Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Miracle

I know a lot of you were following our trials and tribulations in our efforts to get to Coeur d'Alene for the Holidays. Well we finally made it and on Christmas Eve to boot.

It all started on Saturday morning. I took my wife to the airport that morning as she was scheduled to go out on Friday but changed her flight to Saturday due to the first of three blizzards to hit the Northwest. Her flight got out and she landed safely in Spokane that afternoon. She was able to have the shuttle take her to the house in the midst of a major storm. My flight was later that morning but I had the flight time entered into my IPhone incorrectly and when I got to the airport with my two little girls the plane had already departed!!! No more flights on Saturday. I called my wife and needless to say she was not too happy.

I immediately got on the phone with American Express and they found me a flight the next morning at 11am from Phoenix to Spokane via Portland. Well we got to the airport at 9am - wasn't going to miss this flight!!!! We get to the checkin counter and immediately we are told the flight has been delayed from 11am to 4pm due to the bad weather. Well I was following the weather in Portland and it sounded like we would be able to fly in but then be trapped there until Sunday. Fortunately, the flight was cancelled by 3pm from Phoenix so more tickets were now necessary.

I called the wife, to tell her our new flight had been cancelled and to start looking for flights for Monday. She called me back and had booked us flights for Monday morning to Spokane via Salt Lake City. By this time my oldest daughter had flown in Sunday morning and my mother-in-law flew in at midnight but neither could get out of the Spokane Airport due to the road conditions and the newest storm so I was able to get them checked into a hotel by the airport.

Well Monday morning came and I checked all of the flights and we were a go. Got the girls up, bathed, dressed and off to the airport. We left the house at 6:30am with all of our luggage and our spirits up as it appeared we had green lights all the way to Spokane. We got to the airport and everything was on-time!!!! We boarded our flight to Salt Lake and we were airborne. Landed in Salt Lake and our connecting flight was on time and would be departing in 90 minutes. We were very excited as it looked like we were finally going to make it. My wife, was on the way to the Spokane Airport to pick up her mother and my oldest daughter and then pick us up. Well we grabbed a little lunch and then we heard the news....our flight to Spokane had been cancelled. Well I called my wife and told her the news and called my office whom proceeded to try and find us other flights to Spokane or back to Phoenix. Well the soonest flight to Spokane from Salt Lake was on Sunday again but we could get a flight back to Phoenix in a couple hours so we booked it and headed home. We made it, our bags did not.....

Well while in the air my wife found us three tickets on a direct flight from Phoenix to Spokane. So Tuesday we hung out and made calls, ran errands we were unable to finish before we left, and I took care of my two little monkeys. That evening one of my project managers, Braden Santarcangelo, met with one of my clients and told him of our situation. I received a call Tuesday night from this client, who will remain nameless, offering to take us to Spokane on his Citation 3 on Christmas Eve. I told him we had flights booked for Christmas day but that we really appreciated the offer. Well he insisted and told us to be at the Scottsdale Airport 2 pm sharp - wheels up!

Normally, one would have been very excited but I knew there was another blizzard scheduled to hit on Christmas Eve and I told him this. He didn't seem to be too concerned seeing he was from Ohio and had plenty of snow flying experience. So I got the girls to bed and we prepared for flying the next day.

Christmas Eve arrived and we started our preparations for the flight. I called Southwest in search of our bags but they were no where to be found in the system. My client and friend, Patrick Murphy, offered to take us to the airport and we made our way there. We loaded up and by 2 pm we were up in the air on our way to Spokane. Flying private is such a treat, no ticket counters, no security, no one else on the plane - talk about getting spoiled. My girls loved it. Bella worked on the laptop and Sophia fell asleep.

Two and half hours and we were on our approach to Spokane when the radio tower broke the silence and announced that the Spokane runways were closed down due to blizzard number three. My client, who was flying the plane with a copilot buddy, turned to me and said, "Wow, you really are jinxed on this trip!" The tower came back on and said if you can circle for 45 minutes we should be able to get a runway cleared for you to land. So that is what we did - circle, circle, circle. I tried calling my wife from the plane phone but couldn't reach her. I left her a message that the runway was closed but they were going to try and get us in. Her and her mom and dad were waiting at the executive terminal in Spokane praying we would make it. Finally the tower said, "we have a small window open. Make your approach but make it fast."

Down we headed, no visibility, bouncing around. The girls were calm and I was silently praying we would make it. The two pilots seemed calm and focused and down we came through the whiteness. Finally you could see the ground and then the lights of the runway just barely through the blowing snow. Down they came and then touchdown! It was really an amazing experience and one I will never forget.

The runways were buried and it was actually more of an adventure getting from the runway to the terminal. We never made it and had to stop short and basically carried everyone out and to the terminal in the blowing snow. Trust me Mom and Grandma were happy to see the three of us. Well at least they were happy to see the two little girls!

Thank you again to my client and friend who got us up there. It was an amazing experience and one I will never forget. it just shows how generous and kind some people really are. The two pilots flew home to Scottsdale that night and called to let us know they made it safely home. It was truly a Christmas Miracle.

The video of our landing is located on the side of this blog. Enjoy.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Closing out 2008

Well this year is finally winding down. What a crazy year......

As I look back at my posts from the summer to where we are now it has only been six months but it feels like we have gone through six years. From oil at $150 a barrel and $4.25 a gallon gas to $35 a barrel and $1.45 a gallon gas.....funny how the math doesn't quite equal out??? A new President, a new direction, not one but two or is it three bailouts...still waiting for mine. Actually, I think I will be responsible for paying for the bailout come April 15th!!! These are definitely crazy times, yet this year was a better year for Candelaria Design than 2007 so who really knows. One thing I do know is really no one does know. From the stucco subcontractor, the Thomas delivery guy to my most wealthiest and astute clients - everyone has been hit by this market and no one has a clue as to where thing are going - NO ONE.

I have learned through the last year what is important though and as I said earlier in the year it is just like sports - the fundamental values will always carry you through. Hard work, working smart, taking care of your friends and neighbors, and appreciating the simple things in life - the real things. I am glad to see people looking at the homes as places to live, and enjoy their families rather than investments and packaged flips. I definitely see my clients and friends thinking of ways to conserve and save and be conscientious of what and how they are spending their money. I see my employees really valuing their jobs and clients and putting forth the extra effort. I see our consultants, vendors, and referrals appreciating our business and giving us better service. So although there is a lot of pain we are all feeling, we are seeing a lot of great things coming out of this and the groundwork being laid for the next cycle.

Hopefully, we all remember these times when the good times return and we keep our values in the right place. I firmly believe that helping others, going the extra mile now, and playing for the marathon and not the sprint will pay big dividends in the future. We have some amazing projects underway and I am very thankful for the wonderful clients, contractors, consultants, subcontractors and most importantly my employees and my family who all make what we do possible. A 40 hour week is unheard of even in this economy. I think we are all working 50-60 hour weeks and darn glad to be doing so! I love designing homes and working hard with a team that is so excited about what we all do and really putting their heart and soul into it. It is rewarding and I know we are creating something that is real and of value.

So I leave 2008 with a lot of memories and lessons learned. I look forward to 2009 knowing where my focus is and spending quality time with my family, friends, associates, and clients. Thanks to all of you for making my life very interesting and fulfilling.