Hello from Richfield, UT

Hello from Richfield, UT

Post started: Wednesday morning    November 8, 2017   (Sixth post of this travelogue)

Posted to blog Thursday Morning   November 9, 2017

Well, the tourist part of this trip is about done.  More in a minute.

We are staying at the Holiday Inn in Richfield, UT  (Google Map Link) 

We have been here for two nights – mostly as a holding location until we travel to Salt Lake for Pat’s convention.  We have traveled through Richfield on our way to California many times, but never stopped.  I have always enjoyed to wonderful mix of rock formations and beautiful hay fields.  Last night we ate at a local café and just kind of absorbed the small town environment.

Now, let’s catch up on our tourist fun for the last few days.   After we left Kanab we traveled to Bryce Canyon and stayed at Ruby’s Inn.  We toured the park for about a half day.  For the first time on this trip we had to put on our heavy coats.  The temperature was not all that bad, but the wind was very cutting.  Bryce Canyon is the opposite of Zion in terms of how you view the beauty.  In Zion you are on the canyon floor looking up at the incredible sheer rock walls.  At Bryce you are on the rim looking down at mind-blowing  geological beauty.  I have included one photo.  But again, it does not begin to do justice to the splendor of rock formations.

The beauty of Bryce Canyon (Medium)

Sunday (11/5) we travelled to Torrey, UT which is close to the entrance of Capitol Reef National Park.  The route from Bryce to Torrey is via Utah 12 which is a real adventure to drive.  Lots of curves, and one part of the road is at the top of a ridge with very steep drop-offs on both sides of the road.  I really had to pay attention to driving, but I still got to enjoy the beautiful scenery.  This highway is so unique that it has its own website:  (link)

Our stay in Torrey was in a fun cabin (see photo).  The cabin would have been even more enjoyable, but you had to be prepared with your own provisions (such as coffee).  Also we had very little cell phone signal.  We had thought about staying two nights, but the minor issues got to be too significant.

Cabin at Torrey UT (Medium)

We spent Sunday afternoon and Monday morning touring Capitol Reef NP.  It is a geological wonder with the layers that were formed over millions of years, displayed in canyon walls that are hundreds of feet high (at one location, 400 feet).  I  have attached a photo that barely does  justice to the  grandeur of the area.  I pirated these comments from another site: 


Like other parks in Utah, Capitol Reef is about geology. It is said that the area got its name because early visitors thought some of the rock formations, especially along the Fremont River, reminded them of the dome atop the U.S. Capitol.


The land inside the park is part of a 100-mile buckling of the Earth's crust, named the Waterpocket Fold by explorer John Wesley Powell because of indentations in the rock that catch rainwater.

Capitol Reef (Medium)

I think I will “ring off “ for this post.

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Hello from Kanab, UT

Hello from Kanab, UT

Friday evening    November 3, 2017   (Fifth post of this travelogue)

Monday we drove from San Diego to Primm, NV where we stayed in the Buffalo Bill Hotel.  Primm is right on the CA/NV border and it used to be a booming location with about three hotels and a large campground.  The campground was the site of at least one Bus Conversions Rally in the early 2000s.  The campground is long gone and the hotels are pretty run down if ours was an example.  The gambling floor was almost deserted.  The room was clean and fairly inexpensive, so that was a plus.  Pat even got a bit ahead on her gambling fund.

Buffalo Bills at Primm (Medium)

Tuesday we drove to Zion National Park where we splurged and spent two nights in a cabin that was special to us (529) (Google Map Link) 

Four years ago we stayed in this cabin and sat on the porch, almost overwhelmed by the sheer cliffs on both sides of us.  The cabin is at the far end of the resort and very private.  This time it was a bit chilly, but we still spent a bit of time on the porch.  I have included a couple of pictures, but they do not even come close to showing the beauty of this park.  This is a very deep and narrow canyon and the sun only hits the floor of the canyon for a few hours a day this time of year. 

Another view of the Zion Cabin (Medium)

Cabin at Zion (Medium)

Interior of cabin at Zion (Medium)

The road leading up to the lodge (and on up the canyon) is limited to the tourist trams and cars used by the guests of the lodge.  From the lodge, only the trams are permitted.  We rode the tram to the end of the road and then I hiked in about a mile and saw some amazing fall colors.  They said that most years the colors are not all that great, since it tends to freeze before the leaves turn.

Trail in Zion (Medium)

Thursday we made the relatively short drive to Kanab, UT.  It is less than 100 miles but it is a tight twisty drive.  The drive was a bit more difficult as we left slightly before sunrise so that we could make a 9:00 appointment in Kanab.  On the drive, in the twilight, we saw something big on the road.  It turned out to be 5 or 6 buffalo.  By the time we got to them, they were off the road.

Our appointment was a pre-arranged tour of the Stampin’ Up! manufacturing facility.  We were told ahead of time that some parts of the plant would be off limits.  However our tour guide (Julie) took us on a very detailed tour and we got to watch all the processes right next to the machines.  I even got a quick tour of the  maintenance shop!

Stampin Up Kanab (Medium)

Pat at Stampin Up Kanab (Medium)

We took a side trip to a neat park in Kanab where the playground is covered with sever inches of ground up scrap rubber stamp material.  It is very colorful and quite soft.

Jim at Kanab playground with stamp particles for base (Medium)

We checked into the Holiday Inn early and Pat did some laundry.    Today we cooled our jets (I caught up on a bunch of computer projects and Pat read and did a bit of stamping stuff.  Late this afternoon, we took a ride out to Johnson canyon.  It was a relaxing, scenic drive.   Then we had a great Mexican dinner. 

That is all for this post.

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Hello from San Diego, CA

Hello from San Diego, CA

Sunday evening  – October 29, 2017   (Fourth post of this travelogue)

We are at the Holiday Inn Express in San Diego (Google Maps Link)

I wanted to catch up on some items from my week of teaching.  First of all, the weather was very hot.  It was over 100 degrees for at least two of the days and well in the 90s the rest of the week.  This was quite a bit higher than the average temperature for that time of the year.

During the week a large brush fire broke out a couple of miles from the hotel.  The last I read, it had consumed over 850 acres (but no structures).  It was weird leaving the motel in the dark and seeing the red glow.

Lastly, my commute was about 14 miles each way.  At the times I traveled, it was not a problem.  I had picked the Holiday Inn in Lake Elsinore without a lot of thought other than it was about the closest Holiday Inn property.  It turns out that it was not all that great of location or hotel.  Apparently there was a much better location in Temecula at about the same distance.

Now for our reason for travelling to San Diego:  The USS Midway Museum (Wiki Information).  This was among the very best museums we have ever visited.  The decommissioned USS Midway aircraft carrier has been converted into a museum.  It took us 5 hours to tour the complete ship. 

The Midway was in service from 1945 to 1992.  It is 1001 feet long and is 69,000 tons total weight. It has 18 decks and 12 boilers feeding 4 steam turbine engines.  We were up and down a bunch of stairways but it was worth every minute/step/stair.  One of the best events was a lengthy talk by a former pilot about the aircraft main deck layout and the process of landing a plane on a moving target with an obscenely short “runway”.  The planes had to catch one of three cables stretched across the deck.  Surprisingly the hook that caught the cable was only about the size of your fist.

I have included two photos.  The first one was pirated from the internet and shows an aerial view of the museum.  The second photo shows the machine shop that could fabricate most any part for the ship.

USS Midway aerial view

Midway Machine Shop (Medium)

 

That is all for this post.

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Hello from Lake Elsinore, CA

Hello from Lake Elsinore, CA

Saturday morning– October 28, 2017   (Third post of this travelogue)

Last Sunday we traveled to Lake Elsinore and have been staying at the Holiday Inn Express.  This is kind of the bottom of the barrel as far as quality for this brand.  We did get a King Suite and that let Pat have a good work space for her stamping.

I “survived “ five days of teaching.  Fortunately they were only half days (left the hotel about 5:00 in the morning and returned a bit before 5:00 in the evening – about 12 hours and that is half a day {big grin}).  The other challenge was that I was teaching a class (shaft alignment/bearings/couplings/lubrication) that is normally a 4 day class and I had to do two 2 ½ day classes.  Each class had 16 students, so that was also a challenge.  When all was said and done, it turned out great.  The students were mostly experienced, so the work with the trainers went well.  They were also a great bunch of guys with good senses of humor.

This morning I got to sleep in and we have arranged to have a 1:00 check out so that I can catch up on a bunch of computer work/correspondence. 

I have talked in previous travelogues  about going to Trader Joes to get meals that can be prepared in the room.  The Trader Joes food is great and easy to heat in the microwave.  We did that this time and have eaten every dinner in the room, plus Pat has had food for lunch and I have had food for breakfast (leave before the breakfast room opens).  We even have enough for lunch today and will leave a couple of meals for the maid.  All of that for a bit over $100 and NTT will pay for about half of that.  It was great to have a good dinner in the room each night, as I was too tired to go out to eat.

Pat has enjoyed her time in the room, with one exception:  the fire alarm has gone off several times.  One time she had to walk down the stairs from the third floor to the first.  Even with her new knees, that is not a lot of fun.

That is all for this post.

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Hello from Barstow, CA

Hello from Barstow, CA

Sunday morning– October 22, 2017   (Second post of this travelogue)

Yesterday we did some more tourist stuff.  Shortly after leaving Flagstaff we exited off I 40 and took the old US 66 route for about 50 miles (from east of Seligman to Kingman, AZ).  Most of you are too young to appreciate the great history of historic “Route 66” (link to Wikipedia).  This highway was the beginning of the national highway system and ran from Chicago to Los Angeles.  It was started in 1926.  There are still parts of the highway that can be travelled and all kinds of museums and building from thet era. 

One of the reasons for taking this route was to visit the Caverns Inn – site of the ’03-05 Bus Conversion rallies.  We were vendors there for two of the three years. The place has not changed much.  It is in pretty rough condition, but it was still fun to visit and recall fun times.

Caverns Inn (Medium)

We have travelled other parts of Route 66 in the mid-west and those have quite a few remaining buildings from the era.  This route, with the exception of Seligman, is pretty much devoid of historical buildings.

I had mentioned that we rented a great vehicle.  It is a 2017 GMC Terrain.  I am quite impressed with it.  It seems to get pretty good mileage and has all kinds of features.  I was concerned about the 4 cylinder engine, but it is mated with a 6 speed automatic and that provides pretty good performance.  The only “challenge” is the electric power steering.  As far as I know, this is the first car I have driven with that feature.  It seems to be a bit oversensitive for my liking.  By the second day, I seem to have adjusted so that I am not darting around in my lane.

IMG_2647

That is all for this post.

 

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Hello from Flagstaff, AZ

Hello from Flagstaff, AZ

Friday evening – October 20, 2017   (First post of this travelogue)

Can you believe it, we are on the road?  Unfortunately not in the bus, rather a great rented car.  We are headed to Perris, CA where I will teach a shaft alignment class next week.  We will then do some fun tourist stuff and then Pat will attend a Stampin’ Up! convention three weeks from now.

We have had to cut back on planned travel this year because we did not want to be gone when  two of our daughters are dealing with breast cancer.  They are now in a somewhat “stable” situation with their treatment.  As a result, we (with their encouragement) planned this trip.  I should add that Pat had a bit of a scare and had to have a lumpectomy last week.  It came back benign.  Bottom line, we just needed to “get out of Dodge”.

We left Denver yesterday after Pat had her post surgery examination and after a quick visit with her dad.  We had made reservations at a Holiday Inn in Grand Junction.  Today we are staying at a Holiday Inn in Flagstaff. 

We planned a route for today that we knew would be very scenic.  Shortly after crossing the Utah border on I 70, we took exit 214 which is an amazing scenic route to Moab.  We have dubbed it the “Damon route”, since our son-in-law introduced us toit.  The first several miles is rather drab.  Then all of sudden you drop into a spectacular canyon created by the Colorado River. 

At Moab we turned south and went through Monument Valley via Utah 163.  The rest of the drive to Flagstaff was scenic, but not nearly as impressive as the earlier travel today.

The weather yesterday and today was wonderful – sunny and 60s and 70s.  It was quite windy as we approached Flagstaff.  It is pretty cool in the morning and evening, but a light coat takes care of that.

That is all for this post.

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Hello from Centennial, CO

Hello from Centennial,  CO

Thursday evening – September 14, 2017   (First post of this travelogue)

I am in Centennial CO (Denver Area) staying at the Staybridge Suites.  I am teaching a Lubrication/Bearings/ Shaft Alignment for  NTT in their offices which is about a mile from here. 

So far this has been another good class.  I have 14 students.  9 of the students work at the Denver mint, three work at the Naval Ship Yard in Seattle and two work for Douglas County.

The hands-on part of the class (that is the major selling point for NTT classes) involves shaft alignment trainers.  We use basic straight edge tools, dual dial indicators and laser systems for the training.  When the students are working with the dual dial indicators, they tend to get very frustrated as it is a difficult process.  After they have done the processes (two) several times, they become much less agitated.  But all of them want to use the laser and never want to see the dial indicators again {grin}. 

We had some equipment issues (prior instructor left the sets in less than acceptable condition with some of the critical pieces missing.  Since we were in the office, we swapped the trainers out for another set and things went much smoother.  I had to leave the class room, as I was so upset that our students had to experience this kind of a mess.  I cooled off a bit and sent them home early so that we could make our plan for the next day.  Obviously my patience is not what it should be right now.

The exercises we do tomorrow are a bit easier and the students will do well and not get nearly as frustrated.

That is all for this trip.

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Hello from the Bonneville Salt Flats

Hello from the Bonneville Salt Flats

Monday morning – August 14, 2017   (First post of this travelogue)

I am on the salt watching the various cars for Bonneville Speed Week.  I heard that over 500 cars were registered.  I have attended several of these events – I think my first event was 1990.

Over the years, the salt conditions have deteriorated badly.  The brine is harvested in the winter by a mining company that gathers various chemicals.  Interestingly enough, they do not use the salt.  For many years, various groups have attempted to work with the company to convince them to  return the salt from their location on the south side of I 80 to the flats on the north side.  Token amounts have been returned but the salt thickness has gone from perhaps 6 inches when I first went to about an inch (at best) now. 

The thin salt does not let the volunteers make a smooth course.  Indeed, many of the racers have terrible problems.  I have stayed in touch with the Target 555 team (link) and they have had several drive component failures – induced by vehicle bouncing and resulting shock loads on the parts.  Interestingly, the belt drives I designed have survived very well.

Last year we drove the bus and camped at the “bend in the road” very close to the speedway.  We had a blast.  This year the bus is laid up and Pat wanted to stay close to the girls as they deal with their cancer issues.  So, I rented a car can drove to Salt Lake.  I am staying in a Motel 6 and commuting to the flats (about 100 miles each way).  I did not even try to get a room in Wendover since they are always booked up and they jack their prices sky high.

When we travel to Salt Lake our usual route is I 70 to Green River and then cut across to Price and then on to Salt Lake.  This time I decided to take I 25 to Cheyenne and then I 80 to Salt Lake.  It was fun to see different scenery for a change.  I will probably return via US 40 (a frequent route home for us)

I had read the reviews for this Motel 6 and expected to see bodies or blood stains in the room {grin}.  Instead, the place is well kept and the room is modern and clean and has all the basics.  It is an inexpensive place to hang my head at night.

I had planned to spend 3 or 4 days on the salt.  I have now reduced that to two days.  Part of the decision was the long commute, but the added cost was a factor.  In addition, many of the teams that I used to enjoy (and some I worked with) no longer attend.  Sadly, I also see the trend of big dollar teams “taking over”.  Sure there are tons of small teams, but the trend for the “big teams” is troubling.  Part of the fun in the past was looking at all the “creative” tow/push trucks and trailers.  Now, they often use standard trucks and commercial trailers {big frown}.

I still enjoy the event, but I think that I will only return when we can bring the bus.

As a side note, I am publishing this from the salt via our mifi

That is all for this post.

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Hello from Sumner, WA

Hello from Sumner, WA

Thursday morning – August 10, 2017   (First post of this travelogue)

This is the first trip since our return from Thailand.  While my previous posts covered that trip in some detail, a postscript is perhaps justified.  I had mentioned that Pat was under the weather when we got home.  She got quite sick and was finally diagnosed as having salmonella.  By itself that is not good, but since she has an autoimmune condition it was even worse.  While I was gone on this trip, she got a call from the health department to make sure she had not spread the disease.  Apparently the doctor’s office is required to report these cases.

Now back to this trip.  As you can probably guess, I am back in the Seattle area teaching another Boeing class.  This class is a 4 day class on Hamar Laser equipment and how it is used to align machining centers. NTT has been contracted by Boeing to take over their class and this is the first time we have done the class.  There are four NTT instructors here getting certified to teach the class. 

For the past several posts from here, I noted the terrible weather and the huge amount of rain that western Washington has experienced earlier this year.  As weather will do, that changed – big time!  It has been very hot and dry here.  They just set an all time record of 72 days without rain.  It was in the 90s last week, but a bit cooler this week (high 80s). 

The class this week is on day shift, which means we begin class at 6:00 AM.  That makes for a very early morning (3:45).  I often take a bit of a nap in the afternoon, but I still get screwed up on my sleep pattern (which is not good to begin with). 

I save a bit of time by eating dinner in the room most of the time.  I stop by Trader Joe’s and pick up salads for lunch and some sort of meal that I can microwave for dinner.  That works out pretty well.  I can come back to the motel and relax/nap and do not have to leave again for dinner.  The food is quite good and easy to fix.

That is all for this trip.

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Thailand Summary Part 2

Thailand Summary Part 2

Friday morning – July 28, 2017   (Eighth post of this travelogue)

I will use this final Thailand post to make some general observations about the trip.

Most of our travels around the towns were done in some very neat Toyota vans.  The model is Toyota Commuter  (link to information).  Everywhere we went there were dozens of them.  They are quite a bit wider than a normal van and comfortably hold 8 passengers.  They have 3L diesel engines and most were 5 speed manual transmissions.

Toyota Commuter

Toyota Commuter

The lane markers on the roads were, at best, “suggestions” of where the cars should be.  The drivers made tons of lane changes to avoid scooters and just plain used all of the road.  Perhaps part of the reason was that there was not a straight street in any town that we were in.  The drivers made the street a bit straighter by cutting the lanes.

Drivers were very courteous and seemed very calm.  That is a good thing, as the cars darted every which direction and streets quickly changed from 4 lane to barely two lane.

The Thai people seemed to try to keep everything as clean as possible.  Everywhere we looked, we saw them using unique brooms that were made from, my guess, rice straw.

Straw brooms

It would seem that Thailand has quite a bit of rain normally, but our visit was during the monsoon season.  We experienced some unbelievable rains – some of which lasted over an hour.  We did not experience any flooding, although one of our guides said that they do have problems at times.  As you can imagine, there was standing water everywhere, yet there were almost no mosquitoes or flies. 

I made this observation in an earlier post, but the subject still amazes me, so here goes again:  As some of you know, I tend to observe obscure things (Pat just says I am weird).  The latest is that the days here are much shorter than in Denver (because of the time of the year).  The sunrise/sunset here is:  6:15/6:49  (12 hours and 34 minutes)  vs  5:42/8:30 (14 hours and 48 minutes).  We are a bit north of 8 degrees north while Denver is a bit south of 40 degrees north latitude.

It is very obvious that Thailand (and probably all of Southeast Asia – or the world for that matter) does not have OSHA or any of the related safety regulations.  For example, the Long Tail boats would never pass Coast Guard regulations – not even close.  Another example is the scaffolding surrounding buildings.  Everywhere you looked three was very primitive bamboo scaffolds (picture).  Some were several stories high.

Bamboo Schffolding

Bamboo Schffolding

Without exception, the Thai people were very friendly and accommodating.  I tired to judge if this was just a “front” because of their huge dependence on tourism, or something basic to their culture.  I believe it was genuine.  About 80% of the Thai population is Buddhist.  While I don’t pretend to understand the religion, it would appear that a main element is to be at peace with yourself . 

One of our daughters made the observation that the temples were so lavish, yet the general  population lead very frugal lives.  That is a correct observation, but it is not unique to any religion or country.  We have seen some amazing churches and temples that spared no expense and were ornate beyond description.  The explanation is way beyond my comprehension.

I had mentioned that coffee in Thailand is almost a religion unto itself.  Everywhere you looked there were coffee shops – many very fancy.  They had all the same categories that we do (latte, espresso, Americano, etc) and it is almost like walking into a Starbucks in the states.  I suspect that most of the coffee was grown in Thailand.  My taste buds would suggest that their coffee was among the best I have tasted – anywhere.

Seven Eleven stores are everywhere.  On some streets I would guess that there could be three stores in a mile or so.  Some were pretty primitive and some were quite modern/fancy.  We did not  visit any of them, but they appeared to have about the same product format as ours.

One of our guides mentioned that the Thai people respect their elders.  Without question, they really went out of their way to help us and watch out for us.  At first it kind of upset me that they were treating me like an old man.  Then I realized that I am {grin} and embraced the help.  They really watched out for Pat as she often struggled to get in and out of vehicles/boats/etc.  In one of the airports, we were escorted away from the normal security area to a “Senior Line” that was much quicker.

Airport security was quite a bit different.  There were no long lines.  In many cases the actual security check was at the gate.  While the checks were about the same as ours, the process seemed much shorter.  Of course, Pat’s new knees set off every alarm, but they quickly made their check and there was no extra delay.

Cell phone technology was fantastic.  The speed was a bit slower than our 4G, but the towers were everywhere and we had a signal virtually everywhere we went – even on some rather remote islands.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that almost everyone was focused on their phone – almost more so than in the US.  One annoying factor is that they tend to stop in the middle of a walkway and read their phone. 

We signed up for AT&T’s International Day Pass for each phone.   That gave us service identical to our US service in all areas (data, voice, and text).  The cost was $10 per day per phone, but the value was worth it given all family health issues and the ability to stay in touch.

It would appear that a fairly high percentage of the land is farmed.  By far, the major crop is rice, but there was also a lot of corn.   In places the corn crop looked almost as robust as Iowa corn.   We did not see cattle or pig farms.  We did see a few cows now and then, but it would not appear to be enough to meet the meat demand.

Without question, the trip was fantastic.  We would not have put it on our bucket list, but since Pat earned the trip we wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity.  We got to experience a part of the world that was very different from  any of our other travels. 

Thanks for putting up with all the minutia of these posts.  As we have stated many times, the primary reason we document our travels is so that we can go back and recall some of the great times we have had the opportunity to experience.   Having said that, we are most happy that we can share these experiences with a few friends and our family.

That is all for this trip.

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