Chicago: Meetings, OMTEC, & Adventurers’ Club

I had an exciting, but rough trip to Chicago this week, or at least it ended roughly. I started on Wednesday morning when I had an early flight from BDL. As soon as I landed at O’Hare, I grabbed a taxi and then visited a peer company in the machining industry who has a massive plant in Hanover Park. It was a fabulous tour of a high volume shop that primarily serves the automotive, heavy truck, and construction equipment industries. They don’t have a whole lot in common with Horst Engineering, but it is still nice to visit shops who are in an adjacent space. They use similar processes, but with much more automation.

After the plant tour, I went to the Rosemont Convention Center for the Orthoworld Orthopaedic Manufacturing & Technology Exposition and Conference. I attended this event last year in the throes of the economic downturn, so this year’s trade show was a vast improvement. The objective was to connect with more leads in the medical device sector, particularly in the areas of surgical instruments and orthopedic implants (e.g. spine, knee, shoulder, wrist, etc.). Over the course of 24 hours, I attended some workshops and networked with people in the industry. It was a successful visit, but time will tell if we penetrate the industry deeper. We are making a big push to establish a medical business to complement our aerospace focused main business unit.

After OMTEC, I headed downtown for a meeting with the YPO-WPO Family Business Network Executive Committee. We had a productive series of meetings during our 24 hour team visit. On Thursday evening, one of our committee members hosted us for dinner at the Adventurers’ Club of Chicago. There are several Adventurers’ Clubs, notably in New York and Los Angeles. The New York and Chicago clubs were founded around the same time, but the Savage Club of London is much older and sets the standard for what these clubs are about. Savage is a self-described “Bohemian Gentleman’s Club.” The Chicago group has female members, but like many men’s clubs, didn’t in the beginning. It doesn’t maintain an active website, but this link to an article penned by noted adventurer writer, Robert Young Pelton, best describes what adventurers’ clubs are about; the article has some juicy quotes about the Chicago club. Pelton has his own incredible stories about being captured in the jungles of Columbia during an expedition. I previously read about his exploits in National Geographic Adventure magazine. The L.A. club also has a good website that explains membership criteria.

The Chicago club reeked of nostalgia. We were in a place that was a real throwback to the old days. I’m a man of adventure (just look at the title of this blog!), but in a more modern sense. We were joined by several “adventurers” who regaled stories from around the globe. Around our small table were tales of epic sailing adventures to Cuba, outback hunting expeditions in South Africa, global circumnavigations by boat, and helicopter gun battles in Somalia. The flags that adorn the rafters tell the stories of sailors, soldiers, mountaineers, big game hunters, balloonists, and aviators. They highlight expeditions from all over the world over the past 100 years. The animal “trophies” are impressive, though not necessarily consistent with my “vegan values.” However, I don’t get bent out of shape with this stuff. Most of the artifacts have been there for more than a half century and are from a different era. Highlights included the 100,000 year old mastodon tusk that was found in an Antarctic iceberg, a zebra pelt, a rhinoceros head, various shrunken human/pygmy heads from Africa, and the giant whale penis mounted above the bar.

During dinner, I learned about one of the Club’s most famous recent adventurers. Paul “Quen” Cultra, who died in 2009 during his third attempt at circumnavigating the globe in a sailboat. Circumnavigations have been in the news lately thanks to the attempt of a 16-year-old girl to become the youngest to complete the trip solo. Cultra had successful trips in 1971 and 2007.  From all accounts, this guy was a real adventurer. Cultra’s colleague Joe Strykowski was also lost in the Indian Ocean cyclone that flipped their catamaran, but a third sailor, Leo Sherman, survived the ordeal. I was completely enraptured by the story, as told by one of our adventurer hosts, who had been on two prior sailing expeditions with Cultra, but had opted not to go on the fateful 2009 trip. Debbie and I have had many adventurers of our own and we intend to have many more. I was wondering what I would put on my membership application. Our 2005 Long Trail End-to-End hike comes to mind. So do our many New England 4000 footer climbs, and our endurance races in Australia, Africa, and Brasil. However, these are trips that have been also done by others. It is hard to find stuff that is “off the beaten path” like in the old days. So despite the tusks and mounts, I felt pretty comfortable in the environs of the club. The cook even whipped up a vegan meal for me!

Yesterday, after our committee meeting concluded, I had a fresh adventure of my own. I remained downtown and was catching up on my e-mail in a random hotel lobby off of Michigan Avenue, when a major thunderstorm rolled through the city. After some early morning drizzle, the day had become beautiful, with incredibly deep blue skies and brilliant sunshine. Before breakfast, I went for a run along the lake. It was only my third run since Ironman Brasil three weeks ago. However, the blue skies vanished after lunch, when the afternoon heat and humidity built up.  By 4:00 P.M., it was so dark that the street lights had come on. It was looking very ominous outside, and the thousands of folks who were strolling on the Magnificent Mile, were soon running for cover. The storm that hit was one of the most violent that I have ever seen. It was almost like a “perfect storm,” with incredible sideways sheets of rain, high wind, lightning, and thunder.

My camera stayed in my bag. There was no way to take pictures in those conditions, but what I saw with my eyes was amazing. The average city stroller isn’t prepared for this type of storm. There was no question that we were in the conditions that spawn tornadoes. I saw businesspeople in suits and skirts huddling under overhangs. I saw women in stiletto heals trudging through ankle-deep puddles. I saw girls shivering in their tank tops and shorts. The bus stops were crammed with people wearing bags over their heads. It was crazy. Umbrellas were ripped out of people’s hands. I had to get to O’Hare Airport, so I donned my waterproof jacket (the same one I wore in similar conditions five years ago during our Long Trail hike), and hit the streets. I first tried to get bus 66 on Chicago Avenue, but even on a normal Friday afternoon, that is a challenge. So, in the gale, I walked to the Red Line train stop. From there I connected with the Blue Line at Jackson, and made it to the airport alive.

I knew that there would be issues at O’Hare. My 7:15 P.M. flight ended up leaving at 2:30 A.M. this morning. We were delayed, but then they boarded us around 9:00 P.M. Unfortunately, according to the pilot, there were more than 100 planes in front of us on the airport taxi ways. So, we returned to the gate and sat there for an hour, before they unloaded us back into the terminal. It was a long night.

I don’t think my flight delay alone will qualify me for the Chicago Adventurers’ Club, but my week in the Windy City was certainly an interesting trip.

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Two days of #crawfordnotch views sandwiched with @appalachianmountainclub meeting. Cycling on Rt. 302, #trailrunning on the Crawford Path, and Mount Willard. #newhampshire 🚴🏽🏃🏻⛰ Sites and sounds from Day 2 @gpgloucester #gpgloucester The fog was burning off by the end of the Cub Juniors 9-14 year old race.

#horstspikes #cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross #horstengineering #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #madeinconnecticut #madeinnewengland #madeinusa 🇺🇸 It was great to see so many friends at today’s Western #Massachusetts Athletic Club Monroe (Dunbar Brook) Trail Race. We all ran the 2-Miler. We couldn’t stay long after the finish, but we did see Kelsey Allen win overall in the 10.5 Mile main event. Hooray! #trailrunning 🏃🏻 Before and after the Western #Massachusetts Athletic Club’s Monroe (Dunbar Brook) Trail Race in the #Berkshires I rode (very wet) over from Savoy Mountain State Forest where we camped last night. On the ride along the #DeerfieldRiver I checked out #ZoarGap and then we walked down to the river to see the Tooth. Sadly, the kayakers had already passed through. The foliage turned overnight. #trailrunning #cycling 🚴🏽🏃🏻⛰ #Cyclocross racing in the morning and downhill #mountainbiking @thundermountainbikepark in the afternoon. We got in two late afternoon runs on rental bikes and are pumped to return for more fun in the future. #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #thundermountainbikepark #berkshireeast 🚵‍♀️⛰ 30 kids in the 9-12 year old Race at the #mansfieldhollow #Cyclocross That’s just awesome! @the_ccap #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #crossspikes #crossisboss This image was from pregame, but approaching halftime @uconnfootball there aren’t many more fans than you see here. 35 (Memphis ) to 21 (UCONN) is a lot of points in 30 minutes of #football #uconn This morning I got to hear Warren Rustand, inspirational entrepreneur and fellow @ypoglobal member, speak at a #ypo Connecticut River Valley Chapter meeting. It was fitting that the event was @riverfrontrecapture and literally ON the #connecticutriver I walked from @horsteng via my favorite train bridge. The 10 minute trip back to the plant was ample time to reflect on the #leadership lessons that he shared with our group. @garyrome and I decided that we should memorialize our time with this dedicated athlete, by requesting that he join our photo. #horstengineering #business Fantastic but FRUSTRATING race at The Night Weasels Cometh #cyclocross Was charging hard but punctured with two to go and rode 3/4ths of a lap on my rear flat before getting to my pit bike. I just glued this tubular two nights ago. Grrrr! Gave up more than a dozen spots. This string of bad luck will end and my fitness will pay off. Still not a bad ending to a work day. Onward! #teamhorstsports #crossspikes #nightweasels 🚴🏽 🌕

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