Friday, June 30, 2017

Highs and Lows of June's Virtual Month

We've been working virtually in June at the ‘berg, waiting for our new digs to be ready in the Design District. It’s been great (no, awesome). I worked a few from home, then headed to Orlando for a NIRI conference (that's really virtual), then back for the rest of the month. My virtual office traveled to Sharky's a couple of times. Hey, virtual and beer go together.

There are pros and cons to working virtually.

Pros
  • No commute. While my commute is only six miles, and in the morning, I get in early and there isn’t much traffic, it does give me 15 minutes in the morning and about 30 minutes in the evening to do what I want with. I added the 15 minutes in the morning to my workout. And the 30 minutes in the evening are mine!
  • No makeup. No getting ready to go somewhere. Granted, it feels odd to be sitting in my PJs or workout clothes all day. But, give the dry cleaning bill a break for a month.
  • Virtual is virtual. The US Open was on last week so my office moved upstairs so that it could be on TV while working. Conference call at Sharky's? No problem.
  • Schedule those home tune ups. AC tune up? Check. Water heater tune up? Check.
  • Check ins. Tony periodically checks in on me. And brings me breakfast tacos and breakfast.
  • Meetings. Fewer internal meetings. More productive in-person meetings. We did agree to a once a week in person meeting at our new office and maximized that time together. We also scheduled weekly lunches at various places (e.g. Gloria's in Bishop Arts).
  • Fewer downed trees. I really like printing. Yes, I do. But, I only have a black and white laser printer at home. As a result, I printed less. 
 
Virtual Office (most of the time) in The Red Room

Virtual Lunch in the Executive Dining Room (with the Wall Street Journal, of course)

Cons

  • I don’t have a landline anymore and I do miss a “regular” phone for calls.
  • Routine. I’m lucky that I like routines. I am still reading my Wall Street Journal at lunch in my dining room. I am still doing my morning get ready to go to work routine (work out, read Dallas Morning News, watch news – sans makeup and dressing). I am turning off my computer at the end of the day and turning the lights off in my office and shutting the door. If you don’t set up a routine, working virtually could be a disaster.
  • Weight gain. read about check ins. I could put on the weight having breakfast made for me. But, read about routine and my lunch routine may change. Plus I’ve added an extra 15 minutes per day to my work out.
  • Custodial service. I am it. But, I think the house is a little cleaner as a result of it.
  • Face to face time. Yes, we have fewer internal meetings. But, it can mean that the reviews and stuff a creative agency needs aren’t as organized and timely. But, since I’m known for follow up, you can “stalk” and get what you need.
Surprisingly, this was not my virtual office the entire month of June.
No, I didn't go this virtual (unfortunately).

Sadly, the virtual month of June is over today. But, I'm thinking that there may be more virtual in the future.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Day 5: Back to Dallas


Heading back is the worst part of a trip. You have to pack up, check out, gas up and get on the road. We’re going back the same way we came up. Al & Eileen have the longest drive. Tom, Betty Lou and Rick are going to take 23 down and then Tom was going to jump on the Interstate to head home. Betty Lou and Rick were going to take back roads home.

Off we head, making pretty good time. We keep noticing the left fender taking a beating and then see that the license plate looks lose and stop. It’s breaking off. Take a picture of it, in case we get pulled over. We exit onto 69 and the exit is really, really bumpy. And off goes the license plate. Stop and Tony walks back to try and retrieve it. Trailer stop number 2 on the way back. Can I tell you again how AWFUL 69 is? It’s AWFUL. There just doesn’t seem to be a smooth route on any of our trailer trips. We stop at McAlester (sp?) to grab lunch and take a break from the bumps.

69 turns into 75 in Texas and is pretty smooth until Denison. The left fender is wiggling madly and we stop on a service road in Denison and use duct tape and zip ties to hopefully keep the fender on until we get home. Duct tape is our friend and we get home with all of the pieces to the trailer.

Eureka Springs trip is over and back to work. I’m going to go virtual for the month of June and need to get my home office set up.


Day 4: Missouri


I am obsessed with checking off states. I have three running lists: States visited (47), States Golfed (26), and States Biked (12). I want to cross off Missouri since we are so close. Tony had picked up a bunch of paper maps at the Harley dealership with featured rides since knows I love my paper maps. We take a guess and decide to do the Screamin’ Eagle Ride that takes us up to Missouri and then back to Eureka Springs. Another good-looking loop (about 155 miles).
This is how the bikes were locked up at night.

Screamin' Eagle Ride Map

Take 187 to 62 and head towards Rogers to 94. Take a right. 94 is a cool road. It kind of meanders along. Curvy but not twisty. Up and down, but rolling more than steep. I really liked this ride. Then another right at 76 (I like right turn loops).

76 is a boring ride. Straight, very few curves, the occasional cow and horse. Right on 37, which takes you through the Mark Twain National Forest. This is a pretty ride with plenty of curves. Not too twisty or steep, but nice riding, lined by the forest. Left on 112, right on F (Missouri has a lot of routes with letters, not numbers), right on 86. Stop, I think in Eagle Rock for lunch at the Office Pub.


The Office Pub

Then back to 23 into Eureka Springs, going through historic Eureka Springs. We didn’t go through this the last time we were there. It’s kind of neat – old buildings built into the side of the mountain. Narrow two lane road. Traffic backs things up. Been there, done that. We’re more about the rides than the stops.
Historic Eureka Springs


Blurry Picture in Historic Eureka Springs


At the end of the ride, Tony and I realized we’ve now officially done the entire Pig Trail (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arkansas_Highway_23). All 129.88 miles of it.

We decided to load the bikes. Tony and I drive down to the cabin. Easier to load a bike on a grass field with seven people, just in case, than just me and Tony. Riding’s over and we did about 585 over three days. Not bad.




Dinner: burgers (reminder to put Betty Lou’s on the grill about two hours before everyone else’s).

Day 3: All over the place (about 210 miles)


We wake up in the morning and check the weather. Looks like it’s going to miss us for the day, but there is talk about severe weather – including hail and tornados – in the evening. We look for a route that loops us back to the cabin before we think it could hit. 187 to 62 over to Harrison to 65 to 123 (this is supposed to be their “Dragon” so might as well see how it compares. The over to 74, up 23 and do 12 back to 62 and home. 12 is supposed to have some historic mill. And it’s often featured as a good ride. This means that Tony and I get to do the part of 62 and 187 that looked great from a ride standpoint.

Map of Rides

Tom, Tony, Liz, Rick, Betty Lou, Al, Eileen (and yes, those are Kangeroos I'm sporting)

The ride to Harrison isn’t that exciting and some was having repair work being done to it. When we stop in Harrison to top off (you need to do this when you think you see something with a population over 2000 people). At the Shell station we witness a red light runner almost hit another Harley pulling into the Shell. Take a deep breath.

We finally get to 123. Well, when we stopped, the comments: “more like a lizard than a dragon.” Nothing to it. But, still a pretty ride. Just don’t compare it to the “Dragon.” I remembered taking 74 before and liking it and remembering some steep hills and hard turns. The first part isn’t too much, but is pretty and has nice pavement. When you pass through Jasper and take a left back onto 74, this is when it gets a little more exciting. Unfortunately, we got behind a slow car for it (Tom’s comment after we finished: let’s go back and do it again). Stop in Lost Valley, that supposedly is populated by elk (we haven’t spotted one yet – but there were cows across the street from the viewing area). Take 21 North to Kingston to get back on 74 to 23. We did not eat at the café, but we did get ice cream for a snack, since we didn’t know when we’d stop for lunch (or what we’d find). The ice cream, snow cone and espresso/antique store has been around since 18-something.
Ice cream in Kingston

We’re hoping Huntsville will be it (it has a population over 2000).

We scored lunch at Lori’s Main Street Café that used to be an old theatre. Doesn’t work yet, but they have a Facebook Page and website (http://www.lorismainstreetcafe.com/). The special was a pulled pork sandwich or catfish and fries. Everyone had one or the other, except me. I had the Chicken and Cheddar Salad with smoked chicken (it was good and much needed salad). The food was good and tasty. We sat in the back, back room. Huntsville is big enough and a good stop to get gas, eat, etc. (there’s even a Pizza Hut).



Then off to 412 (this is a four-lane highway – it was windy and pretty exposed) and then to 45 then to 12 (pretty nice turns and ride, but we got behind another slow moving car making it less of a ride – and there pretty much isn’t any place to pass). We decide that since it’s getting late and the weather is approaching that we don’t need to stop at the Mill and pass it by. To 62 (part of it is four lanes, and then it turns into a nice ride with twists and turns and pretty scenery) and home on 187 (across Beaver Dam). The route pretty much takes us all of the way around Beaver Lake.




Dinner: steak (make sure you turn Betty Lou’s into shoe leather), special smoked corn and baked potatoes. We don’t go hungry here. People ask for my special grilled corn recipe, so here it is:
·        Fresh, shucked sweet corn
·        3-4 tablespoons melted butter (you can use less if you have fewer people)
·        ½ cup honey
·        2-3 tablespoons hot sauce (Tabasco, Pete’s, whatever you like)
·        ¼ teaspoon paprika
·        Salt and Pepper

Stir the ingredients together and put into a Ziploc (or other similar) bag. Add the corn. Seal the bag and massage around. Typically I’ll let it “marinate” for at least a couple of hours, up to a full day.
Put on grill (medium heat good) and the grill for about 15-20 minutes, flipping occasionally to get good grill marks.


Another nice day of riding and great company.