Hello from Heaton Bay Campground in Dillon, CO

Hello from Heaton Bay Campground in Dillon, CO

Monday afternoon  – June 29, 2020   (First post of this travelogue)

We are in the Heaton Bay Campground in Dillon in our trusty old bus.  Our location on Google Maps is here

We arrived Sunday 6/21.  We are in site 40 in loop “C”.  Of all the spaces we have stayed in, this one is probably our least favored.  That said it is still a great site.  Many years ago the campground was devastated by Pine Beetle.  All the gorgeous pines had to be cut down.  We noted that the new pines have really filled in and the vegetation is close to what it was when we first started coming here.

For many years we have come to this beautiful campground – usually for a period that includes the Fourth of July.  This year our reservation ends tomorrow (6/30) since we thought we would be flying to Hawaii for Pat’s earned trip.  It turns out that trip has been postponed till next spring.  Reservations are hard to get here, so we will not try to extend. 

As has been the case for several years we make our reservations so that we can camp with daughter Kelly and her family.  Actually I should clarify that Kelly makes the reservations since it is very cutthroat process and you need to be online at exactly 6 months prior to you arrival date and then it is not always guaranteed that you will get a spot in the area that has water and power.

We have had a very large range of weather here.  It has been close to 90 degrees at times but it is very cool in the night.  Indeed, I saw one reading of 37 degrees when I got up.  We had to put on our sleeping bag as an extra cover to keep us warm at night.   We have also had quite a few rainstorms – almost every afternoon.  It has cleared up most of the evenings so that we could have a campfire.

This has been a pretty laid back stay.   Many of the things we tend to do (shopping, movies, etc.) are closed or we have chosen to avoid, given the COVID 19 situation.  On Wednesday (granddaughter Madison’s birthday) we did take a pontoon boat out on the lake and had a ton of fun.

I did have one terrible moment.  As we were pulling into our camp spot (tight spot to get the bus into) my power steering quit.  Of course, I suspected the worse (bad pump) but decided that I should replace the hydraulic fluid filter to see if that would solve the problem.  That in itself is a challenge since I have three major hydraulic circuits and three filters.  For some reason I decided to pull one of the filters to look at it – like I could tell anything by looking at the filter.  The next day I decided to do some testing on the pump and to do that I needed to start the engine.  I then went back and crawled under the bus to check the hydraulic fan and looked over to see a HUGE amount of hydraulic fluid raining on the ground.  I quickly shut off the engine but by that time I had pumped well over a gallon of hydraulic fluid on the ground.  Turns out I did not get the filter properly seated.  I did get the three filters ordered and went to Walmart to get a bag of kitty litter to finish cleaning up the oil (I had sopped up quite a bit with paper towels but there was still a bunch left on the asphalt parking pad).  I ended up using almost two bags of kitty litter and lots of scrubbing with my shoes to get most of it cleaned up.  What a mess.

That is all for this trip.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off on Hello from Heaton Bay Campground in Dillon, CO

Hello from Chatfield State Park

Hello from Chatfield State Park

Wednesday evening  – June 10, 2020   (First post of this travelogue)

We are in the Chatfield State Park campground site 168 –  in the bus no less!!!  Our location on Google Maps is here

This is a quick shake down trip that will let us sort out any issues from the bus sitting so long.  We are relatively close to home and chose this campground since it had full hookup (more about that later). 

We had planned to drive to the Sterling rest area which had a full dump system, but that would have been 150 miles each way and we did not want to spend the time or fuel dollars.  We decided to stay here for a couple of nights.  We are dog sitting Benny, but he is used to the bus and has done fine.

While I have encountered a few small problems, I have resolved most of them.  The big issue was the black/gray/fresh water systems.  I am not good about recording when I dump and I had lost track of how full the black tank was.  Turns out we must have emptied it on our last trip (not counting the traumatic trip to Guffey where Pat was badly injured and we did not spend a night in the bus).  The gray water tank has a manual site gauge on it, so I knew where we were there and it was not big deal.  The most problematic tank was the fresh water tank.  The water in that tank had been sitting for a couple of years.  While I keep a fair amount of chlorine in the tank, it quite obviously needed to be drained and flushed.  Having full hookups here allowed me to get all the tanks squared away.

This is a great camping spot.  The other campers are several yards away and we have a full view to the south.  The fun part of this spot is that it it very close to the RC Plane field and we got to watch lots of aerobatic flying including some model jets.

In a bit over a week we will head to Dillon to spend a few days with the Bergmans.

That is all for this trip.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off on Hello from Chatfield State Park

Hello from Centennial, CO

Hello from Centennial, CO

Drafted started:  Monday evening  – May, 18 2020   (First post of this travelogue)

It has been a long time since I last posted, but that reflects the fact that I have not travelled since November.  With the present COVID 19 situation, I am not sure when Pat and I will get to travel, or when I will travel for NTT.

I am working at the NTT office for three days doing some training for our Live Online Training program.  Over the past couple of months I have had an assignment to develop our Bearings and Lubrication class so that it could be presented as an online class. 

While it might seem like a fairly easy conversion, the project was pretty complex.  This three day session is for us to learn to use all of the technology and equipment.  We are using Zoom as the primary platform, and a second software package called Canvas that lets us do polling questions and several other functions.

I was really impressed with the hygiene measures that NTT has implemented.  We had to wear masks when there were more than six people in a room and a limit of 10 people max to a room.  Our temperature was measured and recorded each morning that we arrived.

As I finish this travelogue, I have to say that I have mixed thoughts on the online training process.  On the one hand it is really difficult not to have face to face contact and interaction with the students.  On the other hand, there are some really neat tools the NTT has adopted. 

For sure, it will really cut down on the time we spend on the road.  Almost anywhere I go, it takes a day of travel to get to the site and another day of travel to get home.  For a two day class, I spent the better part of four days of my time. 

For the first session or two, NTT  has mandated that we do the training from the office.  That is fine with me, since I will not have to be concerned about the equipment.  Perhaps later I will be able to do the teaching from home.  Traveling to the office only takes about an hour, and they put me up at a hotel close to the office.

It is interesting to note that NTT has tried to market online training for a couple of years.  There was minimal interest.  However, with the COVID restrictions, our customers have quickly changed their attitude and NTT has had to accelerate their development work.  Fortunately the company that owns NTT is a specialized college that does a lot of online courses.  They have funded our development program at a level that is quite generous.

I have now been certified as LOT instructor.  Now all I have to do is wait for our sales group to get the customers rounded up.

That is all for this trip.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hello from Centennial, CO

Hello from Alamosa, CO

Hello from Alamosa, CO

Wednesday Evening  – November 20, 2019   (Fifth post of this travelogue)

We are at a Holiday Inn Express in Alamosa (link to Google Maps)

Wow, so much catching up to do.  After we left Las Vegas we made a fairly short trip to St George, Ut.  We chose the Holiday Inn Express there, since it was close to the Zion park entrance and also because we could watch the season final NHRA drag races (none of the four professional class champions had clinched the title – so it was exciting for us).

Monday we drove into Zion National park.  We had previously tried to reserve our favorite cabin (529) but it was not available.  We considered staying in the lodge, but we could not justify the expenses.  The drive into the lodge was breathtaking as usual.  I have posted a picture, but it simply don’t convey the grandeur of the canyon.  The trip out of the park heading east is equally amazing.  There is a huge tunnel carved in the side of the mountain.  The tunnel has several openings with quick views of the rock formations across the canyon.

Typical Zion View

Typical Zion View

We then traveled to Kanab, UT which is where Stampin’ Up! manufactures most of their products.  We had toured the factory on our last trip through that area so we did not stop this time.  From there we drove to Page, AZ for the night.  I wanted to stop there so that Pat could experience the area that I had explored a bit when I had an NTT assignment there in 2015.  The primary attraction in Page is the Glen Canyon Dam (which creates Lake Powell).  We were able to observe the dam, Lake Powell, and the beautiful Glen Canyon below the dam.  Unfortunately, we were too late to take the tour of the dam.  I did that last time and it was a fantastic tour.

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Arial View of Glen Canyon Dam

Arial View of Glen Canyon Dam

Glen Canyon Dam was started in 1956 and is 710 feet tall.  It has a total of 8 huge generators each of which has a capacity of 165,000 kW.  Sadly the frequent drought in the areas that feed the lake have resulted in a water level that is 88 feet below the capacity level.  This is about 53% capacity of the lake.  That said, it still controls the release of water so that down stream users have sufficient water for most demands.  Interestingly, the lower water level affect the ability to generate power. 

Yesterday we drove east towards Kayenta, AZ and then turned north into Monument Valley.  As was the case with Zion, I have included a photo that inadequately shows the beauty of the area.  We then continued on to Cortez, CO where we spent the night.

While the weather has been fantastic the whole trip, that has now changed.  There are winter storm warnings out for large parts of southern Colorado.  The prediction was that we would have quite a bit of snow as we traveled over Wolf Creek Pass.  Turns out the conditions were not too bad.  We positioned ourselves here in Alamosa so that we would have choices for our route home.   One choice is US 285 that runs by our house.  The other is to travel east to I 25 and then head north.  As I write this, the 285 option (much shorter) does not look good.

That is all for this post.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Hello from Alamosa, CO

Hello from Page AZ

Hello from Page AZ

Monday Evening  – November 18, 2019   (Fourth  post of this travelogue)

We are at a Holiday Inn Express in Page, AZ (link to Google Maps)

As we have said many times in this blog, our hotels of choice are the Holiday Inn properties.  Over the years I/we have spent a lot of nights and have achieved the Platinum Elite status several times in the past.  Last year I/we spent over 60 nights in HI hotels and this year will be over 40 nights.  That includes my NTT travel as well as our personal travel.  Out status gets us the best rooms and the points pay for several nights a year.  Last night we stayed in St George, UT and our room had a Jacuzzi bath tub and a fireplace!

I have also mentioned that the primary driver for this travelogue documentation is for our reference and entertainment.  .  On this trip I have searched our blog many times for background information.  The platform I use for the blog is WordPress (hosted on our GoDaddy site) and it has amazing search power.  It is a ton of fun to go back and read about some of our past travels.

I had mentioned that I would document our Death Valley experience.  Last Tuesday (11/12/19), we did a round trip tour of the southern part of Death Valley.  We drove from Pahrump to Shoshone and then took the southern Death Valley entrance that took us to Badwater which is 282 feet below sea level.  One of the information signs explained that the very low humidity (and very little rain – 2 inches per year) yields the barren salt flats.  If there were more moisture the area would be a lake.

Badwater (Medium)

On next DV stop was Artist’s Palette.  This is a 5 mile drive through beautiful canyons.  About midway through the drive, a beautiful rock formation exhibits many colors which result from different types of minerals – hence the name Artist’s Palette.  The day we observed the formation, the lighting was not perfect, but the different colors were quite visible.

Artist Palette (Medium)

From there we drove to the Furnace Creek Campground area.  This area has many buildings adjacent to the campground and several displays of borax mining equipment.  Since we had been there a couple of times, we did not spend a lot of time there.  We did drive around the campground.  It is basically dry camping.  There were not many campers in the park (not unexpected given the November time frame).  Speaking of “campers”, we have noted a much larger percentage of truck campers on this trip as compared to past observations.  I don’t know if this is unique to the area or if folks are going back to that kind of camping unit.

Our last major stop was a drive (long and twisting) to Dante’s View.  This is an overlook that is at 5476 feet.  From this point you can see a significant portion of the southern part of the park.  It is interesting that Dante’s View is almost exactly above Badwater. 

Dantes View 5476 feet (Medium)

Our tour took most of the day and we drove over 200 miles.  We have said that Death Valley would not appear on our bucket list (if we had one), but once you experience it, you really want to return and enjoy it again.   We have been fortunate to have done the park tours in the early spring and late fall.  Summer could be a very marginal experience since the temperatures often reaches 120 degrees!

After we left the park we took a different route back to Pahrump (via Death Valley Junction).

Lots more to talk about, but it will have to wait for the next post.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Hello from Page AZ

Hello from Las Vegas, NV

Hello from Las Vegas, NV

Drafted:  Saturday afternoon  – November 16, 2019   (Third post of this travelogue)

Posted:  Sunday evening 11/17/19

We are at the Bally’s in Las Vegas  (link to Google Map)

Bally’s is headquarters for Pat’s Stampin’ Up! event.  Obviously this is the “justification” for the trip.  We have a great room and the facility is very nice even though it is a fairly old facility. 

It used to be that Las Vegas was a fairly economical place to visit (a LONG time ago).  Now, it is quite expensive.  The rooms rates are well over $150 on the weekends, the parking costs $15 per day and there is no provision for morning coffee except at restaurants and coffee shops ($8 this morning).  There is a food court here where things like hamburgers are available – but at inflated prices.  Most of the restaurants are very expensive.

Our stay in Pahrump brought back lots of memories.  On Monday we toured Shoshone (does not take long {grin}).  It has not changed much since our last visit.  The campground is still there and still a bit primitive, but appears to be well kept.  Still no cell phone signal anywhere in the area.

Shoshone Camp Ground

Shoshone Campground

We then drove to China Ranch.  This “ranch” is right in the middle of a Mojave Desert and yet it is an amazing oasis (link to website).  At one time it was a ranch with chickens (and one source said a few pigs and cows) that supplied the Borax miners in the Death Valley area.  Since 1920 it has been a date farm with perhaps 100 date palms of many different varieties.  Indeed, they sell palms for landscaping to contractors.  Of course we had to have the traditional date shakes.

 

 

Arial View of China Ranch

Arial View of China Ranch

Date Delivery Truck

Date Delivery Truck

 

The weather continues to be fantastic.  Some days we could see and smell the smoke from the California fires.  Here in Las Vegas it is clear and low 80s during the day.  I took a quick peak at the weather for our trip home and it looks like we could see a little bit of snow.

For this trip we rented a Mazda CX5 AWD car.  It has been fun to drive and gets good mileage (around 30 MPG).  It has a little four cylinder engine, but the turbo makes it perform very well.

Tuesday we spent touring Death Valley.  That will be the subject of the next post.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Hello from Las Vegas, NV

Hello from Pahrump, NV

Hello from Pahrump, NV

Monday evening – November 11, 2019   (Second post of this travelogue)

We are at the Holiday Inn Express in Pahrump (link to Google map)

Friday we travelled from Torrey, UT to Cedar City,UT.  Our route took us over the famous “Southern Utah Scenic Byway 12” (link to information and pictures).  We traveled this route in 2013 but the opposite direction.  Going from east to west seemed quite different from the other direction.  Either way is an amazing drive.  At one point you are on the spine of the rock formation and there are steep cliffs on both sides of the road (see picture).

Highway 12 (Medium)

Towards the west end of highway 12 we drove into Bryce Canyon National Park.  While we have seen this park several times, it never fails to amaze us with the incredible views.  I am posting a couple of  pictures of Bryce Canyon, but they don’t begin to do justice to the splendor of the canyon.

Bryce Canyon 2 (Medium)

 

Bryce Canyon 1 (Medium)

 

Natural Bridge in Bryce (Medium)

After touring the park, we drove to Cedar City for the night.  It turns out that we had to adjust our itinerary a bit because several Holiday Inns were booked up.

From Cedar City we made a fairly short drive to Mesquite, NV and stayed in a beautiful Holiday Inn with a room that had a balcony which overlooked the pool as well as the whole valley.  Pat was able to spend a couple of afternoons playing the slots, while I did some computer projects. 

Today we drove from Mesquite to Pahrump.  We are using this location to make some day trips into an area we fell in love with several years ago.   Our first trip to the area was during our inaugural trip in the Bus (2006).  A few years ago I uploaded what was then an email blog to our blog/travelogue.  Two of the posts from that travelogue will give you background as to how we discovered the area and why we loved it so much:  (2006 Inaugural Bus Trip post 5) and (2006 Inaugural Bus Trip post 6).

To summarize those two posts we found the tiny town of Shoshone, CA from a book that we carried which listed all of the hot springs in the south west.  That led us to a small campground that was pretty bare bones, but just right for us to “hide out” and relax.  From there we ventured into Death Valley.  We would never have chosen to tour that area, but once we did, we were blasted away by the amazing diversity of scenic wonders that the park has to offer.  We subsequently went back to the area a couple of more times over the year.

We had hoped to stay in Shoshone but the one motel is very basic, yet charges a fortune for the rooms.  If we had the bus with us we would have stayed in the campground.  The other issue  is that there is no cell service in the area.  In the past we would drive to Pahrump to make our calls (about 30 miles).

We will describe our re-visit to the area in the next post or two.

That is all for this post.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Hello from Pahrump, NV

Hello from Torrey, UT 2019

Hello from Torrey, UT 2019

Thursday afternoon – November 7, 2019   (First post of this travelogue)

This will be a multipart travelogue spanning the next three weeks.  Pat and I are visiting some of our favorite locations.  These spots bring back fun memories and are rather special to us.  About half way through this period, we will be in Las Vegas for a Stampin’ Up! event.

About the time we started planning the SU travel, Pat was in her terrible accident.  As her recovery progressed it became likely that she would be able to enjoy a bit of an extended driving trip linked to the SU event.  We then began to think about the places that were on the top of our “must visit again” list.    

You might note that our title format is slightly different from our norm.  This is because we used the same title (without the year) in 2013 (link to our 2013 blog).

We are staying at the Capitol  Reef Resort in Torrey (link to Google Maps)

Let’s catch up a bit before we discuss today’s event.  We left Evergreen Tuesday morning and drove to Grand Junction.  As will be the case on most of our travel days, we are going to try to keep the mileage down so that we can enjoy our travel a bit more that our normal hustle and bustle travel {grin}.  Wednesday we travelled to Richfield Utah which is close to the junction of I-70 and I-15.  Both nights we stayed in Holiday Inn Express (our hotel of choice).

The weather, so far, has been almost perfect.  Clear skies and cool shirt sleeve temperatures.

Today we toured Capitol Reef National Park.  We have been to most all of the National Parks in Utah and this one is a real jewel that not many folks know about.  One of the highlights of the park is a 20 mile round trip drive to Capitol Gorge.  I have included a few photos.

That is all for this post.

Capitol Reef 1 (Medium)

 

Capitol Reef 2 (Medium)

 

Capitol Reef 3 (Medium)

 

Capitol Reef 4 (Medium)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Hello from Torrey, UT 2019

Hello from Roseville, CA

Hello from Roseville, CA

Draft started:  Friday morning – November 1, 2019   (First post of this travelogue)

Posted:  11/6/19

I made this trip to present an NTT Mechanical Drives class for the city of Roseville, CA.  My hotel was the Holiday Inn Express in Lincoln, CA (link to Google Maps). 

This Holiday Inn was the closest location to the Roseville water treatment plant where I taught the class.  That said, it was a 20 minute drive.  I had to be at the plant between 6 and 6:30 AM, so the traffic was not bad.  It was a good class, as many of the students were race fans or car builder folks.  We had a lot in common.  That always makes for good exchange during the class.

The weather out here is rather nice.  The closest of the many huge fires in CA are about a hundred miles away and there is no noticeable smoke.  The temperatures are rather crisp in the morning (30s), but once the sun came out it was comfortable shirt sleeve weather.  Unfortunately, Pat has had to endure significant snow and temperatures as cold as -10 degrees!!

I stayed over Friday to visit a good friend who lives and has an amazing machine shop close to North San Juan, CA (about 20 miles north of Grass Valley, CA).  I first met Steve in the early 90s when he was a big blower belt distributor for Gates.  His business is based on racing products (a significant part of that business includes blower belt pulleys, cam gears, and starters for fuel drag racing cars).  Our relationship quickly changed from vendor/customer to good friends.  His company website:  link to RCD Engineering

We spent quite a bit of time in his “toy” shop where he has been building an amazing '59 El Camino that has a huge number of custom machined parts. 

Steve Leach 59 El Camino

We also toured his shop which as a large number of CNC machining centers.  All of this in a very remote part of the county.

I had scheduled a late flight and ended up getting home at 3:00 AM Saturday morning.

That is all for this trip.  

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Hello from Roseville, CA

Our unforgettable trip to Guffey, Co

Our unforgettable trip to Guffey, Co

I am writing this “travelogue” two months after we started our journey to Guffey, CO.  

The trip started out as a fun Labor Day trip to Pat’s Brother and Sister-in-laws new home in Guffey, CO. It was going to be a fun family weekend.  We left Evergreen on August 31, 2019.

This was the first trip in our Eagle Bus in almost three years.  The bus has had some issues and I finally got them resolved.  The approximately 100 mile drive was beautiful and uneventful.  Our granddaughter Molly went with us and rode shotgun.  She has always enjoyed the bus and had missed traveling with us.

Unfortunately about two hours after our arrival, Pat was badly injured in a UTV accident.  Pasted below is a note I sent to her customers: 

I am sad to announce that Pat was hurt in a UTV/ATV accident on Saturday (8/31/19).  We had traveled to her Brother and sister-in-laws new house near Guffey, CO.  We had planned a long weekend with several family members.  Our SIL took Pat and Molly (youngest granddaughter) for a tour of the property.  Somehow the vehicle accelerated and rolled into a large ditch.  Pat was thrown clear of the vehicle.

She sustained some pretty significant injuries and was taken to UCHealth Medical Center in Colorado Springs via Flight-for-life.  Her injuries include several large deep lacerations to the back of her head, severe wrist fracture (will require surgery), 4 broken ribs and a large open wound to her leg.  Today she had surgery to suture the head cuts, run a scope to her lungs and to clean/repair the leg wound. 

They were able to reduce the wound area from about 4 inches in diameter  to about 2 ½ inches.  They have installed a vacuum patch on the open wound in hopes that it will help the healing.  They think that there is the possibility that she will need a skin graft.

She has been in the ICU for the past two nights.  We are hoping that she will transfer to a regular room tomorrow.  We do not know when she will get to go home.

She will have a tough recovery that will last several weeks.

 

Over the past two months Pat has had four surgeries.  She was a trooper through it all and has now recovered from most of her injuries.

We are looking forward to going back to Guffey, in the bus, in the spring.  Their place is beautiful and we know we will have a ton of fun.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off on Our unforgettable trip to Guffey, Co