Hello Family and Friends! Hope '22 was acceptable.

The Best Thing This Year for us: Tina and I celebrated our 25th Anniversary!

We took the weekend prior and spent a night in Jemez Springs, which is about 40 minutes from home in the mountains, just northwest. I discovered the spa while driving the area with Elyce while teaching her to drive a while back. It is a beautiful area – when I spotted the spa, I made note. Made reservations and Tina and I drove out that Saturday. We went to a local pub to have some grub and a few brews, watched some games. Spent the night, massage for Tina in the AM. It was nice. It certainly doesn’t feel like 25 years, though. I’m lucky and love Tina very much. And we have 2 pretty awesome kids. And the pets ...

Elyce continues at CNM and looks to be transferring to UNM this coming year. She made the Dean's list all semesters this year - is doing well. Looking to study psychology (probably smart due to all the issues the next generation will be dealing with, post-COVID). At this point, post-graduate work considerations are for out-of-state. But that's in a couple of years at this point. Had her wisdom teeth pulled in December - was pretty rough for her the first few days, but she's gotten a lot better.

In February, Gavin and I want to Wolf Creek, CO to snowboard. Wolf Creek had (at the time - and typically) the deepest snow in the country. While Gavin has yet to be a proficient boarder, we are working to get him there. We spent 2 nights in a hotel in Pagosa Springs - I signed him up for lessons while I enjoyed my new board - an Arbor Cosa Nostra with Burton Step-In Bindings. Freakin' awesome. I will just say it was really hard tracking the bindings down but finally got them before we went. This coming year i want to get Gavin in a similar setup. Makes things so much easier - no straps, buckles, etc. Just step in and board. While the slopes were great, snow was deep, and weather perfect, Gavin was not completely there by end of day. Getting the edges down was hard - but I admired his grit and determination. He went to the top, found his way to the bottom, and as exhausted as he was - he wants to go back. We will be going again this year a few times. Spring is always best here in the SW - best snow, best weather.

Pics from the year

A spring project this year in terms of wood-work was building Tina some planters - 4 huge 3x6', aluminum panel sided, with irrigation. She was able to plant a pretty big collection of salad veggies which we utilized during the summer for salads and meals. I have hopes this coming year of re-doing the back 'yard' - moving things around, creating a more hospitable area for the family, etc.

Tina continues to volunteer at the local high school in the library. This year, at home, she's been pretty regular on her Peleton - a gift from Santa last year.

Gavin got his permit this year, and we began the 50 hours together through the summer and fall. I will admit, I was pretty nervous the first few times we were on the road together. He's pretty confident by nature, but his competency needed time. No accidents or issues overall. He hit his 50 hours this past week. At one point in June, he asked if we could go a little more agressive on the schedule. I asked why - I mean, he has all year. He replied he wanted to join a gym and be able to drive to it. "Why didn't you say so?" I responded. We immediately turned the car around and signed up at a newly built gym about a mile from the house. We've been working out pretty aggresively since - anywhere from 3-4 times a week. Sometimes 5. Biggest thing for him right now is patience and perserverance. He occasionally gets down thinking he should be some sort of stud at this point, but I point to his progressions - he's literally doubled his lifting ability in these past 6 months. Just this week, we've been digging a little deeper into protein intake to see if we can get some 'lift' here. I know I feel better than I've felt in many, many years - less aches and pain, better weight distribution.

Peter (my bro) emailed me in August – “will be in El Paso for an architecture convention. Isn’t this in your area – you have stores there, right?” Yep. Let’s hook up! I had my calendar adjusted to be in El Paso when his convention was there. Had dinner for 2 nights. First night we went to some local dive downtown – apparently known for great nachos. I think there may have been some Fake Votes here – but nachos were fine. Beer helped. We sat near some stage. It was quiet, at first. Then – well, karaoke. Mexican Karaoke. THAT was cool.

Peter at Mexican Karaoke in El Paso, TX

Second night we wanted to watch the Astros in the World Series. I googled “Sports Bars” on my phone as we met at the hotel. There was one kind of nearby – so we drove there. Not knowing downtown El Paso very well we were met with a pretty questionable bar with a lot of eyes on us as we entered. No judgement on our part – we just wanted to have some grub and a beer or two. This place seemed more beer than grub and we apparently stood out based on the looks we got. But we wanted food more than beer. We drove to some other spot in a more ‘domesticated’ area, I guess. Oh well – game on.

It was so great seeing Peter – we hadn’t seen each other since Dad’s funeral. COVID – good excuse, maybe. But no – we just need to see other more. Siblings are like old friends – or, old friends are like siblings: There’s just no gap when you see each other again. That’s a special thing.

This year we had Thanksgiving at our home - we typically (pre-COVID) had in Cochiti at Tina's parents' home. But there are still check-ins at the entrance to the pueblo with limited access. We thought it would be easier to host. It was nice seeing everyone together again - a first since 2019! I smoked 2 turkeys on the Traeger.

The Game: Michigan vs Ohio State (skip ahead if you don’t want to ready about football)

A peer of mine in Oregon and I were talking in the summer, and he mentioned he was going to the Oregon Ducks vs Georgia Bulldogs game (Spoiler: Ducks were slaughtered) with his son in Atlanta. I’ll admit I was jealous – thought, why aren’t I doing this? I asked Gavin if he could go see any game, anywhere – which one would it be? He asked me what the largest stadium in the country was. I was pretty certain it was either Michigan or Ohio State. Googled it. Michigan at 107,601 capacity. We looked at the schedule – didn’t see a game that stood out … besides The Game: Michigan AT Ohio State. But it wouldn’t be in Michigan this year; however, Ohio State’s stadium is still in the Top 3 – but That Game was The Game. I did ask Elyce and Tina if they were interested in going … nope. So – bought game tickets, flights, and hotel. Ouch. But what the hell … YOLO, right? We were going!
For the next couple of months, Gavin and I cautiously followed the scores on Saturdays. If you follow college football, you know that Every Game Counts. There were a few close ones but the day we flew out both remained undefeated, both ranked in the Top 5, both with Heisman Candidates playing. Literally a once in a lifetime rivalry game. And it lived up to it – video I put together below.

Never been to Ohio before. Hotel was about 300 yards from the stadium. We walked to it that morning (after seeing a lobby full of OSU fans already drunk at 7am in the hotel – wow). Nice and chilly and brisk. As we got closer to the stadium, we saw planes circling the stadium with huge ad banners, we heard the noise of masses of people, and the excitement built quickly.

We made sure to arrive at just around 9am – that’s when College Gameday was happening to the north of the stadium. The crowd was immense, but it was really neat to see the ESPN trucks there, the crowd, and hear the announcers live. I was pretty determined to get seen on TV, but it seemed impossible when we arrived. But – we worked our way, very slowly, to the middle of the crowd. Of note was the pungent smell of weed, empty beer bottles/cans underfoot, and urine. We had a chance. About an hour in, the announcers moved to a side-stage that was right near us! We scooched in and were within 50 ft of the stage. I saw the cameras angled our way, and hoisted the sign.

Minutes later, Troy (Houston – my high school pal and best man) texted me that we made it – with pictures to prove it. Awesome. But we were still live and I kept hoisting the obnoxious sign up. That was fun. I texted Tina to let her know that we had achieved success. Not an achievement to note on my vitae, but … yeah, I will laugh about it when I’m 80.
The stadium across the street was beginning to open, so we made our way across the street. Wow – this is when the goosebumps started. So many people. So much red (their colors). So much excitement. Everyone was migrating, slowly, to the gates. Tailgating? Yep – it was hardcore (still way too early for beer – I just couldn’t get over that. How do these people last all day when starting to drink in the morning?). We had to find Gate 20 to get our seats. We walked east around the stadium and were getting closer, when the police suddenly stopped everyone at a gate. Then we saw it. The Michigan Marching Band was entering the stadium. They marched right by us. It was surreal and a moment I won’t soon forget. Surrounded by rabid and drunk OSU fans, they marched right by us in orderly fashion playing their instruments: Drums, Tubas, Horns, Cymbals. To hear that so close (literally feel it) and see them up close and their eyes and focus was surreal. I did capture it on my GoPro – but sometimes cameras and video don’t get the entire picture. THAT was the moment I felt like “we’re here – we’re seeing this. It is Awesome.”

So – we get in the stadium, get to our seats. Jeez – everyone was drinking. We took it all in as the stadium filled up over the next 45 minutes. It was packed! Full house – over capacity at 107k. Flags hoisted, anthem played. And then – forgot about this leading up to it – fighter jets flew overhead. I’ve never seen that in person before but it shook the stands. That was spectacular to see (and feel). And yes – it was loud. Loud Loud Loud. My watch notified me a few times that I was in a ‘high decibal environment’. Yeah – I figured that. But feeling the stands shake, hearing the crowd chant in unison, being in the crisp fall air with the sun shining … awesome.

The game was great – close until the 4th quarter. Then Michigan capped the upset (Gavin and I were rooting for that – we love upsets). As the final quarter matured, fans became more despondent – and more drunk. Gavin is mature enough to understand what he was seeing – but some of the fans in our area were bad off. There was a bit of a comical aspect to that, which I hope he caught.

Nonetheless, when the game reached the point of a concluding winner (Michigan), the stands started emptying out (about 3 minutes from end-of-time). We sat back and watched as Michigan took the field in celebration.
We left the stands and walked down the vast array of stairs to field level and saw the OSU band play Hang on Sloopy (per tradition), and walked by the base-level concessions and stores.
“Do you want to get a souvenir?” I asked Gavin, as we saw it was all Ohio State paraphernalia.
“No, they suck.” No tact whatsoever. I laughed.
We walked back to the hotel amongst the throng of pissed off fans.
That night, we got an Uber and tried to go to some brewery/restaurant, but the driver couldn’t find it. So we saw a bunch of lights on a street (High Street) and said – drop us here, we’ll figure it out.
And we walked. A lot. Again.Sunday morning, we got some breakfast, an Uber, and headed the airport. An overcast, grey, damp Ohio morning – seemed the city was in mourning. Understood.
No delays on the way home. Gavin drove us back and we were still a bit numb from the experience. But wow – it was awesome as it was exhausting.

My own souvenir was COVID. 42% of the US population has had COVID as of this month. Prior to December, it was 0% at our house. But that changed a few days after returning from The Game, of course.Two days after the trip, I returned from work exhausted and with a fever. Tina thought it best that I test. Positive. Tested again. Positive. Donned the mask, as did Tina, Elyce, and Gavin. Got the inflatable mattress into the casita and shacked up. My office is in there, so I could still technically work during the isolation. Crazy – I’ve been traveling non-stop, visiting stores, seeing people, meetings, flying, etc for the past 2.5 years during this and have been fine. I suppose it was bound to happen. And here I was.

Below are notes I kept while in isolation in the casita over the next 5 days. Yeah - I was bored.

Dave's COVID Journal | 2021

Weds (tested positive)
  • Worked in morning. Didn’t feel great but was at a store – thought I just had sniffles/slept bad.
  • Started to get worse. Stopped my day, went home. Took a nap. Woke up with slight fever, chills. Wasn’t too bad. Tina advised I take a test.
  • Tested around 5pm – positive!
  • Took another to be sure. Positive! Shit.
  • Began isolation in casita. Started to get weary, exhausted. Wanted to just sleep. No food, just sleep.
  • Slept in my clothes after taking some Nyquil.
  • Woke up every couple of hours – uncomfortable but not huge worries. Fever was on.


  • Night prior I kept changing the temp of the Heating/AC so I could sleep – had chills and overheating.
  • Tina came in the next morning after seeing the temps (on her phone) down to 63 degrees in the casita, which freaked her out. I guess she thought I was dead and the AC was off and temps dipped?
  • When she woke me up I told her I felt great (temp wise). I was burning up that night and sleeping at 63 felt great.
  • Slept most of day – in and out. I did get a few calls from stores, which I kind of remember – but it was hazy. Even dealt with customer issues and video reviews. Again, hazy.
  • Fever was still on that day.


  • Felt much better. Still isolated.
  • Cancelled conference calls.
  • Got some sleep.
  • Tested in PM – still positive. Ugh. Back to the air mattress.


  • Wow! Feel Great! Even ‘old man’ pains I had been having prior to COVID were gone.
  • Did a lot of cleaning in the casita.
  • Tested at 3pm, again. Positive, still. Ugh!
  • Watched a lot of college football on the big screen in the casita.
  • But isolation is getting old
  • Weird how great I felt


  • Tested Negative! Woo-Hoo!
  • Still, Tina was skeptical. Still wore mask inside.
  • Hung Christmas lights outside on the roof for a couple of hours. We put up the Christmas tree.
  • Masks were kind of used but not really strict usage …


  • Tested POSITIVE (but it was grey). I demanded a recount. Yeah, same.
  • Just wore a mask while inside but my office is in the casita, so I spent most of the day in there attending my Monday conference calls and preparing reports for the week. Actually nothing out of the norm – my Mondays are always in the casita hosting calls and preparing reports for the week.


  • Tested positive (again, grey). OK – enough. A lot of ‘run-off”.
  • Got out – visited stores and wore a mask.
  • Felt invincible, admittedly.

Overall – having COVID was quite a milder to what I was expecting. Felt very much like a regular cold. Really just 32 hours of fever. Lucky we have the casita – not only to isolate, but I could still work and best of all could crank down the AC to offset the fever. That really helped. And had the creature comforts of TV, kitchenette, etc. And of course, I could go mask-free and be snotty and sick without the worry of infecting anyone else. Frankly, that was the best - not having to worry about 'infecting' the family and just being alone and keeping everyone else safe. But the worst part was defintelly the isolation. I will say (as noted earlier in the update), my working out and being in pretty strong physical shape (gym, etc) probably helped here. I have never felt better or been in better shape as I have leading into this and do believe it was a huge factor in my quick recovery. In fact, I had had a cold about 6 weeks prior that was much more debilitating than COVID was for me (tested multiple times during that 2-week period, not COVID).

Work – still great. Still pinching myself. Retail is always tough, but I’m happy. ’22 has been good for my area, as we are in the top 12% of the chain in performance. Fiscal ends at EO January, so Top 10 is within reach. I have a great team of leaders. This follows the past 3 years where we’ve been a top performing team. I’m very lucky and am treated very well by PetSmart. Celebrated 6 years on the 5th of December – crazy. It has absolutely flown by and I still feel very lucky to be a part of such a great company and team. The word ‘retirement’ surfaces in my mind and in conversations but I can tell you that that seems so far away for me. Not because I can’t, but I don’t want to. I love what I do, I love our vision, and every year I am evermore cognizant of the wisdom I have gained through these years. I always tell my team: Being a Leader Makes Me a Better Dad, and Being a Dad Makes Me a Better Leader. It’s so true. And – it’s just freakin’ fun. I will admit I never thought I would feel like that 20+ years ago. But here we are.

And yes – another year of distributing cookies made by Tina to all the stores. As I said to Tina, it’s so grueling when I buy all the ingredients, come home, and pile them on the kitchen island. It’s intimidating for her to know she will be mixing and batching all this stuff into cookies for the next week. But she does it. Every year (since 1998).
It started with a dozen (for my store in Santa Fe where 2 associates worked Christmas Day – because I finally didn’t work Xmas day by myself [to save labor expense – I was salary] and took ‘volunteers’ who would work at time and half), to a few dozen when I had 2 stores in Santa Fe, to 20 or so dozen when I had a district – to now 72 dozen for the 500 associates in my area. It’s mind-blowing how hard that is for her. But she always has a smile when I facetime with her while making the deliveries each year. And when we’re done, it’s even better. Feet up, chill, be appreciative of that effort.

In closing, feel like I say this every friggn' year - but I really only update this site once a year (as expected), but the challenge for me is dusting off the HTML/FTP/Dreamweaver skills to complete, then forgetting for the other months of the year - telling myself I need to get in and update links/etc. Then life moves on as it does. So here I am the week of Christmas dusting the site off a little. I realize some of the older years are missing links, etc - I promise when you're back next year it should be a little more crisp!

Hope you and yours are well - have a great Holiday!