Document the Day

We’re finally moving into the modern age here at the 032. Don’t think I’ll ever get away from pen and paper though. Old habits die hard I guess.

Check out my first vblog. Maybe a sign of things to come?

What keeps you efficient?

Cahava Ranch Road

It’s been awhile since my last post. Lots happening these past few months. Usually a good sign when I don’t have time to write. Also working toward a more “modern” way of interacting on the world wide web. Dominion Fine Homes will soon have it’s own Facebook page if you can believe it? Hoping to work the blog into that medium going forward.

So business keeps churning. I currently have a property up on Spur Cross in Cave Creek listed for rent for one of my clients. We had been trying to sell it since last summer. No takers, so we are back to leasing. Should go soon, have had a lot of interest already in the first few days.

Funny thing about this property. My client “Tim,” who is also a good friend, came to me about 8 years ago while we were still in the come-back stage of the great recession and said, “Hey, I’m being transferred back to Southern California. If I sell now, I’m going to loose quite a bit of money on the house. Everyone is telling me to just dump it. What do you think?”

Being more optimistic than smart I said, “Don’t dump it! Rent it out and I’ll help you self manage.” Could tell I had his ear so I continued. “Everyone keeps dumping their property, when does it end? Let’s be a part of the solution!”

He went for it. And then after some eight years of hosting renters, the market looked pretty good, so we put it up for sale. We felt pretty good about ourselves; here we were all these years later and we are a part of the solution! We celebrated. Then celebrated some more. Then realized after 6 or so months no sale was happening. Reality is, the property is unique and most of the value is in the 2.5 acres of land and not the house. Unfortunately, people are not valuing the land, for now.

Celebration ended. We are back to renting the property out. But here’s the silver lining. All this time my client was diligently paying the property off. So when we were having trouble selling, he just says one day, “Hey this is an asset and I can still earn a good dividend on the rent each month. Why not keep it as a rental?”

Roger that. We are still a part of the solution! Real Estate investment, even at the height of the mad-dash housing market of 04 – 07 is still turning out to be a solid decision.

Rock-n Roll!

Lost in Excelsior


Returned home to Minnesota last week to be with my mother who was in the last hours of her long courageous battle with cancer. Fortunately she was at home and being made as comfortable as possible.

It was fitting that her final breath was taken in Excelsior, a small town on the south shore of Lake Minnetonka. Our house growing up was only about 5 miles away and the town was very much a fixture of my youth.


My Mom loved the town.  Her Uncle Harry, who lived on the Dickinson family farm in South Dakota had been sent to Excelsior to finish high school during the depression. The prairie was no longer providing.  It proved to be a total coup for Harry. The little lake town cultivated his potential and in many ways he re-set the trajectory of the Dickinson’s.

In doing so, a path was set for my mother and father and they would find their way out to Minnetonka in 1972.  For many years we lived on ol’ Leemans Drive across from Bennett Park.  Eventually though as early “empty-nesters” they moved into Excelsior. From there they moved to Orono, on the north side of the lake. But about 5 years ago they returned to Excelsior, where she spent her last days.

Think we were fortunate in that my siblings and I were all able to be with her and my dad in her final hours. Don’t think that happens all the time. But in the few days after her passing, think we were all lost in Excelsior. She would have loved it.


My Mom, she was an incredible woman. She loved God with all her heart and sought truth her entire life. I will miss her so much.

I’ve attached her obituary, beautifully written by my sister Tricia.

Bonnie Huntley 10-4-42 – 12-6-18

Much love to all. God bless.

BL photo funeral_edited

RIP Bonnie Lou Dickinson Huntley

Too Much Stuff?


Was on a Realtor tour last week driving to and fro multiple properties. Being that it was bright and sunny, I had my sun glasses on.  At the same time I was trying to read the directions on the listing sheets. But because I had my sun glasses on, I wasn’t wearing my readers.  Not wanting to sacrifice my sun protection, I subtly slid my readers on in front of my sun glasses.  Then I kind of sheepishly looked up at the other two people riding with me and realized they were both doing the same thing! Led to some good laughs.


Maybe Mr. Pitt can pull off this look, but most of us tend to look kind of funny wearing two pairs of glasses.  I say to the others, “I’m thinking about turning my sun glasses into bi-focal’s. Aside from no longer looking ridiculous, it would be one less thing to carry.” And the guy sitting in my back seat pipes-up and says, “Too much stuff. We are carrying too many things, you got to get rid of something.” He pauses, then say’s, “Or get a briefcase.”


Don’t think that’s going to happen. Can I turn my RayBans into bi-focals?

On another note, as some may have noticed, we are going “retro” here at; i.e. the Son Volt logo is back. Am currently in the process of having a new web-site built for my Real Estate company Dominion Fine Homes. I’m even paying someone to do it for me, My Friend Jesse of Ironwood Images in the 032. The reason is this; over the last 8 or so years, the two businesses have fed each other and enjoyed quite a bit of synergy. But moving forward, my primary business is growing Dominion Fine Homes.  And while I’ve always gotten a lot of positive feedback for this blog, there has been some expressed concern that it’s not representative of a Real Estate Brokerage.  Nuff said. From here on out the two will stay in their own lanes.


Lastly, have been reading a book about the Wright Brothers and their path to flight. (David McCullough 2015) It’s interesting because after their initial success at Kitty Hawk they returned to their home in Dayton, Ohio and continued trying to “fly.” In 1903-04 they made over 500 test flights in Dayton.  All the locals knew what they were trying to do and the Wrights even invited the local press to come watch. But none ever came.  It was Amos Root from Medina, Ohio who traveled 200 miles on muddy roads to see the Wright’s experiments.  And while he was very impressed and even sent reports of the boys success to the American Scientific Magazine, he received no reply. Like the locals, not many took what they were doing seriously.


Finally in 1905 in his own trade magazine, Gleanings in Bee Culture, Amos Root wrote:

“…these brothers have probably not even a faint glimpse of what their discovery is going to bring to the children of men. No one living can give a guess of what is coming along this line, much better than any one living could conjecture the final outcome of Columbus’ experiment….”— , Jan. 1, 1905  Root is basically comparing the Wrights to Christopher Columbus.


And sitting there in Dayton, right under their noses, man took flight and not single local reporter had come to see. What could have been going on in Dayton in 1903-04 that seemed more important? Not even a “look-see?”

Makes ya wonder…What is happening under our noses today?


‘Time to get outta Dodge’


Had a chance to take a road trip with the wife and kids last week.  Headed to Dodge City Kansas, the one-time home of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Wild Bill Hickcock and many others.  Been on the trail of Earp for some time now, also tracked him to Deadwood and Tombstone.  Will always wonder what he was doing in Tombstone. Following the money? Hired gun? May never know.


I understand the western town isn’t for everyone.  But if you like this kind of stuff, old west stuff, all three towns, Dodge, Deadwood and Tombstone, all offer a really unique experience.


Dodge is still a very viable railroad town, so the old-west heritage is packaged into a small part of the city, “Boot Hill.” But they know what they have in terms of history and do a very nice job of highlighting it.  There are also statues and memorials throughout town that widen the spectrum a bit.


Deadwood is also still thriving in part because of gaming and casinos, but it’s a very well kept town that also celebrates it’s old-west roots, while offering people who could care less about Earp and friends other options.  Dodge has a good museum but Deadwood’s is better.


Finally Tombstone. There’s nothing like Tombstone. It’s still the town it was, “Too tough to die.” The town people dress in 1800’s garb and act the part too. It’s a living museum, It’s incredible.  The shoot-out at the OK Corral is just that, ok. Shootout in Dodge is superior. Tombstone though offers a unique feeling of what it might have felt like 140 years ago, because it is largely still the same.  Even today it feels odd to be in such a remote part of the country, much less back then. Long way from no-where eh.

Early Identity Theft

At this point my kids still really enjoy these places.  They brought their cowboy boots and jeans to Dodge, and as soon as we arrived they changed into costume.  Love that.  No this ain’t Disney Land, really trying to avoid that societal trap.  But Dodge etc. is doing a great job presenting the ‘old west.’  If these places weren’t doing such a good job, my kids wouldn’t but into it. But they do, and they love it.


Last thought. This is my 16th year in the desert. I remember when I was growing up in Minnesota, the summer solstice never meant much.  ‘Oh the first day of summer… it’s been warm since the end of May, who cares?’ Long summer days were welcomed in the North. In the desert however, “Solstice” means the beginning of shorter days. When it’s 110 and the sun is still shinning at 8 pm, it can be tiring.  Really for me, once I started working in and out of my truck I became keenly aware of the date.  So here we are a week post solstice and we have actually gained 3 minutes of darkness, unfortunately it has been in the morning; as sunrise has gone from 4:14 to 4:17.  I’m thinking most of us are missing that? Attached link below to sunrise and sunset times. We don’t actually gain a minute of nigh-time darkness until the 30th of June.  Will be celebrating.

‘Lifestyle & Community’


Rarely have I considered myself to be ahead of the times. In fact, I pride myself more on being behind-the-times.  And I’m not trying to be smarter than anyone else, it’s more a matter of what I can handle.  Couldn’t handle Facebook. Can’t afford apple phones, (I know, iphones) It’s the old k.i.s.s. theory; keep it simple stupid.


But then last week I find myself in a class about Instagram. Have been told lately that it’s going to be all the rage with the younger people moving forward. Feel like it’s important to at least try and keep up with some of these platforms, I am in business after all. So I’m sitting there in this room with quite a few older people, as well as a smattering of younger people.  Guy starts talking “branding,” and “color schemes” and then goes into all the apps that a person can use to manipulate photos and pictures and such.  Lost me.


But about half way through, the whole dialogue turns to “Lifestyle and Community.” “Instead of just posting listings he says, try and talk more about lifestyle and community happenings where you live.” I sit back, kind of look around the room, people are nodding their heads in agreement. He then proceeds to spend the next 45 minutes re-iterating the same point.


The whole time I’m thinking to myself, ‘We’ve been doing this for years here at the 032, starting way-back with My friend Josh. Been talking about chickens, trucks, restaurants, church events, vacation spots, camping trailers, Mittens the mountain lion, home maintenance and on and on. 67 posts worth. So, maybe for once I’m ahead of the game?’


But I’m not ahead of the game. Never will be. Have to remember who we are in these moments. It’s confirming to think that the Lifestyle & Community concept is gaining traction in social media. Just always seemed like a good idea to me.  Also thought this was a good way to tell people about what I do while not making it out to be a resume.


The concept of adapting to another platform however, seems almost disingenuous at this point. Like, I might loose some street-cred if I start getting techie. Shouldn’t even be talking about Instagram.


Instagram is probably going to be the platform of the future. It’s more ambiguous and creative and for the younger generation, easy. The blog is story telling with words (some funny pictures too!). I enjoy the writing and for myself prefer to read stuff on the world-wide-web as opposed to watching videos.  Call me old school, call me crazy, but I’ll stick with what I’m doing.  Always wanted to be a writer, now I am… kind of?  Ain’t giving that up. So for now, we’ll just keep on, keeping on.


Big Happenings


Guess I’m what you call resilient, only took me a little over a month to finally get over the trauma of the Purple’s collapse in the NFC Championship.  Oh well, next year, eh? Thought I would soak my disappointment in the hot tub I found on the side of the road, but I haven’t been able to get it up and going yet.  Guys that helped me move it on to the property apparently don’t know how to do electrical work.  Hard to find good help these days.


Aside from all that fun, business continues to churn here in the desert. Last month, the owner of my real estate brokerage, Dominion Fine Homes, texts me early one morning and say’s, “Need to see you asap. It’s of urgency and importance.”  So I go meet with her and say, “Don’t tell me your closing up shop and moving over to the evil empire? (Rhymes with Buss Ryon)?”  ‘Yup’ she says, “But hey do you want to buy the company?”  ‘What?’


Decided that it was go time, this is my shot. Though it hadn’t been on my radar in any way, Dominion Fine Homes is now headquartered out of my garage over here at 63rd Place. We have 16 seasoned agents ready and able to help you with all your real estate needs.  And with an already strong foothold in the Cave Creek / Carefree area we’ll be looking to expand and grow into other markets as we move forward.  If anyone knows of a good agent who is shopping their license, tell’em to give me a call and we can talk some shop.

Newest 3-1-18

So what’s going to happen to Son Volt Properties?  The plan is to continue providing concierge/residential services to my existing clients.  If the right situation(s) arise, I’ll consider taking on more properties.


Last thought. Feels like everything is always going one way while I’m going in the opposite direction.  Recognized this a long time ago, but man or woman, a person’s just got to be who they are. It can be tiring though. But I think about ol’ Ray Crock, the McDonald’s guy, selling those milk shake mixers out of the back of his trunk into his early 50’s.  Why would he keep doing that? He had already found some moderate success in life; at 50, why not slow down? But he knew he was laying ground work for something bigger, he just didn’t know what it was yet. Then he found McDonald’s and he knew exactly what he had been looking for.


Aside from working as a Realtor, I’ve also spent a lot of years now working off the back of the truck, filling every property need that came my way.  Yeah concierge is a nice title, but peal off the shiny label and it’s more janitorial work than anything. How many times I said to myself, ‘Keep going, there has to be value in this.’  Think ol’ Ray Crock was thinking the same thing when he was lugging those mixers around.


Ready for take off?