@GMTexas, The Beginning of our Traverse Adventure–We got the car!

Jun 21, 2010 by

UPDATE: We’ve got the car!

It’s 9:03 a.m. and the girls and I now have everything packed.  We’re waiting on arrival of our 2010 Chevy Traverse that’s being loaned to us until June 30.

As soon as we get the car this morning, we’ll load it up, load a few pics, and get on the road, headed toward Northern Indiana.   We won’t make it today.  But we’ll put a lot of distance between us and Dallas.

More information will be posted on www.TraverseAdventures.com.  And an added surprise, my daughter, Chandler is going to be tweeting, too!

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What do @Twitter @SnickersIceCrm @GaryVee @M3Summit @GMTexas Have in Common?

Jun 3, 2010 by

As noted in this space many, many times, I’m a big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk and his book Crush It! My copy of the book is covered in as much self-applied ink as what the publisher printed.  As a man/dad blogger, I’ve really stepped up my social media presence in 2010 thanks to reading and re-reading Crush It! and other noted books, and the results are really beginning to show.

One of the primary points we’re trying to make to men/dad bloggers through the Modern Media Man Summit is that besides the great one like GaryVee, women and moms aren’t the only ones who can do social media and do it successfully.  And wisely, in the blog world we’re beginning to see brands begin to better recognize that we men/dads are out here wanting to do good things with our social media presence and do something quid pro quo as well.

@SnickersIceCrm

Last Thursday morning before Mom and I headed out the door to go to on our adventure trip for the Taste of Creede, CO for the weekend, I stumbled upon the mouth-watering taste at the thought of  Snicker’s Ice Cream brand’s Twitter account and sent them the following tweet:

@SnickersIceCrm: I’ll bet with lots of dry ice & some ingenuity I could sample some samples & tell the world how good your product is!

Their almost immediate response was simple and to the point:

Ha! How about I send you some coupons!

With a follow up DM of my mailing address, I smiled, told mom how cool that was and we walked out the door on our trip.

ONE WEEK LATER

Today, June 3, a week later, I received in the mail 6 coupons:  Three for $1 off the Snicker’s Ice Cream product lines and three coupons for FREE boxes of their product lines. 

Feast your mouth-watering eyes on this: The coupons are good for “Any one MULTI PACK: DOVEBAR Brand 3 Pack, DOVEBAR Miniatures, DOVE Brand Packaged Ice Cream, TWIX Ice Cream Bar 6 Pack, M&M’s Brand Cookie Ice Cream Cone 6 Pack, SNICKER’S Ice Cream Cone 6 Pack, SNICKER’S Ice Cream Bar 6 Pack, SNICKER’S Ice Cream Bar Miniatures.

Until I just typed that, I didn’t know there was a Twix Ice Cream Bar, and to know that there are six of them in a pack, well, I’m all that about that. (Just don’t tell my EA SPORTS Active friends!)

You see, the other great thing about all this is that I did this as a man blogger/dad blogger!  Yes, even with testosterone in my system, I’m able to reach out to brands, make contacts, offer to do something positive for their company, and reap incredible rewards because of it.

Hey, and now I also get to enjoy SIX TWIX Ice Cream Bars that I won’t be telling my DDs that I have!  Sorry girls, I don’t know where they went…..

“YASEETIMMY”

If you ever watched the 1994 movie “Speechless” with Michael Keaton and Geena Davis, you will recall that Keaton said at the end of a good story, there’s a “YaSeeTimmy,” just like in Lassie when they always said, “You see Timmy ….” and passed on an important lesson from the episode.

The Ya See Tim,/Jim/Gary/Chuck/Don, of this lesson is two-fold:

  1. Brands want to have relationships with men/dad bloggers. At the present, it’s sort of a challenge for them to find us.  Without parsing any words, it’s been a Mom Blogger World for far too long.  Moms do a lot of the buying in a household, but so do we men/dads. Reaching out to brands and connecting with them can be a positive experience.  There needs to be a system for helping brands find dads.  I know some peeps who are working on just that!
  2. Men/Dads, we need to do a better job of reaching out to brands. They’re not going to come looking for us.  Well, they’re kind of having to, but it makes it a challenge for them when they can find 500 mom bloggers at the click of an enter button on Google and they can’t do that when they go looking for us.  We must step up our efforts to present ourselves to brands online, to build positive mutually-beneficial relationships with the brand managers, and then do honest and positive things to support that relationship.

There is an ever-increasing role in the blogosphere for men/dads.  There are some great pioneers in this field–e.g. Gary Vaynerchuk, etc.  but there are more of us still standing around on the shoulder of the information highway wishing we had the courage or knew the right way to stop a top brand coming down the expressway.

@GMTexas

I can’t give a better current example of the benefits of a quid pro quo men/dad blogger exchange than my relationship with Donna M. from @GMTexas. Our connectivity began through her own Twitter account and then through the corporate account.

I’ve been invited to three events with GM now in the past two months and been in town to enjoy two of them.  While I was savoring the thought of eating the Snicker’s Ice Cream bars, I received a phone call on behalf of GM.  From roughly noon June 21, 2010 to noon June 28, 2010, I’ll be the driver of a 2010 Chevy Traverse LTZ, complete with OnStar, XM Radio and free to go anywhere I want to with it during those seven days.

The girls and I are planning an adventure for that week.  As a matter of fact, you already can go to TRAVERSEADVENTURES.com and find yourself right back here at www.DaddyClaxton.com.  Just wait, in a few days, there will be a specific page set up just so you can find out great things about this new product from GM.

And that, my friends, makes all this even better than the convertible roadster Keaton was driving Davis around in Speechless.

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Creede, CO: The Silver Lining in a Silver Mining Town That Went Bust

Jun 1, 2010 by

We’ve all heard the old saying, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  In a town that until 1985 was a bustling silver mining operation, Creede, Colorado, has done just that and found it’s silver lining, when the silver came to an end.  Their new claim to fame?  Art galleries.

Friday afternoon, I sat in the gallery of Stephen Quiller, a recognized watercolor artist, and he was talking about the plight of Creede.  When the silver mines closed in the mid 1980s, it hit the town hard. Much of it closed and many left.  But as time has passed, just like a wooded area after a fire, new life has sprung and the departure of the old has led the way to a new growth.

Quiller opened his gallery in 1970.  You walk in the door and you’re most likely greeted by his wife, Marta.  She’s one of the kindest people I’ve met in a long time.  Along the walls of the gallery are featured pieces painted by Steve.  There are three to the immediate left of Yosemite and if I had the money, I’d have bought one in a snap.  In the heart of the gallery are two brown leather sofas.  It’s there that Steve and I sat and talked for about an hour Friday.  We talked about my late grandfather, we talked about Steve’s travels, his work, and then we talked about the formation of the Taste of Creede.

He said the early years of the event were pretty lean.  But as time has passed, the annual Memorial Day Weekend event has grown in size and stature.  This past weekend, the streets on Saturday were reasonably crowded with fokes of all ages enjoying different activities, foods, shops and of course, art work.

If you’ve never been to Creede, (and unless you’re going there, you probably haven’t) I highly recommend this weekend event for 2011 and the years to come.

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Shirt of the Day: Life’s too short to live in Dallas

May 30, 2010 by

You probably wouldn’t believe I saw a shirt yesterday here in Creede, CO that said, “Life’s too short to live in Dallas,” unless I posted the photo to go along with it, so here goes. Maybe it’s just a funny shirt, but the message has so much added meaning to me. The past 36 hours in Creede really have changed my perspectives on a lot of things in life. 

Our plan this morning was to head back toward Dallas. But God had another plan. Last night a fuse blew in my car. It took half the morning to find it, and by the time we found it, well, it just made sense to stay another day in Creede. After all, what’s the rush in getting back to 96 degree temps when I can hang out in 70 degree weather?

This weekend has really become a lesson in learning patience, learning to be disconnected, and learning to leave so much of the past in the past.

There have been attempts to draw me back into the goings on in Dallas this weekend, and there have been my own efforts to remain involved. But with each second away, those feelings, notions or what have you are fading. There’s too much here in the middle of what I first felt was little.

My New Friends in Creede

I’ve met some great new friends here in Creede. The foreign exchange students working here in The Old Firehouse Restaurant have been cool to get to know. Marsha is from Mongolia. That’s not really her name, but the way it’s pronounced, that’s the closest I can get to saying it.

Vera is 22 and from Russia. She and Marsha both speak great English as well as their native tongues. Vera smiles all the time. Today she’s decked out in a black The Old Firehouse Restaurant shirt and a scarf. Desiree is the half-sister of TOFR owner, Charles, and his wife, Brenda. Brenda makes soaps and candles. Desiree always wears a happy smile. She is a Christian at heart and is the only person I’ve seen the whole trip who has prayed before eating a meal.  (And she didn’t know anyone was watching.)

Saturday I also met Carly from Indiana who is working at the 4UR Ranch. Carly does housekeeping this year but was a youth counselor at the ranch last year. She’s tall, has the prettiest smile and the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen on someone who hasn’t been Photoshopped. Carly likes the lifestyle that Creede offers. She has a degree in Marketing, which she said she left for a while and to do a “real job,” but her calling was to come back and be here.

Then there’s Cat/Kat who works over at the Tommy Knocker. She and I met the other night when she’d biked up to the front of The Old Firehouse Restaurant to try to piggyback off their WiFi after the restaurant had closed. At the time, I was trying to do the same thing.

Today I passed by Liz, the winner of yesterday’s Taste of Creede Silver Chef Competition, and her friend Ben. (The photo to the right is Liz in action.)

Last night Mom, my uncle Johnny and his girlfriend, Jane, and I went to Steve and Marta Quiller’s on our way to dinner at the home of Cathy and Richie. They’re the former owners of The Creede Hotel and out aways, they’ve built an adobe style home and it’s just breathtaking.

At their house was a former friend of my grandpa’s, artist Larry Basky. I got to meet Lana Woodruff and her husband. Lana is an artist, he used to own car dealerships in this area of Colorado. I got to hear some great stories about life in these parts. The stories were funny, full of color and fascinating to hear.

And then today when the car wouldn’t start, I got to meet two deputies from the local sheriff’s office, David and Fred.   I learned bonus material about things that happened here in town last night. The big party in town last night was the band at Tommy Knocker. (David left me a business card after helping with my car earlier today.  It said if we run into trouble between here and Altamosa, CO, to call him.)

The Old Miner’s Inn, run by my new friends Ed and Trisha, had another very good band, and they have great pizza.  Today I had ribs at Tommy Knocker and they were fantastic. Now, what to do for dinner tonight? UPDATE: I had a calzone at OMI served by my friend Juliet, who has been here in Creede for three days now from AZ.  Juliet is another like Carly, who dares to defy the traditional work role and grabs adventure by the horns and wills it to go her own way.  (If you go to Old Miner’s Inn this summer, be sure to ask for Juliet, you’ll be glad you did.)

I’m sure I’m falling into the trap of having started naming names, I’m leaving some important ones off.  But when you get down to it, the people here in Creede wouldn’t mind.

You pass someone on the street here and they do something that people in most places of the world won’t; they look you in the eye and say “Hi.”  And then they follow it up with, “I’m….”

Try to find that in Dallas.  Vera says it really doesn’t happen in her home town in Russia.  And so it goes.

Am I in a rush to get back to Dallas? Life’s too short to be in such a hurry.  Oh, and remember the full moon last night? Yes, at 12:30 a.m. on a tripod on Main Street in the mountains with a 200 mm lens and a fast shutter speed and small aperture.   You can’t do this in Dallas on any night.

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The Taste of Creede, CO Silver Chef Cookoff

May 30, 2010 by

UPDATE: NEW VIDEO!

Saturday was the first day of the 2010 Taste of Creede, a two-day street festival on Main Street of Creede, CO, and it was a day full of great food, good art, and an ambiance you just can’t find in a big-town event anywhere, for instance in the South–in part because the high yesterday was 70 degrees–but more so because of the friendliness of the people.

Creede is apparently a town one comes to in order to get as far away from the rest of the world as possible.  And it’s a sanctuary of peace.

Yesterday I had a fantastic breakfast at The Old Firehouse Restaurant, which doubles as a Bed and Breakfast, and the Creede Soap and Candle Co.  The owner, Charles, says that the soap/candle part of his business probably is the sole Made In Creede product production short of the art that’s inspired here.

I highly recommend staying at The Old Firehouse Restaurant B&B.

SILVER CHEF COMPETITION

One of the highlights of the day in Creede, yesterday was the local Silver Chef Cook Off Competition.  

They get local chef’s from the primary restaurants in town together in the middle of Main Street.  There are tables set up for each chef to use as a cooking station.  Each has a grill and access to the same ingredients.  Then as the cook off begins, they’re told what they’re to make and given 45 minutes in which to do so.

The smells from the roasting vegetables and the meats grilling with their own blend of flavors and spices just makes one hungry.

Who won?  You’ll have to watch the video!

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On Meeting Steve Quiller, the artist, man and friend of my grandfather

May 29, 2010 by

I’d never met the famed watercolor artist Steve Quiller before yesterday, but over the past 15 or more years, I’ve heard the name often from my late grandfather, Andy Sheptak.

Grandpa would always talk about “his friend Steve.”  Knowing grandpa, we’d all kind of “yeah right” and listen to his stories.  Grandpa was always telling stories so some times it was hard to know which ones were, well, in lack of a better term, believable.  That’s not to say he exaggerated.  That’s not what I’m saying at all.  It just seemed like there was so much adventure it hardly seemed possible that he could have done all that he did.  But that’s what made Grandpa’s life so rich and ultimately what has had some of the most profound impacts on me.

Each year, Grandpa would spend a portion of the year here in Creede, CO.  It was an annual art pilgrimage.  In October 2008, Grandpa died.

When Grandpa died, I called Steve’s Gallery and we talked.  He couldn’t make the funeral.  But that’s okay.

So here I am today.  The 20th Annual Taste of Creede is about to begin.  They’ve closed off Main Street and are setting up tents as I sit inside The Old Firehouse Restaurant.

Yesterday, I walked across the street to the Quiller Gallery and was greeted by Steve’s wife, Marta.  What a sweet lady.  And as I walked into the gallery of familiar forms of art, sitting on one of two brown leather sofas, with smooth tunes playing to add to the ambiance, was my Grandpa’s friend Steve.

With a firm hand shake and the comfort of and how elbow embrace, Steve and I now were friends.

We sat down on the sofas and began to talk about Grandpa.  Steve misses him.  It’s no secret that I have these past two/three years.

We talked about his travels as a painter.  Grandpa used to stay in an apartment at the back of the Quiller Gallery when he came to visit.  I didn’t go back there.  Didn’t ask and didn’t really think to do so.  Some times it’s just better to leave things in the past untouched.

We talked about Yosemite.  As you know, I’ve not made my annual pilgrimage there yet in 2010.  Steve goes every other year and holds a workshop there in the Valley.  He says there are usually about 150 people who sign up for a Yosemite workshop.

It was a nice conversation.  Toward the end we began to talk about social media.  Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc.  As you know, unlike Steve, when I put my photos up, I just load them up.  Like a true business man he was immediately asking how I make money off my photos if I just give them away.   That’s a good question, and likely one that needs changing.

As we ended the conversation, he invited me to an event at the Mermaid Cafe where he and another of Grandpa’s friends, Larry Basky were presenting on printing, prior to the opening of the 10th Annual National Small Print Show, also held here in Creede.  In the photo, that’s Steve on the left and Larry on the right. 

From their presentation and then walking through the show twice last night, I learned there’s a lot more to printing than I could ever have imagined.  I’m not sure I still understand the difference between a monotype and a monoprint, but I at least have an idea.

But I’m here in Creede, CO with my mom.  She’s surprising one of her brothers who doesn’t know we’re here.  And so Grandpa’s legacy goes on.  Today, almost three years after his passing, there are three of us here to talk about who he was, how he was, and his influence upon us all.  And I have a new friend, Steve.

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