A Tour of the Southwest and Beyond part 1

I am finally coming up for air after figuratively holding my breath for the last 6 months while my job search and transition was on-going. After 15 years of working in Denver, Colorado I recently made a big transition (January 3) to take a new job in Tallahassee, Florida. After 15 years in Higher Education and non-profit, I find that working for a governmental organization in Florida is different.

I’ve had days of training on Florida’s Sunshine Laws. Indeed, there are many websites dedicated towards understanding and complying with the various rules. I still don’t understand the nuances of everything but the short version is (1) all the restaurants know that buying someone lunch generally breaks a gift rule so they always offer separate checks; (2) all board meetings (of my org) are open to the public; (3) I can’t meet with more than one board member at a time without inviting the public and giving 72 hours advance notice and an agenda; and (4) I can’t transmit any messages or information between board members. And finally given my role, I had to file a public financial disclosure with the state within 30 days of my arrival. Luckily I was warned about this because there is a fine of $25 per day for being late.

More about the job in a future post. The short version – it ties together everything I’m passionate about – entrepreneurship, economic development, creating opportunities for others, new technology, basic research, and building bridges between higher education, business, and government. The potential is simply AMAZING. Specifically, I am the new (60 days in) Executive Director of the Leon County Research and Development Authority which currently runs a 208 acre technology park – Innovation Park – in Tallahassee, Florida.

Given that I had 90 days to job search, I knew it was likely that I’d need to leave Colorado and the Southwest. And with a new job, I would not earn vacation time for quite some time. There were so many places I had not seen so I planned a variety of road trips both locally and within the greater USA.

First stop, St. Croix, USVI – I visited here annually as a teen to see my uncle when I lived east of the Mississippi. This was my first trip in years. It was great to reconnect with old friends and return to vistas unchanged. My uncle was in the hospital during most of my trip. That bit was hard. But the locals were friendly – always saying “good day, good afternoon, good night” in greeting. This picture was taken from an amazing sail boat “Bad Girl” at Buck Island looking over at St. Croix. We spent the day swimming and snorkeling.


After St. Croix, I planned road trip #1 – Great Sand Dunes, Ojo Caliente, Sante Fe, Taos, Garden of Gods.

I used Ojo Caliente – a cell phone,and mostly  internet, free artesian spa, as my home base for this trip. I had a suite with kitchen and two beds. This trip was all about the hiking and soaking in the artesian spas. I really had no interest in the shopping, especially art & leather & jewelry, or museum touring available in Sante Fe and Taos. I did visit the Geogia O’Keeffe Museum but it was not my thing.

I loved running up the Great Sand Dunes that seemed so incongruously placed in Southern CO. Everyone I met at the highest peak was from Boulder CO, laughing at the “tourists” who could not find their way to the top. From their vantage point, only 10 to 20 percent of the visitors made it to them with most turning back.

While my goal on this journey was solitude and introspection, I did have a fellow traveler take my photo at the Garden of the Gods. Not quite as primitive as the Great Sand Dunes, but majestic in its own way.