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Autumn 2008 – How YOU doin?

Wow!! I can’t believe that it already has been a year. Crap….I am a lousy diarist/blogger….whatever the proper term is….

Well, it’s just that sometimes I feel as though I am telling my stories to an empty room. Hopefully that is not the case…so here I go.

2008 has been a um….very unique year, unlike any I have seen before. The economy here is Las Vegas has taken a severe downturn and it has been catastrophic to many in my profession. Large companies are now much smaller, small companies are hanging on by the skin of their teeth or completely closed. A word I often hear from my friends and other surveyors is "scary". Well, it certainly is unprecedented in my lifetime. Regardless, Heritage Surveying is still plodding along. We are not nearly the large firm that I envisioned us to be at this point, but we may get there soon! So…..most of my energies this year has been to get the word out, procure work and stay ahead of the economic "chopping block". I hope that you are all doing fine. Hopefully, this nationwide crisis will abate soon.

O.k. enough about that.

I’ll try and give a brief rundown of major topics and events. Although I have been a lazy writer, I have continued to update photos of the kids and my adventures so they can provide you with a virtual tour (albeit edited) version of my life.

I began the new year in Manhattan to watch the ball drop. This endeavor may sound fun, but I do not recommend it. After standing in an extremely crowded section on Times Square, it was decided to head back to the hotel and celebrate. Wise decision. Great trip otherwise…..

A major hamper in my decision to write/not write was the passing of my Aunt Susan in April. I used to make a point of stopping over for a visit during my frequent trips to New York over the past 4-5 years and it has disturbed me deeply to lose her. She was my mother’s oldest sister and I feel as though I lost my last remaining tie to my youth. I will miss her terribly. Even through the sadness of her passing, it was so nice to spend time with my cousins. They are all great people and I tend to forget all the good times we spent together as kids. One of the biggest regrets of my life is living so far away. Family is important.

Speaking of which…..

My kids are all GREAT!! In the interest of trying to keep this letter brief, I will have to refrain from waxing on and on (and on and on) about my babies. I am so fortunate.

Holly has recently turned 18 (!!!!) and is now a Senior in High School. Between her job/school/social agenda & boyfriend, it is increasingly more and more difficult to spend time with her, but I still find ways to get my lovin’ from her. I guess the new form for communication isn’t verbal or physical….it’s electronic. I spend more time texting or reading/writing her on MySpace. Sigh……. I wish she lived closer.

Katie is now in Third Grade and is very active with her soccer team. Her mom is the coach, so Katie is trying her hardest all the time!!! Very cute. Kate and I talk nearly every day and I cherish every moment with her. If we’re watching a movie, drawing, reading…..she is next to me. I love it!!

Nicholas has grown tremendously over the past year. It can be easy to overlook all that he does with both Katie and Christopher doing their own things, but Nick is a natural athlete, a quick study and a handsome boy with great humor. He gives the BEST hugs because he thinks that a good hug is how TIGHTLY he squeezes. An aNICKconda.

Christopher……oh lord. What an amazing boy. What he lacks in age, he makes up with sheer intensity and effort. There is NO stopping this boy. The boys played t-ball this spring on the same team (Red Sox…..groan), and CJ was an absolute FORCE in the outfield. I laugh even now when I think about it. Right now, Chris is playing his first season of soccer….stay tuned, I’m sure to have some cool photos.

Me? Health….check. Teeth……check. Eyesight….fair. Hair…..passable. Relationship……no more questions, you may leave now.

I recently wandered out to visit the Black Hills of South Dakota. A completely "wild hair" impulse mini-vacation and I’m glad I went. The weather was perfect, with the autumn leaves in full display. Spent my nights in Deadwood at a supposedly haunted hotel….hmmm…debatable if that is true. My days were spent sussing out all to do and see in the hills. The place is absolutely breathtaking this time of year. I can now report that after 43 years, I have finally seen Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Mountain. Please take a peek at the photos from this trip, I get too amped up thinking about this trip that I cannot find the words just yet……I’ll come back and edit this later!!! (yeah, right) 

O.k. gang, I’ve got to go, hopefully I will get back to this soon and not another YEAR from now!!!! Have a happy and safe holiday season!!

Dennis

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Maui Vacation – October 2007

Maui Trip Journal – October 19th thru October 24th, 2007

 

Friday:

 

Left Las Vegas around 3:30 on a cramped 757 plane that didn’t serve any complimentary food items for a six hour flight. I had to sit next to a very um….swarthy Hawaiian gentleman. If most of the rainfall lands on only one portion of Maui, this fella lived on the dry side.

 

Once we landed, we picked up our luggage and got our rental car. It was a PT Cruiser convertible (gray). For the record, you will never see me drive another. It was too much of a chick magnet.

 

We checked into our room at the Grand Wailea and had to wait for at least 45 minutes to get our bags…which was rather nerve-wracking because we had dinner reservations soon thereafter. Dinner at Longhi’s Restaurant at the adjacent mall was fantastic. We shared the delicious garlic cheese breads and an appetizer of Prawns Amaretto. For dinner, I had the Filet Longhi while Hols had Ahi Torino.

 

After our fabulous meal, we decided to give the beach a visit and put our toes in the water.  Unsurprisingly, it was a gorgeous night with the bright full moon reflecting upon the ocean’s water.

 

We were both rather wiped out and both fell asleep rather quickly.

 

Saturday:

 

I woke early and did my Maui ritual of watching the island slowly come to life. For me, it is very cathartic and one of my favorite things to do. Initially, all you hear is the rhythmic sound of the ocean with a near black sky. Soon, you hear people stirring while the kitchen prepares the morning meals…you smell the bacon, you hear the sounds of utensils clanging while being placed on the tables. As the night sky gives way to the dawn, you’ll see early morning joggers along the sidewalk that parallels the beach. Occasionally, a boat will slowly churn through the still black ocean heading over to Molokini with a crew of tourists eager to be the first to snorkel the calm waters inside the small islands half-moon crater.

The first birds begin chattering, fathers will take their young children out for a stroll to let the moms get additional rest. Resort landscapers and porters begin their daily task of cleaning and primping the property to its typical immaculate condition.

I observe all of this with a deep admiration and appreciation. This daily routine occurs every day, whether I am here or not….and I feel lucky that I can be here to watch.

 

I dressed quickly and as Holly was waking, I headed out to the resort coffee shop (Kona Grill). I ate breakfast and picked up Holly a fruit bowl. As an aside….the birds that congregate in this dining area are expert beggars and can be quite annoying!

 

Our mission today:  Suntan (at all costs). We set up our camp along the beach and spent a large portion of the day soaking in the sun’s rays and swimming in the ocean. Yeah….I got burnt.

 

For lunch, Hols and I had cheeseburgers at the Volcano bar adjacent to the pools. I had a pina colada which was tasty but not very strong.

 

Later, we cleaned up and enjoyed a very special sushi dinner at Kincha’s, a Japanese restaurant on the property. Our chef was very entertaining and took the time to create gorgeous presentations. We had a spicy tuna roll, a ‘69 roll and two outstanding spicy scallop rolls. After I had mentioned that we liked the colored eggs on our rolls, the chef really turned his creativity up a notch. The last two rolls (spicy scallop and 69 roll) were among the best I’ve ever had.

One for the “AWKWARD” files:      Our waitress K’orie, inadvertently called us “Mr. & Mrs. Layton”…..yea, that girl is mine….bought, and paid fer….

After dinner, we walked along the sidewalk over to the Four Seasons Resort and played shuffleboard and billiards.

 

That evening we rented a movie (The Last Mimzy). Great film, hard to stay awake however.

 

Sunday:

 

For breakfast, I ate once again at the Kona Grill and brought Hols back a buttered onion bagel while she was getting ready. Today’s plan was to travel to the top of Mt. Haleakala, an inactive volcano that lies behind our resort. From there, we were to head to Hana, a lush tropical village on the opposite side of the volcano.

The trip to Mt. Haleakala was rather pleasant. We drove with the top down on the rental car and witnessed how the terrain changes as you ascend the mountain. It begins as typical Maui sugar cane fields (funk smell), to agricultural fields of taro or fields being turned for the next crops. Higher up, the clouds seem to close in on you as the farmland yields to alpine forests. As you pass through the clouds, the trees become intermittent and grasslands prevail. Within a couple of thousand feet in elevation from the summit, the verdant grass becomes sparse and eventually non-existent. The landscape is barren with only a few species of drought tolerant plants. Lava rock is predominant. The winds picked up dramatically at the summit and the temperature was quite chilly. Hols and I walked up to the visitor observation booth and after taking a few photos and staring out into the distance for a couple of minutes, decided to head back down the hill…

Been there, done that.

It was cool to peer down onto the tops of clouds. Photos will never do it justice.

 

From Haleakala, we began a trek over to Hana. This drive is notorious for all of its twists and turns, along with approximately 125 bridges. Many of these bridges are one way and can get rather nerve-wracking! The journey took maybe three hours to complete and while the sights are breath-taking, the winding roads definitely take a toll on your equilibrium.

We stopped at several spots to take photos of waterfalls or to look at the scenery. For all of the negative aspects of the drive, it is amazing visually.

After what seemed an eternity, we arrived in Hana, which from what we can tell, isn’t all that much of a town. We ate lunch at the Hana Maui, an old resort that probably had it’s heyday in the 60’s.

Alas! Lunch was over and we had to begin the arduous trip back to Wailea. This time, the ride was primarily at night, which made the twists and turns all the more exciting.

 

Footnote:         These Hawaiian folks really get wrapped up in their silly superstitions and local legends. For example, I believe that the indigenous people here on Maui caution us Europeans to “Watch out for Bikers”…..who the hell is he? Yeti? Sasquatch?

Another thing…..the locals must really be whacked out on “Maui Wowie” because they think that “Falling Rocks”. Nonsense! Actually, falling sucks in my opinion.

 

Once back at the hotel, we didn’t last long….what a day!

 

Monday:

 

I slept in a bit longer than I had previously and after getting ready, ate at the Grand Dining Room. I had a perfect table set exactly centered on the fountains that are iconic for this resort. The view was so spectacular, that I called Holly to join me. Outstanding breakfast. Today, we were to head up to Kaanapali to go parasailing. So……we both went on independent strolls around the property, and then headed up to check in at the West Maui Parasailing umbrella on the beach in front of the Hyatt Regency in Kaanapali.

O.k….for those who have never done this before….do it….parasailing is oddly nothing like what you may fear. There is no thrill or feeling of vertigo. You don’t fear falling out of your harness and lastly….while rather short in duration, it is a great feeling being airborne. Another “been there, done that” adventure. I’m glad that I got to experience it for my first time with Holly.

Despite Holly’s request that she/we not be dunked into the ocean, the stoner captain and his haggard sarcastic first mate did it anyway…..it was worth it, but shouldn’t that be the customers choice? Oh well…

 

Before our trip and afterward, we spent time window shopping at the Whaler’s Village Mall. We ate our lunch at Leilani’s which is alongside another sidewalk that parallels Kaanapali beach. This beach is much longer than Wailea’s and the surf is much more active. Swimming was not advised while we were there, the water seemed quite rough.

We sat in the shade and both got smoothies…Hols had a “Strawberry Tsunami” while mine was a “Sea Breeze”….God! I hate smoothies!!!!!

 

Once we left Kaanapali, we drove down through Lahaina, an old whaling village that is known as a tourist trap and for it’s 140 year old Banyan tree that extends completely over a park.

 

We drove back to the Grand Wailea, I got ready quickly and as Hols freshened up, I watched the sun set and took some incredible photos.

Once she was ready, we headed over to the mall. Longhi’s again for dinner…Holly had Scallops Longhi and I had my….usual…

 

Tuesday:

 

You know…….no matter how long your vacation is…….the last day is rather melancholy. We began our day by eating again at the Grand Dining Room and then our quest was to complete or tans (or in my case, sunburn). The weather was absolutely perfect and we decided to do a bit of snorkeling. The water was fairly clear and after a few minutes of getting ourselves familiar with the equipment and swimming over to the shoals and coral reefs, found an eclectic gathering of tropical fishes. Holly and I followed small schools of butterfly fish, zebra fish and a few Picasso triggerfish. We even got uncomfortably close to an eel that we atop a large coral outcrop. Pretty cool! God’s aquarium…

 

The afternoon I spent shopping for souvenirs while Hols sunbathed and then switched as I sunbathed as she shopped. Can’t WAIT until I see my credit card bill!!!

 

Dinner was at the Bistro Molokini on the resort grounds and the rest of the evening was spent writing this damn letter!

 

Wednesday:

 

A real bummer of a day…..woke up early (4:00am), finished packing and checked out of the hotel. Dropped off the rental car and boarded the plane back to Vegas. A brutal flight back…the airline re-assigned our seats to the last row near the bathroom….I think I have black lung from second-hand stench! Poor Holly had to check her bags in and board a flight to Oakland about two hours after we landed in Las Vegas. Long day for her!

 

Well, that pretty much sums up our trip to Hawaii….Holly, I hope you had a wonderful time!…I know I did! I know this journal is long-winded, but in a couple of years it will be fun to read and remember our adventures!

 

I love you,

 

Dad

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Lazy Sunday

Geez! Has it been since last autumn since I’ve written?! Wow!
 
Here it is a Sunday afternoon and in lieu of housecleaning, I opted for updating this website. Typical procrastination technique that I have mastered. I’ll get around to publishing it in a book one day…
 
The Kids:
 
All is well.  Both soccer (Katie) and t-ball (Nick) seasons are in full swing, so it seems there is either a game or a practice to attend every day.
 
Katelyn is asking people "what do they do and how many grades did they have to go to school?"….she’d like to find someone who is successful and only needed a couple of years of schooling. She knows that she has to go to "sixteen grades" before school is over and apparently first grade was a bit fatiguing for her!
 
Nicholas was tired of not having any loose teeth yet, so he yanked one out a couple of weeks ago. I’m not really sure what the Tooth Fairy compensation should be for deliberate removals but you got to appreciate his effort!
 
Christopher…….what can I say? Every day is an adventure with that boy….."Mans threat, ladies pet!"  
 
And lastly Holly…..shortly into summer recess Hols will be working for me for about 2 weeks….she has decided to slow down on the Irish Dancing and is currently in cheerleading tryouts at her school. Best of luck Bugs!
 
Me:
 
I’m still above ground and at my advancing age (42!!!) I take it less and less for granted! (only kidding).   My company is doing better than we expected for our first year. Remarkable considering that Las Vegas is suffering through a recession that hasn’t been seen in about 15-17 years…Helluva time to start a business, but that is the story of my life!
Heritage has grown steadily in both the field and office operations and Paul and I are very busy trying to open up to larger markets. My focus as of late has been the creation and development of our company’s website. I think it really is cool…check it out when you have a chance…. www.heritage-surveying.com . Let me know what you think!
 
Well…..the dryer buzzer is telling me that I have to go and fold laundry…..&%!&#@! loudmouth!
 
(yawn…….maybe tomorrow……)
 
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Recent Events – August 2006

Hello all, thanks for taking the time to stop by. It’s been about 3-4 months since my last entry. Much has happened, which I will give a brief synapsis (I’m tired, it’s rather late on a Tuesday night as I sit here in front of the computer).
 
Theoretically, summer is on the wane here in Las Vegas…although I am hard pressed to believe that. Our local weathermen point to the fact that the daytime high temperatures are ONLY 105 degrees, as though that would inspire me to risk heat exhaustion by simply going to the mailbox! I’m beginning to suspect that our weathermen are being slipped cash envelopes by the "heat miser" in order to downplay the actual forecast. Another thing (while I am on this sleep depraved rant…)…..it has only rained about a half inch all year long. Now God…if you are perhaps reading this article…I’m not asking for a "Katrina" like event. BUT…. I am seriously contemplating using my trucks windshield wipers as shishkabob skewers while I drive around town or to perhaps roast marshmallows. I haven’t had the need to switch them on unless a beetle commits suicide on my windshield.
 
o.k.  o.k.  I’ll stop… 
 
The children are all fine. Holly has begun 10th grade and in about a month turns "sweet sixteen". Katelyn is beginning 1st grade, Nick – Kindergarten and Christopher is chompin’ at the bit waiting for his turn to go to school. As soon as I get some photos worth posting, I will. I’ve been quite busy lately and negligent on taking pictures.
 
As for me……after much deliberation, I decided to leave my job of seven years and start a new company with my friend and business partner Paul Burn.
"Heritage Surveying" came into existence mid July and has grown rapidly to about 10 employees in a little over a month!! I am very flattered by the trust and faith of those who made the decision to make the transition over to our new firm. It is inspiring and frightening yet, I wish that I had done this years earlier. Please, collectively cross your fingers, light candles or stick pins into kewpie (sp?) dolls and wish us luck!
 
When time permits, I will come back and write a more coherent / informative letter……tonight, I’m no Shakespeare (more like Dr. Seuss).
 
Dennis (I am)
 
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Spring 2006

Hello all, thanks for stopping by. Well summer is beginning to make its presence felt here in Las Vegas…..temps flirting with 100 degrees and tempers not too far behind. For those who have never experienced a Vegas summer….all you can do is grit your teeth and hold on. When I lived in NY, during the winters I would say "Think Florida", here in Vegas during the summer I guess the correct phrase would be "Why the hell am I here?"
 
These past few months have been pretty eventful ones for me. To begin, immediately after moving into my house, I had to head down to Phoenix and handle a crisis at our office down there. I would either commute everyday back and forth or stay overnight. So, for about two months, I barely slept at my house! Go figure.
I hired/fired a few people to right the ship down there and now only have to fly down once or twice weekly to oversee operations. Not too bad, keeps things interesting.
What else……I’ve done quite a bit of traveling outside of Phoenix. Last March, I went to Long Island to visit friends and family for a day then flew down to Key West, Florida to catch up with two life-long friends and do some deep sea fishing. The fishing sucked but the camaraderie was fantastic. I am lucky and grateful to have such cool friends! Thanks Bill and Mike! Let me plan next years trip… Cabo? Jamaica? New Jersey?
A few weeks after the fishing trip, Holly spent her spring break with me and I rounded up all the kids and spent a few days in San Diego. Visited the zoo, swam in the pool at the hotel which was right on the beach and collected a bunch of shells. Great trip but I should have brought my border collie to shepherd the kids! Speaking of dogs, I got a golden retriever pup, but more on that later…..
Lastly, I just came back a couple of days ago from an Officers Retreat that we held in Maui. So besides the obligatory round of golf / drinks / dining / beach, we slipped a few meetings in. Another great trip which made me sulk for a day or so after I got back. Gotta love Maui! Next up…..Holly is competing in the Irish Dancing Nationals this coming June in San Diego and then my Canada fishing trip in August!!
 
So, why is it taking so long for me to get curtains and blinds on my house? Because I am spending the money in San Diego, Long Island, Key West, Wailea, Phoenix, and oh yeah, I fly to Reno tomorrow morning to watch Holly dance! I should sell t-shirts.
 
Now, about the puppy…..her name is Casey and she is about 8-9 weeks old now. Very cute and energetic. Hopefully she will get me off of my butt and get some exercise! (only below 105 degrees…anything above that and I am not a very nice guy).
 
recent news:
 
Katie lost her two front teeth, Nick turns 5 on Monday (!!!!), Chris remains the cutest little boy on the planet and Holly has grown into a beautiful, intelligent and funny woman ~ all right in front of my eyes.
 
So, life is good.
 
except that my truck has a slow leak in the right front tire……that sucks.
 
Hope all is well, thanks for stopping by again,………. for my family in New York…..I’d like to fly down over a long weekend and beach/bbq/? sometime in August? Barbara, let me know your schedule and Artie’s.  
 
Dennis
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Update!!! Hot off the presses

It’s been awhile since I’ve written….much has gone on since last autumn. Where do I begin?
I have purchased a new home and I am in the process of having it re-carpeted and painted. Oh! the joys of being partially color-blind! I have asked people at work, friends and consulted books and magazines…..all have diametrically opposing ideas. So, to thine own self be true! For those who see my color choices, I apologize in advance or……I’ll accept full kudos for my excellent design taste. The whole process is maddening! I guess decorating has come a long way since lava lamps, strobe lights and Peter Frampton posters. I must have been watching t.v.
 
 
Now… more importantly…
 
The kids are all wonderful. Christopher no longer likes me to call him "CJ"…his name is "Christopher" or "Christopher Jack". I wish that I would write or record all the adorable things he says. I took the kids to a park a couple of weeks ago and each of the little ones was doing their own thing. Katie and I were playing kickball, Nicholas was hitting golf balls and Chris was catching ladybugs. Well, after a while Katie and I took a break and I sat down. All of a sudden I feel something crawling on my head…..Chris was putting ladybugs in my hair! Very nice. I guess it is a better than him putting them in his front pocket.
 
Nicholas continues his Spongebob Squarepants obsession but it has been now joined by Mickey Mouse.
 
Katelyn is learning sooo much in school it amazes me. She is actually helping me write this letter.
 
I took them bowling for the first time recently and I was laughing so hard my stomach hurt for days.
 
Holly has competed in several Irish Dancing Feiseinna (sp?). Oakland in October (4th place), The Western Regional Oireachtas in San Francisco in November (17th place!!! in solos and 1st place in the Dance Drama!!!), Sacramento Feis in January (2nd) and last week the Fresno Feis (1st place!) Congratulations Hols! At the Oireachtas she qualified for Nationals which we be held this June in San Diego! Way to go!! Her schoolwork is not suffering while she practices her wonderful talents (which makes me very happy)!
 
well, I have to cut this short….the boys are taking their naps, and Katie and I are going to play a couple of games while we have a few quiet moments.
 
 
 
 
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