t help but search for reassurance. All will be fine.

Lori and I spent our holidays here in Sparks. Although, she did get to Duluth for a long weekend to visit family. We have lived away from family for many years and being surrounded by family at Christmas hardly ever comes up in conversation. I guess it would be nice.

We invited some friends over for gumbo between Thanksgiving and Christmas. A trial run for having company over at Christmas. The house looked great and it went over very well. BTW, the gumbo was delicious.

Being childfree makes the holidays quiet, as expected. Some things can’t be changed, so we have adjusted to the quiet. And, it gives me more time to be reflective. Am I doing what I can to provide for Lori and the cats? Are we happy every day? Do I tell her I love her enough? My answers are always “yes”, but questioning myself keeps me on my toes.

We had a dinner guest for Christmas dinner; a friend whose wife was out of town. Food, again, was outstanding.

Suddenly, it seems the holidays have flown by and all that was left was New Years. As it approached, we decided to go up to an overlook that let us see the entire downtown Reno area. The night was clear and the city was lit like a little Vegas. The firework display was amazing, lighting the sky for 20 minutes. What a sight!

Well, 2016 is over and we begin 2017. How will we do? Only time will tell. We are beginning a new chapter in career ideas. News coming ahead.

Keep doing your best, stay happy and safe. For my friends, and family, I say keep trying.

Here’s to a Great Life in 2017.

Holidays

Being away from family during the holidays brings a better appreciation for the friends and even aquaintances surrounding Lori and me.

For our Thanksgiving, we enjoyed a buffet dinner with a group of 12 at Grand Sierra Resort. The 2 hour wait was not cool, but the food was satisfying and tasty. And, the company was good, too!

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Since we have already completed our gift buying, with the exception of special items for each other, we get to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere without having to become part of the stress.

Malls and various stores become matrix-like; everyone moving at frantic speed, while we get to walk and enjoy at what seems to be a relaxing slow motion pace. The hustle and bustle without the panic.

As the days get closer to Christmas, we plan to enjoy some holiday lights in the hills. Lori will get to go visit her family in Minnesota and I will stay and finish my holiday shopping for her. As is most years we will spend a quiet Christmas and New Year at home. This time we should be covered in snow; quite the change from Houston.

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Enjoy a safe and happy holiday season. Be nice to people.

-Al and Lori

Time Away

Even though Lori and I are fortunate to live in an area where we feel we are on vacation most days – 2 hours from Sacramento, 40 minutes from Lake Tahoe, 4 hours from Elko (ha!) – sometimes you just need to get away. Such was the case, recently.

We were invited to the wedding of a daughter of an old friend; more like a brother from high school. His daughter was getting married in Cancun. How could we refuse? And, although I feel like I am the only person to never go to Cancun, I must say, it was fantastic and quite the experience. There were a few firsts and we learned a couple of things on this trip.

Flying out of Reno can be challenging. There are no direct flights to mostly anywhere AND we were going out of the country on a connected flight with additional international security. We decided to be prepared for crazy lines and unexpected delays. A 6 a.m. flight – we better get there extra early. We arrived, parked, and walked into a basically empty airport! At 4 a.m. ticketing employees were not even there, yet. How could this be? So we waited. Still only a handful of travelers in the airport. Finally, ticketing arrives. Number 5. We were number 5 in line. Boarding passes in hand, we headed to security.

This was even less stressful than the ticket counter and it took less time. There may be something to this small airport thing. We got to our terminal and were greeted by this mad crowd.

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Finally, we are on the plane – next stop Phoenix, then on to Cancun.

The view of the Cancun coast from the air is amazing. The change of water color as it meets the white sandy beach is a thing of beauty. We knew it would not be long and we would have our toes on in the sand.

I now have the first stamp in my new passport. The line through customs is a work of art. Efficient and constantly moving “Click, scan, stamp”. Welcome to Mexico.

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We arranged for transportation from the airport to the hotel (thank you, cruise director, Lori), but we still had to brave the gauntlet of time share and excursion sales people in the airport. USA Transfers was on-site, so they were on time, and 30 minutes later, our home for the next 5 days – the JW Marriott – very nice, I must say.

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(The wood floor in the lobby was gorgeous! – Lori)

We were constantly being asked by restaurant and hotel services if we were celebrating anything. Since we were there over my birthday weekend, we got a lot of free desserts!

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Since there were red flag warnings all but 1 day, we didn’t spend much time in the ocean. So, we decided to take a look around. We took a taxi into the heart of downtown, to the flea market. It really is a barter market and quite exhausting. Of course, we bought stuff.

And, we ate where the locals go.

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Hmmmm…octopus. I was brave enough to eat it in the ceviche, but this was not gonna happen! It makes a great photo, though. We decided to take the bus back to the hotel. These drivers are crazy.

Another red flag day, no swimming, but we can still have a cocktail and chill. It’s the day of the wedding, so that’s what we do.

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The wedding was beautiful! Much fun was had by all.

Finally, we can hit the beach and have a new adventure – parasailing!

It’s my job to convince Lori to try new scary things. We ziplined in Hawaii and now we have parasailed. It was awesome! I think she like it, too. (She did – Lori)

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Our last day was low key, another great breakfast and sad goodbye to a very comfortable hotel.

Maybe next time we will try the octopus (speak for yourself, Mister – Lori)!

–Al

More Hidden Gems

Did you ever know that place; the place where you can go and be yourself. Where you can have a beer in the middle of the day and no one thinks twice. The dark, neighborhood bar that does not cater to the up and coming hipster crowd or evening wine drinkers? I found that place.

Shea’s Tavern. Wow! What an experience. A pool table, live music, and cold draft. Tended masterfully on a lovely Saturday afternoon by Sonja, the “friendly Iron Fist”, behind the bar. She welcomes you in, suggests a great drink, and keeps the place safe all at the same time. She is amazing and this place was worth the stop.

Moving to a new area brings all the important services to the surface…finding a new doctor, dentist. But, the most frightening is “where do I go to get my hair cut.”

My story goes like this. You meet people in situations and somehow they work themselves into your life. For example: In a past life, I was stranded in the Dallas airport for 9 hours and met a fellow strandee who was a holistic therapist/minister. Later, he performed the ceremony for my 2nd marriage. Sometimes, you can’t explain these things.

Lori and I understand that we will eventually want to buy or build a new home, so we are always keeping our eyes open for builders or property for future reference. One day a couple months back, we headed north into the hills to look at land; which we found on the side of a valley toward Spanish Springs. There was a sign marked “For Sale”, so we stopped to take in the view. On this lonely two-way road, we were found by a gentleman who just happened to be the owner of this property.

The land was a 10 acre parcel, and was definitely a fair price. Jonas explained that he had 2 areas and already had his home built on the other. It’s far enough out of town for mental relaxation.

“What do you do?” I asked. “I own a hair salon in Reno called Salon 215 South“, he said.

Whew! How was that trip around the block to get next door?

Well, we finally made the appointments. Lori and I both went to try out this spot.

What it lacked in parking, it made up in eclectic, artsy funkiness. This is the place everyone can go. Rock and roll longhairs and primping hipsters are welcome. There is local art for sale on the walls and monthly art and music activities on site. Oh, and the cuts and pricing are right in line.

-Al

Hidden Gems

Most weekends start for Lori and I the same as they do for most families that are not tied to weekly obligations – “What do you want to do this weekend?” As normal, I never have any idea, but, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I appointed Lori as the relationship cruise director – and she has not failed.

Last week, we lined up two activities. Saturday we were going to find a new restaurant, which we did.

Silver Peak Restaurant and Brewery. Loved this place! Nestled just outside of downtown, surrounded by apartments and other businesses. The restaurant is just off the main thoroughfare of Virginia Street. We saw it on a prior trip and made a mental note to come back. This place has a relaxed atmosphere that made a Saturday afternoon enjoyable. The rooftop eating area is perfect for possible live music and the comfort level on this day was topped off with the Grateful Dead soundtrack in the background.

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Our server, James, was on-point with his recommendation of wine and easy conversation.

The food was perfect for a light meal. It felt as if we were on our own patio at home. Just a great place to relax and pass the day.

I see return trips in the future.

Sunday, we drove up to Squaw Valley near Lake Tahoe. This is where the 1960 Winter Olympics were held. Our event today: spectate the Spartan World Championship races.

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We are fans of American Ninja Warrior and have watched the Spartan races on tv, but this was crazy.

We left home at 7 a.m. and arrived about 8 a.m., found our parking spot and got mentally ready for what we were going to experience. I forgot to mention that it was 48 degrees and had 60 mph wind gusts, also a chance of snow.

What we saw was waves of participants, at least 200 per wave, lining up and getting whipped into a competitive frenzy for what was ahead of them.

The photo on the left is from behind the finish line, the photo on the right shows the hype guy doing his thing. from in front of the finish line – imagine 200 people yelling “I am a Spartan!”

There were at least 20 obstacles and up to 50 depending on which race you were running. The 50 was scheduled to take 10 hours, “so make sure you have a head lamp”; strength tests, balance, and water obstacles. And lots and lots of running…and burpees. If you are unable to complete an obstacle, you have to do 30 burpees.

The photo on the left is a Spartan going under the dunk wall. The photo on the right is the next to last obstacle and some burpee-ers.

We purchased our tickets with an included tram pass to the upper mountain, so we could get a good look at the obstacles on the way up. However, a morning test run put a hold on the tram for the day. The 60 mph gusts at the top were causing the tram to hit the support towers. Good thing for test runs.

The benefit of spectating is just that. We had a nice meal and cocktails in the warmth of a cozy restaurant and enjoyed watching the events at a much less stressful pace. These men and women are real athletes (all ages, and all body types – including at least 1 man who was missing an arm and another who we saw coming down the mountain on crutches – oh, and don’t forget the blind Spartan – Lori).

We watched the clouds roll in and decided to get down the mountain before the weather changed. As we neared home, we could see it was snowing in the mountains. Another successful weekend complete.

-Al

Date Night

I finally feel we live in a place convenient enough to explore. Whether it’s museums or music, or just a new corner bar, it’s always worth the effort to find.

Lori and I went downtown to find and check out West Elm. We realized it was on the Truckee River, which travels right through town. We had heard that there were places for eating, music, and late night fun. It seemed like a great time to explore.

Places always look different at night than they do during the day. We had been near this area recently at night. We had approached from a different direction and thought it was sketchy. But, here we were during the day and we could not have been more wrong.

We found multiple restaurants right on the water with outdoor seating to enjoy the always pleasant weather – Campo and Wild River Grille to name a couple.

Lori and I made a plan to have a weekly date night and, even though we haven’t always held steady to that plan, we have had better luck since moving to Reno/Sparks simply because of the convenience and wonderful weather.

Well, the downtown Riverwalk area works great with our plan. Great weather, dining, and drinks, and a walking area to enjoy our new city.

Even though we have been here almost a year, it still has that new town feel, since we are constantly finding new jewels to try out. Which leads me to my topic “date night”.

Let me start by saying “Wild River Grille” is the place to go if you visit. The service staff was incredible and knowledgeable. The menu was not your standard fare. We enjoyed a table outside on the patio, watching birds and visitors scramble about in the warm breeze. Cocktails and a cheese plate to start; duck breast for me, and mahi mahi for Lori – delish! Finally, the fried zeppolis did not disappoint, and we did not leave feeling hungry.

We walked a bit and did some people watching at The Olde Bridge Pub, also on the river. It was an incredible date night – one that we will repeat.

-Al