The Long Road Home: Part Two

I made it to Tucson, Arizona on Wednesday evening, and I pretty much caught up my highlight events from the first leg of my road trip with this post here. Though, I’m adding a a few more pics to the below “Part Two” even though they were from the first leg because they were fun parts of the adventure for me. I stayed in Tucson at the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch for three nights, it’s a great place and during my time there I tried to recover from this nasty bug using DayQuil, desert air, and sleep. Though I was also able to get some work done on a few various start-up projects, and I had an absolute breakthrough in terms of writing a book that’s been lingering for five years.

Being in Tucson was a reminder of a realization I’ve had in the last year about building and running companies. In hiring, lots is discussed about identifying and assessing competencies. Little is discussed in the way of chemistry. However, when I hire, those are the two things I’m looking for. Competency AND chemistry. Generally in equal measure, because I think chemistry is as important as competency, and was reminded of this during my stay at the ranch. The ranch is the same as it was in years past, but the staff is different this time. And it made a huge difference in the feel of the whole venue. That’s what chemistry does. When I ran a start-up in NYC/NJ a few years back, this was one of my big takeaways. The team was good, really competent. But the chemistry was great. And it was a difference-maker. Seeing Tanque Verde with some great chemistry among the staff really reminded me about this, and it’s a lesson I’ll never forget.

Bulletproof glass at the boiled peanut gas station

Okay, one last Florida story! It’s not my fault, the state is just SO chalk full of craziness…So if you know me, you know I LOVE boiled peanuts. Made a stop at a Florida gas station based on a Google query, it was in a rough–and I mean rough–neighborhood. When I walked in, there were bars over every possibly entry, and when I entered the cashier was sitting behind bullet proof glass (this picture–no exaggeration).

So as I’m loading up my boiled peanut containers (which are not Paleo, by the way–a peanut is a legume, so it’s a cheat meal if you’re going to splurge) a very large man wearing a tank top and a bandana barged into the store and suddenly yelled:“Alright everybody, put yo’ hands up and git yo’ asses on the floor!” 

Then, just about after enough time elapsed for everybody to wet their pants, he laughed and said “Just kidding ya’ll”. Thank you, sir, for sharing your gift of hilarity this evening…

This story further adds to my I love/hate Florida repertoire. I love Florida because you can get boiled peanuts at a gas station. I hate Florida because you can get a fake hold up whilst getting those boiled peanuts at a gas station.

Preservation Hall

This was in New Orleans, at Preservation Hall in the French Quarter. There are three shows a night, no photos allowed during the performance. Here’s what I LOVED about watching these guys play jazz. Not only is the venue steeped rich in history and legacy, but these guys LOVED what they were doing. I looked at their clothes, some of them looked as if they were wearing recycled second-hand stuff. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but I realized if I were to see one of these guys at a gas station and judge him by well worn clothes I’d probably assume he was either not successful or not doing something of significance. And I’d be wrong on both counts. Each of those guys were more successful than me, and following something with a passion that I yearn to replicate. Watching them play was like watching magic unfold.

The Amazing Teri Baker! 

This is a pic with Teri Baker, a great person who used to be on my team at a former Company. She ran the Call Center, but did a lot more than that too. She’s got a lot of heart, and I have always admired that about her. Teri happened to be in Austin as I was driving through, so we caught up over Stubb’s BBQ. So much fun. She is, as they say, great people.

Sunset at Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, Arizona

This was the view from my room at Tanque Verde Ranch at sunset with a field full of saguaro cacti, which are truly amazing. And it’s equally amazing what an Instagram filter can do to your pictures. I posted this one on IG and was contacted by some Arizona online magazine who wanted to make it their photo of the day. I was pretty excited, until I saw I basically have more IG followers than they do (which is not a lot).

I love the desert, and the saguaro are simply spectacular. It’s generally hard for me to sit still, but it’s different in Arizona. I think this is one of my favorite states. And in Arizona, while I love Tucson, I really think Sedona is exceptional. I could get lost there. Figuratively.

Of course, if I were using Apple Maps in Sedona, I could get lost there literally too.

Happy Horses post-trail ride

I love this photo because it was taken after all the horses got back from an afternoon ride and they seem genuinely happy, like they know they just did a good job. There’s an amazing sense of satisfaction in hard work.

I’m not sure if there’s such a thing as an anaphylactic allergy with horses, but I think I come pretty close. I’m ridiculously allergic. Therefore, I would make a terrible cowboy. And I don’t even really like horses that much. Though I do like wearing a cowboy hat and boots. Just, keep the horses away from me. And lasso’s. I probably shouldn’t be near those either.

Endless fires at the ranch

I checked into Tanque Verde on a Wednesday night, and left Saturday morning. During that entire time, I had a fire going from the moment I arrived until the moment I left–as well all through the night, and would wake up to throw more logs on the fire to keep it going.

For someone that has a hard time sitting still, I did pretty good at it at the ranch–but the fires help, they’re mesmerizing. So the big breakthrough I had while in Tucson was with this book I’ve been struggling to finish. I started it almost seven years ago, and should’ve finished it five years ago. Going into this week I was probably 70% “done.” The problem was, I hated it. Every time I opened the document to work on it, I just didn’t like it. The writing, structure, order, voice. There’s little I liked about it. It has been 70% done for years.

So this week, I started over. Completely over. Brand new document. Didn’t carry over one word from the last one (though I’m sure as I write more, stuff will carry over). I started and finished the first chapter on this new take, and for the first time I feel like I’ve got some of my book writing mojo back. I’m not sure what the lesson in this is, I mean surely it can’t be when things are hard just ditch ’em and start over. But at the same time, maybe with some things, you do…

Anyways, this was THE breakthrough for me this week on the road trip (so far). If I hadn’t lost myself with the scenes of the southwest outside and the crackling fireplace inside, away from all internet connectivity and my Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/emails/surfing/texting and all other distractions, I’m not sure I would have ever had the realization that to get to where I wanted to go, I’d have to break free from what I’d done.

I also realized that I have to unplug my life more. Yes, many of you have been telling me, and encouraging me, to do this for years. I know, and you were right. But I just had to learn it for myself. Sometimes telling someone (repeatedly) to do something doesn’t quite work. It MIGHT even have the opposite effect with SOME individuals. 🙂

Okay, I officially want to be a Cowboy

If I wouldn’t be so terrible at it, I’d want to be a Cowboy when I grow up and work at a ranch. And write. As well as play the guitar. I’d like to be able to sing, too. Okay, let’s switch this up. I want to be a country music singer that has enough money to go to a ranch on occasion and play cowboy. Alas, I get to play Executive and consume copious amounts of Allegra and point at, instead of ride, horses. I am not even a City Slicker. I’m a City Sniffler. Ugh.

1970 VW Hippie Bus

In college I had one of these for a few months. It was not my favorite car. It was in the family for a while, I didn’t drive it long. Compared to the guy in the Jag in my earlier post, this guy did NOT look like he was having fun. Because, after all, I do not think cruising at 45 in a 75 with puffs of black smoke willowing out the tail pipe constitutes fun.

On my way from Tucson to Phoenix, I actually passed this guy three times (had to stop twice on the way). And it wasn’t because I was speeding. When I looked over at the guy I could practically see him standing on the gas pedal, and kinda rocking his body forward as if he were trying to give it some momentum.

Only if you owned and drove a VW Bus at some point in your life would you even understand this…

Raz at the Phoenix Marathon Expo check in, number 53496

When I got to Phoenix I checked into the hotel and hit up the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Expo at the convention center. My number is 53496, the 5 was cut off by my RFID timer. Given this sickness I’ve been fighting for ten days, I have seriously been debating whether to show up for the race, and if I did show up whether to simply switch to the half marathon or to go ahead and try to finish the full.

I decided to try to run the full marathon, partly because physically I feel back up to 80% now, and partly because if I didn’t run at all I’d always wonder if I could’ve finished. I’m going to try my best to have a solid run tomorrow, but I’m also trying to be somewhat aware of my body and recovery and not push it too hard. In retrospect, it was a little overzealous to do this six weeks after my first marathon. One of my future posts will be a “Lessons Learned in Marathoning.”

Since being in Phoenix I’ve read and seen some super inspirational stories about marathoners, including one guy in particular with multiple sclerosis. One of the things I love about running is drawing on inspiration from other people. And it’s usually from observation more than hearing some story, but both work.

I still remember so vividly running in Central Park this summer and a guy with an artificial leg was pacing alongside me, and I just found it breathtaking. Not in a I-feel-sorry-for-you type of way. No, in a you-inspire-me type of way. And, that’s one of the many gifts of running.

Ciao, for now. I’ll complete my third and final leg of this blog in a day or two when I get back to Cali.

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