How lucky can a guy get — going to Kazakhstan twice in one year! The first time was this summer and it was nippy even then. This is what a warm November day in Kazakhstan looks like, – 5F without the wind chill factor. Most memorable experience happened a couple blocks down the road on the right. We were in the back of a taxi going to the mall and made a left turn in front of an oncoming bus barreling right at us. Missed hitting the rear of our taxi by a couple of inches. Closest I’ve come to getting killed since KR and I rolled our van on an East Texas interstate 16 years ago this February 25th.
After nine years of thinking this is all temporary, I now realize this is what our life will be like until the finish line. We’re not going to settle down some day. We’re not going to cut back and gather the fam around us. We’re not going to reduce the footprint. We will always live a chaotic, not-quite-got-our-act-together, but not totally-out-of-control-either life. We will travel, near and far, by land, air and sea. We will always be getting out there. I think that all of us — Karen, Bogart, Squirt and me — are better when we’re on the road together.
We closed out November in Kazakhstan and the Ukraine. Then December was Mexico and Sacramento (it’s hard to get that combo). Even though we spent 6 weeks in Vallarta – a record for us — we didn’t sleep in the same bed for more than five days at a time. January and February were Paris, DC and Sacramento again. I was a nomadic worker and for-hire speaker during this entire time. Karen was our full time Innkeeper and Construction Boss. Bogart and Squirt were equally comfortable with change: RV, Corona, Factory Place, Dog Sitter in LA, and Dog Sitter in Vallarta. We just picked them up from two weeks at Kat’s house, playing with the dozen other dogs staying there.
We put KR’s Vallarta Plan to the Test. Back in 2015, Karen conned me into buying our RV with the rationale that we could stay in it while in our house in Vallarta was rented via AirBnb. For five years it was never put to the test for more than a day or so at a time. This time we found a new RV park in Vallarta and for six weeks shuttled back and forth between Corona and Thor. I have to admit it worked out great as we got to know a new neighborhood while making a significant profit each day.
Speaking of Vallarta, this trip was extraordinary. As in busy. I didn’t get one day just soaking in the sun. Heck, I didn’t get an hour of relief: ) Don’t believe me? This is what a six week vacation looks life when Karen’s running the show:
- Repainted stair well and rehung art work
- Planted new cactus garden, thus creating new view
- New irrigation system with remote timers
- Replanted the flower pots on the outdoor living room
- Touched up all inside wall paint
- Bought and installed new air conditioners in each room and put all compressors on the outside
- New cooking range on top deck (made the kitchen workable)
- Made the internet and tv’s work
- Lots of little repairs
- Got the solar hot water heater working, but it still isn’t big enough to make the pool warm
- Agreed on a design and then tiled the “pool wall” in the courtyard
- Installed electronic door lock
- Bought 4 new dining room chairs, an outside heater, 2 sets of outside lights, pool deck outdoor furniture in Guadalajara
- Got 75 pictures framed and hung in my office
- Specified the type, dimensions and style of 5 custom furniture pieces
- Reorganized the pantry/storage room
- Re-stained courtyard floor tiles
- Bought a new inverter for LBS
- fixed the Iron Duke many times
- Bought new pool pump
- Flew to Sacramento and back to take a business meeting
- Prepared a $5M bid for a JPMorgan Chase grant
- Prepared a $1.5M bid for a UNIDO grant
- Wrote a new think piece on the future
- Held a dozen skype calls with people in Australia, Los Angeles, DC, Riverside, France, San Francisco
For the most part, I’ve taken our freedom here in the U.S for granted. No More. Just visit Kazakhstan and Ukraine, two “former” Soviet counties, and you understand what it means to either not have it, or have to fight for it. I was having dinner with my associate and her son one night in Kazakhstan. He was a terrific young man, just starting his career as an actor (even in Kazakhstan, actors need day jobs) and he basically said there was no hope for his country changing in his lifetime as the new President was a relative to the previous “First President.” As a result, most of the young people had lost hope and were trying to make their way to the West.
The next week I was in the Ukraine to judge an entrepreneur contest. My two hosts, young ladies in their twenties, talked about important the 2014 rebellion was to their lives and how fragile they felt their new found freedoms were. They were young, optimistic, energetic. And yet, very concerned about the future of their country. It was a poignant discussion given what happened in the US Senate this month. This stuff matters.
Saying this will pain me greatly: no matter who you think is the right person for your President, Congressperson, Senator, etc. you must get out and vote. I’m telling you, I’ve seen the future and its not pretty if we don’t get our act together.
Here’s what the past couple of months looked like in pictures.
The beach in…. Nursultan, Kazakhstan. This beach club is on the top floor of one of the numerous, huge Western-style malls throughout the city. When its-5 degrees outside, everyone goes to the mall. In addition to a beach club, they have a dinosaur park and a monorail that rides 10+ stories up.
What’s different? “Ford vs. Ferrari” movie in English with Kazakhstan subtitles. This was a first for me, seeing a movie in a Kazakhstan movie theater.
This is on top of Nursultan’s most popular monument/tourist attraction. There is a line to stand and have your picture taken with one’s hand in the brass impression of the First President. No kidding.
This is about as much of Kiev that I saw. Pretty nice city, though cold compared to Los Angeles and downright balmy compared to Nursultan
December in Puerto Vallarta
I ask you, does it get any better than this? Typical afternoon on the top deck of Corona
Unless of course its this. Typical sunset.
Most nights were spent out with friends. Here Bill and Maryann and a couple of friends dine out at a very expensive, but great restaurant.
After 12 years of wanting to go, I finally convinced Karen to go on the Pirate Ship tour cruise.
The excuse I used was that Teri and Steve were in town. I know Steve liked it as much as I did. Karen and Teri not so much: )
Not all parties were in restaurants. See Karen in the center. The dogs had gotten out and Karen encountered this street party, probably about 9PM, chasing them. Yes, I think that’s KR dancing: )
One of our neighbors, Eliash, lives in Calgary and comes down to PV to fix up his brother’s house. Eliash is a plumber, so he took on the job of figuring out how to make our solar hot water actually make hot water. This conversation was on the side walk across the street from our house.
Balloons, kids and a VW on our street corner. Much of our Xmas shopping time was spent figuring out how many presents for how many kids we needed to get.
Don’t get the wrong idea that it was all play and no work. Here Bogart collapses after helping me write the JP Morgan grant application.
KR did a major re-work of all gardens on all floors. Bogart is worried that she will dig up the bone that he buried there earlier.
It’s also very tiring following KR up and down the three sets of stairs all day. Here, Bogart takes a nap outside my office.
Tomas, our house manager, worked like a dog as well. Here, the three of us are celebrating a purchase of four used chairs in a town called Tlaquepaque.
A working art shot. Tile workers are just off camera on the scaffolding to the right. It wasn’t unusual to have men working past 10PM at night.
Life in an RV park in Puerto Vallarta
We spent much of our time in Mexico living in Thor in a nearby RV park.
Wall to wall French Canadians.
And then there is the non-French Canadian section, all the way in the back of the park next to the repair shed. The Iron Duke is on the left and Thor on the right.
Bogart thinks twice about approaching this 5 ft long Iguana. It lived in the tree next to us.
Nicest part of this RV park is that it was all grass and trees. Most US parks are all cement and dirt.
The luxury of RV living…not. Here, KR is cleaning/organizing our pint-sized refrigerator. Bogart is helping her organize his dog food.
Even a sunrise in an RV park is beautiful in PV.
Let’s start off with one of my better art shots. Eiffel tower, moon and the River Seine.
One of the few moments that it wasn’t raining. This is the grand park stretching from Louvre to the Arc de Triumph.
Street outside our hotel. Hotel Mathis is in the 8th Arrondissement of Paris. Great location, if a bit high brow for us.
This is what Parisians do at night — sit in outdoor cafes, drink, eat and chat with friends. Even when its freezing cold and raining. We eventually got into the groove.
Life saver. New “sleeping bag” coat saved the day
One furniture store had everything one could want for the living room. Sign assured us that these tigers died in their sleep in a zoo.
We spent a day at the Les Puces de Clignancourt flea market, Paris’ busiest. Buried deep inside was this cafe. Guy here is getting a birthday cake with a song.
Hey, if its raining, its a good time to go to a museum, in this case the Louvre.
This is the closest we got to the Mona Lisa (look closely and you’ll find it)
Purpose in going to Paris was to speak at the ChangeNOW conference held in the Grand Palais. 20,000 people went through the exhibits over a three-day period of time.
Yours truly speaking at the conference. The title of my keynote was, “An Entrepreneurs Journey from Motorcycle Racer to Cleantech Entrepreneur.” It actually had the audience of 300’s attention with lots of smiling and heads nodding.
What a Migrant Worker’s Office(s) Looks Like
Perhaps the most important skill one needs to do when living our life style is to be able to work anywhere. After a while, it becomes pretty easy…
Without a doubt this is my favorite: on the top deck of Corona. This office serves several purposes as bottle of Tequila indicates.
Writing my speech in a Paris Starbucks
Breakfast work session. The French make the best bread and butter by far. This is in our Paris hotel’s bar
NGIN’s meeting room: the House of Machines in the Arts District of LA. This is Liz Morrison, who is one of the OG’s of NGIN.
My Kazakhstan office just happened to be in the hotel bar. A guy needs a Corona in order to write the meeting report after a long day of Kazak meetings.
My current corner office at headquarters: )
Back Home in Los Angeles
In a deserted hotel in the Arts District, an evening “performance art” exhibition takes place
New Orleans jazz
Crowd favorite — the belly dancer.
We couldn’t keep still. This past weekend Cindy, Peter, Carley, Bogart, Squirt and I went to Joshua Tree national park and had lunch in the desert. Great two days.
I want to leave you with this art shot of … well some unique art. This sculpture is located at the Noah Purifoy Desert Museum and just one of many “you never know what’s out here in the desert” pieces in his museum. I liked this museum a whole lot better than the Louvre, which I guess says it all: )
Hope all is well. Will write more frequently. Known destinations later this month are Thailand and back to PV.