Thursday, July 20, 2006

Two Days in Yuma

I spent two days in Yuma this week. The County Farm Bureau had their policy development meetings and I was down there to assist them. It was fun and I enjoy going to Yuma.

We had our first meeting and then the vice president met me at my hotel to take me by his house and grab his oldest son and the boat and then we went out to the river. You would never know such a beautiful place was so close to Yuma. There was so much water! Yuma is beautiful anyways with all the fields but the river so reminded me of home, that I was a little homesick that night. John let me even drive his boat which was so much fun. We then headed back into town and met up with his wife (very nice woman). She couldn't make it to the river with us because of her signing classes she is taking. I am a little envious that she can sign, I had tried to take a class a few years ago and just didn't have the time. We had a great dinner and just a great conversation. They are such great people!

The next morning after doing some research for the next meeting, I toured around the town and looked at the real estate that is for sale. The board is looking to replace their building and I wanted to make sure that I understood their options and what the area was like. I also met up with John again, this time out in Wellton. We met at his company shop and then he took me around to a few fields and showed me several crops. I really learned about cotton and think that I finally understand how the plant grows and what the grower has to do to make it productive. John also showed me some artichokes growing for seed. They look just like mini sunflowers as they dry out prior to harvesting. I also walked into a black eyed pea field and learned the how they determine when to harvest them. We also talked a lot about the vegetable industry and different things the growers need to keep in mind. Overall, it was a very productive couple of hours and I learned more in those two hours than in six years of sitting in meetings about vegetables and cotton.

The one thing that I still need to learn is how to walk into the fields. John just walked in, no problem, I thought I was going to fall over trying to walk down the row!

Grand Canyon Hotel

I stayed the weekend at the Grand Canyon Hotel in Williams, AZ. We were up there for a retreat with work, but it is a cool little town and a cool hotel. It is the oldest hotel in the state and they are remodeling it to look like it did a hundred years ago. It is taking a lot of work because it stood empty for about 85 years. There is no AC in the hotel but every room has a fan and the windows were open for the breeze. The town is actually a happening place Friday nights. A group of us went to a local establishment and played a version of shuffle board (or something like that). We also played a little poker and had great fun betting the trail mix and especially raising a “raisin.”

If anyone is ever in Williams, they should try and stay at this hotel.

Time with Cari and the kids

I arrived in Fredericksburg around 4ish and Cari called and asked if I would pick up Chase from her dance class. That would be an adventure so I agreed. It was an adventure because I got lost and Chase tried to help me find my way back to their house but it wasn’t looking very good. I’ve been to see them quite a few times but I’ve never been the one driving. I happened to stumble upon an intersection that looked very familiar while on the phone to Cari so we were able to find our way to their house. They live outside of the town area. Once there, I unloaded my suitcase from my car and she told the babysitter everything she needed to know then we were off to play BUNKO with her friends. Vance was fishing with friends in NC that weekend and we probably passed each other on the road and didn’t even know it. BUNKO was great but we got back so late that I just fell into bed and then we were up on Saturday and after breakfast and Cari taking Chase for pictures, we decided to finish their home improvement project- painting the deck chairs.

In order to finish the deck chairs we had to tape off all the wood slats (my job) and Cari painted them and then removed the tape once they were dry. We both taped the first two chairs and the last one but I think I got to the point where I could tape them in the time it took her to paint one and remove the tape from the other. We stopped once when the ice cream truck came by. It was a nice way to be productive and spend time with Cari. I was tired and sore though by the time we were finished because of standing bent over the chairs taping them. I even had a great little sun tan/burn on the back of my legs and on one foot where the sun hit me. We finished late afternoon and all took showers and baths (the kids had been playing outside this entire time) then we ordered some dinner and spent some time just relaxing. Sunday we woke up and just puttered around the house doing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen before I had to leave for the airport. I enjoy spending time with them and hate having to leave at the end of my stay. I was glad to get home though after being on the road for so long- it was nice to sleep in my own bed.

North Carolina and the Duchess of Arizona

Ron showing a soft shell crab (our dinner).

Being given the title "Dutchess of Arizona" by Queen Elizabeth.

I got off the plane on Saturday the 6th from Mexico and went home, unpacked and did laundry and repacked most of the same clothes for my trip to North Carolina. I left on Tuesday the 9th for Kill Devil Hills, NC for a Farm Bureau Safety Conference. I love these conferences because the people are so cool! I flew into Richmond because it was a shorter drive for me to NC than from Raleigh or Charlotte. This also gave me the opportunity to spend Friday evening through Sunday afternoon with Cari, Vance and the kids in Fredericksburg, VA (just 30 minutes north of Richmond).

I landed and picked up my rental car. I got a convertible because it wasn’t anymore money and they asked me if I wanted it. Why would I pass that up. The problem was, I didn’t know how to put the top down till I got to NC! The drive was amazing and it was so green and beautiful there. I passed through probably 10 counties on my drive there in 3 hours- in Arizona, I would have only passed through maybe 3 counties, if I was lucky. The hotel was cute and right on the beach. Kill Devil Hills is right next to Kitty Hawk, where the Wright Bros first flew a plane. I got there pretty late and just went to bed. I got up early the next morning and went down to the beach to put my feet in the Atlantic Ocean, something I had never done. The Ocean was so nice and the water was warm. The beach was amazing and I took pictures of my feet in the ocean. I was so occupied by taking the picture, I forgot about the waves till a big one came and soaked me almost to my knees. After that, I sat up on the deck of the hotel, right on the beach and sat in a rocker, put my feet up on the rail and took a nap in the sun with the ocean sounds. It was perfect!!!

Our conference started at 1:00 p.m., and it was really great to catch up and see everyone. I missed last year’s conference so I had a lot to catch up on. It was nice to see the guys from NC as well. I had met some of their field staff when they were out here and so it was good to see them again. That evening after our meeting, a few of us went to dinner and then Kristin and I took the convertible, with the top down, to get a t-shirt from a billboard we saw on our way down to the conference. They whole way down, there were these billboards we saw (we talked about it later with a few others) that said “I got crabs from Dirty Dick’s” crab house. It was so funny it made us laugh. Kristin wanted a t-shirt for her husband and I couldn’t bring myself to buy one but I did buy a shot glass!! We had so much fun in the little store next to the restaurant that tears were coming down our faces!

The next morning, I met Kristin and Marsha at 5:30 for a walk on the beach. We walked out for about 20 or 30 minutes and then turned back to the hotel. It was a real calorie burner. I was sweating and I’m not sure if it was from walking in the sand or from the humidity but I felt better when I was finished. That afternoon we took some tours and saw some soft-shell crab that we were having for dinner later. I doubt the ones we looked at were the same ones we ate but they were really good. We also toured a boat building company and the lost colony as well as the Elizabeth II (a boat the pilgrims came over on). We then met with the local county Farm Bureau board and had dinner which was yummy. It was pork, crab, shrimp, catfish and a whole bunch of over things.

We had a special guest for dinner, Queen Elizabeth (the first). She came to welcome us to North Carolina and then proceeded to “knight” a few people. Darrell from Ohio was “knighted” as well as three individuals from the North Carolina Farm Bureau and myself!! I was “knighted” the Duchess of Arizona!! It was quite fun and entertaining. We all got some great laughs out of that.
On Friday we wrapped up our conference and I headed out around 1:00 to head back towards Richmond and then on to Fredericksburg for my visit with Cari and the kids.

Project CENTRL Goes South

Ciudad Obregon, Mexico

May 2-6, 2006 Project CENTRL, my leadership class spent about a week in Mexico for our class trip. It was fun to see and hear all that the college is doing in the area. The college there, Institute of Technology Sonora (ITSON) is cutting edge in many aspects of colleges. I enjoyed spending time with growers and talking to them about issues they face such as labor shortages, trade concerns and industries moving to China for better labor rates.

We as a class had a good time together as well. We all got together and bought Jason a donkey (our mascot) for his wedding present- we also got a Home Depot gift card for him and Becky but I think the donkey jokes had more mileage with our group!!

Prior to our class leaving for Mexico, we had a congressional hearing on Monday the 1st. I had never been to a congressional hearing before in person so I was fascinated by it. We also hosted the congressmen, their staff and the attendees for a BBQ. I was able to sit and visit with one of the congressmen from North Carolina and we had a great chat about agriculture and North Carolina, Farm Bureau and why he was in office. The other congressman from NC new some of the same people I did because a fellow FB staff person on the government relations side of NC had previously been on his staff. Jake is a good kid and we had fun in Cincinnati when we were all there for a conference a year ago.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A new job and a new truck

My new company truck. The front and door of my truck.

The back of my truck and the other trucks with my truck. I'm glad I have the one I have!

I started a new job back in January. I’m still at Farm Bureau but I am in field services now. I am responsible for six county Farm Bureaus (we have 15 counties in the state and 13 have county Farm Bureaus). I pretty much am responsible for everything south of the Phoenix area. I love my new job because I get to be out with the members. With my new job came a new company truck.
Kacie worked to get not have it be wrapped like her’s and Paul’s but they wanted to wrap it. Thankfully though it has nothing to do with a Dodge dealership so mine is just covered in agricultural products.

Gentlemen Start Your Engines!!!!

On the start/finish line. Tony Stewart driver of the #20 Home Depot (favorite driver). I took this one far away so I could just focus on him when he was near me.

Dad and I at the races. Kasey Kahne driver of the number 9 Dodge.

Kevin Harvick driver of the #29 Goodwrench.
Dad and I in front of a Tony Stewart Car.

We arrived at the track by noon to be part of a drawing for the NASCAR members club. I had signed up the day before and had to be there at noon to draw for prizes. The race didn’t start till later but we went early. Dad and I parked way out so we could get out of the race and not deal with traffic afterwards. Well I drew and won a chance to go down on the start finish line for driver introductions! We hung around and then went and found our seats. We had shopped a couple times for drivers of Dad’s friends that he had called and told them about the race the night before.

I had hoped he had had fun on Friday night but the way he talked to his friends about it I think he had a blast. I think I may have got him addicted to it because he talked about coming down every April for the races. After getting to our seats and hanging out a bit and explaining the layout of the track to my dad, I went off to do the driver introductions. We all met and then went down to the start finish line where I got to sign my name and also put that Tony Stewart rocks!!! Then we lined up on either side of the stage so that as the drivers came off the stage, they would walk right through us to the trucks waiting. It was so cool because they were so close and they would slap or grab our hands. Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart grabbed my hand, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex and others slapped my hand and Dale Jr, bumped into me high-fiving a friend behind me. I got some great photos out of it and memories to last a lifetime. (If you get the NASCAR members magazine, I’m in the May edition on page 18, I’m there twice.) I then made my way back to my seat and joined Dad.

It was fun and the race was really good. The radio chatter was interesting. They had red flagged the race at one point and Jr was telling a story about his driver from the night before. It was quite funny. I think Tony would have won it had they not been worried about gas. Greg Biffle also was worried about gas and I think he may have run out but Kevin Harvick won which was a big boost for him. I’m glad he won. We all had a great time and Dad found that he really like Biffle for a driver so we bought another shirt (Greg Biffle’s) for Dad before we left.

I think this was the best race I had been to and am looking forward to November’s race!!