Voting or Vegas

by Bob Sparrow

     Well of course you knew with Monday being the last day for voting, that this week’s blog from me just might mention ‘The Best Job Around the World’ competition being offered by travel company, Jauntaroo.  I’m actually sending this from the road as I’m on a ‘Boy’s Birthday Bash’ for a friend, which includes Las Vegas (I’ve been reminded several times about that ‘What goes on in Vegas . . .’ thing, so I’ve probably already said too much) and playing golf at two classic golf courses, Wolf Creek in Mesquite, NV and Sand Hallow in Hurricane, UT.

On Monday, I’ll be an easy golfer to identify, I’ll be the one with my laptop in my golf cart and running off the green after each putt to see where the ‘Like’ count is.  For those who have been asking, and for those who haven’t, here’s what will happen with the Jauntaroo job thing after Monday . . .

A. Jauntaroo will select the Top 50 candidates based on (not necessarily in this order):

1) Qualification of the candidate

2. Quality of their video

3. Number of video ‘Likes’

B. The Top 50 candidates will be asked to make another video.  It has not been disclosed what the subject matter of the second video will be or whether it will be something that the public votes on again.

C. From the Top 50, a ‘Top 5’ will be selected and flown to a ‘secret’ location for face-to-face interviews

Although I don’t know the timeframes for these last two phases, I do know that it will progress rather quickly as Jauntaroo wants to make the announcement of the one person selected as their Chief World Explorer on or around October 26th – just 3 weeks away.

So if you’re reading this on Monday, Sept. 30 you can still vote, so please click on the link below and vote and then pass it along to a contact or two . . . or 5.

I’m not sure when the Top 50 will be announced, I suspect by the end of the week, so you’ll soon be hearing from me one way other the other either about moving on to the next phase of this competition or a blurred recollection of my adventures at the Boy’s Birthday Bash, if I can remember any of it.

Thank you again to all those who have so faithfully supported me in this endeavor.



Igrid Bergman, Gary Cooper and Clark Gable skiing in Sun Valley

Ingrid Bergman, Gary Cooper and Clark Gable skiing in Sun Valley

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Well, if it’s September, we must be going to Sun Valley. Yep, like lemmings to the sea, each September we migrate to Idaho in search of great hiking, spectacular golf, and cooler air. That last part becomes very important this time of year – our lows in Scottsdale last week averaged 84. The 10 day forecast for Sun Valley has the lows in the 30’s. I may just sit outside in the mornings with a cup of coffee until ice forms on either it or me.

Friends often wonder why we return to Idaho every year. People who haven’t been there usually ask something along the lines of, “Oh, do you have to go see family”? Like it is some obligatory trip that we take to an ugly part of the country to see people we don’t much like who require that we sleep on a hide-a-bed in their basement. But people who have been lucky enough to visit Sun Valley ask us if they can climb into our suitcase. Since its inception it has been the playground for many celebrities – Ernest Hemingway lived (and died) there and Gary Cooper and Clark Gable made regular visits to ski and hunt. Since we’ve been going there for 26 years we’ve also seen our share of modern-day movie stars, although they don’t seem quite as big as Cooper or Gable. Maybe some version of that line from “Sunset Boulevard” applies here – the scenery is the same, it’s the stars who have gotten smaller. My husband spent 30 minutes talking to Arnold Schwarzenegger once about tax policies in California, but even though he’s big, I’m not sure he counts as a “star”. We’ve seen Candice Bergen, Muriel Hemingway and I once ran across Jamie Lee Curtis in a store. I was tempted to tell her that the Activia really wasn’t working for me but then my better angels prevailed.

The Lodge at Sun Valley - made of concrete poured to look like wood

The Lodge at Sun Valley – made of concrete poured to look like wood

From the outset, the Sun Valley resort was marketed as a haven for the rich and famous. It was developed by Averell Harriman, who was chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad in the 30’s. He was an avid skier and after the success of the Lake Placid Olympics in 1932 he correctly assumed that Americans would develop a keen interest in winter sports. Harriman had the idea of building the first destination ski resort in the U.S. in a place so remote that – what a coincidence – the only way to get there was via the Union Pacific Railroad.  In 1935 Harriman hired an Austrian count, Felix Schaffgotsch, to travel across the western United States to find the perfect setting for a ski area. When Schaffgotsch visited Ketchum, Idaho he decided that the combination of good snowfall, sunshine and the perfect ski mountain was where Harriman should build. Harriman started construction immediately and then hired a marketing genius to spread the word. Harriman was afraid that people would not be attracted to the cold climes of Idaho, so he named the resort “Sun Valley” to conjure up images of warmth and coziness. He installed the world’s first round swimming pools to garner more attention and they did.  Sun Valley took off as a locale synonymous with great skiing, fine dining and first-class entertainment.

But the really interesting history of Sun Valley lies in the story of the ski school. Count Schaffgotsch helped Harriman attract the top ski instructors in the world, including Friedl Pfeifer. Pfeifer was Austrian and not only the most famous downhiller in the world, he also managed to carve out time to teach between racing circuits. His pupils ranged from the famous (Claudette Colbert) to the infamous (Rudolph Hess). In 1937 he fled Austria weeks after Hitler’s invasion and was lured to Sun Valley, just in time for the opening of the ski school. As it turns out, Schaffgotsch was a huge admirer of Hitler and among the Austrian instructors he recruited to Sun Valley were several avowed Nazis. From 1937 to the outbreak of the war, they put Sun Valley’s ski school on the map and, despite the instructors’ political leanings, people flocked there by the thousands to learn from the very best.

Friedl Pfeifer as a dashing ski instructor

Friedl Pfeifer as a dashing ski instructor

But the shadow of World War II loomed large. Once the war broke out, Schaffgotsch and several other instructors returned to the “Fatherland” to enlist in Hitler’s army. Schaffgotsch joined the SS and while he was in Italy he received a letter from Harriman letting him know that his duties were complete at Sun Valley but that he was welcome as a guest at any time.  The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed FBI agents from Salt Lake City descended on Sun Valley to investigate reports of Nazi sympathizers among the ski school staff. Three of the most prominent instructors were arrested, including Pfeifer. Pfeifer and several other Austrian instructors enlisted in the U.S. Army and had distinguished war records as part of the 10th Mountain Division.

In 1942, Harriman offered up the Sun Valley Lodge to the Navy to serve as a hospital for both officers and enlisted men. He thought the quiet and solitude of this remote mountain village would sooth their war sufferings. Most of the men enjoyed the peacefulness of the Wood River Valley, but some found the isolation difficult. No matter, the resort remained in service to the Navy until war’s end and did not re-open until the spring of 1946. Most of the instructors came back to Sun Valley after the war and were instrumental in advancing the burgeoning ski industry. Pfeifer returned to the U.S. and settled in Colorado where he helped found the Aspen ski resort.   Ironically, Schaffgotsch was killed in Russia during Harriman’s stint as our ambassador to that country.

In 1995 we were lucky enough to be in Sun Valley when a memorial to the 10th Mountain Division was erected on the Sun Valley grounds. We watched as several elderly men, some in uniform, paid tribute to their fallen comrades. They were a spry and inspiring group, unbowed by the years with their physical prowess still much in evidence. As far as I’m concerned, they were the biggest stars we’ve ever seen in Sun Valley.

And speaking of stars, let me pass along a friendly reminder to ‘Like’ my brother’s video (every 24 hours) at the link below:

Senior Social Media Moments

by Bob Sparrow

photo (8)First, I want to thank those who follow us here by subscribing to our blog and especially those who take the time to comment on the subject of the week.  Second, I’d like to sincerely thank those who have been following my quest to become Jauntaroo’s first Chief World Explorer, which you know by now has consumed me.  It has been an awesome experience, one that has helped me understand what I really want to do when I grow up.  OK, I’m never growing up, just growing older.

But I must say, in many cases, it’s been a real challenge to get my peers to ‘Like’ my video.  Not that they wouldn’t like it if they saw it, it’s just that they’re . . . how can I put this delicately, social media challenged.  Following is a sample of what I mean.

Me: “Were you able to see my video and ‘Like’ it?”

Senior: “Didn’t see it so can’t tell you if I liked it.  Where was it?”

Me: “You can pick up the URL on my Facebook page that will take you to the video link”

Senior: “Say what?  I don’t have Faceplant”

Me: “That’s Facebook”    OLD GUYS

Senior: “Whatever”

Me: “I also tweeted it on Twitter”

Senior: “You did what?”

Me: “Never mind. What about LinkedIn?”

Senior: “What about him?  I thought he was one of our greatest presidents”

Me: “Not Lincoln, LinkedIn. Did you see the blog?”

Senior: “The Blob, wasn’t that a ‘50s science fiction movie?”

Me: No, do you have an iPhone, iPad?”

Senior: “iRefuse”

Me: “Hey, I need your help here, I’m trying to get this thing to go viral”

Senior: “Sorry, don’t they have shots for that now?” road sign

Me:  “Yeah, thanks.  What about Instagram?”

Senior: “Is that Billy Graham’s sister?”

Me: “Pinterest?”

Senior: “No, I’ve lost interest, mind if I go back to reading my newspaper?”

OK, it’s not quite that bad, but it’s based on true stories.  To be fair, there are many of my peers who are very tech savvy, but risking their indignation, I’ve asked those over fifty to pass my ‘voting messages’ on to their children, and in some cases their grandchildren.

babyboomersHere’s the paradoxical thing about all this – the demographic that is now in their peak earning years or retiring, the Baby Boomers, have the time, interest and wealth to travel, yet it is the group that seems antidotally at least, the hardest to reach electronically.  The percentage of those 50 and older who get most of their news from the Internet drops significantly from the younger-than-50 group and the numbers for the 65+ group drop even more dramatically.  So, how does a relatively new travel company like Jauntaroo get the attention of this critical demographic?  I have some ideas, but they’re going to have to hire me in order to hear them.

If you’re reading this, you’re clearly not the people I’m talking about above, so as Jack Kennedy’s presidential campaign manager in Chicago said, “Vote early and vote often”. vote


Thank you




By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Old College Football

College Football in Simpler Times

September means only one thing around our household – college football season starts. We await the beginning of each season as a child might await Christmas. In July my husband buys the college football preview magazines and begins to plot out our weekends for the fall. He is a life-long USC fan (it’s going to be a long season) so every year he gives me their schedule to mark on our calendar with instructions not to plan anything silly when a game is on. “Silly” is defined as dinner with good friends, going to a play, or God forbid, a trip to the emergency room.

So every Saturday, from September through the bowl games in January, our day unfolds with military-like precision: we wake up and don our “Saturday pants” (which is anything with an elastic waistband), we cut out the sports schedule from the paper and circle all the games we want to catch, we watch ESPN “Game Day“, and then plunk ourselves down for a Bacchanalia of football. We finally rouse from our chairs around midnight, at which point we take our stupefied selves to bed. Some might suggest that the whole day has been stupefied, but we love our college football.


Our own Artie the Artichoke

One aspect of the game that is getting more attention these days is the team mascot. It used to be that some poor sap put a paper mache head on and ran along the sidelines like an idiot. But like all else with college sports, the team mascot has become more sophisticated. They have races with the opposing mascot, they do push-ups after every touchdown, and their outfits often look like something out of a Tim Burton movie. There are, however, a few exceptions to this sophistication. The first one is right here in my own backyard: The Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichoke. That’s right – our mascot is a vegetable. I don’t recall an artichoke being particularly fearsome, unless you count being stuck by those little prickly things at the end of the leaf. A couple of years ago Artie (as he is familiarly known) was #1 in the Top Ten Most Weird College Mascot contest. He beat out the Delta State Fighting Okra. We don’t even grow artichokes in Scottsdale but the story goes that a few years ago some computer science students were upset about the amount of money the school spent on the football team. So they managed to get a campaign going to find a new mascot for the team, plotting to suggest the artichoke since they thought it would be so embarrassing to the team. They drove a hard (and probably rigged) campaign and Artie won the day. Ironically, the students, including the football team, soon embraced the cute little vegetable and today Artie is a beloved member of the campus.

There are other examples of dumb mascots, most notably the Stanford tree. Or maybe I’m just not smart enough to “get it”. There is the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs and the Oglethorpe Stormy Petrels. My brother, Bob, attended Westminster College at a time when their mascot was the “Parson”. It will not surprise you to know that Bob wrote the sports column for the school newspaper. He often suggested that “Parson” didn’t really strike fear in their opponents, but to no avail. They since have changed it to the “Griffin” which at least gives them a fighting chance.


Uga in his official football uniform

On the other side of the ledger, perhaps the BEST mascot in college football is Uga, the Bulldog from the University of Georgia. It pains me to say that because I hate the SEC and everything about it. Except Uga. How can you not fall in love with that face? An English Bulldog has been the mascot for the university since 1956, all of them owned by the same family. To date, 9 dogs have carried the name “Uga”, each descended from the original Uga, and frequently the son of the predecessor. Talk about nepotism! The current Uga attends every home football game, many away games, and other University-related functions and sports events, and usually wears a spiked collar and red jersey with varsity letter. The red jersey is Uga’s typical “uniform,” though he wears a green jersey on St. Patrick’s Day. Other special appearances include 1982, when Uga IV attended the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York City wearing a tuxedo, and 2007, when Uga VI wore a black jersey for the “blackout” game against Auburn. Shoot, this dog has more change of outfits than I do. He even has an official student identification card. He has a custom-built air-conditioned dog house and typically sits on or near bags of ice at games.


What does a guy have to do to cool off around here?


Here he is – trying to cool off after the half time show – overheated and prostate. I can so relate to his dilemma. Oftentimes as I’m running around in the midst of summer I’ve also felt like heaving myself onto a bag of ice. Granted, I’d need a considerably bigger bag than Uga, but I think he’s on to something.

So this season, pay special attention to the mascots. You never know when you might run into an Artichoke or a petrel. Or if you’re really lucky, a cute English Bulldog named Uga.

Jauntaroo Who?

by Bob Sparrow

Januntaroo   No, Jauntaroo Who is not the bon vivant brother of Cindy Lou Who, the wee tot in The Grinch That Stole Christmas, who espied the Grinch on Christmas Eve stuffing the family Christmas tree up the chimney.  Rather it is a relatively new travel agency that has caught my eye and the eyes of several thousand other people recently with a unique employment opportunity.

They are offering a $100,000 salary to a person who will travel to some 50 destinations during the course of 2014, mingling with various cultures, helping those less fortunate and using social media to keep the rest of the world abreast of all the adventures that ensue.

How do I know about this?  I was working in my office, which is a loft in our bedroom while my wife, Linda was getting ready for work in the bathroom, watching the Today show, where Jauntaroo was getting air time from Al Roker and Mel B about their ‘Best Job Around the World’ employment offer.  Linda called my attention to the ad and said, “This job has your name all over it!”   My uneasiness over my wife’s enthusiasm for me applying for a job that would put me on the road through most of 2014 should I win, was tempered by my excitement over the prospects of doing just that.

So, yes of course I’m applying!  I am currently in the process of filling out the application, part of which requires a one-minute video on why I should be Jauntaroo’s first Chief World Explorer.  That video is in the making as I write this and should be ‘in the can’ (that’s Hollywood talk for finished, not in the garbage can) by September 6th, as the deadline for applications is September 15th.

Once the video is posted, I will be bugging every person I know to go on line and ‘Like’ it – EVERYDAY, as you can ‘vote’ every 24 hours according to the Jauntaroo  rules.  As part of the ‘interview’ process, Jauntaroo is looking to see how much social media attention job candidates can generate – so I’ll need help from all of you to show these young wiper-snappers that there is still plenty of tread left on these tires.

If you like travel, their website at has some interesting features, like their unique ‘Vacation Finder’, ‘Travel With A Cause’ and their daily ‘Travel Tip’.  They take a very personal approach to matching travelers with the right destinations.  You can also click on  ‘THE CANDIDATES’ and you’ll be able to see all the videos that have been submitted thus far for the ‘dream job’. Well, you won’t want to see ALL 1,000+ videos, but hopefully you’ll see one, mine.

I’m apologizing in advance for the ‘reminders’ to vote that I’ll be sending out to all of you and asking you to send them on to all your contacts.  The video is short and you’ll hopefully be entertained . . . for 60 seconds.