Monday, October 3, 2011

Up In the Air

Walnut Creek CA and the Stratosphere

Those who live in the San Francisco area have surely heard the radio spots extolling the Emirates Business Claahhss from San Francisco to Dubai. As part of the employment deal, DynCorp provides us with business class on our first flight over, and on our last one back home, for employee and spouse. In between, they will pay for one round trip coach class flight each year. Mark has now had the Emirates Business Class experience, and I'm looking forward to a similar one at the end of this month. I don't have any of the in-flight details since at this writing we have only had one very brief phone call and no email to speak of, but I can tell you what it was like from my point of view.

We were both suffering from colds for the few days before departure, probably a result of the rabbit brush in bloom at home in Nevada, which is a pretty yellow but extremely allergic. Mark stocked up on Thera Flu and decongestants, in preparation for the flight.

A few hours after we polished off the bottle of Prosecco and I watched Mark board the Lincoln Town Car (just like the one that took me to Detroit Metro airport the week before) I began receiving giddy email messages. Not much text, but the pictures told the story:

"On board! Yep!"
"Wine list . . . well two pages of four. Life is goood. Trying the champagne, you are going to be so spoiled. Hey, where did my cold go?"

"Dinner menu . . . and bar list."

"Legroom . . . super!"

Apparently the entertainment is unbelievable, too. About a thousand movies?

At the end of the 90-minute car ride from the airport in Dubai to Tom's villa in Abu Dhabi it was Friday night, which is like their Saturday night since their weekend is Friday/Saturday. Mark was in good enough shape to go out to a disco (!) with Tom and some of the other guys, which I learned by getting drunken one-line emails. I still need to hear about this!

Yesterday I came close to completely emptying Mark's mom's house in Walnut Creek. (Angie is doing fine in a nice assisted living place in Walnut Creek.) Since the dump is cheaper in Gardnerville than in Martinez CA I decided to haul the old double mattress and box spring up there. If you want someone to help you load a heavy mattress up into the bed of a Silverado 350 . . . forget it. But I can tell you how to do it all by yourself. Still sore.

Facebook friends saw the transformation above that took place on Friday, new windows and sod lawn. This was at least a $10,000 day. I also singlehandedly demolished the well shade structure, dismantled the pump, and quasi-capped the well (I put an old aluminum bucket over it and surrounded it with gravel.) It was a little spooky, I felt like Mark's dad Tony, who died in 1968, was watching me. That man built things to last. I also removed the shutters that he undoubtedly hung up, in preparation for the window installers. You think about these things as you take apart a home and hearth, where people you love, and one you never got to meet, lived out their lives.

Oops, got a little maudlin there. The vodka & tonic is working!

Abu Dhabi UAE

Saturday Mark send a few brief emails from The Club, which we are planning to join. http:/ If you look on the website you will see that the annual Toga Party is October 6th; Tom has purchased a ticket for Mark. I wonder how this toga party will compare to the one at Richmond Yacht Club a couple of years ago?

Communication is painfully slow. Everything over there takes a long time to happen. Even the Starbucks doesn't have wifi yet! Mark will be getting a cell phone . . . internet access will happen . . . the stove will get installed in the apartment . . .

Oh! The apartment! Mark shot an HD video (with our new Sony digital Cyber-shot) but hasn't been able to send it yet. I will post it when I get it. Reportedly it is beautiful, brand new, everything. There are lots of towels. The pool is gorgeous, a long rectangle.

Here's a photo from the Internet:

I will be using those towels!

The weight room is also "beautiful, all new machines, no cheap crap." So, this means, uh, that Mark will be working out regularly, and so will I, and you will barely recognize us when we get back.

Here is the "before" picture of Mark.

Gardnerville NV

My biggest concern has been What To Bring. After our two-minute phone conversation this morning I am thinking: clothes, jewelry, personal items that can't be duplicated, and . . . nothing else. Everything is available there. No housewares, no claptrap. I have one cookbook I want to bring: Mark Bittner's Best Recipes in the World. The digital picture frame. Bicycle? I don't know, but I'm just really ready to leave it all here and get going over there.

So . . . why wash clothes when you can just THROW THEM AWAY??  After all, will I really want to wear these spotted, worn out shirts and shorts two years from now? (Thanks to Dave Liggett for the inspiration. He travels with his oldest undies. I know, TMI.) So for the next week and a half I am going to focus on getting the house the way I want it to be when I come back two years from now. I 'm going to use the chipped dishes and, instead of washing them, throw them away.

Mail. Ick. To cut down on catalogs and other junk mail, I am using this website, where you can request that companies you get catalogs from to NOT send them. I am not paying the $20 a year to be a member, which means I am collecting the catalogs that arrive and sending requests individually. This is taking time but hey, at least I get to sit down and it's not heavy lifting. While we are gone, our mail will go to my girl Nicole and she will scan and email important stuff.

This week and next week I will be seeing some of my work colleagues from my Nature Conservancy job. The Carson River is such an important natural resource; you can learn more at The Nature Conservancy's Carson River Project website has some of my photos, which was one of my favorite parts of my job.

River Fork Ranch, the 805-acre nature preserve and cattle ranch where I spent most of my time, is so beautiful this time of year. The cottonwoods are turning golden and the autumn light is spectacular. My Basque rancher friend JB Lekumberry has promised me a horseback ride around the ranch! JB's wife's family has owned Ranch 1, an historic Nevada Centennial Ranch in Genoa next to River Fork, for over 100 years and JB manages our -- oops, the Conservancy's -- cattle operation. They raise natural grass fed beef and sell it at their store in Genoa.

If you have never been to Carson Valley, I recommend you take the opportunity In fact, I know of a very nice house where you could stay, because the people who live there will be out of town! It's only 12 miles from the Heavenly ski lifts in Nevada.  And for a great Basque meal you should go to JT Basque, owned by JB and his sister Marie; it's been in their family for generations. They are on Facebook. You might enjoy a spa treatment at Walley's Hot Springs, or for the less expensive option go for a soak at Grover Hot Springs And there is great hiking, thanks to the Carson Valley Trails Association . I have been involved with this organization since 2006.

These are just some of the things I look forward to coming back to when we return from our Abu Dhabi adventure.

Thanks for reading. I'll post again soon.

1 comment:

Bemewesed said...

Soooo glad you're getting the hang of this blogging thing, Annie!

I still have got to figure out the photos, but since I use my iPad, maybe I'll start there. Oh yeah, just updated my iPad to IOS 5, a mere 7 hours over my wifi phone card. (Did you get a tablet? Sutter Schumacher did a lot of research via Facebook.)

Ta ta.