Monday, June 16, 2008

Toulouse & beyond

Well, I knew it would be a whirlwind, I just didn’t quite expect it to be this way. Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. won a work package on the Airbus A350XWB passenger airplane in May. That was the proposal team I worked on last year. I was able to rejoin the team at the beginning of June. Travel plans changed sometimes on an hourly basis. I received my finalized itinerary 5 minutes before I left work for Colorado. When we got back from Colorado Sunday night, I unpacked, did laundry and repacked and hopped on a plane Monday morning to head for Toulouse, France for two weeks.
On the flight from Chicago to Frankfurt I was upgraded to first class because they oversold business class. Nice! My program director was on the flight from Frankfurt to Toulouse, so I hitched a ride to work with him. We arrived in Toulouse about 3 pm local time Tuesday. It typically takes about 24 hours of travel time due to unavoidable layovers to get from Wichita to Toulouse. The rest of the team had arrived on Sunday (Spirit was gracious enough to work with my vacation plans). We went straight into a meeting. Then Airbus took us go-karting and to dinner. We were done about midnight and got back to the hotel about 1 AM. I was exhausted. They let me sleep in and picked me up at lunchtime. I had been up for about 35 hours.
We work long hours during the week so there’s not much to tell. A run to the marche for groceries, make dinner, and a few minutes to relax before bed. I did go out to eat one night and had grilled duck breast (magret de carnard) & crème brulee.
On Saturday, the 7 of us decided to head south to Banyuls-sur-Mer. It is a little town on the Mediterranean near Spain. Once we got south of Perpignon, we headed to the coast and drove through several small towns on set right on the sea. It is a rocky coast with cliffs and it was very windy. Beautiful views. We ate lunch in Cerbere at a café by the sea. If you look closely in the last picture you can see the blue awning of the café. We had a very animated waiter. A shellfish appetizer and paella for lunch – yum! We drove to the Spanish border a few kilometers away. Then back to a cove near Banyuls where two of the guys went swimming in the cold water. The beaches here are not sand – they are coarse & rocky. It was nice to go somewhere new since most of us where here for the 3 months last year.


I went to Breckenridge, Colorado with 7 friends for a long weekend. We stayed in Janel’s uncle’s cabin – it was beautiful. The first day I drove down to Colorado Springs to spend a few wonderful hours with Jennette Ross and the kids. Travis was at work so I didn’t get to see him, but I had a great time catching up with Jennette and playing with the kids.
The 2nd day we went white water rafting with The Adventure Company in Buena Vista. Early June is peak water. We rafted 20 miles on the Arkansas River from Buena Vista into Browns Canyon. Because the water was running so fast they added 4-5 miles on to their typical full day excursion. It was Class II & III rapids. We had an absolute blast. In my boat, we lost Jeremy on a big rapid after lunch but got him back quickly. The photographer was right there and caught a great sequence of pictures of him falling out of the raft while Steve & I look aghast and Jen looks on nonchalantly. Unfortunately I don’t have those pictures to post at the moment. It was a great day. The backs of my hands were sunburned from holding the paddle out in the sun all day.
The 3rd day Jen, Steve and I did biking while the rest went horseback riding. We rented bikes in Frisco and they drove us up to Vail Pass. From there we rode on a paved bike path back down to Frisco, about 12 miles. Most of the time we were next to the rushing Ten Mile Creek. At Officers Gulch we took a break to tool around the lake and take a nap next to the creek.
It was a fun trip. We were early in the summer season. Peak water for rafting, and some things were open in Breck & Frisco, but it was fairly quiet. It was nice to be there before the summer rush.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Backyard Movie Night

Fantastic! Heather and I hosted a Backyard Movie Night in my soggy, almost completed backyard on Saturday night. We had a large turn out - 40 people. It was a lot of fun (though I tend to be a "Martha" when I host and am constantly making sure everything is in order). It rained hard Saturday morning and there was some hail so we weren't sure if we were going to have to move the festivities inside. The yard was still a little wet but we decided to take a chance and do it outdoors anyway. There was some thunder and lightning in the distance during the movie but we stayed dry. The movie by popular demand was Caddy Shack. I must admit I had never seen it before - we only had to censor one scene. I was surprised that everyone sat down to quietly watch the movie. We hung a tarp on the back of the house and clothes-pinned a white sheet to it. Borrowed Andy's projector, the Nickels' speakers, and Rob did all the A/V set up. Thanks! Everyone brought chairs and we filled up half the backyard. It was a smashing success.

The backyard flower beds are almost complete. We've had so much rain the last 2 weeks that it's been hard to get it finished (it's raining as I'm typing this). But I'm down to just laying the last 4 bags of mulch the next time it is dry. So here are the flower beds in all their glory. Sorry, the pictures are at twilight so they're a little dark but you get the gist of things. Hydrangeas next to the shed. Lots of hostas, ferns, ornamental grasses, coleus, and impatiens in the big beds.