PINNED AT THE BROADMOOR

By Nancy Clark

Spencer Penrose and his wife Julie pinned their intentions on The Broadmoor, spending $2 million (equivalent to $32,539,823 in 2017) building the resort when it opened in 1918.

Pinning in general became a Post-WWII ritual signifying a couple’s eventual engagement and later marriage. It said, “She’s mine.”  

At Play at the Broadmoor, my family got “pinned” in January in a weekend-long celebration of someone’s 65th birthday (I’m not telling whose.) By my experience, bowling is the ultimate way to engage an extended family fresh off the highway, particularly the youngsters who have been patient car passengers. Best yet, Play offers bowling shoes for the littles (and, of course, adults) plus balls of varying weights so no one is schlepping more than necessary while on vacay. Bowling, after all, is a surprisingly inclusive sport.

Reserve ahead to get a private lane in Play. Or you can reserve a table to dine before or after your session on the lane. The menu at Play…well, I can pin my palate to that. Call it Comfort Food or Retro fare. Refreshing beverages appeal to all ages: CAKE BATTER $6.75 Just like mom used to make! and Shaved Ice—the original summertime Americana thirst quencher. Build Your Own Burger, Spirits & Playful Adult Cocktails, Wood Fired Oven Flatbread (read: Pepperoni & Cheese Pizza New York Style). No complaints here.

When couples get pinned, they often declare their song, one that means something to them in particular. Maybe it’s the song playing when they first exchange glances. Maybe it’s the music playing in the background when the first of the two declare their affection for the other.  To honor our Clark Convention, we wanted an everlasting reminder…a photograph of all 10 of us.

Photo by Becky@BlackForestPhoto.com

Photographer Becky Kercher has earned her pixels as Best of the Knot Winner 2013, Wedding Wire
Bride's Choice Winner 2009 & 2010, Best of Colorado Springs Winners, Photographer: 2007 & 2008 Colorado Springs Independent Newspaper.

She quotes Lewis Wickes Hine, American sociologist and photographer in the late 1800s and first four decades of the 1900s: “If I could say it in words, then I wouldn’t need to photograph.”

She adds, “No truer words could be spoken in my case.” She was given a camera at age 13 and hasn’t put it down since. She formed Black Forest Photography in 1999 and strives to capture a moment that tells the store. She’s one of the handful of photographers allowed on the Broadmoor property and managed to capture all 10 of our group in Play. It’s the single photo each group in our entourage shares as a reminder of this special weekend.

We didn’t keep score in our 1.5 hours on the lane. Instead our appetites and souls were filled with hugs and bowling misses. Play offers a bowling ball ramp so that even the kids can push a ball from the top of the ramp that has enough power to reach the pins. The satisfied grin on the face of the three year old in our group was, to use an overworked word, priceless when his bowling ball edged oh-so-slowly toward 10 standing pins, veering right and taking out three. It was a victory no matter what the math said.

The Broadmoor has dozens of events and activities for couples, singles, families and groups. Reserve ahead at Play and fall in love with family time all over again.

SOMEWHERE OVER AT THE RAINBOW

By Nancy Clark

Cars are the only reason motels ever existed. Highways were the reason they thrived. As early as 1914, Americans traveling in their 1.7 million cars bunked down in cottage courts, individual cabins dotting the nation’s random road system.

The word “motel" was first coined by the Motel Inn of San Luis Obispo located at the mid-way point between San Francisco and LA, then a two-day drive. Neither city had commercial passenger airports yet. (San Francisco leased 150 acres of cow pasture as a temporary experimental airport in 1927. LA purchased a private airport called Mills Field in 1937, later known as LAX.)

The Spanish Mission architecture of the Milestone Mo-Tel featured individual bungalows in the tradition of the earliest motor courts and as well offered the newest architectural twist: attached guest rooms integrated under one roof.

In the ’30s and ‘40s, motels gained popularity, the attraction being that guests could pull their automobiles right up to the front door. By the ‘50s, motels were built around a public lawn and in some cases a welcome swimming pool.

It wasn’t until 1956 that the United States got its official “I” system when President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Construction of 47,000+ miles of new roadways was to take more than three decades to complete. But immediately the promise of improved logistics along with the 10-fold increase in automobile ownership meant Americans were on the move.

The ’50s and ’60s became the Golden Era of Motels. Motels were located along the highways while hotels were generally located in urban centers. Families found motels an affordable means of getting from Point A to Point B. Salesmen preferred the motel stay over hotel stay for budget and convenience.

In 1964, 61,000 motels operated across the USA. By 2012, that number had dwindled to 16,000.

The demise of motels was a socioeconomic phenomenon. Always regarded as a cheaper alternative to hotels because they offer fewer amenities, motels struggled financially and it showed in their upkeep. As time passed and care lapsed, many were razed while others became home to transients and long-term residents unable to scrape together rent money but for once a week. Family-owned motels passed from the first generation to the second, but for the most part the third generation wanted nothing to do with the 24/7 demands of a motel. They wanted out.

Notably, the American Hotel and Motel Association removed “motel”' from its name in 2000, becoming the American Hotel and Lodging Association. While the association believed the term “lodging” more accurately reflected the scope of hospitality from luxury and boutique hotels to budge and extended stay iterations, motels had developed a bad reputation. The use of “Roach Motel” said it all. 

Chains operate the majority of motels today, with the largest owner being Holiday Inn Express, according to researchers at dose.com. In his 2012 book Life Behind The Lobby, Pawan Dhingra reports that one out of two motels in the US is now owned by Indian Americans. Indian Americans own 22,000 hotels and motels across the USA valued at $128 billion.

Trends in vacationing today give tenacious motel owners hope. The AARP Travel Research: 2017 Travel Trends report:

  • Millennial and GenXers more open to Weekend Getaways than Baby Boomers.
  • Millennials and GenXers also are more likely than Baby Boomers to set a budget for their trips and are more likely to have been impacted by the cost of rising airfares.
  • Fifty-seven percent of travel is motivated by the desire to spend time with family and friends. Spring Break, family reunions and weddings and graduations are drivers.
  • Forty-six percent of domestic travelers get to their destination by car; 41% by air.
  • Fifty percent of domestic travelers will stay in a hotel or motel.
  • And free Wi-Fi continues to be the most important hospitality perk with 4 out of 10 travelers claiming it’s a must.

Simplicity is the new buzzword of modern travelers, according to the International Luxury Travel Market that convenes annually in Cannes. Travelers from Baby Boomers to Millennials seek personalized experiences over marble-wrapped suites and motels, particularly the individually-owned sort, have the potential to deliver uniqueness.

GREELEY’S NEXT GREAT STAY

On North Highway 85 in Greeley, Colorado at a point some refer to as the wrong side of the tracks is the Rainbow Motel, built in 1953. If it were human, The Rainbow Motel would become eligible for Medicare this year. The irony in that isn’t lost on Baby-Boomers.

The Rainbow is family owned. By my family. A curious evolution when I consider all the years of travel writing in my portfolio. My children and I have had opportunity vis à vis my journalism assignments to bed down in some of this country’s finest thousand-count bedsheets. We’ve been fortunate to travel on assignment to rare international destinations. For the last couple months our travel has been limited to weekend drives from Denver to Greeley for gritty and unglamorous work to revive this diamond in the rough.

All 6,412 sq. ft. of this 16-room motel on an 18,555 sq. ft. lot competes for our attention. Even the iconic signage that first enchanted us needs fixing and the estimates to repair it have, well, more zeros in the number than we expected. Priorities were set and then a new issue would come along and were reset overnight. The overarching plan was to demonstrate that improvements were coming to the Rainbow by showing passers by the improvements to the exterior first.

Landscaping crews swept in to clean up the exterior. The overgrown evergreen shrubs were pruned away and a 6 ft. lamppost was discovered underneath it all. The center court, run amok with weeds, was leveled and “landscaped” with Astroturf, recalling the product introduced in the ’60s. The existing landscaping stones were dug out and fashioned into a pad upon which the rare Design Within Reach Airstream sits proudly, ideal to serve lemonade to guests in the heat of the summer…next summer. The exterior work was our subtle way of saying someone new is in the house.

On the first day of ownership, the same morning as the first total solar eclipse in 99 years, I met my first motel guest as he was squinting into the sun from the middle of the Rainbow parking lot. “That was it?” he remarked to me, still a stranger. “Yep, aren’t you glad you didn’t drive all the way to Wyoming for that?” I quipped. We soon learned he was an atypical guest, English speaking, professionally employed, and gracious—the kind of guy you’d meet at a country club. He’s been a guest for six months.

Greeley was founded as Union Colony in 1869, an experimental utopian society later renamed Greeley after Horace Greeley, editor of the New-York Tribune, who came to Colorado in the 1859 Pike's Peak Gold Rush. Built on farming and agriculture, Greeley was always ahead of the curve when it came to adapting new technologies. Telephones were in town by 1883 with electric lights downtown by 1886. Automobiles were on the roads by 1910 and the Greeley Municipal Airport was built in 1928. Today Greeley is home to 100,777 residents. Twelve thousand students are enrolled at the University of Northern Colorado.

Curiously, Greeley is the largest community on the Front Range not situated along I-25, a decision made to prioritize preserving good farmland over easy highway access. Traffic is growing every day on U.S. 85, and planners estimate its daily volume will nearly double by 2035 forever changing Greeley.

In that same mode of change, the two men who could become Greeley’s most influential people you never heard of are both named Jarod, only spelled differently aka Jarod and Jared. The first Jarod Clark, found and negotiated the deal to buy the Rainbow. He’s good at that, good at finding the odd and unusual opportunities. The second Jared is Jared Simmons, Manager of the Rainbow. He’s truly the one guy in the deal who cannot be replaced. Like any business, key employees are essential to the point that the business would be doomed to failure if not for them. In a motel setting, there’s often just one key player or a couple sharing the role of manager, reservationist, cleaning crew, marketing, record keeping and policing problems.

Quintessentially American, the Rainbow Motel has the potential to become regarded once again as a fun, clean and affordable boutique motel. “We’re resurrecting what was best about the greatest era in motels and refining it to suit modern travelers’ expectations, bringing it back to be a roadside icon,” Clark said.

The artful new entry door opens to the lobby that has been stripped of its stale carpet and heaps of overfilled file cabinets. It took the better part of a day to remove Rotary Club stickers from the windows dating back to the ‘90s. The walls and ceiling smart with fresh white paint and new-issue mod ceiling fans cool the room. The carpet is an artistic array of rainbow-colored carpet squares. The sleek mod Swedish desk where guests check-in is pure glossy white and the desk chair is rainbow colored upholstery complementing the two retro Acapulco chairs, mid-century classics. Behind the scenes, the commercial washer and dryer that washed at half value have been replaced with energy efficient powerful laundry machines that clean, really clean the bed linens and towels.

Two of the 16 guest rooms, formerly the butt of jokes like, “The ‘50s called and wants its furniture back,” are wholly transformed. Stripped of decades-old matted carpet and mattresses that smelled slightly of urine, the reveal of the new digs is astounding. Recent guests claim the rooms easily compete with the new Doubletree by Hilton Greeley at Lincoln Park, albeit without the spa, restaurants, meeting rooms and pool. A shower shield was installed instead of the tattered shower curtains and the vanity sink replaced with a custom travertine sink manufactured at the new shop next door to the Rainbow.

Of course, the Manager’s unit was a priority…a proactive move to ensure some level of comfort and satisfaction when the going got going.  Deep oversized chairs and a long sofa upholstered in matching denim paisley (a tribute to the era) provide a place to stretch out once it is lights out.

Room rates are up and so is security with a service hired to guard the premises. Policies are in place, and guests’ expectations are as amped up as the wattage in the new LED bulbs. If there is gold at the end of a rainbow, it will be the reward of guests’ amazed faces when they experience the improvements to the place, concedes Simmons. His career to date—managing a major department store—tees up as if it was always the plan to work in hospitality. He excels in customer satisfaction and that’s what differentiates average from best in both industries. Simmons is all about improving processes, timing room turns as he cleans, implementing modest yet revolutionary system changes.

Road Warriors, families en route to grandmother’s house for Christmas, salesmen on a schedule and budget, travelers and tourists—there’s a new place to check out the next time you’re passing through Greeley. We will likely be over at the Rainbow where there’s plenty to do to keep the shine on. 

Visit our website: www.rainbowmotelgreeley.com

CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?

By Nancy Clark

I don’t want to release this story. I don’t want to put it out there. I want to own the odds that next year I can score tickets on the Winter Park Express for my near family without finding tickets sold out as in 2015, the 75th anniversary when all 450 tickets for one special day in March sold out in less than 10 hours. I booked tickets in September 2016 for January (4+ months ahead of the ski date) for my nearly 3-year-old grandson and myself.

The train got its start in 1940 chugging up the hill 56 miles to Winter Park through 31 tunnels ranging from 78 feet to the incredible 6.2-mile long Moffat Tunnel. Thirty-something years ago, I took my two youngsters on the ski train, departing the gloomy Union Station on an inordinately cold day. Tickets then like now were non-refundable. So we layered up and spent the bulk of our Winter Park adventure in the lodge drinking hot chocolate. Because of the train, it was still a blast.

Why the train ceased its run in 2009 after 69 consecutive years was a culmination of factors that hardly seem to matter today. Colorado survived that economic crash to become the second-fastest growing state in the U.S. welcoming 100,986 new residents between 2014 and 2015.  Employment in Metro Denver increased 3.2 percent between November 2015 and 2016 adding 50,400 jobs. The unemployment rate decreased in November to 2.6 percent, the lowest rate since December 2000. Residential building permits increased in November compared to the prior year with 22.2 percent more building permits issued. Even commercial real estate report 7.4 million square feet built out in 2016, an increase of 45.4 percent over 2015.

And then there’s the traffic on I-70 to consider.

The weather cooperated the last weekend in January, so avalanches and snowplows were off the table, ‘er highway. Still, speeds between 1 and 6 p.m. Sunday evening slowed to 2 hours and 18 minutes to travel from Frisco to C-470. Add in-city drive time to the mix and that’s more than 3 hours down the hill.  Friends with condos in Copper Mountain report that the return trip has taken up to 6 hours, the very reason they’ve switched to driving home at dawn on a Monday.

The train takes less than 2 hours.

Since 2002, Winter Park Ski Resort has been leased from the City of Denver to Intrawest, once the dominant player in the ski industry. Intrawest owns Blue Mountain and Mt. Tremblant in Canada, Stratton Mountain Resort in Vermont, Snowshoe/Silver Creek in West Virginia and Steamboat, also in Colorado. Intrawest manages properties in Hawaii, Mexico, and owns and manages a timeshare operation too.

Intrawest is keenly aware of the decreasing numbers of skiers nationwide since the 1970s. Forbes magazine reports that 40 years ago approximately 5.5% of the U.S. population skied. That number has dropped to 4%, requiring ski areas to be hyper-sensitive to the preferences of the nearly 80 million Millennials’, 25% of the U.S. population. Micah Solomon in Forbes.com writes that Millennials demand self-service, algorithmically and crowdsourced customer service options. Paradoxically, they also crave a true, authentic, personalized experience as customers. To that end, the California Zephyr concierge team functions like Amazon’s Alexia. They’ve got answers and resort maps, distributing both on the way up the hill, plus they have experience skiing the resort. (And they won’t order you a dollhouse or cookies.)

In other ways too, the train is ideal for Millennials choosing not to own a car. The Downtown Denver Partnership reports that the 24 to 35-year olds that make up the new workforce prefer to live in a core city that offers walkability, bike lane systems and mass transit, amenities Denver has focused on developing in the last few years.

My plan for Q1 2018: book a weekend family getaway at Winter Park Resort. Our pool of shared and married DNA will pile on the train with skis, boots and babies. We tuck into a glam rental at the resort where we can cook in or eat out. We’ll stroll in the moonlight warming our hands at one of the several gas-fueled fire pits along the resort walkways. There’s a Starbucks for my coffee routine and top-of-line retailers, bars, and a spa. We will connect with each other and reconnect with what matters most.

Guilt makes me willing to give up the details. Tickets for this season went on sale August 30th.

  • Get online at Amtrak.com/WinterParkExpress.
  • One-way ticketing is allowed.
  • 26 roundtrips are scheduled from Jan. 7 top Mar. 26 with Monday service on holidays.
  • The 500-passenger Amtrak leaves Denver’s Union Station at 7 a.m. arriving at the ski resort at 9 a.m. and departs the resort at 4:30, returning to Denver at 6:30ish.

First one to the website wins in August 2017 when tickets for 2018 go on sale!

SKI TRAIN HIGHLIGHTS

Tips to make your train trip with children in tow most successful.

Pre-boarding reading for 2+ year olds: Thomas the Tank Engine in The Railway Series, books by the Reverend Wilbert Awdry and his Christopher. When passing by the unmoving engines in the train yard on our way out of Union Station, my grandson referred to them as “sad.” I had to call on friends with younger children to get the low-down on The Sad Story of Henry.

While the view out the observatory deck windows is enchanting to any passenger it’s mesmerizing to a youngster. My view from the aisle seat was of my grandson’s head all the way up to the resort and all the way back to Denver was the back of his head as he scanned the view from the window. I didn’t know the pleated curtains on the train windows could be moved so many times on a single trip without breaking.

If you’re not traveling with a 3-year-old you can doze off in these generous-sized coach seats. Pull up the footrest and recline.

Bathroom breaks. Yes, there is a bathroom on board. It’s large. And clean. Enuf said.

Snacks and trash. Bring your own snacks and refreshments to enjoy on the journey. The Noosa brand yogurt reps were on the train platform passing out samples to passengers for the 7 a.m. departure. I’m a convert. The concierge team comes by at the end of the trip to gather any trash travelers might have accumulated up and down the hill.

How much can you carry? Preload your skis and poles by simply handing them to the crew in the car with ski racks. Climb a narrow set of stairs to the observatory deck where you have the option to put your ski boots or luggage in storage. There is also overhead storage above your seat. Personally, I couldn’t have carried as much luggage as was the space offered, nor would I want to.

Best of all, you can keep your personal belongings in the train during the day. That leaves you the option to leave your street boots and change of clothes for the return. Because the train is locked down during the day, pack to ski light so that you’re not weighted down with unnecessary stuff.

Taking one child or more skiing? The best tip we can offer is to buy a small plastic sled. It’s the most ingenious way to pull your skis, boots and even a toddler to the ski hill. Winter park allows skiers to make use of red wooden wagons at the base of the mountain to pull children and skis. But I would have paid a day’s wage to have a plastic sled with me.

Make your own rules. Go with the flow. Take a break from the rigors of skiing and put your feet up. Otto and I chose Starbucks for our morning pit stop. It was there that I made a new rule: You can only eat one cookie as big as your face each day. He’s in the Why Phase of life and so he asked. Why? Because I said so.

BUNNY NEWS

Winter Park offers free skiing to children on Sorenson Park, one in the same area where the ski instructors hold ski school training for kids 3 years and up. The area includes a Magic Carpet, a mechanical rubber mat that transports young skiers (and their charge) to the top of the gently sloped ski run. There’s also a tow rope as your little skier becomes more advanced.

Ski and snowboard lessons are discounted when purchased in advance. Lessons start at $179 for 6 hours of instruction. Lunch is included; helmet, ski and boot rental is not.

A+ For The A Line

By Nancy Clark

Start at Point A: Union Station. http://unionstationindenver.com has everyplace to dine.

You can shop:

You can even stay at The Crawford Hotel if you want to turn your journey into a weekend stay-cation.

Most travelers will find a reason to take the A Train when traveling to DIA to take a flight out of town. Take a cab DIA to downtown Denver, it can run $51 plus gate drop fees of $4.57 plus a tip. To the Tech Center it’s $57 plus.

Take the A Train from Union Station to DIA and it is only $9, 8 stops, 23 miles and 37 minutes.

If you haven’t seen Union Station in its finished remodeled state yet, it’s worth the journey even if you don’t test drive the train.

If you do make this your day trip, you’ll delight in the fact that the platform where you land at DIA has half a dozen kiosks where you can print off your boarding pass. There’s a bag drop for suitcases, golf bags and skis. No need to schlep heavy luggage, the only heavy you’ll encounter is to take the four story escalator to the security line. No seatbelts. Like most trains.

Your day-cation on the A Train is fun for all ages. And your round-trip ticket is still only $9 (good for 24 hours.) Most round-trip airport travelers will spend $18 ($9 to and $9 from the airport.) Children under 5 ride free. Discount fares are $4.50 (also good for 24 hours) for seniors 65+, individuals with disabilities, Medicare recipients and students 6-19 years.

Still uncertain? Get the app: http://free.mytransitguide.com/index.jhtml?partner=^BNH^xdm048&gclid=CMjH8pPIl84CFZOCaQodnxcA6g

Route 85

By Nancy Clark

“Cheeseburger. Cheeseburger. Cheeseburger. Cheeseburger. Chips. No fries. No Coke. Pepsi.”

Boomers recognize the skit instantly. It was 1978 when John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Loraine Newman immortalized the Billy Goat Tavern Restaurant in Chicago on Saturday Night Live. Want a tuna sandwich? Not getting one here.

Bud’s Café and Bar at 5453 Manhart St. in Sedalia, Colo. has been serving up burgers for more than 65 years and since 2005 has scored Best Burger and Best Hamburger awards from Westword along with rave reviews on Yelp, Tripadvisor, Facebook, Citysearch and others. The insanely popular joint serves plain and cheeseburgers plainly, in a plastic basket with a paper liner. A small bowl of onion slices and pickles gives guests options to gussy up their burger. Fries are extra. Chips complement the burgers perfectly.

From the center of Denver to Sedalia is a 50-mile round trip. Well worth it.

At 5,840 feet above sea level, the 1.351 mile hiccup along South Santa Fe Drive is home to slightly over 200 folks in 94 households, according to the 2010 census. Established in 1859 by John H. Craig when he staked a claim at the juncture of East and West Plum creeks, the panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains is postcard worthy.

In the 157 years since Craig put down stakes, Sedalia has managed to remain tiny, a gem along a stretch of highway running from Littleton to Castle Rock. Sedalia had its own church (built in 1887) and train depot. The Manhart family owned the General Merchandise store that was home to the post office. Fire Engine No. 1 housed a horse-drawn wagon to pull water to the scene of a fire, the firefighters were community volunteers whose skills were tested early on.  Pre-1900 photos (https://www.flickr.com/photos/douglascountyhistory/albums/with/72157606382644795) tell of a rugged life and pioneering spirit. 

Drive, don’t blink. or you’ll miss the turnoff  to the south of Route 85. Bud’s Bar is a short distance south encircled by dozens of cars filled with dining guests willing to wait almost any length of time to catch a booth at Bud’s. If you need motivation to get off the couch for a Sunday drive and the best burger on earth, watch this clip of Saturday Night Live:

https://video.yahoo.com/olympia-restaurant-000000640.html

THE GALLERY, THE GANG + THE NOT-SO-GOOD ENDING

By Nancy Clark

Without question, the tour of Boston’s Gardner Museum is as thrilling as a detective mystery. Thirteen tell-tale frames on the walls of the enormous private-home-turned-art-museum are all that remains of art by the great masters—a Vermeer, three Rembrandts (including his only seascape), five Degas drawings, and a Manet. A heist that has never been solved.

John Singer Sargent’s oil on canvas El Jalco (1882) occupies an entire wall in the Gardner Museum on the main level.

Thomas E. Marr’s gelatin silver print (1902) depicts the courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a tribute to the botanic arts.America’s first private art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner bought her little plot of land on the undeveloped Fenway at the outskirts of Boston after her husband’s death in 1898. Here, she would build Fenway Court to display the world’s greatest art collection in the country. She occupied the topmost floor until her death, donating the building as a museum in perpetuity…with the caveat that all of the art remain on the walls in exactly the location she had personally hung it.

The tale of the theft is curiously uncomplicated. Two thieves, disguised as Boston cops, demanded access to the museum late on St. Patrick’s Day 1990. Unwittingly, the staff guards allowed them to enter and were immediately bound and tied in the basement. It took only 81 minutes for the intruders to strip the precious art from the walls, leaving the gutted frames as a mocking reminder.

Four years later, a tipster claimed to know the whereabouts of the estimated $500 Million art. Then the lead went cold, never to be heard of again.

Planning a trip to Boston, be sure to see the film Stolen (www.stolenthefilm.com/trailer_f.htm) and read the press http://www.boston.com/news/specials/gardner_heist/heist/.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is on the web at www.gardnermuseum.org or call 617.566.1401.

GENERATIONS AT THE BROADMOOR

By Nancy Clark

From the perspective of a toddler, everything wondrous to be seen at The Broadmoor means looking up. The topper over the Mezzanine Lobby, with its red and green glass embellishments is jaw-dropping. But so is the Mezzanine Christmas tree wrapped every inch in red and gold ornaments towering some 15 feet into the air, one of dozens and dozens throughout the hotel buildings. A hot cocoa station stands guard over a life-size gingerbread house with a gumdrop mailbox where little ones can peek inside to see Santa. Kids that were up early this particular Saturday morning had the pleasure of breakfast with Old St. Nick. Families brave the sub-zero El Niño cold front at nightfall to witness the 30th Annual White Lights ceremony, the official flip of the switch of the resort’s holiday lights.

.

From the perspective of an adult, everything about the Broadmoor that’s magnificent is within reach. The doormen make it obvious from the moment you advance up the hotel’s front drive. The desk clerks reinforce the message as they check you in. The bellmen and wait staff reiterate it at each encounter—in passing in the hall, when calling room service or with the nightly turn-down service.

The most significant denominator of the meaning of “within reach” is the fact that The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs is so near to Denver that metro residents can escape to its sanctuary readily. Rated Five-Star (for 54 years in 2014), The Broadmoor is also ranked as an AAA Five Diamond (38 years in 2014) and named to Condé Nast Traveler Gold List plus dozens of other enviable recognition.

Our family has one rule about our sojourns to The Broadmoor: never miss a Sunday Brunch. The king of all brunches anywhere in this world has satisfied four generations of our DNA. Pace yourself is the second rule. Families and extended families with young and restless kiddos are appropriately seated in the corner of the Lake Terrace Dining Room with high chairs and white linen groundcover to catch the falling breakfast remains. For grandparents and parents alike, the 30,000-foot view of this dining room scene is as much about the future as it is the Benedict. It’s not the kind of place just any kid gets to dine. That also explains the dress code among this pre-school set—comfortable, yet pure fibers; classic and yes, that 4-year-old is wearing a chic fur collar.

Since acquiring the property in 2011, Colorado’s second richest citizen, the very private Philip Anchutz, has invested more than $112 million in the property. Visits to the hotel since then have been measured in improvements to the facility and processes. Most appreciated (by me) is the thorough and detailed printed holiday schedule for the Thanksgiving weekend—each day and every hour is listed with options for a multi-generational family convening here. It reiterates how much more there is to see and do on a next return adventure.

The new jewel in The Broadmoor fine dining crown opened this past summer. Restaurant 1858, at the base of Cheyenne Canyon, wrapped in steep granite walls, is just 5 minutes from the hotel itself. Only authorized hotel vans are allowed access to the majestic 181-foot waterfall, the only geographical stop statewide to have been named to National Geographic’s list of International Waterfalls. Appropriately, the menu features Colorado trout prepared eight ways, a mainstay of early pioneers along with game meats prepared the French, Creole and German ways of first-comers to the area in the 1858 Gold Rush.

Dinners especially take me back to my earliest visits to The Broadmoor. Dad’s business was insurance and the insurance industry has maintained a decades-long love affair with golf at The Broadmoor. Golf Magazine named the hotel the No. 1 golf resort in North America in 2015. While the courses are flush with geese this wintery day, I recall dad in his tux and mom in her finest floor-length gown headed out to a 1960’s industry cocktail party and dinner dance, while the four of us daughters snuggled into our comfy Broadmoor beds exhausted from a day at the pool.

Without question, a one-night stay regroups a nuclear family, two-nights allows the space to laugh out loud at a shared new experience, and three days or more, well, the memories carry forward generations.

Five decades later, my son and daughter-in-law, my daughter and her husband toast the getaway and watch my grandson Otto drop to the floor content to greet two guest pups on leashes (canines are welcome guests at the hotel.) Eavesdropping on kid giggles is an honor bestowed on vacationing parents. On this spot Otto’s great grandparents danced the night away. They are looking down and laughing too.

OVER THE CELEBRITY

By Nancy Clark

Google Airbnb horror stories, and the hunt delivers. First, there’s the one about the sex orgy discovered by the host when he returned to his home to pick up his golf clubs, or luggage, or skis, or probably all three in different iterations of sex parties everywhere. Then there’s the bit about being legal. Guests have learned the hard way that they’ve booked themselves into a situation that isn’t allowable under HOA rules or city ordinance. But rarely is the complaint about Airbnb service reps.   

.

I was an Airbnb Super Host. Or rather, my son was, and I did 95% of the work. Earning the title of super host took work, hard work, and relentless work. We kept several properties full at least half the time and met people from all points on earth.

When the celebrity first booked one of the addresses, no one knew he was Hollywood material. He booked our loft for his intended 5 week stay well in advance. The current loft occupant, a grandmother here to help her daughter make it through the first weeks of new motherhood, called to extend her stay. Turns out her grandchild needed heart surgery at 1 day old. Nana needed to extend her visit, adding another month at least. I emailed the celeb to explain the conflict and to offer to rent my other home to him at a deep discount (50%) if he’d be willing to stay at that address. He declined. Within minutes the celeb’s agent emailed to demand the celeb get the loft as planned.

So this super host hit the cancel reservation button.

The celeb called to say that upon further consideration, he would accept the home in lieu of the loft at the discount. I pointed him back to Airbnb to make a new reservation to keep the arrangement legit.

3.5 weeks later, I met our guest to give him the keys to the castle. I couldn’t help myself. “You look so familiar,” I said. He ran with that opening and explained I might know him from the boy band series that ran in the early 2000’s. I called my sister later that day to laugh at myself. “I can’t remember what I had for breakfast but I can remember a boy band star’s face 15 years later.

Two weeks into his stay over the 4th of July weekend, I got a call from Airbnb. The young lady said to me, “Your guest says he’s hot.” That’s true, I thought to myself. Then she clarified the house was hot. We were in the middle of an unheard of heat wave. I told the rep I would get a portable air conditioner to him by the next day. She was stern, protective of the guest. I reminded the Airbnb rep that the house was never advertised as having AC. The rep got downright crispy.

I called and emailed my guest a dozen times. No response. The next morning, as promised, I drove the AC unit to the house. Knock, knock. No answer. I used the lockbox to enter. My celebrity had sailed in the dark of the night…and I don’t mean the cruise line.

I didn’t spot the missing mattress pad and fitted sheet. It was my cleaning lady who reported to me the items missing, I thought I must have misunderstood. Who would run off with bed linens? A celebrity? None of it made sense.

Two weeks later a second Airbnb customer service rep emailed me. It seems that my celebrity guest had reported that I was guilty of bait and switch, putting him in a house he didn’t reserve. He was demanding return of the rent he’d paid. “Seriously,” I said to the rep, “YOU have the reservation detail in your system. You can see that’s not true. Did you check that before calling me?”

The rep got snotty. It was time to give up super host status. I broke up with Airbnb online.

It wasn’t the condition of my listings. It wasn’t the guests. It was the Airbnb customer care reps that put the screws to the deal. The reps were very aware of my guest’s celeb status, and not so much concerned with a non-celeb host. It’s not the kind of horror story you read about online. Airbnb had gotten huge in its six years of operations. With more than one million listings in 190 countries, rumor had it that the company was valued at $20 billion in 2015.

I’m taking smug satisfaction in making Airbnb work harder for its status because my properties aren’t listed.

GET DOWN IN TOWN

By Nancy Clark

It’s easy not to see what’s right in front of you when you’re surrounded by enviable landscape and wrapped in a near-perfect climate. Decades can pass before something triggers a call to return to a once-favorite haunt. While some travel great distances to get within touching distance of the Rocky Mountains, I’ll admit to taking it all for granted. I gripe about Millennials and their entitled attitudes and yet I treat the promise of tomorrow and the beauty of these surroundings with disregard. I tell myself that there’s an unspoken promise that all will be available to me when it’s convenient. 

Some thirty years prior, my children delighted in White Fence Farm—the comfort food to the petting zoo. The impetus for a re-visitation was my grandson albeit it was my son’s birthday. Next time friends come calling, whether or not they have kids in tow, it’ll be where I take them.

Located in Lakewood on Jewel Avenue between Sheridan and Wadsworth, the farm features eight dining rooms (including dining rooms set aside for adults only not traveling with kids) plus specialty shops including one dedicated to Christmas year-round and a candy shop selling homemade fudge. The timber Americana Barn has a two story slide called the Pig Chute for older kids. The O.K. Corral is home to veritable arc of barn animals and after a lick from the goats, there’s a convenient fresh water pump to clean up. The elaborate swing set with slides and a treehouse is at rest at closing time at 8:30 p.m. but is filled to overflowing earlier in the evening. Peacocks query passersby, “Who-who?” Pony rides and horse-drawn carriages are included in the fare…the fair being the famous White Fence Farm chicken—rated “Best Fried Chicken” by Westword in its annual awards. Hypnotically tasty, I am reduced to fishing into the go-bag with leftover chicken for a drumstick to munch on at a stoplight. Besides being that good, it’s affordable. Six adults and one child including drinks tallied less than $150.

It’s the real-life farm tractor that draws an audible gasp from my grandson. Earlier in the day he fought his afternoon nap until we flipped through the pages of Tractors and Farm Trucks as he tapped the utilitarian wheels on the cardboard book pages to lull himself to sleep. At White Fence Farm he takes a seat on his grandfather’s lap, spinning the tractor steering wheel and mimicking shifting like he’s rounding a corner on the auto bahn. 

I turn to my son and say, “It’s twice as fun having a kid to take along.” My 34-year-old nods in agreement, adding, “Yeah, it’s like everything’s exciting all over again.”

It flashes through my mind that this would be a great place for a kids’ birthday party—better than Chucky Cheese, better than McDonald’s PlayPlace, or the legendary Casa Bonita. For now, it’s a trip down memory lane and far and away better than any other trip back to the future.

Destination Wedding Bells

By Nancy Clark

 When a daughter says she knows what kind of wedding she wants, a parent hears dollar signs. Not in my case though. One lazy Sunday, I’d spent the day reading the New York Times. The wedding section spread open on the kitchen counter when my daughter stopped by in between studying for law school exams. “Mom, I would never want a wedding like that,” she pointed to a snapshot of the bride in the story surrounded by a bevy of bridesmaids clutching nosegays. “I want a wedding on a beach, with just you and Jarod [her brother] and his parents,” she added.

“You might want a groom,” I nudged the conversation.

“Dah...I mean I want it to be just family,” she left almost as quickly as she’d arrived, having snagged some food from my refrigerator.

A decade later, my now-engaged daughter pronounced that since she had never learned to walk well on high heels, hers would be a flip flop wedding and Cabo would be the place. I’d taken my kids to Cabo three times as teens and everything about it appealed to them, particularly the ease with which we could leave the piled up snow in Denver and be piling sand on each other on a beach six hours later.

It would be just family.

Bajavacations.com is a customer of Unleaded Software. We’ve built two of their websites. I rented the magical Clara Vista through Patricia at Bajavacations.com and we were now committed to a Cabo ceremony. Perched high on a hill in the exclusive Pedregal community, the views from this six-bedroom, seven-bath estate are indeed panoramic—both the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez extend beyond the edge of the infinity pool. The bonus round was that our dates synced up with whale watching season. I imagined that as a visual distraction as we tanned and sipped our umbrella drinks.

Immediately after paying the deposit on Clara Vista, I ponied up for plane fare for 17 on Frontier Airlines’ direct flights to and from Cabo.

And then the most powerful hurricane ever to hit the Baja snuffed out the tourism business for the next six weeks. Even the airport was closed for massive repairs. Websites for Cabo golf courses posted notices: Closed until April 2015. Options were narrowing down.

I field dozens of websites. I find a florist online. I find a chef for the wedding dinner online. I choose them because of their websites. After all, we are in the web development business. It turns out I’m right, that a good-looking website indicates that a business, even internationally, is a good business to deal with.

You need three things to plan a destination wedding in Cabo (or for that matter, anywhere). A bride. A groom. And a credit card company that has your back. I would have written this story sooner (the wedding was in January) if I’d actually known how the credit card matter would play out. Turns out, I’m still in limbo. More about that coming.

Clara Vista’s all-white sprawling Mediterranean flair was the inspiration for all the wedding décor—from the white trapezoid-shaped gift bags for guests to the white tulips bundled for the bride’s bouquet and the white linen cocktail and dinner napkins embroidered with the bride’s and groom’s initials. I vowed to karaoke to Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” at least once over the four days.

It took months of online shopping to locate all the parts for the gift bags: light cotton spa robes so that family members could wander into the kitchen for coffee in the morning without having to get fully dressed, white baseball caps, white sun hats, white flip-flops to decorate at the bridal luncheon. I ordered PG wedding movies like (Steve Martin in “Father of the Bride”) for family members to enjoy in Clara Vista’s in-home theater.

I considered that the gift bag contents were going to be cumbersome to drag with me on the airplane, plus each extra bag cost $25, so I headed to FedEx to ship the wedding gift bags to my florist in Cabo. Cha-ching. $500+ on the credit card. No worries, I told myself. A Google search for FedEx Mexico calls up links that say things like “Trust FedEx for Fast and Reliable Shipping Solutions to & from Mexico.” Two days later I get a call from a FedEx rep saying my three boxes are being held in Toluca, MEX, Mexico. I am instructed to get hire a customs agent to get my gift bags through customs or the boxes will be considered abandoned. Some eight FedEx agents later, I am told that instead of hiring a customs agent (of which there are none in Toluca that handle personal shipments), I can send my florist to pick them up. Toluca is a 2 hour flight from Cabo. I tell the FedEx agent that is like leaving my mail intended for delivery in Denver in Phoenix and telling me to pick it up. It’s a 13-hour ride each way. She hangs up on me.

Two FedEx reps later I am told that I need to open an account with FedEx and pay to return the items to Denver if I want them back. So I do. The charge to my credit card is $485. I’ve now spent $1000 shipping 3 boxes with contest worth $700. I call Denver’s Mexico Consult to complain. He says he has never had such trouble and that I’ve been led astray by FedEx.

Frontier cancels the return flights. Business is Cabo is down since Odile. One frantic day later, all 17 of us are rebooked on Southwest. Now I can check two bags for free—among us, 34 bags in all.

The three boxes are delivered to my office and I unpack all three. One of the linen napkins has been crumpled and used. A spa robe has been removed from its wrapper and the belt put into the loops. It’s been worn and jammed back into the box. I am more than annoyed. I send the two items to the dry cleaner and call FedEx to dispute the charges.

The highlight of my wedding planning is finding Chef Cosme Obeso, executive chef to the stars (www.chefcosme.com). His clientele include George Clooney and Toby Keith. No wonder. On the phone he is charming. His emails are positive and gracious. And come to find out on the wedding night, the fare is magnificent. His proposed menu woos me and satisfies my daughter’s command of “No cake.”

Appetizers of Spicy Tuna Tostadas. Beef Carpaccio. Crab Wontons. Chicken and Beef Satay. Coconut Shrimp served with Mango Jalapeno Sauce, Scallops wrapped in Bacon served with Oyster Reduction Sauce. Mix Drinks and Cocktails of Wild berries and Mango Margaritas, Frappe Mojitos, Watermelon Martinis. A salad course of Mix of Organic Baby Greens, with roasted beets and mixed bell peppers, grilled corn kernels, Sundried tomato, and fresh local cheese, tossed with White Balsamic Sweet Basil Vinaigrette. The main entrée of Grilled Fillet Mignon topped with poached leeks, and Baby Portobello reduction plus Grilled Pacific Lobster with Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce served with Baked Potato and Grilled Asparagus. For the wedding dessert: Mexican Style Flan and flaming after dinner drinks.

Is this how George eats? I ask. Chef Cosme doesn’t cook and tell. I’m in. Wire funds.

While Bajavacations includes transportation from the airport to the residence and back for 10, I figure we’re definitely going to need a car, so I rent one on the internet. I’m not looking at price; I’m looking for a Jeep. Pedregal is steep, like Lombard Street on steroids. Only it’s on cobblestones, making it ever more difficult for walking. Rentalcars.com catches my eye. The website is straightforward. Turns out it’s as crooked as they come. When we arrive in Cabo and fight our way through the Time Share throngs, we can’t find a van going to Rentalcars.com. Finally, after half an hour in the son with my son, daughter-in-law and their infant son, a van rolls up. On rental car row, he pulls up to Rentalcars.com and the service rep claims to not have a Jeep. But we could take the sedan Acura, he suggests. Not unless I have a trailer to pull behind with the gift bag contents, a baby stroller and 4 human beings, one in a baby seat. I recommend the dealer upgrade us to the four-wheel drive Lincoln on the lot. He won’t. I ask for a refund. He won’t. I walk next door and wave the rental papers from Rentalcars.com in front of the Thrifty agent. I ask if he’ll rent me the Jeep in the lot for the same as Rentalcars was supposed to. He giggles and hands me keys. I had paid way, way too much to Rentalcars. I was so steamed by now I didn’t care if I paid the same crazy sum to Thrifty. We got up Pedregal’s hill one hour after my guests had arrived.

The wire from my bank in Denver did not get to the florist who had acted as wedding planner purchasing all the tickets to whale watching scheduled for the morning after the wedding and scheduling our Sunday brunch and transportation to Flora Farms . She’d schedule spa treatments and golfing for the men and purchased all the food for the house for our four days. Konstanza from www.emperioartefloral.com took my Americanized grocery list and translated it quite adeptly…except for the 20-pound cube of butter (i had noted “large butter” on my list) that in hindsight could have carved into a butter ice sculpture. I notifed my bank to stop the wire and drove to the florist’s shop to pay by Amex.There was no way i was coming this far to not have wedding flowers and table linens at dinner. My credit card saved the day. (It took my bank another 5 weeks to redact the wire funds.)

The bride nervous. The groom anxious. The flower girls prancing for the event to get started. Moments later, I do, i do is finished. One of the chef’s assistants has informed us that the whale a short distance from the shore is slapping her tail to announce she is meeting up with a male whale. We laugh. It isn’t until the next morning on the whale watching cruise that our tour guide clarifies that whales slap their tails to rid them of crustaceans.

Checking on our departure details, I noticed that the driver for our return to SJD Los Cabos Mexico International Airport has noted we depart the next day in the afternoon when in fact we are to leave the villa by 9 a.m. I ask the whale watching driver if he is able to take us to the airport instead, since I don’t have any contact info with me. He agrees to do it, but says I can’t tell anyone. Who to tell? I wonder. Two weeks after the wedding this same van driver calls me on a Friday as I sit in my desk in snowbound Denver. “I’ve been pulled over and my cab license taken away. I’ve been fined $500,” he rattles off his woes. “Why are you calling me?” I am incredulous. “I am calling you so that you can pay my fine.” I hang up. I hate Mexico.

I get online to learn that Rentalcars.com is headquartered in the UK. I call and speak to a representative about a refund for the nearly $500 I paid to rent the car that I didn’t rent. The rep warns me in a delightful English accent, “You’ll never get a refund from us.” I hate Mexico more.

I get a call from FedEx. It’s a sales rep. He wants to know how I like my new account. “Are you serious?” I ask him. Then I decide to tell him what’s gone on and he decides to listen. He promises me he will get to the bottom of this and that I won’t be charged by FedEx. My point to FedEx is that I engaged them to perform a service, namely deliver 3 boxes to Cabo. They failed to perform the service. Then they refused to return the 3 boxes unless I double paid. The FedEx sales rep is sweet. He gives me his direct contact phone number. I find out on Feb. 26 that I will have to contact him again. Fedex has again charged my credit card for the same service not delivered. I’m hating all of Mexico and everywhere FedEx delivers. We use FedEx regularly for our intracompany deliveries to our office in India. I’m looking for a replacement for FedEx.

The photos are in. My grandson is precious in his drawstring linen pants that my daughter-in-law sprung for in a one-time-wearing-only scenario. The tulips on the individual tables set on the uppermost rotunda overlooking the horizon droop as ordered, perfectly, just as if they’d been touched by Martha Stewart. My daughter, ephemeral. Mexico tugs at my heart. I do like it here. Anywhere in Mexico.

I just won’t get there by FedEx or Rentalcars.com.

Palm Beach—East of Monied; north of hot

By Nancy Clark

Palm Beach, Florida is more monied and more conservative than most of America. More than half the population is 65+ (2000 Census) and the dominant demographic Euro American at 96%. Don a navy blue blazer on. And you’ll look the part of the swim and tennis club crowd. While socks aren’t fashionable, blazers are. Gentlemen will want a jacket to dine at Café Via Flora, Pizza al Fresco or Ta-boo, the preferred eateries of locals in a surround of luxury retailers with names like Gucci, Christofle, Brioni, Bottega Veneta, Neiman, Saks, Cartier and Chanel.

Pursuit of wealth has always been the attraction to this tropical clime. Some 400 years ago, a Spanish conquistador by the name of Juan Ponce de León arrived in Florida. He’d sailed with Christopher Columbus on Columbus' second voyage to the Americas in 1492. He later was credited with discovery of Puerto Rico (then called Borinquen) with rich deposits of gold. By order of the King of Spain, de León colonized the island and was its governor for two years until the king snubbed him by the king who replaced him with Columbus' son.

On the rebound, de León set sail again intent on discovering the elusive Fountain of Youth. He landed on Florida's east coast near present-day St. Augustine, just three and a half hours north of Palm Beach on I-95 christening the land La Florida or "place of flowers.” He continued in his southern route around Florida’s cape to Charlotte Harbor where his he and his crew were forced by the not-so-friendly Calusa tribe to retreat. Seven years later, de León made a second attempt at colonizing Calusa territory with 200+ settlers in tow. The indigenous tribe ambushed the pilgrims and sent them fleeing back to Cuba. De Leon was shot in the process and died in Cuba shortly after reaching port.

The next notable to arrive in Palm Beach Was Henry Morrison Flagler, a founder of Standard Oil.  Credited with making the Atlantic coast barrier island accessible via his Florida East Coast Railway, Flagler built two luxury resort hotels, the Royal Poinciana and the Breakers Hotel, establishing Florida’s Atlantic coast as a tourism mecca.

It was the Gilded Age and the shine was on Florida. Flagler sold house lots—developing more than two million acres of residential, agricultural and tourism—and built his own tribute to the arts called Whitehall in 1902. Flagler built the 75-room Beaux Arts estate as a winter home and wedding present for his wife. When it first was completed, the New York Herald proclaimed it “more wonderful than any palace in Europe, grander and more magnificent than any other private dwelling in the world.” Now on the National Historic Register, the museum is worthy of at least half a day on any tourists’ itinerary.

Money begets money. Marjorie Merriweather Post was a leading socialite married to her second husband financier Edward Francis Hutton when she built Mar-a-Lago in Palm Springs. The rumor mill has it that the very wealthy couple was on a 10-day cruise when the cereal heiress inquired of the chef how it was that he had managed to produce fresh-tasting vegetables after so many days at sea. The chef disclosed a new method of storing vegetables—freezing—and Mrs. Hutton determined to invest in the innovative little company called Birdseye.  She was subsequently listed as the wealthiest woman in the United States, with a fortune worth about USD $250 million.

In 1985, The Donald Trump purchased Mar-a-Lago and it took him 10 years to convert the private residence into a palatial club. Its elite upper crust panache and enviable spa are in immediate proximity to the ocean-side mansions of his ex, Ivana, and other family members.

Since the early 1900s, New York titans have gravitated to Palm Beach for winter season. Among those arriving post WWII was Lilly Pulitzer. Barefoot, the newlywed hawked fresh squeezed orange juice from the oranges her husband flew in from his groves. She needed a dress to disguise the inevitable juice stains and the colorful Lilly sheath was born. Soon she was selling more of the preppy tunics than she was juice. When Jacqueline Kennedy was televised wearing Pulitzer’s pink and lime green sheath, Lilly’s permanent place among the world’s leading designers was fixed.

It’s all about infrastructure. The underpinnings of wealth are rooted in servicing an unmet need. Give the people what they want. Even in Palm Beach.

Here you can snag some of the best buys nationwide at the handful of second-hand stores. It’s the little known secret of ladies who lunch. At Déjà Vu, the sales are final, and some of the merchandise is pinned with the original price tags, never worn.  At Classic Collections, the labels on the garments echo those on Worth Avenue: Chanel, St. John, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Emilio Pucci Gucci, Prada, and Bottega. Ball gowns worn once that went for $5,000 are tagged at no more than $500. Gardening pants...yes, even these can be scored at a deep discount.

GETTING THERE: Fly into Palm Beach International Airport where the shopping is a step up from other  airports.

STAY: The Breakers Palm Beach. Only one legendary oceanfront resort in North America offers you everything under the sun.

Denver B+B with a twist

By Nancy Clark

Brace yourself. The sandstone castle at 420 E. 11th Avenue dead in the center of Denver is architecturally captivating. The residence turned apartment house turned office building turned private residence turned B+B has good bones. The beauty of the place was enough to cause Realtor Mary Rae to buy the place in the 1970s to spare it from the wrecking ball. The home at that time was separated into apartments, the woodwork and stained glass still in their original, glorious state.

Purchased in 2011 by Brian Higgins, architect and principal at RAW Architecture located on Larimer Street, it took 18 months to transform the house into a luxe 9-room gem from its most recent iteration as a personal residence left vacant for some time. It was the last family to live in the house that took chilling stories of the haunting public. Denver listening audiences still remember the innocent 3-year-old on local radio telling of his imaginary friend who lived with him in the house. As one of three triplets born while his parents called the place home, he opened up about his friend that others couldn’t see…but he could. The mother had a story of her own. She’d been über preggers with triplets and found herself unable to turn over in bed. An apparition held out a hand and offered her assistance with a brogue that told her origin: Ireland.

A scare with a chaser.

Built in 1891 by Thomas B. Croke when gentlemen were made of myth and the ones with money stood heads and shoulders above the rest, the mansion rose up on a on a stretch of residential that included other formidable homes, Molly Brown’s included.  Croke suffered losses in the Silver Crash and sold the home he’d never lived in to an appropriate buyer, Thomas M. Patterson, a U.S. Congressman and Senator as well as being Publisher of the Rocky Mountain News. His family occupied the massive residence for the next 24 years. 

Higgins and his mother Gloria were undeterred in the ambitious remodel even when a fire broke out on the second floor sitting area. Much of the building had to be finished a second time in the cleanup. And in the end, Higgins will admit to spending more than $1M and less than $2M to make the place guest ready.

The rooms are located on the first, second and third floors and each is influenced with a distinct look from French Country to whimsical Alice in Wonderland. Close observation shows the tribute paid to its proud history. (The building has historic designation from the Landmark Preservation Commission, Colorado State Register of Historic Properties, and the National Register of Historic Places.) To wit: where traditional bathroom flooring would feature hexagonal white tile trimmed and dotted in black. This tile, however, features round dots…a subtle difference yet symbolic of the modern amenities now built into each of the spacious bedrooms.

If there’s something haunting about the bar in the renovated basement, it’s from the Burnsley Hotel, another Capitol Hill landmark until it closed in 2012. The bar was cut in two, one half installed in the Patterson Inn basement bar recently christened Maggie’s Pub and the other half installed in an event room, formerly the carriage house.

Behind these doors, guests can enjoy a deep sleep under down duvets or bathe using products that are recycled through Clean the World, a nonprofit organization that recycles soap and bottled bathroom products to be distributed to homeless shelters and poverty-stricken countries worldwide where disease due to lack of hygiene are deadly.

The rates start at $169. Learn more at www.pattersoninn.com.

Revel in a bygone era replete with all of today’s conveniences. Take a break and learn about the lives behind the history. And above all else be un-afraid. Very unafraid.

 

Get it while it’s hot

Nancy Clark

Phoenix is huge. As the capital of Arizona, it’s the state’s largest city and is the sixth most populous city in the entire United States. Census estimates show 1,469,471 residents in the city proper. Newcomers flocked to Phoenix and the surrounding communities of Scottsdale, Gainey Ranch, Old Town Phoenix, Sun City, Glendale, Mesa and Tempe from 1950 through 2000 increasing the population by 45.3%, significantly more than other fast-growing cities nationwide that averaged 15% growth.

The warmth in winter compared to cold-weather states draws the snowbirds and a lot of them can’t bear to leave. They just feel better here. Average temperatures January through May (“The Season”) range from 56 to 82, comfortable enough that residents are able to get outside and enjoy the floral-scented air, walk, run, bike and hike. Turn on the AC from June through August when it regularly hits 90° and don’t expect to cool down until after Thanksgiving.

Another thing besides the temperature that’s spiking in Phoenix is the real estate prices.

Kipplinger.com reports that Phoenix and many cities in Florida and California’s Central Valley are recovering earlier than the rest of the country. These “first in, first out” regions suffered first when the real estate bubble burst. Colliers International reports that for much of 2012, the Phoenix housing market has led the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller home price index. As of December 2012, the median price in Metro Phoenix housing has increased 23 percent, compared to just 7.9 percent in other markets.

The Phoenix Business Journal wrote on March 8th that real estate prices in Phoenix have surged 35% in the past year and that the inventory of single family homes is limited. Sellers are seeing competitive bids within days of listing their property for sale.

Whether you’re in Phoenix for the weekend or the duration, get in your car, crank up the AC and take an afternoon to see what’s happening here in commerce and real estate. Get in while it’s hot.

Contact Terry L Huntingford about the Biltmore condo listing #4917799 shown in the photos by email terryhuntingford@yahoo.com or call 480-440-4402.

 

KINGS, CASTLES + ZIPLINES

By Nancy Clark

Newgrange by the Photographic Unit, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Trim Castle was made famous with the filming of Braveheart starring Mel Gibson.Every St. Paddy’s Day spent stateside is a reminder of how celebrating the same in Ireland would at the top of the bucket list. Ask any man on the street for directions and he won’t just point the way, chances are he’ll take the entire afternoon off to escort you to your desired destination.

STAY: If Ireland is on your short list, make it a long weekend for your fill on history and adventure. Reserve ahead to stay in Castle Clontarf, a true kingdom with a four-star reputation having undergone a €10M makeover in 2006. The original castle built in 1172 was held by the Knights Templar until 1308 and since then changed hands rather often in terms of kingdoms, the longest owner being John Vernon and his descendants for 300 years. The current building was designed by the Irish architect William Vitruvius Morrison for John Edward Venables Vernon in 1837 when the former castle was unsafe. The castle is now part of a privately owned collection of upscale hotels.   

Castle Clontarf features 111 rooms and suites and is a wedding venue.DAY 1: Trim Castle where the memorable film Braveheart was filmed is located in nearby Trim Town Centre, a Heritage Town just a stone’s throw away. Constructed over a 30-year period starting in 1176 on the site of an earlier wooden fortress, Trim Castle is considered to be the first stone castle built in Ireland, as well as being the largest Anglo-Norman castle in the country. In the early 1970s archeologists unearthed 10 headless men presumed to be victims of King Edward’s 1465 order demanding beheading of thieves with their heads mounted on spikes as a precautionary message.

DAY 2: the day’s light pass through the megalithic tome at Newgrange dating back to 3200 B.C. The half-acre sized mound of earth is wrapped in white quartz and took an estimated 300 men 20 years to build. The passage and chamber of Newgrange are illuminated by the winter solstice sunrise shining through the roof box over the entrance. Tickets to the solstice ceremony are let by lottery. Even if you’re not one of the 50 lottery winners, the tour is worth the journey.

DAY 3: Tayto Park is a tribute to the vision of yet another king, this one is a king of chips and concepts. Raymond Coyle, C.E.O. of Largo Foods, focused on potato crisp manufacturing. Tayto Park has a western influence seen in The Lodge Restaurant + Shop, a Pow Wow Playground and Indian tipis. Try out the zip line for an overview of the American Buffalo and take tea in the Tree house. Tayto Park is adding to its facility in 2013 by “bits and bobs” with pony rides, falconry and an aviary. While Tayto Park offers plenty of picnicking space, The Lodge menu is mouthwatering.

The half and the have nots

By Nancy Clark

In 2011, nearly half (47%) of The Broadmoor’s guests hailed from Colorado. Odds are they have a memento from the sojourn tucked into a photo album or drawer. 

Rarely do I keep a stage play program even though print ad sales reps will tell ad buyers that playgoers will keep a program well beyond the evening’s entertainment, thus, they sell the idea that the ad placement will have multiple opportunities to be seen. I don’t have refrigerator magnets from various tourist stops in my life, not only because my refrigerator is stainless steel and won’t attract a magnet, but because I don’t like to faceoff with the paperwork behind the magnet being the first thing I see in the morning when I pour a glass of juice. I’m just not a keeper.

But I did preserve the menu from Thanksgiving Dinner 2012 at The Broadmoor’s Penrose Room. Even now as I review the ivory and maize menu, my mouth waters. From the Purple Baby Artichoke Raviolis to the Braised Lamb Shoulder with Za’atar Spice on toasted Farro risotto accompanied by a vegetable fricassee and lemon confit, each of the appetizers, entrees and desserts is enough to sound the caloric call of the festive holiday season.

Like one of those high-pitched sounds that only dogs can hear, my offer to offspring to set aside their personal holiday plans and join me at The Broadmoor was unanimously and resoundingly accepted.   

The plan was to kick off with dinner in the Penrose Room—honored in 2012 for the 36th consecutive year with the AAA ultimate five-diamond rating, one of only three properties nationwide carrying that status-boosting  award since 1976. To put it in perspective, only 0.3 percent of the 59,000 lodgings and restaurants nationwide approved by AAA earn the coveted five-diamond ranking. The Penrose Room is Colorado's only Forbes’ five-diamond eatery, a prestigious badge of honor carried for a remarkable five years.

The scope of options for free-time well spent are what made the trip down south of Denver ideal for family to confab. After closing out dinner with a Roasted Apple Napoleon of scented saffron caramel cream, walnut cake and Granny Smith granita, we broke for an hour and then reconnected in the hotel’s Center Lounge for sugar-rimmed cocktails and sales talk, as in holiday bargains. My son and his wife ended up calling the valet at 3 a.m. to dash to the local Sears where they scored a new washing machine and dryer.

“I can’t think of a sale that would prompt me to get out of this thread count in the middle of the night,” I took a stand. “We saved $600,” my son declared.  Okay, he won. I, on the other hand, tucked into pillows piled 4 deep to take in the in-room video “Hope Springs” starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones while feasting on gourmet cookies from the in-room service bar.

My daughter and boyfriend were first to the renowned Broadmoor brunch the next morning with the others of us hot on their heels. On average, our troops returned to the buffet 3 times over which prompted my comment as we women raced off to makeovers at The Cosmetic Shop at The Broadmoor: “Can they make me over to be thin?”

Post-glamour tx, we scored undeniably fabulous shoes for each of us at Yarid’s located on the doorstep of the hotel, and my cousin’s 4-year-old is likely wearing the Make-it-yourself Tiara Kit at this very moment that I found at The Broadmoor Children’s Shop. I can’t think of a more appropriate origination point for a gift for a wanna-be princess.

Round-the-clock holiday activities kick into really high gear the day after Thanksgiving, Cookie decorating for the young’uns, build a Broadmoor Bear, story time in the library, the Bee Brunch (the only requirement is that attendees be potty trained) and new in 2012, The Santa House with reindeers, pictures with Santa and real Christmas trees for sale are only the tip of kid activities. For adults, there’s silk scarf painting, culinary demos, holiday jewelry making, holiday portrait sessions, Build Your Own Gingerbread house for whole families PLUS cupcake decorating, family BINGO balloon twisting lessons, face painting and bounce houses. 

Our half got the memo. We’re making rezzies now for Thanksgiving 2013.

3 Planes, no trains and 1 automobile

By Nancy Clark

The internet business is by its nature international, so it just made sense for Unleaded Software Inc. (www.unleadedsoftware.com) to expand from its Denver, Colorado-based headquarters to Ahmedabad, India when growing the team. The 32-person Colorado team is bursting at the seams at its present location and in order to expand services to remain at the lead of web development and hosting, Unleaded has opened two satellite offices, one in Seville, Spain and most recently opening Unleaded Software Solutions Private Limited in Ahmedabad.

Pallavi Shah, founder of the international travel firm Our Personal Guest, is used to making business travel arrangements for international businessmen and women, along with planning luxury leisure tours of her native country. Born in Gujarat (Ahmedabad’s location), Shah maintains offices in New York City, Paris and India attending to air travel, hotel and private car service—essential to doing business in India’s congested cities.

Drive on the left-hand side.

Driver Manu of Garha Tours & Travels met Clark when he arrived at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, India's eighth busiest airport. The point in having Manu scheduled 24/7 wasn’t just to transfer from the airport to the Taj, but to expedite Clark’s getting around the city during his 10-day stay. Manu’s 2007 Toyota Innova was cleaned daily and each time Manu pulled into the portico of Taj Gateway Hotel, valets would roll a mirrored platform under the chassis of the vehicle to check for bombs and then opened the trunk. Since the 2008 bombing at the Mumbai Taj, security checks are all in a day’s business at any of the Taj hotels across India.

Unleaded President Jarod Clark chronicled his rides on the roads of Ahmedabad while in India in 2012 to formally open the newest Unleaded production office. The photos, taken by Clark with his iPhone from the back seat while Manu maneuvered through the most congested traffic Clark has ever seen, tell it all.

Lesson #1: Drive on the left-hand side. Yes, India’s traffic operates like the United Kingdom, just one of the Crown’s influences on this country.

There’s an elephant in the room, er, on the road.

Lesson #2: Cows have the right of way. The beasts own this vegan country. It’s not unusual to see a cow napping in the middle of an urban roadway. Traffic detours accordingly. And because it’s considered good luck to feed a cow in India, the cows randomly feast all day long resting intermittently between courses.

 

Lesson #3: There’s an elephant in the room, er, on the road. Even Barnum + Bailey isn’t awarded this kind of leeway stateside. In India, elephants, like cows, own the right of way.  Witnessing his first elephant in the center lane, Clark confirmed that having Manu at the wheel is consoling.

Lesson #4: The family that scoots together stays together. It was rare, Clark says, to see a single rider on a motor scooter. More often than not Clark saw couples, friends, and even a family of four piled on a single scooter to get from Point A to Point B.The family that scoots together stays together.

Lesson #5: Americans take for granted having a car or two or three at their disposal. In India, owning an automobile is a display of success. A 2012 Toyota Innova runs about $22k, beyond the reach of the average Indian with a per capita income of only $1218 annually. The majority of vehicles in India are owned by IT professionals, the fastest growing employment segment with the highest levels of earnings, i.e. a web professional in India with fewer than 5 years’ experience earns an average of 299,850 IND ($5572.38 U.S.).

An Afternoon Safari

By Nancy Clark

If numbers persuade you, 1,600,000+ people have already taken the trip. And even with lions, tigers and bears, the Denver Zoo is one of the safest places one can frequent in the city. Minors under 16 are not allowed in if not accompanied by an adult. It eliminates the riffraff. Tames the wild, if you will.

Not to worry if you need to cool your heels before it’s your turn to tour Elephant Passage, wile the time away shopping for gifts and souvenirs at the Sol Street Market steps away. Or expand your international palate as you dine on worldwide flavors at the Kamala Café. The Asian BBQ Chicken lettuce wraps are especially gourmet. So not Mac-fast-fat. Healthy and yummy.

A show of how impressive this Elephant Passage really is…is the amount of time put into pre-planning. The Zoological Foundation began planning for the $50M+ improvement nine years prior to its opening in 2012. The vision was to construct an environment for the rapidly declining elephant population and at once provided sustainable practices. From start to finish the elephants’ habitat is 90% self-sufficient with biomass gasification systems converting the zoo’s waste to usable energy to power the exhibit,   eliminating 1.5 million pounds of trash previously going to landfills.

Besides energy production, the habitat features a state-of-the-art 

water filtration system recycling most of the 1.1 million gallons of water running through the Toyota namesake. Natural daylight in the windows and sky lights decreases the electric lighting used on the building interiors. Radiant floor heating indoors and in some outdoor locations is lower cost than traditional HVAC systems and lets the elephant kiddos keep their feet warm when playing outside in winter. Extra ventilation in the buildings improves the indoor air quality for both picadors and humans and the rooftops of these buildings are painted with reflective paint to reflect sunlight which in turn reduces cooling costs.

So whether your interest is in LEED (green) construction or in preserving the declining population of Asian elephants (their total population has decreased from 100,000+ to fewer than 35,000 in a matter of years), the zoo offers entertainment for all. Generations from now, elephants are sure to be even more of a rarity if predictions come true that they will become extinct in this century. Increasing human populations in Asia are encroaching on wild land that once was reserved for the Animal Kingdom. And of course there’s the problem with poaching.

If your desire is to get a laugh out of any of your leisure hours, you’re sure to achieve that while watching 11,000-pound Groucho, new to Denver and our zoo. Hailing from Ft. Worth, Texas, he’s 41 and loves to entertain onlookers by scooping up grasses and dropping on his wide head. It’s a method of keeping cool that his ancestors use in the jungle today. Rumor has it elephants have good memories. It’s a profound experience to watch them at your leisure and wonder what is going on in that oversized brain. Are you watching him, or is he really watching you?

The most impressive part of my afternoon safari was the staging that has gone into the Elephant Passage…it’s as good as a movie set. Battered old Jeeps with boxes of supplies strapped onto the roof give the sense that adventurers have paved the way for the rest of us to explore. Wear your camp shirt and splurge on a safari pith helmet. You’ll look the part. And if you leave it on your coffee table, it will give you a point of conversation for years to come.

Denver Zoo

2300 Steele Street
Denver, CO 80205
303-376-4800

www.denverzoo.org

Connect with Nancy Clark and WatchBoom on Google+.

Healdsburg ˃ Any other destination

By Nancy Clark

Just off the 101 at the confluence of the Napa Valley and Sonoma Wine Country, the Russian river runs through it. It being Healdsburg, California, latitude 38°37'N and longitude 122°52'W. As a generalization, one would expect a trip to this region of the country to be filled with lines of small wine glasses, bubbly to blood red. But Healdsburg isn’t what you expect to expect. The new rule on travel to West Coast wine country is that this is where visitors are crushing on the architecture as much as the wine.From the moment you check into Hotel Healdsburg, each walkway, public space and individual room is striking for its design quotient.

The Healdsburg Inn is where Restoration Hardware meets Dwell, so much so that the hotel kindly provides its guests a list of decorative material resources when checking in. In an alcove on the third floor near the entrance to my room sits the Mayfair steamer secretary trunk in smoke linen, right out of the Restoration Hardware catalog (as well a permanent line item on my mental wish list.) The hotel brochure describes the surroundings as “modern rustic” but the design is more compelling than any adjectives imply. It’s a mood caught in the magical reflection of the trees in the pool when night falls. It’s the comfort in the dispenser of fresh lemonade in an outsized mason jar where you can help yourself to a small paper cup of refreshment as you wait for the elevator. It’s the smooth Bocce ball-sized river rocks at the bottom of the stairwell, a design element that warrants a double take. It’s the fact that I find myself photographing the mosaic of perimeter cobblestones on the event lawn and a close up of a woven willow privacy screen shielding the courtyard from glances of passersby…rare applications of style in unexpected places.    SOMETHING TO REFLECT ON—Light, texture, form, scale and flow are captured in the aesthetic of Hotel Healdsburg.

Crops as a mainstay in Healdsburg have come full circle over the last 200 years.  Spanish Franciscan monks established vineyards in the early 1800s and the first commercial vineyard, Buena Vista, was founded in 1857. Healdsburg became the epicenter of grape growers until 1919 when prohibition forced vintners to get creative. Locals turned to growing prunes—prolific, compact and not-so demanding as other varietals of fruit trees. In The Spa at Hotel Healdsburg, my manicurist Lucy, a third-generation Healdsburg resident, reminisces about her grandparents’ crops—sweet, dark plums that produced so reliably that not every landholder rushed to revert back to grapes when prohibition was lifted.

Healdsburg is a whole little world set up for eating and drinking and shopping. I’ve come here to study the art of cheese-making at Relish Culinary Adventures, as seen in O, the Oprah Magazine, Sunset, and appearing on Food Network’s Unwrapped, Relish is a wide-open classroom with ample island work stations for seasoning curds and whey, TV monitors for up-close views of stove-top technique, and outstanding educators in any given food sector like Mary Karlin, author of Artisan Cheese Making At Home & Wood-Fired Cooking, available wherever books and e-books are sold. The curriculum for 2012 is all about cheese, from fresh same-day cheeses to homemade mozzarella and burrata. I see a cheese Christmas ahead.

Within earshot of Healdsburg, the siren song of J Vineyards and Wineries’ Bubble Room calls. Founded in 1986 by second-generation vintner Judy Jordan, who is credited with being the first to pioneer food and wine pairing, a rezzy in the vineyard’s exclusive Bubble Room is not only required, but it’s the envy of all. Executive Chef Mark E. Caldwell kicks off the first course with a 2009 Chardonnay accompanied by Clam Chowder, an aromatic revelry of clams, applewood smoked bacon, potato gnocchi and clam broth. Tip back a 2010 Pinot Gris accompanied by a quinoa cake drizzled in preserved lemon aioli and mâche. Tuck in with a 2009 Pinot Noir and a pan seared California white sea bass with a medley of mushrooms and a Pinot Noir sauce. The perfect finish is in a glass of J Cuvee 20 bubbly and a Neapolitan Panna Cotta. The overarching lesson: reds and whites are no longer relegated to flank and fin. It’s inspired. And it’s a club you can join: Club J. Email clubj@jwine.com.

Occasionally travel changes everything. California has that effect, you know. Healdsburg in particular.  After all, it took until Father Consag’s sail completely around the Gulf of California in 1747 for King Ferdinand of Spain to finally issue a Royal decree stating "California is not an Island!" Indeed, he hadn’t heard of Healdsburg.

 

√ this out:

EDIBLE ART—Fare served at Dry Creek Kitchen is as satisfying to the eye as the appetite.

Entertain in Healdsburg style. Chef Alan Dennis makes an art of strudel—flaky pastry-wrapped savory strudel apps and gourmet dessert strudels, fruit to chocolate. Visit him on Facebook and order by calling 530-448-2506.

Photography by Bob Cornelius is regularly on display in Healdsburg where galleries nearly outpace the number of vineyards. You’ll be tempted to step through the looking glass when you study one on the wall. Preview his work at BobCornelius.com.

One of the best parts of Healdsburg is Wurst—Wurst Restaurant Brats & Beer sausage grill and beer garden. The eponymous Chicken Apple with sherry wine, thyme and sage is a culinary delicacy. Seriously. Walk on over to 22 Matheson Street and have one.

Spoonbar! at h2hotel, sister property to Hotel Healdsburg has (not surprisingly) hit on the best menu concept this side of, well, everywhere with pricing that’s constant for each item within a category. Snacks are $6. Vegetable apps are all $10. Fish apps are $13. Pasta + Grains are $15 and Mains are $23. Insist on the Corn + green onion wrapped in pastry. You can’t go home without it.

The acclaimed Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen in the Hotel Healdsburg has served unsurpassed satisfaction since 2001. His influence stretches across America but his focus is on regional produce, artisan diary and heritage meats paired with regional award-winning wines. Save room for dessert.

Or save room in your carry-on. Lime Stone, the boutique steps away from Charlie’s place is owned and operated by his wife Lisa Palmer, tempts with exceptional home accents from tabletop to furniture—candlesticks, serving trays, old world chandeliers and bistro chairs. Remember: there’s always FedEx. 

It shouldn’t be surprising that The Spa at Healdsburg Hotel rivals a trip to the highest-end women’s boutique. Intimates and casual wear, easy and yet luxe, textiles of a bespoke life, the perfect wrap following any of the Meyer lemon body treatments. Romance your significant other with signature spa treatments for Expectant Mothers and Fathers to Be. Tip: Book ahead of your visit.

Come morning, flip a coin and heads you win a mix of Hatha and Vinyasa yoga. (Class starts at 9 a.m. Mats, blocks and blankets provided.) Or tails you win, make a beeline for the complimentary breakfast is fireside and stars omelets to order, chocolate chip waffles, bite-size pastries, lox and bagels alongside fresh squeezed juices. Decisions, decisions.

RelishCulinary.com recipe:

From the 2012 Artisan Cheese Festival cooking demonstrations, these blintzes were beautiful and delicious—the golden blintze sitting on a bed of vivid green chive sauce with a sprinkle of purple chive flowers for garnish.

Bellwether Farms Ricotta Blintzes with Smoked Salmon
Tom Schmidt, Executive Chef, John Ash and Company
Serves 8

Crepes
4 Eggs
½ cup AP Flour
1 cup Milk
¼ teaspoon salt

Crack eggs into a stainless steel bowl. Add flour and mix with a wire whip until smooth. Add milk & salt then mix. Let stand 30 minutes.

Filling
16 ounces Bellwether Farms Ricotta
2 egg yokes
Zest 1 Meyer lemon, approx. 1 teaspoon
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
8 oz sliced Atlantic smoked salmon, brown fat removed, julienned
 

Garnish
Chives with blossoms

With a wooden spoon, mix all together in a stainless steel bowl adding pepper and salt (if needed). Chill

Chive butter sauce
2 bunches Chives, chopped fine
1/4 lb. Butter
¼ cup Cream
½ cup White wine
2 Shallots, chopped fine
Juice 1 Meyer lemon
Salt, to taste

In a small food processor fitted with a steel blade, chop chives with softened butter until bright green, scrape into a bowl and set aside. In a non-reactive sauce pan, reduce white wine with shallots until 1 Tablespoon remains. Add cream and reduce by half. Mount in chive butter slowly being careful not to break the sauce. Adjust flavor with lemon juice and salt. Strain and keep warm.

Using a 5 to 6-inch crepe pan (non-stick) make the crepes. Allow about 3 tablespoons of batter per crepe. Have the pan well heated before beginning. Using about 2 tablespoons of the oil, brush the pan with a little of the oil before adding batter each time. Cook each crepe on one side until lightly browned, then turn and cook just a few seconds on the other side. Remove to waxed paper to cool.

Lay the crepes out on a work surface, 4 at a time. Place about ¼ cup of in the middle of each crepe. Fold up envelope-style, by first folding the bottom to cover the filling, then folding over the two sides. Allow the seam to be in the bottom of the blintz. Blintzes can be made to this point ahead of time and refrigerated

In a 10-inch skillet heat one tablespoon each of the butter and oil. Sauté the blintzes over medium heat allowing them to brown nicely on both sides. Add more butter and oil to the pan as needed. Keep warm in a 200° oven while completing the batches.

Pour a pool of sauce on the pre-warmed plates. Set blintzes in the middle of plate, garnish with snipped chives and chive blossoms. Serve warm.

Connect with Nancy Clark and WatchBoom on Google+.

Beach Bites

By Nancy Clark

A beach pretty much anywhere has always been my ideal of a vacation, particularly coming from a land-locked state like Colorado. The sun calls; I answer.

Photo by Eldon Christenson

The lure of the beach doesn’t diminish over a lifetime apparently when you consider the Harris Poll (August 2007) indicating that Hawaii is the one state that boomers prefer if not their home state for retirement. One of the pluses is the monotonously perfect weather: 82 – 86ᵒ F as reported by the daily Maui Time newspaper all throughout May. (The annual average is a sweater-less 75ᵒ.) The downside, according to Topretirements.com is the high cost of living—the average home is typically three times more expensive than on the mainland.

So are the drinks.

Fifteen dollars is the going rate for a Mai Tai’s at your fanciest stops on the island. Yet, the curated view alone is worth the price of admission. The calories are just a temporary inconvenience and the keepsake pastel-colored paper umbrellas not weighty enough to cause a bag to top out over 50 pounds on your return flight home, no matter how many one tips back

From the day Longhi’s opened on Front Street in Lahaina Town in 1976, founder Bob Longhi insisted that the chairs be comfortable. He is reputed to have outspent other restaurateurs on seating, a decision he chalked up to sustaining Longhi’s over the decades while other dining establishments closed their doors. The window shutters on this quaint frame building are thrown wide open—purely decorative in Maui’s mild temperatures—to a fiery setting sun, the perfect complement to the Mussels Marinara. Culinary arts, the trademark of Longhi’s, is evident in  proprietary cookbooks for sale in the lobby including Gabriele Longhi's Recipe Portfolioand Longhi’s: Recipes and Reflections From Maui’s Most Opinionated Restaurateur personally signed by Bob.

Kimo’s on Front Street in Lahaina Town occupies prime real estate on the water. From the lanai overlooking a rocky beach below, waves beat to a regular tempo, every fourth or fifth splashing over the railing to the delight of the younger set in tow. The tiki torches glow in the half-moon night and the biggest decision of the day is whether to opt for a Kimo’s Mai Tai (only $8) or a Pina Colada ($7.75). Better yet, a Gilligan’s Ginger Martini  ($9), ocean vodka made in Hawaii, ginger liqueur and a dash of sugar syrup. The red sky at night portends sailor’s delight the next day, and Maui weather doesn’t disappoint.

Cheeseburger In Paradise on Front Street in Lahaina is what it is. Paradise on a bun served retro wrapped in paper. The menu claims: Serving Aloha every day since 1989, and promotes the five-napkin burgers. At $8.95 - $16.95, these burgers the best bargain on the beach. Tourists return to this two tiered frame structure year after year because of the memories and the flavor. The menu is priced for families and younger people on a comparative budget. Overheard: I like it here because I can order a Bud beer instead of a fancy umbrella drink and not feel guilty that I’m shortchanging the cultural experience.

Head up Hwy. 30 a few minutes toward Ka’anapali, the passenger on this journey gets the catbird seat with a view of Maui volcano Haleakala, an active shield volcano. The volcano’s top is perpetually frosted in high cumulus. You can’t miss the turnoff to Whalers Village (yes, there is no apostrophe) smack in the center of Hotel Row. Whalers is the go-to destination for high-end shopping (Coach and Louis Vuitton) along with the requisite scrimshaw. Women’s and men’s apparel, home furnishings, jewelry—you name it, it’s found in these 65 top shelf boutiques. Whalers Village is also home to Leilani’s On The Beach, where it’s hard to tell if the meal trumps the view or vice versa: both Molokai (to the left) and Lanai (to the right) loom in the water plane ahead. The Beachside Grill features pupus (that’s appetizers, folks) and cocktails plus closer-than-a-concert sightings of the likes of Selena Gomez and Justin Beiber in May.

Photo Courtesy of Mama's Fish HouseFifteen minutes further on Highway 30 is the rather benign turnoff for D.T. Flemming’s Beach on the left. The tight road that curls down to the beach and opens up to an official back parking lot at the hem of The Ritz-Carlton.  High up the hill, the luxury hotel 463 rooms large is carved out of a century-old pineapple plantation and extends down the coastline five bays and three white sand beaches. It’s distinguished by dramatic lava peninsulas and the chips at the resort’s Beach House Restaurant.  Every day until 3 p.m. the Beach House serves the world’s best homemade tortilla chips with a side of guacamole and red salsa distinguished by a hint of sweet chili. This cloth napkin venue is no ordinary beach lunch joint. Cloth napkins and a stone wall separate the venue from the common folk surfing on the horizon.

Hightailing it back to the airport at the close of my Maui stay, a must see is Mama’s fish house off the Hana Highway, voted Top Restaurant in the US Value Awards 2010 and the single recommendation I’ve brought with me to the island. Mama’s is a stone’s throw from Haiku—a community, not the eponymous Japanese poetry. And as the story goes, the young Christenson family put down anchor here when sailing across the South Pacific in the 1950s, opening the restaurant a decade later.

Famous for its Old Polynesia fare, the genuine personal touch of Mama’s is not lost on any guest. Even the night’s menu notes the fisherman of the day’s catch—the Lehi caught by Raymond Otsubo and the deep-water Ahi caught by Amando Baula, among others. The Choppino is irresistible at any price. The menu’s turf items are in high demand and the amuse-bouche at the front end of every dinner service is indicative of the personable quality of this place and the wait staff. Where other restaurants or hotel lobbies might smack of a little too much bamboo, Mama’s is authentic. Collected, not decorated, slow paddle fans overhead and rare oriental rugs underfoot give Mama’s a gracious estate sensibility to match the tab.  

I push away from the table too sated to sign up for dessert. Four days 6 pounds heavier, Maui will be remembered in my Trip Tik as a food destination with a little beach on the side.

SOUND BYTES ON MAUI FAQs

Like most ports worldwide, this one was the centerpiece of life. From 1843 to 1860, at the height of the whaling era, Lahaina Town is reported to have attracted more than 400 ships in a single season. Sailors that stayed on for weeks, not just days, spawning a trifecta of troubles for the town: booze, gambling and prostitution. Some 170 years later, the streets are tame by comparison and the whaling influence is limited to humpback whale watching December through May. 

Overall, what the island of Maui lacks in remarkable architecture Lahaina makes up for—the most impressive being the Lahaina Courthouse, constructed on Lahaina’s waterfront in 1859 using materials recovered from King Kamehameha III's palace that had been destroyed by winds the year prior. The foundation of the palace known as Hale Piula are like scars on the lawn separating the restored Courthouse and the infamous birthing rock, a sacred seat at the water’s edge where Hawaiian women of royal lineage would go to give birth. Kamehameha's descendants reigned until 1872, followed by others including Queen Lilioukalani who was overthrown in 1893. One year later, the Republic of Hawaii was formed. The United States annexed Hawaii in 1898 and pronounced it a territory in 1900. Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state in 1959.

Connect with Nancy Clark and WatchBoom on Google+.

Nine years later…do you have a disaster plan?

By Chris Shogren-Thompson

Chris Shogren-Thompson You hear the dispatcher on the other end of the phone line: 9-1-1 Emergency...What is your emergency? Fire, transportation, disease, tornado, severe storms, floods, earthquake, blizzard, ice storm, hurricane, terrorist attack or another disaster?

As the smoke billowed out of the giant towers soaring above the New York cityscape on 9/11, people from around the country watched in disbelief. How could this happen here? How could this happen to us? People were trapped inside the burning buildings. Families struggled to get in touch with their loved ones.

A disaster of monumental proportion was at hand and the nation realized the unexpected could happen anytime and anywhere. The catastrophe was real and could affect anyone. Whether a threat to our health and safety is a natural disaster or as in this case man-made, we run the risk of injury and possible if we don’t have a well-thought out personal and family emergency preparedness plan. 

September marks the seventh annual National Preparedness Month (NPM), sponsored by FEMA’s Ready Campaign and in partnership with Citizen Corps and the Ad Council. The focus is to educate, encourage and empower all Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their homes, businesses and communities.

Emmy-award winning Director Lars Ullberg of Applied Creative Training, produces Public Health emergency training resources to assist and train both professionals and volunteers how to prepare for worst-case scenarios such as bio-terrorist attacks and pandemics. His training credo is clear, “The best way to avoid tragedy after an emergency occurs is to be prepared before it happens. An emergency plan and emergency kit are your best tools for saving yourself and your family.”

These tips are a good starting place for your disaster plan:

  • Families may not be together when disaster strikes. Knowing how to contact one another is essential. Establish a meeting place in your neighborhood, as well as an alternate location.   
  • Put ICE on every phone you own—an In Case of Emergency list of contacts. Include at least one individual out of town as it may be easier to reach loved ones across state lines vs. blocks or miles, depending on the nature of the emergency. Teach every family member to text message as situations arise in which network disruptions inhibit phone calls but allow texting.  Websites such as wikihow and CTIA The Wireless Association offer simple instructions on texting. 
  • Train each family member to establish a safe environment by turning off utilities—water, gas and electricity. Practice using a fire extinguisher. Make sure you have one that is accessible. 

Keep an emergency supply kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Include a three-day supply of water and food, a battery-powered radio, flashlight with extra batteries, first aid kit, whistle, dust masks, moist towelettes, garbage bags, wrench, pliers, can opener, local maps and cell phone with chargers. Also include a waterproof, portable container that can hold medications or important family documents including insurance policies, ID, bank records, wills, credit card info, an inventory of valuable household goods, first aid instructions, photos of each family member and emergency contact information.

For a complete list of additional suggested materials, visit www.America/getakit/index.html.

Chris Shogren-Thompson is a contributing writer to www.watchboom.com.

Sea-chic

By Nancy Clark

Some vacations hold the promise of pampered luxury, overflowing with tempting spa treatments to make you drift away, fuggedaboutit and go numb. It’s a good pill if you can get it. But nothing about that kind of journey infuses you with a challenge. I mean, really, what’s the toughest decision in that scenario? Rocks or crushed ice in your margarita? On the counterbalance, there are the quests that jolt you alive, taking you outside your comfort zone and dropping you smack-dab in the middle of an unforeseen adventure. Come to find out, the farther you go outside your comfort zone, the greater the reward.

Leaving my 80205 comfort zone is how I came to earn 3,765 flight miles round-trip Denver to Maine where I boarded The Heritage (www.schoonerheritage.com), one of 12 ships (seven of which are sea-faring national historic landmarks) in the SailMaineCoast.com fleet, for a 4-day excursion. The Heritage is the newest of the windjammers (built in 1983) by its captains and owners Doug and Linda Lee with pure hospitality in mind. The private rooms (14 doubles, 6 with double bunks, 2 with private heads, and 2 singles) have head-room enough to stand tall, each is equipped with a washbasin, hot and cold running water is standard. Also standard is electric overhead and reading lights plus outlets to charge your cell phone or laptop, and on deck are 3 heads, one converts to a shower room. The 95 foot-long vessel is 24 feet wide and to a landlubber like me, it provided the most important feature: rock-solid stability on water, albeit I admit to proactive packing. The $120 in nausea bracelets, pills and patches remain unopened and unused. Note to self: isn’t that what Craig’s List is for?

 “Who wants the first verse?”

“I’ll take the first verse,” a crewmember echoes back.

And thus it begins, the call to set sail. A round of a cappella-turned-improv bursts forth on deck as the co-captains and crew tee up passengers to help hoist the sails. The Heritage isn’t a replica. No. It’s a next-generation water ride that slides smoothly out of port, past the bouys marking the turf where the lobster wars have gained recent infamy.

Didja know that prisoners in New England rebelled after being fed lobster four nights a week. Early settlers considered the bottom-feeders to be junk and it wasn’t until the prisoners went on a food strike (or some other form of civil disobedience) that the delicacy gained traction with the culture. Greenish-brown in color before boiled to a bright red finish, American lobsters blend right into the deep end of the ocean.

Every sail on The Heritage features a Lobster Night. The Lee’s fill a five-foot-long stainless steel tub crafted especially for this activity with fresh soft shell lobsters. Why the soft shell? Because hungry guests can break them open with their bare hands. And there is no formal dining silver used on Lobster Night; just paper plates, a paper cup of melted butter for bite-size dipping, and paper towels for napkins. The secret sauce? Fresh seaweed snagged from the ocean floor is piled on the tub over the lobsters. As the load of live lobsters nears a boil, the seaweed adds a tangy sea salt, just the kind Julia Child would recommend in her kitchen.

Some vacations you have to make up as you go along. Search for things to do with your days. Reserve in advance for afternoon tours to hip attractions. Not here. From the deck between pages of your book, you can see a moose swimming one island to the other. Or sea otters at play, easy and uncomplicated. This unscripted natural entertainment eclipses manmade attractions any day.

 

Island shopping.

First errand. Layers. I now understand why L.L. Bean features winter-weather gear year-round. This first week of June is a three-blanket night, plus thermal p.j.’s and a jacket. Great themes of literature and life: man against man, man against god, man against nature, man against himself and late of this journey, man against the cold is its own category. It’s time to row-row-row-our-boat ashore where we can poke our heads into the storefronts and invest in a few back-up layers. Four ores to each side, we’re not crew on the Charles River. We move more by spastic lurching. The second day we’re better at it.

By noon each day, the sunscreen is on, the topmost layers off. At night when we’ve dropped anchor, the water’s surface dances with light as if a disco ball has somehow gotten hitched up on the tip of the quarter moon.  Some of the 30 guests tuck under caps; one wears gloves…the open-fingertip kind, while one of the crew decides to go for a dip nd a guest heads out for a solo row, just because.

The Captains Lee are fond of saying, “There is no set schedule. We go where the wind and tide take us.” And yet somehow they manage to make it back to Rockland’s port at precisely the right time to disembark, proving there’s much, much more skill involved than they’re willing to let on.

Who goes there?

More than 60 percent of The Heritage’s passengers are repeat clients. Some have become near family to the Lees, sailing 25+ times over the years and season. They’re the ones who’ve outsmarted the hobby sailboat owners. You know the type: those who regularly spout off that their best days owning a boat were they day they bought it and the day they sold it. Why not just book it and enjoy it once a week?

While the majority of the passengers on this particular run are boomers, there are also Gen X and multi-generational families who find themselves galvanized, not just bonded, because of experience. Whatever it is that inspires you, let it move you outside your home zone and into another where the Sunday morning brunch could be confused for the fare served at one of those five-star resorts complete with Deviled Eggs and homemade caramel rolls sprinkled with pecans. Remarkably, all this fashion fare is cooked in a wood-burning stove in the belly of the ship. Do not set sail with the intention of losing weight, because you won’t. Someone everything tastes better outside, out of the boundaries, out of the box.

Visit www.schoonerheritage.com for details.

 

 

The Architecture of Travel

By Nancy Clark

In the back cover of my Day Timer (I confess I remain dependent upon the old-school calendar rather than the database I’m told exists on my iPhone), I carry a list—“15 Burgers to Try Before You Die.” One of them is in my ‘hood (CityGrille in Denver) and the others stretch across the country from Val’s Burgers in San Francisco to Peter Luger in New York. Besides risking arterial calcification to satisfy my bucket urges, I have other to-do-must-dos—like visiting all the “M” countries (Maldives, Morocco) and Cuba before it undergoes transformation into the next great tourism stop.

Some personal quests are closer to home, so when the chance to spend 48 hours in Chicago surfaced on my radar, I could cross another one off my list. Until signing up for this Baby Boomer publishers’ convention, my exposure to Chicago had been limited to a stretch of psychedelic club-lighting wending along the United concourse at O’Hare. As a cub reporter, I was awed at the societal reverberation of columnists like Mike Royko as he took on Cook County politics in the volatile ‘60s. As a Baby Boomer, I was drawn to the shrine at 435 Michigan Ave.—headquarters of the Chicago Tribune. The 36-story cakelike structure is more French cathedral than Roaring 20s—the winning design by New York architects John Mead Howells and Raymond M. Hood who entered the newspaper’s 75th anniversary competition in 1925 for the “most beautiful and distinctive office building in the world.” The contest got global attention with some 263 entries submitted by architects hailing from 23 countries. Howells and Hood were awarded the $100,000 prize for their neo-gothic style complete with buttresses and incorporating gargoyles representing mankind’s most despicable sins from maliciousness to pomposity—an apt architectural tenant for one of Chicago’s first skyscrapers.

In the city known as the birthplace of the skyscraper, the architecture alone is reason enough to plan a trip here.

It’s the weekend following St. Paddy’s day and the Chicago River has returned to its normal hue having been dyed green only a week earlier for the world-class celebration the heavily Irish put on. (Chicago is also home to the largest Polish population in the country.) I’m ensconced in another skyscraper—the four-star Hyatt Regency Chicago at 151 East Wacker Dr. that runs parallel with the river and the view from my junior suite newly decorated in mid-century modern style (one of 2019 guestrooms) overlooks the Wrigley Building. Called the “Jewel of the Mile,” the Wrigley building was the city’s first air-conditioned skyscraper and is an American adaptation of French Renaissance in the likeness of the Seville Cathedral’s Giralda Tower in Spain and is clad in approximately 250,000 individual glazed terra cotta tiles (while under construction from 1921 – 1924 this ranked as the most extensive use of terra cotta in the world.)

Other not-to-be-missed architecture in Chicago:

The Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, at 1450 feet and 110 stories, it’s the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

The Marquette Building with its trademark “Chicago windows”—large panes of glass flanked by narrow sash windows that open.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s personal home built in Shingle Style, very different than the Prairie Style he pioneered as the father of mid-century architecture.

The Leiter Building II (home to Sears & Roebuck) uses iron supports and steel beams to open interior walls making it possible for masonry buildings to feature larger windows.

Chicago is renowned for having some of the tallest skyscrapers worldwide, in order:

Willis Tower

Trump International Hotel & Tower

Aon Center

John Hancock Center

AT&T Corporate Center

Two Prudential Plaza

311 South Wacker

900 North Michigan

Water Tower Place

Chase Tower

Park Tower

Aqua

The Legacy at Millennium

300 North LaSalle

Three First National Plaza

Chicago Title & Trust

Blue Cross-Blue Shield

One Museum Park

Olympia Centre

330 North Wabash

Elysian

111 South Wacker

181 West Madison

Hyatt Center

One Magnificent Mile

I circle back around to 425 Michigan Ave. and stop in front of the statue of Nathan Hale in front of the Tribune building. Hale was the American Revolutionary soldier hanged by the British as a spy and as history has it, his last words were "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." I regret it took me so long to get here to Chicago.

Connect with Nancy Clark and WatchBoom on Google+.

MOVING LANDMARKS

Story by Nancy Clark

For the most part, National Historic Landmarks are stationary, brick-and-mortar (sometimes wooden) structures across America. But off the coast of Maine, 7 Historic Landmarks set sail each summer season. www.salemainecoast.com features 12 traditional tall ships ranging in size from 46 to 132 feet on deck. Each carries between 6 and 40 guests and 2 – 10 crew members. Departing the ports of Rockland and Camden, the ships sail amidst the 3,000 islands off of Maine and feature single, double and triple cabins, schooner-cooked family style meals and a lobster bake one night on each cruise. Each night the windjammers anchor in a peaceful port or harbor where guests may go ashore and explore. By day, sailors have a chance to take a turn at the wheel, hoist sails, or sit back and relax. It’s a landmark experience. Wear a life vest. Call 800-807-WIND for information.

The ultimate photo shoot on www.sailmainecoast.com

By Nancy Clark

As a passenger aboard the schooner Heritage, I’ll be a participant in a PhotoCruise learning the tricks of the photography trade at the hands of Fred LeBlanc whos work has been published on calendars, postcards, posters and most recently as a book entitled “Windjammers Downcast” published by WoodenBoat Books of Brooklin, Maine. Evening presentations include LeBlanc’s “A Field Guide to Maritime Photography,” “Post-Production workflow using Adobe Lightroom,” “The Creative Digital Darkroom using Nik software,” and “The Art of Black & White in a Digital World.”

www.Sailmainecoast.com offers two sailing trips this coming season with Fred LeBlanc on board: June 8 – 12 and Aug. 23 – 28. The cost is only $75 per attendee for the course. The sale runs $675 and $875 for the two sessions, respectively.

For information on the fleet and sailing dates, contact www.sailmainecoast.com.

Connect with Nancy Clark and WatchBoom on Google+.

GENERATION YES

By Nancy Clark

In a handful of hours, the close circle friends and family of Paul C. Nikitovich will gather to celebrate his 85th birthday. The chic suburb of Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, is where Nikitovich and his late wife Gigi raised their four children for more than three decades. They got to the Mile High City by way of New York and the East Coast where Paul earned his degrees from Rutgers and Harvard Business School and was recruited by the powerhouse insulation manufacturer Johns Manville to come west to Colorado where the firm relocated its headquarters in 1972.

Never in Paul’s wildest imagination did he think that he would host Andre Ambiehl, son of Pierre Ambiehl, in his home in Colorado, let alone as the guest for his 85th birthday fete. Not once in all these years did that thought cross Paul’s mind. The truth of the matter is that Paul had left behind his youth that day at the Belgrade port. Since then he’d been driven by purpose, grateful to have made it through the war alive. An estimated 62 million hadn’t been so lucky. He and Gigi had crafted a life on their shared dream of a better future elsewhere—far from Serbia or France, Gigi’s native homeland and the site of the famous Sorbonne where Paul earned his doctorate of law following V Day.

There was just one hitch in Paul’s plan to come to America. He didn’t speak English yet. He spoke fluent Serbian, of course. He spoke French too (the reason he’d forever be remembered as a hero). He’d picked up German and Russian while in the service and later Spanish and Portugese. It didn’t take Nikitovich long to pick up the language. He has an ear for it, like his grandson Nikola who traveled to France with his grandfather for an official commendation last year.

This particular morning in March 2010, Paul is still relaxing in his pajamas and robe when the phone starts ringing with birthday wishes from his daughter in Hamburg, Germany. His children are as intercontinental as their parents were, scattered across the globe. Frenchman Andre Ambiehl and his wife are in the next room studying their itinerary for the balance of their stay in America which ends all too soon.

Andre, a boss at a Peugeot factory in France, had asked a favor of a former Serbian employee: would he please place an ad in the Belgrade news seeking the whereabouts of that Serbian soldier who had saved his father’s life six-plus decades earlier. Andre figured that the soldier might still be alive and the natural place to start the hunt was in Serbia. Andre forwarded a photo of his father Pierre on the day of his release, four bedraggled soldiers smiling broadly having just been released from the POW camp in Belgrade. It was a photo Pierre had kept on the fireplace mantel as young Andre grew up. Pierre had shared the story of his rescue with his children numerable times over the years. At the least, Andre thought, the likelihood existed that someone might recognize the soldier in the photo and know where to find him.

Andre’s hunch proved out. A story in Novosti, the Belgrade newspaper captured the editor’s interest and he Googled Paul Nikitovich. The name came up showing a Paul Nikitovich in Colorado. The editor called Nikitovich to ask if he had been in Belgrade in 1944 and if he spoke French. Nikitovich’s answers were, “Yes,” and “Yes.” The rush of emotion that day was unlike any other experience Nikitovich can remember. The incidence was as fresh as today’s news in Nikitovich’s memory. He tells it this way:

“When the Russians came to Belgrade, Tito was with them. He wanted a role. Grand Marshall Tito wanted an army to give himself importance, so he drafted all the young guys in Belgrade and I was among them. They gave us uniforms and handed each a Kalashnikov. We had no military training. They put me and another nine guys on patrol on the River Danube, a very active port.

“They said, you guys sleep in the bunker and walk up and down the quay. Be present. So that’s what we did. We would walk up and down. The Russians across the way held 1,000 German prisoners at that port and I saw the cruelties. I would watch as the Russians would finish their bottle of vodka and they’d send a German prisoner out on the plank. When he came to the middle, one of the Russians would shoot him. Then they’d shout ‘Bravo! You’re a good shot!’ The German would fall into the river…dead.

“One day I saw three trucks with new prisoners pull up. You could tell they were new because their uniforms were still fresh. They unloaded the new prisoners and reloaded the same truck with old prisoners. I asked a guard, “Are they being freed?” The Russian guard laughed and said, ‘They’re being sent to the firing squad. The orders are they want no German prisoners alive.’

“I had became friendly with a Russian officer, Vanya. He was in charge of discipline. We exchanged names. One day, Vanya said to me, “If you were Russian, your name would be Pavel and if someone liked you they’d call you Pavlusha.’ He would always call me Pavlusha when he saw me.

“One day a prisoner approached me and told me that he had the impression that I might understand his language…French. I did. In French, he told me that he and three other Frenchmen were being held prisoner and that their numbers were up to be taken away and shot the next day. No one had names in the camp; they were known as numbers. He begged me to help so I went to Vanya and told him that four of the prisoners were French, not German and I asked if he could release them. ‘They are French, they are with us, not against us,’ I told him. Vanya said he did not have that kind of power and besides since they were wearing German uniforms they must have been shooting at us, at the Russians. I asked Vanya if he could keep them in the camp for four extra days and Vanya agreed that he could do that…he had that power. He asked for their numbers and I gave them to him. I asked for Vanya’s promise about the 4 days and he gave it to me. We shook hands on it.

“The camp was surrounded by a barricade, a fence. I went a great distance from the entrance and found a place in the fence on the perimeter that I could lift up and squeeze through. I started walking to the French Embassy in Belgrade, looking back behind me to check if I was being followed. When I got to the embassy, I asked to speak to the ambassador. The guard said there was no ambassador yet, only a military delegation sent by General de Gaulle. I asked to speak to the chief. A colonel came down and I told him the story and told him the men would be shot tomorrow. I didn’t want to let the colonel know of the extra four days. The colonel said he’d ‘rush this.’

“I walked back to the camp and I went to my bunker. The next morning I was told, ‘There are people waiting for you at the main gate.’ I went to the main entrance and just outside the gate there were the four prisoners and two French officers waiting. They were waving papers in their fists, hollering that they were free! One of the officers asked, ‘Will you please let me take a picture?’ It’s the picture that Pierre kept on his mantel all these years. It’s how Andre found me.”

The young man at the center of the photo is the only one of the five wearing a cap. It’s Nikitovich in the leather jacket, belted at the waist. Nikitovich couldn’t be more than 19 years old, but resembles Clark Gable with his thick dark hair and moustache. The other four, the ex-prisoners of war, appear to be about the same age. They’d come thisclose to the end, but now they were going home to loved ones and families.

Today, Belgrade is ranked among the “Top 5 best travel secrets in the world” by www.lonelyplanet.com. Known as Yugoslavia until 1992, Serbian architecture is a juxtaposition of centuries-old ostentatious buildings and soviet concrete blocks.

A convention of Boomers confabs in Chi-Town

a note from the publisher, Nancy Clark

Tom Brokaw concluded his TV Special “What’s Next For Baby Boomers?” with a sanguine observation that Boomers believe the “world is best served by their ideas and their contributions…and they continue to debate which ideas and contributions are best.”

Not exactly what you’d call a medical diagnosis of a generation’s impact; but a notable observation, in part because of the stature of the journalist making the observation.

Four years ago, the business plan for  www.WatchBoom.com was conceived. Only limited magazines focused on this audience, some 79.5 million strong in the U.S. alone. Originally, the plan for www.WatchBoom.com was as a printed medium, with an Internet backup. When the economy went south, the plan to launch that expensive venture was shelved. The Internet was here to stay. And grow. If www.WatchBoom.com  was to enjoy the impact that was its potential, then the focus had to be on the web.

Other online publishers had the same notion. Lots of them.

In mid-March there’s an entire convention of Boomer publishers and Boomer-directed services that will convene at the Hyatt on Wacker Drive. Entitled “What’s Next: Boomer Business Summit” the sheer proposition that this generation of doers and thinkers would convene to network says something big about the intrinsic purpose in a generation of change-makers.

WatchBoom.com will be in attendance. And you, dear readers, will be the first to be informed on the take-away value of the first generational gathering since, well, Woodstock. Like Woodstock, there’s sure to be some futures launched out of this brain trust.

Don’t you fret, Tom, at your supposition that Boomers are an “unrealized” generation.  Out of respect for our elders, we’ll let you hang your hat on that comment while we go out there and do even more.

You want them to be HOW big?

By Gregory A. Buford, MD FACS

Gregory A. Buford, MD FACS When I was asked last year to describe the Before Baby Body makeover, the economy was slowly heading into a deep recession. At that time, many were noticing a drooping of the economy (so to speak) but the proverbial stuff hadn’t yet hit the fan. And then it did. And when it did, a majority of Plastic Surgeons noticed a steep drop-off in the number of patients asking for comprehensive makeovers worried more about losing their homes than losing their lovehandles.  In my practice, the makeover patient soon became replaced by the breast augmentation and BOTOX Cosmetic patient and I noticed a substantial shift in not only the number of surgeries and procedures I was performing but also in the type. Shorter surgeries and less invasive procedures became the norm nationwide and the Before Baby Body Makoever became less sought after.  In essence, there was a national reshuffling of priorities and suddenly a lax abdominal wall and drooping breasts didn’t seem such an emergency as they did the year before. 

But now the economy is showing signs of improvement. And with it, the protective cocoons that many of us walled ourselves in for over the last six months are slowly being taken down and the Before Baby Body is slowly gaining ground once again. And along with this desire for transformation, the makeover seemingly has been transformed itself, as well. Several of the less invasive procedures such as BOTOX Cosmetic, fractional laser resurfacing, facial fillers, and medical skin care are now being requested along with traditional body contouring and breast enhancement combinations. A changing appetite for less invasive rejuvenation has now been effectively blended with surgery to create an even more dynamic and more effective approach to whole body rejuvenation. 

And so Before Baby Body Makeovers have been changed forever…but this is a good change and one that will no doubt bring even greater satisfaction to our patients. 

“So Doc, what would you do?”

I am continually asked this open-ended, carte blanche question by Baby Boomer female patients. Looking to refresh themselves, most are unsure of exactly what they want. Yet, they know they can look better and they’re willing to pay for it. Many of these patients had kids and were left with breasts that somehow didn’t make it through pregnancy without a little droop and shift in volume. Many were also left with tummies that just don’t look the same in that two piece bikini and with that big vacation coming up, they simply need to optimize. Others look in the mirror and don’t recognize the face staring back at them. While they may be happy inside, their folds and hollows suggest otherwise.

So where do you start? As a plastic surgeon, my job is not only to accomplish great results but also to figure out what results these patients are actually looking for. So many times, my role is less surgeon than mind-reader, sculptor and counselor. Most are looking for something that has been lost along the way, but want to do so in a way that will not make them feel uncomfortable or altered. They are vocal about wanting to achieve results that none of their friends can detect, but when it comes right down to it, even the most conservative client actually doesn’t want upgrades that aren’t noticeable. They want a result that looks natural. They want that handbag that no one else has and they darn well want to show it off to everyone. Generally they do too.

My epiphany when I began practicing Plastic Surgery was the fact that I wasn’t the only one to view my patients’ results full scale. Their friends were privy to every nip and tuck as well, and these unveilings were literally being performed with bravado at cocktail parties and other public gatherings. It was then, when I realized that every post-op patient exiting from my door was literally a walking billboard advertisement of my results—displaying a clear and stated message of what I as the surgeon thought was a good result. I had to take a hard look at the message I wanted to send out into the local community about my idea of rejuvenation. Achieving more optimal form was simply not going to cut it; I needed a branded look and feel that would meet my patients’ needs and, at the same time, showcase and define my abilities.

When I meet a patient for the first time, the initial consultation covers multiple levels. My first goal is to listen to what this person says they want. My next is to figure out what it is they really want. The second part is not always easy.

Breast enhancement is usually the trickiest. Everyone one of my clients says she doesn’t want her breasts to look like she’s had anything done. Yet the size of the implants most women choose are anything but conservative. It doesn’t matter which age, background, character the patient is…all of them seemingly want to go bigger after surgery. The biggest challenge I have as a surgeon is to address my patient’s needs while staying true to my own. Choosing too big an implant, no matter what the patient says, sends a clear and simple message to all of her community of friends that Dr. Buford likes big breasts and wants all of his patients to have big breasts. That is simply not the case.

Breast enhancement is easily one of the most powerful ways to transform the look of a woman’s body. Too small an implant and the breasts are lost and out of proportion with the hips and buttocks; too big and they become the single object of focus when she walks into the room. Done correctly, they can transform her torso and achieve proportion in even the most demanding of fashions. The right size can slim a figure and restore proportion to the entire body. And it doesn’t stop there.

No other procedure has such a dramatic effect on a woman’s confidence as breast enhancement. Plastic Surgeons often remark that this seemingly simple endeavor always results in a tan. And it generally does. My patients can’t wait for that next sunny vacation when they can unveil the proverbial goods and show the rest of the world that they are back in the game, taking no prisoners. If you think enhancement is simply for the vain, cowardly, and weak of spirit, think again. It was only after I performed breast augmentation on a minister’s wife that I realized this seemingly simple procedure had hit the mainstream. The end goal was not about bigger breasts; it was about gaining back something that was lost and doing so with bravado and acceptance that clothing was never going to fit the same way again…in a good way!

Another area of focus is the face. While I no longer do face lifts or noses, in the last few years my patient population interested in minimally invasive facial rejuvenation has absolutely exploded. Many are looking to wipe away wrinkles from that last bad relationship or facial damage from a few too many jaunts to Miami Beach without sun block but they want to do it without looking “done”. In this area, less is more and more can be catastrophic. While most women would choose a larger cup size, few are so cavalier about results of their fillers, injectables or resurfacing. The face is an entirely different animal and must be treated as so. Results in this area must be more subtle and blended to look as if nothing was done…yet at the same time should illuminate a specific feature that was previously hidden or softened by time.

I like cheeks. Cheeks are the bridge between the eyes and the jawline. And while the eyes are the window to the soul, cheeks are the means to view them. By adding just the right volume to the cheeks, the eyes become more properly framed and the entire rest of the face softened. One procedure I use, which I coined Deep Cheek Volumization, restores volume to the cheeks and, in turn, emphasizes the cheek hollows below while softening and smoothing transition to the eyes above. And I can achieve these results in less than an hour with minimal bruising and swelling.

Over the years as I have grown from trainee to trainer, I have gained knowledge not only about Plastic Surgery but more importantly about the way in which we all think. What we say we want is not always what we want and so proper questions must be asked to elucidate what endpoint we are striving to achieve. Over time, I have become more adept at asking the right questions and thus rewarded with the right answers. The perfect result is always there…it must simply be discovered.

Visit Dr. Gregory Buford at www.beautybybuford.com.

Maine Coast adventure begins with a DVD of what to wear, what to expect

By Nancy Clark

Photo Courtesy of Sail Main Coast, photo by Fred LeBlanc

Moby Dick. Robinson Crusoe. The Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. Pirates of the Caribbean. And don’t forget Captain Hook. There, I’ve spilled everything I know about seafaring ways and days. It’s mostly drawn from literature—some of the finest man vs. nature stories on earth; the one from a genius mind of the protégées of a man named Disney. Four months from now I will board the Schooner Heritage for a five day sail of the Maine Coast. And my limited five-star, five-diamond travel experiences have me focused on what to wear and where is the head.

www.sailmaincoast.com is a fleet of windjammers that rule the seas along the coast of Maine running each Memorial Day through to the crisp early days of October. Which brings me to my concern over what to wear. This is no bikini getaway. Nosireebob. This is a layered adventure, at least according to the brochure (which by the way looks cleverly like a pirate’s treasure map) the temps are routinely 10 degrees lower on water than on land. The days can be chilly and damp. Bring along an extra pair of slacks and dry shoes, the brochure recommends. Yee gads. I’m going to need rubber soled shoes, and that doesn’t mean flip-flops. I need the kind of footwear that keep me from going overboard in a swale. See, I’m learning already.

I’m ruminating about my ancestors. The Norwegian ones, the family of eight, who packed all of their possessions into a single trunk and left Bergen, Norway for America. They no-doubt lacked rubber soled shoes. Layers were likely a way of living in their homeland as well as on their journey to a new life. I think a rubber raincoat is in order, one with a hood like the equestrian gear out of the J. Peterman catalog that arrives in my mail every so often.

I had one once. A raincoat like that. As a college student on the East Coast it was nearly imperative in both fall and spring. Between graduation and now, so many decades later, it’s been given over to an Ann who telephoned from A.R.C. or lost after so many years of non-use in Colorado’s dry climate. Who knows where it’s gone; but it’s gone and I need a replacement. Ankle-length could transit into my life after the high seas experience…maybe that’s what I’ll get.

Check back next month for more on www.SailMaineCoast.com

Plan an adventure with www.sailmainecoast.com. Or call 800-807-WIND.

Connect with Nancy Clark and WatchBoom on Google+.

Beauty and the Best of Us

By Nancy Clark

Imagine the palm trees swaying above, the breeze off of the ocean just cool enough that sunbathers drift off to sleep in between sips from an umbrella drink. Imagine the rush of the waves, the sand underfoot. Imagine.

Debra can only imagine that scenario. Her trip to Latin America was nothing like that. Hers was a combo of a little nip here, a little tuck there…a surgical getaway.

Medical tourism is a new concept in both hospitality and medicine. Born after Y2K, the concept has been popularized in the half decade since Debra elected to have her eyelid surgery (called a blepharoplasty) plus a neck lift in San Juan.

If anyone could find the right plastic surgeon in the States or anywhere else, it would likely have been Debra. She’s a Registered Nurse and a graduate of University of Texas. As it turns out, that’s the same University where her Costa Rican surgeon trained, a comforting thought to Debra who had vetted plenty of hospitals and surgeons online for months. Online, even six years ago, Debra and other prospective candidates for plastic surgery could check out photos of the foreign hospitals and surgeons’ offices where they would be treated. Bios of the surgeons were posted along with a formal curriculum vitae for each of the four surgeons in the practice Debra had determined was a fit for her.

At 50, Debra was feeling the effects of aging. Her eyelids were heavier than they used to be, her neck not as taut. The fact that she’d been in medicine for her entire career, including a stint in research medicine, gave her a sound appreciation of the near-miraculous outcomes possible with cosmetic surgery these days.

Another bonus was cost. She was living in Boston in 2004 and the cost of living wasn’t cheap. She’d had consults with plastic surgeons in Massachusetts and the average cost of the neck lift alone was $7,500. Eyelid surgery doubled the tab for the rejuvenating surgeries she’d decided could benefit her most.

Alternatively, the cost of her surgery in Latin America plus one night in the hospital and a 10-day stay in a lush 10-room resort that specialized in hospitality for recovering surgical patients was only $3500. And that included the plane fare.

The doctor’s office and Debra exchanged a few emails in between her scheduling her surgery and her arrival in the country, among them a list from the surgeon of the things Debra shouldn’t ingest prior to surgery: vitamin supplements, certain meds, no aspirin because it can cause bleeding.

Debra traveled alone to San Juan. A driver from the hotel picked her up at the airport and took her directly to meet with the surgeon. Her surgery was scheduled for the very next day. A driver transported her to the hospital.

“The hospital was first class,” says Debra. She met with the anesthesiologist and in short order was prepped for surgery. She woke up in recovery hours later and remembers, even though she was still hazy, hearing the surgeon tell her she’d had “some problems.” She was bleeding profusely and she had two Penrose drains inserted in her neck, instead of the Jackson Pratt-type drain she would have expected, even in her present drug-induced blur. The Penrose drain, explains Debra, is rubber tubing inserted in the surgical area that allows drainage naturally. A Jackson Pratt drain would have been a tiny tube inserted into her neck connected to a bulb that could be manipulated manually to drain the area, optimum by all means.

Debra had her first panic attack in the hospital recovery room. Her neck had swollen so badly that she felt she couldn’t breathe. She spent the night in the hospital and the next morning the driver arrived to return Debra to the hotel. Over the next 9 days, the surgeon made house calls two or three more times to Debra’s hotel room. “The resort was excellent really, serving soft meals and helping me take showers,” says Debra.

A huge hematoma had developed on the right side of her neck and the surgeon took Debra to his office to try to drain it with a needle. He was unsuccessful.

Two days later Debra was on a flight headed back to Boston and it wasn’t really until then that she realized how much of the process she hadn’t thought out. “I wasn’t supposed to carry anything of any weight at all,” says Debra. “So I had to have a woman help me get my suitcase off of the carousel.”

She’d been home two days recuperating when her husband remarked that he noticed blood on her neck. Debra knew that triage in this situation meant expressing the blood and infection from the hematoma so she did. But she wasn’t prepared for the volume of blood released into the bathroom sink. She weeps a little now, even six years later, recalling that horrific moment.

She’d accidently opened up a new path to her surgical wound and her husband took Debra directly to the nearest emergency room where a plastic surgeon treated her. “He saw me as an out-patient, and his diagnosis was that it wasn’t a good idea to close up the wound just yet,” Debra remembers. “It didn’t occur to me until that very moment that no surgeon in the U.S. would want to be responsible for my after-care when they hadn’t performed the surgery in the first place.”

As the swelling went down, Debra began to notice little black silk dots underneath the lines in her neck where the neck lift surgery had been performed. She pulled them out with tweezers as did her Boston surgeon when she went back to him for follow-up care. Turns out the sutures used in her surgery were non-absorbable, not the recommended kind used in the U.S.

It wasn’t a surprise then when Debra noticed that her neck really wasn’t tightened or lifted. She had scars behind her ears and now a scar where the hematoma had been. “Anyone can get a hematoma,” she admits. “It can result in nerve damage. I think back on it and I wonder why the surgeon in Costa Rica didn’t take me back to the emergency room to drain the hematoma. After my surgery, my hematocrit (blood count) was down to 22. A normal level would be 32 and 24 is around the point where you get a blood transfusion. The doctor didn’t offer a transfusion, and I wouldn’t have wanted one. He did however prescribe iron tablets when I complained that I was exhausted just walking across my room.”

“I guess you get what you pay for in anything,” she adds.

Six years later, Debra had relocated to Denver. The move was a fresh start in a lot of ways. Debra renewed began research to find a plastic surgeon to perform a revision neck lift surgery. She just “wanted it done right.” She took her time to find Dr. Jeffrey Raval, a double board certified head and neck surgeon practicing in Cherry Creek North. “I saw him in his office every day for the first three days following the surgery and I’ve seen him weekly in his office ever since the surgery. I haven’t had the same sort of experience at all that I had the first time. I never had problems breathing. The skin on my neck is tight like it should be. And just knowing I can get a hold of Dr. Raval if I need him is comforting.”

Debra recently got word that an acquaintance of hers is planning to undergo liposuction in Latin America. Debra’s recommendation: “think it through…think all the way through.”

Connect with Nancy Clark and WatchBoom on Google+.

I’ll be the sandwich. Hold the mayo (I’m cutting calories)

a note from the publisher, Nancy Clark

Nancy ClarkI had the luxury of taking my folks with me for an overnight at The Broadmoor recently. When it comes to luxury, there’s no way to beat The Broadmoor’s five-star, five diamond status. But there was another luxury involved: that both of my parents are still living and able to take this little journey together.

We’ve spent 57 years together, my parents and me, and over that time we’ve learned where each other’s buttons are and how to push them. Some things never change and while the buttons are still on the remote, the pushing has subsided. We channel surf less; we actually agree on some things. I find myself saying things like my dad coined, or so I thought. Turns out every dad I knew had nearly the same repertoire.

I remember back to my first family trip to The Broadmoor for a convention. I was 12 and the oldest of four girls arriving for the first time with our parents. The ceilings and chandeliers captivated my attention. The doormen reminded me of a book I’d read from the library, “Eloise at the Plaza.” The grand meals with rows of forks and knives and real linen napkins that kept spilling to the floor were an introduction really to the possibility life held.

So being possible, we went back once more. I was the sandwich. Being the sandwich, even if only for 24 hours, is a chance to fast forward and at the same time rewind and replay. It’s like having total control over the remote.

In this month’s issue of www.watchBOOM.com, we’d like to invite you to have control of the remote. We welcome your feedback, your praise and your insults. Really. We mean that. How else are we going to improve?! Write to us. Blog with us. And watch for us monthly at www.watchBOOM.com.

Just Do It…Over

a note from the Publisher, Nancy Clark

When Boomers were toddlers, no one wore ponies on our T-shirt. We didn’t announce our politics, religion, or membership on our chests. Call it mystery; others had to engage us in a conversation to know where we stood on issues, because our clothing was not a sign.

Then along came LaCoste. That little alligator rewrote the fashion industry. Suddenly, others could assess the price you paid for your golf shirt by the embroidery on it. LaCoste wasn’t over-the-top expensive, but it wasn’t cheap either. Teens and college students were proud to be identified with the reptile.

Next it was Members Only jackets. Lightweight windbreakers with epaulets with a telltale label that spelled out “Members Only” on the chest pocket.

From there, a marketing medium was born: wearables.

Suddenly, an entire generation and their kids willingly sported logos (an ‘80s word by my definition) and identified with slogans like “Just Do It.” Some were motivational. Others had shock factor.

Like decades of bad hair styles (that was the ‘80s too, wasn’t it?), bad fashion statements have plagued us since. Some define class systems: polo ponies suggested upper income derivation, for one.

Then along came Outlet Stores, supplying consumers with the same logos and wearables for less. Your logo no longer necessarily added up to your knit worth.

If I could have a do over, it would be to forego the signs I’ve willingly worn on my back, chest, sleeve and elsewhere. I’d never have purchased the sweatpants with PINK emblazoned on the rear end because they truly made me look like an a*#. I’d have left the turtlenecks with “Lauren” on them to women and girls named Lauren (and I wouldn’t have replaced them with shirts that said “Nancy” either.)

January is an ideal time to do over almost anything, start fresh, keep track of the improvements in your life, your loves, and even your checking account. This year, let’s talk more, share more, put down our signs and draw out each other in conversation. Just try it.

Muhammad Ali … from Paladin, to Pariah, to Pitchman

By Brent Green, author, Marketing to Leading-Edge Baby Boomers

Cassius Clay was Superman. The poetic pugilist stood for everything a young Boomer male wanted to become: self-confident, physically powerful, intelligent, fearless, wealthy, and famous—a 20th century gladiator.

He was also a black man, which communicated volumes to teenagers wanting to see the promise of Civil Rights fully manifested with the installation of African American heroes in the mythology of the growing counterculture. He represented the best and brightest of a new breed of trans-racial heroes beginning to emerge in sports, business, cinematic arts, and politics.

Muhammad Ali, his adopted Muslim name, was black and belligerent; black and beneficent; black and bold. He quickly became one of the most recognized and admired athletes worldwide, a fact that eventually became enshrined forever with his installation as the Sportsman of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated magazine in December 1999.

Born January 17, 1942, Cassius Marcellus Clay won the gold medal in the light heavyweight division of the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Italy. He soon captured media attention with his smooth-talking self-confidence and wit. In his own self-assessment: “Cassius Clay is a boxer who can throw the jive better than anybody.”

He helped catapult boxing to the forefront of spectator sporting events when he fought Sonny Liston in Miami for the world heavyweight boxing title. While promoting this match, he coined his famous rhythmic chant, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” At the age of 22, he became the pretty prince of boxing.

During this time of rampant racism, and having been inspired by bellicose black activist Malcolm X, he decided to join the Nation of Islam and adopt the name Muhammad Ali, which in Muslim means “beloved of Allah.” Cassius Clay became a Black Muslim in 1963, and he also became a symbol of all that tradition-bound America was beginning to fear and hate: Black Muslims, Black Power, and Black Panthers. In so doing, he turned his back on mainstream America by rejecting the “slave name” upon which rested his early fame.

Defying the white establishment, this once powerful symbol of Olympic triumph and The American Dream picked up another burning torch that inspired the downtrodden, disfranchised, and dispossessed worldwide. Ali was, as Eldridge Cleaver observed, “the black Fidel Castro of boxing.”

In 1967, he refused the draft on religious grounds, and the World Boxing Federation stripped him of his title and boxing license. The U.S. government charged him for violating the Selective Service Act. He told the media, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet-Cong. No Viet-Cong ever called me nigger.”

In spite of his moral and religious objections, the get-Cassius faction across America condemned him as a traitor, and the courts sentenced him to five years in prison. Quickly released on appeal, his conviction was overturned in 1970.

It is not without irony that Muhammad Ali became a favored celebrity pitchman during the early 21st century, plugging products for America’s mainstream, blue-chip brands.

In the Super Bowl XXXVIII, aired on February 1, 2004, for example, Ali appeared as himself in television commercials not once, but three times, for IBM, Gillette, and as part of a CBS Network promotion to encourage Americans to vote. Around that same time, he also appeared in advertising campaigns for Apple Computer and Coca-Cola. Adidas athletic shoes hired him as spokesman to help solidify its new message in a print, television, and Internet advertising campaign dedicated to the theme, “Impossible is nothing.”

David Schwab, director for marketing and media at the office in McLean, Virginia, of Octagon, a sports agency owned by the Interpublic Group of Companies, observed that Muhammad Ali could not be thought of as just a celebrity. “He’s an iconic brand. He himself is an IBM or Gillette.”

The IBM campaign was particularly noteworthy for its adoption of impressions about Ali most fondly remembered, while unselfconsciously skirting the potential issues raised by Ali’s civil disobedience and alignment with revolutionary factions during the sixties.

In this television commercial, Ali is sitting next to a boy who is characteristically quixotic and curious about the world. The boy represents IBM’s open source computer operating system called Linux, an “underdog, upstart software technology.”

Ali plaintively declares to the boy, “Shake things up,” hearkening back to the time when the great fighter rattled the boxing world while shaking up the Moral Majority’s deeply held beliefs in the duty of all citizens to support unflinchingly their government during times of war. Ali, the African American, gave added poignancy to this message with his advice, delivered affectionately to an innocent Caucasian boy.

Icons are eternal, often no matter their flaws and foibles, and even in spite of the ravages of debilitating conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, which frequently put the champ on the canvas.

But those who Boomers once loved, and sometimes loved to hate, have changed the texture of modern marketing communications. Those who wrote history rise above the mundane and banality. When timeless icons such as Ali are used with intelligence and respect, yesterday’s heroes become today’s goodwill ambassadors.

Through this process, advertisers also connect powerfully to Boomers’ coming-of-age zeitgeist, adding force and personification to a brand. Even nefarious image residuals from the sixties—such as in Ali’s situation—can boost a brand, making it appear more iconoclastic, individualistic, and unconventional—a valuable position in a world of parity products and services. The “road less traveled” remains today a mythic Western value that continues to define the American experience; the celebrity man or woman who has taken that road, equally so.

With a unique combination of skill, style and character, “The Greatest” became a three-time heavyweight champion and the world’s most acclaimed athlete. He became a symbol of conquest, and he became the object of racial derision.

But this superstar athlete and defiant radical transformed into something more. Through the magic of modern branding, he rose again as a powerful symbol of achievement in the face of adversity. That’s also why he became the go-to retired athlete for companies revitalizing brand images of courage, character, and charisma.

Ali’s career was, in the end, ironic and iconic.

Biography:

Brent GreenAuthor of Marketing to Leading-Edge Baby Boomers: Perceptions, Principles, Practices, Predictions (Paramount Market Publishing, March 2006), Brent Green speaks at national conferences and symposia on the mature market segment and the coming unprecedented reorientation of American business to an aging population. He also provides expert commentary for news media such as The Los Angeles Times, US News & World Report, CNN Headline News, Business Week and The Wall Street Journal.

Established in 1986, Brent Green & Associates, Inc. develops integrated marketing communication programs for a diverse list of clients, with emphasis on direct response media, integrated promotions and marketing public relations. The firm has received over 50 regional, national and international awards for creative and strategic excellence, including the Direct Marketing Association’s International Gold ECHO Award. In 2000, The Rocky Mountain Direct Marketing Association selected Brent as Direct Marketer of the Year.

Brent has served in a leadership capacity with many professional and public service organizations, including as board chair of the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau and as programming chair for both the Business Marketing Association and the Rocky Mountain Direct Marketing Association. He is executive director of the Foundation for American Boomers.

Estrella del Mar: Stone’s Throw

By Nancy Clark

Halfway through the Denver-to-Mazatlan flight, you become saturated with anticipation. The winter-wear you left Denver bundled in comfortably to fend off below-freezing weather is suddenly constricting. You order “una cerveza, por favor” just because. And a few sips into it you begin to notice a rhythmic lapping. That’s not the cola on ice the guy next to you has poised on his seat tray. It’s the ocean motion in your memory. It’s all coming back to you…just like riding a bike, they say

There’s nothing like disembarking an aircraft and then having to queue up for a 2-hour bus ride to your reward: the beach. In truth, nothing resembles that in the minimal quarter hour distance between Mazatlan’s airport and Estrella del Mar. It’s almost too easy.

Arrival at the master-planned Estrella del Mar Golf & Beach Resort is like, well, it is supposed to be. A nano-second from the airport to sunscreen. If you thought looking good was half the battle in life; being close-in is even better.

Situated on Isla de la Piedra (Stone Island), the 816-acres-large Estrella del Mar is nestled into a perfect peninsula. With a nearly prescient wave of the hand, the guard at the gate flags you and your grin on through security and you slather on the SPF 30 as you wind past the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed championship golf course, inhaling the sea-level air with purpose. You have business to do here and that objective is largely about recovering your vacation self. Remember him? Remember her?

J. Patrick Butler knows exactly how you feel. In part, because he’s a visionary. When Butler’s Club Acquistion Company (CAC) and Paladin Realty bought into Estrella del Mar in 2004, it marked his second venture into Mexican resort development. In May of 1994, CAC had acquired a 35,000,-acre retirement and vacation property known as El Dorado Ranch just north of San Felipe, a small coastal fishing village on the Sea of Cortez, in Baja California Norte, Mexico. That move proved to be a sound investment for snowbirds retreating from Colorado and popular markets of Arizona and California.

Endless beaches, some 3.5 miles of beachfront in total, were far more appealing to Butler and to the droves of visitors who easily find their way to Estrella del Mar’s oceanfront hotel that boasts amenities like tennis courts and an 8,000 square-foot clubhouse, the domain of the free-at-last vacationing businessman and woman. For those who yearn to get back to nature, the turtle preserve does wonders for grown-ups and children alike.

Best yet, the country-club lifestyle of Estrella del Mar affords the wanna-stays the opportunity to buy into permanent residence. Eight hundred condos and 1,200 homes are incorporated into the overall master plan totaling 45 acres worth $500 million in sales in lot value only, not including the price of the individual homes.

Despite the global downturn in the economy, Estrella del Mar continues to enjoy the attention of buyers who are recession-proof. New projects in 2009 include progress on the 3rd phase of the condominium complex and enlargement of the Hotel Las Villas. The 47-room addition to the hotel including a restaurant, spa, gym, business center, library and special events center is 90% done projected to open this May. And work continues on the La Lagunita Condos with the delivery of 40 new Phase III units in February. Estrella del Mar has spent almost 2 million dollars on the project’s own water purification Plus, negotiations are under way to sign up an international brand hotel to be built on site.

The 11-year-old Estrella del Mar Turtle Sanctuary is symbolic of the progress. Created with the single goal of protecting and conserving the sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea species), the project is eons more sophisticated than other sanctuaries dotting the coastline. Every summer without fail, the Olive Sea Turtles return to their native beaches from hundreds of miles away to lay their eggs. Serious about protecting this endangered species, Estrella del Mar affords residents and guests the opportunity to view the creatures up-close-and-personal in an architecturally stunning viewing center adjacent to the turtle boardwalk, beachfront set aside for the newborns to make their way back to the ocean—the cycle of life repeats.

Somehow just observing this prehistoric ritual is enough to make you silence your cell phone for the duration. Everything you need to connect with is suddenly within touching distance. The people you care most about are enjoying the same sense of retreat from the ordinary that you are…removed from your daily grind, absent emails (albeit they will reach you here if you want). The only thing that matters from this vantage point is what’s within reach…the best-seller you’ve been meaning to read, the fact that you don’t have to dash anywhere, the conversation with your spouse about nothing and never about the repairs waiting for you back at home. The repairs can wait. The SPF 30 can’t.

For information on Estrella del Mar, contact Ralph Destito 303 731 2629.

Connect with Nancy Clark and WatchBoom on Google+.

 

Subscribe





 

VISIONS OF SAND IN THEIR HEADS

By Nancy Clark

In my 30-plus years of dabbling in real estate, I have had Realtors encourage me to proceed with a deal even when we both recognized the downside inherent in the situation. I’ve had them hedge their answers to me, not wanting to spill the straight-up truth. But never until I met Peggy Worthington did I have a Realtor tell me, “No, I won’t let you make an offer on that property until you visit it in person.”

In hindsight, I figure she saved me a minimum of $5,000 in lost deposit fees upwards to $350k in what surely would have turned out to be a rash decision followed by a recession and more regret. She gained a lot of mileage in my opinion that day. Come to find out, I’m not alone in my elevated opinion of her.

From her desk in Panorama Park in Englewood, Colo., Peggy Worthington (www.peggyworthington.com) has found her niche in selling property half a world away in the beachy destinations of Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica to U.S. buyers. She’s turned her passion for discovery travel and affection for tropical climates into a viable business in recent years. But in keeping with her natural propensity to log inordinate hours of research before making any decision, it took Worthington three years to decide where in the world she’d make a purchase herself.

There isn’t a day that goes by that Worthington’s phone doesn’t ring with yet another caller asking how to sell their timeshare. For that, Worthington has one answer: the resale value is almost like giving the property away. Fractional ownership—the newest trend in second home ownership—is just as challenging, if you ask Worthington. “Either way, you’re still buying a vacation. The resale value doesn’t exist,” she says.

So why are timeshares and fractional ownership synonymous with an umbrella drink? Because historically most timeshares are purchased on a whim, say during a winter vacation getaway. It’s got appeal on the surface and lasts a little longer than the suntan which always seems to fade in the plan on the return trip to reality.

Statistics show that second home buyers keep their vacation getaway property on average 4 years. It’s likely longer than that today, says Worthington, because the foreign markets have been hit just as hard as the States. But that doesn’t mean that buyers aren’t still seeking their place in the sun; rather, says Worthington, it means that the level of due diligence necessary in transacting this kind of purchase is even more important.

“It really goes back to when I got started in this market,” says Worthington of her introduction to the foreign markets. “Initially, I traveled with developers. After awhile I could see the things I thought developers could. Then I worked with an environmentalist in Panama and after that got into researching the policies in Panama, Costa Rica and Mexico. Even when I did decide where it was I wanted to buy (in Campeche, Mexico), I still had a separate attorney, other than the developer’s attorney, go through the contract. The translation into English was, well, awful. It’s the fine print that matters when you cross borders. And it’s not that they’re doing anything maliciously, it’s just that it wasn’t right. No one should ever buy property in another country without having their own legal representative review the contract.”

Worthington has worked with buyers who are expats, those seeking a second home where they’ll put in several months a year, and those who just want simply to own the vacation spot they return to year after year. In retrospect, the most contented buyers are those who have “bought within their means,” says Worthington. By that she means buying into a place that leaves their options open, one of the topmost considerations being that they can leave the place locked and not have to worry about it—that it’s watched over by an HOA or security team or is a development with a guard gate.

“You don’t know how many times people buy their wonderful home on a stretch of beach and it turns into a nightmare when weather hits,” Worthington notes. “The dream so many people have can quickly turn into a nightmare. When I’m working with buyers, it’s one of the many things we go over…without scaring the heck out of them, of course.”

Worthington’s insistence that buyers give a lot of consideration to what they want to do with their days and nights. “There’s more to life than just the beach. Different communities have different emphases, just like in America, only a lot more exotic.” She references a community in Boquete, Panama where Americans have instituted a reading program, working with children there. In another, a group of retired Philharmonic members have started up their own orchestra.

Besides the sun, sand and entertainment, Worthington urges her buyers to take into consideration the exchange rate. “In Ecuador, people can live like kings for 25% of what it costs to live in America,” she says of the buyers she knows who’ve invested there. “Is it a financial win-win? If so, you can rent it out and use it, so that it’s income-producing.”

Infrastructure is another consideration. Getting there, yet another. Availability of medical services is a biggie. In downtown Panama City, there’s a Johns-Hopkins hospital staffed by surgeons, most of whom graduated from Texas med schools. Most of the South American and Latin American countries have public health systems that guarantee care for all, but that doesn’t mean it’s on a par with U.S. healthcare.

When Worthington points a buyer to a development, she’s already vetted whether the developer is reputable. “A lot of projects never get built and there are variables to each and every project.” It doesn’t surprise her when she hears of plans that never got off the drawing board. It happens. “The world is getting smaller all the time and its part of what I do to check that out.”

Her own relentless pursuit of exactly the right property for herself is no less than what she does for her clients seeking a home South of the Border. She doesn’t pretend to speak more than a smattering of Spanish and cites the fact that her own daughter, an attorney who concentrates in immigration law, and has spoken fluent Spanish for 20 years takes ongoing language classes to keep her linguistic edges sharp. “After all, a purchase involves a legally binding contract.”

All admonishments aside, the journey to find the ideal home in a land far, far removed from the daily grind is part of the adventure for Worthington and she insists her clients ride along. “Take your imagination with you…that’s part of the fun.” Just don’t ask to buy anything sight unseen. She won’t let you. And there’s nothing more satisfying than not having to suffer buyer’s remorse in the morning. Unless perhaps it’s powdered sugar sand between your toes.

DO DILIGENCE—International Realtor Peggy Worthington walks in the footsteps of her buyers when researching ownership potential outside the U.S. Here, she strolls along Jaco Beach in Costa Rica.

 

Connect with Nancy Clark and WatchBoom on Google+.

ADD A ZERO TO CALCULATE U.S. HEALTH CARE COSTS

By Nancy Clark

Twenty some years ago this feature would have been labeled an opinion piece. Because it is. That doesn’t mean it’s absent of research or due diligence, but it is shaded with my opinion as a reader, writer, editor and publisher. And it is, in my opinion, no different than what is considered “news” today in media worldwide because, it seems, the media is the most guilty party when it comes to slanting the news. Take the economy, for instance.

In July 2009, the media announced that the U.S. had entered a recession. Oh, what a surprise. News source after news source headlined the increasing numbers of unemployed, the increasing number of foreclosures, bankruptcies, government-mandated furlough days—all depressing more than recessing facts—until we, the public, accepted it as truth. Only a few months later, the same media was making headlines claiming that parts of our country have risen out of the recession like a Phoenix (but not Phoenix, Ariz.) and are now on their way to full recovery. Not so much, if you ask me.

(But that would be my opinion.)

Possibly the most egregious display of media making madness was the sheer volume of news agencies hypnotized by the Balloon Boy shenanigans. How the play-by-play of this family’s hoax could go viral in less than one hour, bringing the masses to focus on it is something that only the actor and actress who spawned children could have performed, amazed me. It used to be that media made a point of vetting facts before presenting real-time action as fact. The use of the word “alleged” has all but disappeared from the vocabularies of talking heads.

So when it comes to the health care debate, I do not trust the media. I do not trust health care insurance companies or the legislature or, for that matter, I trust very few healthcare providers. The dynamic of my disbelief was confirmed last week when our little company received notification that our insurance rates would increase 33% for the coming year. We had been forewarned by our insurance agent that this increase was imminent. It was, he explained, the direct result of the Colorado Legislature approving a resolution that “evened out” the cost of insurance, disallowing the discount that small companies like ours got when insuring the entire group.

At about the same time that we received our re-up paperwork, one of the young people in our office traveled to Jamaica. When he left, he had an earache. When he landed on the powdered sugar beaches of the tropics, his ear hurt even worse. He figured he wouldn’t make it through the weekend stay if he didn’t see a doctor, so he made an appointment, albeit nervously. The doc, who actually did use “Mon” in his dialect, looked in our young man’s ear, pronounced it infected, and prescribed amoxicillin. Then, unlike in the U.S., the doctor dispensed the prescription right there in his office. No trip to the pharmacy to stay him from his afternoon on the beach. No worries, Mon, about an insurance card. The total tab for the cure was $15; $7 for the doctor’s exam, $5 for the Rx, $2 for the cab.

Upon his return to the states, our young man visited his own physician who confirmed that this was the same medication he would have prescribed had the visit been at a Mile High vs. sea level. That office visit, less the $25 deductible, was probably another $125, but our young man won’t be fazed by that because he has insurance.

Fact: The cost of health care can be devastating. Especially when you figure that 70% of all bankruptcies filed in the last year were precipitated by insurmountable medical bills.

So what’s happened to our system that we as Americans buy into the idea that health insurance is an entitlement or that health care is our right, and that employers must provide it, although it’s not perceived as being as valuable as a raise?

We don’t pay the highest salaries comparatively in our little company. But we do pay on par for health insurance coverage. For some of our employees, the health insurance benefit amounts to one-fifth of their gross salary. The younger ones in the group would probably rather have a new Kia, or a swell vacation to a far-away land (where, I might note, they’re bound to get cheaper health care if the need arises.)

So when I turn on my Internet, pick up a newspaper, listen to the radio, watch the TV, I’m hearing that healthcare needs reform. I’m not hearing much about the choices employers need to make in order to afford to provide that benefit. I’m not hearing the correlation being drawn that if a company pays X for health insurance for its employees that it could mean eliminating XX positions going into next year.

I recently accompanied my mother to a hospital where she wanted to return a hand-held pincer, never used, that had been given to my father two weeks prior. He’d had back surgery and the device was one of the many accessories the physical therapist had offered (at a dear cost) for my dad to take home. He’d gotten by without opening the plastic wrapper on the pincer and my mother wanted a credit for its return. We stood for five minutes at a counter waiting for one of the four receptionists to acknowledge our presence. They were gabbing among themselves, never looking up even though they’d gotten our scent. Only one of the four was actively doing what would be called hospital work as she scheduled another woman at the counter for a return visit. In private industry, even a really seriously customer-service-oriented industry, the scheduling could have been accomplished in less than 2 minutes by one individual. Overlaid by the co-workers chatter about the upcoming weekend, it consumed four of them, at a cost passed along to all patients.

A physical therapist passing by stopped to ask if we’d been helped. She was the one to explain to my mother that the hospital would not accept the pincer back, but that my mother could drive to the hospital wares outlet 12 miles east to return it…if she called first.

My second visit to a hospital this quarter was to accompany my son who’d suffered what I had determined was whiplash from the rollercoaster. Because he is my grown son, he didn’t want to take my advice about seeking a medical opinion soon after the night at the amusement park. Because he’s my grown son who I happen to work with, I ended up being in the office with him when he displayed symptoms that could be confused with a heart attack. Turns out, the emergency room physician diagnosed whiplash. One CAT scan and shot of muscle relaxant in the arm later, the ER doc prescribed pain killers and rest for a few days. I was the one to go to the pharmacy…no dispensing out of the emergency room. I was also the one to open the mail the day the invoice for the ER visit showed up—all $8,000+ of it. With insurance, it was just $2,500…still too much, in my opinion.

So what is the media’s responsibility in all this talk-talk about health care insurance? My opinion is that that responsibility is in telling the whole story…not just the shiny parts, like a silver balloon headed skyward.

TELL US YOUR OPINION ON HEALTH CARE, HEALTH INSURANCE, ANYTHING HEALTH RELATED.

Connect with Nancy Clark and WatchBoom on Google+.

ASHES TO ASSETS

a note from the Publisher, Nancy Clark

Nancy clarkIf I could have back what I’ve wasted over a lifetime, I’d want for nothing. I’d have everything I need and more: time, money, security too perhaps. Or does that come with time and money? I ask myself.

In my much younger days my home was burglarized three times before we finally got fed up and sold the place. The intruders got away with some heirloom jewelry and stereo equipment. We replaced the stereo within a week with insurance money; 10 days later we were burglarized again. The third burglary was genuinely delightful, as I recall. Someone tiny slipped through the open-topped greenhouse window and made off with all of our camping equipment, but not before eating the ice cream bars from the freezer and leaving a trail of evidence, wrappers, on the floor. No more camping for us!

Boomer women more than men are likely to remember their errant, wasteful ways in relationship terms. “Ah,” says my girlfriend, recalling the 80s. “That was the decade I wasted on that non-committal boyfriend.”

I have friends who have given away a lot to others over their lifetimes. Well-heeled, they are as well generous to a fault. Then there are the others of us, the in-betweens, always in-between being hoping we’ll someday have more than enough, and rounding the last curve with slightly next to enough…like horseshoes, where next counts.

If I could have back the 90 minutes I spent here or there getting nothing done because I had too much to do and didn’t know where to begin, I know how I’d use it…on a beach where I’d make mental notes to implement back at my desk the next week.

In this issue of watchBOOM.com, we bring you beaches and bargains: Beaches where you can waste time or make plans or both, beaches with Boomer attributes and amenities. And for our loyal online readers, we bring you bargains as the only Baby Boomer portal to hotels.com where you can access low, low Expedia fares. It’s all under the heading “Getting Warmer” in this issue.

We want to hear from you, our Boomer readers, what it is that you wish you wasted and now want back. We’re quite certain there’s a theme to it all. You tell us and we’ll tell the world.

MASTERMINDING THE PERFECT BODY

By Gregory A. Buford, MD FACS

“So Doc, what would you do?”

I am continually asked this open-ended, carte blanche question by Baby Boomer female patients. Looking to refresh themselves, most are unsure of exactly what they want. Yet, they know they can look better and they’re willing to pay for it. Many of these patients had kids and were left with breasts that somehow didn’t make it through pregnancy without a little droop and shift in volume. Many were also left with tummies that just don’t look the same in that two piece bikini and with that big vacation coming up, they simply need to optimize. Others look in the mirror and don’t recognize the face staring back at them. While they may be happy inside, their folds and hollows suggest otherwise.

So where do you start? As a plastic surgeon, my job is not only to accomplish great results but also to figure out what results these patients are actually looking for. So many times, my role is less surgeon than mind-reader, sculptor and counselor. Most are looking for something that has been lost along the way, but want to do so in a way that will not make them feel uncomfortable or altered. They are vocal about wanting to achieve results that none of their friends can detect, but when it comes right down to it, even the most conservative client actually doesn’t want upgrades that aren’t noticeable. They want a result that looks natural. They want that handbag that no one else has and they darn well want to show it off to everyone. Generally they do too.

My epiphany when I began practicing Plastic Surgery was the fact that I wasn’t the only one to view my patients’ results full scale. Their friends were privy to every nip and tuck as well, and these unveilings were literally being performed with bravado at cocktail parties and other public gatherings. It was then, when I realized that every post-op patient exiting from my door was literally a walking billboard advertisement of my results—displaying a clear and stated message of what I as the surgeon thought was a good result. I had to take a hard look at the message I wanted to send out into the local community about my idea of rejuvenation. Achieving more optimal form was simply not going to cut it; I needed a branded look and feel that would meet my patients’ needs and, at the same time, showcase and define my abilities.

When I meet a patient for the first time, the initial consultation covers multiple levels. My first goal is to listen to what this person says they want. My next is to figure out what it is they really want. The second part is not always easy.

Breast enhancement is usually the trickiest. Everyone one of my clients says she doesn’t want her breasts to look like she’s had anything done. Yet the size of the implants most women choose are anything but conservative. It doesn’t matter which age, background, character the patient is…all of them seemingly want to go bigger after surgery. The biggest challenge I have as a surgeon is to address my patient’s needs while staying true to my own. Choosing too big an implant, no matter what the patient says, sends a clear and simple message to all of her community of friends that Dr. Buford likes big breasts and wants all of his patients to have big breasts. That is simply not the case.

Breast enhancement is easily one of the most powerful ways to transform the look of a woman’s body. Too small an implant and the breasts are lost and out of proportion with the hips and buttocks; too big and they become the single object of focus when she walks into the room. Done correctly, they can transform her torso and achieve proportion in even the most demanding of fashions. The right size can slim a figure and restore proportion to the entire body. And it doesn’t stop there.

No other procedure has such a dramatic effect on a woman’s confidence as breast enhancement. Plastic Surgeons often remark that this seemingly simple endeavor always results in a tan. And it generally does. My patients can’t wait for that next sunny vacation when they can unveil the proverbial goods and show the rest of the world that they are back in the game, taking no prisoners. If you think enhancement is simply for the vain, cowardly, and weak of spirit, think again. It was only after I performed breast augmentation on a minister’s wife that I realized this seemingly simple procedure had hit the mainstream. The end goal was not about bigger breasts; it was about gaining back something that was lost and doing so with bravado and acceptance that clothing was never going to fit the same way again…in a good way!

Another area of focus is the face. While I no longer do face lifts or noses, in the last few years my patient population interested in minimally invasive facial rejuvenation has absolutely exploded. Many are looking to wipe away wrinkles from that last bad relationship or facial damage from a few too many jaunts to Miami Beach without sun block but they want to do it without looking “done”. In this area, less is more and more can be catastrophic. While most women would choose a larger cup size, few are so cavalier about results of their fillers, injectables or resurfacing. The face is an entirely different animal and must be treated as so. Results in this area must be more subtle and blended to look as if nothing was done…yet at the same time should illuminate a specific feature that was previously hidden or softened by time.

I like cheeks. Cheeks are the bridge between the eyes and the jawline. And while the eyes are the window to the soul, cheeks are the means to view them. By adding just the right volume to the cheeks, the eyes become more properly framed and the entire rest of the face softened. One procedure I use, which I coined Deep Cheek Volumization, restores volume to the cheeks and, in turn, emphasizes the cheek hollows below while softening and smoothing transition to the eyes above. And I can achieve these results in less than an hour with minimal bruising and swelling.

Over the years as I have grown from trainee to trainer, I have gained knowledge not only about Plastic Surgery but more importantly about the way in which we all think. What we say we want is not always what we want and so proper questions must be asked to elucidate what endpoint we are striving to achieve. Over time, I have become more adept at asking the right questions and thus rewarded with the right answers. The perfect result is always there…it must simply be discovered.

Visit Dr. Gregory Buford at www.bodybybuford.com.

JOBS MAN

By Nancy Clark

On the surface, it would seem that Andrew Hudson has an uncanny knack for always landing in precisely the right place. Like on Thursdays, when he’s plucking bass at El Chapultepec, the jazz haunt in Lodo at the core of Denver that’s so cool it purposely doesn’t have a website—separating those in-the-know from those who don’t know stuff yet. Hudson’s gig at The Pec isn’t about a disjointed career track. Quite the opposite; Hudson’s improv is, yes, about the band, about the show, about his passion for music in general and bass in particular. But moreover, improv is Hudson’s style—every day is peppered with it.

Hudson is 43; his weekly e-newsletter “Andrew Hudson’s Jobs List” has been distributed to subscribers for the last eight years maturing into a fulltime gig in 2009. It’s the antithesis of www.monster.com in that the jobs posted in it and the resumes for viewing are largely of Front Range folks. The open rate for Andrew Hudson’s Jobs List is a phenomenal 200,000 page visits per month with an 85% click-through rate, testimony to readability at an underlying level—it’s the closest thing to a Colorado employment census…only you don’t have to wait decades in between data.

Hudson got his first taste of the frustrations inherent in a job when he was looking for his first real job, after moving back from Washington, D.C. to his hometown of Denver following a stint as Press Secretary with Sen. Tim Wirth in 1992 “At the time, your main source jobs was in the newspaper classifieds,” he explained. “But there were a lot of good jobs that went unadvertised, and it took a lot of looking and networking to find those positions.”

“I thought, even back then, that it would be great to have a centralized resource for job seekers to find the best jobs in their career sector in the City they were living.”

Landing in then-Mayor Wellington Webb’s office, Hudson was enamored of email. It had replaced the Multi-Fax and his intern-level function of coding in the requisite fax numbers. Suddenly Hudson could communicate with hundreds, even thousands of people.

“We were pushing out information…a lot of unheralded things about the city…things that city employees hadn’t previously been recognized for, things the city had to offer like the fact that we owned Red Rocks, news going out to reporters, chamber officials, elected officials.” By the time Webb was term-limited, the list had grown to 3,000 recipients. That’s when people started asking Hudson to distribute job ads on the list.

Monster.com had arrived on the scene in 1999 and Hudson recalls, “From a database perspective, where you could search for jobs by city and by job title, it was great, but it quickly became quite literally, a monster! I hear it time and time again: the large job boards are intimidating for job seekers and they are inefficient for employers who must sift through the hundreds, sometimes thousands of applicants from around the country.”

In 2003 Hudson had landed at Frontier Airlines heading up the advertising, marketing and communications departments and the e-newsletter consumed every waking hour outside of work. Steve Miller and Carol Miller (son and daughter-in-law of The Gabby Gourmet) volunteered their services through their company, www.netnewsdesk.com, to create a website and orchestrate the weekly e-newsletter release and over the next four years the subscriber list continued to multiply. One year ago, Hudson monetized the website taking paid job postings from employers. On average, Hudson lists more than 300 jobs per-month

By 1st quarter 2009, Hudson had segued into the full-time publisher of his Jobs List. He couldn’t help but see the potential in conjoining his Facebook and Twitter accounts and was tweeting with the adeptness of Ashton Kutcher (nom de Twitter, aplusk). Today, 6,000+ followers want what Hudson has to say in 140 characters or less several times a day.

Andrew Hudson’s Jobs List has a solid following of “passive job seekers,” a term Hudson coined for this valuable demographic. Currently holding down jobs, they’re a group interested in keeping their keyboard fingers on the pulse of local employment. The younger set reads the e-newsletter with their eyes on what they want to be doing five years down the line. That’s not the case with Boomers.

Job hunting has morphed significantly with the advent of the Internet and many in this demographic (ages 45 – 64) haven’t had to compete in tracking systems previously, says Hudson. “If you haven’t looked for a job in a long while, you wouldn’t know that filling out the fields in an online application would have the impact it does. The answers input into the fields need to match up with the job posting or the application won’t surface as a contender.”

Idiosyncrasies of the Internet are just one of the topics covered in Hudson’s Employment Boot Camps held in his Sloan’s Lake home and limited to 10 participants, an effective size, according to Hudson. “Being laid off or down-sized out of a job has left a lot of people with the sense they did something wrong. It can be a huge hit to one’s pride and self esteem,” Hudson digs into the tertiary emotions of his typical Boot Camp attendee. The session is focused on building resumes that get noticed, resumes that capture the applicant’s contribution to their past employment in ways the applicant never considered previously. With a resume being the first touch an applicant has with a prospective employer, that resume has to sing the applicant’s virtues. It’s a tough proposition for some.

“We have a sense in our society that we have to be modest,” Hudson concedes. “Yet, you have to be able to brand yourself if you’re going to be noticed and market the accomplishments, the experiences, the promotions, the expertise and the differentiators you possess that set you above your competition Many people are afraid they will come off as arrogant if they ‘brag’ too much; others think they appear desperate if they underplay their qualities. The is that sweet spot you are aiming for that exists between arrogance and desperation called red-hot, indestructible confidence.”

“Many job seekers also sabotage their job hunt by not recognizing their tangible skills,” Hudson says. “For example, a senior marketing professional might be an expert at marketing, but they might also possess management skills, analytical skills, budget management skills and a variety of other skills an employer finds valuable.”Hudson walks camp participants through a Job Skills Audit, directing them to look back over their career, make a list of accomplishments and skills and prioritize the findings. “Before you know it, they own some very tangible and obvious assets they didn’t recognize before that becomes part of their brand..”

Next up for Hudson…well, he’d like to grow his list into other communities and cities across the country retaining the individual locality, the feature he contends makes his list more valuable than Monster.com. And he’s looking at getting into holding webinars, especially with the Internet dominating the jobs sector as it does today. No two days in his schedule are alike, no dittos. The only constant is Thurdays…at The Pec.

It’s improv and it sounds as good as it works.

Read Andrew Hudson’s Jobs List www.andrewhudsonsjobslist.com

Connect with Nancy Clark and WatchBoom on Google+.

laid OFF in an ON AGAIN world

Tenured Baby Boomers know a little something about being laid off. Nearly every one of them has a story in their pocket about the closing day at a certain point in their employment history. The bile rises up in their throats as they relive the fear and confusion that goes hand-in-hand with an unexpected or even anticipated layoff. Yet, there’s a basic truth in the saying ‘time heals all wounds’ and this age group is one to tell you: they may have been done in one corner, but they ain’t done yet. No way.

But, as we all know, times are tough on the employment front these days. In spite of some reports that the recession may be easing – banks repaying TARP hand-outs, real estate sales stiffening – employment, or rather unemployment, remains at historically poor levels. President Obama has said he is “concerned,” and there are some predicting that unemployment will remain high throughout the remainder of 2009, easing up in the first quarter of 2010.

But not everyone agrees. Gerald Celente, author of Trends Report, is portrayed by the left as being out of bounds to the right. Some dismiss his projections as “doomsday reports,” while others just diss him as being out of sync and out of fashion. No matter where you stand on politics, Celente’s predictions for our nation’s economy is that we’ve only just entered the dark side. He says the US total real unemployment is more like 16% -- not the 9% level being reported overall – and that before the crisis is over it will reach 25% - “Great Depression numbers."

We here at watchBoOm.com are not prognosticators. Hopeful, yes, and that is born of having lived so long. So we thought we’d round up a few employment/layoff stories from years past and offer them up as testaments to our Baby Boomer wrinkles. We survived and went on to thrive then, and we will do it again.

SNOWED

By Jeff Rundles

I’ve been let go, laid off and otherwise separated from particular jobs several times over the course of my career and after a while it just isn’t surprising anymore. I mean, after all, I’ve spent a lifetime in the media, and if there was ever an industry more volatile than media, I’d like to know what it is. Okay, Italian politics maybe, but it should be noted that the current president of Italy is a media mogul, so there is some synergy in that.

I once got let go from a part-time gig as a business commentator at a Denver television station for making a rather innocuous, but pretty funny if I do say so myself, joke about Nebraska. Who knew so many Cornhuskers watched Denver television so early in the morning?

Another time for a few months I had a 5-day-a-week talk radio show at a station based in a Downtown Denver office building. I showed up for my usual shift one afternoon and my key didn’t fit into the employees’ entrance down the hall from the main door. So I went to the main entrance to find different call letters painted on the door and different people inside. The receptionist told me, rather impolitely as I recall, “You don’t work here anymore.” Hey, now that I think about it, someone still owes me about a hundred bucks!

But the best story happened over Christmas in 1982. I was editor of a business magazine, owned by publishing company that went on to make a rather bad name for itself in Denver, and just before Thanksgiving that year I got a new publisher. He said all the right things and made a ton of promises, but it didn’t take long to discover that he was, shall we say, less than honest. On that score he fit right in with the president of the company, who is ultimately the subject of this story. For some back story, this particular company president had recently left his wife, having taken up with a young woman on my staff.

Christmas in ’82 was on a Saturday, and on the previous Sunday night I went to New York City to cover a business summit that had a few prominent Coloradans in attendance. Early Wednesday morning, on my hotel room phone, I got a call from the publisher which went like this:

Publisher: “Jeff, when are you coming back from New York?”
Me: “Later today.”
Publisher: “Oh good. Then you’ll be in tomorrow. Come in and clean out your desk.”

Knowing this fellow, I just let the conversation end there. It – my job – was fait accompli. On Thursday I went in to discover that pretty much everyone had been let go, so we all cleaned out our desks together and planned a Pity Party for that evening.

During the party it began to snow. By the time I left to go home, at about 10:00 p.m., there was nearly a foot a snow on the ground and it was coming down in buckets. Many of you might recall that the snow total that Dec. 23-24 reached something like 23”, pretty much erasing Christmas Eve as a last-minute-shopping day.

On Friday morning, Christmas Eve, a friend of mine and I took a couple of snow shovels and headed out to dig stranded people out of the snow. We were near the corner of University and Evans and decided to hitch a ride to another friend’s house to help out. Who should pull over to pick us up but the company president’s soon-to-be-ex wife, in a Jeep Wagoneer, filled to the brim in the back with very expensive, fine men’s suits, shoes, pants shirts, ties – a whole wardrobe. Yup; the company president’s clothes.

“Would you mind helping me dump these rags in the Goodwill box?,” she inquired.
“We’d be delighted,” we replied.

And so we did. What’ya know? A riches to rags story.

Not a month later, this same company president, presumably with a new wardrobe, gave the publisher the ax, the same publisher who had terminated me; he lasted just a day over two months. The company president left Denver for good in disgrace some two years later, owing a lot of people a lot of money. To quote the great Dorothy Parker, “Time wounds all heels.”

Connect with Jeff Rundles and WatchBoom on Google+.

STILETTO -ED

By Nancy Clark

No matter how you dress it up, getting through a layoff can be like believing in that old wives’ tale that “things break in threes.” Or, more optimistically, “looking good is half the battle.”

  • Thursday 5:45 p.m.: Landlord calls with the news that the house has finally sold. I have 30 days to relocate.
  • Friday 9:02 a.m.: Enter city magazine office (where I am the editor). Receptionist elongates her natural drawl into tomorrow, saying, “You-u-u-r next.” I am among the entire group laid off effective that morning.
  • Monday 10:30 a.m.: Delusional (although I’m not admitting it yet), I head for the salon and a manicure and hair appointment “to get a new job.”
  • Same day 10:35 a.m.: At Speer and Grant, I nudge up alongside a car driven by the guy I think I am dating, or at least was yesterday. In the passenger seat is a young woman I will forever call “Bambi”—half my age, a natural blonde, wearing an angora sweater with real pearls. My ex-boyfriend holds his hand up to the side of his face so as to hide. I am entranced by the pearls.
  • Same day 11:30 p.m.: Phone rings. Caller identifies himself as Denver County Police requesting that I retrieve my stolen vehicle from underneath the viaduct at 6th and Lipan. I accuse the caller of “not being a policeman, because no policeman would ask me to drive under a dark bridge in the middle of the night.” “Ma’am, I am sorry, but I am a real policeman.” I scrounge up a pal to drive me to the scene of my wrecked vehicle that has been plowed into the viaduct as part of a gang initiation rite.
  • Next morning 1:30 a.m.: I make an outbound call to my parents. Dad answers the phone as I start bawling, “Daddy….” “Here, let me let you talk to your mother,” he says, passes the phone off to Mom.

Moving back home with my parents—cat, dog, two kids in tow—wasn’t nearly as wrenching as my trip to the unemployment division. I’d rotated through hopeful and optimistic. Now I was just dead-ass broke. I wore heels, envisioning this as a professional job interview. Men in wife-beater T-shirts and women flip-flops filled the place. Chastised by a clerk for waiting so long to file, I reeled back out to the parking lot, grateful to find a McDonald’s bag on the seat of my car, blowing into it to stop the hyperventilation. I was a failure, an utter, all-around failure. I didn’t even know how to dress the part of being unemployed….

A decade later in the telecom playground, I overhear a hushed phone call and then sniffling from the cubicle next to me. “They want you next,” said Adele, struggling to put on a brave face. She’d just gotten her pink slip. Earlier that week, she’d gotten a blue reading on her EPT.

“We’re terminating everyone in the department,” the director says crisply from across a conference table flanked by HR nudges. I nod in acknowledgment. “Except you.” I stopped mid-nod. “We’d like you to stay on as a specialist.” My peers sweep the contents of their desks into boxes assuming I had been severed with the same ax. For the first time, I understood the term “flying under the radar.”

The specialist title I’d been offered haunted me ’til the next morning when I asked for a powwow with HR. Yes, confirmed the rep, you’re no longer eligible for the quarterly bonus. Didn’t we mention that yesterday? Yes, you have the option of taking the package. Yes, that’s three month’s wages. Yes, you have 28 unused sick days and vacation days available to you. Yes, you qualify to leave at noon today.

I was boxing up my belongings when Ted whispered covertly to me, “Meet me on the smoking terrace.” Since joining the company, Ted and I had been placed at odds by higher-ups who alternately reversed our roles—boss-subordinate, subordinate-boss, depending on the project at hand. The strategy irritated Ted no end given that he owned a doctorate in psychology and I possessed only a lowly bachelor’s degree. I followed him to the smoking deck. There, he thrust the corporate mental health brochure toward me and said, “You need to call them.”

Channeling indignation, I replied, “Ted, I’m not the weak link in the food chain. I’m like a cork.”
“A pork?” he couldn’t hear over the ambient noise coming from I-25 abutting the company patio.
“Not a pork, you idiot. A cork. I always rise to the top.”
“You gave away a perfectly good job,” Ted growled. “Who in their right mind would quit a perfectly good job?! I wouldn’t have quit.”

Ted had counseled many a soldier during his tour in Nam. He’d confided to me once that when militiamen are on the edge of true insanity, they smell smoke. Now Ted was trying to shrink me as much as he was trying to work through his own fears. I leaned in and sniffed in the direction of Ted’s ciggie. “Hey, Ted? Do you smell smoke?” His lip curled.

I dialed for dollars, ’er clients, on my cell all the way home setting appointments with candidates for my services I hadn’t talked to in all too long. They were out there. I just had to remind them that I was. I heard months later that Ted had yanked his kid out of junior college the day of the layoff, a knee-jerk financial reaction perhaps. Or maybe just gossip. A whole decade later at a print company open house, I spotted Ted across the room and waved…maybe a little too buoyed up by reunion effusiveness, the kind that drives helium balloons to burst against ceiling lighting. He probably doesn’t recognize me, I thought. My hair was different, after all. “Hey, Ted, Ted, it’s me, me Nancy.”

“I know,” Ted growled, turning on his cowboy-boot heels. From this distance they looked every bit the two and one-half inches to match my heels.

Connect with Nancy Clark and WatchBoom on Google+.

 

DECIMATED

By Jane Earle

I was working as editorial director at the CBS affiliate in my city during the 1987-88 recession, the last big one before the world-wide economic collapse of last fall. The corporate owners of the station made cuts in response to falling advertising revenues and decimated the staff.

Decimated. It sounds bad. Really bad. And if you take it back to its roots, it was really bad. In modern usage, decimated conjures images of blood all over the floor. At its Latin root, it means to take one in l0. Punishment for a Roman legion was to execute every tenth member. It was a practice designed to focus the attention of any legionnaire who might have thought of slacking – or sloping -- off and to produce the most disciplined army of the ancient world.

That’s what my employer did; it took one job in 10 from the staff of the television station. It was devastating to me. My husband’s business as an oil consultant had steadily declined over the past year to nothing as the price of oil sank to $10 per barrel. (Yes, Virginia, once upon a time there was $10 per barrel oil in this country.) So, the sharp knife that went through the TV station cutting 10 percent of the staff meant that the last of our household income went away over night.

It wasn’t the first time I had lost a job. Anyone who works in America will sooner or later find him/herself unemployed. It’s free market capitalism. Firing, or laying off, the euphemism for losing one’s job, is particularly brutal at a TV station. You’re there one day, gone the next. Since mine was the only station in town producing editorials, I didn’t have much hope of going down to the unemployment office and finding a listing for a similar job at another station.

Someone suggested to me that then would be a good time for me to go off to Harvard and get a master’s degree at the Kennedy School of Government. It seemed a bit extreme to me but it did offer hope of adding to my resume and ultimately making me more employable. My husband, never one to resist his fate, found the idea bizarre and was not inclined to pull up stakes and move to Boston. So, not only were we both unemployed, but we were approaching a crisis in our marriage.

In the end, as no other options appeared, we did move to Boston. I had been accepted at Harvard and after the most difficult year and a half of my life, I emerged with the degree and another $20,000 in debt. From there, I was able to get a teaching position at Cornell University and we began to restore our lives.

If you’re a Baby Boomer and haven’t been laid off in your lifetime, you haven’t lived. Share your layoff story with readers of www.watchboom.com

Equator, unfiltererd

By Nancy Clark

I have gained a reputation with my grown children for patchwork travel. While some Boomers are respected for their online acumen booking leisure travel, I am not. I can’t make travel plans online at home because I don’t have a printer in residence. Alternatively, I have to slink into the office after hours to book my travel and print my itineraries—okay I own the business, but I don’t really want to confess my green inefficiencies to people who actually expect me to sign a paycheck.

I print out schedule after schedule yearning for the time when I dialed up my travel agent on a landline (yes, a phone with a tightly wound coiled cord) and simply laid out the days I would consider traveling, the destination I had in mind, and the assurance that I would be there that afternoon with a check.

No one does checks anymore for travel. For that matter, even I progressed to cordless phones sometime along the advent of the Millennium. Nonetheless, I’m out of my comfort zone when planning a trip to relax online. It’s exhausting.

There was the time I booked the trip to Eleuthera, in the British Virgin Islands, for three—my children and me—three months prior to takeoff. Using mileage earned I booked the flights Denver to Florida on one airline with a transfer to a distant concourse in Ft. Lauderdale for a flight to Nassau and a connecting flight from Nassau to Eleuthera. $3k into the trip for airfare alone, I patted myself on the back for avoiding hurricane season (two prior trips scheduled to Eleuthera had been terminated because of hurricanes hit the same day as my scheduled landing.) Three weeks prior to our departure, the airline for the first leg of our trip eliminated the scheduled flight causing me to have to rearrange the second leg of the trip and totally eliminating the possibility of catching the commuter airline out of Nassau. Instead I booked three tickets on the Fast Ferry which I proudly exclaimed to my offspring would allow us to dine in Nassau prior to setting sail.

The trip went exactly as it was scheduled. Roughly. Denver to Ft. Lauderdale, brief layover and concourse change; Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau, and short taxi ride with our luggage in tow to my chosen seaside restaurant. We arrived too early to be served and walked 8 blocks more to another dining establishment offering retiree dining hours. From the open air deck where we caught our breath and rested our weary luggage-bearing arms, I scoured the map to the pier and the print-out of our ticket confirmation. I had no mountains as my west. Panic set in. My daughter righted the map for me and groaned.

The Fast Ferry, it turns out, is sort of like a block party. Everyone on it seemed to have known each other for generations. The bicycles and live poultry on deck were less disturbing when we took our seats on the lower level. As we churned toward the island my daughter sighed, “Next time, I will make the reservations.” I shot back with, “Maybe next time you can pay for the trip too.”

We came. We saw. We laughed. We ate conch salad. We argued. We found a frog in the toilet of our 150-year-old guest house. We laughed nervously. We ate conch pizza. We left on a commuter plane because we could.

It wouldn’t be the last time my online plans went awry.

A few years later, others knew how to work blackberries, not just garnish a salad with them like I do. I couldn’t break the paper habit. In line at DIA, my daughter and I waited to board our plane to Houston where we would connect to Costa Rica’s Liberia airport for a quick weekend getaway. The sign at the boarding gate flashed “cancelled” and I began weighing whether to bag the trip altogether: One day there, one day on the beach, one day back seemed unreasonable. My daughter click-click-clicked her Blackberry and announced, “We’re on the next flight, booked into the Marriott at Houston for the night with a flight out in the morning. Let’s get a drink.”

I knew there was a reason I had children. We took the later flight, ordered too many Cosmos at dinner in Houston, slept soundly that night, and were on Hermosa Beach by the next day at noon.

Our last family trip was multi-generational. My parents were aging in front of my eyes like a junior high science experiment. Although well-traveled, the one place on earth they hadn’t seen yet and wanted to see was Costa Rica. I spent hours online coordinating a repeat tour of western Costa Rica trying to apply my earned miles on a multiple airlines to get my kids, my son’s girlfriend and my parents to paradise at once. On paper (yes, I printed out itineraries for everyone), it looked seamless.

My daughter would fly direct to Liberia with my parents…one wheelchair booked for dad and three adjoining seats. My son and his girlfriend and I were routed to San Jose with the plan to rent a car and drive the distance to Liberia. Departing at midnight and arriving at our destination at 6 a.m. looked solid, but the rental car agency forgot to send the van to pick us up and working our way to the independent rental car agency slightly off the airport’s main drag was our first challenge. The second was that we’d need an extra $1k deposit for wheels that were brand new, according to the agent who offered GPS. No thanks; I declined when the agent couldn’t confirm if the GPS spoke English or Spanish.

Our ride was a Daihatsu Bego Automatic. Slapped together with tin foil and frosting, our Bego was compact and yet offered seatbelts for five. Relieved to be one, not three in the backseat, I fumbled the first right and said “Left.” An hour later, my son who’d lobbied for a right from the get-go got us turned around. Shoulda gotten the GPS. I learned that the Costa Rican highway is the reason God created airplanes after all. At a roadside break, I confiscated the keys and claimed the driver’s role, unable to keep from screaming as semis pressed us to the edge of the road around hairpin turns with thick, tropical foliage. How would they ever find our bodies in the ravine?

Along the way, Holly (that would be the girlfriend) opened the glove box to find the bill of sale for the Bego, proving that it was in fact brand new and cost just over $5k. Fast math confirmed that rental cars would be a fine business to get into at this longitude and latitude.

The trip was all it was intended to be. We came. We saw. We laughed. We ate and argued and apologized and ate more. We parked ourselves on a beach, dad with his cane, sunburning his white birdlegs. Mom would later be diagnosed with terminal cancer—the first twinge of numbness appearing as she walked with me the length of the beach. She slapped at her leg thinking a bug had bitten her. In the course of our 6-day journey, each of us found our way back to the bad habits we thought we’d leave at home for just this one time. Somehow we also found the patience to forgive those missteps and we relearned how to travel together again…for the last time.

Back in the Bego headed toward San Juan, I peeled off my acrylic fingernails as a diversion. When I couldn’t help myself any longer I bellowed from the backseat, “I don’t intend to die on this highway. Can you slow down?” Secretly I envied Holly at peace in the front seat of the tin container we called a car. She’d beam a smile at my son and his driving would improve for the next 25 miles or so. Back in the States, I covered my travel arrangement fouls, claiming that I was glad I’d seen the landscape, up close and personal, but that I wouldn’t drive that route again. Friends who’d been to Costa Rica asked why we’d driven in the first place. “Don’t you know there’s an airport in Liberia?” they’d ask incredulously.

Yes, but it wouldn’t have been my way…the path of most resistance.

I’m leaving all future scheduling to my techno-savvy children who have mastered the Internet travel machine. I’m a believer that they can make better plans on the Internet today than I could at any time in my travel history using a personal travel agent. I am entrusting my offpsring with my credit card as long as they promise to book me a round trip and not one way. Which way is west, anyway?

<p>
Connect with <a href="https://plus.google.com/115462088018585877768/?rel=author">Nancy Clark</a> and <a href="https://plus.google.com/b/112306545216951613277/112306545216951613277/?rel=publisher"> WatchBoom</a> on Google+.</p>

Beauty and the career ladder

By Nancy Clark

Beauty, by its subjective nature, is in the eye of the beholder. The qualities we revere as beautiful are both about physical features as much as they are about mannerisms. Certain qualities tend to make a person appear to be more vibrant and magnetic than other less effective souls. Take for instance the eyes.

“The eyes are the first area on the face to show age,” counsels cosmetic facial surgeon Jeffrey Raval, MD FACS. The lines familiarly referred to as crow’s feet bundle up at the sides of one’s eyes like rouching on a dress used to disguise a thick tummy and hip area. Aging men and women are inclined to develop deep furrows between their brows giving them the appearance of being angry all the time…and maybe we are, damn it.

Operative thought: Getting older is one thing; looking older is an inevitable curse.

Whole industries are built around looking fresh and youthful—from cosmetics and cosmetic surgery, exercise equipment sales, health club memberships, diets and dietary counseling, to dating at an older age and now, with layoffs at an all-time high, a consideration even in employment.

Charla Krupp’s latest beauty manual, “How Not To Look Old,” has inspired droves of devotees to flock to her speaking appearances and purchase autographed copies of the book for themselves, their mothers, their girlfriends and their daughters. The book flap touts: “Because looking hip is not just about vanity anymore—it’s critical to every woman’s personal and financial survival.” Again, money talks.

When Dr. Raval first entered into practice in Denver, CO it was the new millennium…Year 2000. That long ago, the gold standard of facial makeovers was the facelift. Done right, a facelift erased 10 or more years off one’s visage. It also was the most expensive option out there.

Then came BOTOX and fillers. These minimally invasive cures (sometimes called non-invasive for the absence of downtime and suffering along with the immediately evident results) rewrote the business of cosmetic surgery. Dr. Raval was one of the first to shift the paradigm, promoting more frequent series of small non-invasive treatments as a way to forestall grander procedures like a facelift.

The good doctor had a prescient pulse on the business of beauty and the directional signals the profession was emitting. Already in practice as a facial plastic surgeon and ENT (ear, nose, throat doc to the layperson), Dr. Raval identified and purchased a laser clinic in the upscale shopping district called Cherry Creek North. His practice “north” would be the up-and-coming laser treatments to eradicate unwanted hair growth, remove tattoos and rejuvenate faces. In combination with his American Board certifications as a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon and ENT, the combination couldn’t have been more cutting edge -- albeit not so much cutting, medically speaking. In this high-end shopping district, Dr. Raval combined two operations, Raval Facial Aesthetics and Rocky Mountain Laser Aesthetics, and now oversees the laser clinic while continuing to see his surgical patients.

“For every slightly older person out there…don’t you ever let them count us out,” comedian Joan Rivers wagged her finger at the cameras in May as she scored Donald Trump’s “Apprentice” title. Not so many years earlier, the tightly pulled Rivers proclaimed that women “should start with the face” because that’s what men looked at…then the boobs. The tummy tuck, she added, was optional, because by the time a man saw that part of a woman’s physique up close, he was besotted.

Eradicating lines around the eyes with BOTOX is something Dr. Raval does multiple times in a day on male and female patients. Blepharoplasty (upper and lower eyelid surgery) has undergone a reformation in the past decade. “Years ago, fat was removed from the upper and lower eyelid area in an effort to rejuvenate one’s eyes,” says Dr. Raval. “Now the preferred course of treatment is to remove excess fat from the upper eyelid area and rebuild the wall of muscle tissue under the lower eyelid to keep that wanted fat intact and standing firm. This surgery is most appropriate when the patient evidences bags underneath the eye. Simply removing the fat from the lower eyelid area can leave the eyes looking hollowed out and fragile rather than restored to their most healthy appearance.”

Wrinkles underneath the eye no longer require surgery to repair given the advent of filler. Dr. Raval injects filler into the creases underneath some patients’ eyes, taking years off of their appearance sans surgery. While the filler material lasts up to half a year, it’s impact is as immediate as the injections of filler Dr. Raval applies to the jowl area of aging patients filling in the jawline, restoring it to it’s original youthful fullness.

“I liken the aging of the face to a grape,” says Dr. Raval. “The fresh grape is full and firm. Over time, the grape loses its fullness and begins to resemble a raisin, wrinkled and aged. Injectable fillers allow us at least a temporary answer to looking younger. A facelift can be put off for decades when a patient opts instead for repeat minimal treatments such as fillers for this purpose.”

While some surgeons were quick to adopt fillers touted as permanent, Dr. Raval isn’t among them. “The face isn’t permanent and doesn’t stay the same. How permanent fillers will look decades down the line is yet unproven. For that reason alone, I prefer to steer clear of any injectable that’s called permanent.” Patients follow his prescribed recommendation of series of treatments lasting four to six months on average.

Another body area high on the list of aging targets are the hands, which historically gave away a woman’s age despite the work she may have had done to the rest of her body. Not so anymore, explains Dr. Raval, who is one of the surgeons injecting fillers into the backs of hands to restore the plumpness and eradicate the three-green-bean veins from protruding and the back of the hands from looking boney. Simple and painless, the treatment lasts for six months to a year just like other fillers.

Some of the demons that women and men face as they age include what is fondly called “age spots.” They appear out of nowhere on our faces and hands…discoloration of the skin that screams for remediation.

That’s where the laser treatments at Rocky Mountain Laser Aesthetics are designed to return the skin to its best possible state…nowhere near newborn skin, but legions closer, and they’ve got the measurement tools to statistically prove the effort. Called Visia, the technology is topographical mapping of the skin including comparative percentages ranking one’s skin condition against others in one’s age group.

From this, the doctor and his staff determine what course of laser treatments and other services recommended to a patient to minimize pores, smooth wrinkles and lift facial features skyward instead of their natural propensity to sag lower and lower. Raising eyebrows with artfully injected Botox and plumping up the face with fillers are relatively simple. Full-on tightening and lifting becomes more complex and usually involves surgical treatment and downtime—the time to recover being evermore precious to people concerned with getting new gainful employment in a world of layoffs.

Connect with Nancy Clark and WatchBoom on Google+.

Featured Archive Contact Us