How is it nearly 2024? Shouldn’t we have flying cars by now? As a kid who grew up on The Jetsons and Back to the Future, the lack of flying vehicles is disappointing. We do have cars that drive themselves (sort of), although that is not as exciting. We do carry small computers on our person at all times that we humorously call “phones,” but they do not transport us to other places or come equipped with phasers, which is probably good.
All this is to say, that we are on the precipice of another year and we don’t have hovercrafts or flying cars, so it is a precarious situation.
Looking back, it’s been quite a year, but haven’t they all been? I don’t think there’s one year of my life that hasn’t been eventful, after all, we call that life. And, I am glad to be living one.
Last year, we rang in the New Year with good friends and Aquavit. Yes, it was a Nordic-themed party complete with pickled herring and other fishy delights. Aquavit is a Scandinavian spirit, by the way.
At the end of January 2023, we headed out on an unofficial road trip to one of my “happy places,” the San Luis Valley. It was the Rio Frio Ice Fest in Alamosa. This year, it’s January 26-28, and makes a different kind of Colorado winter trip. Instead of skiing, this is all about running on ice in one of the most beautiful places in the West. It doesn’t get much better. Plus, there’s a citywide party. You don’t have to run (I walk fast).
In February, I took an idea I’d been noodling and jumped. I started HeidiTown Consulting, and while it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride, I am so glad that I did it. My years of traveling my way, have paid off. Through speaking gigs and consulting jobs, I am on a mission to help citizens of communities realize their town’s full potential and be proud of what they have already. If citizens love where they live, it makes tourism and economic development a lot easier.
This January, I’ll be speaking in Meeker, Colorado, and in March, I’ll be speaking at the Nebraska Planning Conference in Kearney, and much more is in the works. This is a daunting journey and yet, I feel I’ve been working towards HeidiTown Consulting for my entire adult life.
Also, in February, we decided to attend the National Fiery Foods & BBQ Show in Albuquerque, New Mexico. More than half of our trips this year were unofficial HeidiTown trips (meaning they weren’t hosted by any destination). We took a couple of days and drove down, stopping in Las Vegas, New Mexico on the way for tacos.
Did you know there are 40-some breweries in and around the city? They each seem to have a taco truck outside. I kid you not! It was a sort of Heidi Heaven. Beer, tacos, hot sauce… all my favorites.
We did make a quick, two-day trip to Arizona. Ryan visited with the designers at Alexander Sinclair Design Showroom, where we have our furniture. Ryan Schlaefer Fine Furniture is the company we’ve co-owned since 2004. My post on the trip is at TacosandPho.com.
In April, we went to Taste of Vail, an event I may miss in 2024 due to a possible speaking engagement. I highly recommend that you work a little of Taste of Vail into your life. You can buy event tickets and purchase seminars individually. As the Mayor of HeidiTown, I’ve been lucky to attend this event for years and I love every single minute.
We spent a fantastic weekend in Glenwood Springs, a town we have long treasured, and stayed at Ryan’s favorite hotel in the state, Hotel Colorado. They’ve done major renovations and much to my relief, it still has that historic charm while boasting an old-fashioned, but not outdated, ambiance.
May had two highlights, and it should—it’s the month of our anniversary. We celebrated 21 years of marriage this year, and we started with the 25th Anniversary Show of Riverdance at the Denver Performing Arts Center. We got engaged the night we went to this show in 2002.
We also took an anniversary trip to Dixon, New Mexico. This was one of our weird and wonderful road trips, where we made things up on the fly. Although, we knew were were staying in New Mexico wine country, and we knew we were staying at a dog-friendly AirBnB. Fritzi went with us on most trips this year, which is just the way she likes it (and we do too).
All year, I worked on HeidiTown Consulting, which took me to Carbon County, Wyoming, Morgan County, Colorado, as well as Cheyenne, Wyoming.
The summer was a blur of festivals, starting with Bacon & Bourbon Festival in Keystone, Colorado. If you haven’t been to this festival yet, the name should be enough to get you on the road to Keystone. They have a sweet lineup of festivals every single summer.
No summer is complete without a beer festival, and this year, we found ourselves in Winter Park after years of not visiting. We were able to take the dog and were reminded of how much we love the area in the summer. This was a beer festival I covered several times, many years ago, and then it was in danger of going away completely. I’m glad a nonprofit has brought it back.
Our annual tanking trip with friends took place in July in North Platte, Nebraska. This year, there was a curveball. We couldn’t float the North Platte or the South Platte due to danger and low water, so we floated a canal. Yes, a canal! But this isn’t like the mucky flow of water that trickles through my Colorado neighborhood. This is a canal the size of a river. Some of our group preferred it to tanking the Platte, but this girl hopes to be back on the river in 2024.
I got to tour a sculpture foundry in my town this year and was reminded of why we moved to Loveland, Colorado, in 2003. Art played a big role. Sometimes, it is good to remember why we love a place. That’s what HeidiTown Consulting is all about.
I did speak here in Loveland this fall and was told by several attendees after the event that they needed the positivity that my presentation brought to the room. Positivity does not mean overlooking issues that need to be resolved (and every community has a few). However, if we can live for a moment in optimism and if we recall the positives about our community, it can remind us of why we care about solving those issues. And a bit of enthusiasm means we have the energy to do it.
Seriously, folks, I can slip into preaching mode at the drop of a hat.
This fall, the Barbarian Feast took up a month of our lives but was worth it. Drinking, dancing, and carousing for a good cause is always worth it.
I took an excellent trip to Myrtle Beach to watch my friend Sharon Lipinski in action. She helps people form good habits and speaks all across the country. Sharon had three speaking engagements at this conference. I went to learn things for HeidiTown Consulting and to eat a lot of fresh seafood (and I did both).
A fun advertiser came on board this fall which meant two trips to the Vail Valley. Vilar Performing Arts Center (VPAC) is a 25-year-old venue in Beaver Creek. Located underground, and featuring shows one would expect in much larger cities, I was unaware of its existence, and I bet you might have been too.
HeidiTown turned 16 this year, and I turned 47. Wow on both counts. Ryan’s birthday is in November and mine is in October, so we did a combined birthday trip, and spent one night at the Hand Hotel in Fairplay, Colorado.
We spent a wild weekend in Beaver Creek and a crazy night at Ullr Fest in Breckenridge (it was like old times). I will write about our adventures in Beaver Creek in January. For now, it’s just in The Heidi Guide. That’s the one freelance job I kept when I started HeidiTown Consulting. After all, it’s branded ME, and I’ve been writing for Mountain Living for eight years. I just couldn’t let that go. And, of course, I am still a “reporter-at-large” for the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor. I’ve been writing for that newspaper since 2006.
Every year, I thank HeidiTown citizens for coming on this ride with me. This year, in particular, it’s been different, but that’s okay. Change is hard, and I’m not good with change (just ask Ryan). However, I believe in HeidiTown Consulting and I believe after 16 years of road-tripping to towns across Colorado and beyond, I’ve made a lot of observations and have a lot to say (just ask Ryan).
Thanks again, folks! I’ll see you next year.