Smokin' Ladies Cigar Club - Knoxville, Tennessee
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Have Cigar Will Travel

Bringing Manufacturing Home

It has been awhile since last I posted. As I mentioned before, I am going to start sharing some of the initiatives that I have the pleasure of working on with my clients. Two big efforts have opened up a whole new world of opportunities:

  • Visionary Center for Sustainable Communities - a non-profit that will provide mentoring for small businesses and education and outreach, specifically in manufacturing, for communities across the United States
  • Visionary Fabrication and 3D Design - a new entity that will provide additive manufacturing services, primarily in metal

My most recent travel found me in Chicago, IL for a week for the International Manufacturing Technology Showcase (IMTS), a conference and tradeshow for the advanced manufacturing industry. It also showcased additive manufacturing, more commonly referred to as 3D printing. Here, I had the opportunity to meet with major players in the additive manufacturing world. Check out the conference website for more information (

My father went to University of Chicago for his PhD in chemistry. He'd often talked about the architecture, as did my mom. So I finally got a chance to see it. My first trip, back in December 2013, was a bit on the cold side, and very quick, so I only got a chance to see a small portion of the Magnificent Mile. The second trip, just a few weeks ago, found me wandering along the riverwalk down to the Navy Pier, where I had a chance to enjoy the Tall Ship Windy. 

This past week showed me the areas of Gold Coast and Old Town, both enjoyable locations for food, wine, and cigars. I do have to say that the McCormick Place, which housed the IMTS conference, was HUGE!!!! If you have a conference in this venue, be sure to have on some good walking shoes, as there is a lot of ground to cover.

But back to food, wine, and cigars (oh, and beer)... I had the pleasure of visiting two tobacconists while in Chicago - Up Down Cigar, which is a icon in Chicago. It has a great "hometown" vibe and inside its doors is a wonderful selection of very fine cigars. Pull up a stool inside to enjoy one, or head out back to their quaint patio area! The second one is Biggs Cigar Emporium, which just opened a few weeks earlier inside the old Biggs Mansion. The shop is in the basement and offers cigar lovers a number of great cigars to choose from. With pub chairs and TVs, one can definitely kick back and relax!

Cigar Bars - a great place to network

A lot of folks wonder what it is I've been doing and what has me on the road so much. The best way to describe what I'm doing these days is truly "business development" - helping my clients to develop and build their businesses and their offerings. One of the most recent endeavors involves the creation of a new non-profit entity that is focused on building sustainable communities around the world. In this new endeavor, we will work to implement mentor-protégé programs, providing training, counseling, and coaching to small businesses and individuals. We will offer these services to target a variety of industries in local communities, but we will have specific programs tailored to some of the up-and-coming industries including additive manufacturing and alternative and renewable fuels.

As part of all of my travels, I am always looking to network for opportunities to partner. One of the best places I have found to do this is indeed in cigar bars. I have made more connections sitting in cigar bars and enjoying cigars and scotch, bourbon, whiskey. wine, and other libations. It is one of the few locations where I know I can always make a new acquaintance.

Leaving my heart in...

San Francisco - well not really leaving it, but rather enjoying a lot of time here for work. I am helping to set up operations for a client, specifically focused on mentoring small businesses and helping them grow and sustain. It has been a long endeavor to get to this point, but a fun journey that is continuing to grow. I do so enjoy helping others develop and succeed. And as part of my journey, I continue to find neat places to go.

This trip has found me as far east as Livermore, home to some wonderful wineries and a great little place in downtown Livermore called "The Winemaker's Pourhouse." They specialize in boutique wines from around the region and pairing these wines with small plates ranging from cheese plates and bacon wrapped dates (yummy) to turkey chili and flatbreads. To the west, I have ventured back to Half Moon Bay and the Distillery, along a journey on Route 1. To the south, I have been back down to Hollister, California and central coast wine region, and to the north to Sonoma and Healdsburg.

And I finally found a great little cigar pub, in the heart of the Financial District downtown San Francisco. Be sure to check out the Occidental Cigar Club (see Recommended Places for location and website). They have a very diverse selection of bourbons, scotch, and whiskey (of course that's what I look for), wines, and brews. Their humidor has a wide choice of cigars. You are welcome to bring your own, but they do ask for a very small cutting fee.

From the International Women's Cigar Society (IWCS)

Want to be a part of history?  IWCS is currently conducting the very first ever extensive cigar survey for women cigar smokers.  They already have participants from Germany, Italy,Ukraine, France, England, Spain, Nicaragua, Honduras, Bahamas, Hawaii,New Hampshire, North & South Carolina, California,Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Colorado, North & South Dakota, Nevada, Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Washington, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Iowa, Oregon, New Mexico, Florida....are you represented?  

WILL YOU HELP US TAKE THIS WOMEN'S CIGAR SURVEY? After much preparation we are proud to announce we have completed the survey and now need your participation in taking it yourself and passing it on to other female cigar smokers. 

This is an extensive (60+ questions) questionnaire that explores the preferences and habits of women cigar smokers. Why is this important?  Some tobacconists and cigar manufacturers still do not recognize women cigar smokers as a viable market.  It is the mission of IWCS to educate them and provide them with information to help them communicate, understand and promote to female smokers. Our humble thanks for roughly 5 minutes of your time.We need to hear from you!



At Home in the Capitol City

I seem to be spending more and more time in the Washington, DC area, which is nice as it puts me close to home to visit family. There are many reasons why I am finding myself here, from working on alternative fuels programs to building new opportunities for clients involved in the information management arena. Most recently, I have been participating in a group called the Women's Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) - This organization is a non-partisan, policy-neutral organization that focuses on women, energy and the environment. Their meetings have addressed topics such as carbon offsets and how to obtain carbon credits to understanding the air quality planning and standards. I have found it very beneficial as I work with one of my clients on a new recycling and reclamation program.

In addition, I am now back in an industry in which I started many years ago - security, information management, systems integration, and systems engineering. As a result, I've re-engaged with organizations in the area to get up to speed on where the industry is today and where it is heading.

And last, but definitely, not least, I am re-engaging with the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) - I have been a member of this organization for nearly 16 years and have benefited greatly from the networking and training opportunities.

To this end, I must admit that I am glad to be back "home" in the DC area. I have posted a few great shops and pubs to visit under Recommended Places. But there is so much more to see and learn:

  • Museums
  • Wineries
  • Homes of some of our great Presidents
  • Civil War and Revolutionary War history
  • Nature trails and parks

Be sure to venture out of the city a bit and see the sites.

Starting a New Year

With the new year well into gear, I thought it time to update the blog. I still need to add my last European trip, but until I do, here is the latest.

The Basin Street Lounge in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, is a comfortable cigar pub, filled with lots of regulars from near and far. Sitting above the 219 Restaurant, visitors can enjoy a wonderful selection of scotch, bourbon, and whiskey (and for a unique twist, a very nice selection of rye), as well as other fine libations. The pub is affiliated with the 219 Restaurant, so the food is also amazing. They also have lockers available. If you want to try something a bit different, ask Jamie for a Sazerac. It's a nice change of pace. Also be sure to stick around for their live music, most nights.

The cigar is one of my new favorites - La Aroma de Cuba El Jefe. A very full bodied cigar, it goes great with a High West Double Rye. Before this one, I enjoyed my all-time favorite - El Rico Habano.

Don't worry if you forget your cigars. A small humidor is on site with some very fine cigars for sale. There is also a great little cigar store just a few doors down - John Crouch Tobacconist. That is where I purchased the El Jefe.

From City to Mountains - Zurich, Switzerland

Today's post finds me wrapping up a visit in Zurich, Switzerland. Here we toured to anaerobic digestion facilities - one that converts bio-waste to bio-diesel, and one that converts organic and bio-waste to electricity. From industrial surroundings to a facility tucked right in the heart of the mountains northwest of Zurich, we had a chance to see this region for all that it is known for - especially the facility in the mountains. It was a great experience to wind our way through so many small Swiss communities to get to this location and to see the architecture of old factories and homes. The view from the plant site shows some beautiful views! The drive up to the site also was exquisite. From clouds to rainbows to fields of grapes - I had no idea that this region is a wine region.
So today we enjoyed a day of sight-seeing in the city. We took the train, which was just outside the hotel, into the heart of the city and enjoyed a great walking tour of the old city and the alleys tucked in between the buildings. We never knew what to expect at any turn From rivers to church steeples to forts, we walked quite a bit. One stop found me on a small alley in front of a store called Wagner Tabak Libeli - a fantastic little cigar shop with a great selection of cigars. I found a label I had never had - Patoro, from the Dominican Republic. If you find yourself in the heart of Zurich, find this cigar shop and enjoy the great selection that they have!
The city was amazing. The pictures hardly do it justice, but enjoy the journal that is attached.
 : The views drivving to the first plant site
The views drivving to the first plant site
The view from the 2nd plant site - tucked in the mountains
 : The view from the 2nd plant site - tucked in the mountains
 : The view from the 2nd plant site - tucked in the mountains
The view from the 2nd plant site - tucked in the mountains
The architecture of Zurich
 : The architecture of Zurich
 : The simple beauty of the river leading to Lake Zurich
The simple beauty of the river leading to Lake Zurich
Swans are such beautiful creatures
 : Swans are such beautiful creatures
 : The simple beauty of the river leading to Lake Zurich
The simple beauty of the river leading to Lake Zurich
We walked all along these buildings before meandering through the alley ways.
 : We walked all along these buildings before meandering through the alley ways.
 : The architecture continues to amaze me
The architecture continues to amaze me
The architecture continues to amaze me
 : The architecture continues to amaze me
 : The simple beauty of the river leading to Lake Zurich
The simple beauty of the river leading to Lake Zurich
Would have loved to stay here!
 : Would have loved to stay here!
 : A typical view of Zurich from atop the fort.
A typical view of Zurich from atop the fort.
A typical view of Zurich from atop the fort.
 : A typical view of Zurich from atop the fort.
 : And last, but not least, proof that I really was there!
And last, but not least, proof that I really was there!

From Brussels to Hamburg

The next stop on my European tour found me in Hamburg, Germany. I got there by way of Copenhagen, Denmark. While I only had 1.5 hours there, it was enough to realize that we should have stayed there that day. The weather was beautiful and the countryside just looked amazing from the air. But alas, that was not the case. Instead, we boarded another plane and made our way to Hamburg, Germany.
Why here, you may ask? Germany is one of the leaders in implementing renewable energy technologies, and in particular anaerobic digestion. We are looking at several plants to see how they operate, their sizes, the types of wastes they take, and the types of end products they manufacture. We spent the evening in Hamburg, then traveled south about 1.5 hours to Hannover to tour the first of three plants by this particular manufacturer. The plant converts agricultural waste (from pig farms and similar sites) to electricity for a small, rural community near Hannover. It was really interesting to see just how compact these sites are, and that for the most part, everything fits in 20-foot ISO containers and then is installed onsite.
But before we ventured southward, we had the chance to explore the beautiful city of Hamburg. After checking into the hotel, we set out for a ~2 mile walk to the harbor. This walk took us through some beautiful architecture. One paritcular area hosted a number of really quaint pubs. Note to self - be sure to get back to this area for lunch!
I went in search of a new charm and to find some cool souvenirs for the folks back home. So the adventure started at the Hard Rock Cafe on the waterfront. From there, we took a cab back to the hotel, and guess what was there? Yes, there was a cigar store there - Duske & Duske is a purveyor habana cigars, rum, port wine, and madeira.. Christian was a wonderful host, and I enjoyed a TTT Trinidad cigar, first with a 20-year old Dow Tawny Port, then by a local local effort called Hamburg Port (comes with its own chocolate too!). Sitting outside on the streets of Hamburg and people watching for a couple hours is not a bad way to spend an evening!
Next up is Zurich, Switzerland.

Moules et Frites Anyone?

Earlier this week I embarked on what is going to be an amazing trip, starting with Brussels, Belgium. Little did I know that one of the most popular dishes here is moules et frites - or mussels and french fries. I love mussels but had never thought to have them with french fries. So of course, the first night I had to try it. All I can say is WOW - they are amazing here!
The town itself is beautiful. I love the architecture, especially the mix of new and old! And while I have no had a chance to partake of a cigar yet, I have been enjoying the beers. So far, I have not had the same beer twice. Do I have any favorites? I really can't say - they all have been so good, but the Leffe Brune pictured here is probably my favorite so far. Oh, and the chocolate - can not forget the chocolate. I am told that I have to bring some home.
Why was I here? There is a conference every two years, called International Conference on Environmental Management. We had some really good meetings and are now forming some new partnerships as a result.
From here we spend 1.5 weeks touring bio-gas plants - anaerobic digestion systems that convert organic and food waste to compressed natural gas and/or electricity. Germany has more than 6600 of these systems up and running. We are touring facilities in Hamburg and Stuttgart, but also touring facilities in Gothenburg, Sweden and Zurich, Switzerland.  This will give us a first-hand view of full-scale systems i operation, so that we can confirm to our customers that the systems do indeed work as described and can be easily implemented throughout the US.
So from here, we go to Hamburg, Germany. More to come from there!

Have Cigar Will Travel - The Journey Begins

And so the journey begins - and how appropriate a title - Have Cigar Will Travel. About 10 years ago I ventured into the world cigars. I was introduced to them and found them to be a wonderful, relaxing enjoyment. When I travel, cigars offer me the opportunity to have some great conversations, partially being a lady cigar smoker, but add to that I tend to smoke strong and robust cigars. I also tend to pair my cigars with bourbon or whiskey, which furthers the conversation.
And so my blog begins...Because I travel so much, many friends often ask me for recommendations for restaurants, bars/pubs, and of course, wine. So this blog will document my travels, providing great recommendations along the way.
Today's blog finds me in Seattle, Washington, for meetings and a chance to catch up with some very good friends on the eastern side of the state, when I head to the Tri-Cities (for those who don't know, that would be Pasco, Kennewick, and Richland, WA). This weekend is business but also play time as I get to do some wine tasting and enjoy a day at the Water Follies, the annual hydroplane boat races.
Some of the wineries I will be visiting include Alexandria Nicole Cellars (going to visit their Woodinville location for the first time), Bookwalter Winery, and Thomas O'Neill Cellars. One of the other activities I'm very fond of is good music - and Bookwalter and Thomas O'Neill have great lineups!
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