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Friday, 24 February 2017

Vegas, Bust and Brokered

Another birthday in Vegas... given the timing of the annual National Hardware Show, and it's fixed location of Las Vegas, celebrating another birthday there was far more mundane than my first time. Staying at the campground within the Circus Circus property was a first for me. Walking the Vegas Strip with two Alaskan Malamutes made this visit truly unique.

Miki, our 'adventurous' Malamute, took in all that Vegas had to offer. She had sensory overload as she walked past the pirate show at Treasure Island, and water fountains of Bellagio. Auka, worried only that he was going to fall in the water, walked sideways down the strip, to avoid seeing the water. Collectively the dogs became the biggest photo attraction on the strip. At one point the Statue of Liberty asked for a photo op with them.

After a few days of walking the show, researching pianos bars, and solving world problems over "Vegas' Best Margarita" we escaped the craziness and headed for Colorado. Heading out of town it was about 75 degrees F. We drove across Utah, and stopped just inside the Colorado border for the night. Next day we headed onward for Denver, where we were stopping to visit my cousin Judith, and her husband Shon, and daughter Lucy. Yes, the people from Thanksgiving weekend on the boat, were crazy enough to host us for a few days!

While the temperatures continued to drop as we headed NE, the weather was temperate... until we neared Vail. As we headed through Vail we encountered rain, snow, sleet, hail, and combinations of each! While I contemplated pulling over several times, there was generally no where to pull over to, and I questioned our ability to stop our 28' rig on what seemed like 70 degree inclines! Ok perhaps they weren't that steep.

After white knuckle driving for what seemed an eternity, things started to settle down and flatten out. As we made our approach into Denver, the excitement kicked back into full gear as fog dropped upon us. Soon we had about 100' visibility, and one last descent to manage. The saying "that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger" left me thinking I didn't need strength, I needed depends!

Eventually we made it to Judith's where we spent a few days at their beautiful home! We visited Boulder, took in a Rapids game, and rested up for one last push.

As we headed out from Denver we intent on heading back to Canada with as little excitement as possible. I knew we would soon be in the prairies, and expected the drive to be much easier than the Rockies. Until we entered Nebraska, I was not disappointed. I was left with the sense a well aligned vehicle with cruise control could drive itself. Then as we neared Lincoln NE, thunderstorm warnings came across the radio. With these warnings came hail and tornado warnings! We were suddenly smacked straight in the face with a reality we hear about often, but never imagine to be living. As we stopped for fuel just outside Lincoln, warnings came on the radio that there were 7 tornado sightings in the area. About the same time hail started to fall around us. We were lucky to be sheltered under the station's canopy as other vehicles sought shelter all around us. We could see horrific skies in every direction, but no sign of funnels. The attendant advised we should take the warnings very seriously, as we used our handheld radar the track the storm's paths. We hid out under the canopy for about an hour before the local warnings were lifted. We made our way onward, stopping at a Wal-Mart just outside Des Moines IA later that evening. We were careful to find a 24 hour store, just in case solid refuge was needed.

Two days later we found our way back into Canada, ready to get back to business, and a determination to figure out what was next. After discussing growth plans for our business, it was looking like it was time to settle in Canada for a while, in order to execute the plans we laid out. As we all know, plans don't always go... as planned. Soon we found ourselves at a crossroads, where we really needed to analyse what made the most sense going forward. Long story short, we came to the realize now was the time to take a large step toward doing what we've been dreaming of for a long time. The words of a friend "You're always going to want more money, more experience" were ringing as we decided it was time to commit to a business plan anchored in a place that is warm year round.

Over the next few weeks we built a shortlist of places we could start/buy a business, researched the logistics, and searched listings. Our shortlist was Mexico, Domincan Republic, St Maarten, and the US, when someone asked if we ever considered Roatan, Honduras. He was searching business listings when he came across a bar for sale on the water. It was really cool.

By July we sold our boat, and the buyers also mentioned Roatan to us. They had friends who owned a charter business and were selling off a catamaran. We decided to visit the island in August, and made plans to see the bar, and catamaran, as well as a 5 bedroom apartment building close to the beach.

West Bay Beach
Jungle Reef Inn
View From Jungle Reef Inn
The bar was in a great location, but was open only one day while we were there. It was a leased property, and being open only 1 time, just didn't seem to have value for the asking price.

While the catamaran represented everything I've dreamed of, operating a charter boat, with two Alaskan Malamutes didn't seem like a very workable plan.
Sundowners... NOT the bar for sale

The apartment had an amazing view, and was located on a lush jungle property, close to everything. The building was well designed for hosting guests with a very nice layout. The only need we saw was renovations to the inside to make it modern and luxurious. We have since bought the apartment, and began the renos November 1 2016. We planned to open The Jungle Reef Inn sometime near the end of 2016, and hope to see our followers come visit us in the near future!

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