The word that first comes to mind is "Wow" and I've said it a hundred times in the past week. Wow.

A couple of years ago, we put the base color of our Levi, Ray & Shoup transporter in the hands of the people, letting you decide if a teal rig looked better than a berry-colored trailer. When more than 700 votes came in for each color, I was blown away by the response and the effort it took to tabulate the vote. I figured we might do a little better here, if only because we had three options instead of two. Silly me.

I told Tim, right before we started the vote, that I thought we'd clear 1,000 votes pretty easily during the six-day voting period. Uh, actually we did that on the first day. For six days, the emails just kept coming, and it was clear early on that I had bitten off a much larger chunk than I could easily chew. So, for the past six days, I've tried not to let my email go unattended for more than a few hours at a time, although I didn't have much choice each night, when it was time to sleep. There were a few mornings where I awoke to find 300 or 400 new votes in my in-box, collected in the middle of the night.

It looked like the voting was finally calming down right around New Year's Day, but then people went back to work after the holiday and a whole slew of new voters got in line at the polling place. No long lines, no hanging chad, and no confusing ballot initiatives, but the Commissioner of Elections (me) was hammered again as this blog once more contributed mightily to inefficiency in the American workplace, and the final surge pushed the vote totals beyond anything I'd even considered.

Early on, as in Day 2, the volume swamped my email program and basically blew it up. For a few desperate hours, all I could do was go to the Earthlink server and manually check each note, then mark the votes on a sheet of paper, until I could set up an auto-forward to another account and take this entire process out of the hands of the fine folks (sarcasm) at Earthlink. If one good thing came out of that it's my mindset that over the course of this calendar year I'm finally going to wean myself and all of my contacts off that Earthlink address. It's prone to being hung up in Spam filters, the customer service is less than stellar, and one little surge in volume triggered an automatic shutdown that threatened to sink the whole vote until I came up with the work-around that saved the day.

Anyway, enough of that... In total, my best bit of arithmetic points to a grand total of 4,044 votes having been cast. I can't be 100 percent sure of that number (I can't even be 90 percent sure of it) but if it's not totally accurate I will have erred on the low side, since quite a few emails contained more than one vote. I had one family of six all vote via the same email, and lots of others where moms, dads, kids, aunts, uncles, and possibly pets all voted in one note, so I can't be totally sure I accounted for all of those. I did my best to do my duty, though...

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So I guess you want to know which design won... Really?

Well, I won't hold you up. Go ahead and click on through to see the final winner... I'll wait right here.

Did you see it yet?

Did you click through?

Are you back with me?

Yes, the "Swoops" design was the winner and in the interest of fair election reporting I have to tell you that it would most likely be categorized as a landslide. In other words, Swoops received more votes than Dots and Big Diamond combined.

Final tally (and again, if this isn't 100 percent accurate it's because I missed a few and the final numbers are higher) is as follows:

Swoops - 2,099

Big Diamond - 883

Dots - 1,062

There were some interesting "trends" to follow during the week, and some great comments from so many of you. The first trend I noticed was the overwhelming consensus that all three designs were "great" or "awesome" and that any selection would be good. Another trend was the one wherein a lot of the Dots voters were really adamant about it, with comments like "This has to be the one" or "No brainer" and the like. Swoops voters were vocal as well, but generally more gentle in their comments. The most consistent comment on Swoops was "It looks like it's going fast just standing still..."

Here are a few comments from the huge pile of mail...

"I think the graphic lines that have been created and accented with the yellow, plus the transitions with some of the traditional car colors, really make it pop. I do understand the importance of logo branding, but image reconnection can be just as effective and I think that look will do it." - Randy Leaman, who voted for Swoops

"Two votes from die-hard Dallas Super-Seat owners, but almost as important two more votes from our friends who are fans by association and immediately chose No. 1"  - Robin O'Brien, another Swoops voter, who tallied four total votes.

"The Dots design takes it in a whole new direction, plus I really like the big LRS diamond on the side. I hope you are enjoying living in Spokane." - Jared Brouwer, who voted for Dots. And yes, we dig Spokane!

"This is an old-fogie vote. I like the Dots." - Marvin McDonald, who is apparently an "old fogie".

"Definitely Big Diamond. If there is a prize in this for me, it would be to see you win!" - Turk Krupisnki, whose prize request is something we'll do all we can to fulfill.

"Big Diamond is the one. I like big diamonds. Please tell my husband that..." - Carolyn Sutter, who has a future in stand-up comedy.

As you can imagine, there are hundreds of similar comments and many of them were great.

In general, I think Swoops did so well because of a few key features. The yellow stripe "pops" and lots of people really dug that. The teal and berry highlights say "Levi, Ray & Shoup" to most fans, so they connected with that. It looks fast.

Now, to be fair I also found myself attracted to the other two designs for various reasons, and now that we have these renderings "on the shelf" it wouldn't be difficult to use one of them in the future. No promises, but it wouldn't be that hard to wrap a body in the Dots design and run it a few times, or have it as a back-up body.

And the use of the word "wrap" there is also pretty key. The Swoops design is modern, but the methodology is old-school. That's a car you paint. The other two are either going to need to be hybrid paint/vinyl cars, or vinyl wraps altogether, so there is that to consider.

So there you have it. Now we move forward and get rocking for 2013...

Other ramblings since I last bored you with details...

The second injection in my C7 spine area was clearly more successful than the first. I have an appointment with a spinal surgery specialist next week, just to consult and discuss options, but Dr. Dawley went ahead and set up a third injection on January 24, so I'm looking forward to that. This time, when I filled in my Pain Diary, I was conservatively honest enough to state that I felt a 50-percent improvement after the shot. The zingers and the buzzing are still there, but it's marginally better and that is enough to give us some optimism and go for the third shot.

Our trip back to Minnesota was nothing short of awesome. We had Christmas here, in Liberty Lake, and then headed for Woodbury on the 29th. Our days were filled with fun, we had a spectacularly good time with the Jacobsens, the Blakes, the Meehans, the Campbells, and many others at the New Year's Eve party (hosted by Scott and Barb Meehan) and then trudged back over to the Jacobsens' house after midnight, enjoying the crispy frigid air. We camped out in Dave and Nichol's lower level (on the pull-out sofa, baby) and awoke to the sounds and aromas of a huge country breakfast on New Year's Day.  We also saw our dear friend Mary Beth and met her new "friend" Joe, who impressed us enormously and earned "thumbs up" approval from all. Only the best for Mary Beth, and Joe seems like a great guy.

Barb and I flew back here on good old Delta flight 1488 (we know that flight number by heart) on January 2, when our original plan would've had us roaming the streets and bistros of Barcelona. The 2.5 hour flight from MSP to GEG was something I could tolerate, but as much as I wanted to go to Spain I know that would've been a really bad idea. So, since it didn't make any sense for Barb to fly over there a week early for her conference, we both came back here for the week. She has a 7:00 a.m. flight to Barcelona tomorrow...

Our good friend and valued sponsor, Jim Greenleaf from Summit Racing Equipment, made his annual visit to our shop in Springfield today. When Jim contacted me on Facebook to let me know he'd be hanging with Wilk on Friday, I imposed enough to request a photo, if it could be done. And right on schedule, as I'm wrapping up this blog installment, it arrived.

We're privileged to have such a great working relationship with the great people at Summit Racing Equipment, and Jim is just another example of how fantastic everyone is there. Plus, and this is a big thing, his wife Marie makes the best chocolate chip cookies, and they always bring us luck. Everyone perks up when Marie arrives with the lucky cookies.

So, we have a winner and it's Swoops. We had a great Christmas and New Year's, and now we're back in lovely Liberty Lake (I took a one-hour walk at sunset last night, and the snow in the mountains was gorgeous as the orange light bathed the white ground and green pine trees at dusk) and tomorrow Barb heads for Barcelona, while I head to the living room for a weekend full of football. Still kinda stunned (and when I say "kinda" I mean I'm completely stunned) that the Vikings beat the Packers last weekend to get into the playoffs, and I suspect the Pack will be waiting in ambush for them tomorrow, when the purple guys come to Lambeau. The Packers are the better team, and Aaron Rodgers is an absolutely elite QB who will have all of his receivers back and healthy, plus the cheese heads will be screaming in the frigid conditions, so this one has to tilt toward Green Bay. There is, of course, a guy named Adrian Peterson, who defies description. Should be fun...

I'll be back soon. Thanks for the overwhelming response to this vote! You guys are the best.

Wilber, out!